Percival Lowell — an afterglow
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 he 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 in the wind and sea,
In earth's 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 vain,
There, in the rhythm and music of the Whole;
Yea, and forever in the human soul
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 advance 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 psychological interpretations of the Oriental folk among whom we were both resident. Already he had published 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 interpret the dynamic and vital evolution of other worlds than this, our earth, had begun to dominate his studies. Soon he was practically engrossed by the investigations thereby opened to him, and his memorable achievements were, in quick succession, gained.
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-venturing astronomical scientist. That distinction is accepted as fact by the writer who was for a long time in Dr. Lowell's chosen work, closely associated 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 incessant playtime stimulus to his curiosity, are collected. The writer has also added to her memorial tribute many quotations from characteristic letters, 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 Lowell'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 tribute 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 generosity 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 of introduction.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Percival Lowell, taken in London in 1914, at the Outbreak of the War
"A Silly-Wet Day"
As a Harvard Student
His Last Harvest
The San Francisco Peaks
The Telescope Here Worked Day and Night
In His Japanese Garden—Tokyo
His Bungalow, after Jane Peterson—Artist
What is the Time o'Day?
With His Japanese Iris—In the Arizona Desert
His First Telescope Honorably Discharged
In the Study Window—Flagstaff
Lowell Observatory Eclipse Trip to Tripoli—Setting Up
Percival Lowell, L.L.D
Oak Tree and Its Big Brother—the Pine in Front of the B. M. ("Baronial Mansion")
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 furnished merely the thread on which his pearls are hung.