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Meantime the long-repressed soil vents it- come to the traveler after days of nothing self in extravagant, contorted growths of sage- but sky and sage-brush, sun and silence. brush. Where the sage grows rank and covers The new settlement is but an outpost of the the ground like a dwarfed forest the settler frontier : if the mines hold out, if the railroads chooses his location. But the prospector presently remember that it is there, its young usually comes before the settler; he takes the fields need not wither nor its ditches be choked greater risks which go with the higher chances. with dust. Twenty years, if it should survive, He has found, or fought, his way into the will have brought it beauty as well as comfort mountains, whence rumors of rich strikes and security. The older ranches will show quickly breed the mining fever. Hard upon signs of prosperous tenantage in their tree-dethe news of the first “boom” comes the set- fended barns and long lines of ditches, dividtler, sure of his market. He ventures into the ing, with a still sheen, the varied greens of the nearest valley, taps the runaway river, makes springing crops. Each freshly plowed field that a hole in its pocket, and a little of the wrested encroaches upon the aboriginal sage-brush is treasure leaks out and fertilizes his wild acres. a new stitch taken in the pattern of civilization The new crops are miracles of abundance: which runs, a slender, bright border, along the mining-camp markets, while they last, are the skirt of the desert's dusty garment. romance of farming ; very soon the primitive Faces, too, will soften, and forms grow more irrigator can afford to enlarge his ditches and lovely as the conditions of life improve. The improve his “system.” New locators crowd men and women who took the brunt of the into the narrow valley; the ranches lock fences siege and capture of those first square miles side by side. Small ventures in stock are of desert will carry in their countenances cast, like bread upon the waters, far forth something of the record of that achievement. into the hills, which are the granaries of the The second generation may seek to forget that arid belt.
its fathers and mothers “walked in” behind The river and its green dependencies strike a plains' wagon; but in the third, the story a new and shriller color-note, which quavers will be proudly revived, with all the honors of through the dun landscape like the note of a tradition; and in the fourth generation from willow-whistle on warm spring days — clear, the sage-brush the ancestral irrigator will be sweet, but languid with the oppression of the no less a personage, in the eyes of his descendbare, unshaded fields around. It is the human ants, than the Pilgrim Father, the Dutch note, familiar in its crudeness, but dearly wel- Patroon, or the Virginia Cavalier.
AN AMERICAN AMATEUR ASTRONOMER.'
OR years Mr. S. W. Burnham oc- modest friend was the man. Why, I have never
cupied a seat alongside Judge heard him utter a word about astronomy.” Drummond of the United States “Very likely,” replied his friend, " and if Circuit Court in Chicago as you had known him for a hundred years it stenographer, or shorthand re- might have been the same; for, except to intiporter, to the court.
mate friends and men of similar tastes, he never “What!"exclaimed the United alludes to his scientific investigations.". States district attorney who practiced daily It is of this amateur astronomer, whose name in Judge Drummond's court, “our Burnham is better known in St. Petersburg, London, the Chicago astronomer! Why, I have known Berlin, Paris, and Rome than in the city in him for these twelve years past, and knew there which he has spent the best twenty years of was a noted astronomer in the city by the name his life, that I now wish to write. of Burnham, but never suspected our quiet, Sherburne Wesley Burnham was born about
1 We make the following extract from the letter of photography of late years has come to be regarded as a correspondent at Chicago : “Mr. S. W. Burnham one of the most interesting departments of the science, is now chief assistant of Professor Edward S. Holden, and the great equatorial of the Lick Observatory has Director of the Lick Observatory in California. For been fitted up with every needed photographic apseveral years Mr. Burnham has been perfecting him- pliance.” self in the art of photography with the purpose of Mr. Burnham has therefore been keeping up his applying it to astronomical observations, and in this scientific studies since this article was written in work he has been very successful. Astronomical 1884.- EDITOR.
the year 1840 at Thetford, Vermont, and crying Burritt's “ Geography of the Heavens” at the Thetford Academy, then and, for the well-known work by a brother of the aught I know to the contrary, still noted for more famous Elihu Burritt. The subject was its educational excellences, he received a one in which Mr. Burnham had at that time no good English education. As to his youthful special interest, but he bid for the book, which predilections and pursuits, we only know that was knocked down to him. On examining it they were not especially in the direction of he found it contained charts of the sidereal scientific subjects. Indeed, it was not until he heavens. In these he soon became interested, had grown up and adopted stenography as a and took advantage of the first clear night to profession that Mr. Burnham had his atten- study the heavens for himself, and to trace out tion directed to astronomy, and in a way suffi- the various constellations and principal stars ciently curious to warrant recital. During the described on Mr. Burritt's charts. Further late civil war Mr. Burnham was stationed with study of the work served to deepen his interest, the army in New Orleans, holding the position and he bought a small, cheap telescope. This of shorthand reporter at headquarters. One after some time, and before leaving New afternoon as he was strolling along the street Orleans, he exchanged for a better instrument, his eye was attracted by the notice of a book which he took with him to Chicago, somewhere auction. He entered as the auctioneer was about the year 1866. He also became inter
ested in microscopy, and carried on his study think I shall order one,” which he did by mail of both subjects simultaneously. Up to this a short time later, telling them to “go ahead, time he had not read much about astronomy, but to take all the time necessary to turn out and it was the coming into possession of the their very best work.” Rev. T. W. Webb's “ Celestial Objects for And so they went ahead, taking the time Common Telescopes” that determined his they needed. The result was that our amateur future line of study and caused him to devote astronomer became the happy possessor of the his entire energies to astronomical investiga- new instrument, which proved to be one of the tions during his leisure hours. Meanwhile he finest the Clarks had ever made. But the probkept on reading the best books on physical lem still remained of having his telescope perand mathematical astronomy, and mastered manently mounted. In this -for he liked to the general features and principles of the do things as simply and cheaply as possible—he science.
had recourse to mother wit. Procuring a large Engaged in these quiet studies and in his piece of timber he sunk it deep in the ground shorthand reporting, nothing important oc- in the back yard of his little house on Vincurred until Messrs. Alvan Clark & Sons of cennes Avenue, near Ellis Park, and about two Cambridge, Massachusetts, the most famous blocks from the Dearborn Observatory. Around telescope makers in the world, went to Chicago this timber he built what his friends used laughto set up the great telescope in the Dearborn ingly to call a “cheese-box,” on the top of Observatory in the University of Chicago, of which he placed a dome that could be turned which instrument the Chicago Astronomical around easily at will. Most of the work he Society came into possession, and in this way: did with his own hands; and it was with this At the time of the organization of that society, little telescope, thus rudely mounted, that the in 1862, the Clarks had in their possession an modest, quiet shorthand reporter made his first object glass of 1812 inches, which they had important discoveries of double stars - discovmade for the University of Mississippi, and eries which a few years later attracted the which had been left on their hands in conse- attention and commanded the admiration of quence of the breaking out of the war of the the leading scientific men in Europe. Rebellion. Steps were at once taken to secure All this time he went on with his regular what was then the largest, as it now is the sixth work, was at his place in court every day, or seventh largest, object glass in the world. working the usual business hours. In the evenNegotiations for its purchase were pending with ing he went into his “cheese-box" and studied other parties, but by the prompt and decisive the heavens till daylight drove him to his bed. action of the Hon. Thomas Hoyne of Chicago No wonder that when a visitor, perhaps from the glass was secured and a contract made for Europe, went in search of this sleepless, sharpa complete mounting at a cost of $18,000. sighted astronomer to pay his respects and This sum was raised by subscription, the sub- make a visit to his observatory he was told by scribers thereby becoming members of the the street children that Mr. Burnham was Astronomical Society. A massive tower, about “queer man, who lived nights in that cheeseninety feet high and attached to the building of box.” His neighbors generally knew but little the university, was erected and the instrument about him, and did not know what to make of put in position early in 1864. The tower alone the odd-looking structure in his back yard; and cost $30,000, the entire expense of which was younger people associated the star-gazer with defrayed by one Chicago citizen, the Hon. J. vague ideas of necromancy, fortune-telling, and Young Scammon, who has been president of magical incantations. But his observatory as the Astronomical Society of that city since its yet was far from being complete. He had now organization.
an excellent telescope, equatorially mounted, The setting up of this telescope in his imme- but he had no micrometer, and lacked besides diate neighborhood suggested to Mr. Burn- several other instruments necessary for the ham the advisability of getting a larger one measurement of the stars he had discovered. for himself. Accordingly when the Clarks were Even if he had possessed them he did not know in Chicago on their way home from making how to make the measurements. In this emerobservations of the total eclipse of the sun gency he bethought him of the great Italian the path of which passed through Iowa and astronomer, Baron Dembowski, then the most southern Illinois in January, 1869, he sought distinguished star measurer living. To the and made their acquaintance. It was in the baron Mr. Burnham sent a list of a few of his Dearborn Observatory that they met, and after latest discoveries of close double stars, with a some conversation he asked them for what they respectful suggestion to the great man that he would make him a telescope with six-inch ob- might like to verify and measure them. This ject glass as good as could be made. The reply the baron was only too glad and proud to do; was $800. “Well,” said Mr. Burnham, “ I and more than that, it led to an intimacy and
a charming correspondence which terminated astronomers in less than two years, and all of only with the baron's death in January, 1881. them discovered by means of a six-inch tele
These measurements, by the way, it may be scope in a back yard in Chicago. It caused a interesting to know, have since been published veritable sensation among European astronoin Milan. About this time Mr. Webb of Eng- mers, for during the previous twenty years, all land, the author of the book which had so the observers in the world had not made such much interested Mr. Burnham, made his ac- a contribution of new doubles to this departquaintance and began to correspond with him ment of astronomy. frequently. The friendship had also a direct Here, at the risk of boring some readers who effect on Mr. Burnham's career, for Mr. Webb may be proficient in astronomy, it may be as
Map showing the distribution site dude sturs
was so much impressed with his friend's dis- well to explain what is meant by a “double” coveries and attainments that in 1874 he star. All the stars we see in the heavens with nominated him as Fellow of the Royal Astro- the naked eye appear to be single — one nomical Society and secured his election. Mr. sharp point of light. Some of them,
however, Burnham's reputation went on increasing rap- are double, and when seen through a good idly in every country except his own, where telescope this sharp point of light turns into the subject of double stars had never attracted two sharp points, sometimes into three, and in much attention. Early in 1873 he sent his first a few instances into four. The last is called a catalogue, of eighty-one new double stars dis- quadruple star. One instance of a wide quadcovered by himself and subsequently measured ruple star any of my readers can see for himby Baron Dembowski, to England for publi- self, if he have a chance to look through a good cation, and it was printed in the “Monthly telescope; but if he have only a good operaNotices of the Royal Astronomical Society,” glass, he can see it as a double. It is the star in March, 1873. A second list, of 25 more new called Epsilon Lyræ; that is, the fifth star in doubles, appeared in the same publication in size in the constellation Lyra. In the summer May, 1873; a third, of 76, in December, 1873; this constellation is very nearly overhead about a fourth, of 74, in June, 1874; and a fifth, of 9 o'clock in the evening. It may be known by 71, in November, 1874. Here were three hun- its great star Vega, the largest and brightest dred new double stars, all of them close and star in that part of the heavens. Two smaller difficult, brought to the notice of European stars near Vega make with it an equilateral