Allan Metcalf has a nice appreciation of Eric P. Hamp and of his field, historical linguistics, in Lingua Franca:
Indo-European linguists like Hamp compare the modern languages with one another to reconstruct the common ancestor spoken some thousands of years ago, long before any language was recorded. That means observing patterns of relationships among hundreds of current languages. To do this properly means studying those hundreds of languages. Hamp has done this, not only with written languages but also with personal fieldwork throughout Europe and parts of Asia to learn lesser-known languages and dialects.
He quotes some nice bits from Hamp’s articles in the latest issue of Comments on Etymology, e.g. “Welsh illustrates with its normal set of numeral terms how a sophisticated and notably artistic and musical culture can evolve a set of terms at the same time traditionally systematic yet so complex that it would tire out and lose any of their neighbors if they ever took the trouble to learn to read their genuinely gorgeous poetry.” Hamp is 92 and still going strong, and reading things like this makes me wish I’d stuck it out in what was once my field as well.