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querulously denied. He obtained his Fellowship on the 21st of October, 1788. In succession he reached the grade of Bachelor, Licentiate and Doctor of Law. Here, then, was Francisco theoretically embarked in his profession, but theoretically only. He had eyes and ears only for the sciences; and, even for them, he was too intelligent and too simply modest, as becomes those noble minds that are great, not to know that he had merely raked up the top-soil, and that his studies halting at this point would be fruitless. Indeed, we can put our hand upon personal testimony to this effect. In a letter to Dr. José Celestino Mútis, the Director of the Expedicion Botanica—writing in August, 1811–he acknowledges, in referring to his life at this epoch, that éstos no eran sino las semillas de las ciencias, que era preciso fomentarlos, multiplicarlos de todos modos—that these were only the seeds of the sciences, which it was
necessary to nurse and multiply in every way. With him, to reach a decision was to act upon it. He began on the spot to put in practice the principles which he had already mastered. His fancy was specially excited by the wonders of astronomy; and the tradition is still extant in Bogotá which notes the young man gazing for hours at night at the mighty framework of mysterious worlds overhead. Here, again, he probed himself conscientiously, and acknowledged that his theoretical knowledge was “ignorance glossed over.” About this time he felt himself strongly drawn toward the relations of Astronomy with Navigation and Geography. The vista opened to him was as splendid as the aspect of the Aurora Borealis to the voyager in Arctic snows; it was as luminous, but in the absence of the requisite instruments, it seemed as chill and as delusive. He could always hit a sharp blow when the blood was hot, and very hot it must have been when the young enthusiast asks,“ What can be done in a country in which the names of the quadrant, the telescope, and the pendulum are unknown?" We can almost see the tears filling the young eyes, and catch the thud of the brave young heart beating against its bars.
For one like Caldas, there was but one answer to such a question. He could not buy these instruments. Therefore he would create them. Across the ocean, in that Europe which, to him, is the shrine of the science so dear to his heart, he knows that there are grand watchers of the stars and gifted students of Nature, into whose hands civilization, recognizant of efforts in her behalf, has tenderly placed every aid and every appliance. If he were only rich, he is sure that those weapons would be his. But how can he venture to ask his parents, who are already scowling upon him; already summing up their losses—for such they consider the expenses at Rosario-already planning, if he could but know it, a final estoppel to his silly longings and starry hallucinations ? He can only try, and so, after many failures, there comes from his hands a little gnomon, or sun dial. This humble victory gained under the colors of science, was the signal for a desperate counter-war against the noble cause. Caldas père was tired of this trifling. His son had deceived him about the law; but he must no longer continue to thwart him. He must be a merchant, and under these conditions alone would he be condoned. He consented to drop the quadrant for the cash-box, and to exchange the altitudes of the sky for the yard-stick of the counter. A field was found for him in Timana and La Plata. The venture, after a feverish trial, ended in a crash, as everybody had predicted. It is not recorded how Cáldas accepted his defeat, but it is certain he wore no mourning for it. Nor was it without its good side. His parents grumbled, but their mouths were shut thenceforth forever. He was only twenty-five years old and the whole future was before him to hope, to labor, to plan and to wait.
On revient toujours à ses premières amours is true of Caldas in the singular number only. He had had, from the days when he ran barefooted, or, at best, with alpargatas on his feet, through Popayán, but one sweetheart. To her, his true heart now turned joyfully. In Bogotá, where he had gone, he was enabled, for the first time, to read “ Lalande's Astronomy" and the Abbé Besont's “ Elements for the Marine Guard of France." These two books taught him plainly how hard a task it was to hope to become an astronomer in his native country. With his small means he bought a seacompass, a marine-barometer, two thermometers, and a reflecting octant. Through these simple aids, he set about that awful mystery, the study of nature. Cáldas was scarcely of the order of men that tremble before the Difficult. Some of the agencies with which he worked were gigantic enough, but the daring soul, growing daily in strength, was not unworthy of them. The Andes were his workshop. His observatories were of Nature's free gift—the noble peaks that raised their ancient heads to the right and left of him. His tools were yet to be fashioned. His assistants were the carpenter, the blacksmith, and the silversmith. The great German Baron was to see his remolded pendulum and to confess to an agreeable surprise, dashed with admiration, at such a display of ingenuity on the part of a youth so little favored by birth, nationality or circumstances.
It should have been stated, in the proper place, that, when Cáldas was at Timana, he had dipped a little into literary work. He now began a scientific sketch of his journey to that place. He ascended Guadaloupe, and wrote a paper on its elevation. He did the same service for La Mesa, Tocayme, Gigante and Pitat. He settled, on being appealed to, in a chart of singular clearness, a question of disputed township limits between Timana and La Plata. It was at this time that his active mind turned toward supplying his defective scientific apparatus. Having desired to establish a point in longitude through some astronomical observation, the eclipse of the moon on the 3d December, 1797, gave him an opportunity. He set about constructing a solar quadrant of wood (madera de bromate) with a radius of 17 French inches, and divided it with as much exactitude as possible. One of his treasures besides this was a glass of four palmas in size. This once finished, nothing more was needed save a co-observer. The priest of Gigante, a man of some talent and a devoted friend, came to his assistance. These two worked well together, with results satisfactory to both. Returning from Timana to Popayán, he fixed the geographical position of his native city, and calculated other latitudes and longitudes, that, after later comparison, were found to vary very little from those calculated with the most accurate European instruments; and such were positive results with limited aids—aids as inadequate in their elements as they were common in their origin. Cáldas, at twenty-seven, resembled one of those chained giants working, in darkness, in the bowels of the Caucasus, dealing stout blows about them but hopeless of freedom. It seemed hard that the great work was to be wrought out with tali auxilio, and without other than istis defensoribus. Nay more, it would have been hard enough if, just at this juncture, a hand had not been stretched out through the gloom of his career; and that hand was the jeweled one that signed, on this side of the great sea, the mandates of His Most Catholic Majesty of Spain. The voice of the Viceroy at Santa Fé was the first authentic expression of that potent cry of the future, which told that the heights of the Andes, awful mysteries with cloud-pointing heads, that had stood upon their ancient thrones for ages,
"Down gazing like a solenn company
had, for the first time, found an interpreter in one born within their solemn territory.
II. Cáldas did not grow tired of astronomy, but he certainly was discouraged. Compelled to pursue his studies with instruments as wretched as those he had been able to secure, he found that astronomy did not fill his time. Gulping down his disappointment-by this time he had become rather familiar with it-he sought around for una ciencia que no exigiese el aparata de aquel—for a science not exacting the apparatus needed by the ‘other. “Such appeared to me," he adds, “ botany, before I knew what botany was.” Satisfied with the little Curso of Ortega, he applied himself to its study. He soon became aware that it was insufficient for his purpose. Fancy him now rummaging all the book-stores of Popayán in search of text-books, and meeting on all their shelves nothing save “ Tournefort's Institutes." “Tournefort " was doubtless as dry in 1801 as he is in 1884, and it was a real boon for him to be favored by a generous friend with the use of the Practical Part of Linnæus, translated by Palan. With this inestimable work, he was enabled to determine many plants, the desire to learn the nature of which had largely increased his ardor for the study of botany. He unfortunately lacked, however, the Scientific Part of the same work, as also the author's Botanical Philosophy. These he made great efforts to obtain. He sent for them, but without success, to Bogotá,
Carthagena, and Quito, the three nearest metropoli of that day. He had quite lost the hope of prosecuting his studies when the kindness of the first botanist of his country, the priest-scientist, Dr. José Celestino Mútisa total stranger to him, save to his growing reputation-placed in his hands the “ Botanical Philosophy.” The response of Caldas is characteristic, both of the gentle-hearted student and the enthusiastic scientist. He feels the kindness to his heart's core. He will preserve the book all his life, as the noblest monument of a great man's generosity, and the best title of honor which he himself can acquire. He can thank him only with his eternal gratitude; and he will never forget the 3d August, 1801—the day on which he had received this present, so worthy of a sage.
The study of this “ Philosophy” gave a new direction to the scientific hopes of Cáldas. He resolved to make himself acquainted with the properties of plants. But his was a life, it would seem, of great designs balked by a fate always mocking and often adverse. A lawsuit gained by him at Popayán compelled his departure for Quito. The necessity of taking the journey awoke in him once more that grand passion for astronomy, which had long lain in a Lazarus-sleep. Indeed, Quito was well worthy of being the stepmother of such a passion. That famous city possesses for scientific minds two attractions, as remarkable as they are picturesque. She occupies one of the most elevated planes of the large cities of the world. She is so near the Equator, moreover, that the measurement from that mystic line may be said to begin almost in her very streets. Great volcanic heights look down upon her, as it were, in mingled protection and menace; while she, in her turn, looks down upon deep valleys, sweltering under all the discomforts of that equatorial line which, if a fiction in topography, is a reality in science. Nor has she been left there solitary in her lofty state. Before Cáldas came, Quito had been a haunted land for the learned from across the sea. She had been visited by brave champions of science, who had left around her the most precious monuments of their labors and the most conclusive proofs of their triumphs. “ These,” Cáldas admits, “ draw me with more violence than gold and all riches.” It was the nature of the man thus to make light of what is most precious in the sight of meaner men, and while standing with keen, but humble, eyes upraised in the presence of the marvels of the sky, to ignore the golden mysteries that lay buried, not fathoms deep, in the earth under his very feet. He did not abandon botany altogether, for he saw and availed himself of many opportunities to utilize upon the journey his knowledge already acquired. But once at Quito, the heavens, bending grandly over the great eminences, seem so near that it appears a lèse ma