Oxford Apr. 30. 1695.


I thank you for your letter of Apr. 21. by Mr Conan. But I can by no means admit your excuse for not publishing your Treatise of Light & Colours. You say, you dare not yet publish it. And why not yet? Or, if not now, when then? You adde, least it create you some trouble. What trouble now, more then at another time? Pray consider, how many years this hath lyen upon your hands allready: And, while it lyes upon your hands, it will stil be some trouble. (For I know your thoughts must needs be still running upon it.) But, when published, that trouble will be over. You think, perhaps, it may occasion some Letters (of exceptions) to you, which you shal be obliged to Answer. What if so? 'twill be at your chaise whether to Answer them or not. The Treatise will answer for itself. But, Are you troubled with no letters for not publishing it? For, I suppose, your other friends call upon you for it, as well as I; & are as little satisfyed with the delay. Mean while, you loose the Reputation of it, and we the Benefit. So that you are neither just to yourself, nor kind to the publike. And perhaps some other may get some scraps of the notion, & publish it as his own; & then 'twil be His, not yours; though he may perhaps never attain to the tenth part of what you be allready master of. Consider, that 'tis now about Thirty years since you were master of those notions about Fluxions and Infinite Series; but you have never published ought of it to this day, (which is worse than nonumque prematur in annum.) 'Tis true, I have endeavoured to do you right in that point. But if I had published the same or like notions, without naming you; & the world possessed of anothers Calculus differentialis, instead of your Fluxions: How should this, or the next Age, know of your share therein? And even what I have sayd, is but playing an After-game for you; to recover (precariously) ex post liminio what you had let slip in its due time. And, even yet, I see you make no great hast to publish those Letters, which are to be my Vouchers for what I say of it. And even those Letters at first, were rather extorted from you, than purely voluntary. You may say, perhaps, the last piece of this concerning Colours is not quite finished. It may be so: (and perhaps never will.) But pray let us have what is. And, while that is printing, you may (if ever) perfect the rest. But if, during the delay, you chance to Die, or those papers chance to take fire (as some others have done,) 'tis all lost, both as to you, & as to the publike. It hath been an old complaint, that an Englishman never knows when a thing is well. (But will still be over-doing, & thereby looseth or spoils many times what was well before.) I own that Modesty is a Vertue; but too much Diffidence (especially as the world now goes) is a Fault. And if men will never publish ought till it be so perfect as that nothing more can be added to it: themselves & the publike will both be loosers. I hope, Sir, you will forgive me this Freedome (while I speak the sense of others as well as my own,) or else I know not how we thus forgive these delays. I could say a great deal more: But, if you think I have sayd too much allready, pray forgive this kindness of

Your real friend &

humble servant,

John Wallis.

Dr Gregory gives you his service.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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