Best Rejection Letter Ever

…it is with no inconsiderable degree of reluctance that I decline the offer of any Paper from you. I think, however, you will under reconsideration of the subject be of the opinion that I have no other alternative. The subjects you propose for a series of Mathematical and Metaphysical Essays are so very profound, that there is perhaps not a single subscriber to our Journal who could follow them.

Sir David Brewster editor of The Edinburgh Journal of Science to Charles Babbage on July 3, 1821. Noted in James Gleick’s, The Information.


I have gotten a lot of rejection letters. But, none of them were as cool as the one above.

I wonder what Sir David Brewster would have written had the President and Congress sent him the ObamaCare law and the Dodd-Frank law for preparing executive summaries.

This reminds me of the art of British obituaries. Like letter writing, yet another art where the Brits are far in advance of us. I hear rejection letters were first invented in China.

My comments are sometimes so profound that others cannot follow them either.

My comments are sometimes so profound that I barely can follow them myself.

I wasn't proposing essays... that was my resume.

Sir David Brewster was not the only one not prescient about the computer. Charles Babbage might not inaccurately be described as one of its grandfathers.
Sir David, however, was prescient about Babbage's uncommon and esoteric genius.


Shouldn't your post's title be - Best.. Rejection..Letter,,Evah!?

This raises a question that I've wondered about for years: Before the computer, or even the adding machine, by whom, how, when and under what working conditions, were log and trig tables produced? Presumably they only had to be done once to a given degree of accuracy, but how about the Nautical Almanac, compiled every year. Talk about the drudgery of crunching those numbers!

They did use computers. Human computers.

Ugggggghhhhh the worst part about log tables is that my country manufactures semiconductors and we still had to use bloody log tables for secondary school maths. We were only allowed to use "normal" calculators with no log or trig functions. (up to my graduating year at least, which was 2000.) I know a lot of kids are from poor families but considering that the Ministry of Education has a textbook loan scheme, you'd think they could loan out basic scientific calculators too.

"He died a bitter man."

The fate of every innovative thinker who is drowned amongst self-serving, spiritless, uninquisitive, risk avoiding, incompetent fools.

"self-serving, spiritless, uninquisitive, risk avoiding, incompetent fools": or "humans" as they are often called.

i'm just 28 years old and never heard about "human computers" before. what a precious and valuable piece of history. i'll never say the word "hacker" again without remembering this.

@jody: thanks for the reply, comments sometimes are much better than the original post.

OT but note that the link to "Charles Babbage" is to some random and not very informative page. Stupid signaling again. Alex-The-Intellectual cannot lower himself pointing to the plebs' resource like Wikipedia.

Sorry, this is the best rejection letter ever.

BRILLIANT! And heart-rending. "Surely there will come a day of reckoning for those who deprive the laborer of his hire." Amen.

Is this authentic?

It does seem remarkably literate. No archaic spellings, either. I'm suspicious.

In any event, it's a GREAT response...

I once submitted a scientific paper (in an applied physics field) on a practical method for checking the accuracy of certain common calculations. There was nothing really available to do these calculations other than very complex, very expensive commercial programs. Hence, most people used thumb rules or vague approximations to "check" calculation results.
We developed a simple, robust method, easily implemented by any competent professional to accurately spot check calculation results from the commercial software.
The reviewer said that "the mathematical principles behind these calculations are well understood and therefore this is not original work."
The math was not original, but the application was. I think that reviewers really hate to have something that they should have done themselves pointed out to them by someone else.
Perhaps, in Babbage's case, it was not that no one could understand his articles, certainly modern thinkers do, but that they would have made the limitations of his predecessors' thinking obvious. (Not saying that my work, or frustrations, equals Baggage's, but the frustration of great work is often rooted in the same petty practices that hold back even minor advances for mankind.)

My favorite rejection of a rejection is from a playwright to a critic:
"I am sitting in the smallest room in my house and I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me."

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