Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/21

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19
MEMOIR OF HUBER.

should both have laboured under a similar personal defect occasioned, too, by the same causes ; for the same intenseness and minuteness of observation which deprived Huber of sight altogether, had brought on in Bonnet a weakness of vision which for a time threatened total blindness, and from which he never fully recovered.

It will readily occur to every one that the loss of sight in Huber must not only have presented a very serious obstacle to the successful study of his favourite science, but must have had the effect also of throwing considerable doubt on the accuracy of his experiments and the reality of his discoveries. His most devoted admirers and most unhesitating followers in every thing connected with the economy of Bees, are bound in candour to acknowledge, that his observations, reported, as they were, at second hand, and depending for their accuracy on the intelligence and fidelity of a half-educated assistant, were, of themselves, not entitled to be received without caution and distrust. Francis Burnens, his assistant, had no doubt entered with enthusiasm into the pursuit, and appears to have conducted the experiments not only with the most patient assiduity, but with great address and no small share of steadiness and courage, qualities indispensable in those who take liberties with the irritabile genus apum. Still Burnens was but an uncultivated peasant when he became Huber's hired servant, and possessed none of those acquired accomplishments which serve to sharpen the intellectual faculties, and fit the mind for observing and discriminating with correctness.