This page has been validated.



seems never to have enquired whether Adams went to Greenwich, or what happened to him there. He did go to Greenwich, but the Astronomer Royal was away in London on Government business; Adams called again later, but he was at dinner, and his faithful servants would not disturb him. The poor young man was getting a little discouraged, but he left a note of his results for the Astronomer Royal to look at after dinner. "According to my calculations," it read, "the observed irregularities in the movements of the planet Uranus may be accounted for by supposing the existence of an exterior body, the orbit of which is as follows." This note has been preserved and bears the date "October 1845" in the hand-writing of the Astronomer Royal; for Adams himself put no date at all on this most important document, and Airy must have supplied it later on when he had already forgotten the exact day; so that we may judge he did not pay it very much attention at the time. But he did reply to Adams, asking him what he regarded as a test question. Adams got the impression that his careful calculations were mistrusted, and was so disappointed and heartbroken after all his work that he did not reply; and the whole incident dropped. It was the very greatest pity; a little more persistence on the part of any of these three men would have almost certainly led to the discovery of Neptune at once. Some one like Halley was wanted to keep them up to the mark; but no successor to Halley appeared, and the great chance was lost.

Meanwhile Leverrier had begun work on the same problem. He was already a famous astronomer and