Tycho Brahe: a picture of scientific life and work in the sixteenth century/Chapter 6
TYCHO'S LIFE AT HVEEN UNTIL THE DEATH OF KING FREDERICK II.
At Uraniborg Tycho spent more than twenty years, from the end of 1576 to the spring of 1597, the happiest and most active years of his life. Surrounded by his family and numerous pupils, many of whom came from great distances to seek knowledge in the house of the renowned astronomer and assist him in his labours, frequently honoured by visits from men of distinction both from Denmark and abroad, Tycho during these years steadily kept the object in view of accumulating a mass of observations by means of which it would be possible to effect that reform of astronomy which was so imperatively demanded, and for which the labours of Copernicus had merely paved the way. But though the scientific work was never neglected, the pleasant little island afforded many means of recreation. The map in Braun's Theatrum Urbium shows that provision was made for games of various kinds in the orchards which surrounded Uraniborg, and in the south and east of the island there were places arranged for entrapping birds. There were plenty of hares and other small game, and Tycho caused a great number of fishponds to be made. Most of them lay in the south-western part of the island, connected by sluices into two rows which met in a lake, the second largest of all, from which a small river made its way through the cliff to the sea. On this spot Tycho afterwards built a paper-mill. None of these fishponds are seen on Braun's map, and they would therefore seem to have been constructed after 1585, as the map bears the date 1586. Thus Tycho contrived to add to the comfort and convenience of his surroundings.
In addition to these means of recreation, Tycho Brahe possessed others of a higher kind. In 1584, the same year in which the Stjerneborg was built, he put up a printing-press in the building at the south angle of the enclosure surrounding Uraniborg. It was originally intended for the printing of his own works, but when not required for this purpose he occasionally employed it to print poems in memory of departed friends, and similar poetical effusions. Thus we have already mentioned that in 1584 he printed an epitaph of his friend Pratensis, and in the same year he printed a poem addressed to a Danish nobleman, Jacob Ulfeld, to give the printer some- thing to do, as he informs us. Of greater interest is a longer poem of 288 lines, dated the 1st January 1585, and addressed to the Chancellor, Niels Kaas. In this Tycho complains of the neglected state of astronomy in most countries, and contrasts this with its present flourishing state in Denmark, where buildings have been erected and instruments constructed such as the world never saw. But envy and malice attempt to speak slightingly of this great work, and he might almost be inclined to regret having undertaken it and look for another home elsewhere, if he did not remember that the Chancellor was interested in it for the sake of the honour thus conferred on his country, and would therefore continue to protect it. Another but shorter poem was soon afterwards printed at Uraniborg, addressed to the learned Heinrich Rantzov, governor of the Duchy of Holstein. In this poem, which is dated the 1st March 1585, Tycho complains that Rantzov, in a book on astrology which he had just published, had used the word specula when speaking of Uraniborg, which magnificent building did not merit so mean an appellation.
The considerable building operations in which Tycho engaged at Hveen obliged him to require a great deal of work from his tenants there, and when we remember his naturally hot temper, and his habit of exacting without scruple what was due to him (and even more, as in the case of Hoik's widow), it is not to be wondered at that complaints were more than once made by the tenants at Hveen of his arbitrary treatment of them. Already on the 10th April 1578 an order was issued by the king to the peasants at Hveen, that they were not to leave the island because Tycho Brahe required more labour than had formerly been demanded from them. But Tycho, who was perhaps not worse (and certainly not better) than his fellow-nobles were generally in the treatment of their inferiors, continued in the following years to make such great demands on the peasantry at Hveen to get his buildings, plantations, fishponds, &c., finished, that fresh complaints were made. The king therefore sent two noblemen, the governor of Helsingborg Castle and the governor of Landskrona Castle, to Hveen to investigate matters. When these two officials had presented their report, the king, on the 8th January 1581 (the same day on which he ordered his lieutenant at Bergen to restore the Norwegian estate to Tycho), issued an "Arrangement and rule for Tycho Brahe and the inhabitants at Hveen," which both parties were ordered to obey and follow. In this document the amount of labour to be furnished by each farm was fixed at two days a week, from sunrise to sunset, and rules were laid down about various other matters; thus a tenant who did not keep his dikes and fences in order was to pay a fine in money to the landlord and a barrel of beer to the townsmen; nobody was to gather nuts or cut wood without leave from Tycho Brahe or his steward; a petty sessions court was to be held every second Wednesday, and appeals were to be heard in Scania in future, instead of in Seeland. The peasants were not to consider their holdings as their own property, as they had no legal authority for doing so, but in future, when any farmer died, his holding was to be treated as any other farm on a Crown estate.
If the buildings and other works at Hveen required much manual labour, the scientific researches for the sake of which they were erected required a great deal of work to be done by practised observers and computers, and these Tycho readily found in the young men who soon began to flock to Hveen in order to enjoy the privilege of studying under his guidance. The first to arrive seems to have been Peder Jakobsen Flemlöse, born about 1554 in a village called Flemlöse, in the island of Fyen (Funen). He had already, in 1574, published a Latin poem on the solar eclipse of that year, in which he showed that though eclipses have a perfectly natural cause, they are signs of the anger of God; but the eclipse of 1574 he believed to mean that the second coming of Christ was soon to take place. This little book he dedicated to Tycho Bralie. He seems to have studied medicine in his youth, for his second publication, in 1575, was a translation of Simon Musæus' book against melancholy. He must have entered Tycho's service in the beginning of 1578, and did so (according to Longomontanus) on account of the supposed intimate connection between medicine and astronomy. That Tycho had great confidence in him may be seen from the fact that he sent him to Cassel in 1586 to deliver a letter to the Landgrave and report to Tycho on the new instruments lately mounted there. In June 1579 he received by royal letter a promise of the first vacant canonry in Roskilde Cathedral, on condition that "he shall be bound to let himself be used in studiis mathematicis at Tyge Brahe's." He had, however, to wait a long time for this reward of his services at Hveen, as he did not obtain the canonry till 1590, when he had left Tycho, after more than ten years' service in the observatory, and had become physician to Axel Gyldenstjern, one of the two noblemen whom the king had sent to Hveen to report on the affairs of the tenants, and who had since been made Governor-General of Norway. Flemlöse died suddenly in 1599, just when about to proceed to Basle to obtain the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Whether his medical studies had derived much benefit from his astronomical labours is not known, but while at Uraniborg, he not only spent his time on "pyronomic" (i.e., chemical) and astronomical matters, but also compiled a little book which was printed there in 1591, some years after his departure, containing 399 short rules by which to foretell changes in the weather by the appearance of the sky, the sun, moon, and stars, or by the behaviour of animals. In the absence of the author, the introduction was written in his name by his fellow-student, Longomontanus, at the dictation of Tycho. In this it is stated that King Frederick took a great interest in weather prognostications, and had desired Tycho Brahe, from books and his own experience, to compile a treatise on the subject, but as Tycho had other and more important work to look after, he had requested Flemlöse to do so. It is not said whether the author had collected his materials at Hveen, but most of the rules contained in the book are chiefly such as farmers and similar observers might imagine they had deduced from their experience, and here and there it affords curious reading, at least to a modern student.
Another of the early assistants of Tycho was a German, Paul Wittich, from Breslau, whose name, but for his early death, would probably be much better known in the history of astronomy than it is. He had been recommended by Hagecius, and arrived at Hveen in the summer of 1580, where he took part in the observations of the comet of that year from the 21st to the 26th October. He showed himself a very able mathematician, according to Tycho's own testimony, and declared it to be his wish to stay at Uraniborg and be a "fidus Achates" to Tycho. But when he had been about three months at Hveen, he announced that he had to go home to Breslau, as a rich uncle of his was dead and he wanted to secure the inheritance, but he would return to Hveen in seven or eight weeks. He took with him a letter from Tycho to Hagecius (dated 4th November 1580), and Tycho became very uneasy when he neither heard anything from Wittich (who never returned to Hveen) nor received an answer from Hagecius for more than a year. He learned at last, in 1582, that the letter had been duly delivered. A few years after he heard that Wittich had, about 1584, turned up at Cassel, where his descriptions of Tycho's improvements in instruments, particularly of the sights and the transversal divisions, as well as of Tycho's sextants for distance measures, created so great a sensation that the Landgrave immediately had his instruments improved and altered by his mechanician, Joost Bürgi, in accordance with Wittich's descriptions. When Tycho learned this he was extremely annoyed, and seemed to think that Wittich had pretended to be the inventor of all he had described to the Landgrave (although the latter had not said so), and in his first letter he took care to tell the Landgrave that Wittich had seen all these things at Hveen, as might already be seen from the word "sextant." How long Wittich remained at Cassel is not known; he was there in November 1584, when he observed a lunar eclipse, and the Landgrave's astronomer, Rothmann, mentions him in a letter of April 1586 as having left a good while previously. He died on the 9th January 1587, and Tycho seems on learning this to have regretted that he had suspected Wittich of robbing him of his fame, for he wrote in August 1588 that he would have written more moderately about him had he known he was dead. Though Wittich spent but a short time at Uraniborg, his name deserves to be remembered by astronomers, as he was apparently the ablest of all Tycho's pupils.
Most of these pupils spent a much longer time at Uraniborg than Wittich had done. Thus Gellius Sascerides stayed about six years there. He was born at Copenhagen in 1562, and was a son of Johannes Sascerides of Alkmaar, in Holland, professor of Hebrew in the University of Copenhagen. Gellius had studied at Copenhagen and at Wittenberg, and came to Hveen early in 1582, where he remained until 1588, when he went abroad to continue his medical studies in Italy. Tycho gave him a letter for Rothmann, to whom he recommended Gellius as having assisted him both in astronomical and in chemical work. We shall afterwards hear how he and Tycho got on together after his return.
We know much less about another assistant who observed at Hveen about the same time as Gellius, called Elias Olsen Cimber (or Morsing, i.e., from the Isle of Mors, in the Limfjord), although he must have spent a number of years with Tycho. When he first came to Hveen is not known, but he seems to have been there in April 1583, when his handwriting is believed to occur in the meteorological diary. This diary (of which the original is now in the Hofbibliothek at Vienna) was regularly kept from the 1st October 1582 up to the 22nd April 1597, about the time when Tycho left Hveen for ever. It contains for every day short notes about the weather, stating whether it was clear or cloudy, hot or cold, rainy or dry, &c. These notes are always written in Danish, except where halos, auroras, or similar phenomena are described, which is generally done in Latin. But the principal interest attached to this diary arises from the numerous very short notes about the arrival or departure of Tycho, his pupils or visitors, which occur frequently from April 1585. These historical notes are always written in Latin; they are often very much abbreviated and difficult to decipher. This diary, which forms a most interesting record of the life at Hveen, was kept now by one, now by another assistant (though their names are not given), and a great deal of it was written by the above-mentioned Elias Olsen, whose writing appears in it for the last time in April 1589. Probably he left Tycho's service at that time, as he is mentioned in the diary as having arrived and departed several times after that date.
In 1584 Elias Olsen was sent by Tycho on an astronomical expedition of some importance. At Hveen the inclination of the ecliptic had been found equal to 23° 31 '.5, while Copernicus had found 23° 28'. Tycho correctly explained this by pointing out that Copernicus had measured the meridian altitudes of the sun at the summer and winter solstices without taking refraction into account, and for the latitude of Frauenburg in Prussia this would at the winter solstice cause an error of over 4' in the altitude. Tycho, however, believed the solar refraction at the altitude of 12° to be equal to 9'; but, on the other hand, he assumed with Copernicus, that the solar parallax was 3', so that one mis- take is somewhat compensated by the other. He had also found that the solar theory of Copernicus often deviated considerably from the observed places of the sun, and he suspected that Copernicus had reduced his solar observations with an erroneous value of the latitude. He, therefore, gladly took an opportunity of verifying this latitude when, early in 1584, an embassy from George Frederic, Margrave of Ansbach, headed by a nobleman of the name of Levin Bülow, returned to Germany after having carried out its mission to the Danish Court. As the embassy was sent to Dantzig in some royal ships, it was easy for Tycho Brahe to obtain permission for Elias Olsen to make the voyage on one of these. He happened to be keeping the meteorological diary at that time, and continued on the journey to record in it the state of the weather. We learn thus that he started from Copenhagen on the 1st May, reached Dantzig the 10th, and Frauenburg on the 13th. In this quiet little cathedral town Copernicus had lived many years, engaged solely in building up his great astronomical work, and only now and then turning aside from this to assist with his clear mind in the government of the little diocese-principality of Ermland or in the affairs of the chapter of Frauenburg. Elias Olsen remained on this classical spot from the 13th May till the 6th June, and, with a sextant which he had brought with him, he found by meridian altitudes of the sun and stars the latitude to be 54° 221', while Copernicus made it 54° 191' (the modern value is 54° 21' 34"). Tycho remarks that the solar declinations of Copernicus are consequently 23' in error, which, together with his omission of refraction, was sufficient to explain the shortcomings of his solar theory. We shall afterwards examine this question again when discussing Tycho's labours on the solar theory. While Elias Olsen was at Frauenburg he was requested to determine the latitude of Königsberg, and went there on the 8th June. He found 54° 43', greatly different from 54° 17', which Erasmus Reinhold had assumed in the Prutenic tables on the authority of Apianus. On the 28th June Elias left Königsberg for Frauenburg, spent five days there, departed for Dantzig on the 4th July, started from thence on the 7th, and was back at Hveen on the 23rd.
Valuable as these results of the journey were, Elias brought something else home with him which was perhaps even more valued by Tycho. One of the canons at Frauenburg, Johannes Hannov, sent him the instrument used by Copernicus and made by his own hands. It was a triquetrum eight feet long, made of pine-wood, and divided by ink-marks, the two equal arms into 1000 parts, the long arm into 1414 parts. Tycho placed this scientific relic in the northern observatory at Uraniborg, and the very day he received it (the 23rd July) he composed a Latin poem expressing his enthusiastic delight at possessing an instrument which had belonged to this great man, whose name he never mentioned without some expression of admiration. This feeling he also gave vent to in the poem which he a few months later wrote and placed under the portrait of Copernicus in his library. Possibly he had received this portrait on the same occasion as the instrument.
The name of Elias Olsen is also connected with the first book printed at Uraniborg, an astrological and meteorological diary for the year 1586, somewhat similar to the one drawn up by Tycho for the year 1573. It also contains an account of the comet of 1585, which had been observed at Hveen from the 18th October to the 15th November. The little book is dated the 1st January 1586, and is dedicated
to the Crown Prince, who was then between eight and nine years of age.
Of Tycho's other pupils, Longomontanus is the best known. Christen Sörensen Longberg was born on the 4th October 1562, at the village of Longberg or Lomborg, in the north-west of Jutland, where his father was a poor farmer. When his father died in 1570, his uncle took charge of him for some time, but as the means of the family were too small to allow the boy to follow his inclinations and go to school, the uncle sent him home to his mother to help her on the farm. The boy persuaded the mother to allow him to get some lessons during the winter-time from the clergyman of the parish, but during the summer he had to lay aside his books and take to farming again. At last he got tired of this, and in the spring of 1577 he took his books, and, without telling any one, walked off to the town of Viborg, some fifty miles from his home. He attended the grammar-school of Viborg for eleven years, and in addition to the ordinary school course of those days he learned the rudiments of mathematics. At the age of twenty-six he left the school for the University of Copenhagen, and the following year (1589) he was, on the recommendation of some of the professors, received as an assistant at Uraniborg, where he remained till 1597, when he left it together with Tycho.
Of most of the other young men who for a longer or shorter time assisted Tycho Brahe, we know little but the names. A certain Hans Coll, or Johannes Aurifaber, who had charge of the workshop, must have been with him a long time, as he is mentioned as observing in 1585, and he died at Hveen in 1591. Many details as to the life at Hveen were communicated to Gassendi by Willem Janszoon Blaev, the celebrated printer at Amsterdam, who in his youth (he was born at Alkmaar in 1571) had spent a few years at Hveen, and to whom we also owe the large map of the island in his son's Grand Atlas.
Two other inmates of Tycho's house may also be mentioned here. One was a maid of the name of Live (or Liuva) Lauridsdatter, who afterwards lived with Tycho's sister, Sophia, and later was a sort of quack-doctor at Copenhagen, where she also practised astrology, &c. She died unmarried in 1693, when she is said to have reached the ripe age of 124. The other was his fool or jester, a dwarf called Jeppe or Jep, who sat at Tycho's feet when he was at table, and got a morsel now and then from his hand. He chattered incessantly, and, according to Longomontanus, was supposed to be gifted with second-sight, and his utterances were therefore listened to with some attention. Once Tycho had sent two of his assistants to Copenhagen, and on the day on which they were expected back the dwarf suddenly said during the meal, "See how your people are laving themselves in the sea," On hearing this, Tycho, who feared that the assistants had been shipwrecked, sent a man to the top of the building to look out for them. The man came back soon after and said that he had seen a boat bottom upwards on the shore, and two men near it, dripping wet. Whenever Tycho was away from home, and the pupils relaxed their diligence a little, they set Jeppe to watch for him, and when the dwarf saw Tycho approach he would call out to them, "Junker paa Landet," i.e., the squire [is] on land. When any one was ill at Hveen, and the dwarf gave an opinion as to his chance of recovery or death, he always turned out to be right.
There was plenty to do for all the young men at Uraniborg. Of course the astronomical work was always their principal occupation, but the laboratory was also in constant use. We have no knowledge of the particular direction of Tycho's chemical researches, but that he always took a very deep interest in chemistry is evident from more than one allusion to this subject in his writings. In several of his books are found a pair of vignettes, which illustrate the view of Nature as a whole, representing one idea under various aspects, with which not only Tycho, but most thinkers of the Middle Ages were imbued. On both these vignettes is seen a man in a reclining posture, with a boy at his side; but in the one case the man is leaning on a globe and holds a pair of compasses in his hand, while his face is turned upward; in the other case he has at his side some chemical apparatus, and holds in his hand a bunch of herbs, while the snake of Æsculapius is coiled round his arm, and he is looking downwards. At the sides of the former picture is the motto, "Suspiciendo despicio;" round the latter, "Despiciendo suspicio," expressing beautifully the mystical reciprocal action and sympathy between the "æthereal and elementary worlds." In a letter to Rothmann, Tycho enters at some length on this subject, but his remarks contain nothing which may not be read in any book of the time in which the "occult philosophy" is taught, and we have already sufficiently alluded to these matters in previous chapters. He mentions the principal authors whom he has followed, but adds that Paracelsus has truly said that nobody knows more in this art than what he has experienced himself per ignem, for which reason he cultivates the "terrestrial astronomy" with the same assiduity as the celestial. In the laboratory Tycho also occupied himself with the preparation of medicine, and as he distributed his remedies without payment, it is not strange that numbers of people are said to have flocked to Hveen to obtain them. In the official Danish Pharmacopœa of 1658 several of Tycho's elixirs are given, and in 1599 he provided the Emperor Rudolph with one against epidemic diseases, of which the principal ingredient was theriaca Andromachi, or Venice treacle, mixed with spirits of wine, and submitted to a variety of chemical operations and admixtures with sulphur, aloes, myrrh, saffron, &c. This medicine he considered more valuable than gold, and if the Emperor should wish to improve it still more, he might add a single scruple of either tincture of coral or of sapphire, of garnet, or of dissolved pearls, or of liquid gold if free from corrosive matter. If combined with antimony, this elixir would cure all diseases which can be cured by perspiration, and which form a third part of those which afflict the human body. This prescription Tycho begged the Emperor to keep as a great secret, and he had evidently as much confidence in the powers of his elixir as the ingenious Hidalgo of La Mancha had in the efficacy of his celebrated balsam.
We can form some slight idea as to the principles which guided Tycho in his medical practice from a remark in one of his letters to Rothmann, where he speaks of the Aurora Borealis. This he takes to be sulphurous vapour, indicating that the air is apt to engender infectious diseases, "for such illness has a good deal in common with the nature of sulphur, and it can therefore be cured by perfectly pure earthly sulphur, particularly if this is made into a pleasant fluid, as like cures like (tanquam simile suo simili), for the principle of the Gallenians, contraria contrariis curari, is not always true."
"We have repeatedly had occasion to quote from Tycho's letters. Both before and after he had become settled at Hveen, to all appearance for life, he kept up a correspondence with friends at home and with scientific colleagues abroad. Of the former, only Vedel and Dancey were left, and with these he occasionally exchanged friendly letters, but between him and the acquaintances he had made on his foreign travels very lengthy epistles passed as often as an opportunity offered of sending these by a carrier, merchant, or by some casual traveller. Among Tycho's principal foreign correspondents were Paul Hainzel and Johannes Major at Augsburg, Scultetus at Leipzig, the Emperor's physician, Hagecius, at Prague, and Brucæus at Rostock. Being always anxious to increase his library, Tycho in many of his letters inquires about new books, or asks his friends to procure them for him, especially such as were about the new star or the recent comets. These comets had also been observed by Hagecius, and Tycho pointed out the erroneous result his correspondent had come to in giving the comet of 1577 a parallax of five degrees, which would place it far within the sphere of the moon, whereas the observations made at Hveen showed that the horizontal parallax was less than a third of a degree. Tycho also told Hagecius of the corrections to the elements of the solar orbit of Copernicus, which his own observations indicated; but neither to the Bohemian physician nor to his other correspondents did he allude to the new system of the world which he had constructed, possibly because (as he wrote to Hagecius) Wittich's conduct had given him a lesson which he should not forget. As Tycho had understood from Wittich that Hagecius had lost his post in the Emperor's household, he invited him to come to Denmark, where he might be sure of being well remunerated by the king and the nobility for his services as a physician; but Hagecius declined to leave Prague, as he had not lost his post, and found it too risky for a man who was no longer young and had a family to settle abroad. With Johannes Major, Tycho corresponded about the Gregorian reform of the calendar, which was promulgated in 1582, and ordered to be adopted by the Catholic world under threat of excommunication. In consequence of this, Protestants refused to make any alteration in the calendar. At Augsburg several members of the civic council had voted against the adoption of the new calendar for theological reasons, and when the mayor, in consequence, tried to arrest and carry off the principal theologian of Augsburg, the population rose in arms and set him free. When asked for his opinion, Tycho very sensibly remarks that if the Pope at the time of Regiomontanus (i.e., before the Reformation) had improved the calendar, Luther would most assuredly not have wished to interfere with it, as this matter had nothing to do with religious doctrines; and why should not the new calendar, approved of by the Emperor, be accepted, as the Nicean calendar-rules were still accepted even by Protestants? Of Tycho's letters to his old fellow-student at Leipzig, Scultetus, five are preserved, although of these but three are printed in accessible places; one of these (of 1581) deals chiefly with the comet of 1577, for which Scultetus also imagined that he had found a parallax; another (of 1592) is written in a jovial manner, Tycho promising to drink his friend's health that evening, and expecting him. to return the compliment. Another former University acquaintance with whom Tycho occasionally exchanged letters was Professor Brucæus, who had been appointed to a chair of medicine in the University of Rostock in 1567 while Tycho was studying there. He was one of the comparatively few learned men of the time who would have nothing to do with astrology, and it is therefore not to be wondered at that he expressed his disapproval on hearing about the intended printing of an astrological calendar by Elias Olsen at Hveen. He wrote, for instance, that weather predictions reminded him of Cato's saying of the Roman haruspices, that he wondered if they could keep from laughing whenever they met each other. But though adverse to astrology, Brucæus had no objection to an astronomer dabbling in medicine, and in one of his letters he asked Tycho to let him know if he was in possession of any remedy against epilepsy. They also corresponded on astronomical matters, and Tycho pointed out to him the difficulty in accepting the theory of Copernicus, and commented on the errors of the Alphonsine and Prutenic tables.
Of far greater importance than the above correspondence were the letters exchanged between Tycho and Landgrave Wilhelm of Hesse, and his astronomer Christopher Rothmann. We have seen how Tycho's visit to Cassel in the year 1575 seems to have given a fresh impetus to the scientific tastes of the Landgrave, who in 1577 engaged Christopher Rothmann of Anhalt as his mathematicus, a man not without some knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, though not possessing the genius of the man who, two years later, was engaged as his assistant. Joost Bürgi was born in 1552, at Lichtensteig, in the county of Toggenburg, in Switzerland, and seems to have been a watchmaker in his youth, but nothing is known of his life until Landgrave Wilhelm, in 1579, appointed him court-watchmaker at Cassel. The methods of observing adopted in the observatory at Cassel rendered good clocks indispensable, and both these and the constantly improved instruments made the services of the ingenious mechanician most valuable to the Landgrave, who, indeed, was well aware what a treasure he had found, as he in one of his letters to Tycho calls Bürgi a second Archimedes. Observations were regularly made at Cassel by Rothmann and Bürgi, especially of the fixed stars, with the object of constructing a new star-catalogue, but other celestial phenomena were not altogether neglected, and the comet of 1585 gave rise to a correspondence between Tycho and the Landgrave. They had lost sight of each other since 1575, but the Landgrave was well aware that a magnificent observatory had been erected at Hveen, and that work was steadily carried on there, particularly since the visit of Wittich had put him in possession of the important improvements which Tycho had introduced in the construction of instruments. He was therefore anxious to learn what observations Tycho had made of the comet of 1585, as it was not a very conspicuous one, and probably would not be observed by many astronomers. With this view the Landgrave wrote a letter to the learned Heinrich Rantzov, governor of Holstein, asking that his compliments might be sent to Tycho, with a hint that he would be glad to hear something of the observations of this comet made at Hveen. Tycho was very happy to renew his acquaintance with the Landgrave, to whom he wrote a long letter on the 1st of March 1586, in which he enclosed an abstract of his observations of the comet. In the letter he suggested an exchange of observations of the star of 1572 and of the recent comets, claimed the instrumental improvements already announced to the Landgrave as his own, and gave an account of various instruments he had designed, such as a bifurcated sextant, to be used by two observers, and the equatorial armillæ. He pointed out the great convenience of the latter instrument, which directly gave the right ascension and declination of an object, from which the longitude and latitude could be found either by calculation, or by a specially prepared table, or by a large globe. Tycho also sent the Landgrave a solar ephemeris for the current year, and asked him to compare his observations with it. This letter and its appendices were sent to Cassel by Tycho's assistant, Flemlöse, who was bound for the book-mart at Frankfurt, and could take Cassel on his way, where Tycho doubtless also wished him carefully to inspect the improved instruments.
To this letter the Landgrave at once replied, and Rothmann also took the opportunity of entering into correspondence with Tycho. During the next six years letters continued to be sent backwards and forwards between Cassel and Uraniborg, in which were discussed the methods of observing, the instruments in use, and, after the publication of Tycho's system of the world, also the question whether this system or that of Copernicus was the true one. We shall in the sequel have many opportunities of quoting these letters, or rather astronomical essays, of which Tycho recognised the interest to the scientific world by sending copies of some of them to several other correspondents, and finally by publishing them all in a volume printed at Uraniborg, which forms an excellent supplement to his other writings, and completes the picture of his scientific activity.
All the details about Tycho's observatory which the Landgrave had learned from Tycho's letters to himself and Rothmann had naturally made him anxious to see it for himself, and an opportunity of doing so seemed to offer itself in 1588, as there was to be a meeting of North German princes at Hamburg, which the Landgrave was going to attend. King Frederick had already given orders to have ships ready to carry the Landgrave over to Seeland, when the king's death prevented the meeting at Hamburg, and with it a second meeting of Tycho and the Landgrave.
But though Wilhelm IV. never came to Hveen, Tycho had from time to time the pleasure of welcoming other distinguished guests at Uraniborg. Among these we shall here mention Johan Seccerwitz, professor in Greifswalde, who is known as a Latin poet. He came to Denmark in 1580 with the Duke of Pomerania to attend the christening of a new-born princess, and met Tycho in the house of the Bishop of Lund. He has left a versified description of his journey, in which he expresses his joy at having made the acquaintance of Tycho. In 1584 the French historian Jacques Bongars was at Uraniborg. Another learned visitor was Duncan Liddel, who was born at Aberdeen in 1561, and had studied at Frankfurt-on-the-Oder and at Breslau. In 1587 he went to Rostock, and while studying there paid a visit to Hveen on the 24th June. He was professor at Helmstadt from 1591 to 1607, and is said to have been the first person in Germany who explained the motions of the heavenly bodies according to the three systems of Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho. Some travellers who were not of a scientific turn of mind were nevertheless attracted to Hveen by the wonderful things to be seen there. Thus, in 1582 Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, who had been sent by Queen Elizabeth to invest King Frederick with the Order of the Garter, paid a visit to Uraniborg, and brought with him a physician, Thomas Muffet, in whom Tycho was pleased to find an acquaintance of his friend Hagecius. Daniel Rogers, who was on several occasions employed by Queen Elizabeth on missions to the Netherlands and Denmark, was also acquainted with Tycho, and in 1588, when he came to condole on the king's death, he went to Hveen, where he promised Tycho to obtain for him the copyright of his books in England. Below we shall see that Tycho was to receive even more exalted visitors from abroad during the last years of his residence at Hveen.
It is needless to say that Danish visitors frequently crossed over the Sound to the little island which had so suddenly become famous. Both learned and unlearned men were ready to pay court to the great astronomer who had raised a beautiful building full of curious apparatus on the lonely island. Though this spot had expressly been selected for his residence in order that Tycho might undisturbedly devote himself to the studies he loved, he had probably no objection now and then to receive as his guests even some of those who had in former days sneered at his scientific tastes, and not a few among the Danish visitors were men of learning. Among those who paid repeated visits was Tycho's former tutor and his friend through life, Anders Sörensen Vedel, who was now royal historiographer, and lived at Ribe in Jutland, as a canon of the cathedral there. He was on a tour through Denmark to collect topographical and other information for his Danish history, when he arrived at Hveen on the 13th June 1586. He must have stayed there some weeks, as he was still with Tycho when a stately little fleet on the 27th June approached the island from Seeland with Queen Sophia on board. The queen was a daughter of Duke Ulrich of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, and was an able and accomplished lady. Tycho's mother, Beate Bille, acted as her Mistress of the Robes (to which post she was regularly appointed in 1592 after the death of his aunt and foster-mother, Inger Oxe), and the queen was therefore interested beforehand in Tycho and his work. She was
detained on the island by a storm till the 29th, so that she had time enough to see everything of interest, and to converse with Tycho and Vedel on the various topics which the scenery of the island and the curiosities of the observatory and laboratory suggested. At table Tycho called the queen's attention to Vedel's historical researches and his collections of ancient ballads and other folk-lore, a subject in which she took a great interest. She asked Vedel for a copy of these ballads or Kjæmpeviser, which he promised to send as soon as he could, and this incident gave rise to Vedel's collection of ancient ballads being printed five years later. The queen must have enjoyed herself well (she is said to have had a taste for chemistry), and two months afterwards, on the 23rd August, she brought her father and mother and a cousin to see Uraniborg, and was on this occasion attended by a large suite. The Duke was also fond of chemistry, which in those days was a fashionable occupation, owing to the prevailing opinion that it would sooner or later lead to the discovery of the art of making gold.
King Frederick did not accompany the queen on either of these occasions, and it is not certain that he ever was at Hveen. In contemporary documents and in Tycho's own writings there is no allusion to the king's having visited him, and if he had done so during the last three years of his life, it would certainly have been mentioned in the meteorological diary, in which during this period all events of that character were noted. But this does not exclude a visit of the king to Hveen before 1585, and it would indeed be strange if he had never during the years he was building the castle of Kronborg at Elsinore, with the island before his eyes, crossed over the narrow strip of water to see the buildings of which he must have heard so much, and to whose owner he continued to show favour on every occasion. The king might also have taken the opportunity of seeing Uraniborg in the year 1584, when his eldest son, Prince Christian, was elected his successor. On the 20th July the nobility of Scania swore fealty to the prince at Lund, where Tycho Brahe also appeared among the other nobles of the province, and the king was apparently in Scania at that time. A remarkable document, which is still in existence, and is printed among the many important letters in the Danske Magazin, seems to show that the king was expected at Hveen at that time. It is a draught of an act, written in Latin and in the king's name, dated "Huenæ in Avtopoli Vranopyrgensi," the 1st July 1584. In this document the king, in recognition of Tycho Brahe's scientific work, and following the memorable examples of former ages, grants to him and his heirs male for ever the island of Hveen in fief, with all privileges and honours, provided that they do nothing to injure the king or kingdom, and keep the buildings of the island solely for the furtherance of mathematical studies. But this document was never engrossed and signed by the king, and even if Tycho could have persuaded the king to grant him so great a favour, it would have been very hard for the king to obtain the consent of the Privy Council, although its principal members were at that time very friendly disposed to Tycho; and in particular these great nobles would have protested against so monstrous a proceeding as the transmission of a valuable fief to the children of a "bondwoman." Probably the act was only drawn up in an idle moment, while the writer was thinking about the chance of a visit from the king, but it shows at any rate that Tycho's wishes went in the direction indicated by the draught, and that he felt the insecure position in which all his creations at Hveen were placed. All his endowments were only enjoyed by him during the king's pleasure, and even the island was only granted for his own lifetime. Were then the beautiful buildings and wonderful instruments some day to vanish again, as the observatories of Alexandria, Cairo, Meragah, Cordova, and Nürnberg had vanished? This thought was doubtless a painful one to Tycho, who, the more he studied the stars in the heavens and the elements in the earth, could not but feel that life was short and art was long.
While his royal protector lived, Tycho and his observatory were, however, safe enough; that much he knew, not only by the readiness with which one pecuniary grant after another was made to him, but also by many more private acts of kindness and good feeling which emanated from the king, and of which we have ample proofs in various letters still extant. The king evidently looked on Tycho not only as a great man, whose achievements conferred honour on the country and on the monarch who supported him, but also as a confidential servant to whom he could turn for advice on matters within his province, and whom he in return delighted to honour and befriend. All the existing portraits of Tycho Brahe represent him as wearing round his neck a double gold chain, by which is suspended an elephant. It is not known on what occasion the king presented him with this mark of favour, but the source whence it came is evident from the king's initials, motto, or miniature, which on different portraits are shown on the elephant. But in addition to this more ornamental than useful present, the king frequently bestowed others of a more practical nature on Tycho. Thus he sent in June 1581 an order to the treasury to pay the cost of a bell which had just been cast at Copenhagen for Tycho, and which was to be used at Hveen. Perhaps it was this bell which was suspended in the cupola, at Uraniborg. Again, in November 1583 the king ordered the treasury to hand over to Tycho "a good new ship or pilot-boat," with all necessary tackle, &c.
From some letters of the king's it appears that Tycho entertained plans of some work of a geographical and historical character, for in September 1585 the king instructed his librarian to lend to Tycho Brahe "as many chartas cosmographicas or maps as are to be found in our library at our castle of Copenhagen, and which are of our kingdom, Denmark, or Norway, or any other of our dominions, for information in some undertaking of which he has told us." A few weeks later the governor of Kronborg Castle was informed that whereas Tycho Brahe had stated his intention of publishing something about Danish kings, and had requested that he might get their portraits as shown on the new tapestries at Kronborg, the king's painter was to be ordered to copy all the portraits and Danish and German rhymes on the tapestries. Possibly Tycho may have wished to find some work for his newly-acquired printing-office, but if he really intended preparing a work on the geography and history of Denmark, he never carried out this plan. It seems, however, more probable that he had intended to assist his friend Vedel, who just at that time was collecting materials of this kind in connection with the work on Danish history on which he was engaged.
In return for all the kindness shown by the king, Tycho from, time to time rendered such service to his patron as he was able to offer. Thus his name is associated with the castle of Kronborg by a couple of Latin poems with which he ornamented this favourite building of the king. On one of the gables was placed a lengthy versified inscription praying for a long life and success to the builder and his work; on the dial of a clock in one of the towers he put these lines:
"Transvolat hora levis neque scit fugitiva reverti,
Nostra simul properans vita caduca fugit."
Tycho was scarcely settled at Uraniborg before the king wished to consult him. In September 1578 he wrote to the astronomer from Skanderborg, in Jutland, that it was said by the common people about that place that a new star had again appeared in the heavens, and he therefore asked what planet or other star might have been mistaken for a new star. Again, in December 1584 the king turned to Tycho for help, writing that he was under the impression that he had returned to Tycho a compass made by the latter, as there was something wrong with it. If this was the case, Tycho was to send back the compass; but if not, he was to make two new ones similar to the old one.
But the most important service (according to the ideas of the time) which Tycho had to render to the king was by astrological predictions. The first occasion on which he was ordered to show his skill in such matters was probably in 1577, when the king's eldest son, Prince Christian, was born. The king and queen had been married since 1572, and two daughters had been born of the marriage, when at last a son was born at Frederiksborg Castle at half-past four o'clock in the afternoon on the 12th April 1577. Popular tradition has preserved several strange circumstances in connection with the birth of this prince, who afterwards became one of the most popular kings of Denmark. An old peasant announced to the king in the previous autumn that a mermaid had appeared to him and commanded him to tell the king that the queen was to be delivered of a son who should be counted among the most renowned princes in the northern countries. The infant prince was christened on Trinity Sunday, the 2nd June, at Copenhagen, with the solemnities and festivities usual on such occasions, and among those who attended the ceremony and had an opportunity on the two following days of being edified by the stories of the virtuous Susanna and David and Goliath, which the students of the university acted in the courtyard of the castle, was Tycho Brahe, to whom doubtless more than one eye was directed when hopes and wishes were uttered for the future of the little prince. In those days, when most people of note had their nativities worked out for them, it must have been a comfort to the king that he could get this done for the infant by so great an authority as his renowned star-gazer was already considered. Tycho Brahe was accordingly directed to prepare the horoscope of the prince, and on the 1st July following he handed in a detailed report of his investigations. The original document does not appear to have been preserved, but there are two copies (apparently of a somewhat later date) in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. The report contains, first, a dedication to the young prince, after which follow the calculation of the requisite astronomical data and the discussion of the astrological signification of these, all written in Latin, but followed at the end by a German translation of the astro- logical predictions, probably prepared for the convenience of the queen. The dedication alludes shortly to the origin and importance of astrology, and uses the same arguments as we have met with in Tycho's oration on this subject. The positions of the planets are next calculated for the date of the prince's birth by the Prutenic tables (the successive steps being given for each planet), while those resulting from the Alpbonsine tables are also given, but merely for the sake of comparison. Being a practical astronomer, the writer was not content with this, but corrected by means of his own observations the tabular places of Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and the sun, adopting the positions of the other planets as given in the Prutenic tables because he had no recent observations of them. The figura natalis is not of the square shape generally used by astrologers, but circular, in accordance with the plan already followed by Tycho in the case of the new star.
Before giving a short account of the further contents of Tycho's report on the horoscope of Prince Christian, it may not be useless to say a few words about the general principles followed by astrologers in preparing horoscopes; referring for further particulars to works in which this subject is treated in detail.
The point of the heavens of greatest importance for the fate of man was the point of the ecliptic which was rising at the precise moment of his birth (punctum ascendens). The next step for the astrologer was to see how the planets and the signs of the zodiac, as well as a few of the most important fixed stars, were at the same moment situated in the twelve "houses" into which the heavens were divided. The first house, ascendens or horoscopus, was considered the foundation of fate, and if Mercury or a favourable star was found in this house, it would announce a happy and prosperous life, while, on the other hand, an unfavourable planet (Saturn or Mars) would indicate a short and unhappy life. The second house (north of the first one) gave information about riches and possessions; it was an unlucky house, because it was not in favourable aspect to the first one, and while a favourable star (Jupiter or Venus) would here point to great riches, a questionable character like Mercury might make a thief and a vagabond of the new-born infant. Similarly the other houses had each a separate signification; the third refers to brothers, friends, or journeys; the fourth, or most northern house (imum cœlum), refers to parents, because it is in quadrature with the first house, and therefore closely allied to it; the fifth (bona fortuna) tells about children, and is a very favourable house, because it is in aspectus trigonus with the first one, and Venus placed here would have great effect. The sixth house is a bad one (mala fortuna), because it has no aspect to the first, and, perhaps on this account, is allotted to servants, health, women, &c. The seventh and easternmost house, opposite the first, refers to marriage; the eighth is a bad one (no aspect) and refers to death, and here only the moon is favourable. The ninth house is intimately connected with the first (aspectus trigonus), and the sun is here of particular value; this house deals with religion and journeys. The tenth house (medium cœli) gives information about life, deeds, country, residence, &c. The eleventh (bonus dæmon), is in aspectus sextilis with the first, and is generally speaking a favourable house; but at a birth in the night, Saturn would here cause cowardice and poverty, and for a person born in the daytime, Mars would here induce loss of property. The twelfth house is, like the second, a bad one (malus dæmon), and tells of enemies and illnesses. Having drawn all these "houses" on a diagram and inserted the planets in them, the astrologer proceeded to examine the aspects of the latter (conjunction, opposition, quadrature, &c.), and make out the prognosticum by means of rules, as to which much difference of opinion existed. Some of the most important things, however, were the directions. So-called circles of position were drawn through the north and south points of the horizon and any two points of the zodiac, called the significator and the promissor (the sun, moon, or planets, according as they had to be considered), and the arc of the equator included between these circles was their directio. Thus Tycho computes the direction of the ascendant to the planets (remarking that an error of four minutes in the stated time of birth will alter these directions by one degree, which corresponds to an error of one year in the time of any event foretold by a direction), and also the directions of sun, moon, and Venus to the other planets. There were various methods of "directing" or referring the effects of the planets, as they might be placed at any subsequent time, to their positions at the moment of birth. Thus Kepler says that if the sun at this moment be in a certain place in the zodiac, and a planet afterwards comes to an important place, it should be computed how many days after the birth the sun took to reach that place, and the number of days corresponds to the number of years which will elapse from the birth before the power of that configuration will be felt.
The action of each planet was very different according to the house and sign of the zodiac which it occupied. The sun and moon had each a sign (by some also called house) specially belonging to it (Leo and Cancer), and the other planets had each two, and a planet exercised the greatest power when it was in its own house. The sun and moon are the most powerful, while the others have the greater effect the nearer they are to one of those. If a planet is not in its own sign, but in that of another planet, the two bodies act together, either with increased effect if they are of the same nature (e.g., both favourable), or neutralising each other more or less if of opposite nature.
After this necessarily very crude outline of the principles of judicial astrology, we return to Tycho's forecast of the fate of the new-born prince. It would, however, lead ns too far if we were to follow him through the various proofs which he adduces for his statements, and we can only mention some of the more important ones. The years of infancy will pass without danger, as Venus is favourably placed in the ninth house, and though in the second year the opposition of Mercury to the ascending point indicates some small illness, it will be nothing serious. The years of the prince's life are then enumerated in which he will be afflicted with illness. For instance, in his twelfth year the ascendant will be in quadrature with Saturn, which indicates some serious illness "arising from black bile," but it will not be mortal. In his twenty-ninth year he will have to be very careful both about his health and his dignity, because the sun will be in quadrature with Saturn at the same time as Venus and the latter are in opposition. A very critical time will be about the fifty-sixth year, when the sun and Mars are most unfavourable, and even Venus cannot help, as she is in the eighth house. The methods of the Arabians do not show any life beyond fifty-six years, and Ptolemy's rule gives the same result. As the sun's direction to its setting gives 411 years, the moon, Venus, and Jupiter add together twenty-six years, and Saturn in quadrature subtracts 102 of, so that the result is about 561 years. As there are so many concurring signs, the prince will hardly survive that age, unless God, who alone has power over human destiny, specially prolongs his life; and if the prince gets over the critical period, he will have a happy old age. Passing to the question as to what planets are the ruling ones, it appears that Venus is ruler of the nativity (dominus genituræ), being close to the tenth house or summum cœli; but Mars is in conjunction with Venus, and in the sign belonging to Mercury (Gemini), so that these two also have great influence. Venus will make him pleasant, comely, and voluptuous, fond of music and the fine arts; Mars makes him brave and warlike, while Mercury adds cleverness and acuteness to his other faculties. He will be of a sanguine temperament, because nearly all the planets which indicate the temperament are in sanguine signs, but at the same time he will not be without some saturnine gravity. Venus, as the ruler, determines his character, and as Mars is joined to her, the prince will indulge too much in sensual enjoyment, but Mars in the sign of Mercury will make him generous and ambitious. He will be healthy and not subject to illness, but in various years (which are enumerated) he must be careful, as the ascendant will be influenced by the malevolent rays of Saturn. His mental abilities will be very good, because Mercury is favourably situated; and as this planet is in a good aspect with Venus and Mars, the prince will be fond of warlike occupations and field sports, and take an interest in surgery and other sciences. He will have good luck in his undertakings, as Saturn is in the fourth house and in his own sign of Capricorn, while Mercury and Mars occupy each other's signs; but as Jupiter is badly placed, the prince will be less successful in ecclesiastical matters. As regards honours and dignities, it is an excellent circumstance that the most brilliant of all stars, Alhabor, in the mouth of Sirius, is in the corner of medium cœli, and there are also other fixed stars of importance in favourable positions, such as the Twins in the tenth house, Spica in the first, with Corona borealis a little above, and the Southern Crown exactly in the corner of the fourth house. Among the planets, the sun has most influence on honours and dignities and is well placed, and only Saturn in opposition to medium cœli shows that the prince will meet with some serious adversities, which, how- ever, will be overcome as everything else is so favourable. The years are mentioned in which he will be specially fortunate or unfortunate; and here again it appears that after his fifty-fifth year, "when the direction of the sun overtakes Mars," there will be serious adversities awaiting him. As to riches, it is especially of importance that pars fortunæ is well situated in the eleventh house, and the sun is in the seventh, and the prince will therefore become rich; but as the sign of Mars (Scorpio) is in the second house (domus divitiarum), his riches will principally be acquired by war. At great length it is set forth in which years of his life the position of pars fortunæ with regard to the planets portends the acquisition of riches. The prospects with regard to marriage are not altogether favourable, as the moon is in the sixth house, and the position of Venus with regard to Mars and Saturn signifies some adversity in matrimony; but, on the other hand, Mercury is in the seventh house (domus conjugii), which promises some happiness. Tycho here adds the remark, that in his opinion the prince will be more inclined to other amours than to matrimony (which turned out true enough). The time when he will be inclined to marry will be about the age of twenty or twenty-one, when Venus comes in sextile aspect with Jupiter about the medium cœli, or in his thirty-fourth or thirty-fifth year, or, if not married before, in his forty-seventh year, when the moon reaches the seventh house. But all this depends more on man's free will than on the stars. It does not seem that he will have many children, as Saturn is master of the fifth house, and is in a sterile sign, but if he has any, they will be healthy and long-lived. His friends will be "solar people," such as kings and princes, because the sun is ruler of the eleventh house, where pars fortunæ is placed. His enemies will be "jovial and mercurial people," because Jupiter is unluckily placed in the twelfth house, and Mercury ruling the twelfth is in the seventh, but the latter planet assumes the nature of Mars, which is in its sign. His enemies will, therefore, be ecclesiastics and warriors, but he will defeat them, because Venus, the ruling planet, is much higher in the sky than Mars, and is in the apogee of its excentric; but he must beware of captivity or exile on account of the position of Mercury, which is also injured by being in quadrature with Saturn. There is nothing to indicate a violent death, and the prince will die from natural causes, but Venus shows that he will cause his own death by immoderate sensuality.
Finally, Tycho ends this dissertation by saying that all this is not irrevocably settled, but may be modified by many causes. God is, besides, the origin of all, and the giver of life and all good things, and He disposes freely of everything according to His own judgment. He alone is therefore to be implored that He may rule our life, grant us prosperity, and avert evil.
The reader will pardon this long digression, but judicial astrology has played so important a part in the history of the world, and been so beneficial in furthering the study of astronomy, that it cannot be left out of consideration if we wish to get a full view of the scientific life and doings of former ages. Having devoted so much space to the horoscope of the first-born son of the king, we shall not review those of the younger sons, which Tycho was afterwards called on to prepare, although in these cases the originals (and not merely copies) have been preserved in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. The second son, Prince Ulrich, was born on the 30th December 1578, and Tycho worked out his Genethliaca by royal command, and presented it in May 1579. It is a handsome volume in small 4to, bound in pale green velvet with gilt edges, containing about 300 pages, all written in Tycho Brahe's own hand. The arrangement of the contents is like that of the previous prognostication, the results being, as before, given first in Latin and afterwards in German. Mars is the ruler, as he is in his own sign, and in every way most favourably situated, but the sun is dominus ascendentis, and the solar eclipse of the 21st July 1590 in the eighth degree of Leo, and "in the very degree of the ascendant," will be of great importance, and may injure the prince. It is again repeatedly pointed out how uncertain the whole thing is. In 1583 the king's third and last son, Hans, was born on the 26th July, and Tycho had again to attack the twelve houses, aspects, &c. He sent in a volume like the last one, bound in the same manner, and containing about the same number of pages, but the Latin part is neatly written by one of Tycho's assistants, and only the German part by himself. To show his readiness to please the king, he has, in addition to the circular figure, divided into "houses" in the same way as on the two previous occasions, drawn two square figures, divided by distributing the houses evenly round the equator and round the ecliptic. In the preface he talks about the possibility of averting the inclinations of the stars in the same strain as before, and throughout the whole dissertation he seems more doubtful about the results to be expected than he was in 1577. He has again corrected the places of the planets by his own observations. Mercury is here the strongest planet, free from the rays of the sun, though somewhat weakened by being retrograde and moving slowly, but particularly by being in the sixth house. The prince seems only to have "mediocre" luck in store, but Tycho remarks that everybody shapes his own fortune.
That Tycho did not take much interest in nor attach any importance to these astrological prognostications will be evident to anybody who has read the foregoing pages. Whatever he had thought about these matters in his youth, the great work of his life now stood so clearly before him, that he did not care to waste his time on work of so very doubtful value as astrological forecasts. We possess even stronger testimony to this effect than any we have yet quoted, in a letter which he wrote on the 7th December 1587 to Heinrich von Below, a nobleman from Mecklenburg, who in 1579, through the queen's influence, had received an estate in Jutland in fief, and who was married to a first cousin of Tycho's. Duke Ulrich of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, the queen's father, had procured two prognostica for the year 1588, the one by Tobias Möller, the other by Andreas Rosa; and as they were so far from agreeing, that one let the year be governed by the two beneficent planets, while the other put it under the dominion of the two malevolent ones, the Duke requested Below to inquire from his kinsman Brahe which of them was correct. In his answer Tycho remarked that he did not care to mix in astrological matters, but for some years had endeavoured "to put astronomy into proper order," because only in this way, by reliable instruments and mathematical methods and certainty, could the truth be arrived at. He shows that the two prognostics differ so much because one is built on the Prutenic, the other on the Alphonsine tables, which differ nineteen hours as to the time of the vernal equinox. It is therefore not surprising that the two astrologers find different rulers for the year, as these are found from the figura cœli for the time of vernal equinox. These astrological predictions are like a cothurnus, which may be put on any foot, large or small; and when he every year sends his Majesty a prognosticon, he only does it by the king's express command, although he does not like to have anything to do with such doubtful predictions, in which one cannot come to the truth, as in geometry and arithmetic, on which astronomy is founded, by means of diligent observations. As to the two prognostications about which the Duke inquires, neither the Prutenic nor the Alphonsine tables are correct, as he had found by his own observations, and he had as usual sent the king a prognostic for the coming year, but had not kept a copy of it, and if the Duke wanted to see it, he might apply to the king about it.
This letter shows with all desirable distinctness what Tycho thought of judicial astrology, with which philosophical speculations on the unity of the kosmos and the analogy between its celestial and terrestrial parts must by no means be confounded. He was not, like Kepler, obliged to waste his time on work of that kind in order to get daily bread for himself and his family; but he was highly paid, and his scientific researches were most liberally supported by the king, who could not be expected to appreciate their real value; and it was only natural that he should annually send the king an offering of a kind that the latter could understand, and which by the king was considered an acceptable gift. Tycho showed clearly enough in the horoscopes which he drew up for the royal children that he was inclined to agree with Horace when he said—
"Tu ne quæsieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
Finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nee Babylonios
None of the almanacs which Tycho prepared for the king have been preserved, but a letter from the king is extant, dated 24th September 1587, in which he reminded Tycho about sending him the usual almanac for the ensuing year by the bearer of the letter, or, if it was not ready, as soon as possible.
Tycho doubtless obeyed the king's command, and it turned out to be the last time he had to do so. King Frederick II. died on the 4th April 1588, in his fifty-fourth year, to the great regret of Tycho, who owed him so much, as well as of the country at large. His character was open and chivalrous, and he was sincerely religious, while he at the same time tried to keep himself free from the intolerance prevailing everywhere in those days. He was less free from another weakness of his time, and, with characteristic frankness, Vedel said in a funeral oration, that "if His Grace could have kept from that injurious drink which is much too prevalent all over the world among princes and nobles and common people, then it would seem to human eyes and understanding that he might have lived for many years to come." But if he was not better than his contemporaries in this respect, he was at any rate far superior to most of them by honouring and protecting the peaceful student of science, and in the history of astronomy his name will always be gratefully remembered as long as that of Tycho Brahe continues to be reckoned among the heroes of science.
- A poem in memory of another friend, Joh. Francisci Ripensis, given in Gassendi's book, p. 261, was possibly also printed at Uraniborg.
- Printed in Danske Magazin, ii. pp. 223-224 (Weistritz, ii. p. 130 et seq.).
- Printed ibid., pp. 226-234 (Weistritz, ii. 135 et seq.).
"Undique Terra infra, cœlum patet undique supra,
Omne solum patria est, cui mea sacra placent."
The first of these lines and part of the second occur in Astr. Instauratæ Mechania, fol. D., where he mentions that one of his armillæ could be taken asunder and transported to any place where it might be wanted. It is remarkable how strongly imbued he always was with the cosmopolitan character of his science, even when Fortune smiled most on him.
- Printed in Danske Magazin, ii. pp. 235-238 (Weistritz, ii. p. 148 et seq.).
- Friis, Tyge Brahe, p. 89.
- Printed in Danske Magazin, ii. pp. 213-217 (Weistritz, ii. pp. 110-116).
- The court was held on a hill close to Uraniborg (I on the map).
- This does not seem to have been carried out. See above, p. 88.
- "Æcloga de eclipsi solari anno 1574 mense Novembri futura et tempore plenilunii ecliptici anno 1573 conspecti, Succularum ortu obiter descripto, breuique Meliboei pastoris querela. . . . Autore Petro Jacobo Flemlossio." Hafniæ, 1574, 4to.
- He made observations with the sextant on the 15th March 1578, and the distance measures on and after January 21 are possibly also by him.
- See N. M. Petersen, Den Danske Literaturs Historie, iii. pp. 176-179, and the preface by Friis to the reprint of Flemlöse's book (1865).
- "En Elementisch or Jordisch Astrologia Om Lufftens forendring. . . . Tilsammen dragen aff Peder Jacobsön Flemlös paa Hueen. Prentit paa Vraniborg Aff Hans Gaschitz, Anno 1591," xvi. + 143 pp., 12mo. Reprinted at Copenhagen in 1644 (by Longomontanus), 1745, and 1865. According to Friis, Tyge Brahe, p. 362, a German translation was printed at Hveen in September 1591, of which there is a copy in the library of the Polytechnic Institute at Vienna (see also Kepleri Opera, viii. p. 705, first line). Of the Danish original, only two copies are known to exist, both at Copenhagen.
- I shall give a few examples:—Flies and fleas announce rain when they are more than usually troublesome to men, horses, and cattle (ccv.). When goats are so very greedy that you can neither by words nor blows drive them away from small shrubs, which they bite off though they are not very hungry, then it is a sure sign of rain or storm (ccix.). When pigs with their snouts are throwing sheaves of corn or bundles of straw round about as if they were mad, you need not doubt that there will soon be rain (ccxxii.). All kinds of unusual fire in the air, appearing like an army or like stars running to and fro or against each other, or falling down to the earth, are forewarnings of comets (ccclx.). [This looks like an unconscious anticipation of modern ideas about the nature of comets.] Earthquakes generally follow after great and long-continuing comets (ccclxiii.).
- In the observations (Tychonis Brahe. Observationes Septem Cometarum, Hafniæ, 1867, p. 30) there is a note written in October 1600, and signed Jacob Monaw, certifying that the observations of October 21st to 26th were written in Wittich's hand. I find in Jöcher's Gelehrten Lexicon that this Monaw was a Jesuit from Breslau (1546-1603), where he had evidently known Wittich.
- In Tycho's Mechanica, fol. I. 3, he is mentioned as "quidam insignis mathematicus," and in Progymn., ii. p. 464, he is called "quidam Vratislauiensis non vulgaris Mathematicus." In a letter to Rothmann (Epist. Astr., p. 61) Tycho says that Wittich ingratiated himself with him "quod hominem ob ingeniosam in Mathematicis, præsertim quo ad Geometriam attinet, solertiam magnifacerem." We shall see farther on that Tycho and Wittich together deduced convenient formulæ whereby multiplication and division of trigono metrical quantities were avoided. See also Epist., p. 296.
- T. Brahe et Doct. Vir. Epistolæ, pp. 54, 58, 64.
- Epist. Astron., p. 3.
- Ibid., p. 7.
- According to a MS. in the library at Breslau, quoted by Rud. Wolf in the Vierteljahrsschrift der Astron. Gesellschaft, xvii. p. 129.
- Epist. Astron., p. 113. Tycho here again praises his cleverness "in Geometricis et Triangulorum ac numerorum tractatione." In the letter of 20th January 1587 (to which he refers) he had, after all, only said: "Si mea inventa . . . pro suis venditat, nec fatetur per quem ea habuerit, rem a viro bono et grato, ac sinceritate integritateque Mathematica alienam committit."
- In Chalmers' General Biogr. Dictionary, London, 1815, vol. xx. p. 243, it is stated, on the authority of a Life of the Scotch mathematician Duncan Liddel by Prof. Stuart (1790), that Liddel studied mathematics at Breslau, 1582-84, "under Paul Wittichius, an eminent professor."
- Epist. Astron., p. 104.
- It was published at Copenhagen in 1876: Tyge Brahe's meteorologiske Dagbog holdt paa Uraniborg for Aarene 1582-1597. Appendice aux Collectanea Meteorologica publiés sous les auspices de l'Académie Rotyale des Sciences et des Lettres à Copenhague. The value of the diary (263 pp. 8vo) is greatly increased by an index to the historical names by a Danish historian, H. F. Rördam. There is also a discussion of the meteorological results by P. la Cour (with a French resumé).
- He was at Hveen June 9 to 11, and July 1 to 3, 1589, November 5 to March 11, 1590. Under the last date the printed edition has "Elias obiit H. 111 noct.," but doubtless the original has abiit and not obiit, for the words "Elias Olai" occur again on the 8th May 1596, so he cannot have died in 1590. In 1589 he went with Vedel on a tour through Denmark to observe latitudes and azimuths for Vedel's topographic survey of the country. See E. O. Morsing og hans Observationer, af F. R. Friis, Copenhagen, 1889, 28 pp. 8vo.
- Regent of the Duchy of Prussia (for his cousin, Duke Albrecht Frederic, who was insane). The house of Hohenzollern is descended from him.
- Progymnasmata, pp. 34-35; Epist. Astr., p. 74. The latitude of the Königsberg observatory is 54° 42' 51". Most of the observations made at Frauenburg are given in Baretti Historia Cœlestis, p. 104, and are correctly reproduced, except that the date of the observations of May 11 should be May 17. In the Hist. Cœl. are not given the "Observationes factæ in Ædibus Hortensibus illustrissimi Marchionis ducis Borussiæ Regiomonti;" they are similar to those made at Frauenburg, and extend from June 11 to 26 (MS. volume of Obs.).
- The dates are from the meteorological diary. Friis (T. Brahe, p. 133) tells his readers that Elias went to Regensburg (Regiomontum!!) without remarking the wonderful speed with which he would have had to travel to reach Regensburg from the shore of the Baltic in less than two days.
- Epist. Astr., p. 235; Gassendi, p. 57.
- Epist., p. 240.
- "Diarium astrologicum et metheorologicum anni a nato Christo 1586. Et de Cometa qvodam rotundo omniqve cavda destituto qui anno proxime elapso, mensibus Octobri et Nouembri conspiciebatur, ex observationibus certis desumta consideratio Astrologica: Per Eliam Olai Cimbrum, Nobili viro Tychoni Brahe in Astronomicis exercitiis inservientem. Ad Loci Longitudinem 37 Gr. Latitudinem 56 Gr. Excusum in Officina Vranibvrgica." See Weidler, Hist. Astr., p. 623; Petersen, Danske Literaturs Historie, iii. p. 180.
- West of the town of Lemvig, about four miles from the west coast. In Latin, Longberg called himself Christianus Severini Longomontanus.
- Petersen, Danske Literaturs Historie, iii. p. 177.
- Observationes Septem Cometarum (1867), pp. 63-64; Baretti Historia Cœlestis, p. 429; Diary, 30th November 1591.
- The map was made "cum sub Tychone Astronomiæ operam daret." Blaev must have been at Hveen during the last few years of Tycho's residence there. He is mentioned in the Observations of Comets, p. 41, as being there in 1596. For a list of Tycho's other disciples and assistants, as far as their names are known, see Note B. at end of this volume. In 1589 Rothmann inquired, on behalf of Professor Victor Schönfeld of Marburg, whether Tycho would receive a son of Schönfeld among his pupils, adding that the young man had just been made a Master of Arts; to which Tycho answered that he might come, but whether he was a master or not did not make much difference, that it was better to be a master than to be called one, and it would be sufficient if he was a student of the free arts (Epist., pp. 154, 168). In Wolf's Encomion Regni Daniæ, 1654, p. 526, it is stated that there were small bells in the rooms of the students, which could be rung by touching hidden buttons in the observatories or sitting-rooms, by which Tycho, to the surprise of his guests, could make any of the students come to him, apparently merely by calling their name in a low voice. Wolf also tells how Tycho could lie in bed and observe the stars through a hole in the wall, with some mechanism which could be turned round. Probably this refers to the mural quadrant, which had a "hole in the wall."
- Kästner, Gesch. der Math., ii. p. 408, quoting Nova Literaria Maris Balthici, August 1698, p. 142. There is a portrait of this woman in the National Historical Museum at Frederiksborg Castle.
- Gassendi (p. 197), who had these details from letters written to him and Peyresc by the Danish physician and historian Ole Worm, has misspelt the exclamation of the dwarf as "Juncher xaa laudit." See also O. Wormii et doct. vir. ad eum Epistolæ, Hafniæ, 1751, and Gassendi, Epistolæ (Opera, vol. vi.), p. 527, where the name is misspelt Leppe. The word "Junker" (esquire), which always is used of T. Brahe, shows that he was not a knight.
- These vignettes seem first to have been used for a poem to a friend of Tycho's, Talk Gjöe, printed at Uraniborg between 1584 and 1587, and of which I am not aware that any copy now exists. Rothmann came across a copy at Frankfurt, and asked Tycho to explain the vignettes. Epist. Astron., p. 89; Tycho's reply, ibid., p. 115-117.
- Among these are Hermes Trismegistus, Geber, Arnoldus de Villa Nova, Raymundus Lullius, Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, &c. He does not allude to the fact that the idea expressed in the two vignettes occurs already in the second of the thirteen sentences of the so-called Hermes Trismegistus: "What is below is like what is above, and what is above is like what is below, to accomplish the miracles of one thing" (see Nature, vii. p. 90). There is, however, an allusion to this sentence in Epist. Astron., p.164.
- Tycho seems to have had an apothecary in his service, as Paulus Pharmacopola is often alluded to in the diary; e.g., 22nd July 1596: "Elisabetha, filia Pauli pharmacopolæ, Joachimus et Theodoricus propter seditionem dimittuntur."
- The prescription is printed by Gassendi, p. 242 et seq.; he had it from Worm, who in 1653 informed Gassendi that the elixir was still much used in Denmark, frequently by the writer himself, who found it to be most powerful in causing perspiration (Opera, vi. p. 526).
- Epist., p. 162. See also an article, "T. Brahe als Homöopath," by Olbers, in Schumacher's Jahrbuch für 1836, p. 98. Olbers remarks that of course Tycho Brahe had too much common sense to believe in infinitesimal doses.
- It is characteristic that while Tycho in his letters to Vedel generally sends his regards to Vedel's wife, neither of them ever alludes to the mother of Tycho's children. Dancey died in 1589; he had first been sent to Denmark by Henry II., and came afterwards again when King Frederick II. was negotiating to recover the Orkney Isles from Scotland. Owing to the disturbed state of France, his salary was often considerably in arrear, which placed him in a very humiliating position both to the Danish king and to private people who had lent him money. Notwithstanding his troubles, Dancey was greatly liked and respected in Denmark.
- T. B. et ad eum Doct. Vir. Episl., pp. 55, 60, and 62.
- Ibid., p. 59.
- Ibid., pp. 56, 65, and 68.
- The first one in T. B. et Doct. Vir. Epist., p. 57; the second in Kästner's Geschichte der Matkematik, ii. p. 409. The source of both is Singularia His- torico-literaria Lusatica oder historische und gelehrte Merckwürdigkeiten von Ober- und Nieder-Lausitz, 27te Sammlung, 1743, pp. 178 et seq., where there are two more letters printed. Scultetus (Schultz) died in 1614 as burgomaster at Görlitz. A letter dated January 1600 is printed in Aus T. Brahes Brief- wechsel, von F. Burckhardt. Basel, 1887.
- T. B. et Doct. Vir. Epist., p. 93.
- Ibid., p. 75 et seq.
- Neither the year of Rothmann's birth nor that of his death are known. About him and Bürgi, see in particular Rudolph Wolf's Geschichte der Astronomie and his Astronomische Mittheilungen, Nos. 31, 32, and 45.
- Rantzov (1526-1599) was celebrated as a collector, not only of books (of which he possessed about 7000 volumes), but also of works of art. He also wrote on astrology.
- A short chronological summary of the principal points of interest in this correspondence is given by Delambre in his Histoire de l'Astronomie Moderne, tom. i. pp. 232 et. seq. See also Gassendi, p. 65 et seq.
- Epist. Astron., in the dedication to the Landgrave's son, and also p. 104. The "Comitia Hamburgensia" was, I suppose, a meeting of the princes of the Nether-Saxon circle, to which King Frederick belonged as Duke of Holstein.
- Danske Magazin, ii. pp. 210 and 220 (Weistritz, ii. pp. 105 and 126).
- Meteorol. Diary.
- About Liddel, see above p. 121, footnote. He died at Aberdeen in 1617.
- Letter to Hagecius, T. B. et Doct. Vir. Epist., p. 70. Tycho does not mention that Lord Willoughby had landed at Elsinore on the 22nd July, but that the king's installation as a KG. did not take place till the 19th August, because the king for a long time refused to be dressed in the full costume, &c., in public. Dancey had to assist in settling the matter.
- Tycho tells this in a letter to Peucer, and adds that he had already secured the copyright in France and Germany (Weistritz, i. p. 264). Rogers (1540-1590) was a man of considerable learning, particularly in British antiquities; he had studied at Wittenberg during the persecution of the Protestants by Queen Mary. Perhaps he is alluded to in the Meteorol, Diary, 9th July 1588, "Angli aderant."
- Fortunately for him, Tycho lived before the age of telescopes, so he was not annoyed by constant requests "to see the moon" or to "take an observation through the big telescope."
- Wegener's Life of Vedel, p. 148. The reader may recollect that Vedel's edition of the Kjæmpeviser is referred to in Note K. to "The Lady of the Lake." The queen wrote somewhere at Uraniborg her motto "Gott verlest die Seinen nicht."
- Elizabeth, daughter of King Frederick I. of Denmark.
- Tycho told the Landgrave about this visit in a letter dated 18th January 1587 (Epist. Astron., p. 36). In March 1592 the queen wrote to T. Brahe requesting him to send her father a small barrel of emery, as the Duke had heard that some had lately been found at Hveen, and for herself she wanted some "burnt antimony," such as she had got from him before. Friis, Breve og Aktstykker angaaende T. Brahe, Copenhagen, 1875, p. 5.
- The king was in Jutland and North Slesvig during the last days of June (Wegener's Life of Vedel, p. 149), and that he did not accompany the queen in August is evident from Tycho's letter to the Landgrave just quoted.
- It is curious that the very first note of an historical character is under the 27th April 1585: "Nunciuin de adventu Regis," but in the following there is nothing about him.
- ii. pp. 220-221 (Weistritz, ii. p. 124).
- According to Friis (Elias Olsen Morsing, Copenhagen, 1889, p. 6), the handwriting seems to be Vedel's.
- On the contemporary painting, which was destroyed in the burning of Frederiksborg Castle in 1859, (of which there is a copy in Friis's book), a small miniature is seen on the middle of the elephant. The engraving, which occurs in several of Tycho's printed works (by Geyn, dated 1586), shows on the elephant the letters F. S. (Fredericus Secundus), while the portrait of 1597 (copied in this book) has the miniature, and underneath the elephant the letters M. H. Z. G. A. (Meine Hoffnung zu Gott allein), the king's motto.
- Danske Magazin, ii. p. 217 (Weistritz, ii. p. 118).
- Ibid., ii. p. 219 (Weistritz, ii. p. 121).
- Werlauff, Historiske Efterretninger om det Store Kongelige Bibliothek. Copenhagen, 1844, p. 9.
- Visitors to Copenhagen may still see some of these tapestries in the upper storey of the Museum of Northern Antiquities. They were made between 1581 and 1584 from designs by Hans Knieper of Antwerp, whom we have mentioned above as having painted part of the picture on Tycho's mural quadrant. The tapestries (which originally numbered 111) represent each a Danish king in full figure, with the name and a short account of his reign in German rhymes above.
- Pontoppidan's Danske Atlas, tom. ii. (1764), p. 272 et seq. A poem with which Tycho ornamented one of the clocks in the study at Stjerneborg is printed in Epist. Astron., p. 245.
- Danske Magazin, ii. p. 204 (Weistritz, ii. p. 93).
- Friis, Tyge Brahe, p. 147.
- "Horoscopus Sr. Regis Christiani IVti., ad Mandatum Sr. Regis Friderici IIdi., a Tychone Brahe Ottonide conscript. in Insula Hvena Cal. Julij Ao. 1577." The two copies must be of slightly later date, as the prince did not become king till 1588. The dedication is to "Inclyto et Illustri Infanti Christiano, Opt. et Potentiss. Principis Friderici IIdi. Daniæ et Norvegiæ Regis, Domini Clementissimi Filio primogenito."
- See, e.g., Wallenstein's and Kepler's horoscopes in Kepler's Opera Omnia vol. i. p. 293, and vol. v. p. 476.
- See, in particular, Origani Novæ Cœlestium Motuum Ephemerides. Frankfurt, 1609, vol. i.; or of modern books, Max Uhlemann, Grundzüge der Astronomie und Astrologie der Alten, besonders der Ægypter, Leipzig, 1857; Kepler's Opera Omnia, ed. Frisch, i. p. 293; Delambre, Hist, de l'Astr. Anc., ii. p. 546; Moyen Age, p. 290 and p. 496 et seq.
- As already remarked, different astrologers divided the heavens in different ways (Delambre, M. A., p. 496 et seq.), by dividing the zodiac or the equator by circles through their poles, or (as Tycho did) by circles through the north, south, east, and west points of the horizon. About the Babylonian origin of these "houses," see Mr. G. Bertin's lectures on Babylonian Astronomy in Nature, vol. xl. p. 237.
- Of these conjunction, aspectus trigonus and sextilis were favourable, opposition and quadrature unfavourable.
- Directions might also be taken along the ecliptic. See, e.g., some remarks on this matter in a letter from Tycho Brahe to Ludolf Riddershusen of Bremen, of April 1600, in Breve og Aktstykker (1875), P. 121.
- Kepleri Opera, i. p. 295.
- This is easy enough to understand. On the 12th April the sun would set about 7h. 17m. or 2h. 47m. after the prince's birth. As four minutes or one degree corresponds to a year, 2h. 47m. is not quite forty-two years.
- Probably because Jupiter had an oracle at Dodona, and therefore was of a clerical turn of mind. Here he was in the twelfth house and in the sign of Mercury (Virgo), both circumstances bad.
- Pars fortunæ, is the difference of longitude between sun and moon added to the longitude of the punctum ascendens; it is indicated by the sign ⴲ.
"Ille potest Solis currus inhibere volantes,
Ille augere potest, tollere fata potest."
- Round the four sides of the central part of the figura natalis Tycho has written: "Potest—fata augere—Deus—tollere fata."
- "Quisque suæ fortunæ faber: tamen non est dubium astra in his plurimum posse, ut non immerito dixerit Poeta ille:
'Esse igitur sapiens et felix nemo potest qui
Nascitur adverse cœlo stellisque sinistris.'"
- All the same, he was naturally looked upon by the common people in Denmark as nothing but an astrologer, and thirty-two unlucky days are attributed to his authority (Hofman, Portraits historiques des hommes illustres de Denmark, vi. Partie, p. 23), though nothing could be more opposed to the principles of astrology than the fixing upon certain dates as lucky or unlucky.
- C. G. F. Lisch, Tycho Brahe und seine Verhältnisse zu Meklenburg, in the Jahrbücher des Vereins für Meklenburgische Geschichte, vol. xxxiv. (1869). I quote from a reprint, 20 pp. 8vo. See also Note C.
- Danske Magazin, ii. p. 247 (Weistritz, ii. p. 171).