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Some cambridge landmarks: the Peabody Museum. The Agassiz Museum. Harvard Observatory. The Botanic Garden. Clark's Observatory.

Miss Henrietta S. Leavitt.

The Peabody Museum.

In one of the quietest corners of quiet old Cambridge, on shady Divinity avenue, stand the two wings of what some day will be the great Harvard University museum. The Peabody Museum, and, farther up the street the Agassiz Museum, popularly so called, have now been standing for many years. At the rear of each, additions are occasionally built on, until now any passerby can see that the ultimate design is to unite the two museums in one great building.

The Peabody Museum may be called the laboratory of a new science. There is a sense in which all our modern science is new, yet most of the sciences have been pursued with some success since the Middle Ages. The study of anthropology in its different branches, however, was scarcely thought of until this century. History was a record of wars and kings and public events. We are but just beginning to realize that there is no study so interesting as that of man, especially in his social developmentt.

Early in this century, some interest was manifested in discoveries of prehistoric human remains in Europe. In our own country, stone arrow heads turned up by the farmer's plough, and the pottery and other contents of the mysterious mounds in the Mississippi valleys awakened some curiosity. Collections were made; yet there was so little [118] general and intelligent interest in these remains, that in 1840 an excellent collection of articles made by the Mound-builders was suffered to pass into English hands.

Then a change took place. These relics became matter not only for curiosity-seekers, but for serious study. People began to recognize that a forgotten past might be partly restored through these fragments. We cannot know who were the kings of these people or what the results of their battles. We cannot know of their statesmen and political triumphs,--if so be that there were statesmen and politics among them. In short their history, in the old-fashioned sense, is sealed to us. What can we learn?

For one thing. we may learn something of the antiquity of man. If the geologist tells us that the gravel from which certain stone tools are dug was deposited a certain number of thousands of years ago, the man who made them must be of similar antiquity. Of course the geologist may be mistaken, and so our estimates of the age of man must be open to revision.

Again, we may find out something about the habits and skill of the people of these remote ages. We may watch the development of man from age to age, seeing hown he gradually improves in manual skill and intellectual forethought. We may at some time be able to trace a race history through these broken relics of past ages.

Again, we may preserve the skeletons that are exhumed. These, especially the skulls, are valuable race indices. Perhaps we may be able to establish the continuity of some of these people with some modern races.

Wise men earl! in the century heg — an to recognize [119] the value of the information hidden in what were generally regarded merely as curious relics. Collections were begun, but collectors were feeling their way, and hardly knew how to arrange or study their material.

In 1866, just at the most favorable time for beginning a thorough scientific work, George Peabody gave $150,000 for the establishment of a museum and professorship of American Archaeology and Ethnology, in connection with Harvard University. Harvard was thus enabled to have a leading part in the new work. Of Mr. Peabody's gift, $60,000 was to be used for a building fund, and the rest was to be divided equally between a professorship and a museum fund.

In the early days of the Museum, articles were stored and exhibited in Boylston Hall. The first section of the present structure was built in 1875. Generous as was Mr. Peabody's gift, it was not nearly sufficient to have permitted the accomplishnient of all that has been done. The building alone has cost more than twice the amount of the original building fund. Other generous gifts have been made, and volunteer assistants in the field have contributed valuable articles. Although the original building has twice been added to, great quantities of material are packed away out of sight. This is available for use by special students, but there is not room for it to be permanently exhibited.

One of the most interesting rooms in the Museum is the large lecture hall on the first floor, for students in archaeology. On the walls hang many portraits in oil, of Indian chiefs. In the cases around the edge is a somewhat diversified exhibition — masks from New Guinea, wax models of different tribes of Indians and Esquimaux, skeletons [120] of different races, implements of war and peace, articles used in religious ceremonies. These are mostly modern. There are photographs, too, of the places whence some of these came. Photographs, indeed, are a feature of this Museum. On every floor, in almost every room, are photographs of the regions represented. In the lecture hall, also, is a model of the serpent mound of Hamilton County, Ohio. which belongs to the Peabody Museum. It was purchased with a special gift of $8,000, and is kept as a park, while explorations are carried on in the vicinity.

The entrance to the lecture hall is guarded by two carved and weather-beaten stone idols from Yucatan. Just inside the door is a cast of an Assyrian relief dating back to the ninth century B. C. This latter properly belongs in the room overhead, where the Semitic department of the University has a fine collection of Assyrian and other Eastern casts and remains. By courtesy, this collection is given a place in the Peabody Museum, until a place of its own can be provided.

It is for the study of American archaeology and Ethnology that the Peabody Museum is maintained. Especial attention is given to North American tribes, although articles from Central and South America are welcomed. For the study of the race history of our own continent, it is desirable, even necessary, to have articles for comparison from other parts of the world. Antiquities from any source are welcome if only they are properly verified. Articles illustrating modern life among the uncivilized and partly civilized peoples of the East are also received.

It would not be desirable here to catalogue the curious, interesting and instructive exhibitions [121] which have been so skilfully displayed in the different rooms. Rather let us notice here the principles upon which the exhibits are arranged.

Objects are placed in the cases in strict geographical order and the modern is separated from the ancient. The labels give account of the date and circumstances of finding the different articles, and photographs of the regions to which they belong are near at hand. Anyone can go and study for himself in these carefully arranged rooms. If the articles on exhibition are not numerous enough, the reserve stores, also carefully arranged and labelled, may be examined by the student. The study of these relics has only begun. What we have is incompletely understood, and many gaps remain to be filled by future discoveries.

Go from room to room and from floor to floor, and see for yourself the suggestions as to mode of living and religion given by the long buried articles now opened to the light. Study the mound-builders and the cliff-dwellers and other early inhabitants of our land, through their handiwork now revealed. Examine their tools, their weapons, their pottery. Then look at the illustrations of modern Indian life — the clothing, tools, religious articles, domesticc utensils. How do the tribes differ from one another? What points of resemblance can be discovered between modern and ancient? Are there any indications of continuity of race? Can signs be found of their connection with any other tribes in other parts of the world?

Examine the foreign collections, ancient and lnodern, and draw your own conclusions. They may be crude; in many instances, probably, they will be incorrect, for vou have been making a hasty survey where long and patient study is required [122] for the attainment of any sound results. But as you try to form some conclusions for youself, you will realize what an amount of interesting material is already owned and systematized by the Museum.

You may despair, after a short trial, of finding correct answers for your scientific problems. At least you can enjoy standing by the broken, but bright-colored and graceful, often fantastic, shapes of Alexican and Peruvian pottery. It will recall strongly what you have read of the magnificence of those old empires. You may wonder at the perseverance and ingenuity of paleolithic man, as you look at his stone weapons and tools, or examine the millstones which ground maize perhaps thousands of years before America was “discovered.”

You will leave the Museum richer and wiser. You will have a new respect for those ancient peoples who differed from ourselves, not so much in native ability as in that endowment of knowledge and experience which has accumulated for us during thousands of generations. You will be prepared to follow with new interest the researches of the men and woomen who are giving their lives to this study. It is a difficult and complicated subject. but the material now being gathered and preserved will inevitably lead to a great expansion of our present knowledge. [123] [124]

The grave of Agassiz


The Agassiz Museum.

Many pilgrims go out to Mount Auburn, “the Westminster Abbey of America,” and few of them fail to stop and pay their tribute of respect before the tomb of Agassiz. There is a nobler monument to the great scientist, however, than even that noble tomb. His name and life work are perpetuated in the great museum which he established at Harvard University. Daily his name is on the lips of scores of people as they speak of the “Agassiz Miuseum,” and they can scarcely pronounce it without a sort of reverence. The legal name of the institution is “The Museum of comparative zoology.” In his modesty the great scientist (lid not wish to have it called by his name, but the people cannot be controlled by this wish of his, and probably they will always call it the Agassiz Museum.

During Agassiza long Cambridge life of early poverty and tardy success, the people were watching him with ever increasing affection. They marvelled at the fossils and other specimens which overran his house when he scarcely possessed the ordinary comforts of life. After these specimens had been removed to an old boat-house down by the river, they took note of the hours he spent there, arranging them. Then, too, the public heard his marvellous lectures at the Lowell Institute. He brought home the deep facts of science to their [126] untrained understandings. They recognized his enthusiasm and his genius, and loved him accordingly.

Professor Agassiz's interest in his collection for its own sake, and especially for its educational value, was absorbing. While it was in the boathouse, and later when it filled a large old wooden building near the college, he could hardly rest for fear of fire or other accident which might so easily destroy it. Most of his time was devoted to it. Nearly all his money was expended upon it. In “Louis Agassiz: his life and Correspondence,” his wife quotes him as exclaiming during an illness:--

“O my Museum! my Museum! always uppermost by day and by night, in health and in sickness, always-always!”

It must be remembered that by his own efforts he had gathered a great collection; with his own money he was caring for it, and such care is costly. His private life was a constant struggle with the poverty thus voluntarily incurred.

But better days were to dawn. Financial burdens were lightened by the very successful school for girls opened by his wife. In this school he himself took delight in giving the young women their instruction in science.

At last, in 1858, he knew the relief of having his burden shared. Mr. Francis C. Gray left $50,000 for a “Museum of comparative zoology,” to be established at Harvard. Land was at once given by the University, aid was granted by legislature and over $70,000 was subscribed by citizens. Now a suitable building could be erected and there were pecuniary resources sufficient to care for his beloved specimens.

Although Agassiz was permitted to see only the [127] beginning of the new institution, it has probably developed nearly as it would have done had he lived to direct it himself. He had gathered and trained his own assistants and they were thoroughly competent to carry out his instructions. Most fortunately his son was well acquainted with his designs and interested to carry them to completion. He has been curator of the Museum since his father's death and by his oversight and generosity has done much to bring it to its present rank among the foremost of the great museums.

The first room one enters in the Museum is the realization of a favorite plan of Agassiz. He wanted a “Synoptic room” set apart for a general view of the field of zoology. Here is shown the transition from the earliest fossil life, through vertebrates, to man. Only a few representative forms are displayed, and so one can see almost at a glance the relations of different orders of beings. It is a brief history of the animal kingdom from its first appearance. This room is apart from all other exhibits, and is, for the popular taste perhaps, the most instructive portion of the Museum.

The bulk of the vast collection is arranged in many connecting rooms, to illustrate, according to the plan of Agassiz, “succession in time and distribution in space” of the forms of life. In one direction, several rooms contain the more primitive forms of life — the earliest known species and their humble cousins of the present day. In the other direction one finds the higher animals. Here are casts of extinct antediluvian forms with unpronounceable names, spreading out their huge skeletons. From the ceiling hang the bones of whales and sharks. Elephants and rhinoceri, game oxen and bisons, almost startle one by their powerful, lifelike [128] appearance behind their glass cages. Small animals are not forgotten, and there are rooms full of birds, reptiles and insects. Every part of the animal kingdom is richly illustrated.

In one room is an interesting collection of bones of different parts of the body compared in different species. In the same room are casts of the brain and other organs of man and the higher animals. On the walls of this room, and of other rooms, are pictures, mostly photographs of regions geologically interesting. In rooms closed to the public are laboratories, with abundance of specimens to be studied and if necessary destroyed. Agassiz took especial pains to have duplicates, as many as possible, in order to permit the destruction of specimens for purposes of research.

After going from room to room and from gallery to gallery, and seeing the crowded cases, one begins to appreciate in a degree the labor which has been expended upon the Museum, and learns to honor the memory of Agassiz more even than by the tomb in sacred Mount Auburn.

From the Agassiz Museum proper, one passes into the Botanical and Mineralogical Museums. These occupy sections of the University Museum building adjoining the Zoological Museum. The mineralogical exhibition is extensive and interesting. The Botanical Museum consists mainly of the Blatscha glass flowers. These are imitations of flowers so exact that in most cases it is almost impossible to believe that they are not real. The glass is made to imitate the minutest variations of texture and color in different flowers. Along with each flower, mounted on the same card, are magnified models of the different parts. The study of botany is thus made easy. The method of manufacture [129] was a secret with Rudolph and Leopold Blatscha, father and son, the makers — or artists, as they may well be called. They must be scientists as well, and be accurate in the slightest details. The father died recently, but fortunately the son can carry on the work.

The Botanical Museum also contains an interesting exhibit of tlhe industrial uses of many plants. Sugar and other food products, hemp-natural and manufactured-vegetable ivory, different kinds of woods for cabinet making and many more useful products are illustrated. Of course all this is only a part of what Harvard has to offer botanical students. The extensive Herbarium and Botanical Gardens have a place of their own and are described elsewhere.

With the mineralogical collection, a little farther on, the end of the building is reached. Probably the time is not far distant when that other wing, the Peabody Museum, will be met and joined by further building. Then one can travel under one roof over the vast space and many departmentss of the University Museum. [130] [131] [132]


Harvard Observatory.

No department of Harvard University is more worthy of its pride than the Astronomical Observatory. Founded only fifty-five years ago, it has from the beginning been one of the foremost contributors to the marvellous growth of astronomical science during the latter half of this century.

Its beginning was humble. The fine old house on the corner of Harvard and Quincy streets, lately the home of Dr. A. P. Peabody and now occupied by Professor Palmer, was its first headquarters. The round cupola on top is a relic of this period, for it was built to support an astronomical dome to shelter the small telescope then used. The first recorded observation was on the evening of December 31, 1839. The first director, Professor W. C. Bond, was appointed the following February.

Professor Bond and his assistants worked enthusiastically with such resources as they could command. The Observatory might have struggled long with its inferior equipment, for it had aroused no popular interest, such as is necessary in order to secure funds for any costly enterprise. But when the great comet of 1843 appeared and frightened the ignorant, it proved a harbinger of good for the industrious little observatory. Everybody's curiosity was aroused. People regretted that at Cambridge there was no instrument of sufficient power to study it and other heavenly bodies to advantage. [134] Accordingly a meeting of prominent men was called in Boston, with the result that sufficient money was raised to purchase a telescope of the largest size. In August of that very year work was begun on the foundations of the great stone pier on which such a telescope must be supported; and from that day to this, the observatory has not lacked the best of modern equipments.

It was an exciting day when the completed telescope was mounted on Observatory Hill. It was the largest refracting telescope in the world save one. That other one was of the same aperture (fifteen inches) and had been ordered at the same time with ours for the observatory at Pulkowa. In these days telescopes of twenty-five inches and over are not uncommon. Our fifteen inch instrument would look like a pigmy by the side of the forty inch Yerkes telescope. Yet even at the present day the Harvard instrument is remarkably fine. Its clearness and defining power are unusual, and for delicate work requiring great accuracy it is unsurpassed.

Let us, in imagination, make a visit to the Observatory. We can go past its back door on the electric cars, for this locality, once so retired, has been invaded by the trolley, and only the thick hedge of evergreen trees prevents serious embarrassment from the electric lights. Our pleasanter way will be to leave the car at Garden street and walk up the hill under the grateful shade of magnificent old trees. We have the grounds on our left for some time before we reach the entrance. Inside, we find it like a park. Still walking up hill we approach the Observatory, in front of which is the pleasant home of Professor Pickering, the director.

Above and behind towers the great dome. Near [135] by is a smaller dome. Off to the right is a substantial brick building evidently belonging to the observatory; and on reaching the top of the hill we see that behind, in the back yard so to speak, is a little cluster of domes, each surmounting a tiny building of its own.

Of course our first desire is to see the large telescope, around whose pier the building was originally raised as a shelter. After climbing a few stairs, we find ourselves in a large circular room. Walls and ceiling are joined in one great curve,--in fact, they form the dome. This dome can be revolved on its “ball-bearings,” spheres of bronze which run in a circular track around the edge of the room. We do not notice this at once, however, for in front of us rises the magic instrument. It is a ponderous mass, and we question whether so great a weight can be controlled conveniently; but we find that it moves at a touch.

There are certain difficulties in the use of so large a telescope, even if it is thus easily handled. In a large telescope, the apparent motion of the stars is so magnified that those at any distance from the pole seem fairly to rush across the field of view. Add to this the fact that the field of a large telescope is very small, and Professor Simon Newcomb may be understood when he says that with a telescope and nothing else one might spend a whole winter evening looking for Sirius, and on finding him, lose him at once and irrevocably. This difficulty of finding and keeping stars is obviated by the “equatorial” mounting, as well as by the “finders,” telescopes of low power and large field attached to the tube. \When a star is found, the instrument can be clamped so that it can be moved only in one direction — that of the star's apparent [136] motion. As fast as the star leaves the field, therefore, a touch of the instrument will bring it into view again.

Obviously, however, if the star's apparent motion were very great, it would take most of the observer's attention to keep it in the field. Any refined observation would thus be rendered impossible. To remedy this difficulty, clock work is attached to the instrument. This is so arranged that the motion of the telescope is exactly equal and opposite to that of the earth in rotation. The observer is thus enabled to study and measure at his leisure, without a thought but that instrument and star are alike stationary.

When equipped with the best of mounting and the most perfect of clock work, with stable foundations and adequate protection from the weather, the telescope might seem complete. But it is poised thirteen feet above the floor. The eye piece has a sweep of ninety degrees and is far out of reach most of the time. Without some means of getting to it, the instrument would be practically useless. It was for Professor Bond to meet this difficulty, and he devised the observing chair which is still in use. In appearance it is rather a formidable looking piece of machinery, but it is simple in use. By its means the observer can convey himself easily and rapidly to any desired part of the dome.

It may be well for us to remind ourselves that an astronomer would consider it a waste of time simply to sit and look through the tube of the telescope. Unless he wants a half hour's amusement, he will attach to it one of the little instruments which are shown us, for measuring minute distances and angles, or for measuring or analyzing light.

The Harvard telescope is much used for measuring [137] the comparative light of stars, or other heavenly bodies. Photometry, as it is called, is a specialty at the Harvard Observatory. Many photometers have been devised here, each adapted to some particular kind of work. A large variety of these is used with the large telescope. If none of the photometers in use seems to be exactly what is wanted for a particular piece of work, Professor Pickering or one of the staff invents a new one. The first one made was called A, and for a long time each new one received the succeeding letter, until the alphabet was exhausted. Now there is no special designation.

There is another instrument much used with the great telescope and that is the micrometer. This is a device for measuring very small distances and is much used in the study of double stars.

Before leaving the dome, we must read the list of donors printed on the walls. We ought also to step out on the balconies from which we have a fine view of Cambridge and surrounding towns by day, and by night an unobstructed view of the heavens.

Down stairs is another instrument of the very greatest importance,--the meridian circle. This is a telescope of fair size, large we should say if we had not just come from the fifteen inch equatorial. Its peculiarity is in the mounting. It turns on a rod pointing east and west, the ends of which are supported on heavy stone piers. It can therefore revolve freely in the plane of the meridian. Any star may be observed just as it crosses the meridian, but at no other time. Attached to the instrument is a large circle, very delicately graduated. The exact angle at which the telescope is turned to observe any star, is shown on this circle. Thus the star's height above the horizon is obtained, and [138] from this is obtained directly the declination, or distance from the celestial equator. The time of a star's transit is signalled, by means of an electric transmitter in the operator's hand, to a chronograph which records the beats of the astronomical clock in the basement. This chronograph was invented by Professor Bond and was very quickly adopted in other observatories. The time observed gives the star's right ascension which corresponds to terrestrial longitude, as declination does to terrestrial latitude.

The meridian circle is the most accurate means of obtaining the exact position of stars. These positions are recorded in the star catalogue. It is also the most accurate means of obtaining true time. Until very recently Boston obtained its true noon from this observatory. Now, however, the time is telegraphed daily from the observatory at Washington, and the Harvard time service has been discontinued.

A beautiful little brass instrument in the same room, not more than three feet high, is a transit instrument made in Russia. It can be used, like the meridian circle, for obtaining the time of meridian transit of stars, but not for declinations, as there is no circle attached to it.

The astronomical clock is in the basement, and is interesting to look at with its three dials, one for each of the three hands. It is regulated to sidereal time; that is, it makes its round of twenty-four hours between two successive passages of the same star over the meridian, thus gaining about four minutes a day over solar time. This clock is, perhaps, the most important instrument in the observatory, for it is essential to the proper use of Zzz the other instruments. A fine new clock Zzz [139] has been presented to the Observatory recently which will undoubtedly make some of the work easier, possibly even more accurate.

On our way out of this building we must step into the library for a moment. Here are between seven and eight thousand bound volumes and nearly ten thousand pamphlets. A considerable proportion of these books and pamphlets contain records of observations made at different times all over the world. The Harvard Annals alone fill a long row of thick quarto volumes. Those dry looking pages of statistics contain many interesting secrets for future discovery.

Now let us see what are the other buildings. A good sized wooden house at a little distance, serves as a shop, and there are a number of small buildings scattered about, most of them domed. Most of these contain photographic instruments. Off to the right, a little way down the slope, is a brick building used for the storage and examination of photographic plates.

Within a few years, photography of the heavens has come to have a leading place as a means of astronomical research. At Harvard, several telescopes are kept busy with photographic work. The advantages of this method are obvious. Unlike the human eye, so soon wearied, the photographic plate sees the more, the longer it is exposed. There is reason to believe that if a telescope could be kept pointed night and day, with perfect accuracy, upon any source of light anywhere in the universe, it would finally record it on the sensitive plate.

Nearly all kinds of astronomical work usually accomplished by visual observations can be done more or less admirably, or can be assented greatly, by the photographic telescope. For instance, the [140] comparative light of stars can be studied from photographic plates. The meridian photometer1 is an ingenious device for doing this in the most convenient manner, and the results are surprisingly accurate.

Again, photography is an easy means of obtaining excellent charts of the heavens. These photographic telescopes bring into view stars that cannot be seen by the eve, even with the most powerful telescopes. Thus we have a record of every star in the heavens, down to the faintest of which we can be made aware. The positions of the stars cannot be so accurately determined by these charts as by the meridian circle. But they are accurate enough for some purposes and, what is most important, they give us a record of thousands of stars that never could have been observed singly. The plates of the same region taken with the same telescope at different times may be compared and any changes noted. The new star in Auriga, which drew so much attention two years ago, was found to have printed itself upon one of the Harvard plates weeks before its discovery.

One of the most important uses of photography is in spectrum analysis. It is by means of the spectroscope that the most important advances in modern astronomy have been made. The rainbow-colored band, crossed by its tale-telling black or bright lines, has let us into the physical secrets of other worlds to a marvellous extent. Here at Harvard the spectra are photographed by placing a prism in front of the object glass of a photographic telescope. Of course the prismatic hues are not reproduced on the plate, but the lines are very distinctly marked, and can be studied at leisure.

The most interesting of all the photographic telescopes [141] is the new Bruce telescope. This has an aperture of twenty-four inches, and is the largest photographic telescope yet made. The glass is by Alvan Clark of our city. This telescope has been in use now for more than a year, and it reveals stars that never have been seen by the eye, even in the largest telescopes.

It is designed to send the Bruce telescope, eventually, to the station at Arequipa, Peru. This station is an integral part of Harvard Observatory. Situated high in the Andes, it possesses unrivalled meteorological advantages. The air is wonderfully clear and pure. Add to these natural advantages the fact that it is almost the only observatory in the southern hemisphere, and its importance will be appreciated. The Bruce telescope will be an important addition to its facilities.

The photographs are stored in a commodious building where a gifted woman, Mrs. Fleming, with her assistants examines the plates. She is in charge of this branch of the work at the Observatory, and publishes frequent articles in the astronomical journals.

We have not seen everything there is at the Observatory, but we have seen what is most interesting and important in the equipment. If it is one of the long summer afternoons and we have made an early start, there will still be time to go over to the Botanic Gardens, which lie just across the street, almost under the shadow of the great dome. [142]


The Botanic Garden.

Instead of being hidden from curious eyes by a thick hedge of trees within the fence, like the Observatory, the Botanic Garden lies open for everybody to look in upon as they pass; and on the gate at the top of the hill, the stranger finds printed an invitation to enter.

The Garden has, seemingly, a more intimate connection than has the Observatory with Harvard College. The professors at the Observatory rarely give courses at the college. The work is too exacting to leave the professors much time to teach. Those few fine instruments have too great value for pure scientific work to allow them to be much used as mediums of instruction or amusement. At the Botanical Garden, however, the college students are to be seen frequently, and the professors give courses at the college.

Primarily, of course, the Garden exists for scientific research. It was begun in 1800 by Professor Peck, and has been under careful management ever since. Now it is an excellent collection of plants from all over the world, systematically arranged, and carefully labelled. Many rare plants are included in the collection. Rare and beautiful trees, too, are scattered here and there. A considerable tract of land has been set aside recently for an American Garden. Here are arranged American wild plants. This is not by any means completed, but [144] it is hoped eventually to have a tolerably complete collection of the native plants of America.

In the hothouses are gathered a profusion of rare tropical plants. Strange blooms meet the eye everywhere, and there is a wealth of color. Here are orchids in beautiful or fantastic shapes; and cacti, their dainty, rich-colored, fragile blossoms contrasting strangely with the prickly, forbidding foliage. Here are beautiful palms, reaching to the top of the high arched ceiling, and graceful ferns, rivalling the palms for size and beauty. New plants and trees are frequently received. Sometimes it is a matter of difficulty to keep them alive. A new tree fern has arrived recently from Australia, absolutely bare of foliage; yet it is hoped to make it live and flourish in its new surroundings.

Harvard has other resources for the study of botany. Important and valuable as is the Botanical Garden, the Herbarium, in the hands of a skilful botanist, who alone is competent to use it, is much more valuable, because more complete. A good library, too, is an essential for thorough work in botany. Harvard is fortunate in having perhaps the best herbarium in existence, together with one of the finest botanical libraries in the country. Both library and Herbarium are a legacy from Dr. Asa Gray.

Dr. Gray began his herbarium in early life. During his service at Harvard he occupied the large house within the Garden at the top of the hill, still the home of Mrs. Gray. Roomy though the house was, it became overrun with pressed flowers. Closets and drawers were full. Even in the dining room stood cabinets filled with the precious sheets.

It was to meet the need of a better storage place that in 1861 Mr. Thayer of Lancaster, Massachusetts, [145] gave the present convenient herbarium building. It is a substantial structure of brick, and fills the space between the hothouses and Mrs. Gray's residence. Within is ample room for the herbarium, and also for the library.

On entering the herbarium building, one comes first to the large room where, in cabinets all about the walls, the specimens are arranged in their proper order. Here assistants are working all the time, for the herbarium is a busy place. Specimens are continually being received, with requests for identification. These must be examined, and if new must be pressed, mounted, named and given their proper place in the collection. There may be also an advanced student or two working here within easy reach of herbarium and library. There may be botanists from distant parts of the country who are here for days and perhaps weeks, working in these favorable surroundings.

The room adjoining the herbarium holds the library. Here are collected many rare books and pamphlets, some almost unique. It was originally Dr. Gray's private library, and he started it so early that he was able to secure many publications now exceedingly rare. A Flora of Greece like one in this library sold recently for eight hundred dollars, and this work is no more rare or valuable than several others to be found here.

Some of the books are artistic treasures. One in particular, Flora Danica, is beautiful enough for a modern art book. This is in eighteen folio volumes, descriptive or rather illustrative, of the flora of northern Europe. The difficulty of the task accomplished in it is indicated by the fact that it was one hundred ears in being published. Every page contains a perfect reproduction in color of every [146] part of some plant-flower, leafage, roots. The work is so natural that one seems to be looking at the real flower. Each picture is accompanied by the botanical description. Indeed this book is a sort of more beautiful and less perishable herbarium of the region it covers.

One of the treasured books of the library is a botanical treatise by Goethe, with the great writer's name on the fly leaf. Mrs. Gray is arranging a large collection of autographs, which when finished will be paced, probably, in the library. One autograph is that of Linnaeus. Another is an autograph letter written with regard to the purchase of land when the Botanical Garden was started, in 1801.

At one end of the library room is a collection of interesting relics. Here is an inkstand which was used constantly by Professor Gray. He had asked Sir Joseph Hooker, the English botanist, for something that had belonged to George Bentham, and Hooker gave him this inkstand, which had been long used by Bentham. Near this are Dr. Gray's dissecting microscopes, and the trowel he used in his field work. This was given him by his tutor, Dr. Torrey, who had himself used it. Close by is a seal made — b Dr. Peck, the founder of the Garden, and intended for official use. Some quaint little portraits of botanists hang near.

There is a remarkable collection of portraits at the Herbarium. This, too, was Dr. Gray's private collection. There are portraits of nearly all of the older generation of botanists, including one of Jussieu, and two of Linnaeus. One of the latter is an oil painting. done expressly for Dr. Gray b-an artist who knew Linnaeus. Dr. Gray himself is represented by portrait and bust. [147] [148]


Clark's Observatory.

Down near the Charles River, a person about to cross the old Brookline bridge spies through the trees what looks like an astronomical dome. Old citizens of Cambridge regard it with pride, and speak of it as “Clark's Observatory.” It marks the site of the world-renowned telescope factory of Alvan Clark and Sons.

The story of its beginning is romantic. If Alvan Clark was known in early life as a successful miniature painter. His son, George B. Clark, became a student at Phillips Academy, Andover. The dinner bell broke. and the boy obtained the fragments. Taking them home, he melted down the metal over the kitchen fire, with the avowed intention of making a telescope. His father found out what he was doing, and was glad to give him a helping hand. The two succeeded in making a good reflecting telescope. They became so much interested in the work, that they made other reflectors together, and attained considerable skill.

Then it occurred to them to try to make lenses for a refracting telescope. There was no firm, in this country or in England, which undertook to grind astronomical lenses. The twin fifteen-inch telescopes at Harvard and Pulkowa Observatories, then the largest in the world, had been made in Germany, and it was hardly expected that they would be surpassed. The grinding even of small [150] object glasses is a difficult art which, at that time, had been lost in England, and had never been attempted in America. Notwithstanding the inherent difficulty of the task, increased many fold by the lack of teachers, the father and son worked away undaunted. At last they produced a four-inch telescope so good that Mr. Clark asked permission to exhibit it to Professor Bond at Harvard Observatory. The exhibition was a failure, not from any defect in the glass, but because it was not suitably mounted. Mr. Clark found means of correcting the difficulty, but his merit remained unrecognized for many years. American observatories ordered their instruments from Germany, not dreaming that their wants could have been supplied by a master here at home.

It was an English amateur astronomer, Rev. W. R. Dawes, who first appreciated the skill of the Clarks and brought them into notice. He found their glasses to be of remarkably fine quality, and began to give them orders. They made several telescopes for him, and as he was known to be an unusually good judge of telescopes, this attracted attention, and Mr. Clark obtained a tardy recognition in his own country.

His first large order was for an eighteen and one-half inch glass for the University of Mississippi. This was three and one-half inches greater than the lens of the Harvard telescope, which had remained unsurpassed for twenty years. In spite of the skill of Mr. Clark, the order could not have been filled, but for his good fortune in obtaining glass discs of the requisite size and purity. The casting of optical glass is a delicate and difficult art, and there are but one or two firms in the world capable of producing discs of large size. After a long [151] wait for the glass, the telescope was begun and successfully completed. Before it left the workshop of the Clarks it made them famous by their discovery, through it, of the companion star of Sirius. For this, as the most interesting discovery of the year, the French Academy of Sciences awarded Mr. Clark the Lalande medal. The telescope was finished in 1863, but did not go to Mississippi on account of the breaking out of the Civil War. Instead, it was sold to a private association in Chicago.

From that time the size of the aperture of telescopes has steadily increased. The Clarks have several times been privileged to have in their workshop glasses larger than any before made. One of the best known of these is the twenty-six inch glass now at the National Observatory in Washington. This, with its twin, made at the same time and sold into private hands, long held the place of the largest telescope in the world. It was completed in 1873. Again and again, however, this aperture was exceeded until the famous Lick telescope aroused the extraordinary popular interest of a few years ago. The Lick telescope is of thirty-six inches aperture, and promised to hold the first place for many years. But the new Chicago University wants to be first in everything, and so of course wishes to own the largest telescope in the world. The man has been found to make the princely gift, and now (1895) the object glasses for the forty-inch Yerkes telescope are lying nearly finished in Mr. Clark's workshop. Cambridge people have come to feel that if a telescope of extraordinary proportions is to be made, of course it must have its lenses ground at Clark's.

A visit to the modest shop where all this work has been done, is full of interest. Everything is [152] for use, not for show, and there is no attempt to make any tool finer than it need be to meet its purpose. But everything is exactly adapted to its purpose. Almost every stage of telescope making may be seen here usually, from the rough discs to the finished instrument; though at any particular time, some stages of progress may not be exemplified, for telescopes are not turned off by thousands, like boots and shoes.

The discs for the lenses come from the manufacturers in flat, square plates of such thickness and diameter as may be needed for telescopes of given sizes. The surface is not polished, save at two places on the edges, through which one can look into the glass and out across its greatest diameter. So perfect is the clearness, that a thickness of several inches does not seem to obstruct the sight any more than so much air. Mr. Clark, however, does not accept it as perfect because of this apparent clearness. Every disc of optical glass is subjected to numerous tests before being pronounced suitable for use. Flaws that could not be discovered by the eye are searched for with ingenious instruments. Very large discs are not sent in this rough, square form, but are rounded and polished over the whole surface. These come very carefully packed, as well they may, for the discs alone, before they have been touched by Mr. Clark, are, when large, worth thousands of dollars.

After testing the purity of the glass, the first process is the grinding. This is begun with very coarse stone and sand until an approximately correct shape is reached. Then emery of finer and finer quality is used, until the shape is as perfect as it can be made by computation. Then the polishing is quickly done. and the lens is apparently [153] finished. But it is only begun. The larger part of the work is yet to be done. A perfect object glass cannot be made by theory; it must be tested over and over again. The first tests show the principal defects, which are remedied as they are discovered. Then the process becomes increasingly delicate. Every part of the lens is tested by ingenious devices, and minute corrections are made. After months of this sort of work, the glass may be tried out of doors in a temporary frame. Then more corrections follow. As long as Mr. Clark has a telescope in the shop he feels he can do something to improve it. At this writing, the object glasses for the Yerkes telescope have been practically done for more than a year, yet Mr. Clark expects to keep them for several months still, making final minute corrections. Of course a small lens can be made in a much shorter time.

The nervous strain of making a large object glass is severe. Mr. Clark is not sure that he would undertake to exceed the forty-inch glass, if he should be asked. He certainly would refuse unless allowed a voice in the selection of the place where it should be mounted. The finest of glasses would be of little use, unless suitably mounted. Indeed, the larger and finer the glass, the more imperative is a good mounting. So the manufacture of mountings is a very important part of Mr. Clark's business. A large space is given up to this, and one soon discovers that in its way the work is as delicate as the grinding of the lenses. No ordinary machinery or labor can be employed. Microscopical accuracy must be observed in every part.

After looking at the different processes in the manufacture of a telescope, the visitor may be fortunate enough to see a complete telescope mounted [154] before sending to the purchaser. Its value and beauty are likely to be appreciated as would hardly have been possible before understanding something of the long, and delicate, and complicated processes of its manufacture. Soon it will be taken apart, packed carefully, and shipped to a place perhaps thousands of miles distant. Other telescopes are in process of manufacture, and will in turn be sent to places near and remote. So the unpretentious work-shop supplements the great Observatory, in making Cambridge one of the scientific centres of the world. [155]

1 Erratum.

At the top of page 140, omit the sentence beginning “The meridian photometer.” It is true that stellar magnitudes are conveniently and accurately derived from measurements on photographic plates. The meridian photometer, however, is not a photographic instrument, but is used for the visual determination of stellar magnitudes. It is an important part of the equipment of the Observatory.

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