Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/58

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50
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

their note-books, to write down at my dictation whatever occurred to me."

It is the great distinction of Gesner that, without sacrificing the dignity of science, he made it attractive, and thus became a great educational influence. His contemporary and friend, Dürer, has been called the "evangelist of art," and the title of "evangelist of science" might with equal propriety be applied to him, for

PSM V47 D058 Gesner dogs.jpg

Fig. 2.

he is one of the foremost representatives of that time of intense and contagious industry "when art was still religion."

The modern world takes morbid interest in the crudity and errors of early writers on science, and we are in no danger of forgetting their views on griffins and krakens, on goose barnacles and spontaneous generation. Their merits are less interesting and seem too antiquated and too far below our mark to be notable simply as good, faithful work.

The demands of current scientific literature leave us no time for the ponderous volumes of ancient writers, but if we had time to spare we should find in many of them both pleasure and profit, although it is quite true that their value as sources of scientific knowledge has passed away, and that later writers have helped themselves to all that is best in them, and have passed it on to us.

One of Gesner's greatest services to natural science is the introduction of good illustrations, which he gives his reader by hundreds.

Work under his severe scrutiny was a valuable training to the draughtsman and engraver of his day, and the publication of his