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    Re: Nevil Maskelyne.
    From: Aubrey O?Callaghan
    Date: 2004 Nov 23, 08:52 +0000
    George visited Purton where Nevil Maskelyne is buried earlier this year. Later in the summer I was at a loose end one weekend and prompted by his email made the journey there.  Feeling more comfortable in a church than George I took the time to note down the latin text of the plaque in the church and a colleague in our offices translated it for me (the joys of living close to Oxford). I reproduce the original and the translation below.

    I have to say I was not as impressed as George in the local pub!

    In Lujus AEdis Caemeterio,
    Depositae sunt Relliquiae
    Necon Astronomii Regii;
    Seu Morum Simplicitatem,
    Seu Animi Benevolentiam,
    Seu Vitae doctifsimae Utilitatem,
    Insignis Eximii, publice deflendi
    Que Naturae Leges experimendo,
    Auctorem Maximum potifsime coluit:
    Sine fuco Pius,
    Pietatem Officio exhibuit
    Denique, non sibi, sed Christo fidens,
    In gremium Patris Sempiterni,
    Vitam bene actam
    Futuri centa Spe praemii
    Quinto Id: Feb: Anno Domini 1811

    In the stone of this building
    are deposited the remains of
    NEVIL MASKELYNE DD FRS   (my interpretation: Doctor of Divinity Fellow of the Royal Society)
    also the Astronomer Royal;
    whether by the simplicity of his habits
    or by the goodness of his spirit
    or by the utility of his most learned life
    you shall behold an
    exceptional and distinguished man, publicly renowned
    He who in the act of revealing the laws of nature,
    worshiped the Great Author most capably:
    Pious without pretense,
    he showed his worth in office and
    finally trusting not in himself but in Christ,
    he returned a life well spent into the
    bosom of the eternal father, sure in
    the hope  of future riches
    9th. February 1811

    At 19:18 13-07-04, you wrote:

    Nevil Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal that compiled the first Nautical
    Almanac, has always been something of a hero to me. He was vilified by
    Sobel, in her book "Longitude".

    At long last, after fruitless searching for over a year, a copy of Derek
    Howse's biography "Nevil Maskelyne- the Seaman's Astronomer" (Cambridge
    1989) has eventually come up on Abebooks, from a bookshop here in UK, and
    now I have a copy, and at a reasonable price.

    My wife grabbed it first, and has passed it on to me now she has finished
    it (you can see how the priorities go in this house...).

    She discovered that Maskelyne was buried in the village of Purton, North of
    Swindon, only 40 minutes or so drive from here, so proposed a lunchtime
    pilgrimage there. Anything for a pub lunch, I agreed, and we have just
    returned from a pleasant visit to Purton. Even though, being a devout
    atheist, I always feel rather uneasy in a church. Not much to report back,
    of course, just a stone tomb in the churchyard shaded by a great gnarled
    yew, and a Latin plaque inside the old church. And a pleasant village pub
    that does a good lunch with a tasty pint.

    Anyway, I recommend Howse's book for anyone that can find a copy.


    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
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