Reply to the "Statement of the Trustees" of the Dudley Observatory
ByAlbany : Printed by Charles Van Benthuysen. 1859. 8vo. pp. 366.
THE question between Dr. Gould and the Trustees of the Albany Observatory was not one of merely private or passing interest. It concerned not only all men of science, but all men of honor. It concerned all who like pluck, and who, in a quarrel, instinctively take sides with one against many. It was of interest to men of science, because the question was between show and reality, between newspaper notoriety and the quiet advancement of real and enduring knowledge. It concerned men of honor, because it was of some consequence to know whether public sentiment in America would justify, nay, tolerate even, the printing of confidential letters, and not only the printing, but the garbling of them to suit the ends of personal spite. It concerned lovers of fairplay, because it was to he settled whether it is right to accuse a man of peculation whom you wish to convict of disagreeable manners.
Dr. Gould’s pamphlet is a thorough vindication of himself. It is so not only as to graver charges, but incidentally, by its perfect quietness of tone, it answers the accusation of bad temper. The hitting is none the less severe that it is done with scientific precision, and Die astronomer shows his ability to make his antagonists “ see stars ” in a less comfortable way than through a telescope. There is a grim humor, too, as well as dignity, in the cool way in which Dr. Gould recapitulates all the charges made against him,— especially where he condenses them in the Index. Better pamphlet-fighting has not been seen since Bentley. The hardship of the matter is, that people commonly are more ready to believe slander than to trouble themselves with reading a refutation of it. It gave us particular satisfaction to see that the American Association for the Advancement of Science had shown its sense of the merits of the quarrel by electing Dr. Gould vice-president of their body.