Member of the Societe Astronomique de France;
Honorary member of the Sociedad
Astronomica de Mexico
RICHARD G. BADGER
THE GORHAM PRESS
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY RICHARD G. BADGER
All Rights Reserved
Made in the United States of America
The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.
Waning, lingers long
Ere lost within.
Just, kind, masterful.
Life's sweet constant,
Land that lie loved, that loved him! nevermore
Meadow of thine, smooth lawn or wild sea-shore,
Gardens of odorous bloom and tremulous fruit,
Or woodlands old, like Druid couches spread,
The master's feet shall tread.
Death's little rift hath rent the faultless lute:
The singer of undying songs is dead.
He hath fared forth, beyond these suns and showers.
For us, the autumn glow, the autumn flame,
And soon the winter silence shall be ours:
Him the eternal spring of fadeless fame
Crowns with no mortal flowers.
He hath returned to regions whence he came,
Him doth the spirit divine
Of universal loveliness reclaim.
All nature is his shrine.
Seek him henceforward m the wind and sea,
In earths and air's emotion or repose,
In every star's august serenity,
And in the rapture of the flaming rose.
There seek him if ye would not seek in vam,
There, in the rhythm and music of the Whole;
Yea, and forever in the human soul
Made stronger and more beauteous by his strain.
THE personal tribute borne on the pages of
this character sketch is given a sub-title
which attracts me as a happily chosen
metaphor of description. I have seen an Alpine
peak disappear with the fading of day, but soon
coming into light again in the deepening evening,
radiant with cherished light. Percival Lowell was
among men as of the heights, and, as here, memory
of him endures.
Dr. Lowell, especially in the latter part of his
aspiring life, became a notable pioneer in the ad-
vance of astronomical science; and, through his
daring ventures in planetary study, he made gains
which competent scholars believe are of the highest
value for man in his study of the universe. When
I began my acquaintance with him, in Japan, many
years ago, Dr. Lowell's mental quest was impelled
in various directions, particularly into psychologi-
cal interpretations of the Oriental folk among
whom we were both resident. Already he had pub-
lished his profound research, "The Soul of the
Far East"; his "Esoteric Shinto" was then in the
making. But even at that time he had been led
far forward under the later master-interest of his
life. His characteristic longing to know and to in-
terpret the dynamic and vital evolution of other
worlds than this, our earth, had begun to dom-
inate his studies. Soon he was practically en-
grossed by the investigations thereby opened to
him, and his memorable achievements were, in quick
In the tribute which here follows, no attempt has
been made to portray Dr. Lowell definitely in his
distinction as a commanding scholar and far-ven-
turing astronomical scientist. That distinction is ac-
cepted as fact by the writer who was for a long
time in Dr. Lowell's chosen work, closely asso-
ciated with him in carrying it onward. In this
tribute are given glimpses of what Dr. Lowell was
as an individual, human personality ; in effect, here
is an "afterglow," from what may be termed a
vie intime. Notes of his personal moods and habits
have been chosen to recall his specific individuality :
various characterizing anecdotes are remembered;
memories of his loving studies of the minor things
of nature; crystals, plants and trees, insects and
birds and other animate creatures which were an in-
cessant playtime stimulus to his curiosity, are col-
lected. The writer has also added to her memorial
tribute many quotations from characteristic let-
ters, that these may give a yet nearer understanding
of Dr. Lowell, both as a genius in science and as a
man of affairs. In this tribute, I am confident,
there is much to make more real and to confirm the
admiration of many who have read Percival Low-
ell's various books, or who were privileged to listen
to his brilliant lectures on planetology in general,
and, especially, upon the constitution and life of
our Earth's near celestial neighbor, Mars.
But I must not trespass upon the domain which
Miss Leonard's tribute well covers. I will only
say further that I am much gratified that this trib-
ute has been offered. For many years not only
have I admired Percival Lowell's rare mental force
and radiance, but many times have been privileged
to know the excellence of his geniality and gener-
osity as they marked his fine every-day living.
With much pleasure I welcome this memorial;
and I feel highly favored in writing for it this note
PRELUDE ..... 19
QUOTATIONS ..... 45
CHARACTERISTIC NOTES FROM LETTERS . . . .51
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Percival Lowell, taken in London in 1914, at the Out-
break of the War Frontispiece
"A Silly- Wet Day" 22
As a Harvard Student 24
His Last Harvest .30
The San Francisco Peaks 32
The Telescope Here Worked Day and Night . . 40
In His Japanese Garden Tokyo .... 46
Library Chimney-Corner Flagstaff .... 54
Percival Lowell 1908 60
His Bungalow, after Jane Peterson Artist . . 70
What is the Time o'Day? 80
With His Japanese Iris In the Arizona Desert . . 84
His First Telescope Honorably Discharged ... 94
In the Study Window Flagstaff .... 98
Lowell Observatory Eclipse Trip to Tripoli Setting
Percival Lowell, L.L.D 106
Oak Tree and Its Big Brother the Pine in Front of
the B. M. ("Baronial Mansion") .... 124
THE purpose of this book is to portray
Percival Lowell as he was in his distinctive
personality. May these reflections of his
spirit bring with them a better knowledge of the
accomplishments of this brilliant and unusual man.
May they be an incentive to a more intimate
acquaintance with his utterances.
For no one can speak more truly of him than he
spoke of himself in his own glowing pages: where
are depicted his brilliance, wit and humour; love
of nature and the arts of the world ; love of travel ;
and his first, best and last love, love of science.
Someone has said: "He had attained practically
everything worth striving for." In Science he had
reached his goal.
The writer has not attempted to manifest her
own conception of Dr. Lowell but she has allowed
him, through the medium of his letters, to furnish
the picture which his friends and compatriots will
recognize as the real Percival Lowell. She asks
nothing more than to be thought of as having fur-
nished merely the thread on which his pearls are
A "MAN of moods," Dr. Lowell called him-
>elf , and this he was, as the writer can attest
after being associated with him in his work
almost daily for many years. He changed in an
instant from writing sober science to narrating a
telling story to a friend who happened in, taking
the keenest interest in visiting with him as if he had
nothing else to occupy his mind. The masterly
ease with which he wrote of astronomy or attended
to mundane affairs was extraordinary. At Flag-
staff he would often leave his computations for a
bit of exercise on the mesa to explore a canon near
by. In the midst of dining he might be impelled to
rush to his dome for a study of the heavens; also
he might be wakened from his slumbers at the
necromantic hour before dawn that he could revel
in its splendor and then exclaim: "I have been so
overcome by her roseate blush of surprised confu-
sion that I feel like an impertinent intruder who
would better have waited until expected by the
Sun." In such ways he showed his marvellous ver-
satility in work and mood.
Dr. Lowell was "a charming host" as his friend
Mr. George Agassiz so well described him in his
beautiful tribute. "He liked to have people come
and he liked to have them go!" he was heard
to say many times. He cordially greeted people
from everywhere at his mountain home and was so-
licitous that they should have due courtesies given
them by his assistants in the dome and by the serv-
ants in his house. He was pained if he felt that
anyone had been slighted though a stranger to
him. For two and twenty years he elicited much
acclaim from travellers from Asia and Europe,
from California and our East, who visited the Ob-
servatory as they passed through Flagstaff. They
all became conscious that he felt keenly the respon-
sibility of being Director and their host. He was
simple as he was forceful; and yet at heart he was
a hermit. Of an evening one usually found him
alone by his fireside with his after-dinner cigar, or
rather cigars, for smoking was with him a passion.
Frequently, he smilingly quoted the saying: "The
only excuse for a dinner is the cigar that follows."
Possessed of splendid enthusiasms all phases of
life interested him. His jocular moods were de-
lightful. The following extract from a letter re-
ceived by the author from one of Dr. Lowell's Ox-
ford friends will show how this trait of the many-
sided man strongly impressed itself upon those
"... I well remember the first or it may be
the second time he was at this house. I had a lot
of boys here, as I often do, lassoing and shooting
in the garden, and the eager boyish way in which
he joined them and shot and ran too, and the echo
of his laughter as he did it is one of the pleasantest
memories of the garden that come back to me. Also,
I like to think of him at Flagstaff and the very
happy fortnight when I enjoyed his hospitality
there. Do you remember how we all tested our un-
aided eyesight on the big advertisement stuck up on
the side of a drygoods store in Flagstaff, we try-
ing to draw it from the outside of the Observatory,
and not verifying it with the telescope till we each
had had a shot?"
Driven to his piazza one rainy day to lunch, be-
cause of alterations in the dining room, he jocosely
named the picture on page 22 taken then
"A Silly- Wet Day!" He was a wit. His bon
mots kept his guests in laughter. His dinner
stories were sans pareils; sans reproches.
At one time, before enclosing the Observatory
grounds at Flagstaff, cows, horses and burros from
the town took pleasure in coming up the trail, sheep
fashion, to trespass there: much to the annoyance
of the Director. To an English servant, he had
at the time, he said: "Harry, if these intruders
come up again get out your shot-gun and pepper
them." Harry, with his correct manners, promptly
and politely replied, "Yes, sir." Dr. Lowell forgot
the incident until the next day, when he received
a telephone message from the owner of a Jersey
cow that his servant had peppered her with shot.
This literal obedience cost Dr. Lowell several dol-
lars, but he treated it gaily.
'A SILLY-WET DAY'
His best friend in the far West was Judge Ed-
ward M. Doe, of Flagstaff; and his own words:
"We insensibly find those persons congenial whose
ideas resemble ours, and gravitate to them as leaves
on a pond do to one another, nearer and nearer un-
til they touch," are exemplified by this friendship.
He found there, in the wilds, this learned gentle-
man. And his greatest delight was to dine with
him, picnic, climb the mountains, scan the canons,
or what not, and discuss at large with him subjects
of law. Indeed so well versed was Dr. Lowell,
legally, that an outsider overhearing these conver-
sations would have thought him a member of the
bar or mistaken him for a judge himself.
Hundreds of people have felt the spell of Dr.
Lowell's personal magnetism. So puissant was it
that his presence was often felt even before he
entered the room! He himself has said: "About
certain people there exists a subtle something which
leaves its impress indelibly upon the consciousness
of all who come in contact with them. This some-
thing is a power, but a power of so indefinable a
description that we beg definition by calling it sim-
ply the personality of the man. It is not a matter
of subsequent reasoning, but of direct perception.
We feel it. Sometimes it charms us; sometimes it
repels. But we can no more be oblivious to it than
we can to the temperature of the air. Its possessor
has but to enter the room, and insensibly we are
conscious of a presence. It is as if we had suddenly
been placed in a field of a magnetic force." This
but partially portrays his own personal force; and
while the splendor of it is now gone, his most inti-
mate friends still feel the charm and potency of
his personality persisting adown the years.
AS A HARVARD STUDENT
His mind was, it is said, incomparably brilliant.
His "mental altitudes" helped make the name
Lowell illustrious. Soon after his graduation from
Harvard, his cousin, James Russell Lowell, spoke
of him as the "most brilliant man in Boston" and
his later years brought only a fuller flowering of his
early superior genius. His books have been trans-
lated into foreign languages, including even Chi-
nese. And in his lectures: in these, as through a
rift in the clouds like a star, he shone, while his
audiences sat spellbound. He was a marvel to those
who heard him. Many will remember that in his
last lecture course before the Lowell Institute in
Boston (later crystallized into permanent form),
standing room was nil, and demands for admission
were so numerous and insistent that repetitions were
arranged for the evenings. At these repeated lec-
tures the streets near by were filled with motors and
carriages as if it were grand opera night ! At the
termination of this magnificent course there ap-
peared in the Boston Transcript "Percival Lowell's
Q. E. D." in which the writer said: "Lowell's
lectures on Mars are among the most memorable
ever delivered at that Institute, bearing his family
name, which has commanded the services of the
most eminent of the world's scholars in all lines
of thought and research. He has bridged the gap
which astronomers pointed out years ago in his
revelations concerning Mars between the condition
of habitability and that of being inhabited. . . .
This is a brave and brilliant debut for the new
science, or rather new department of astronomy
which Professor Lowell has named 'planetology,'
and which is to concern itself rather with the devel-
opment and life of the planets themselves than with
their external relations, their place in a system, their
period of revolution, or their cosmic origin and
destiny in the scheme of the universe. Is there an-
other planet, however, upon which there is any
present opportunity to pursue planetological stud-
ies with equal facilities and the probability of sim-
ilarly brilliant rewards? With Mars the deductions
from postulates and analogies drawn from ter-
restrial data and laws could be confirmed from cer-
tain visible facts. But if there be no other as
promising field, Mr. Lowell's wisdom in concen-
trating on Mars is justified the more and the thanks
of the world have been well earned by his devotion
to it." A fitting appreciation this is of Dr. Lowell's
Another writer referred to a page in his "Mars"
as the most brilliant one in literature. He said:
"... As I was watching the planet, I saw sud-
denly two points like stars flash out in the midst
of the polar cap. Dazzlingly bright upon the duller
white background of the snow, these stars shone
for a few moments and then slowly disappeared.
The seeing at the time was very good. It is at once
evident what the other-world apparitions were,
not the fabled signal-lights of Martian folk, but the
glint of ice-slopes flashing for a moment earthward
as the rotation of the planet turned the slope to the
proper angle; just as, in sailing by some glass-win-
dowed house near set of sun, you shall for a moment
or two catch a dazzling glint of glory from its
panes, which then vanishes as it came. But though
no intelligence lay behind the action of these lights,
they were none the less startling for being Nature's
own flash-lights across one hundred millions of
miles of space. It had taken them nine minutes
to make the journey; nine minutes before they
reached the Earth they had ceased to be on Mars,
and, after their travel of one hundred millions of
miles, found to note them but one watcher, alone
on a hilltop with the dawn."
Dr. Lowell lectured abroad also with distin-
guished effect. He addressed the Royal Institu-
tion of Great Britain; and in their native tongues
spoke to large audiences in Paris and Berlin. In
France he was often mistaken for a Frenchman so
fluently and purely did he use the nation's lan-
guage. He was also at home in Korea and Japan
where he spoke and wrote with comparative ease
the complicated speech of these Oriental lands.
Students of his books on Japan are much impressed
by his acquaintance with the psychology of the
Japanese people. He had what may be named a
unique faculty, that of being able to free himself
for the nonce from his own Western culture, and
superposing it if you will upon the mysticism
of the Far East. He was, if one may be forgiven
for putting it in that form, the "missing link" which
connected and organically related the Soul of the
West with the Soul of the East.
Dr. Lowell was fifty years ahead of his time as
will be realized in later years by the young people
who heard him lecture, and who studied the Lowell
Observatory Exhibits of explorations of the
heavens at Flagstaff. These exhibits, on transpar-
encies, illuminated by transmitted light, were shown
by invitation at centres of education like the Ameri-
can Museum of Natural History; Princeton Uni-
versity; Vassar College; the Boston Public Li-
brary ; Brown University and elsewhere, where they
aroused the enthusiasm of thousands of visitors.
These exhibits were not only beautiful but won-
derful. They represented, so everyone might see,
discoveries which could be made only at Flagstaff.
They were the most advanced and remarkable ex-
hibitions of the kind that the world had ever seen.
Appreciated as this was by the older public, Dr.
Lowell believed that the most important interest
the exhibit could gain was the interest of youth.
He began one of his last lectures by saying: "The
value of a lecture consists not so much in the body
of learning it may be able to impart as in the in-
spiration it gives others to pursue knowledge for
themselves. Especially is this true when the lec-
ture is delivered before an audience of youth. For
those entering upon life are the most important
hearers a lecturer can ever address. Youth is the
period of possibilities. Then it is that the mind is
open, plastic to impressions which at the same time
it is most potent to retain. . . .
"Plasticity of mind is the premise to possibility
of performance. To retain it longest is the great es-
sential to success. For the ability to succeed has
been defined as not having to stop till you get there.
In this more than in any other one quality does the
great man differ from his fellows: in the gift of
perpetual youth. We are told that the good die
young; our regret being father to the thought.
But certain it is that the great die young even
though they pass the Psalmist's limit of three score
and ten. The plasticity of their mental makeup is
the elixir of life poor Ponce de Leon sought in vain.
"This possibility confronts all of us at the thresh-
old of our career. Not that we are all born with
like endowment nor that we all can attain it later.
But we can all approach nearer our goal by keeping
it constantly before us through the procession of
the years. Especially important is it, then, at the
start to set one's mind and ambition on that which
is best. In the trenchant, if trivial, words of an
Ivy orator of years ago at Harvard to his class-
mates: 'Fellows, don't be content to sit on the
fence ; sit on the roof. And remember that climb-
ing there does not safely consist in leaps and bounds
but in throwing one's heart upward and then per-
sistently pursuing it step by step.' "
Dr. Lowell was of the athletic type though not
devoted to sports. At one time he owned the fast-
est polo pony between the Atlantic and Pacific
coasts. He was fond of tennis and walking, but
averse to golf and motoring. He usually took a
train to a certain point where his motor car would
meet him merely to transport him from tree to tree
that he might pay his respects to the oaks and
beeches he so much admired. . . . How little things
entered into his big life is shown in his seed plant-
ing with its results. The photographs opposite
picture the fruit of his last harvest at Flagstaff.
Gourds were his pets, with squashes and pumpkins
a close second. In that last autumn on Mars' Hill
the fruits of his culture would worthily have graced
a thank-offering to the gods.
HIS LAST HARVEST
-<Kvi. . j <,, ,-
rf 0t4.&iy a+,,/7,* // t <S<a.* ~4<*~*i, /
~W*4e* *< &*** /*" ^*6r tf
* #*S S6^ f -&L
As an explorer he stood on the tops of all the
mountain peaks that came his way, and equally
did he like descending to the abysms of canons.
But, indeed, he did not wait for the mountains to
come to him ; he sought them in the remotest corners
of the earth ; going to the sacred mountain of On-
take in Japan; up the glaciers of the Alps and over
the walls and chimneys of the Pyrenees. Speaking
of Ontake and the pilgrim clubs peculiar to it, he
"As the chant swelled it sounded like, and yet
unlike, some fine processional of the Church of
Rome. And as it rolled along, it touched a chord
that waked again the vision of the mountain, and
once more before me rose Ontake, and I saw the
long file of pilgrims tramping steadily up the slope.
"Thus, humble though their active members be,
the Ontake pilgrim clubs furnish society not to be
found in any other clubs on earth; the company of
heaven is to be had for the asking. For the Ontake
pilgrim clubs are the only clubs in the world whose
honorary members are, not naval officers, not dis-
tinguished foreigners, not princely figureheads, but
The views from mountain summits enraptured
him and the zest of the scenes there appealed to him
greatly, but withal he was often on botany bent.
The planet Mars was the only rival to his botani-
THE SAN FRANCISCO PEAKS
Which he ascended in quest of trees
cal love! Study of the trees was his chief delight
in his tramps afield. In a book in manuscript on
"Peaks and Plateaux in the Effect on Tree Life,"
presented to the writer by Dr. Lowell, he shows
a deep interest and an unusual knowledge of the
subject. This is an account of his ascent of the
San Francisco Peaks, of Arizona, in quest of trees.
He found them aplenty in the respective zones
which he has thus defined:
Douglas Fir at 8700 ft.
Silver " ? " 9350 "
Cork " " 9480 "
In this charming fashion he describes his original
observations: "From the great height at which it
first appeared, from the question mark given the
identification at the time, and lastly from the same
doubt expressing itself when it was encountered
upon the descent upon the face of the mountain,
it is probable that the supposed Silver Fir was Cork
Fir and it will be provisionally considered. The
Cork Fir is a tree of high habit, intermediate be-
tween the Fir and Spruce zones though belonging
properly to the former. This surprising and truly
spectacular Fir is a peculiarity of the San Fran-
cisco Peaks in Arizona. Relatively so unknown is
it that botanists visiting the region are taken to it
at their request as a natural curiosity and it has
not yet found its way into the tree books."
It is noteworthy that some trees will bear eternal