Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/158

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146
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.


title to have the Leyden-jar called by his name. Volta's electrophore is really Wilcke's discovery. Segner's water-wheel, Leidenfrost's and Sulzer's experiments, became the germs of important discoveries and applications. Stahl's phlogiston, even if it was a false conception, and Haller's elementa, in the long run, made chemistry and physiology German sciences. Herr Hofman has very lately taught us how to appreciate Marggraf's services in technical chemistry. Vater and Lieberkühn are still mentioned in the finer anatomy, and the first part of Sömmering's classical activity belongs to the same category. Caspar Frederick Wolf reformed the development-history and outlined the doctrine of the metamorphosis of plants. As early as 1785 Blumenbach, the founder of physical anthropology, led a class in comparative anatomy. In natural history, Rösel earnestly advanced the labors of Swammerdam and Réaumur; Ledermüller described the creatures which he called infusoriæ. Gleditsch performed the experimental demonstration of the sexuality of the phanerogams by fertilizing the palms in our botanical gardens with pollen from Leipsic. Even in classification, in which the rivalry of the seafaring nations with the Germans was so arduous, a few, like the creator of our fish-collection, Bloch, won imperishable fame. Germans also approved themselves as scientific travelers: the two Forsters, Cook's companions around the world; and in connection with the Russian expedition for observing the second transit of Venus, our Pallas, as a student of the Siberian fauna. Finally, in geognosy had Werner secured the uncontested leadership for the Germans as the pre-eminently mining people, among whom Agricola had previously created mineralogy.

This enumeration, which might be considerably extended, shows what good progress German natural science had made in the last century. Indeed, it is doubtful whether any other people can boast of a greater richness of notable achievements during the same period. But, toward the end of the century, the aspect was changed, to our disadvantage, and not without our fault.

After its early bloom in the middle ages, and the activity of the Reformation, the German mind, disturbed in its development by the Thirty Years' War, remained, as respects literary production, in the background. At most, it trifled a little in a tasteless way. Then, all at once, in the second half of the century, it rose to so mighty a flight that it not only recovered its lost rank, but placed itself, in some kinds of poetic creation, at the head of modern mankind. A constellation of talent arose, the like of which the ages of Augustus and Louis XIY did not see, nor the fifteenth century, except in other fields. Who can describe the intoxication of the nation, when immortal songs announced that the king's son had come whose kiss was to awaken the thorn-rose of German poetry out of its half a thousand years' slumber? At the same time there pressed upon us the new naturalism and emotionalism from England, and enlighten-