[on headed notepaper:]
My Dear Sir
I understand that you are preparing a new work on Crystallography. If you like to refer to my paper on Nitre, which contains a fact I consider of primary importance in the doctrine of crystals, you will find it in the Philosoph. Magazine from 1838 v. 12 p. 145 <1> - This is of course in the liby of the B. Museum.<2> It is also in that of the Athenĉum. The experiment related is very easily tried and never fails. You have got I believe a good polarising microscope. It establishes the fact that large (comparatively speaking) and perfect crystals can be formed at once by sudden contraction.
This does not in any way contradict the fact that on other occaisions crystals grow from a small or imperceptible nucleus which is beautifully shown by a good microscope. Talc answers better than glass to fuse the Nitre upon, because being thinner the fusion is sooner effected.
I remain Dear Sir Yours very truly
N.S. Maskelyne Esq
1."On a new Property of Nitre," Philosophical Magazine, s. 3, v. 12, no. 73, February 1839, pp. 145-148.
2.The British Museum. In 1857, Story-Maskelyne was appointed to the newly created post of Keeper of the Minerals at the Museum; he moved to London but retained his Oxford Professorship.