"My father was deeply interested in astronomy, which he had studied a great deal with the help of books, and he had bought celestial and terrestrial globes. Now he wanted a telescope. Mr. Nicholetts, a dear old gentleman who lived at Petherton, had a telescope; and he often invited father to his house to look through it, and this gave father great pleasure and increased his ambition to possess one of his own. So for a few shillings he bought some second-hand lenses, and soon succeeded in making a small telescope, with a 1-1/2-inch reflector mounted on a wooden stand and swivel. This small instrument only whetted his desire for something better; so he sold it for 7_s._ 6_d._ and with the money obtained materials for another. After many difficulties and disappointments, which by sheer luck and hard work he surmounted, this second telescope was at last completed. This one had a four-inch reflector, and with its aid the ring and some of the satellites of the planet Saturn could be seen. The crescent form of Venus and some of the nebulæ were also plainly visible. And when father first saw the moon through it he said he was fairly astonished, for up to that time he had no idea how much of the physical features of the moon could be seen. In 1867 father was appointed station-master at Silverton in Devonshire.
It was at the end of 1868 that we left Taunton and took up our abode in our new home; and thus began what father always described as the happiest time of his life. For one thing he had from this time forward no more night duty, and his health improved considerably in consequence, so that he became stronger than he had been for many years. He greatly rejoiced, too, that there was no drinking bar at this station. Another great advantage was that we were now within reach of Exeter where there was a good school to which the younger children could be sent daily by train. In March 1870 my youngest sister was born; so now there were eight of us. But the following year my eldest brother was killed by an accident at the station. This was a terrible blow to both my parents, and the trouble turned father's auburn hair as white as snow. At Silverton father made many friends, amongst them Sir Thomas Acland and our good rector, Rev. H. Fox Strangways and his lady.