Active leisure


Astronomy ,
Lecture on the Moon ,
Edinburgh ,
Old friends ,
Visit to the Continent - Paris, Chartres, Nismes, Chamounix ,
Art of photography ,
Sir John Herschel ,
Spots on the sun's surface ,
E.J. Stone ,
De la Rue ,
Visit from Sir John Herschel ,
Cracking glass globe ,
A million spots and letters ,
Geological diagram ,
Father Secchi at Rome ,
Lord Lyndhurst ,
Visit to Herschel ,
His last letter ,
Publication of The Moon ,
Philip H. Calderon ,
Cardinal Manning ,
Miss Herschel ,
William Lassell ,
Windmill grinding of speculum ,
The dial of life ,
End of recollections ,

WHEN James Watt retired from business towards the close of his useful and admirable life, he spoke to his friends of occupying himself with "ingenious trifles," and of turning "some of his idle thoughts" upon the invention of an arithmetical machine and a machine for copying sculpture. These and other useful works occupied his attention for many years.

It was the same with myself. I had good health (which Watt had not) and abundant energy. When I retired from business I was only forty-eight years old, which may be considered the prime of life. But I had plenty of hobbies, perhaps the chief of which was Astronomy. No sooner had I settled at Hammerfield than I had my telescopes brought out and mounted. The fine clear skies with which we were favoured, furnished me with abundant opportunities for the use of my instruments. I began again my investigations on the Sun and the Moon, and made some original discoveries, of which more anon.

Early in the year 1858 I received a pressing invitation from the Council of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society to give a lecture before their members on the Structure of the Lunar Surface. As the subject was a favourite one with me, and as I had continued my investigations and increased my store of drawings since I had last appeared before an Edinburgh audience, I cheerfully complied with their request. I accordingly gave my lecture before a crowded meeting in the Queen Street Lecture Hall.

The audience appeared to be so earnestly interested by the subject that I offered to appear before them on two successive evenings and give any viva voce explanations about the drawings which those present might desire. This deviation from the formality of a regular lecture was attended with the happiest results. Edinburgh always supplies a highly-intelligent audience, and the cleverest and brightest were ready with their questions. I was thus enabled to elucidate the lecture and to expand many of the most interesting points connected with the moon's surface, such as might formerly have appeared obscure. These questioning lectures gave the highest satisfaction. They satisfied myself as well as the audience, who went away filled with the most graphic information I could give them on the subject.

But not the least interesting part of my visit to Edinburgh on this occasion was the renewed intercourse which I enjoyed with many of my old friends. Among these were my venerable friend Professor Pillans, Charles Maclaren (editor of the Scotsman), and Robert Chambers. We had a long danderto saunter, to roam, to go from place to place. together through the Old Town, our talk being in broad Scotch. Pillans was one of the fine old Edinburgh Liberals, who stuck to his principles through good report and through evil. In his position as Rector of the High School, he had given rare evidence of his excellence as a classical scholar. He was afterwards promoted to be a Professor in the University. He had as his pupils some of the most excellent men of my time. Amongst his intimate friends were Sydney Smith, Brougham, Jeffrey, Cockburn -- men who gave so special a character to the Edinburgh society of that time.

We had a delightful stroll through some of the most remarkable parts of the Old Town, with Robert Chambers as our guide. We next mounted Arthur's Seat to observe some of the manifestations of volcanic action, which had given such a remarkable structure to the mountain. On this subject, Charles Maclaren was one of the best living expounders. He was an admirable geologist, and had closely observed the features of volcanic action round his native city. Robert Chambers then took us to see the glacial grooved rocks on another part of the mountain. On this subject he was a master. It was a vast treat to me to see those distinct evidences of actions so remotely separated in point of geological time -- in respect to which even a million of years is a humble approximate unit[note: "It is to our ever-dropping climate, with its hundred

  By PanEris using Melati.

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