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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/566

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a house, with a few acres of garden, at Ross View, near the foot of the Blue Mountains, and there led a life of seemingly pure enjoyment in his work, varied by excursions, of one of which, to the higher mountain regions, he has left a full and most entertaining account. The colored people of the neighborhood had borne a bad reputation, but Houzeau found them the best of neighbors. He gathered them around him and taught them the rudiments of science and something of literature. He taught the children to read, and found by his experiments that the old way of spelling the words out was better adapted to their mental condition than the "philosophical" one by presenting syllables and words to be learned bodily. He set up a printing-press, from which he issued a numerical calculator, a table of logarithms, a perpetual almanac, Families of Plants, and Correct Information about Common Things, some of which works, however, were not completed. The scientific journals were well supplied with the articles which he produced during this period. The principal of his works was the Study of the Mental Faculties of Man and Animals, on which he had labored for several years. It was warmly commended by Mr. A. R. Wallace, who said it gave the author a high rank among philosophical naturalists, and by Mr. W. Lauder Lindsay, who regarded it as the peer of Darwin's works. The Sky brought within Everybody's Reach was a clear, interesting, and at the same time scientific popular treatise on astronomy. He improved the favorable situation he enjoyed at Ross View for new observations of the zodiacal light, and, perceiving the advantages which a pure atmosphere afforded for his work, conceived and expressed the idea of seating observatories on the tops of mountains, which has since been carried out at several places, with all the good results he anticipated. He undertook in 1875 the preparation of a uranography, or map of all the heavens visible to the naked eye. In order to enlarge the field of his observations he spent a few weeks at Panama, and there, suffering from fever, contracted, in the service of science, the seeds of the disease that carried him off a dozen years later.

M. Lancaster thinks that Houzeau would have spent the rest of his days in Jamaica, if the death of Quetelet in 1874 had not prompted his recall to be the head of the observatory of Brussels. As it was, he found, when he returned to his home from Panama, a telegram announcing his appointment as director of this institution. The observatory had not of late years—Quetelet having been partly disabled by an apoplectic stroke suffered in 1855—kept up with the times. Its instruments had grown old-fashioned, and there was a lack of energy in its work. A commission was appointed after Quetelet's death to inquire what could be done to restore it. All agreed that a man of vigor was needed,