Works of Edward S. Holden

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Herschel by what means, in the beginning of his performance, he produced so uncommon an effect, he replied, 'I told you fingers would not do! The dates in this extract are not so well defined as might be wished.

Category:Edward Singleton Holden

Herschel had certainly been more than a few months in England at the time of his meeting with Dr. Miller , which was probably about The appointment as organist at Halifax was [Pg 22] in , and the pupils and public concerts must have filled up the intervening five years. During a part of this time he lived in Leeds, with the family of Mr.

Bulman , whom he afterwards provided with a place as clerk to the Octagon Chapel, in his usual generous manner. All during his life he was placing some of the less fortunate and energetic members of his family. We cannot be too grateful to Dr. Miller , who, seeing his opportunity, used it. Their frank friendship does honor to both. Herschel's organ-playing, which no doubt had been begun when his brother was the organist of the garrison chapel at Hanover, must have been perfected at this time, and it was through his organ-playing that he was able to leave the needy life in Yorkshire.

He was sure to have emerged sooner or later, but every year spared to him as a struggling musician was a year saved to Astronomy. During all this period, a constant correspondence [Pg 23] was maintained between the family at Hanover and the absent son. Many of William's letters were written in English, and addressed to his brother Jacob , and treated of such subjects as the Theory of Music, in which he was already far advanced.

Essay on Baber, by Edward S. Holden

His little sister was still faithful to the memory of her dearest brother, and his father, whose health was steadily declining, became painfully eager for his return. In April 2 , he returned to Hanover on a very brief visit. He was attached to England, he was prospering there, and he had no inclination towards returning to a life in Hanover. His sister says:.

Sir William Herschel: His Life and Works by Edward S Holden -

The engagement of Herschel at Halifax did not long continue. In he obtained an advantageous engagement as oboist at Bath, and soon after the position of organist at the Octagon Chapel was offered to him and accepted. This was a great and important change.

Bath was then, as now, one of the most beautiful cities in England, and the resort of the fashion and rank of the kingdom, who came to take the waters. It is beautifully situated on both sides of the Avon, and has many fine walks and public buildings. The aspect of the city is markedly cheerful and brilliant, owing to the nature of the white stone of which the principal houses are built, and to the exquisite amphitheatre of hills in which they lie.

The society was then gay and polite, and Herschel was at once thrown into a far more intelligent atmosphere than that he had just left in Yorkshire. It was easy to get new books, to see new faces, to hear new things. The Assembly Rooms built in were noted for their size and elegance; the theatre was the best out of London. His position as organist of the fashionable chapel placed him in the current.

His charming and engaging manners made him friends. His talents brought him admirers and pupils, and pupils brought him money. He began in a life of unceasing activity, which continued. In he published in London a symphony in C for two violins, viola, bass, two oboes, and two horns, and in the same year two military concertos for two oboes, two horns, two trumpets, and two bassoons. One of these, the Echo Catch , was published and had even considerable vogue. A competent musical critic writes to me of this work: "The counterpoint is clear and flowing, and is managed with considerable taste and effect.

It would be difficult to explain the great cleverness shown in the construction of the Catch without diagrams to illustrate the movements of the parts. It is certainly an ingenious bit of musical writing. When he left Bath in , many of these musical writings were lost, in his great haste to take up his new profession. One, specially, his sister remembers to have written out for the printer, "but he could not find a moment to send it off, nor answer the printer's letters. Unfortunately, most of this music is now not to be found. A notice of Herschel's life which appeared in the European Magazine for , January, gives a very lively picture of his life [Pg 27] at this time, and it is especially valuable as showing how he appeared to his cotemporaries.

Herschel loved music to an excess, and made a considerable progress in it, he yet determined with a sort of enthusiasm to devote every moment he could spare from business to the pursuit of knowledge, which he regarded as the sovereign good, and in which he resolved to place all his views of future happiness in life.

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This great run of business, instead of lessening his propensity to study, increased it, so that many times, after a fatiguing day of fourteen or sixteen hours spent in his vocation, he would retire at night with the greatest avidity to unbend the mind , if it may be so called, with a few propositions in Maclaurin's Fluxions , or other books of that sort. Music conducted him to mathematics, or, in [Pg 28] other words, impelled him to study Smith's Harmonics. Now this Robert Smith was the author of A Complete System of Optics , a masterly work, which, notwithstanding the rapid growth of that branch of the science, is not yet wholly superseded.

It seems to us not unlikely that Herschel , studying the Harmonics , conceived a reverence for the author, who was at that time still living, so that from the Philosophy of Music he passed to the Optics , a work on which Smith's great reputation chiefly rested; and thus undesignedly prepared himself for the career on which he was shortly about to enter with so much glory. There is no doubt that this conjecture is a true one. The Optics of Dr. Smith is one of the very few books quoted by Herschel throughout his writings, and there is every evidence of his complete familiarity with its conclusions and methods; and this familiarity is of the kind which a student acquires with his early text-books.

One other work he quotes in the same way, Lalande's Astronomy , and this too must have been deeply studied. During the years , while Herschel was following his profession and his [Pg 29] studies at Bath, the family life at Hanover went on in much the same way. In his father Isaac had a stroke of paralysis, which ended his violin-playing forever, and forced him to depend entirely upon pupils and copying of music for a livelihood. He died on March 22, , leaving behind him a good name, and living in the affectionate remembrance of his children and of all who knew him. Carolina had now lost her best friend, and transferred to her brother William the affection she had before divided between him and her father.

My mother would not consent to my being taught French, and my brother Dietrich was even denied a dancing-master, because she would not permit my learning along with him, though the entrance had been paid for us both; so all my father could do for me was to indulge me and please himself sometimes [Pg 30] with a short lesson on the violin, when my mother was either in good humor or out of the way.

Though I have often felt myself exceedingly at a loss for the want of those few accomplishments of which I was thus, by an erroneous though well-meant opinion of my mother, deprived, I could not help thinking but that she had cause for wishing me not to know more than was necessary for being useful in the family; for it was her certain belief that my brother William would have returned to his country, and my eldest brother not have looked so high, if they had had a little less learning.

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But the time wanted for spending a few hours together could only be obtained by our meeting at daybreak, because by the time of the family's rising at seven, I was obliged to be at my daily business. Though I had neither time nor means for producing anything immediately either for show or use, I was content with keeping samples of all possible patterns in needlework, beads, bugles, horse-hair, etc.

A change was soon to come in her life too; her brother William wrote to propose that she should join him at Bath—. This at first seemed to be agreeable to all parties, but by the time I had set my heart upon this change in my situation, Jacob began to turn the whole scheme into ridicule, and, of course, he never heard the sound of my voice except in speaking, and yet I was left in the harassing uncertainty whether I was to go or not.

I resolved at last to prepare, as far as lay in my power, for both cases, by taking, in the first place, every opportunity, when all were from home, to imitate, with a gag between my teeth, the solo parts of concertos, shake and all , such as I had heard them play on the violin; in consequence I had gained a tolerable execution before I knew how to sing. I next began to knit ruffles, which were intended for my brother William , in case I remained at home—else they were to be Jacob's. For my mother and brother D. I knitted as many cotton stockings as would last two years at least.

In August, , her brother arrived at Hanover, to take her back to England with him. The journey to London was made between August 16th and 26th, and soon after they went together to Herschel's house, No.


Sir George Airy , Astronomer Royal, relates in the Academy that this "removal" was a desertion, as he was told by the Duke of Sussex that on the first visit of Herschel to the king, after the discovery of the Georgium Sidus , the pardon of Herschel was handed to him by the king himself, written out in due form.

Miller , a noted organist, and afterwards historian of Doncaster. It was to a busy life in Bath that Herschel took his sister Carolina , then twenty-two years old. She was a perfectly untried girl, of very small accomplishments and outwardly with but little to attract. The basis of her character was the possibility of an unchanging devotion to one object; for the best years of her life this object was the happiness and success of her brother William , whom she profoundly loved.

Her love was headstrong and full of a kind of obstinate pride, which refused to see anything but the view she had adopted. As long as her life continued to be with her dearest brother, all was well with her. She had a noble aim, and her heart was more than full. It is necessary to understand the almost spaniel-like allegiance she gave, in order to comprehend the value which her services were to Herschel.

She supplied him with an aid which was utterly loyal, entire, and devoted.

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Her obedience was unquestioning, her reverence amounted almost to adoration. In their relation, he gave everything in the way of incentive and initiative, and she returned her entire effort loyally. At first her business was to gain a knowledge of the language, and to perfect herself in singing, so that she might become a soloist in the concerts and oratorios which he was constantly giving. On the second morning, on meeting my brother at breakfast, he began immediately to give me a lesson in English and arithmetic, and showed me the way of booking and keeping accounts of cash received and laid out.

By way of relaxation we talked of astronomy and the bright constellations with which I had made acquaintance during the fine nights we spent on the postwagen travelling through Holland.

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The first floor, which was furnished in the newest and most handsome style, my brother kept for himself. The front room, containing the harpsichord, was always in order to receive his musical friends and scholars at little private concerts or rehearsals. Sundays I received a sum for the weekly expenses, of which my housekeeping book written in English showed the amount laid out, and my purse the remaining cash. One of the principal things required was to market, and about six weeks after coming to England I was sent alone among fishwomen, butchers, basket-women, etc.

My brother Alex. But all attempts to introduce any order in our little household proved vain, owing to the servant my brother then [Pg 36] had. And what still further increased my difficulty was, that my brother's time was entirely taken up with business, so that I only saw him at meals. Breakfast was at seven o'clock or before—much too early for me, who would rather have remained up all night than be obliged to rise at so early an hour.

I had to struggle against heimwehe home sickness and low spirits, and to answer my sister's melancholy letters on the death of her husband, by which she became a widow with six children.


I knew too little English to derive any consolation from the society of those who were about me, so that, dinner-time excepted, I was entirely left to myself. But I was greatly disappointed; for, in consequence of the harassing and fatiguing life he had led during the winter months, he used to retire to bed with a basin of milk or glass of water, and Smith's Harmonics and Optics , Ferguson's Astronomy , etc.

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There being in one of the shops a two-and-a-half-foot Gregorian telescope to be let, it was for some time taken in requisition, and served not only for viewing the heavens, but for making experiments on its construction.