Tycho had many scientific friends in Germany, among whom his work was held in high esteem. The treatment that he there met with seemed to him so much more encouraging than that which he received in Denmark that he formed the notion of emigrating to Basle and making it his permanent abode. A whisper of this intention was conveyed to the large-hearted King of Denmark, Frederick II. He wisely realised how great would be the fame which would accrue to his realm if he could induce Tycho to remain within Danish territory and carry on there the great work of his life. A resolution to make a splendid proposal to Tycho was immediately formed. A noble youth was forthwith despatched as a messenger, and ordered to travel day and night until he reached Tycho, whom he was to summon to the king. The astronomer was in bed on the morning Of 11th February, 1576, when the message was delivered. Tycho, of course, set off at once and had an audience of the king at Copenhagen. The astronomer explained that what he wanted was the means to pursue his studies unmolested, whereupon the king offered him the Island of Hven, in the Sound near Elsinore. There he would enjoy all the seclusion that he could desire. The king further promised that he would provide the funds necessary for building a house and for founding the greatest observatory that had ever yet been reared for the study of the heavens. After due deliberation and consultation with his friends, Tycho accepted the king's offer. He was forthwith granted a pension, and a deed was drawn up formally assigning the Island of Hven to his use all the days of his life.
The foundation of the famous castle of Uraniborg was laid on 30th August, 1576. The ceremony was a formal and imposing one, in accordance with Tycho's ideas of splendour. A party of scientific friends had assembled, and the time had been chosen so that the heavenly bodies were auspiciously placed. Libations of costly wines were poured forth, and the stone was placed with due solemnity. The picturesque character of this wonderful temple for the study of the stars may be seen in the figures with which this chapter is illustrated.
One of the most remarkable instruments that has ever been employed in studying the heavens was the mural quadrant which Tycho erected in one of the apartments of Uraniborg. By its means the altitudes of the celestial bodies could be observed with much greater accuracy than had been previously attainable. This wonderful contrivance is represented on the preceding page. It will be observed that the walls of the room are adorned by pictures with a lavishness of decoration not usually to be found in scientific establishments.
A few years later, when the fame of the observatory at Hven became more widely spread, a number of young men flocked to Tycho to study under his direction. He therefore built another observatory for their use in which the instruments were placed in subterranean rooms of which only the roofs appeared above the ground. There was a wonderful poetical inscription over the entrance to this underground observatory, expressing the astonishment of Urania at finding, even in the interior of the earth, a cavern devoted to the study of the heavens. Tycho was indeed always fond of versifying, and he lost no opportunity of indulging this taste whenever an occasion presented itself.
Around the walls of the subterranean observatory were the pictures of eight astronomers, each with a suitable inscription--one of these of course represented Tycho himself, and beneath were written words to the effect that posterity should judge of his work. The eighth picture depicted an astronomer who has not yet come into existence. Tychonides was his name, and the inscription presses the modest hope that when he does appear he will be worthy of his great predecessor. The vast expenses incurred in the erection and the maintenance of this strange establishment were defrayed by a succession of grants from the royal purse.
For twenty years Tycho laboured hard at Uraniborg in the pursuit of science. His work mainly consisted in the determination of the places of the moon, the planets, and the stars on the celestial sphere. The extraordinary pains taken by Tycho to have his observations as accurate as his instruments would permit, have justly entitled him to the admiration of all succeeding astronomers. His island home provided the means of recreation as well as a place for work. He was surrounded by his family, troops of friends were not wanting, and a pet dwarf seems to have been an inmate of his curious residence. By way of change from his astronomical labours he used frequently to work with his students in his chemical laboratory. It is not indeed known what particular problems in chemistry occupied his attention. We are told, however, that he engaged largely in the production of medicines, and as these appear to have been dispensed gratuitously there was no lack of patients.
Tycho's imperious and grasping character frequently brought him into difficulties, which seem to have increased with his advancing years. He had ill-treated one of his tenants on Hven, and an adverse decision by the courts seems to have greatly exasperated the astronomer. Serious changes also took place in his relations to the court at Copenhagen. When the young king was crowned in 1596, he reversed the policy of his predecessor with reference to Hven. The liberal allowances to Tycho were one after another withdrawn, and finally even his pension was stopped. Tycho accordingly abandoned Hven in a tumult of rage and mortification. A few years later we find him in Bohemia a prematurely aged man, and he died on the 24th October, 1601.
Among the ranks of the great astronomers it would be difficult to find one whose life presents more interesting features and remarkable vicissitudes than does that of Galileo. We may consider him as the patient investigator and brilliant discoverer. We may consider him in his private relations, especially to his daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, a woman of very remarkable character; and we have also the pathetic drama at the close of Galileo's life, when the philosopher drew down upon himself the thunders of the Inquisition.
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