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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/127

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SKETCH OF CHESTER S. LYMAN.

rized for himself a rude telescope by means of his mother's spectacles, a small burning-lens, and a yard-stick. In later life he said, "I can never forget the delight with which I turned this upon the Pleiades, and for the first time saw this cluster expand into a large number of brighter stars." From Gibson and Bowditch he learned, without a teacher, the rudiments of geometry and trigonometry, and in due time obtained a good knowledge of surveying and navigation.

When he was thirteen a copy of Ferguson's "Astronomy" fell into his hands, and was devoured by him as eagerly as most boys read "Robinson Crusoe." He also had access to the articles "Astronomy," "Optics," and some others, in the "Edinburgh Encyclopædia." From thirteen until he was sixteen, except the twelve weeks of Latin mentioned farther on, he spent most of his spare time either studying, entirely without assistance, or in a little tool-shop of bis father's, constructing astronomical and other instruments which he had never seen except in the diagrams of his few much-prized books. Among these instruments, which were mainly of wood, were a quadrant, sextant, terrestrial and celestial globes, orrery, eclipsareon, solar microscope, and many others. lie also constructed a reflecting Herschelian telescope four feet long, which enabled him to show Jupiter's satellites and belts, Saturn's rings, the moon, and other celestial objects, to the country-folk who came from miles around to look through it. He computed all the eclipses for fifteen years to come, and made almanacs for 1830 and 1831. In order to give the places of the planets in these almanacs (never having seen a nautical almanac or astronomical tables of the planets), he made rough tables for himself, computing them from the elements of the planet's orbits as given in his book on natural philosophy. When about fourteen he with five other boys was made the subject of an experiment in teaching Latin, which impressed him with a life-long conviction that, in the ordinary methods of teaching the classics, one half the time at least is unnecessarily wasted.

The Rev. V. R. Osborn had recently started in Manchester a school in which he aimed to apply what was then widely known as the Hamiltonian system of instruction to the classics—a system, in the main, advocated by Milton and Locke, as well as by other high authorities in education, from Cardinal Wolsey and Erasmus down to Hamilton, who used it in the early part of this century. In order to settle a controversy in the Hartford papers as to the merits of the system, it was suggested that it should be applied in teaching a class of boys who knew absolutely no Latin. Accordingly, young Lyman (not then a member of the school) and a few others were invited to form the class. At the first meeting the first six lines of the "Æneid" were slowly read and translated by Mr. Hart, the teacher, with explanations, the boys one at a time repeating the translation after him, sentence by sentence, until all had gone over the lesson. It was afterward made familiar by