Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/767

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

noted them down carefully. Others, persuaded, with Rousseau, that we are born good and pure, and that it is society that perverts us, went into ecstasies "before the miraculous innocence of this paradisiacal youth, the image of Adam before the fall." A homœopathic physician, Dr. Preu, discovered that infinitesimal dilutions had prodigious effects on this primitive being. He only had to open his medicine-case or uncork one of his vials to make the compliant Caspar fall into a swoon; and Hahnemann, hearing of the phenomenon, declared that the child of Europe was the living demonstration of Homœopathy and the confusion of its enemies. The same Dr. Preu, laying it down as an axiom that "in a man who had passed his youth in a cellar the telluric principle ought to prevail over the solar principle," employed days and weeks in studying the action of metals and minerals on the nervous system of Caspar. He declared that jasper chilled his arm to the elbow, and chalcedony to the shoulder. Caspar lent himself obligingly to these varied experiments. He was told: "You should feel this; you should feel that." His answer would be, "I feel it." And Dr. Preu carefully registered his observations and analyses, as documents worthy of passing down to the most distant posterity. If the impostor had been unmasked, homoeopathists, moralists, philosophers, theologians, and jurists would have been covered with ineffaceable ridicule. When they kept guard over the legend, it was to protect their self-respect against scoffers.

Herr von der Linde has more than proved that Caspar Hauser was not a grand-duke. It appears further from his book that of all the adventurers who have at any time imposed themselves on the attention of the world and forced it to hear their name; of all fraudulent heroes; of all intruders upon fame, Caspar was the least interesting and the nakedest of prestige and charm and grace. The greatest mark of wisdom that he gave was to die at twenty years of age.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.





THERE was never a time when the heavens were studied by so many amateur astronomers as at present. In every civilized country many excellent telescopes are owned and used, often to very good purpose, by persons who are not practical astronomers, but who wish to see for themselves the marvels of the sky, and who occasionally stumble upon something that is new even to professional star-gazers. Yet, notwithstanding this activity in the cultivation of astronomical studies, it is probably safe to assert that hardly one person in a hun-