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Meantime the long-repressed soil vents itself in extravagant, contorted growths of sagebrush. Where the sage grows rank and covers the ground like a dwarfed forest the settler chooses his location. But the prospector usually comes before the settler; he takes the greater risks which go with the higher chances. He has found, or fought, his way into the mountains, whence rumors of rich strikes quickly breed the mining fever. Hard upon the news of the first "boom" comes the settler, sure of his market. He ventures into the nearest valley, taps the runaway river, makes a hole in its pocket, and a little of the wrested treasure leaks out and fertilizes his wild acres. The new crops are miracles of abundance: mining-camp markets, while they last, are the romance of farming; very soon the primitive irrigator can afford to enlarge his ditches and improve his "system." New locators crowd into the narrow valley; the ranches lock fences side by side. Small ventures in stock are cast, like bread upon the waters, far forth into the hills, which are the granaries of the arid belt.
The river and its green dependencies strike a new and shriller color-note, which quavers through the dun landscape like the note of a willow-whistle on warm spring days—clear, sweet, but languid with the oppression of the bare, unshaded fields around. It is the human note, familiar in its crudeness, but dearly wel
come to the traveler after days of nothing but sky and sage-brush, sun and silence.
The new settlement is but an outpost of the frontier: if the mines hold out, if the railroads presently remember that it is there, its young fields need not wither nor its ditches be choked with dust. Twenty years, if it should survive, will have brought it beauty as well as comfort and security. The older ranches will show signs of prosperous tenantage in their tree-defended barns and long lines of ditches, dividing, with a still sheen, the varied greens of the springing crops. Each freshly plowed field that encroaches upon the aboriginal sage-brush is a new stitch taken in the pattern of civilization which runs, a slender, bright border, along the skirt of the desert's dusty garment.
Faces, too, will soften, and forms grow more lovely as the conditions of life improve. The men and women who took the brunt of the siege and capture of those first square miles of desert will carry in their countenances something of the record of that achievement. The second generation may seek to forget that its fathers and mothers "walked in" behind a plains' wagon; but in the third, the story will be proudly revived, with all the honors of tradition; and in the fourth generation from the sage-brush the ancestral irrigator will be no less a personage, in the eyes of his descendants, than the Pilgrim Father, the Dutch Patroon, or the Virginia Cavalier.
AN AMERICAN AMATEUR ASTRONOMER.'
OR years Mr. S. W. Burnham occupied a seat alongside Judge Drummond of the United States Circuit Court in Chicago as stenographer, or shorthand reporter, to the court.
"What!" exclaimed the United States district attorney who practiced daily in Judge Drummond's court, "our Burnham the Chicago astronomer! Why, I have known him for these twelve years past, and knew there was a noted astronomer in the city by the name of Burnham, but never suspected our quiet,
1 We make the following extract from the letter of a correspondent at Chicago: "Mr. S. W. Burnham is now chief assistant of Professor Edward S. Holden, Director of the Lick Observatory in California. For several years Mr. Burnham has been perfecting himself in the art of photography with the purpose of applying it to astronomical observations, and in this work he has been very successful. Astronomical
modest friend was the man. Why, I have never heard him utter a word about astronomy."
"Very likely," replied his friend, "and if you had known him for a hundred years it might have been the same; for, except to intimate friends and men of similar tastes, he never alludes to his scientific investigations."
It is of this amateur astronomer, whose name is better known in St. Petersburg, London, Berlin, Paris, and Rome than in the city in which he has spent the best twenty years of his life, that I now wish to write.
Sherburne Wesley Burnham was born about
photography of late years has come to be regarded as one of the most interesting departments of the science, and the great equatorial of the Lick Observatory has been fitted up with every needed photographic appliance.'
Mr. Burnham has therefore been keeping up his scientific studies since this article was written in 1884.- EDITOR.
SHERBURNE WESLEY BURNHAM. (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY GENTILE & Co.)
the year 1840 at Thetford, Vermont, and at the Thetford Academy, then and, for aught I know to the contrary, still noted for its educational excellences, he received a good English education. As to his youthful predilections and pursuits, we only know that they were not especially in the direction of scientific subjects. Indeed, it was not until he had grown up and adopted stenography as a profession that Mr. Burnham had his attention directed to astronomy, and in a way sufficiently curious to warrant recital. During the late civil war Mr. Burnham was stationed with the army in New Orleans, holding the position of shorthand reporter at headquarters. One afternoon as he was strolling along the street his eye was attracted by the notice of a book auction. He entered as the auctioneer was
crying Burritt's "Geography of the Heavens " the well-known work by a brother of the more famous Elihu Burritt. The subject was one in which Mr. Burnham had at that time no special interest, but he bid for the book, which was knocked down to him. On examining it he found it contained charts of the sidereal heavens. In these he soon became interested, and took advantage of the first clear night to study the heavens for himself, and to trace out the various constellations and principal stars described on Mr. Burritt's charts. Further study of the work served to deepen his interest, and he bought a small, cheap telescope. This after some time, and before leaving New Orleans, he exchanged for a better instrument, which he took with him to Chicago, somewhere about the year 1866. He also became inter
ested in microscopy, and carried on his study of both subjects simultaneously. Up to this time he had not read much about astronomy, and it was the coming into possession of the Rev. T. W. Webb's "Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes" that determined his future line of study and caused him to devote his entire energies to astronomical investigations during his leisure hours. Meanwhile he kept on reading the best books on physical and mathematical astronomy, and mastered the general features and principles of the science.
Engaged in these quiet studies and in his shorthand reporting, nothing important occurred until Messrs. Alvan Clark & Sons of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the most famous telescope makers in the world, went to Chicago to set up the great telescope in the Dearborn Observatory in the University of Chicago, of which instrument the Chicago Astronomical Society came into possession, and in this way: At the time of the organization of that society, in 1862, the Clarks had in their possession an object glass of 181⁄2 inches, which they had made for the University of Mississippi, and which had been left on their hands in consequence of the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion. Steps were at once taken to secure what was then the largest, as it now is the sixth or seventh largest, object glass in the world. Negotiations for its purchase were pending with other parties, but by the prompt and decisive action of the Hon. Thomas Hoyne of Chicago the glass was secured and a contract made for a complete mounting at a cost of $18,000. This sum was raised by subscription, the subscribers thereby becoming members of the Astronomical Society. A massive tower, about ninety feet high and attached to the building of the university, was erected and the instrument put in position early in 1864. The tower alone cost $30,000, the entire expense of which was defrayed by one Chicago citizen, the Hon. J. Young Scammon, who has been president of the Astronomical Society of that city since its organization.
The setting up of this telescope in his immediate neighborhood suggested to Mr. Burnham the advisability of getting a larger one for himself. Accordingly when the Clarks were in Chicago on their way home from making observations of the total eclipse of the sun the path of which passed through Iowa and southern Illinois in January, 1869, he sought and made their acquaintance. It was in the Dearborn Observatory that they met, and after some conversation he asked them for what they would make him a telescope with six-inch object glass as good as could be made. The reply was $800. "Well," said Mr. Burnham, "I
think I shall order one," which he did by mail a short time later, telling them to "go ahead, but to take all the time necessary to turn out their very best work."
And so they went ahead, taking the time they needed. The result was that our amateur astronomer became the happy possessor of the new instrument, which proved to be one of the finest the Clarks had ever made. But the problem still remained of having his telescope permanently mounted. In this-for he liked to do things as simply and cheaply as possible—he had recourse to mother wit. Procuring a large piece of timber he sunk it deep in the ground in the back yard of his little house on Vincennes Avenue, near Ellis Park, and about two blocks from the Dearborn Observatory. Around this timber he built what his friends used laughingly to call a "cheese-box," on the top of which he placed a dome that could be turned around easily at will. Most of the work he did with his own hands; and it was with this little telescope, thus rudely mounted, that the modest, quiet shorthand reporter made his first important discoveries of double stars-discoveries which a few years later attracted the attention and commanded the admiration of the leading scientific men in Europe.
All this time he went on with his regular work, was at his place in court every day, working the usual business hours. In the evening he went into his "cheese-box" and studied the heavens till daylight drove him to his bed. No wonder that when a visitor, perhaps from Europe, went in search of this sleepless, sharpsighted astronomer to pay his respects and make a visit to his observatory he was told by the street children that Mr. Burnham was a "queer man, who lived nights in that cheesebox." His neighbors generally knew but little about him, and did not know what to make of the odd-looking structure in his back yard; and younger people associated the star-gazer with vague ideas of necromancy, fortune-telling, and magical incantations. But his observatory as yet was far from being complete. He had now an excellent telescope, equatorially mounted, but he had no micrometer, and lacked besides several other instruments necessary for the measurement of the stars he had discovered. Even if he had possessed them he did not know how to make the measurements. In this emergency he bethought him of the great Italian astronomer, Baron Dembowski, then the most distinguished star measurer living. To the baron Mr. Burnham sent a list of a few of his latest discoveries of close double stars, with a respectful suggestion to the great man that he might like to verify and measure them. This the baron was only too glad and proud to do; and more than that, it led to an intimacy and
a charming correspondence which terminated only with the baron's death in January, 1881. These measurements, by the way, it may be interesting to know, have since been published in Milan. About this time Mr. Webb of England, the author of the book which had so much interested Mr. Burnham, made his acquaintance and began to correspond with him frequently. The friendship had also a direct. effect on Mr. Burnham's career, for Mr. Webb
astronomers in less than two years, and all of them discovered by means of a six-inch telescope in a back yard in Chicago. It caused a veritable sensation among European astronomers, for during the previous twenty years, all the observers in the world had not made such a contribution of new doubles to this department of astronomy.
Here, at the risk of boring some readers who may be proficient in astronomy, it may be as
Map showing the distribution the double stars
2/ . 30
was so much impressed with his friend's discoveries and attainments that in 1874 he nominated him as Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and secured his election. Mr. Burnham's reputation went on increasing rapidly in every country except his own, where the subject of double stars had never attracted much attention. Early in 1873 he sent his first catalogue, of eighty-one new double stars discovered by himself and subsequently measured by Baron Dembowski, to England for publication, and it was printed in the "Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society," in March, 1873. A second list, of 25 more new doubles, appeared in the same publication in May, 1873; a third, of 76, in December, 1873; a fourth, of 74, in June, 1874; and a fifth, of 71, in November, 1874. Here were three hundred new double stars, all of them close and difficult, brought to the notice of European
well to explain what is meant by a "double" star. All the stars we see in the heavens with the naked eye appear to be single - one sharp point of light. Some of them, however, are double, and when seen through a good telescope this sharp point of light turns into two sharp points, sometimes into three, and in a few instances into four. The last is called a quadruple star. One instance of a wide quadruple star any of my readers can see for himself, if he have a chance to look through a good telescope; but if he have only a good operaglass, he can see it as a double. It is the star called Epsilon Lyræ; that is, the fifth star in size in the constellation Lyra. In the summer this constellation is very nearly overhead about 9 o'clock in the evening. It may be known by its great star Vega, the largest and brightest star in that part of the heavens. Two smaller stars near Vega make with it an equilateral