Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/9

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


 

THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY



JULY, 1911



PASTEUR: A STUDY IN GREATNESS
By Professor FERNANDO WOOD MARTIN
RANDOLPH MACON WOMAN'S COLLEGE

GREATNESS is a matter of judgment. The degree of worth accorded anything whatsoever is determined solely by the intellectual and moral content of the individual, or the age, that plays the rôle of judge. We speak of great architects, musicians, orators, painters, poets, sculptors, soldiers, statesmen; and cite as examples such men as Wrenn, Beethoven, Demosthenes, Raphael, Homer, Angelo, Cæsar, Bismarck. These men, I say, were great. Why do I say so? Well, the world has pronounced them great. But you ask me, "Have you no grounds for formulating an opinion of your own?" Oh, yes, I have beard rendered the music of many composers; seen the masterpieces of many artists, and so on. And the achievements of none appear to me to surpass those of the men whose names I have mentioned. Perhaps you would name another in each line whom you hold to be more illustrious. You ask me then—"Is there no objective absolute standard by which the achievements of men may be definitely measured?" I answer "None."

You stand before Michel Angelo's "Moses" in the church of St. Peter in vinculo at Rome. "This" (you say) "is the finest statue in the world!" Please enlighten me as to the manner by which you have reached your decision. I grant at once that the judgment of the critics coincides with yours; but, of course, you are uninfluenced by that fact. "Is it" (I ask you) "because the statue is a true representation of a real person and event?" You answer—"No, oh no! But it seems to me that a man who dared the wrath of the most powerful potentate in the world; who wrestled with desert, and famine, and pestilence to shape the beginnings of a nation; who talked face to face with God—would have looked like that!" Ah, now you have found the standard of greatness; and you perceive that it is an ideal thing.