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Autograph letter signed to Thomas Wright

Whewell, William

Published by Cambridge, 1837
From Jeremy Norman's historyofscience (Novato, CA, U.S.A.)

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Whewell, William (1794-1866). Autograph letter signed to Thomas Wright (1810-77). 3pp. plus address. Trinity College, Cambridge, October 11, 1837. 230 x 190 mm. Minor dust-soiling, small lacuna where seal was broken (not affecting text), one or two marginal tears, but very good. From British polymath William Whewell, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1841 until his death in 1866, to the antiquary Thomas Wright, author / editor of over 30 scholarly works on early English literature and history. One of the last of the great scientific generalists, Whewell wrote on mathematics, mechanics, physics, geology, astronomy, economics and the history and philosophy of science. he also composed poetry and translated the works of Goethe into English. He coined the word "scientist" (replacing the terms "natural philosopher" or "man of science") and also created (among others) the terms "physicist," "consilience," "catastrophism," "uniformitarianism," "ion," "anode" and "cathode." His two most important works, History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) and The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded upon Their History (1840), traced the development of the sciences from ancient times and attempted to establish a universal theory of knowledge. In his long letter to Wright, Whewell begins by addressing an issue Wright had brought up in a previous letter: "I do not know if you wish me to apply to the [Librarian?] on the subject of the Mss. you mention as existing in the Univ. Library but if you do, I shall be happy to do so when he returns, which will, I believe be in the course of the week. He is at present in Wiltshire. He then goes on to discuss Wright's forthcoming work on Queen Elizabeth I (published in 1838 under the title Queen Elizabeth and her Times: A Series of Original Letters), and Wright's proposed dedication of this work to Whewell: "The history of Queen Elizabeth which you describe yourself as employed upon must be extremely interesting. It is quite curious to see that according to the relations which prevail between society and literature in modern Europe, it takes a quarter of a thousand years to bring out all the original materials of history . . . "I cannot but be gratified by your wish to dedicate to me the book that you mention yourself as printing. I fear you will find it hard to exhibit mine as an appropriate name in the front of an antiquarian or philosophical work, although certainly not from any want of interest in such pursuits, which have got such siren voices that I should very likely run to them, if I was not bound to the mast of my own galley. If no more suitable subject of dedication occurs to you, I shall always be glad of a testimony of friendly good will from a person who follows literature with so much zeal as you do: but I think you would do well to look out from some more worthy medieval name . . ." Wright ended up dedicating his work to Queen Victoria. Bookseller Inventory # 41081

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Title: Autograph letter signed to Thomas Wright

Publisher: Cambridge

Publication Date: 1837

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

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