HERSCHEL, Sir John Frederick William
(1792-1871). Mathematician and astronomer.
Autograph Letter Signed to Sir Henry Holland (1788-1873, physician), 3 pages 8vo (laid down on the remains of an album leaf), Collingwood, 25 June 1864. Discussing his work on the translation of Homer's Iliad
[into hexameter verse] and bowing to some of Holland's suggestions.
'I am encouraged by your note and by the emendations & suggestions it contains to send you back V [i.e. 5]. ... Do not consider it necessary to return it before your full leisure ...
'I yesterday finished book viii. When I began I little thought I should have been led on so far - and now it seems almost ridiculous to think of going on - as if I could hope ever to finish the whole Iliad yet it is a pleasant work & it beguiles the long sleepless hours which intervene between my now habitual waking and breakfast time or rather getting-up-for-breakfast time. So I think I shall go on.
'In respect of your notes. I propose to alter in the description of the meteor "glides" through the air, to "sweeps" or "streams" through the air. Glides is Proper word & is rather expressive of smooth noiseless motion.
'Triumph to him [no doubt] alter to Triumph indeed to him.
'As for Alalcomenean I fear there is no help for it. Alalcomene any how must come in, and it is seldom one gets off so cheap with one of the proper names in the Iliad. ...'
Herschel discusses various Greek phrases [his writing is difficult enough in English, we have not transcribed them] and their meaning and usage, and concludes with a statement of his present intentions:
'I admit that I have taken it for granted that Ulysses here uses the words ironically, as if casting back the imputation of cowardice into Agamemnon's teeth.'
'As 8 books is one third of the Iliad I have some notion of printing them as a sort of pledge of an intention (if spared) to go on. Your good opinion, and Whewell's put me in good humour with my work and so backed who knows that he can do?
Herschel's translation appeared in print in 1866.