as a text-book since I had graduated, and a short absence on account of my Florida
debility, which had reduced me to 120 pounds in weight, I began to pursue physics into its more secret depths.
I even indulged the ambition to work out the mathematical interpretation of all the phenomena of physical science, including electricity and magnetism.
After three years of hard labor in this direction, I thought I could venture to publish a part of my work in book form, and thus submit it to the judgment of the able scientists whose acquaintance I had made at the meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.1
While I was engaged in this work upon physics, a young gentleman named Drown came to West Point
, and asked me to give him some private lessons in mechanics and astronomy, to perfect his qualifications as a teacher.
I went over those subjects with him in about one hundred lessons, including a few in practical astronomy.
He was the most ardent student I have ever known.
Like, I doubt not, all the most earnest seekers for divine truth, in whatever way revealed to man, he would not be satisfied with his own perception of such truth unless he could feel it ‘burn in his brain.’
In that brief experience I became for the first time intensely interested in practical astronomy, about which I had thought little before, although I had had sole charge of the observatory for some time.
I have always since given Professor Drown
credit for teaching me practical astronomy by first leading me to the discovery that I had a natural taste and aptitude for such work, theretofore unsuspected.
That new ‘lead’ was followed with all possible zeal, day and night, for many months, until all the instruments in the observatory,