George Everest.

A series of letters : addressed to His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, as president of the Royal Society, remonstrating against the conduct of that learned body. online

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145

that book, there is no saying but he may find something else
more or less worthy of his notice.

There is, of course, much more to be said on so prolific a sub-
ject as that in question than I can find room for ; but it may be
not out of place to add, that India is a country which, for all but
the three months, November, December, January, is subject to
storms as frequent and violent as capricious, which often pros-
trate whole camps and groves indiscriminately and unsparingly ;
whence it may be conjectured, that somewhat more than ordi-
nary precaution and foresight is requisite on exposed hill-tops
for the preservation of instruments so costly and delicate as those
requisite to determine, in a manner worth a moment's thought,
the elements of longitudinal arcs.

Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,
While proudly riding o'er the azure reahn
In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes.

In calm deep water, in short, where the surface is ruffled by a
gentle breeze, land lubbers may be the crew, and the greatest
lubber of them all may take the helm ; but when the storm
arises, and the way lies through shoals and breakers, it is not
the loudest talker who can best bear the craft through in
safety.

If Sir John Herschell had been seriously intent on advancing
science in India, I submit to your Royal Highness, it is sadly to
be lamented that he did not, as was at one time expected, pay a
visit to the country of which he seems desirous to be scientific die*
tator ; for let any human talents and acquirements be what they
may, there is no disputing that a personal acquaintance with
facts and localities is of immense advantage to obtaining an
accurate notion of the best method of dealing with difficulties.

If the learned Baronet had taken this step as a prelude to
offering recommendations ex cathcedrd, I can assure him that his
march should have been a march of triumph, through lands
which to Alexander of Macedon and his warlike array were as a
closed book; but when he resolved on limiting his wanderings to



146

the half-way house, and made the glories of Wynberg, Hottentot's
Holland, and Stellenbosch, the Ultima Thule of his mighty
travels, he disappointed the expectations of his admiring coun-
trymen in India, who (myself not last amongst the number) were
prepared to greet his arrival with the most cordial reception their
hospitality could offer.

Certainly no man has a right to complain of the learned
Baronet for following the bent of his inclinations in this instance ;
but when on his return he proceeds to claim by proxy the im-
plicit deference which would have been cheerfully paid to him-
self, and act as if, from the half-a-dozen Hindus and Mohamme-
dans he may have seen at Kaap Stadt, he had acquired a right
to judge of the whole population, climate, and circumstances of
India, the mistake is one which it becomes high time to rectify.

I will now close this series of letters, and beg to assure your
Royal Highness, that if in the ardour of discussion any expression
may have fallen from me in any way exceptionable as far as
your august person is concerned, it will be to me a subject of the
deepest and most unfeigned sorrow.

Circumstanced as I am, there were in my opinion but two
courses open to me either to treat the whole matter with the
silence it merited, or to take the subject up and be the assailant
in my turn, a middle course seemed unsuited to the occasion.

If the parties who were my unprovoked aggressors had been
sufficiently insignificant, I might have adopted the former pro-
cedure as the most dignified ; and I am disposed to hope that I
should have had Christian charity sufficient to forgive and pity
the weak effusion of their rude vanity ; but when I remembered
that those who had been so reckless of offending me were, as far
as science is concerned, the magnates of the land, the very men
whose fiat would have most weight, not only in my own native
land, but in foreign countries, it is evident that this line was no
longer open to me unless I would consent to be crushed to the
earth, and forsake all pretension to the fair fame which my long
enduring career has entitled me to.



147

That I have no personal animosity to any one of those gentle-
men who have signed the Address, must, I think, have been
manifest to all who remember me when I was last in England :
and as to those of the learned Fellows to whom I am personally
unknown, I expect to be believed when I say that it is not in my
nature to forget myself so far as to enter unprovoked on an acri-
monious discussion, or say what is offensive.

But between defending one's own hearth from aggression and
trespass, and invading that of one's neighbour, the difference is
wide indeed; and as I persuade myself that your Royal High-
ness's signature has been appended to the Address of which I
complain, merely as a matter of form in your capacity as Presi-
dent, and at the instance of scientific advisers who have misled
you, therefore I have chosen this method of appeal as the most
consistent with the deference I owe to your high rank.

I have the honour to be, &c. &c.

GEORGE EVEREST.



FINIS.



V



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Online LibraryGeorge EverestA series of letters : addressed to His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, as president of the Royal Society, remonstrating against the conduct of that learned body. → online text (page 13 of 13)