upon the seas of all successful enterprises. The details,
We may also record Hamilton's own opinion expressed to Humphrey Lloyd:--
"In general, although in one sense I hope that I am actually growing modest about the quaternions, from my seeing so many peeps and vistas into future expansions of their principles, I still must assert that this discovery appears to me to be as important for the middle of the nineteenth century as the discovery of fluxions was for the close of the seventeenth."
Bartholomew Lloyd died in 1837. He had been the Provost of Trinity College, and the President of the Royal Irish Academy. Three candidates were put forward by their respective friends for the vacant Presidency. One was Humphrey Lloyd, the son of the late Provost, and the two others were Hamilton and Archbishop Whately. Lloyd from the first urged strongly the claims of Hamilton, and deprecated the putting forward of his own name. Hamilton in like manner desired to withdraw in favour of Lloyd. The wish was strongly felt by many of the Fellows of the College that Lloyd should be elected, in consequence of his having a more intimate association with collegiate life than Hamilton; while his scientific eminence was world-wide. The election ultimately gave Hamilton a considerable majority over Lloyd, behind whom the Archbishop followed at a considerable distance. All concluded happily, for both Lloyd and the Archbishop expressed, and no doubt felt, the pre-eminent claims of Hamilton, and both of them cordially accepted the office of a Vice-President, to which, according to the constitution of the Academy, it is the privilege of the incoming President to nominate.
In another chapter I have mentioned as a memorable episode in astronomical history, that Sir J. Herschel went for a prolonged sojourn to the Cape of Good Hope, for the purpose of submitting the southern skies to the same scrutiny with the great telescope that his father had given to the northern skies. The occasion of Herschel's return after the brilliant success of his enterprise, was celebrated by a banquet. On June 15th, 1838, Hamilton was assigned the high honour of proposing the health of Herschel. This banquet is otherwise memorable in Hamilton's career as being one of the two occasions in which he was in the company of his intimate friend De Morgan.
In the year 1838 a scheme was adopted by the Royal Irish Academy for the award of medals to the authors of papers which appeared to possess exceptionally high merit. At the institution of the medal two papers were named in competition for the prize. One was Hamilton's "Memoir on Algebra, as the Science of Pure Time." The other was Macullagh's paper on the "Laws of Crystalline Reflection and Refraction." Hamilton expresses his gratification that, mainly in consequence of his own exertions, he succeeded in having the medal awarded to Macullagh rather than to himself. Indeed, it would almost appear as if Hamilton had procured a letter from Sir J. Herschel, which indicated the importance of Macullagh's memoir in such a way as to decide the issue. It then became Hamilton's duty to award the medal from the chair, and to deliver an address in which he expressed his own sense of the excellence of Macullagh's scientific work. It is the more necessary to allude to these points, because in the whole of his scientific career it would seem that Macullagh was the only man with whom Hamilton had ever even an approach to a dispute about priority. The incident referred to took place in connection with the discovery of conical refraction, the fame of which Macullagh made a preposterous attempt to wrest from Hamilton. This is evidently alluded to in Hamilton's letter to the Marquis of Northampton, dated June 28th, 1838, in which we read:--
"And though some former circumstances prevented me from applying to the person thus distinguished the sacred name of FRIEND, I had the pleasure of doing justice...to his high intellectual merits...I believe he was not only gratified but touched, and may, perhaps, regard me in future with feelings more like those which I long to entertain towards him."
Hamilton was in the habit, from time to time, of commencing the keeping of a journal, but it does not appear to have been systematically conducted. Whatever difficulties the biographer may have experienced from its imperfections and irregularities, seem to be amply compensated for by the practice which Hamilton had of preserving copies of his letters, and even of comparatively insignificant memoranda. In fact, the minuteness with which apparently trivial matters were often noted down appears almost whimsical. He frequently made a memorandum of the name of the person who carried a letter to the post, and of the hour in which it was despatched. On the other hand, the letters which he received were also carefully preserved in a mighty mass of manuscripts, with which his study was encumbered, and with which many other parts of the house were not unfrequently invaded. If a letter was laid aside for a few hours, it would become lost to view amid the seething mass of papers, though occasionally, to use his own expression, it might be seen "eddying" to the surface in some later disturbance.
The great volume of "Lectures on Quaternions" had been issued, and the author had received the honours which the completion of such a task would rightfully bring him. The publication of an immortal work does not, however, necessarily provide the means for paying the printer's bill. The printing of so robust a volume was necessarily costly; and even if all the copies could be sold, which at the time did not seem very likely, they would hardly have met the inevitable expenses. The provision of the necessary funds was, therefore, a matter for consideration. The Board of Trinity College had already contributed 200 pounds to the printing, but yet another hundred was required. Even the discoverer of Quaternions found this a source of much anxiety. However, the board, urged by the representation of Humphrey Lloyd, now one of its members, and, as we have already seen, one of Hamilton's staunchest friends, relieved him of all liability. We may here note that, notwithstanding the pension which Hamilton enjoyed in addition to the salary of his chair, he seems always to have been in some what straitened circumstances, or, to use his own words in one of his letters to De Morgan, "Though not an embarrassed man, I am anything rather than a rich one." It appears that, notwithstanding the world-wide fame of Hamilton's discoveries, the only profit in a pecuniary sense that he ever obtained from any of his works was by the sale of what he called his Icosian Game. Some enterprising publisher, on the urgent representations of one of Hamilton's friends in London, bought the copyright of the Icosian Game for 25 pounds. Even this little speculation proved unfortunate for the purchaser, as the public could not be induced to take the necessary interest in the matter.
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