Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/675

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JUSTUS VON LIEBIG.

JUSTUS VON LIEBIG:
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.[1]

MY father, who had a color warehouse, frequently occupied himself in making some of the colors in which he dealt, and for that purpose had fitted up for himself a small laboratory to which I had access, and where I sometimes enjoyed the privilege of helping him. He made his experiments as prescribed in works upon chemistry, which were, with great liberality, lent to the inhabitants of Darmstadt from the rich Court Library.

The lively interest which I took in my father's labors naturally led me to read the books which guided him in his experiments, and such a passion for these books was gradually developed in me that I became indifferent to every other thing that ordinarily attracts children. Since I did not fail to fetch the books from the Court Library myself, I became acquainted with the librarian Hess, who occupied himself successfully with botany, and as he took a fancy to the little fellow, I got, through him, all the books I could desire for my own use. Of course, the reading of books went on without any system. I read the books just as they stood upon the shelves, whether from below upward or from right to left was all the same to me; my fourteen-year-old head was like an ostrich stomach for their contents, and among them I found side by side upon the shelves the thirty-two volumes of Macquer's


  1. Read at a joint meeting of societies in the Chemical Laboratories, University College, Liverpool, on Wednesday evening, March 18, 1891, by Prof. J. Campbell Brown, D. Sc.

    [At the recent celebration of the Jubilee of the Chemical Society, reference was made to the wonderful energy and ability of Liebig, to the great work which he did in founding organic chemistry, and to the immense stimulus which he gave, alike in his own country and in England, to scientific investigation in pure chemistry and in its applications to agriculture, physiology, and pathology.

    Very opportunely a portion of an autobiographical sketch in Liebig's own handwriting has just come to light, in which he gives a most Interesting account of the formation of his habits of thought, and of the development of his scientific activity. He also gives an amusing description of the lectures given in his student days by professors of the deductive method.

    In his sixtieth year, we are told, Liebig wrote some biographical sketches which were laid aside and could not be found when he wished to resume them. They were never finished. A portion of the manuscript was found among some other papers in Liebig's handwriting by his son Dr. Georg Baron von Liebig, and has been published by the latter in the Deutsche Rundschau for January, 1891. Mr. E. K. Muspratt has been good enough to lend me a copy which he received from his friend the present baron.

    I have endeavored to render it into English as literally as the difference in the idiom and modes of expression in the two languages will permit; and it is now made public in England by the kind permission of the Deutsche Rundschau.

    His method of teaching and its remarkable success are worthy of attention at the present time, when technical education is occupying so much of the public mind.]