Letter from Charles S. Peirce to his father Benjamin Peirce
(Florida, MA, August[?]1874)

Spanish translation & annotations


My dearest Father,

My new pendulum apparatus works very successfully. It is very easy to keep the pressure at an inch and a half for any length of time, and the pendulum swings for 24 hours. I have swung it down in the tunnel for 3 days & nights without stopping setting it agoing as soon as the arc became very small & side by side I had my silver pendulum swinging in air the whole time. But as there were occasional slight blasts which approached my station until one finally broke my spring governor I am going down again when all the blasting has ceased & then I shall first have one pendulum swinging below & the other above & then I shall change them. Only I cannot in that proceeding keep up the work so long because I haven’t the force in my party. It was very hard work


for me, that tunnel business. I had to oversee everything & didn't get more than 6 hours rest out of the 24. It quite did me up & gave me a bad cough which I am only just recovering from.

My balance experiment seems to be a complete failure. The balance won’t turn with the long wire attached. It seems to stick. I cannot understand it. I cannot see how there can be any obstruction in the box but I shall let down a block which fits it so as to clear everything out. But I think it is the spring of the wire which prevents any impulse being communicated. Thus, you pull the upper end of the wire and I suppose it sets up vibrations of elongation & contraction in consequence of which the wire becomes a little elongated permanently & the weight at the bottom is not affected or you push the upper end & it becomes a little contracted. It is a copper wire. Perhaps a steel wire would not act so. My hypothesis is contrary to the doctrine that substances are perfectly elastic within a certain range but I think I am right.



If I find there is nothing in the box I must be right. The accuracy of discontinuous laws should always be suspected. I have had a good deal of trouble in my camp this summer. McClintock behaved badly at one time but since receiving a sharp admonition from Capt. Patterson he has turned over a new leaf. Edmund has left & I have Willie Winlock for the summer. He does beautifully. Frank the stable boy did tolerably until one day after a very mild reproach he took his departure with much impertinence. The fact was he didn’t have enough work to keep him satisfied.

The weather has been extraordinarily bad. Rain all the time. I like Patterson in my new relation to him very much. With his consent I have ordered a Thomas’s Arithmometer which adds to any number 10n times any other so that aA+bB+cC+etc. are very easily calculated. The factors run to eight places of decimals & the result to 16. I work the most favorable problems at least 5 times as fast as a computer and



never makes a mistake. It will be very suitable for calculating the results of my photometric work which involves 70 equations among 70 unknown quantities.

I envy Jem being in Europe with you and Mother. Mother is so particularly adapted to enjoying everything. I don't think those rooms in Clarges Street were 6 guineas when I was there but that was not in the season. It is about what you would pay at Miss Upham’s.

I am very glad you have got the clock although from what you and mother say I imagine you paid too high for it. Winlock’s only cost 10 pounds & I fear yours was 50. I wish now you are there you could stay all winter & take Mother to Italy. I know she would enjoy it so much.

I wish we could all be abroad together in the spring.

With dearest love to Mother & also to Jem,

Your loving
C. S. P.




Transcription by Sara Barrena (2015)
Una de las ventajas de los textos en formato electrónico respecto de los textos impresos es que pueden corregirse con gran facilidad mediante la colaboración activa de los lectores que adviertan erratas, errores o simplemente mejores transcripciones. En este sentido agradeceríamos que se enviaran todas las sugerencias y correcciones a sbarrena@unav.es
Proyecto de investigación "Charles S. Peirce en Europa (1875-76): comunidad científica y correspondencia" (MCI: FFI2011-24340)

Fecha del documento: 1 de diciembre 2015
Última actualización: 1 de diciembre 2015

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