W. L. (William Larkin) Webb.

Brief biography and popular account of the unparalleled discoveries of T.J.J. See .. online

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the starry heavens, and natural philosophers marveling at the
mysteries of the spiral nebulae, but their labors will be simplified
by the new theory of repulsive forces, and the sublime proof that
the Deity always geometrizes, and thus develops out of chaos the
exquisite order of the system of the world, that it may become a
fit abode for the children of men. These are a few of the recollec-


tions which always will be associated with the early life of the
Herschel of America, who was the first to interpret the lesson of
the geometry of the heavens.

In the unfolding of this majestic panorama of the creation,
the spectacle of the stars will change, and improved methods of
analysis will come for the treatment of the problems which he pro-
posed; but the wonders of the starry heavens, growing and decay-
ing under the mutual interaction of attractive and repulsive forces,
will always bear witness to the philosophic penetration of the
illustrious geometer, who alone was able to establish the laws of
their evolution.

Yet as the poet Thomson sang of Sir Isaac Newton:

"But who can number up his labors? Who
His high discoveries sing? When but a few
Of the deep-studying race can stretch their minds
To what he knew: in Fancy's lighter thought,
How shall the Muse, then, grasp the mighty theme?"

******** "Ye mouldering stones,
That build the tow 'ring pyramid, the proud
Triumphal arch, the monument, effac'd
By ruthless ruin, and what'er supports
The worshipp'd name of hoar Antiquity,
Down to the dust! What grandeur can ye boast,
While Newton lifts his column to the skies,
Beyond the waste of Time?"

O'er thy dejected country chief preside,

And be her Genius call'd! her studies raise,

Correct her manners, and inspire her youth.

For, though deprav'd and sunk, she brought thee forth,

And glories in thy name; she points thee out

To all her sons, and bids them eye thy Star."

Owing to the intimate friendship of twenty years existing
between Sir William Huggins, the illustrious founder of Astro-


A Greek marble globe of great beauty; ca. A.D. 300
J. C. Houseau, Bib. Gen. de PAstron., T. I., P. I., Int. Chap. IV., p. 138


physics, and Professor See, the Founder of Cosmogony the only
two new sciences of the stars established within the memory of
living investigators it will be appropriate to close this biography
with the beautiful and impressive U envoy employed by Sir Wil-
liam and Lady Huggins to conclude their Atlas of Representative
Stellar Spectra:

"We conclude filled with a sense of wonder at the greatness
of the human intellect, which from the impact of waves of ether
upon one sense-organ, can learn so much of the universe outside
our earth; but the wonder passes into awe before the unimagi-
nable magnitudes of Time, of Space, and of Matter of this Universe,
as if a Voice were heard saying to man, "Thou art no Atlas for so
great a weight."



It has been noticed by many sagacious observers that from
his earliest years young Mr. See was so fortunate as to inspire, by
his superior talents and steadfastness of purpose, the utmost
confidence in a career of the highest eminence in Science. At the
University he always lived up to high principles, and was frank
and open in his stand on all questions, without the least thought
of mere popularity, which he regarded as beneath contempt. He
was thus recognized as a rugged character, as steadfast as a moun-
tain peak towering calmly in the light of the Sun, high above the
clouds and tumult of the elements below. Though sometimes mis-
understood among his associates, his influence was well-nigh all-
powerful, and far exceeded that of any former student of the

As illustrating this situation it is interesting to recall the fact
that when Mr. See graduated with such high honors, in June, 1889*
the Columbia Statesman, one of the oldest and most influential
newspapers in Missouri, dwelt editorially at some length on the
extraordinary power for breaking through the crust which young
Mr. See had shown by his University career a prophecy since
fulfilled also in the larger affairs of the world of Science. This
appraisement by the Statesman was for Mr. See's entire college
career of five years.

As intimated above, there were times when he had been
somewhat misunderstood, or misrepresented by envious individ-
uals of inferior genius; but these efforts at injuring him never
were successful with discerning persons. Thus, during a college



controversy of 1887, which had been incited by jealousy, the
thoughtful student, Mr. S. H. VanTrump, now of Gervais, Oregon,
made the well-known prophecy that "See had the scientific genius
of a Darwin, and that the day would come when the University
would be famous as his Alma Mater."

Likewise, near his home in Montgomery County, his name
was always a synonym for eminence and high achievement. Thus
in September, 1893, Hon. Emil Rosenberger, now President of
the Historical Society of Montgomery County, published an
article in the Montgomery Standard, describing the giant Yerkes
Telescope, then on exhibition at the Columbian World's Fair in
Chicago, and predicting that Dr. See would become the future
Alexander von Humboldt of America.

When Dr. See had been a year and a half with Lowell sur-
veying the Southern double stars in Arizona and at the City of
Mexico, and was in the East to publish his results, it occurred to
the University of Missouri Science Association to invite him to a
Public Banquet and celebration in honor of his discoveries. His
admirers at the University were very numerous and influential,
and the plans were made without acquainting Dr. See with the
details. It was the largest banquet of the kind ever held at the
University of Missouri, and included various toasts to Science
and to the honored guest.

Dr. See was so surprised at the enthusiasm of the celebration
as to be visibly embarrassed; and gently indicated to his friends
that he would have felt obliged to decline had he known that such
high encomiums were to be pronounced upon him. His class-
mate, Professor C. F. Marbut, for example, in response to the
toast to the Class of 1889, concluded by remarking that Dr. See's
leadership in Science was such that he could only say:

"It is superfluous to praise the gods."




(Embodied in a letter from his former teacher, Professor W. B. Smith, of
Tulane University, New Orleans, to Professor Milton Updegraff, for the
University Science Association, on the occasion of a banquet and celebration
in honor of Dr. See, held at the University of Missouri, January 20, 1898.)

Tulane University of Louisiana,

College of Arts and Sciences,
New Orleans, La., Jan. 17, 1898.

Please accept the assurance of my sincere thanks for
the invitation to hear the address of Dr. See on the twentieth and
to attend the banquet to be given in his honor, along with my
unfeigned regret at not being able to accept. No one could sym-
pathize more heartily than I in any recognition of the distinguished
merits and achievements of Dr. See in the domain of exact astron-
omy. He has borne the name of Missouri in honor into eternal
regions where the fame of her extent, her industries, her commerce,
her products, her cities, her railroads, her newspapers, yea, even
of her statesmen and her warriors must remain forever silent. It
would be the merest commonplace to enlarge upon the fact that
researches like his in the most inaccessible provinces of the sub-
limest of applied sciences have enduring virtue, outlasting marble,
brass, or strength of steel, but it may be allowed to stress in a few
words their important bearing on the deeper problems and higher
hopes of our common humanity. For, unless I widely err, the
determinations of pure science are the stable elements of our
present civilization, they are the pillared trust of the generations
yet to come. It is an age of cynicism, realism, indifferentism,
moneyism. Unrest and unfaith in the true, beautiful and good
are widespread and daily becoming more insolent. No clear-eyed
patriot can look around upon our whole civil polity without grave
and just alarm. On all sides our high ideals are falling and the
walls of distinction are crumbling away. In art the contrast of
the beautiful and the ugly is openly rejected; in literature the


clean and the unclean walk side by side; in politics the cry waxes
louder that "Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair;" "Black spirits and
white, red spirits and gray" mingle and hobnob in the world's
congress of religions; in medicine the most advanced methods con-
tend with degrading superstitions, and splendid temples are
dedicated to the worship of humbug; right and wrong are con-
founded in morals, while worth and unworth are rated precisely
alike on the rolls of reward. Science alone, exact science, still
proclaims uncompromisingly the immutable antithesis of true and
false, still sinks deeper and deeper the foundations, raises higher
and higher the pinnacles of knowledge, a house not made with
hands, eternal as the heavens.

But while it is the glorious mission of all exact science thus
to establish and defend the objective verity of the universe against
prevalent skepticism, it is an especial virtue of the science of the
stars to quicken the saving sense of the dignity of man, a sense
dulled and endangered daily by the gigantic developments and
consolidations of modern industrialism. The ennobling worth
of such sublime studies has been felt and celebrated in every age.
It was Ptolemy that said:

"Though but the being of a day,
When I the planet-paths survey,

My feet the dust despise;
Up to the throne of God I mount
And quaff from an immortal fount

The nectar of the skies."

Both the State and the University, therefore, honor themselves
in honoring their eminent son, and they do well to point their
youth to such examples. With heartiest greetings to yourself and
family, Very sincerely yours,

To Prof. Milton Updegraff .

(Reprinted from the University Independent, of May 28, 1898.)



ADAMS, Professor W. S., estimates 60-
inch reflector at Pasadena, will show
visually 18th magnitude stars, 211;
impression of See's Researches, Vol.

Alexander the Great, the marching of
his army through the sea, 134

Anaxagoras, celebrated Greek philos-
opher, develops Cosmogony, 163;
and the theory of Cosmical Evolution,

Anaximander, Greek astronomer, de-
velops Cosmogony, 163

Andre, Professor Charles, late Director
of Observatory of Lyons, discusses
Professor See's discoveries, 243

Apollonius, celebrated Greek geometer,
163; on the apparent motions of the
planets, 166

Antoninus Pius, Emperor of Rome, the
Almagest composed during his reign,

Arago, Francois, French astronomer, his
eulogy of Herschel, 260; his eulogy
of Fourier and description of the
vision of genius, 264

Archimedes, of Syracuse, celebrated
Greek geometer, his independence
of common opinion, 95, 96; high
importance of his discoveries, 96; on
the foundations of Astronomy, 163;
on the apparent motions of the plan-
ets, 166; his inventive genius, 240

Aristarchus, famous Greek astronomer,
163; on the apparent motions of the
planets, 166

Aristotle, celebrated Greek philosopher,
his habits of independence and free
initiative, vi; durability of his work,
87; his theory of earthquakes trans-
lated by See, 98; treats of earth-
quakes in the book on Meteorology,
because he held they were due to
agitating vapors confined within the
crust and trying to escape into the
Earth's atmosphere, 99; remarks on
the prevalence of earthquakes in
maritime districts, 99; his penetrat-
ing intuition and the vast extent of his
knowledge, 101; 11 years old when
the earthquake destroyed Helike,

135; his work on the apparent mo-
tions of the planets, 166; his in-
spiring reasoning on the gods, 255

Arrhenius, Professor Suante, eminent
Swedish physicist, on repulsive forces
in Nature, 70; adopts theory that
volcanoes depend on the sea, 136;
advances Cosmogony, 168; his ad-
dress to Monist Congress in Hamburg
1911, 243; impression of See's Re-
searches, Vol. II, 246

Ayers, Dr. Howard, eminent biologist,
Mr. E. E. See instructed by, 7

BABINET, J., French physicist, his
criterion in Cosmogony, 168, 171,
172, 183, 226, 230

Baillaud, Benjamin, Director of the
Paris Observatory, impression of
See's Researches, Vol. II, 246

Barclay, Robert, statement as to con-
gregations of Schwenkfelders in Perm,
in 1875, 2

Barnard, Professor E. E., eminent
American astronomer, secured for
Yerkes Observatory, 56; many years
of his life usefully employed at Yerkes
Observatory, 57; his magnificent
photographs of the Milky Way, 70,
232; nebulosity shown on back-
ground of the sky, 232; impression
of See's Researches, Vol. II, 246

Bartholdi, instructor of A. von Hum-
boldt, 30

Bartlett, Professor W. H. C., of West
Point, calculates distance of stars,

Beaumont, Elie de, French geologist,
his theory of mountain formation
set forth in 1829, 129

Belpolski, Professor A., of Poulkowa,
impression of See's Researches, Vol.
II, 246

Bergstrand, Professor Osten, of Upsala,
Swedish astronomer, uses Dr. See's
observations, 74

Bessel, F. W., celebrated German as-
tronomer, 197; first determines the
distance of the fixed stars by actual
measurement, 1838, 197




Bismarck, Count Otto, German chancel-
lor, seen by Mr. See in parade with
Emperors of Germany and Russia,

Black, Mr., farmer near Wellsville, Mo.
friend of Noah See, 20

Blondel, M., French authority on pro-
jectiles, 1685, 235

Bohlin, Professor K., of Stockholm,
impression of See's Researches, vol.
II, 246

Bohme, Jacob, his religious followers
associated with Schenkfelders in
Prussian Silesia, 2

Boone, Daniel, pioneer, his conflicts
with the Indians, 9

Boss, Professor Lewis, deduces proper
motions of stars, 204

Bowditch, Dr. Nathaniel, his trans-
lation of Laplace's M/canique C&este
discovered by young Mr. See, 34

Bouguer, P., French academician, on
the attraction of Chimborazo, 107

Bradley, James, eminent English as-
tronomer, discovers the aberration
of light, 1727, 249

Brelsford, Lafayette, boyhood teacher
of Professor See, 24

Brendel, Dr. Martin, lectures on as-
tronomy at Berlin, 47

Brown, Professor E. W., eminent
mathematician of Yale University,
confirms capture of satellites, 162,
176; impression of See's Researches,
Vol. II, 246

Brown, Professor S. J., U.S.N., gives
up 26-inch telescope to become As-
tronomical Director of Naval Ob-
servatory, 72

Bruhns, C., Professor, his life of Hum-
boldt cited, 30

Bryan, Hon. Wm. J., American Secre-
tary of State, his father, Judge Silas
Bryan, induces Hon. Charles Michael
See to take up study of family history
of the Sees, 3

Bryan, Judge Silas, father of Hon. Wm.
J. Bryan, interests Hon. Charles
Michael See in study of the family
history, 1880, 3

Buckner, Hon. A. H., member of Con-
gress, would need a successor, 25

Burckhardt, J. C., German astronomer,
investigates motion of comets near
Jupiter, 74

Burkhalter, Professor Charles, Director
of Chabot Observatory, Oakland,
California, impression of See's Re-
searches, Vol. II, 246

Burnham, S. W., famous American
double star observer, quits Lick Ob-
servatory, 55; in private station
could not start the Yerkes Observa-
tory, 56; many years of his life use-
fully employed at Yerkes Observa-
tory, 57; works on double star orbits
with Dr. See in Chicago, 58; closely
associated with See almost daily, 58;
impression of See's Researches, Vol.
II, 246

Burrard, Colonel Sidney G., R. E., F.
R.S., Surveyor-general of India, con-
cludes that Himalayas were pushed
northward, 138

CESAR, Julius, his legions at Rome,
2,000 years ago, 50

Campbell, Professor W. W., Director of
Lick Observatory, uses motion in
line of sight on binaries, 59; finds
distance of 225 helium stars to be 540
light-years, 202; explanation of
method employed by, 203, 204

Carslaw, Professor H. S., University of
Sydney, impression of See's Re-
searches, Vol. II, 246

Cauthorn, Professor William, teaches
geometry to Mr. See, 32

Chase, Professor F. L., Director of Yale
Observatory, his researches on the
parallax of stars, 197

Christ and the Apostles, we still live in
the time of, 256

Cicero, Roman author, preserves Aris-
totle's argument on the existence of
gods, 255

Clairault, A., eminent French mathe-
matician, extends theory of gravita-
tion, 249

Clark, Alvan G., telescope-maker, at
Lowell Observatory, 1896, 63

Clark, Alvan & Sons, had unground discs
afterwards used for lenses of Yerkes
telescope, 54; progress in the grind-
ing of the lenses in 1894, 55

Clark, Hon. Champ, speaker of National
House of Representatives, his biog-
raphy by Webb, vii; George See,
friend and adviser of, 7; Noah See
hears his speeches, 16; preceded in
Congress by Buckner, 25; leader in
Legislature of 1889, 37; conducts



inquiry into University of Missouri,
38; wins title of "Founder of the
University," 38; designates Professor
See "the American Herschel," 257

Clerke, Miss A. M., historian of as-
tronomy during 19th century, enter-
tains Mr. See in London, 52; dis-
tance of remote stars "less than
36,000 light-years," 205

Cobb, Professor Collier, of University
ofN. C, 15

Cobb, Judge A. J., of Georgia, 15
Cobb, Howell, celebrated statesman,


Cobb, Phillip, one of the maternal
great grand-fathers of Professor See,
enters land on Loutre, now called
Starlight, 15; family from Kentucky,
but originally from Va., and of
English origin, 15; others of this
name, in N.C. and Ga.,15

Cobb, Samuel, brother of Phillip,

marries Sarah, sister of Emanuel

Sailor, 5
Cockrell, U. S. Senator Francis M., his

speeches heard by Noah See, 16;

would need a successor in Congress,


Cogshall, Professor W. A., assistant of
Dr. See at Lowell Observarory, 63;
works hard in sweeping for double
stars, 65, 66; aids in rebuilding
Lowell Observatory at Mexico, 69;
develops taste for astronomy, Di-
rector of Kirkwood Observatory, 69

Copernicus, Nicholas, founder of mod-
ern astronomy, Professor See born
on 393d birthday of, 10; marks an
epoch, 35; epoch of dates drom 1543,
166, 248, 249

Crawford, Professor R. T., University
of California, impression of See's
Researches, Vol. II, 246

Cowell, Dr. P. H., English astronomer,
his researches on ancient eclipses,

Crockett, Davy, American pioneer,
when sure he is right, dares to go
ahead, 85

Curtis, Professor H. D., Lick Observa-
tory, finds distance of 312 stars to be
534 light-years, 202

Curtius, Professor E., eminent German
historian of Greece, on the import-
ance of ancestry, 1

Cutts, Mrs. E. V., of Mare Island,
Calif., her historic photographs of
the earthquake effects at Arica, 1868,

DANA, Professor J. D., views on funda-
mental relations of the mountains
to the sea, 111, 113, 129; misleading
doctrine of the shrinkage of the Earth

Darwin, Charles, celebrated British
naturalist, his works much read by
M. F. See, 6; accepts doctrine of
elevation of land by earthquakes,
115, 126; notes recent elevation of
1,300 feet at Valparaiso, 126

Darwin, Sir George H., the late eminent
British mathematician, classic style
of writing, 31; modifies Laplace's
nebular hypothesis, 36; entertains
Mr. See in Cambridge, 52; rigidity
of the earth, 93; method lacks gener-
ality, 94; shows that the earth be-
haves as a solid, 115, 132; views
formerly held on the rotation of
earth now inadmissible, 158, 237;
deceived in Cosmogony, 164; Cos-
mogony advanced by, 168, 244; re-
searches on periodic orbits, 172;
curves of zero velocity, 174; sup-
posed exceptional origin of the Moon,
179-180, 232, 244; theory of fluid fis-
sion, 195, 230; notice of his death,
244, Dyson's remarks on his cherished
thought, 244; one of his greatest
services to science, his early support
of Professor See, 244; his last public
utterance to the international con-
gress of mathematicians, 1912, 245;
impression of See's Researches, Vol.
II, 246

Daubree, A., French geologist, experi-
ments on penetration of water through
rock, 115, 117

Davis, Jefferson, President of Southern
Confederacy, Professor See partially
named in honor of, 6

Defoe, Professor L. M., University of
Missouri, Mr. Webb indebted to,
introduction, vii; his career in
Science inspired by Smith, 32

Delandres, Professor H., of Meudon,
impression of See's Researches, Vol.
II, 247

Democritus, eminent Greek philoso-
pher, develops Cosmogony, 163

Diaz, Porfirio, President of Mexico,
visits Lowell Observatory, 68



Diehl, Professor of Art, at University of
Missouri, his remarks on the artistic
talent of young Mr. See, 27

Dinwiddie, Mr. W. W., assistant at
Naval Observatory, verifies existence
of belts on Neptune discovered by
Professor See, 72

Doeppler, Christian, his principle in
Wave Theory of light, 198

Doolittle, Professor Eric, of University
of Penn., student with Dr. See at
Chicago, 58, 59

Doubleday, Page & Co., publishers,
New York, to publish Professor See's
"Popular Cosmogony," 225

Douglass, Mr. A. E., Assistant at Lowell
Observatory, 63; aids in rebuilding
the observatory at Mexico, 69

Drew, Mr. D. A., assistant at Lowel
Observatory, 63; aids in rebuilding
the observatory at Mexico, 69

Dreyer, Dr. J. L. E., editor of Herschel's
Collected Works, letter to Professor
See, 219; interview of Herschel with
Napoleon and Laplace preserved by,

Dutton, Major C. E., notices prevalence
of great earthquakes near Aleutian
Islands, 123

Dyson, Professor F. W., Astronomer
Royal of Great Britain, uses Dr. See's
observations, 74; his remarks on a
cherished thought of Sir George
Darwin, 244; impression of See's
Researches, Vol. II, 247

EDDINGTON, Professor A. S., formerly
of Royal Observatory, Greenwich,
now of the University of Cambridge,
neglect in the Encyclopedia Britan-
nica, 195

Elliott, Benjamin, Professor See's first
teacher, 12; letter describing first
day in school, 12; a good mathema-
tician, 17, 24; teaches Mr. See phy-
sical geography, 29

Elkin, Professor W. L., of Yale, on the
parallax of stars, 197

Eudoxus, Greek astronomer, his work
on the apparent motions of the
planets, 166

Euler, Leonard, eminent Swiss mathe-
matician, infers that the planets
originated far from the Sun, 1749,
232; extends the theory of gravita-
tion, 249

FAYE, H., French astronomer, cited by
Poincar^, 150, 151

Ficklin, Professor Joseph, confirms Mr.
See in his enthusiasm for geometry
and mathematics, 32; kind and
gentle to students, 32; his death in
1887, 32, 35; a good teacher, 34;
gives young Mr. See the keys to the
Observatory, 36

Fisher, Rev. O., English geologist,
shows that the shrinkage of the globe
is totally inadequate to explain
mountains, 114

Fitzroy, Captain, R. N., observes
effects of earthquake of 1835 in Chile,

Fleet, Professor A. F., awakens Mr.
See's love of Greek, 30, 32; considers
him of Greek type of mind, 85

Folk, Governor J. W., appoints R. E.
See to office, 8

Foerster, Professor Wilhelm, Director
of Royal Observatory, Berlin, 47;
advises Mr. See in relation to his
studies, 47; prints his double star
work in a volume of the Royal Ob-
servatory publications, 47; tells
Emperor William of the high promise
of this American student, 48; sur-
prised by Mr. See's energy, 48

Fontenelle, perpetual Secretary of Paris
Academy of Sciences, rejects Roe-
mer's theory of velocity of light, 249

Forsyth, Professor A. R., eminent
English mathematician, entertains
Mr. See in Cambridge, 52

Fourier, Joseph, eminent French math-
ematician, notices that the law of
gravitation acts as preservative
power, 240

Francis, Gov. D. R., presides at Uni-
versity Commencement, 1889, 43;
gives Mr. See an official letter of
introduction for use in Europe, 43

Frederick the Great, king of Prussia,
protects Schwenkfelders in Prussian
Silesia, 2

Frisbie, Professor Edgar, U.S.N., gives
up 12-inch equatorial of naval ob-

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Online LibraryW. L. (William Larkin) WebbBrief biography and popular account of the unparalleled discoveries of T.J.J. See .. → online text (page 25 of 28)