Men of Invention and Industry/Chapter XII

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Men of Invention and Industry by Samuel Smiles
(Chapter 12: Astronomers and Students in Humble Life: A New Chapter in the 'Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties')

"I first learnt to read when the masons were at work in your house. I approached them one day, and observed that the architect used a rule and compass, and that he made calculations.

I inquired what might be the meaning and use of these things, and I was informed that there was a science called Arithmetic. I purchased a book of arithmetic, and I learned it. I was told there was another science called Geometry; I bought the necessary books, and I learned Geometry. By reading, I found there were good books in these two sciences in Latin; I bought a dictionary, and I learned Latin. I understood, also, that there were good books of the same kind in French; I bought a dictionary, and I learned French. It seems to me that one does not need to know anything more than the twenty-four letters to learn everything else that one wishes." — Edmund Stone to the Duke of Argyll. ('Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties.')

"The British Census proper reckons twenty-seven and a half million in the home countries. What makes this census important is the quality of the units that compose it. They are free forcible men, in a country where life is safe, and has reached the greatest value. They give the bias to the current age; and that not by chance or by mass, but by their character, and by the number of individuals among them of personal ability."--Emerson: English Traits.

From Belfast to the Highlands of Scotland is an easy route by steamers and railways. While at Birnam, near Dunkeld, I was reminded of some remarkable characters in the neighbourhood. After the publication of the 'Scotch Naturalist' and 'Robert Dick,' I received numerous letters informing me of many self-taught botanists and students of nature, quite as interesting as the subjects of my memoirs. Among others, there was John Duncan, the botanist weaver of Aberdeen, whose interesting life has since been done justice to by Mr. Jolly; and John Sim of Perth, first a shepherd boy, then a soldier, and towards the close of his life a poet and a botanist, whose life, I was told, was "as interesting as a romance."

There was also Alexander Croall, Custodian of the Smith Institute at Stirling, an admirable naturalist and botanist. He was originally a hard-working parish schoolmaster, near Montrose. During his holiday wanderings he collected plants for his extensive herbarium. His accomplishments having come under the notice of the late Sir William Hooker, he was selected by that gentleman to prepare sets of the Plants of Braemar for the Queen and Prince Albert, which he did to their entire satisfaction. He gave up his school-mastership for an ill-paid but more congenial occupation, that of Librarian to the Derby Museum and Herbarium. Some years ago, he was appointed to his present position of Custodian to the Smith Institute — perhaps the best provincial museum and art gallery in Scotland.

I could not, however, enter into the history of these remarkable persons; though I understand there is a probability of Mr. Croall giving his scientific recollections to the world. He has already brought out a beautiful work, in four volumes, 'British Seaweeds, Nature-printed;' and anything connected with his biography will be looked forward to with interest.

Among the other persons brought to my notice, years ago, were Astronomers in humble life. For instance, I received a letter from John Grierson, keeper of the Girdleness Lighthouse, near Aberdeen, mentioning one of these persons as "an extraordinary character." "William Ballingall," he said, "is a weaver in the town of Lower Largo, Fifeshire; and from his early days he has made astronomy the subject of passionate study. I used to spend my school vacation at Largo, and have frequently heard him expound upon his favourite subject. I believe that very high opinions have been expressed by scientific gentlemen regarding Ballingall's attainments. They were no doubt surprised that an individual with but a very limited amount of education, and whose hours of labour were from five in the morning until ten or eleven at night, should be able to acquire so much knowledge on so profound a subject. Had he possessed a fair amount of education, and an assortment of scientific instruments and books, the world would have heard more about him. Should you ever find yourself," my correspondent concludes, "in his neighbourhood, and have a few hours to spare, you would have no reason to regret the time spent in his company." I could not, however, arrange to pay the proposed visit to Largo; but I found that I could, without inconvenience, visit another astronomer in the neighbourhood of Dunkeld.

In January 1879 I received a letter from Sheriff Barclay, of Perth, to the following effect: "Knowing the deep interest you take in genius and merit in humble ranks, I beg to state to you an extraordinary case. John Robertson is a railway porter at Coupar Angus station. From early youth he has made the heavens his study. Night after night he looks above, and from his small earnings he has provided himself with a telescope which cost him about 30L. He sends notices of his observations to the scientific journals, under the modest initials of 'J.R.' He is a great favourite with the public; and it is said that he has made some observations in celestial phenomena not before noticed. It does occur to me that he should have a wider field for his favourite study. In connection with an observatory, his services would be invaluable."

Nearly five years had elapsed since the receipt of this letter, and I had done nothing to put myself in communication with the Coupar Angus astronomer. Strange to say, his existence was again recalled to my notice by Professor Grainger Stewart, of Edinburgh. He said that if I was in the neighbourhood I ought to call upon him, and that he would receive me kindly. His duty, he said, was to act as porter at the station, and to shout the name of the place as the trains passed. I wrote to John Robertson accordingly, and received a reply stating that he would be glad to see me, and inclosing a photograph, in which I recognised a good, honest, sensible face, with his person inclosed in the usual station porter's garb, "C.R. 1446."

I started from Dunkeld, and reached Coupar Angus in due time. As I approached the station, I heard the porter calling out, "Coupar Angus! change here for Blairgowrie!"[1] It was the voice of John Robertson.

I descended from the train, and addressed him at once: after the photograph there could be no mistaking him. An arrangement for a meeting was made, and he called upon me in the evening. I invited him to such hospitality as the inn afforded; but he would have nothing. "I am much obliged to you," he said; "but it always does me harm." I knew at once what the "it" meant. Then he invited me to his house in Causewayend Street. I found his cottage clean and comfortable, presided over by an evidently clever wife. He took me into his sitting-room, where I inspected his drawings of the sun-spots, made in colour on a large scale. In all his statements he was perfectly modest and unpretending. The following is his story, so far as I can recollect, in his own words: — "Yes; I certainly take a great interest in astronomy, but I have done nothing in it worthy of notice. I am scarcely worthy to be called a day labourer in the science. I am very well known hereabouts, especially to the travelling public; but I must say that they think a great deal more of me than I deserve.

"What made me first devote my attention to the subject of astronomy? Well, if I can trace it to one thing more than another, it was to some evening lectures delivered by the late Dr. Dick, of Broughty Ferry, to the men employed at the Craigs' Bleachfield Works, near Montrose, where I then worked, about the year l848. Dr. Dick was an excellent lecturer, and I listened to him with attention. His instructions were fully impressed upon our minds by Mr. Cooper, the teacher of the evening school, which I attended. After giving the young lads employed at the works their lessons in arithmetic, he would come out with us into the night — and it was generally late when we separated — and show us the principal constellations, and the planets above the horizon. It was a wonderful sight; yet we were told that these hundreds upon hundreds of stars, as far as the eye could see, were but a mere vestige of the creation amidst which we lived. I got to know the names of some of the constellations the Greater Bear, with 'the pointers' which pointed to the Pole Star, Orion with his belt, the Twins, the Pleiades, and other prominent objects in the heavens. It was a source of constant wonder and surprise.

"When I left the Bleachfield Works, I went to Inverury, to the North of Scotland Railway, which was then in course of formation; and for many years, being immersed in work, I thought comparatively little of astronomy. It remained, however, a pleasant memory. It was only after coming to this neighbourhood in 1854, when the railway to Blairgowrie was under construction, that I began to read up a little, during my leisure hours, on the subject of astronomy. I got married the year after, since which time I have lived in this house.

"I became a member of a reading-room club, and read all the works of Dr. Dick that the library contained: his 'Treatise on the Solar System,' his 'Practical Astronomer,' and other works. There were also some very good popular works to which I was indebted for amusement as well as instruction: Chambers's 'Information for the People,' Cassell's ' Popular Educator,' and a very interesting series of articles in the 'Leisure Hour,' by Edwin Dunkin of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. These last papers were accompanied by maps of the chief constellations, so that I had a renewed opportunity of becoming a little better acquainted with the geography of the heavens.

"I began to have a wish for a telescope, by means of which I might be able to see a little more than with my naked eyes. But I found that I could not get anything of much use, short of 20L. I could not for a long time feel justified in spending so much money for my own personal enjoyment. My children were then young and dependent upon me. They required to attend school--for education is a thing that parents must not neglect, with a view to the future. However, about the year 1875, my attention was called to a cheap instrument advertised by Solomon--what he called his '5L. telescope.' I purchased one, and it tantalised me; for the power of the instrument was such as to teach me nothing of the surface of the planets. After using it for about two years, I sold it to a student, and then found that I had accumulated enough savings to enable me to buy my present instrument. Will you come into the next room and look at it?"

I went accordingly into the adjoining room, and looked at the new telescope. It was taken from its case, put upon its tripod, and looked in beautiful condition. It is a refractor, made by Cooke and Sons of York. The object glass is three inches; the focal length forty-three inches; and the telescope, when drawn out, with the pancratic eyepiece attached, is about four feet. It was made after Mr. Robertson's directions, and is a sort of combination of instruments.

"Even that instrument," he proceeded, "good as it is for the money, tantalises me yet. A look through a fixed equatorial, such as every large observatory is furnished with is a glorious view. I shall never forget the sight that I got when at Dunecht Observatory, to which I was invited through the kindness of Dr. Copeland, the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres' principal astronomer.

"You ask me what I have done in astronomical research? I am sorry to say I have been able to do little except to gratify my own curiosity; and even then, as I say, I have been much tantalised. I have watched the spots on the sun from day to day through obscured glasses, since the year 1878, and made many drawings of them. Mr. Rand Capron, the astronomer, of Guildown, Guildford, desired to see these drawings, and after expressing his satisfaction with them, he sent them to Mr. Christie, Astronomer Royal, Greenwich. Although photographs of the solar surface were preferred, Mr. Capron thought that my sketches might supply gaps in the partially cloudy days, as well as details which might not appear on the photographic plates. I received a very kind letter from Mr. Christie, in which he said that it would be very difficult to make the results obtained from drawings, however accurate, at all comparable with those derived from photographs; especially as regards the accurate size of the spots as compared with the diameter of the sun. And no doubt he is right.

"What, do I suppose, is the cause of these spots in the sun? Well, that is a very difficult question to answer. Changes are constantly going on at the sun's surface, or, I may rather say, in the sun's interior, and making themselves apparent at the surface. Sometimes they go on with enormous activity; at other times they are more quiet. They recur alternately in periods of seven or eight weeks, while these again are also subject to a period of about eleven yea — that is, the short recurring outbursts go on for some years, when they attain a maximum, from which they go on decreasing. I may say that we are now (August 1883) at, or very near, a maximum epoch. There is no doubt that this period has an intimate connection with our auroral displays; but I don't think that the influence sun-spots have on light or heat is perceptible. Whatever influence they possess would be felt alike on the whole terrestrial globe. We have wet, dry, cold, and warm years, but they are never general. The kind of season which prevails in one country is often quite reversed in another perhaps in the adjacent one. Not so with our auroral displays. They are universal on both sides of the globe; and from pole to pole the magnetic needle trembles during their continuance. Some authorities are of opinion that these eleven-year cycles are subject to a larger cycle, but sun-spot observations have not existed long enough to determine this point. For myself, I have a great difficulty in forming an opinion. I have very little doubt that the spots are depressions on the surface of the sun. This is more apparent when the spot is on the limb. I have often seen the edge very rugged and uneven when groups of large spots were about to come round on the east side. I have communicated some of my observations to 'The Observatory,' the monthly review of astronomy, edited by Mr. Christie, now Astronomer Royal,[2] as well as to The Scotsman, and some of our local papers.[3]

"I have also taken up the observation of variable stars in a limited portion of the heavens. That, and 'hunting for comets' is about all the real astronomical work that an amateur can do nowadays in our climate, with a three-inch telescope. I am greatly indebted to the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, who regularly sends me circulars of all astronomical discoveries, both in this and foreign countries. I will give an instance of the usefulness of these circulars. On the morning of the 4th of October, 1880, a comet was discovered by Hartwig, of Strasburg, in the constellation of Corona. He telegraphed it to Dunecht Observatory, fifteen miles from Aberdeen. The circulars announcing the discovery were printed and despatched by post to various astronomers. My circular reached me by 7 P.M., and, the night being favourable, I directed my telescope upon the part of the heavens indicated, and found the comet almost at once--that is, within fifteen hours of the date of its discovery at Strasburg.

"In April, 1878, a large meteor was observed in broad daylight, passing from south to north, and falling it was supposed, about twenty miles south of Ballater. Mr. A. S. Herschel, Professor of Physics in the College of Science, 'Newcastle-on-Tyne, published a letter in The Scotsman, intimating his desire to be informed of the particulars of the meteor's flight by those who had seen it. As I was one of those who had observed the splendid meteor flash northwards almost under the face of the bright sun (at 10.25 A.M), I sent the Professor a full account of what I had seen, for which he professed his strong obligations. This led to a very pleasant correspondence with Professor Herschel. After this, I devoted considerable attention to meteors, and sent many contributions to 'The Observatory' on the subject.[4]

"You ask me what are the hours at which I make my observations? I am due at the railway station at six in the morning, and I leave at six in the evening; but I have two hours during the day for meals and rest. Sometimes I get a glance at the heavens in the winter mornings when the sky is clear, hunting for comets. My observations on the sun are usually made twice a day during my meal hours, or in the early morning or late at evening in summer, while the sun is visible. Yes, you are right; I try and make the best use of my time. It is much too short for all that I propose to do. My evenings are my own. When the heavens are clear, I watch them; when obscured, there are my books and letters.

"Dr. Alexander Brown, of Arbroath, is one of my correspondents. I have sent him my drawings of the rings of Saturn, of Jupiter's belt and satellites. Dr. Ralph Copeland, of Dunecht, is also a very good friend and adviser. Occasionally, too, I send accounts of solar disturbances, comet a within sight, eclipses, and occultations, to the Scotsman, the Dundee Evening Telegraph and Evening News, or to the Blairgowrie Advertiser. Besides, I am the local observer of meteorology, and communicate regularly with Mr. Symons. These things entirely fill up my time.

"Do I intend always to remain a railway porter? Oh, yes; I am very comfortable! The company are very kind to me, and I hope I serve them faithfully. It is true Sheriff Barclay has, without my knowledge, recommended me to several well-known astronomers as an observer. But at my time of life changes are not to be desired. I am quite satisfied to go on as I am doing. My young people are growing up, and are willing to work for themselves. But come, sir," he concluded, "come into the garden, and look at the moon through my telescope."

We went into the garden accordingly, but a cloud was over the moon, and we could not see it. At the top of the garden was the self-registering barometer, the pitcher to measure the rainfall, and the other apparatus necessary to enable the "Diagram of barometer, thermometer, rain, and wind" to be conducted, so far as Coupar Angus is concerned. This Mr. Robertson has done for four years past. As the hour was late, and as I knew that my entertainer must be up by six next morning, I took my leave.

A man's character often exhibits itself in his amusements. One must have a high respect for the character of John Robertson, who looks at the manner in which he spends his spare time. His astronomical work is altogether a labour of love. It is his hobby; and the working man may have his hobby as well as the rich. In his case he is never less idle than when idle. Some may think that he is casting his bread upon the waters, and that he may find it after many days. But it is not with this object that he carries on his leisure-hour pursuits. Some have tried-- sheriff Barclay among others[5] — to obtain appointments for him in connection with astronomical observation; others to secure advancement for him in his own line. But he is a man who is satisfied with his lo — tone of the rarest things on earth. Perhaps it is by looking so much up to the heavens that he has been enabled to obtain his portion of contentment.

Next morning I found him busy at the station, making arrangements for the departure of the passenger train for Perth, and evidently upon the best of terms with everybody. And here I leave John Robertson, the contented Coupar Angus astronomer.

Some years ago I received from my friend Mr. Nasmyth a letter of introduction to the late Mr. Cooke of York, while the latter was still living. I did not present it at the time; but I now proposed to visit, on my return homewards, the establishment which he had founded at York for the manufacture of telescopes and other optical instruments. Indeed, what a man may do for himself as well as for science, cannot be better illustrated than by the life of this remarkable man.

Mr. Nasmyth says that he had an account from Cooke himself of his small beginnings. He was originally a shoemaker in a small country village. Many a man has risen to distinction from a shoemaker's seat. Bulwer, in his 'What will He do with It?' has discussed the difference between shoemakers and tailors. "The one is thrown upon his own resources, the other works in the company of his fellows: the one thinks, the other communicates.

Cooke was a man of natural ability, and he made the best use of his powers. Opportunity, sooner or later, comes to nearly all who work and wait, and are duly persevering. Shoemaking was not found very productive; and Cooke, being fairly educated as well as self-educated, opened a village school. He succeeded tolerably well. He taught himself geometry and mathematics, and daily application made him more perfect in his studies. In course of time an extraordinary ambition took possession of him: no less than the construction of a reflecting telescope of six inches diameter. The idea would not let him rest until he had accomplished his purpose. He cast and polished the speculum with great labour; but just as he was about to finish it, the casting broke! What was to be done? About one-fifth had broken away, but still there remained a large piece, which he proceeded to grind down to a proper diameter. His perseverance was rewarded by the possession of a 3 ½ inch speculum, which by his rare skill he worked into a reflecting telescope of very good quality.

He was, however, so much annoyed by the treacherously brittle nature of the speculum metal that he abandoned its use, and betook himself to glass. He found that before he could make a good achromatic telescope it was necessary that he should calculate his curves from data depending upon the nature of the glass. He accordingly proceeded to study the optical laws of refraction, in which his knowledge of geometry and mathematics greatly helped him. And in course of time, by his rare and exquisite manipulative skill, he succeeded in constructing a four-inch refractor, or achromatic telescope, of admirable defining power.

The excellence of his first works became noised abroad. Astronomical observers took an interest in him; and friends began to gather round him, amongst others the late Professor Phillips and the Rev. Vernon Harcourt, Dean of York. Cooke received an order for a telescope like his own; then he received other orders. At last he gave up teaching, and took to telescope making. He advanced step by step; and like a practical, thoughtful man, he invented special tools and machinery for the purpose of grinding and polishing his glasses. He opened a shop in York, and established himself as a professed maker of telescopes. He added to this the business of a general optician, his wife attending to the sale in the shop, while he himself attended to the workshop.

Such was the excellence of his work that the demand for his telescopes largely increased. They were not only better manufactured, but greatly cheaper than those which had before been in common use. Three of the London makers had before possessed a monopoly of the business; but now the trade was thrown open by the enterprise of Cooke of York. He proceeded to erect a complete factory — the Buckingham Street works. His brother took charge of the grinding and polishing of the lenses, while his sons attended to the mechanism of the workshop; but Cooke himself was the master spirit of the whole concern. Everything that he did was good and accurate. His clocks were about the best that could be made. He carried out his clock-making business with the same zeal that he devoted to the perfection of his achromatic telescopes. His work was always first-rate. There was no scamping about it. Everything that he did was thoroughly good and honest. His 4 ¼-inch equatorials are perfect gems; and his admirable achromatics, many of them of the largest class, are known all over the world. Altogether, Thomas Cooke was a remarkable instance of the power of Self-Help.

Such was the story of his Life, as communicated by Mr. Nasmyth. I was afterwards enabled, through the kind assistance of his widow, Mrs. Cooke, whom I saw at Saltburn, in Yorkshire, to add a few particulars to his biography.

"My husband," she said, "was the son of a working shoemaker at Pocklington, in the East Riding. He was born in 1807. His father's circumstances were so straitened that he was not able to do much for him; but he sent him to the National school, where he received some education. He remained there for about two years, and then he was put to his father's trade. But he greatly disliked shoemaking, and longed to get away from it. He liked the sun, the sky, and the open air. He was eager to be a sailor, and, having heard of the voyages of Captain Cook, he wished to go to sea. He spent his spare hours in learning navigation, that he might be a good seaman. But when he was ready to set out for Hull, the entreaties and tears of his mother prevailed on him to give up the project; and then he had to consider what he should do to maintain himself at home.

"He proceeded with his self-education, and with such small aids as he could procure, he gathered together a good deal of knowledge. He thought that he might be able to teach others. Everybody liked him, for his diligence, his application, and his good sense. At the age of seventeen he was employed to teach the sons of the neighbouring farmers. He succeeded so well that in the following year he opened a village school at Beilby. He went on educating himself, and learnt a little of everything. He next removed his school to Kirpenbeck, near Stamford Bridge; and it was there," proceeded Mrs. Cooke, "that I got to know him, for I was one of his pupils."

"He first learned mathematics by buying an old volume at a bookstall, with a spare shilling. That was before he began to teach. He also got odd sheets, and read other books about geometry and mathematics, before he could buy them; for he had very little to spare. He studied and learnt as much as he could.

He was very anxious to get an insight into knowledge. He studied optics before he had any teaching. Then he tried to turn his knowledge to account. While at Kirpenbeck he made his first object-glass out of a thick tumbler bottom. He ground the glass cleverly by hand; then he got a piece of tin and soldered it together, and mounted the object-glass in it so as to form a telescope.

"He next got a situation at the Rev. Mr. Shapkley's school in Micklegate, York, where he taught mathematics. He also taught in ladies' schools in the city, and did what he could to make a little income. Our intimacy had increased, and we had arranged to get married. He was twenty-four, and I was nineteen, when we were happily united. I was then his pupil for life.

"Professor Phillips saw his first telescope, with the object-glass made out of the thick tumbler bottom, and he was so much pleased with it that my husband made it over to him. But he also got an order for another, from Mr. Gray, solicitor, more by way of encouragement than because Mr. Gray wanted it, for he was a most kind man. The object-glass was of four-inch aperture, and when mounted the defining power was found excellent. My husband was so successful with his telescopes that he went on from smaller to greater, and at length he began to think of devoting himself to optics altogether. His knowledge of mathematics had led him on, and friends were always ready to encourage him in his pursuits.

"During this time he had continued his teaching at the school in the day-time; and he also taught on his own account the sons of gentlemen in the evening: amongst others the sons of Dr. Wake and Dr. Belcomb, both medical men. He was only making about 100L. a year, and his family was increasing. It was necessary to be very economical, and I was careful of everything. At length my uncle Milner agreed to advance about 100L. as a loan. A shop was taken in Stonegate in 1836, and provided with optical instruments. I attended to the shop, while my husband worked in the back premises. To bring in a little ready money, I also took in lodgers.

"My husband now devoted himself entirely to telescope making and optics. But he took in other work. His pumps were considered excellent; and he furnished all those used at the pump-room, Harrogate. His clocks, telescope-driving[6] and others, were of the best. He commenced turret-clock making in 1852, and made many improvements in them. We had by that time removed to Coney Street; and in 1855 the Buckingham Works were established, where a large number of first-rate workmen were employed. A place was also taken in Southampton Street, London, in 1868, for the sale of the instruments manufactured at York."

Thus far Mrs. Cooke. It may be added that Thomas Cooke revived the art of making refracting telescopes in England. Since the discovery by Dollond, in 1758, of the relation between the refractive and dispersive powers of different kinds of glass, and the invention by that distinguished optician of the achromatic telescope, the manufacture of that instrument had been confined to England, where the best flint glass was made. But through the short-sighted policy of the Government, an exorbitant duty was placed upon the manufacture of flint glass, and the English trade was almost entirely stamped out. We had accordingly to look to foreign countries for the further improvement of the achromatic telescope, which Dollond had so much advanced.

A humble mechanic of Brenetz, in the Canton of Neufchatel, Switzerland, named Guinaud, having directed his attention to the manufacture of flint glass towards the close of last century, at length succeeded, after persevering efforts, in producing masses of that substance perfectly free from stain, and therefore adapted for the construction of the object-glasses of telescopes.

Frauenhofer, the Bavarian optician, having just begun business, heard of the wonderful success of Guinaud, and induced the Swiss mechanic to leave Brenetz and enter into partnership with him at Munich in 1805.

The result was perfectly successful; and the new firm turned out some of the largest object-glasses which had until then been made. With one of these instruments, having an aperture of 9.9 inches, Struve, the Russian astronomer, made some of his greatest discoveries. Frauenhofer was succeeded by Merz and Mahler, who carried out his views, and turned out the famous refractors of Pulkowa Observatory in Russia, and of Harvard University in the United States. These last two telescopes contained object-glasses of fifteen inches aperture.

The pernicious impost upon flint glass having at length been removed by the English Government, an opportunity was afforded to our native opticians to recover the supremacy which they had so long lost. It is to Thomas Cooke, more than to any other person, that we owe the recovery of this manufacture. Mr. Lockyer, writing in 1878, says: "The two largest and most perfectly mounted refractors on the German form at present in existence are those at Gateshead and Washington, U.S. The former belongs to Mr. Newall, a gentleman who, connected with those who were among the first to recognise the genius of our great English optician, Cooke, did not hesitate to risk thousands of pounds in one great experiment, the success of which will have a most important bearing upon the astronomy of the future."[7]

The progress which Mr. Cooke made in his enterprise was slow but steady. Shortly after he began business as an optician, he became dissatisfied with the method of hand-polishing, and made arrangements to polish the object-glasses by machinery worked by steam power. By this means he secured perfect accuracy of figure. He was also able to turn out a large quantity of glasses, so as to furnish astronomers in all parts of the world with telescopes of admirable defining power, at a comparatively moderate price. In all his works he endeavoured to introduce simplicity. He left his mark on nearly every astronomical instrument. He found the equatorial comparatively clumsy; he left it nearly perfect. His beautiful "dividing machine," for marking divisions on the circles, four feet in diameter and altogether self-acting-which divides to five minutes and reads off to five seconds is not the least of his triumphs.

The following are some of his more important achromatic telescopes. In 1850, when he had been fourteen years in business, he furnished his earliest patron, Professor Phillips, with an equatorial telescope of 6 ¼ inches aperture. His second (of 6 ⅛) was supplied two years later, to James Wigglesworth of Wakefield. William Gray, Solicitor, of York, one of his earliest friends, bought a 6 ½-inch telescope in 1853. In the following year, Professor Pritchard of Oxford was supplied with a 6 ½-inch. The other important instruments were as follows: in 1854, Dr. Fisher, Liverpool, 6 inches; in 1855, H. L. Patterson, Gateshead, 7 ¼ inches; in 1858, J. G. Barclay, Layton, Essex, 7 ¼ inches; in 1857, Isaac Fletcher, Cockermouth, 9 ¼ inches; in l858, Sir W. Keith Murray, Ochtertyre, Crieff, 9 inches; in 1859, Captain Jacob, 9 inches; in 1860, James Nasmyth, Penshurst, 8 inches; in 1861, another telescope to J. G. Barclay, 10 inches; in 1864, the Rev. W. R. Dawes, Haddenham, Berks, 8 inches; and in 1867, Edward Crossley, Bermerside, Halifax, 9⅜ inches.

In 1855 Mr. Cooke obtained a silver medal at the first Paris Exhibition for a six-inch equatorial telescope.[8] This was the highest prize awarded. A few years later he was invited to Osborne by the late Prince Albert, to discuss with his Royal Highness the particulars of an equatorial mounting with a clock movement, for which he subsequently received the order. On its completion he superintended the erection of the telescope, and had the honour of directing it to several of the celestial objects for the Queen and the Princess Alice, and answered their many interesting questions as to the stars and planets within sight.

Mr. Cooke was put to his mettle towards the close of his life. A contest had long prevailed among telescope makers as to who should turn out the largest refracting instrument. The two telescopes of fifteen inches aperture, prepared by Merz and Mahler, of Munich, were the largest then in existence. Their size was thought quite extraordinary. But in 1846, Mr. Alvan Clark, of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, U.S., spent his leisure hour's in constructing small telescopes.[9] He was not an optician, nor a mathematician, but a portrait painter. He possessed, however, enough knowledge of optics and of mechanics, to enable him to make and judge a telescope. He spent some ten years in grinding lenses, and was at length enabled to produce objectives equal in quality to any ever made.

In 1853, the Rev. W. E. Dawes — one of Mr. Cooke's customers — purchased an object-glass from Mr. Clark. It was so satisfactory that he ordered several others, and finally an entire telescope. The American artist then began to be appreciated in his own country. In 1860 he received an order for a refractor of eighteen inches aperture, three inches greater than the largest which had up to that time been made. This telescope was intended for the Observatory of Mississippi; but the Civil War prevented its being removed to the South; and the telescope was sold to the Astronomical Society of Chicago and mounted in the Observatory of that city.

And now comes in the rivalry of Mr. Cooke of York, or rather of his patron, Mr. Newall of Gateshead. At the Great Exhibition of London, in 1862, two large circular blocks of glass, about two inches thick and twenty-six inches in diameter, were shown by the manufacturers, Messrs. Chance of Birmingham. These discs were found to be of perfect quality, and suitable for object-glasses of the best kind. At the close of the Exhibition, they were purchased by Mr. Newall, and transferred to the workshops of Messrs. Cooke and Sons at York. To grind and polish and mount these discs was found a work of great labour and difficulty. Mr. Lockyer says, "such an achievement marks an epoch in telescopic astronomy, and the skill of Mr. Cooke and the munificence of Mr. Newall will long be remembered."

When finished, the object-glass had an aperture of nearly twenty-five inches, and was of much greater power than the eighteen-inch Chicago instrument. The length of the tube was about thirty-two feet. The cast-iron pillar supporting the whole was nineteen feet in height from the ground, and the weight of the whole instrument was about six tons. In preparing this telescope, nearly everything, from its extraordinary size, had to be specially arranged.[10] The great anxiety involved in these arrangements, and the constant study and application told heavily upon Mr. Cooke, and though the instrument wanted only a few touches to make it complete, his health broke down, and he died on the l9th of October, 1868, at the comparatively early age of sixty-two.

Mr. Cooke's death was felt, in a measure, to be a national loss. His science and skill had restored to England the prominent position she had held in the time of Dollond; and, had he lived, even more might have been expected from him. We believe that the Gold Medal and Fellowship of the Royal Society were waiting for him; but, as one of his friends said to his widow, "neither worth nor talent avails when the great ordeal is presented to us." In a letter from Professor Pritchard, he said: "Your husband has left his mark upon his age. No optician of modern times has gained a higher reputation; and I for one do not hesitate to call his loss national; for he cannot be replaced at present by any one else in his own peculiar line. I shall carry the recollection of the affectionate esteem in which I held Thomas Cooke with me to my grave. Alas! that he should be cut off just at the moment when he was about to reap the rewards due to his unrivalled excellence. I have said that F.R.S. and medals were to be his. But he is, we fondly trust, in a better and higher state than that of earthly distinction. Best assured, your husband's name must ever be associated with the really great men of his day. Those who knew him will ever cherish his memory."

Mr. Cooke left behind him the great works which he founded in Buckingham Street, York. They still give employment to a large number of skilled and intelligent artizans. There I found many important works in progress, — the manufacture of theodolites, of prismatic compasses (for surveying), of Bolton's range finder, and of telescopes above all. In the factory yard was the commencement of the Observatory for Greenwich, to contain the late Mr. Lassell's splendid two feet Newtonian reflecting telescope, which has been presented to the nation. Mr. Cooke's spirit still haunts the works, which are carried on with the skill, the vigour, and the perseverance, transmitted by him to his sons.

While at York, I was informed by Mr. Wigglesworth, the partner of Messrs. Cooke, of an energetic young astronomer at Bainbridge, in the mountain-district of Yorkshire, who had not only been able to make a telescope of his own, but was an excellent photographer. He was not yet thirty years of age, but had encountered and conquered many difficulties. This is a sort of character which is more often to be met with in remote country places than in thickly-peopled cities. In the country a man is more of an individual; in a city he is only one of a multitude. The country boy has to rely upon himself, and has to work in comparative solitude, while the city boy is distracted by excitements. Life in the country is full of practical teachings; whereas life in the city may be degraded by frivolities and pleasures, which are too often the foes of work. Hence we have usually to go to out-of-the-way corners of the country for our hardest brain-workers. Contact with the earth is a great restorer of power; and it is to the country folks that we must ever look for the recuperative power of the nation as regards health, vigour, and manliness.

Bainbridge is a remote country village, situated among the high lands or Fells on the north-western border of Yorkshire. The mountains there send out great projecting buttresses into the dales; and the waters rush down from the hills, and form waterfalls or Forces, which Turner has done so much to illustrate. The river Bain runs into the Yore at Bainbridge, which is supposed to be the site of an old Roman station. Over the door of the Grammar School is a mermaid, said to have been found in a camp on the top of Addleborough, a remarkable limestone hill which rises to the south-east of Bainbridge. It is in this grammar-school that we find the subject of this little autobiography. He must be allowed to tell the story of his life — which he describes as ' Work: Good, Bad, and Indifferent' --in his own words:

"I was born on November 20th, 1853. In my childhood I suffered from ill-health. My parents let me play about in the open air, and did not put me to school until I had turned my sixth year. One day, playing in the shoemaker's shop, William Farrel asked me if I knew my letters. I answered 'No.' He then took down a primer from a shelf, and began to teach me the alphabet, at the same time amusing me by likening the letters to familiar objects in his shop. I soon learned to read, and in about six weeks I surprised my father by reading from an easy book which the shoemaker had given me.

"My father then took me into the school, of which he was master, and my education may be said fairly to have begun. My progress, however, was very slow partly owing to ill-health, but more, I must acknowledge, to carelessness and inattention. In fact, during the first four years I was at school, I learnt very little of anything, with the exception of reciting verses, which I seemed to learn without any mental effort. My memory became very retentive. I found that by attentively reading half a page of print, or more, from any of the school-books, I could repeat the whole of it without missing a word. I can scarcely explain how I did it; but I think it was by paying strict attention to the words as words, and forming a mental picture of the paragraphs as they were grouped in the book. Certain, I am, that their sense never made much impression on me, for, when questioned by the teacher, I was always sent to the bottom of the class, though apparently I had learned my exercise to perfection.

"When I was twelve years old, I made the acquaintance of a very ingenious boy, who came to our school. Samuel Bridge was a born mechanic. Though only a year older than myself, such was his ability in the use of tools, that he could construct a model of any machine that he saw. He awakened in me a love of mechanical construction, and together we made models of colliery winding-frames, iron-rolling mills, trip-hammers, and water-wheels. Some of them were not mere toys, but constructed to scale, and were really good working models. This love of mechanical construction has never left me, and I shall always remember with affection Samuel Bridge, who first taught me to use the hammer and file. The last I heard of him was in 1875, when he passed his examination as a schoolmaster, in honours, and was at the head of his list.

"During the next two years, when between twelve and fourteen, I made comparatively slow progress at school. I remember having to write out the fourth commandment from memory. The teacher counted twenty-three mistakes in ten lines of my writing. It will be seen from this, that, as regards learning, I continued heedless and backward. About this time, my father, who was a good violinist, took me under his tuition. He made me practice on the violin about an hour and a half a day. I continued this for a long time. But the result was failure. I hated the violin, and would never play unless compelled to do so. I suppose the secret was that I had no 'ear.'

"It was different with subjects more to my mind. Looking over my father's books one day, I came upon Gregory's 'Handbook of Inorganic Chemistry,' and began reading it. I was fascinated with the book, and studied it morning, noon, and night — in fact, every time when I could snatch a few minutes. I really believe that at one time I could have repeated the whole of the book from memory. Now I found the value of arithmetic, and set to work in earnest on proportion, vulgar and decimal fractions, and, in fact, everything in school work that I could turn to account in the science of chemistry. The result of this sudden application was that I was seized with an illness. For some months I had incessant headache; my hair became dried up, then turned grey, and finally came off. Weighing myself shortly after my recovery, at the age of fifteen, I found that I just balanced fifty-six pounds. I took up mensuration, then astronomy, working at them slowly, but giving the bulk of my spare time to chemistry.

"In the year 1869, when I was sixteen years old, I came across Cuthbert Bede's book, entitled 'Photographic Pleasures.' It is an amusing book, giving an account of the rise and progress of photography, and at the same time having a good-natured laugh at it. I read the book carefully, and took up photography as an amusement, using some apparatus which belonged to my father, who had at one time dabbled in the art. I was soon able to take fair photographs. I then decided to try photography as a business. I was apprenticed to a photographer, and spent four years with him — one year at Northallerton, and three at Darlington. When my employer removed to Darlington, I joined the School of Art there.

"Having read an account of the experiments of M. E. Becquerel, a French savant, on photographing in the colours of nature, my curiosity was awakened. I carefully repeated his experiments, and convinced myself that he was correct. I continued my experiments in heliochromy for a period of about two years, during which time I made many photographs in colours, and discovered a method of developing the coloured image, which enabled me to shorten the exposure to one-fortieth of the previously-required time. During these experiments, I came upon some curious results, which, I think, might puzzle our scientific men to account for. For instance, I proved the existence of black light, or rays of such a nature as to turn the rose-coloured surface of the sensitive-plate black — that is, rays reflected from the black paint of drapery, produced black in the picture, and not the effect of darkness. I was, like Becquerel, unable to fix the coloured image without destroying the colours; though the plates would keep a long while in the dark, and could be examined in a subdued, though not in a strong light. The coloured image was faint, but the colours came out with great truth and delicacy.

"I began to attend the School of Art at Darlington on the 6th of March, 1872. I found, on attempting to draw, that I had naturally a correct eye and hand; and I made such progress, that when the students' drawings were examined, previously to sending them up to South Kensington, all my work was approved. I was then set to draw from the cast in chalk, although I had only been at the school for a month. I tried for all the four subjects at the May examination, and was fortunate enough to pass three of them, and obtained as a prize Packett's 'Sciography.' I worked hard during the next year, and sent up seventeen works; for one of these, the 'Venus de Milo,' I gained a studentship.

"I then commenced the study of human anatomy, and began water-colour painting, reading all the works upon art on which I could lay my hand. At the May examination of 1873, I completed my second-grade certificate, and at the end of the year of my studentship, I accepted the office of teacher in the School of Art. This art-training created in me a sort of disgust for photography, as I saw that the science of photography had really very little genuine art in it, and was more allied to a mechanical pursuit than to an artistic one. Now, when I look back on my past ideas, I clearly see that a great deal of this disgust was due to my ignorance and self-conceit.

"In 1874, I commenced painting in tempora, and then in oil, copying the pictures lent to the school from the South Kensington Art Library. I worked also from still life, and began sketching from nature in oil and water-colours, sometimes selling my work to help me to buy materials for art-work and scientific experiments. I was, however, able to do very little in the following year, as I was at home suffering from sciatica. For nine months I could not stand erect, but had to hobble about with a stick. This illness caused me to give up my teachership.

"Early in 1876 I returned to Darlington. I went on with my art studies and the science of chemistry; though I went no further in heliochromy. I pushed forward with anatomy. I sent about fifteen works to South Kensington, and gained as my third-grade prize in list A the 'Dictionary of Terms used in Art' by Thomas Fairholt, which I found a very useful work. Towards the end of the year, my father, whose health was declining, sent for me home to assist him in the school. I now commenced the study of Algebra and Euclid in good earnest, but found it tough work. My father, though a fair mathematician, was unable to give me any instruction; for he had been seized with paralysis, from which he never recovered. Before he died, he recommended me to try for a schoolmaster's certificate; and I promised him that I would. I obtained a situation as master of a small village school, not under Government inspection; and I studied during the year, and obtained a second class certificate at the Durham Diocesan College at Christmas, 1877. Early in the following year, the school was placed under Government inspection, and became a little more remunerative.

"I now went on with chemical analysis, making my own apparatus. Requiring an intense heat on a small scale, I invented a furnace that burnt petroleum oil. It was blown by compressed air. After many failures, I eventually succeeded in bringing it to such perfection that in 7 ½ minutes it would bring four ounces of steel into a perfectly liquefied state. I next commenced the study of electricity and magnetism; and then acoustics, light, and heat. I constructed all my apparatus myself, and acquired the art of glass-blowing, in order to make my own chemical apparatus, and thus save expense.

"I then went on with Algebra and Euclid, and took up plane trigonometry; but I devoted most of my time to electricity and magnetism. I constructed various scientific apparatus--a syren, telephones, microphones, an Edison's megaphone, as well as an electrometer, and a machine for covering electric wire with cotton or silk. A friend having lent me a work on artificial memory, I began to study it; but the work led me into nothing but confusion, and I soon found that if I did not give it up, I should be left with no memory at all. I still went an sketching from Nature, not so much as a study, but as a means of recruiting my health, which was far from being good. At the beginning of 1881 I obtained my present situation as assistant master at the Yorebridge Grammar School, of which the Rev. W. Balderston, M.A., is principal.

"Soon after I became settled here, I spent some of my leisure time in reading Emerson's 'Optics,' a work I bought at an old bookstall. I was not very successful with it, owing to my deficient mathematical knowledge. On the May Science Examinations of 1881 taking place at Newcastle-on-Tyne, applied for permission to sit, and obtained four tickets for the following subjects: — Mathematics, Electricity and Magnetism, Acoustics, Light and Heat, and Physiography. During the preceding month I had read up the first three subjects, but, being pressed for time, I gave up the idea of taking physiography. However, on the last night of the examinations, I had some conversation with one of the students as to the subjects required for physiography. He said, 'You want a little knowledge of everything in a scientific way, and nothing much of anything.' I determined to try, for 'nothing much of anything' suited me exactly. I rose early next morning, and as soon as the shops were open I went and bought a book on the subject, 'Outlines of Physiography,' by W. Lawson, F.R.G.S. I read it all day, and at night sat for the examination. The results of my examinations were, failure in mathematics, but second class advanced grade certificates in all the others. I do not attach any credit to passing in physiography, but merely relate the circumstance as curiously showing what can be done by a good 'cram.'

"The failure in mathematics caused me to take the subject 'by the horns,' to see what I could do with it. I began by going over quadratic equations, and I gradually solved the whole of those given in Todhunter's larger 'Algebra.' Then I re-read the progressions, permutations, combinations; the binomial theorem, with indices and surds; the logarithmic theorem and series, converging and diverging. I got Todhunter's larger 'Plane Trigonometry,' and read it, with the theorems contained in it; then his 'Spherical Trigonometry;' his 'Analytical Geometry, of Two Dimensions,' and 'Conics.' I next obtained De Morgan's 'Differential and Integral Calculus,' then Woolhouse's, and lastly, Todhunter's. I found this department of mathematics difficult and perplexing to the last degree; but I mastered it sufficiently to turn it to some account. This last mathematical course represents eighteen months of hard work, and I often sat up the whole night through. One result of the application was a permanent injury to my sight.

"Wanting some object on which to apply my newly-acquired mathematical knowledge, I determined to construct an astronomical telescope. I got Airy's 'Geometrical Optics,' and read it through. Then I searched through all my English Mechanic (a scientific paper that I take), and prepared for my work by reading all the literature on the subject that I could obtain. I bought two discs of glass, of 6 ½ inches diameter, and began to grind them to a spherical curve 12 feet radius. I got them hollowed out, but failed in fining them through lack of skill. This occurred six times in succession; but at the seventh time the polish came up beautifully, with scarcely a scratch upon the surface. Stopping my work one night, and it being starlight, I thought I would try the mirror on a star. I had a wooden frame ready for the purpose, which the carpenter had made for me. Judge of my surprise and delight when I found that the star disc enlarged nearly in the same manner from each side of the focal point, thus making it extremely probable that I had accidentally hit on a near approach to the parabola in the curve of my mirror.

And such proved to be the case. I have the mirror still, and its performance is very good indeed.

"I went no further with this mirror, for fear or spoiling it. It is very slightly grey in the centre, but not sufficiently so as to materially injure its performance. I mounted it in a wooden tube, placed it on a wooden stand, and used it for a time thus mounted; but getting disgusted with the tremor and inconvenience I had to put up with, I resolved to construct for it an iron equatorial stand. I made my patterns, got them cast, turned and fitted them myself, grinding all the working parts together with emery and oil, and fitted a tangent-screw motion to drive the instrument in right ascension. Now I found the instrument a pleasure to use; and I determined to add to it divided circles, and to accurately adjust it to the meridian. I made my circles of well-seasoned mahogany, with slips of paper on their edges, dividing them with my drawing instruments, and varnishing them to keep out the wet. I shall never forget that sunny afternoon upon which I computed the hour-angle for Jupiter, and set the instrument so that by calculation Jupiter should pass through the field of the instrument at 1h. 25m. 15s. With my watch in my hand, and my eye to the eye-piece, I waited for the orb. When his glorious face appeared, almost in a direct line for the centre of the field, I could not contain my joy, but shouted out as loudly as I could, — greatly to the astonishment of old George Johnson, the miller, who happened to be in the field where I had planted my stand!

"Now, though I had obtained what I wanted — a fairly good instrument, — still I was not quite satisfied; as I had produced it by a fortunate chance, and not by skill alone. I therefore set to work again on the other disc of glass, to try if I could finish it in such a way as to excel the first one. After nearly a year's work I found that I could only succeed in equalling it. But then, during this time, I had removed the working of mirrors from mere chance to a fair amount of certainty. By bringing my mathematical knowledge to bear on the subject, I had devised a method of testing and measuring my work which, I am happy to say, has been fairly successful, and has enabled me to produce the spherical, elliptic, parabolic, or hyperbolic curve in my mirrors, with almost unvarying success. The study of the practical working of specula and lenses has also absorbed a good deal of my spare time during the last two years, and the work involved has been scarcely less difficult. Altogether, I consider this last year (1882-3) to mark the busiest period of my life.

"It will be observed that I have only given an account of those branches of study in which I have put to practical test the deductions from theoretical reasoning. I am at present engaged on the theory of the achromatic object-glass, with regard to spherical chromatism — a subject upon which, I believe, nearly all our text-books are silent, but one nevertheless of vital importance to the optician. I can only proceed very slowly with it, on account of having to grind and figure lenses for every step of the theory, to keep myself in the right track; as mere theorizing is apt to lead one very much astray, unless it be checked by constant experiment. For this particular subject, lenses must be ground firstly to spherical, and then to curves of conic sections, so as to eliminate spherical aberration from each lens; so that it will be observed that this subject is not without its difficulties.

"About a month ago (September, 1883), I determined to put to the test the statement of some of our theorists, that the surface of a rotating fluid is either a parabola or a hyperbola. I found by experiment that it is neither, but an approximation to the tractrix (a modification of the catenary), if anything definite; as indeed one, on thinking over the matter, might feel certain it would be — the tractrix being the curve of least friction.

"In astronomy, I have really done very little beyond mere algebraical working of the fundamental theorems, and a little casual observation of the telescope. So far, I must own, I have taken more pleasure in the theory and construction of the telescope, than in its use."

Such is Samuel Lancaster's history of the growth and development of his mind. I do not think there is anything more interesting in the 'Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties.' His life has been a gallant endeavour to win further knowledge, though too much at the expense of a constitution originally delicate. He pursues science with patience and determination, and wooes truth with the ardour of a lover. Eulogy of his character would here be unnecessary; but, if he takes due care of his health, we shall hear more of him.[11]

More astronomers in humble life! There seems to to be no end of them. There must be a great fascination in looking up to the heavens, and seeing those wondrous worlds careering in the far-off infinite. Let me look back to the names I have introduced in this chapter of autobiography. First, there was my worthy porter friend at Coupar Angus station, enjoying himself with his three-inch object-glass. Then there was the shoemaker and teacher, and eventually the first-rate maker of achromatic instruments. Look also at the persons whom he supplied with his best telescopes. Among them we find princes, baronets, clergymen, professors, doctors, solicitors, manufacturers, and inventors. Then we come to the portrait painter, who acquired the highest supremacy in the art of telescope making; then to Mr. Lassell, the retired brewer, whose daughters presented his instrument to the nation; and, lastly, to the extraordinary young schoolmaster of Bainbridge, in Yorkshire. And now before I conclude this last chapter, I have to relate perhaps the most extraordinary story of all — that of another astronomer in humble life, in the person of a slate counter at Port Penrhyn, Bangor, North Wales.

While at Birnam, I received a letter from my old friend the Rev. Charles Wicksteed, formerly of Leeds, calling my attention to this case, and inclosing an extract from the letter of a young lady, one of his correspondents at Bangor. In that letter she said: "What you write of Mr. Christmas Evans reminds me very much of a visit I paid a few evenings ago to an old man in Upper Bangor. He works on the Quay, but has a very decided taste for astronomy, his leisure time being spent in its study, with a great part of his earnings. I went there with some friends to see an immense telescope, which he has made almost entirely without aid, preparing the glasses as far as possible himself, and sending them away merely to have their concavity changed. He showed us all his treasures with the greatest delight, explaining in English, but substituting Welsh when at a loss. He has scarcely ever been at school, but has learnt English entirely from books. Among other things he showed us were a Greek Testament and a Hebrew Bible, both of which he can read. His largest telescope, which is several yards long, he has named 'Jumbo,' and through it he told us he saw the snowcap on the pole of Mars. He had another smaller telescope, made by himself, and had a spectroscope in process of making. He is now quite old, but his delight in his studies is still unbounded and unabated. It seems so sad that he has had no right opportunity for developing his talent."

Mr. Wicksteed was very much interested in the case, and called my attention to it, that I might add the story to my repertory of self-helping men. While at York I received a communication from Miss Grace Ellis, the young lady in question, informing me of the name of the astronomer — John Jones, Albert Street, Upper Bangor--and intimating that he would be glad to see me any evening after six. As railways have had the effect of bringing places very close together in point of time — making of Britain, as it were, one great town — and as the autumn was brilliant, and the holiday season not at an end, I had no difficulty in diverging from my journey, and taking Bangor on my way homeward. Starting from York in the morning, and passing through Leeds, Manchester, and Chester, I reached Bangor in the afternoon, and had my first interview with Mr. Jones that very evening.

I found him, as Miss Grace Ellis had described, active, vigorous, and intelligent; his stature short, his face well-formed, his eyes keen and bright. I was first shown into his little parlour downstairs, furnished with his books and some of his instruments; I was then taken to his tiny room upstairs, where he had his big reflecting telescope, by means of which he had seen, through the chamber window, the snowcap of Mars. He is so fond of philology that I found he had no fewer than twenty-six dictionaries, all bought out of his own earnings. "I am fond of all knowledge," he said — "of Reuben, Dan, and Issachar; but I have a favourite, a Benjamin, and that is Astronomy. I would sell all of them into Egypt, but preserve my Benjamin." His story is briefly as follows: —

"I was born at Bryngwyn Bach, Anglesey, in 1818, and I am sixty-five years old. I got the little education I have, when a boy. Owen Owen, who was a cousin of my mother's, kept a school at a chapel in the village of Dwyrain, in Anglesey. It was said of Owen that he never had more than a quarter of a year's schooling, so that he could not teach me much. I went to his school at seven, and remained with him about a year. Then he left; and some time afterwards I went for a short period to an old preacher's school, at Brynsieneyn chapel. There I learnt but little, the teacher being negligent. He allowed the children to play together too much, and he punished them for slight offences, making them obstinate and disheartened. But I remember his once saying to the other children, that I ran through my little lesson 'like a coach.' However, when I was about twelve years old, my father died, and in losing him I lost almost all the little I had learnt during the short periods I had been at school. Then I went to work for the farmers.

"In this state of ignorance I remained for years, until the time came when on Sunday I used to saddle the old black mare for Cadwalladr Williams, the Calvinist Methodist preacher, at Pen Ceint, Anglesey; and after he had ridden away, I used to hide in his library during the sermon, and there I learnt a little that I shall not soon forget. In that way I had many a draught of knowledge, as it were, by stealth. Having a strong taste for music, I was much attracted by choral singing; and on Sundays and in the evenings I tried to copy out airs from different books, and accustomed my hand a little to writing. This tendency was, however, choked within me by too much work with the cattle, and by other farm labour. In a word, I had but little fair weather in my search for knowledge. One thing enticed me from another, to the detriment of my plans; some fair Eve often standing with an apple in hand, tempting me to taste of that.

"The old preacher's books at Pen Ceint were in Welsh. I had not yet learned English, but tried to learn it by comparing one line in the English New Testament with the same line in the Welsh. This was the Hamiltonian method, and the way in which I learnt most languages. I first got an idea of astronomy from reading 'The Solar System,' by Dr. Dick, translated into Welsh by Eleazar Roberts of Liverpool. That book I found on Sundays in the preacher's library; and many a sublime thought it gave me. It was comparatively easy to understand.

"When I was about thirty I was taken very ill, and could no longer work. I then went to Bangor to consult Dr. Humphrys. After I got better I found work at the Port at 12s. a week. I was employed in counting the slates, or loading the ships in the harbour from the railway trucks. I lodged in Fwn Deg, near where Hugh Williams, Gatehouse, then kept a navigation school for young sailors. I learnt navigation, and soon made considerable progress. I also learnt a little arithmetic. At first nearly all the young men were more advanced than myself; but before I left matters were different, and the Scripture words became verified- "the last shall be first." I remained with Hugh Williams six months and a half. During that time I went twice through the 'Tutor's Assistant,' and a month before I left I was taught mensuration. That is all the education I received, and the greater part of it was during my by-hours.

"I got to know English pretty well, though Welsh was the language of those about me. From easy books I went to those more difficult. I was helped in my pronunciation of English by comparing the words with the phonetic alphabet, as published by Thomas Gee of Denbigh, in 1853. With my spare earnings I bought books, especially when my wages began to rise. Mr. Wyatt, the steward, was very kind, and raised my pay from time to time at his pleasure. I suppose I was willing, correct, and faithful. I improved my knowledge by reading books on astronomy. I got, amongst others, 'The Mechanism of the Heavens,' by Denison Olmstead, an American; a very understandable book. Learning English, which was a foreign language to me, led me to learn other languages. I took pleasure in finding out the roots or radixes of words, and from time to time I added foreign dictionaries to my little library. But I took most pleasure in astronomy.

"The perusal of Sir John Herschel's 'Outlines of Astronomy,' and of his 'Treatise on the Telescope,' set my mind on fire. I conceived the idea of making a telescope of my own, for I could not buy one. While reading the Mechanics' Magazine I observed the accounts of men who made telescopes. Why should not I do the same? Of course it was a matter of great difficulty to one who knew comparatively little of the use of tools. But I had a willing mind and willing hands. So I set to work. I think I made my first telescope about twenty years ago. It was thirty-six inches long, and the tube was made of pasteboard. I got the glasses from Liverpool for 4s. 6d. Captain Owens, of the ship Talacra, bought them. He also bought for me, at a bookstall, the Greek Lexicon and the Greek New Testament, for which he paid 7s. 6d. With my new telescope I could see Jupiter's four satellites, the craters on the moon, and some of the double stars. It was a wonderful pleasure to me.

"But I was not satisfied with the instrument. I wanted a bigger and a more perfect one. I sold it and got new glasses from Solomon of London, who was always ready to trust me. I think it was about the year 1868 that I began to make a reflecting telescope. I got a rough disc of glass, from St. Helens, of ten inches diameter. It took me from nine to ten days to grind and polish it ready for parabolising and silvering. I did this by hand labour with the aid of emery, but without a lathe. I finally used rouge instead of emery in grinding down the glass, until I could see my face in the mirror quite plain. I then sent the 8 3/16 inch disc to Mr. George Calver, of Chelmsford, to turn my spherical curve to a parabolic curve, and to silver the mirror, for which I paid him 5L. I mounted this in my timber tube; the focus was ten feet. When everything was complete I tried my instrument on the sky, and found it to have good defining power. The diameter of the other glass I have made is a little under six inches.

"You ask me if their performance satisfies me? Well; I have compared my six-inch reflector with a 4 ¼ inch refractor, through my window, with a power of 100 and 140. I can't say which was the best. But if out on a clear night I think my reflector would take more power than the refractor. However that may be, I saw the snowcap on the planet Mars quite plain; and it is satisfactory to me so far. With respect to the 8 3/16 inch glass, I am not quite satisfied with it yet; but I am making improvements, and I believe it will reward my labour in the end."

Besides these instruments John Jones has an equatorial which is mounted on a tripod stand, made by himself. It contains the right ascension, declination, and azimuth index, all neatly carved upon slate. In his spectroscope he makes his prisms out of the skylights used in vessels. These he grinds down to suit his purpose. I have not been able to go into the complete detail of the manner in which he effects the grinding of his glasses. It is perhaps too technical to be illustrated in words, which are full of focuses, parabolas, and convexities. But enough may be gathered from the above account to give an idea of the wonderful tenacity of this aged student, who counts his slates into the ships by day, and devotes his evenings to the perfecting of his astronomical instruments. But not only is he an astronomer and a philologist; he is also a bard, and his poetry is much admired in the district. He writes in Welsh, not in English, and signs himself "Ioan, of Bryngwyn Bach," the place where he was born. Indeed, he is still at a loss for words when he speaks in English. He usually interlards his conversation with passages in Welsh, which is his mother-tongue. A friend has, however, done me the favour to translate two of John Jones's poems into English. The first is 'The Telescope': —

"To Heaven it points, where rules the Sun

In golden gall'ries bright;

And the pale Moon in silver rays

Makes dalliance in the night.


"It sweeps with eagle glances

The sky, its myriad throng,

That myriad throng to marshal

And bring to us their song.


"Orb upon orb it follows

As oft they intertwine,

And worlds in vast processions

As if in battle line.


"It loves all things created,

To follow and to trace;

And never fears to penetrate

The dark abyss of space."


The next is to 'The Comet':-

"A maiden fair, with light of stars bedecked,

Starts out of space at Jove's command;

With visage wild, and long dishevelled hair,

Speeds she along her starry course;

The hosts of heaven regards she not, —

Fain would she scorn them all except her father Sol,

Whose mighty influence her headlong course doth all control."

The following translation may also be given: it shows that the bard is not without a spice of wit. A fellow-workman teased him to write some lines; when John Jones, in a seemingly innocent manner, put some questions, and ascertained that he had once been a tailor. Accordingly this epigram was written, and appeared in the local paper the week after: "To a quondam Tailor, now a Slate-teller": —

"To thread and needle now good-bye,

With slates I aim at riches;
The scissors will I ne'er more ply,

Nor make, but order, breeches."[12]

The bi-lingual speech is the great educational difficulty of Wales. To get an entrance into literature and science requires a knowledge of English; or, if not of English, then of French or German. But the Welsh language stands in the way. Few literary or scientific works are translated into Welsh. Hence the great educational difficulty continues, and is maintained from year to year by patriotism and Eisteddfods.

Possibly the difficulties to be encountered may occasionally evoke unusual powers of study; but this can only occur in exceptional cases. While at Bangor Mr. Cadwalladr Davies read to me the letter of a student and professor, whose passion for knowledge is of an extraordinary character. While examined before the Parliamentary Committee appointed to inquire into the condition of intermediate and higher education in Wales and Monmouthshire, Mr. Davies gave evidence relating to this and other remarkable cases, of which the following is an abstract, condensed by himself: — "The night schools in the quarry districts have been doing a very great work; and, if the Committee will allow me, I will read an extract from a letter which I received from Mr. Bradley Jones, master of the Board Schools at Llanarmon, near Mold, Flintshire, who some years ago kept a very flourishing night school in the neighbourhood. He says: 'During the whole of the time (fourteen years) that I was at Carneddi, I carried on these schools, and I believe I have had more experience of such institutions than any teacher in North Wales. For several years about 120 scholars used to attend the Carneddi night school in the winter months, four evenings a week. Nearly all were quarrymen, from fourteen to twenty-one years of age, and engaged at work from 7 A.M. to 5.30 P.M. So intense was their desire for education that some of them had to walk a distance of two or even three miles to school.

These, besides working hard all day, had to walk six miles in the one case and nine in the other before school-time, in addition to the walk home afterwards. Several of them used to attend all the year round, even coming to me for lessons in summer before going to work, as well as in the evening. Indeed, so anxious were some of them, that they would often come for lessons as early as five o'clock in the morning. This may appear almost incredible, but any of the managers of the Carneddi School could corroborate the statement.'

"I have now in my mind's eye," continues Mr. Bradley, "several of these young men, who, by dint of indefatigable labour and self-denial, ultimately qualified themselves for posts in which a good education is a sine quâ non. Some of them are to-day quarry managers, professional men, certificated teachers, and ministers of the Gospel. Five of them are at the present time students at Bala College. One got a situation in the Glasgow Post Office as letter-carrier. During his leisure hours he attended the lectures at one of the medical schools of that city, and in course of time gained his diploma. He is now practising as a surgeon, and I understand with signal success. This gentleman worked in the Penrhyn Quarry until he was twenty years old. I could give many more instances of the resolute and self-denying spirit with which the young quarrymen of Bethesda sought to educate themselves. The teachers of the other schools in that neighbourhood could give similar examples, for during the winter months there used to be no less than 300 evening scholars under instruction in the different schools. The Bethesda booksellers could tell a tale that would surprise our English friends. I have been informed by one of them that he has sold to young quarrymen an immense number of such works as Lord Macaulay's, Stuart Mill's, and Professor Fawcett's; and it is no uncommon sight to find these and similar works read and studied by the young quarrymen during the dinner hour."

"I can give," proceeds Mr. Cadwalladr Davies, "one remarkable instance to show the struggles which young Welshmen have to undertake in order to get education. The boy in question, the son of 'poor but honest parents,' left the small national school of his native village when he was 12 ½ years of age, and then followed his father's occupation of shoemaking until he was 16 ½ years of age. After working hard at his trade for four years, he, his brother, and two fellow apprentices, formed themselves into a sort of club to learn shorthand, the whole matter being kept a profound secret. They had no teachers, and they met at the gas-works, sitting opposite the retorts on a bench supported at each end with bricks. They did not penetrate far into the mysteries of Welsh shorthand; they soon abandoned the attempt, and induced the village schoolmaster to open a night school.

This, however, did not last long. The young Crispin was returning late one night from Llanrwst in company with a lad of the same age, and both having heard much of the blessings of education from a Scotch lady who took a kindly interest in them, their ambition was inflamed, and they entered into a solemn compact that they would thenceforward devote themselves body and soul to the attainment of an academical degree. Yet they were both poor. One was but a shoemaker's apprentice, while the other was a pupil teacher earning but a miserable weekly pittance. One could do the parts of speech; the other could not. One had struggled with the pons asinorum; the other had never seen it. I may mention that the young pupil teacher is now a curate in the Church of England. He is a graduate of Cambridge University and a prizeman of Clare College. But to return to the little shoemaker.

"After returning home from Llanrwst, he disburthened his heart to his mother, and told her that shoemaking, which until now he had pursued with extraordinary zest, could no longer interest him. His mother, who was equal to the emergency, sent the boy to a teacher of the old school, who had himself worked his way from the plough. After the exercise of considerable diplomacy, an arrangement was arrived at whereby the youth was to go to school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and make shoes during the remaining days of the week. This suited him admirably. That very night he seized upon a geography, and began to learn the counties of England and Wales. The fear of failure never left him for two hours together, except when he slept. The plan of work was faithfully kept; though by this time shoemaking had lost its charms. He shortened his sleeping hours, and rose at any moment that he awoke — at two, three, or four in the morning. He got his brother, who had been plodding with him over shorthand, to study horticulture, and fruit and vegetable culture; and that brother shortly after took a high place in an examination held by the Royal Horticultural Society. For a time, however, they worked together; and often did their mother get up at four o'clock in the depth of winter, light their fire, and return to bed after calling them up to the work of self-culture. Even this did not satisfy their devouring ambition. There was a bed in the workshop, and they obtained permission to sleep there. Then they followed their own plans. The young gardener would sit up till one or two in the morning, and wake his brother, who had gone to bed as soon as he had given up work the night before.

Now he got up and studied through the small hours of the morning until the time came when he had to transfer his industry to shoemaking, or go to school on the appointed days after the distant eight o'clock had come. His brother had got worn out. Early sleep seemed to be the best. They then both went to bed about eight o'clock, and got the policeman to call them up before retiring himself.

"So the struggle went on, until the faithful old schoolmaster thought that his young pupil might try the examination at the Bangor Normal College. He was now eighteen years of age; and it was eighteen months since the time when he began to learn the counties of England and Wales. He went to Bangor, rigged out in his brother's coat and waistcoat, which were better than his own; and with his brother's watch in his pocket to time himself in his examinations. He went through his examination, but returned home thinking he had failed. Nevertheless, he had in the meantime, on the strength of a certificate which he had obtained six months before, in an examination held by the Society of Arts and Sciences in Liverpool, applied for a situation as teacher in a grammar-school at Ormskirk in Lancashire. He succeeded in his application, and had been there for only eight days when he received a letter from Mr. Rowlands, Principal of the Bangor Normal College, informing him that he had passed at the head of the list, and was the highest non-pupil teacher examined by the British and Foreign Society. Having obtained permission from his master to leave, he packed his clothes and his few books. He had not enough money to carry him home; but, unasked, the master of the school gave him 10s. He arrived home about three o'clock on a Sunday morning, after a walk of eleven miles over a lonely road from the place where the train had stopped. He reeled on the way, and found the country reeling too. He had been sleeping eight nights in a damp bed. Six weeks of the Bangor Session passed, and during that time he had been delirious, and was too weak to sit up in bed. But the second time he crossed the threshold of his home he made for Bangor and got back his "position," which was all important to him, and he kept it all through.

"Having finished his course at Bangor he went to keep a school at Brynaman; he endeavoured to study but could not. After two years he gave up the school, and with 60L. saved he faced the world once more. There was a scholarship of the value of 40L. a year, for three years, attached to one of the Scotch Universities, to be competed for. He knew the Latin Grammar, and had, with help, translated one of the books of Caesar. Of Greek he knew nothing, save the letters and the first declension of nouns; but in May he began to read in earnest at a farmhouse. He worked every day from 6 A.M. to 12 P.M. with only an hour's intermission. He studied the six Latin and two Greek books prescribed; he did some Latin composition unaided; brushed up his mathematics; and learnt something of the history of Greece and Rome. In October, after five months of hard work, he underwent an examination for the scholarship, and obtained it; beating his opponent by twenty-eight marks in a thousand. He then went up to the Scotch University and passed all the examinations for his ordinary M.A. degree in two years and a half. On his first arrival at the University he found that he could not sleep; but he wearily yet victoriously plodded on; took a prize in Greek, then the first prize in philosophy, the second prize in logic, the medal in English literature, and a few other prizes.

"He had 40L. when he first arrived in Scotland; and he carried away with him a similar sum to Germany, whither he went to study for honours in philosophy. He returned home with little in his pocket, borrowing money to go to Scotland, where he sat for honours and for the scholarship. He got his first honours, and what was more important at the time, money to go on with. He now lives on the scholarship which he took at that time; is an assistant professor; and, in a fortnight, will begin a course of lectures for ladies in connection with his university. Writing to me a few days ago,[13] he says, 'My health, broken down with my last struggle, is quite restored, and I live with the hope of working on. Many have worked more constantly, but few have worked more intensely. I found kindness on every hand always, but had I failed in a single instance I should have met with entire bankruptcy. The failure would have been ruinous.... I thank God for the struggle, but would not like to see a dog try it again. There are droves of lads in Wales that would creep up but they cannot. Poverty has too heavy a hand for them.'"

The gentleman whose brief history is thus summarily given by Mr. Davies, is now well known as a professor of philosophy; and, if his health be spared, he will become still better known. He is the author of several important works on 'Moral Philosophy,' published by a leading London firm; and more works are announced from his pen. The victorious struggle for knowledge which we have recounted might possibly be equalled, but it could not possibly be surpassed. There are, however, as Mr. Davies related to the Parliamentary Committee, many instances of Welsh students --most of them originally quarrymen — who keep themselves at school by means of the savings effected from manual labour, "in frequent cases eked out and helped by the kindness of friends and neighbours," who struggle up through many difficulties, and eventually achieve success in the best sense of the term. "One young man" — as the teacher of a grammar-school, within two miles of Bangor, related to Mr. Davies — "who came to me from the quarry some time ago, was a gold medallist at Edinburgh last winter;" and contributions are readily made by the quarrymen to help forward any young man who displays an earnest desire for knowledge in science and literature.

It is a remarkable fact that the quarrymen of Carnarvonshire have voluntarily contributed large sums of money towards the establishment of the University College in North Wales — the quarry districts in that county having contributed to that fund, in the course of three years, mostly in half-crown subscriptions, not less than 508L. 4s. 4d. — "a fact," says Mr. Davies, "without its parallel in the history of the education of any country;" the most striking feature being, that these collections were made in support of an institution from which the quarrymen could only very remotely derive any benefit.

While I was at Bangor, on the 24th of August, 1883, the news arrived that the Committee of Selection had determined that Bangor should be the site for the intended North Wales University College. The news rapidly spread, and great rejoicings prevailed throughout the borough, which had just been incorporated. The volunteer band played through the streets; the church bells rang merry peals; and gay flags were displayed from nearly every window. There never was such a triumphant display before in the cause of University education.

As Mr. Cadwalladr Davies observed at the banquet, which took place on the following day: "The establishment of the new institution will mark the dawn of a new era in the history of the Welsh people. He looked to it, not only as a means of imparting academical knowledge to the students within its walls, but also as a means of raising the intellectual and moral tone of the whole people. They were fond of quoting the saying of a great English writer, that there was something Grecian in the Celtic race, and that the Celtic was the refining element in the British character; but such remarks, often accompanied as they were with offensive comparisons from Eisteddfod platforms, would in future be put to the test, for they would, with their new educational machinery, be placed on a footing of perfect equality with the Scotch and the Irish people."

And here must come to an end the character history of my autumn tour in Ireland, Scotland, Yorkshire, and Wales. I had not the remotest intention when setting out of collecting information and writing down my recollections of the journey. But the persons I met, and the information I received, were of no small interest — at least to myself; and I trust that the reader will derive as much pleasure from perusing my observations as I have had in collecting and writing them down. I do think that the remarkable persons whose history and characters I have endeavoured, however briefly, to sketch, will be found to afford many valuable and important lessons of Self-Help; and to illustrate how the moral and industrial foundations of a country may be built up and established.

Footnotes for Chapter XII.

[1] ^  A "poet," who dates from "New York, March 1883," has published seven stanzas, entitled "Change here for Blairgowrie," from which we take the following: —

"From early morn till late at e'en,

John's honest face is to be seen,

Bustling about the trains between,

Be 't sunshine or be 't showery;

And as each one stops at his door,

He greets it with the well-known roar

Of 'Change here for Blairgowrie.'

Even when the still and drowsy night

Has drawn the curtains of our sight,

John's watchful eyes become more bright,

And take another glow'r aye

Thro' yon blue dome of sparkling stars

Where Venus bright and ruddy Mars

Shine down upon Blairgowrie.

He kens each jinkin' comet's track,

And when it's likely to come back,

When they have tails, and when they lack -

In heaven the waggish power aye;

When Jupiter's belt buckle hings,

And the Pyx mark on Saturn's rings,

He sees from near Blairgowrie."

[2] ^  The Observatory, No. 61, p. 146; and No. 68, p. 371.

[3] ^  In an article on the subject in the Dundee Evening Telegraph, Mr. Robertson observes: "If our finite minds were more capable of comprehension, what a glorious view of the grandeur of the Deity would be displayed to us in the contemplation of the centre and source of light and heat to the solar system. The force requisite to pour such continuous floods to the remotest parts of the system must ever baffle the mind of man to grasp. But we are not to sit down in indolence: our duty is to inquire into Nature's works, though we can never exhaust the field. Our minds cannot imagine motion without some Power moving through the medium of some subordinate agency, ever acting on the sun, to send such floods of light and heat to our otherwise cold and dark terrestrial ball; but it is the overwhelming magnitude of such power that we are incapable of comprehending. The agency necessary to throw out the floods of flame seen during the few moments of a total eclipse of the sun, and the power requisite to burst open a cavity in its surface, such as could entirely engulph our earth, will ever set all the thinking capacity of man at nought."

[4] ^  The Observatory, Nos. 34, 42, 45, 49, and 58.

[5] ^  We regret to say that Sheriff Barclay died a few months ago, greatly respected by all who knew him.

[6] ^  Sir E. Denison Beckett, in his Rudimentary Treatise on Clocks and Watches and Bells, has given an instance or the telescope-driving clock, invented by Mr. Cooke (p. 213).

[7] ^  J. Norman Lockyer, F.R.S.- Stargazing, Past and Present, p. 302.

[8] ^  This excellent instrument is now in the possession of my son-in-law, Dr. Hartree, of Leigh, near Tunbridge.

[9] ^  An interesting account of Mr. Alvan Clark is given in Professor Newcomb's 'Popular Astronomy,' p. 137.

[10] ^  A photographic representation of this remarkable telescope is given as the frontispiece to Mr. Lockyer's Stargazing, Past and Present; and a full description of the instrument is given in the text of the same work. This refracting telescope did not long remain the largest. Mr. Alvan Clark was commissioned to erect a larger equatorial for Washington Observatory; the object-glass (the rough disks of which were also furnished by Messrs. Chance of Birmingham) exceeding in aperture that of Mr. Cooke's by only one inch. This was finished and mounted in November, 1873. Another instrument of similar size and power was manufactured by Mr. Clark for the University of Virginia. But these instruments did not long maintain their supremacy. In 1881, Mr. Howard Grubb, of Dublin, manufactured a still larger instrument for the Austrian Government — the object-glass being of twenty-seven inches aperture. But Mr. Alvan Clark was not to be beaten. In 1882, he supplied the Russian Government with the largest refracting telescope in existence the object-glass being of thirty inches diameter. Even this, however, is to be surpassed by the lens which Mr. Clark has in hand for the Lick Observatory (California), which is to have a clear aperture of three feet in diameter.

[11] ^  Since the above passage was written and in type, I have seen (in September 1884) the reflecting telescope referred to at pp. 357-8. It was mounted on its cast-iron equatorial stand, and at work in the field adjoining the village green at Bainbridge, Yorkshire. The mirror of the telescope is 8 inches in diameter; its focal length, 5 feet; and the tube in which it is mounted, about 6 feet long. The instrument seemed to me to have an excellent defining power.

But Mr. Lancaster, like every eager astronomer, is anxious for further improvements. He considers the achromatic telescope the king of instruments, and is now engaged in testing convex optical surfaces, with a view to achieving a telescope of that description. The chief difficulty is the heavy charge for the circular blocks of flint glass requisite for the work which he meditates. "That," he says, "is the great difficulty with amateurs of my class." He has, however, already contrived and constructed a machine for grinding and polishing the lenses in an accurate convex form, and it works quite satisfactorily. Mr. Lancaster makes his own tools. From the raw material, whether of glass or steel, he produces the work required. As to tools, all that he requires is a bar of steel and fire; his fertile brain and busy hands do the rest. I looked into the little workshop behind his sitting-room, and found it full of ingenious adaptations. The turning lathe occupies a considerable part of it; but when he requires more space, the village smith with his stithy, and the miller with his water-power, are always ready to help him. His tools, though not showy, are effective. His best lenses are made by himself: those which he buys are not to be depended upon. The best flint glass is obtained from Paris in blocks, which he divides, grinds, and polishes to perfect form.

I was attracted by a newly made machine, placed on a table in the sitting-room; and on inquiry found that its object was to grind and polish lenses. Mr. Lancaster explained that the difficulty to be overcome in a good machine, is to make the emery cut the surface equally from centre to edge of the lens, so that the lens will neither lengthen nor shorten the curve during its production. To quote his words: "This really involves the problem of the 'three bodies,' or disturbing forces so celebrated in dynamical mathematics, and it is further complicated by another quantity, the 'coefficient of attrition,' or work done by the grinding material, as well as the mischief done by capillary attraction and nodal points of superimposed curves in the path of the tool. These complications tend to cause rings or waves of unequal wear in the surface of the glass, and ruin the defining power of the lens, which depends upon the uniformity of its curve. As the outcome of much practical experiment, combined with mathematical research, I settled upon the ratio of speed between the sheave of the lens-tool guide and the turn-table; between whose limits the practical equalization of wear (or cut of the emery) might with the greater facility be adjusted, by means of varying the stroke and eccentricity of the tool. As the result of these considerations in the construction of the machine, the surface of the glass 'comes up' regularly all over the lens; and the polishing only takes a few minutes' work--thus keeping the truth of surface gained by using a rigid tool."

The machine in question consists of a revolving sheave or ring, with a sliding strip across its diameter; the said strip having a slot and clamping screw at one end, and a hole towards the other, through which passes the axis of the tool used in forming the lens,--the slot in the strip allowing the tool to give any stroke from 0 to 1.25 inch. The lens is carried on a revolving turn-table, with an arrangement to allow the axis of the lens to coincide with the axis of the table. The ratio of speed between the sheave and turn-table is arranged by belt and properly sized pulleys, and the whole can be driven either by hand or by power. The sheave merely serves as a guide to the tool in its path, and the lens may either be worked on the turn-table or upon a chuck attached to the tool rod. The work upon the lens is thus to a great extent independent of the error of the machine through shaking, or bad fitting, or wear; and the only part of the machine which requires really first-class work is the axis of the turn-table, which (in this machine) is a conical bearing at top, with steel centre below, — the bearing turned, hardened, and then ground up true, and run in anti-friction metal. Other details might be given, but these are probably enough for present purposes. We hope, at some future time, for a special detail of Mr. Lancaster's interesting investigations, from his own mind and pen.

[12] ^  The translations are made by W. Cadwalladr Davies, Esq.

[13] ^  This evidence was given by Mr. W. Cadwalladr Davies on the 28th October, 1880.