Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/423
SKETCH OF PROFESSOR HENRY DRAPER. 409
1880 ; and " Photograph of the Spectra of the Comet of June, 1881," last year.
Probably Henry Draper's most important work was his discovery of oxygen in the sun, which was duly chronicled and made a matter of dis- cussion in " The Popular Science Monthly " at the time. It was the result of great sagacity, experimental skill, and an immense amount of labor. It was too unexpected and surprising to command the ready assent of eminent physicists and astronomers, while its experimental proofs were on such an expensive scale that the processes could not be easily repeated. But the opinion has undoubtedly gained strength that the discovery is valid, and by reference to a recent work by Pro- fessor Young on " The Sun " and the " Popular Astronomy" of Professor Newcomb, it will be seen that the weight of authoritative opinion is in favor of its reality.
Henry Draper was a man of medium height, rather stoutly built, with the appearance of vigorous health. His manners were agreeable, he was a lively and a witty talker, and a very fluent and instructive lecturer. He was enthusiastic in his passion for science, and persistent and tenacious in carrying out his elaborate plans of research.
In 1867 he married the daughter of Courtlandt Palmer, Esq., a cultivated lady who entered with a kindred enthusiasm into all his studies, and rendered the most faithful and efficient service in his deli- cate and arduous investigations. So thorough was her understand- ing of the problems he was engaged upon, and so considerable her share in the manipulatory practice, that it is hoped she may be able to complete and publish his more important unfinished work. At the death of his father-in-law, Professor Draper became a trustee of the large estate, and was henceforth much absorbed in business. But, though in command of very liberal means, his passion for science was too strong to be diverted by new solicitations, and he set a noble ex- ample by making use of his ample resources to carry on the work of scientific research on a scale that is but rarely attempted because of its great expense.