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Document number: 1747
Date: 02 Dec 1828
Dating: from postmark - Cambridge Observatory nearing completion 1828
Postmark: indistinct
Watermark: 1823
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: CODDINGTON Henry
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA28-102
Last updated: 30th January 2012

Dear Talbot

My cousin brought us your letter with its enclosure for which I thank you. I wish you could have brought it yourself - Indeed I think you ought really to come down for a day or two to see your friends here & inspect the Observatory & other buildings that are now in progress - I have mentioned your recommendation of Gambey & Cauchoix to Whewell & Peacock, <1> but I believe the Instruments for the Observatory have been all ordered some time, though These are now ready yet except the Transit & perhaps the Clocks -

Troughton <2> is at work on the Circle and if he lives to finish it I suppose it will be invaluable - South <3> talked a good deal about it once he was down here - I think I understood from him that Troughton meant to divide it by hand, not trusting Ramsden's engine. <4> Woodhouse <5> & Peacock appear to be the managing Syndics - the former is abroad living in his house - though the workmen have not yet finished even the outside of the building; i.e. the forties is half done -The Circle piece is nearly built, & the supports of the Transit will soon be up - they will probably be quite ready for the Instruments next Spring, and probably may make some observations with the Transit before long - The Assistant Observers are not yet appointed - it is hoped that Fisher <6> of the N. Pole may be one Arnold, Kindersley <7> & Digby desire to be remembered to you. Worsley <8> is I hope on his way home to be ordained having received an offer of a good living in Lincolnshire which I imagine he will not refuse

Whewell has got a pocket Transit & Circle set up on stern piers in his Garden with which he & Sheepshanks <9> have made sundry shots at the Stars, but I donot [sic] know that they have made out anything new.

I repeat that (with due deference to your judgment) I think you ought to come down here before you ship over the water again. I am afraid you are becoming an alien in the land of your forefathers.

Yours most sincerely
Henry Coddington

W.H.F. Talbot Esqr
31 Sackville Street


1. Robert Aglae Cauchoix (1776-1845), instrument maker, Paris; Rev William Whewell (1794-1866), Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor and natural philosopher; Prof George Peacock (1791-1858), mathematician.

2. Probably Edward Troughton (1753-1835), Scientific instrument maker.

3. Sir James South (1785-1867), astronomer.

4. In 1773, Jesse Ramsden of England invented the circular dividing engine, an instrument which had a profound impact on Western history. Prior to his invention, the division and inscription of scales on mathematical instruments was done by hand. Therefore, the value of the instrument depended on the accuracy of the maker and his tools.

5. Robert Woodhouse (1773-1827), 8th occupant of the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

6. Reverend George Fisher (1794-1873), astronomer.

7. Rev Thomas Kerchever Arnold (1800-1853), editor & author; Probably Sir Richard Torin Kindersley (1792-1879), a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

8. Rev Thomas Worsley (1797-1885), theologian & Master of Downing College, Cambridge.

9. Richard Sheepshanks (1794-1855), astronomer.

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