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    Re: Nevil Maskelyne
    From: Fred Hebard
    Date: 2004 Jul 19, 09:24 -0400

    Here is a quote from a letter from Alexander Small to Benjamin Franklin
    about the appointment of the astronomer royal, who eventually turned
    out to be Maskelyne on this round.  It is excerpted from Edwin Danson's
    book on Mason and Dixon, to which I referred in an earlier post in this
    thread.  I usually manage to get about 2 pages read (my second pass
    through the book) at bedtime.
    
    Danson states that the affair is rooted in English politics of Whig vs
    Tory.  Small is clearly a Whig
    
    "Mr. Short is a Candidate for Greenwich but having opposed Lord Morton
    [president of the Royal Society] in the 5000-pound sterling affair
    [Harrison's prize money] Lord Morton now opposes him and gives it as a
    reason, that Mr. Short is a Scotch Man though he acknowledges that he
    is the fittest for it of any Man.  Those two [James Short and John
    Mitchell] who would have done honour to the place, being thus laid
    aside, I believe the Tory Interest, at present all powerful, will get
    it for an Oxonian, who never made an observation.  What Candide Patrons
    we are of the Sciences!"
    
    Oxford was the Tory school, more or less, and Cambridge the Whig
    school.  Lord Morton was Scotch, so not especially prejudice against
    Short, who trained at Edinburgh.  As it turned out, the post went to a
    Cambridge man, Maskelyne.  I don't know whether he was Tory or Whig,
    but he was high up in society.  Harrison apparently was a typical Whig.
    
    So this is more evidence that Maskelyne opposed Harrison unjustly.  But
    it was not just Maskelyne, rather the whole Tory establishment, which
    was in ascendency at the time.  Maskelyne more was the front man.
    Danson has further comments in his epilogue on Maskelyne, who
    apparently didn't treat Mason well.  Dixon, essentially Mason's
    assistant as I understand it, was elected a Fellow of the Royal
    Society.  Mason, who continued to contribute to astronomy, working on
    the lunar tables, never was elected.  Mason may have been a Quaker, but
    I don't have the book in front of me.
    
    Fred Hebard
    
    
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Frederick V. Hebard, PhD                      Email: mailto:Fred{at}acf.org
    Staff Pathologist, Meadowview Research Farms  Web: http://www.acf.org
    American Chestnut Foundation                  Phone: (276) 944-4631
    14005 Glenbrook Ave.                          Fax: (276) 944-0934
    Meadowview, VA 24361
    
    
    

       
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