18th August, 1847.
To the Board of Visitors of the Parramatta Observatory:
Gentlemen.The observations were commenced by me about the middle of January, 1832, with a five-and-a-half (5 ½) feet transit and a two (2) feet mural circle by Troughton, and continued until the transit was replaced by Jones' three-and-a-half (3 ½) feet transit circle in the middle of the year 1835, after which the mural circle was principally used, the circle by tones being difficult for one person to work.
The observations consist of right ascensions and polar distances with moon, culminating stars, comets, &c. The reductions of a portion of the observations between 1832 and 1835 have been proceeded with, but having no assistant or clerk, they have not proceeded so far as I could wish.
The buildings of this Observatory are in a very sad state of repair. The white ant has been most destructive, and, as the surrounding ground is full of them, it would be fruitless to attempt a repair, which could not last above two or three years at most. The building was originally of a very inferior description, being only intended as a private establishment and not calculated to last beyond a few years. (The building was commenced in December, 1821, and the instruments were fixed and the observations commenced about the 11th of March, 1822.)
The subsoil is alumina schistose, into which the stone piers are sunk several feet, and from the access of air and water the alumina is gradually dissolving and the pillars sinking, and some of them unsteady.
The Library is in much the same state as it was when I took charge of it in 1832.
The manuscript observations are contained in five volumes and six or seven smaller volumes.
The instruments and clocks are in good working order. The spirit level of the transit circle, by Jones, burst by exposure to the sun a few months after it was set up, the tube being filled with sulphuric ether, which boils at a very low temperature, far below the powerful influence of the solar rays.
This circle would have been a more powerful instrument had it read off with four microscopes instead of three. The errors arising from eccentricity (if any) would thereby in a great measure have been neutralized, which cannot be the case with three microscopes. Altogether it is an unhandy instrument.
As the building cannot long protect the instruments in safety, I would recommend their removal to one of Her Majesty's Stores in the Military Barracks.
The site of the present building is what I could not recommend for the erection of a more complete and useful establishment, not only on account of the poisoned state of the ground by the white ant, but its local situation, and also its distance from Sydney, the sea-port.
I think a very desirable and convenient site may be obtained on the high grounds on the North Shore in the vicinity of Sydney, out of the smoke of the city and in view of the harbour and shipping, which would give to the masters of vessels the desirable opportunity of obtaining their time, and ascertaining the rate of their chronometers by signal or ball as practised at Greenwich and other places.
For myself, I have now weathered it nearly three-score years, and I find the last quarter of a century spent in this country has considerably blunted my energies of body and mind. With your recommendation to His Excellency the Governor, it is my wish to try a change of scene and occupation with what little hearth and strength remains, to endeavour to weather it a few years longer.
I have the honor to be, Gentlemen,
Your very humble servant,
Respecting Removal of Books and Instruments from Parramatta.
Sydney, 23rd August, 1847.
1. In reference to the accompanying letter from Mr. Dunlop, the Astronomer at Parramatta, we beg to request the authority of His Excellency the Governor for the instruments and books belonging to the Parramatta Observatory being packed in cases and deposited in either the Royal Engineer Office or Ordnance Store in Sydney.
2. Captain King, R.N., the senior Commissioner for visiting the Observatory, previously to his leaving Sydney acquiesced in the propriety of this measure as the best that could be adopted for the safety of the instruments and books pending the construction of a new Observatory.
3. It is proposed, subject to the approval of His Excellency, to charge to the Engineer Estimate for Convict Services the expense to be incurred in providing the packing cases and in the removal of the instruments and books.
We have the honor to be, Sir.
Your most obedient humble servants,
J. A. GORDON,
Lt-Col. Com. Roy. Eng.
The Colonial Secretary. &c., &c.
Commissioners infd. 4 Sept, 1847.
Let the instruments and books be packed and removed according to the recommendations of the Commissioners. I do not exactly understand the natare of Mr. Dunlop's application in the last paragraph of his letter, whether it is for leave of absence or for permission to resign his situation altogether.
E. D. T.
The ambiguity will perhaps be explained by a reference to the 5th paragraph of the report enclosed, marked (See Appendix G.)
The Paragraph referred to reports Mr. Dunlop's wish to resign. Let his resignation be accepted accordingly.
E. D. T.