Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/378

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364
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the laws of mortality. He wrote a great number of papers on many-subjects in the Quarterly Review and in the Encyclopædia Botanica. As the undulatory theory of light gradually made its way, being fortified in a remarkable manner by the discoveries of Fresnel, the French physicist, there grew up an increasing recognition of the claims of Dr. Young in regard to the subject. Of his distinguished merits and their ultimate recognition, Dr. Peacock remarks:

"On the 6th of August, 1827, he was elected one of the eight foreign associates of the Academy of Sciences, at Paris, in the place of Volta. The other competitors named were the great astronomers Bessel and Olbers; Robert Brown, the botanist; Sœmmering, the anatomist; Blumenbach, the naturalist; Leopold von Buch, the geologist; Dalton, the chemist; and Plana, the mathematician. This is the greatest honor that can be conferred on a man of science.

"The propriety of the selection which was made by the Institute of France, of Wollaston, Davy, and Young, as the most eminent representatives of English science in that age, was disputed by very few of their contemporaries who were capable of forming a correct opinion.

"The lapse of a quarter of a century, since the grave—within the brief space of six months—closed upon the labors of these three eminent philosophers, has somewhat changed the order in which they were classed by their contemporaries. If Young held the lowest place in the order of precedence then, he unquestionably occupies the highest now. The most brilliant achievements of Davy, whether considered singly or collectively, are probably surpassed in importance by the discovery and demonstration of the interference of light; but while the first received the prompt and unhesitating acknowledgment of the scientific world, and at once secured for their author the honors and rewards which were due to his merits, the second, even after emerging from a long period of misrepresentation and neglect, had to make its way, step by step, as it were, and with various and fluctuating fortunes, against the opposition of adverse and long-established theories, supported by the authority of the two greatest men known to the scientific history of the past and present age."

In the summer of 1827 Dr. Young's health began to decline, and in 1829 he suffered from repeated attacks of asthma, accompanied with great oppression and weakness. He sank gradually, and expired without a struggle,May 10, 1829, aged fifty-six. His disease proved to be an ossification of the aorta, which must have been in progress for many years. Every appearance indicated an advance of age not brought on by the natural course of time, but probably by unwearied and incessant labor of the mind from the earliest days of infancy. We have barely touched upon some of the points of the life of Dr. Young, and, to those who care to pursue it further, we can recommend his admirable biography by Dr. Peacock, published by Murray, of London.