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Flamsteed, which had been lying on the shelves of the library for the last sixty years, unnoticed and unknown. These manuscripts were purchased by the late Board of Longitude in 1771, for the sum of 1001, at the suggestion or recommendation of the Royal Society. At the time that I discovered them, they were in great confusion and disorder; the major part of the books had lost their covers, most of the letters and papers were loose and scattered about, and those which were pasted into guard-books were very ill-arranged, and moreover fastened with such a mass of paste, that they were literally mouldering away. Amongst the confused heap, I was fortunate enough to find a catalogue of these manuscripts, apparently in the handwriting of the late Dr. Maskelyne, or compiled under his superintendence.
• My first object was to detach the letters from the guard-books, and to free them from the injurious effects of the paste, which was visibly destroying the colour of the ink and the texture of the paper ; then, having arranged them according to their subjects and their dates, I caused them to be neatly bound, in order that they might be conveniently referred to hereafter. The other parts of the manuscripts (that were loose) were treated in a similar manner, and bound up in different volumes according to their contents; the books also were re. paired; and the whole collection lettered and numbered in regular order, agreeably to the Catalogue which will be found at the end of this Preface. In this manner the several volumes may be readily and conveniently consulted at any future time ; and it is in this manner, and according to this arrangement, that I have referred to them in the several quotations that I have found it necessary to make in the progress of the present work.'— Preface, pp. xiv. xv.
The labour thus bestowed, in securing the preservation of these valuable papers from destruction, exhibits an instance of disinterestedness, and of feeling for future Astronomers Royal, which we are compelled to say ought not to have been neglected by those who have held that high and important office. He thus proceeds:
• Having minutely examined the whole of these manuscripts, I soon found that the character of Flamsteed had not been fully developed by his biographers; that these documents opened a new view of the great obligations which are due to him for his unparalleled exertions in the cause of astronomy, in the midst of vexations and difficulties that would have weighed down a mind of a less powerful temperament; and that they exhibited him in a light very different from that in which he has been generally viewed. Instead of the mere selfish and indolent Observer, pursuing his observations at his own ease and for his own amusement, regardless of his fame, and unwilling to communicate the result of his labours to others, as some of his contemporaries and even his more recent biographers have too incautiously represented or insinuated him to have been, we find him not only actively employed in making and dividing his own instruments, with his own hands, and at his own expense, but also devoting his spare hours to the investigation of the lunar and planetary theories, suggesting remedies for the various anomalies that he too frequently met with, forming tables for the more accurate computation of their places, and communicating the result of his inquiries with the greatest readiness to those who were prosecuting the same studies ; at the same time struggling, not merely with illness, but with difficulties and obstructions of various kinds.'pp. xvi. xvii.
Nor did Mr. Baily's researches end here. He had recourse to all the documents bearing on the subject which the British Museum affords—to the several libraries of Oxford—the collection of Sir Isaac Newton's letters in that of Trinity College, Cambridge
—and the Newtonian manuscripts belonging to the Earl of Portsmouth. In short he was determined, as far as possible, to clear up the apparently strange and perverse proceedings of Newton and Halley, and the origin and nature of the quarrel between Flamsteed and his two distinguished contemporaries.
The volume opens with a neat, lucid, and well-written preface by Mr. Baily, in fifty-eight pages ;—Flamsteed's History of his own Life and Labours, compiled from original manuscripts in his own hand-writing, together with an Appendix of Correspondence, consisting of three hundred letters nearly, extends to three hundred and sixty-four pages ;-and, lastly, the · British Catalogue' of Flamsteed, corrected and enlarged, with an Introduction by the Editor, and Notes, occupy about three hundred pages. The number of stars in the Catalogue amounts to 3310.
The autobiography of Flamsteed is incomplete, but the correspondence carries it on till his demise. It is divided chronologically into seven parts. He commences by saying— I was born at Denby, in Derbyshire, in the year 1646, on the 19th day of August, at 7h, 16m. afternoon; my father, named Stephen, was the third son of Mr. William Flamsteed, of Little Hallam, and my mother, Mary, was the daughter of Mr. John Spateman, of Derby, ironmonger. From these two I derived my beginning, whose parents were of known integrity, honesty, and fortune, as they Were of equal extraction and ingenuity. He was tenderly edu. cated by reason of his natural weakness, which required more than ordinary care,' till he was three years old, when his mother died. His first ten years, he says, were spent in such employments as children use to pass away their time with; he was given to reading ranting stories of romances, but at twelve left off the wild ones and contined himself to the better and more probable' sort; as reason increased’ he took to real histories,' and by the time he was fifteen years old, he had read Plutarch's Lives, Appian, Tacitus, Holingshed, Davies's Life of Queen Elizabeth, Sanderson's King Charles I., Heyling's Geography, &c.
He tells us, that in the year 1661 it pleased God to afflict him with a weakness in his knees and joints. He had been bathing with some of his school-fellows, but found no inconvenience. Next morning, however, his body, thighs, and legs were all so swelled, that they would not admit him to get his usual clothes upon them.' In 1662 his illness had increased upon him, and he was hardly able to go to school. When he left it, his father, on account of his natural weakness, he supposes, declined sending him to the university, which he seems to regret-having been, from early life, of a very pious and religious turn of mind.
• My desires (he says) have always been for learning and divinity : and though I have been accidentally put from it by God's providence, yet I have always thought myself more qualified for it than for any other employment; because my bodily weakness will not permit me action, and my mind has always been fitted for the contemplation of God and his works.' • All his letters (adds Mr. Baily) breathe a spirit of piety and resignation to the will of Heaven; and even amongst his private memorandums and documents, written when no eye could witness the workings of his mind, we meet with constant expressions of gratitude to the Deity for the blessings which he enjoyed.'— Preface, pp. xxi. xxii.
At the age of sixteen he commenced a system of study and observation in astronomy and mathematics, which he never ceased to pursue till the time of his death. Self-taught and unassisted, he had made such progress as to enable him, in a very short time, to calculate an eclipse with accuracy. He was also, about this time, employed in mechanical exercises; having once seen a quadrant, he set about framing one himself, of which, he says, he was not meanly joyful. He constructed a set of tables of the sun's allitudes at all hours, and all his places in the ecliptic, and other artificial tables, calculated chiefly for the latitude of Derby. He was desirous, he says, to essay all sorts of mathematical knowledge; bought books, tables, canons, &c., which were his only assistants. At eighteen he set about calculating the true places of the planets to a given time by his own tables, and busied himself, he tells us, in writing an Almanac Burlesque for the year 1666, but did not print it. We have in our days a Comic Almanac by that comical genius Cruikshank, but Flamsteed's must have been something very different from this.
'I had now,' he says, completed eighteen years, when the winter came on, and thrust me again into the chimney.' In the spring he applied to a new physician, but his prescriptions were without any apparent recruit of strength. Recourse was, therefore, had to another expedient :
· The former part of this year had been famous for the appearance
of the comet; and this was much celebrated by the report of the cures done in Ireland by Mr. Valentine Greatrackes, by the stroke of his hands, without the application of any medicine. At first, we supposed this to be only a fiction; but when the report was confirmed by a particular relation of several strange cures effected, my father resolved to send me over into Ireland, to try if I might, by God's blessing, receive my strength again.'—pp. 12, 13.
In the month of August he set out from Derby, by way of Liverpool, with one Clement Spicer, who we suppose was his father's servant: the two crossed over to Dublin, and proceeded all the way, en croupe, to Cappoquin near Youghall, on the Blackwater river. On their arrival there,
• We heard that Mr. Greatrackes used to cure on the Lord's-day, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, of course; and that the people who lodged at that place when we alighted were gone, expecting to be touched after sermon. Therefore, having refreshed ourselves, we went on foot to the Assaune, about a mile or more distant from Cappoquin, and entering into his house, we saw him touch several; some whereof were nearly cured, others on the mending hand, and some on whom his strokes had no effect,-of whom I might have said more, but that he hath been since in England; and so both his person, cures, and carriage are well enough known amongst us. And though some seem to asperse him each way, for my part I think his gift was of God; and for the course of his cures, I dare fully acquiesce with what Dr. Stubbs hath written of him. For though I am an eve-witness of several of his cures, yet am not able to remember or fitted to write them out as I saw them.
'I was touched by him on my legs this afternoon (Sept. 11), but found not my disease to stir. Next morning I came again towards his house, and found him in his own yard, looking at his cattle. He had a kind of majestical, yet affable, presence, a lusty body, and a composed carriage. I desired the privilege of his touch, and was granted it presently; and saying to him I would not have been so hasty, had not our horse (which was a gentleman's courtesy to us) been on so bad a pasture, he very freely bade me bring him down to his house-he should have good feeding, and I should pay no more than I was to pay to my former host. I did so, and saw him put into a good pasture. And now I was stroked by him all over my body; but found, as yet, no amends in anything but what I had before I came to Cappoquin.'—p. 16.
His journey homewards is told with great simplicity : the following mode of protecting one's hide from being galled when riding, must, we presume, be peculiar to the Emerald Island :
• Being returned, I was visited by my friends, I being so discom. posed by my journey that I was not very fit to appear at church that day. Yet had I not been so ill, but that riding on a dull horse (who trotted hard) betwixt Holmeschapel and Congleton, I was a little
galled. galled. For I would not use that practice which an Irish gentleman reported, who had his horse's back galled always when he was ridden by one of his boys; at which wondering, he by chance meets his said boy, who was a natural Irishman, riding upon his galled horse with his breeches hanging buttoned about his neck; of which inquiring of him the reason, he answered it was because the horse should not gall him: but by that means the rider escapes and the horse is galled himself. This story I could not omit, because such passages are not usual amongst the English.'—p. 20.
About the time when writing his Almanac Burlesque, he says, • I also busied myself very much in calculating the nativities of several of my friends and acquaintances, which I have since corrected.' Judicial astrology was fashionable in those days—but a short time after, we find him noting down tható astrology gives generally strong conjectural hints, but not perfect declarations. In the course of a few years afterwards, he seems to have abandoned astrology altogether, for he says, ' In this year I wrote an Ephemeris, wherein I showed the falsity of astrology, and the ignorance of those who pretended to it. Mr. Baily found, among his papers, the horoscope of the heavens, drawn by Flamsteed, at the moment of laying the foundation of the Royal Observatory in August, 1675—this, however, would appear to have been done for mere amusement, as in the interior of it was written, in pencil, Risum teneatis amici? - But we are proceeding too fast.
After his return from Ireland, his affliction of severe head-ache, pains, and weakness in the limbs, and other distempers still continued, notwithstanding which he says, “ I followed my mathema. tical studies closer, but kept no special account of my proficiency;' and this went on till the end of 1669, when he produced an almanac for the following year, containing the calculation of an eclipse of the sun, and five appulses of the moon to fixed stars ; but his almanac, we are told, was rejected and returned to him, 'as beyond the capacity of the vulgar.' He therefore took out the eclipses and the appulses, and addressed them, with some astronomical speculations, to the Royal Society—to whom he thus writes :
• Excuse, I pray you, this juvenile heat for the concerns of science, and want of better language from one who, from the sixteenth year of his age, to this instant, hath only served one bare apprenticeship in these arts, under the discouragement of friends, the want of health, and all other instructors except his better genius. I crave the liberty to conceal my name, not to suppress it. I have composed the letters of it in Latin, in this sentence, In Mathesi a sole fundes. I had many materials to add ; but they would have swelled my letter beyond its prescribed limits. If I may understand that you accept of these, or think them worthy your notice, you shall ere long hear more from yours, J. F.-p. 28.