Slough, January 12, 1840

To Sir William Rowan Hamilton
The Observatory
Dublin

My dear Sir William:

As I cannot send you anything worth your notice in one of your lines by the Penny Post, I will handsel it with a little thing in another which may serve as a New Year's memorandum of an astronomical event --- viz., the final laying up in ordinary of the old 40-feet reflector, from whose rotten scaffold you may remember once to have descended in a whole skin, to the great surprise of Lord Adare and myself !

It looks very well in its new position --- horizontally supported on piers in a circular area planted with low shrubs and gravelled along its length.

Most sincerely yours,


SIR JOHN HERSCHEL

REQUIEM OF THE FORTY-FEET REFLECTOR AT SLOUGH

In the Old Telescope's tube we sit,
And the shades of the past around us flit ;
His Requiem sing we with shout and din
While the old year goes out and the new comes in.
Merrily, merrily let us all sing,
And make the old Telescope rattle and ring.

Full fifty years did he laugh at the storm,
And the blast could not shake his majestic form ;
Now prone he lies, where he once stood high
And searched the deep heaven with his broad, bright eye.
Merrily, merrily let us all sing,
And make the old Telescope rattle and ring.

There are wonders no living wight hath seen
Which within this hollow have pictured been ;
Which mortal record can ne'er recall,
And are known to Him only who made them all.
Merrily, merrily let us all sing,
And make the old Telescope rattle and ring.

Here watched our Father the wintry night,
And his gaze hath been fed with pre-Adamite light ;
While Planets above him in mystic dance
Sent down on his toils a propitious glance.
Merrily, merrily let us all sing,
And make the old Telescope rattle and ring.

He has stretched him quietly down at length
To bask in the starlight his giant strength ;
And time shall here a tough morsel find
For his steel-devouring teeth to grind.
Merrily, merrily let us all sing,
And make the old Telescope rattle and ring.

He will grind it at last, as grind it he must,
And its brass and its iron shall be clay and rust ;
But scatheless ages shall roll away
And nurture its fame in its form's decay.
Merrily, merrily let us all sing,
And make the old Telescope rattle and ring.

God grant that its end this group may find
In love and harmony fondly joined ;
And that some of us fifty years hence, once more
May make the old Telescope's echoes roar.

MERRILY, MERRILY LET US ALL SING,
AND MAKE THE OLD TELESCOPE RATTLE AND RING.

P.S. --- The above was sung at the top of their voices by all our family, Papa, Mama, Madame la Gouvernante, and seven juniors, at 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds Mean Time, January 1, 1840, in the tube. We mustered fourteen, but it would easily have held fourteen more.

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