Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/276

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scientific technics, and regularly made himself acquainted with new instruments and methods. He had qualities of heart corresponding with the superiority of his mind. His pupils recollect the quiet good-will and fatherly kindness which he showed toward them, and returned them with grateful demonstrations.

Although he was actively engaged in scientific pursuits during the whole of his long career, he never mingled in the discussions of the learned world after he went to Belgium. During the five years of his residence in Berlin, his discoveries followed upon one another like the explosions of a piece of fire-works; and all the great discoveries that made his name illustrious and opened new horizons to scientific thought date from that time. After removing to Belgium, he published only one work, his researches on the uses of the bile. He became almost forgotten outside of Belgium, and many, not hearing his name mentioned any more, thought he was dead. This may be charged to his aversion to personal controversy. While the cell theory, as a whole, was established, some of the details gave rise to disputes in which he did not care to engage. Believing that he had reached an ultimate principle which time would only establish more strongly, he was willing to let details take care of themselves. But he never lost his interest in the scientific movement; and, at the time of his death, he was engaged in studying the influence of electrical discharges on the development of the lower beings in organic infusions.

In Schwann's theory all the phenomena of life were explained by the properties of atoms. The cell was an aggregation of atoms obeying the laws of nature as if it were a crystal. Plants and animals were aggregations of cells, likewise machines destitute of spontaneity. But man differed from animals by possessing an immaterial element that lifted him above them and gave him freedom. It was in this way that he escaped materialism, and kept himself in line with the Church, to which he submitted his studies, having even sought and obtained ecclesiastical approval for the cell theory before he would publish it. For many years he was collecting materials for a great philosophical work in which the cell theory should take the proportions of a general theory of organisms. Beginning with the definition of the atom, his Theoria, as he called it, was to include all the manifestations of life. Psychological phenomena and the dogmas of the Catholic religion were to have definite places in it. Death prevented his beginning the final preparation of it; and his heirs could only find in his desk a manuscript of seventy-two sheets entitled Man considered from the Physiological Point of View, as he is, and as he is to he.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.