Astronomical pursuits


Hobbies at home ,
Drawing ,
Washington Irving ,
Pursuit of astronomy ,
Wonders of the heavens ,
Construction of a new speculum ,
William Lassell ,
Warren de la Rue ,
Home-made reflecting telescope ,
A ghost at Patricroft ,
Twenty-inch diameter speculum ,
Drawings of the moon's surface ,
Structure of the moon ,
Lunar craters ,
Pico ,
Wrinkles of age ,
Extinct craters ,
Landscape scenery of the moon ,
Meeting of British Association at Edinburgh ,
The Bass Rock ,
Professor Owen ,
Robert Chambers ,
The grooved rocks ,
Hugh Miller and boulder clay ,
Lecture on the moon ,
Visit the Duke of Argyll ,
Basaltic formation at Mull ,
The Giant's Causeway ,
The great exhibition ,
Steam hammer engine ,
Prize medals ,
Interview with the Queen and Prince Consort ,
Lord Cockburn ,
Visit to Bonally ,
D. O. Hill ,

Let me turn for a time from the Foundry, the whirr of the self-acting tools, and the sound of the steam hammers, to my quieter pursuits at home. There I had much tranquil enjoyment in the company of my dear wife. I had many hobbies. Drawing was as familiar to me as language. Indeed, it was often my method of speaking. It has always been the way in which I have illustrated my thoughts. In the course of my journeys at home and abroad I made many drawings of places and objects, which were always full of interest, to me at least; and they never ceased to bring up a store of happy remembrances.

Now and then I drew upon my fancy, and with pen and ink I conjured up "The Castle of Udolpho," " A Bit of Old England," "The Fairies are Out," and "Everybody for Ever." The last is crowded with thousands of figures and heads, so that it is almost impossible to condense the drawing into a small compass. To these I added "The Alchemist," "Old Mortality," "Robinson Crusoe," and a bit of English scenery, which I called "Gathering Sticks." I need not say with how much pleasure I executed these drawings in my evening hours. They were not "published," but I drew them with lithographic ink, and had them printed by Mr. Maclure. I afterwards made presents of the series to some of my most intimate friends.

The Antiquarian. By James Nasmyth (Facsimile)

In remembrance of the great pleasure which I had derived from the perusal of Washington Irving's fascinating works, I sent him a copy of my sketches. His answer was charming and characteristic. His letter was dated " Sunnyside," Massachusetts, where he lived. He said (17th January 1859):

DEAR SIR -- .Accept my most sincere and hearty thanks for the exquisite fancy sketches which you have had the kindness to send me, and for the expressions of esteem and regard in the letter which accompanied them. It is indeed a heartfelt gratification to me to think that I have been able by any exercise of my pen to awaken such warm and delicate sympathies, and to call forth such testimonials of pleasure and approbation from a person of your cultivated taste and intellectual elevation. With high respect and regard, I remain, nay dear sir, your truly obliged friend, Washington Irving."

The Fairies. By James Nasmyth. (Facsimile)

Viscount Duncan, afterwards Earl Camperdown, also acknowledged receipt of the drawings in a characteristic letter. He said: -- "We are quite delighted with them, especially with 'The Fairies,' which a lady to whom I showed them very nearly stole, as she declared that it quite realised her dreams of fairyland. I am only surprised that amidst your numerous avocations you have found time to execute such detailed works of art; and I shall have much pleasure in being reminded as I look at the drawings that the same hand and head that executed them invented the steam hammer, and many other gigantic pieces of machinery which will tend to immortalise the Anglo-saxon race."

But my most favourite pursuit, after my daily exertions at the Foundry, was Astronomy. There were frequently clear nights when the glorious objects in the Heavens were seen in most attractive beauty and brilliancy.

I cannot find words to express the thoughts which the impressive grandeur of the Stars, seen in the silence of the night, suggested to me; especially when I directed my Telescope, even at random, on any portion of the clear sky, and considered that each Star of the multitude it revealed to me, was a SUN!

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.