Synopsis: There are many lessons young scholars need to learn.
Investors can learn these four to celebrate a new school year.
Head down, the newly matriculated freshman crossed the green expanse in front of the dormitories hunched against a freshening summer breeze and the occasional hurled insults of the upperclassmen.
“Fresh meat.” Bellowed a deep bass voice from one of the windows. “Fresh meat.”
The youngster shivered despite the warmth of the July day. These were his first hours at University, and the boy felt the as if he had swallowed a beehive. He missed his parents, his home and he wondered what others might think of him. The heckling didn’t help. Yes, it was the Queen’s College in Oxford, but boys were still boys and young Edmond keenly felt the reduced circumstances of his family, who had lost most of their fortune in the great fire of 1666.
He hunched down further into his frock coat, sweat rolling in great bubbling beads down his forehead and into his eyes. Blinded, he bumbled into a cloaked form striding toward the academic buildings at the other end of the lawn, sending them both tumbling to the ground in a pile of books and fluttering paper.
“Oh. Oh. Pardon me, sir,” cried the young student. “I humbly beg your pardon.”
“And I would give it to you. If I could breathe,” the older man wheezed. Slowly, John Flamsteed came to his senses and gathered his papers. “Who are you boy?”
“Ummm....Halley sir, Edmond Halley, from Derbyshire.”
“The soap makers boy?”
“Yes sir,” Halley squeaked.
Flamsteed harrumphed. “Well, at least I can assume you are clean. But if you don’t mind your affairs and pay attention, no one will ever know your name as I do now. Get yourself to your lodgings and I shall see you in class. If you can make it there without injuring yourself or anyone else.”
Well, that could not have been worse. Halley briefly considered digging a hole in the field in front of him and burying himself for all time. But he did not. And John Flamsteed, the future Royal Astronomer who laid the foundation stone for the Greenwich Observatory would later change his mind about the young pupil who showed up at Queens College in the summer of 1673, taking him under his wing and supporting his budding career in astronomy. That is until his protégé Edmond met another genius named Isaac.
Halley and Newton became fast friends in 1684 alienating the entire Flamsteed family. While Halley worked on the comets and Newton on gravity, they found that they admired each other’s work and that the subjects were not unrelated. Over the years, they took care of each other through patronage and political appointments, pushing aside Flamsteed, as well as his widow. Upon Flamsteed’s death and Halley’s elevation to Royal Astronomer, Mrs. Flamsteed cleaned out the Royal Observatory, leaving it bare and claiming the instruments were personal and not public property. Despite missing a few tools from the proverbial tool box, Halley persevered in his study of the heavens, as a certain comet bearing his name will attest.
Here are four History Lessons for the Modern Investor courtesy of Flamsteed, his widow and Sir Edmond Halley.
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