History of Tom Jones

the History Focus

Book 5
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Notwithstanding your constant refusal, when I have asked leave to prefix your name to this dedication, I must still insist on my right to desire your protection of this work.

To you, Sir, it is owing that this history was ever begun. It was by your desire that I first thought of such a composition. So many years have since past, that you may have, perhaps, forgotten this circumstance: but your desires are to me in the nature of commands; and the impression of them is never to be erased from my memory.

Again, Sir, without your assistance this history had never been completed. Be not startled at the assertion. I do not intend to draw on you the suspicion of being a romance writer. I mean no more than that I partly owe to you my existence during great part of the time which I have employed in composing it: another matter which it may be necessary to remind you of; since there are certain actions of which you are apt to be extremely forgetful; but of these I hope I shall always have a better memory than yourself.

Lastly, It is owing to you that the history appears what it now is. If there be in this work, as some have been pleased to say, a stronger picture of a truly benevolent mind than is to be found in any other, who that knows you, and a particular acquaintance of yours, will doubt whence that benevolence hath been copied? The world will not, I believe, make me the compliment of thinking I took it from myself. I care not: this they shall own, that the two persons from whom I have taken it, that is to say, two of the best and worthiest men in the world, are strongly and zealously my friends. I might be contented with this, and yet my vanity will add a third to the number; and him one of the greatest and noblest, not only in his rank, but in every public and private virtue. But here, whilst my gratitude for the princely benefactions of the Duke of Bedford bursts from my heart, you must forgive my reminding you that it was you who first recommended me to the notice of my benefactor.

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About the author

 An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money. In the former case, it is well known that the entertainer provides what fare he pleases; and though this should be very indifferent, and utterly disagreeable to the taste of his company, they must not find any fault; nay, on the contrary, good breeding forces them outwardly to approve and to commend whatever is set before them. Now the contrary of this happens to the master of an ordinary. Men who pay for what they eat will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice and whimsical these may prove; and if everything is not agreeable to their taste, will challenge a right to censure, to abuse, and to d—n their dinner without controul.

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Published on
Dec 3, 2015
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Fiction / Literary
History / General
Literary Collections / General
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Book 7
 The dawn of true ideas respecting mechanics has been described in the volume of this series devoted to astronomers. At the time when the first of the following biographies opens there were a few men who held sound views respecting the laws of motion and the principles of hydrostatics. Considerable advance had been made in the subject of geometrical optics; the rectilinear propagation of light and the laws of reflection having been known to the Greeks and Arabians, whilst Willebrod Snellius, Professor of Mathematics at Leyden, had correctly enunciated the laws of refraction very early in the seventeenth century. Pliny mentions the action of a sphere of rock-crystal and of a glass globe filled with water in bringing light to a focus. Roger Bacon used segments of a glass sphere as lenses; and in the eleventh century Alhazen made many measurements of the angles of incidence and refraction, though he did not succeed in discovering the law. Huyghens developed to a great extent the undulatory theory; while Newton at the same time made great contributions to the subject of geometrical optics, decomposed white light by means of a prism, investigated the colours of thin plates, and some cases of diffraction, and speculated on the nature, properties, and functions of the ether, which was equally necessary to the corpuscular as to the undulatory theory of light, if any of the phenomena of interference were to be explained. The velocity of light was first measured by Roemer, in 1676. The camera obscura was invented by Baptista Porta, a wealthy Neapolitan, in 1560; and Kepler explained the action of the eye as an optical instrument, in 1604. Antonio de Dominis, Archbishop of Spalatro, discovered the fringe of colours produced by sunlight once reflected from the interior of a globe of water, and this led, in Newton's hands, to the complete explanation of the rainbow.
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