This book takes its origin in a course of lectures on the history and progress of Astronomy arranged for me in the year 1887 by three of my colleagues (A.C.B., J.M., G.H.R.), one of whom gave the course its name. If I may claim for them any merit, I should say it consists in their simple statement and explanation of scientific facts and laws. The biographical details are compiled from all readily available sources, there is no novelty or originality about them; though it is hoped that there may be some vividness. I have simply tried to present a living figure of each Pioneer in turn, and to trace his influence on the progress of thought.
At the solicitation of many friends I am publishing, unknown to my daughter, these letters written by her while in the service of the Y.M.C.A. The letters have come to me scribbled in lead pencil and in every color of ink upon an assortment of stationery that in itself revealed the snatching of whatever opportunity to write occurred in a busy life.