Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/422

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406
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
SKETCH OF FRANCIS LIEBER.

By Dr. LEWIS R. HARLEY.

FRANCIS LIEBER fled to our shores a political exile, but he afterward became one of the greatest publicists of the world, and shed glory on American scholarship by expounding the principles of liberty. He accomplished in two of our colleges the work on which his fame will rest. Although he attained his scientific maturity in America, he was born in Berlin, and received his scientific training in the schools of his native land and in his intercourse with some of her most noted scholars. Lieber was born March 10, 1800, and his youth was passed during a time of intense political strife. He was the tenth child of Frederick William Lieber, an ironmonger, whose family consisted of nine sons and three daughters. From his earliest years his mind was impressed with the memories of warfare, and his father delighted to explain to him the engravings on the walls of the sitting room representing some honorable actions of his great king. His mother was one of those noble, patriotic German women who threw their gold wedding rings into the public treasury, and received rings of iron in their places, bearing the imperial signet and the words "We gave gold for iron." Lieber was but six years of age when the Prussian army was annihilated at Jena, and the country lay prostrate at the feet of Napoleon.

Lieber's first desire was to become a botanist. To this end he entered the Botanic Garden near Berlin, but he remained there only a short time on account of the ill treatment that he received from the director of the garden. The guiding principle of his school life came from Dr. Jahn, who settled in Berlin in 1809 to establish a place for physical exercise. Lieber became one of his pupils as early as 1811. Dr. Jahn realized the fact that Germany needed to be brought into a proper state of enthusiasm before it would be able to resist the French, and while he trained the young men for the battlefield he took every opportunity to appeal to their national spirit. He urged the necessity of German unity, and his hatred of France was so intense that he expurgated from the language of his school all words of French origin. Hence, he chose the word "turnen" as the German name for his gymnastic exercises. This system of education was the flowering of the seed that had been dropped by the French philosopher in "Émile," a book which brought forward a new problem in the education of the young in the eighteenth century. "Émile," was everywhere read, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm. The teachers sought to aid the movement in various ways, but Dr. Jahn made the best statement of the advantages of physical training, and