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the question how best to discover latent genius is an eminently practical After cogitation, Prof. Ostwald came to the conclusion that it is those students who cannot be kept on the rails-that is, who are not contented with methodical teaching-who have within them the seeds of genius; and the writer's experience would lead him to the same conclusion.
But in order to lay a basis for such a deduction, vague, to some extent, because derived only from personal impressions, a careful comparison has been made of the lives of six men, all of whom had a great influence on the thought of their time. These are:Davy and Faraday; Julius Robert Mayer, who shares with Joule the honor of having shown the equivalence of heat and work; Liebig; Gerhardt, who, in his day, contributed to the revolution in chemical thought; and Helmholtz.
These names belong to men science, exclusively; the reason for the choice is perhaps to be found in words penned by Liebig:
The history of the nations teaches us of the futile efforts of powers, political and ecclesiastical, to maintain spiritual and bodily slavery over man.kind; future history will deal with the conquest of liberty, gained by the investigation of the reason of things, and of truth; a conquest gained by weapons unstained with blood, and on a field in which religion and morals take part only as feeble allies.
This, it may be remarked, is prophecy, and, as such, is at present beyond criticism; it may, however, be pointed out that to some of us, at least, the prospects held out by the remarkable conquests over what used to be called "the forces of nature" do not at present point to a speedy millennium. However, the retort is open that it is not the spread of the teachings of science, but a disregard for such teach
ings, which is the reason that our moral progress does not keep pace with our material progress,
Be that as it may, Prof. Ostwald has given, in his masterly style, delightful sketches of the lives of these undoubtedly distinguished men. The biographies differ somewhat from the usual "lives," inasmuch as the failings, as well as the virtues, of the subjects have been touched on. No character is perfect, and, without ample knowledge, it is impossible to attempt to draw just conclusions.
One notable characteristic of men of genius is that it is rare for them to have come from either a high or a low grade of society. Exceptions are confined practically to England and France, as witness Boyle, Cavendish, and Lavoisier; Faraday might perhaps be instanced as an example-almost the sole example-of the second class.
Another characteristic is the very early age at which such men develop. Goethe was twenty-four years old when he electrified the German nation by his "Sorrows of Werther"; Schiller was twenty-two when he published "The Robbers"; Newton had invented the calculus, discovered the law of gravitation, and had completed his analysis of light before his twenty-fifth year; Linnæus had evolved his sexual system of plants at the age of twentyfour; and the list might be extended indefinitely, to Carnot, Clausius, Scheele, Berzelius, Vesalius, the reformer of the science of anatomy, the physiologists Ludwig, Helmholtz, and Du Bois Reymond, to, last, though not least, Kelvin. Youths who make their mark at a later age, as already remarked, show a distaste for the formal instruction which is still given in the public schools of Germany and England. In this connection it is interesting to note the saying of a writer on English public schools, himself once a distinguished headmaster, that, while
classical or mathematical master does not fall off, indeed improves, with age, inasmuch as he perfects himself in methods of teaching practically unprogressive branches of learning, the science masters cannot but deteriorate, unless they keep abreast with the progress of science by increasing its bounds by their own efforts. Prof. Ostwald takes a strong view of the inutility of the training to be acquired from a linguistic, especially a classical, education, and believes that the usual duration of school life is far too great. In this the writer heartily concurs.
Had Kelvin or Leibnitz been so unfortunate as to have come into the world in our days, and in Germany, their early development would have been of no avail; they would have sat on the school benches till their eighteenth year-an age at which they had gained a prominent position in science.
The temperaments of the men whose lives are chronicled may be divided under two heads, "Klassiker," or "phlegmatic," to quote an old classifi cation, and "Romantiker," or "sanguine." To the former class belonged Faraday, Mayer, and Helmholtz; to the latter Davy, Liebig, and Gerhardt. These temperaments correspond to the rate of reaction to external stimulus. The romantic type is eager, alert, impatient, and impulsive; the classic type painstaking, conscientious to a fault, self-criticising, and accurate. It is remarked on as curious that most men who have achieved greatness belong to one or other of these classes; it would appear that average minds, who occupy a mean position, being neither very impulsive nor very critical, have not the qualities which raise them above their fellows.
The "yield" of such minds, to use an expression borrowed from chemical manufacture, depends, according to Ostwald, on their "economic coeffi
cient." To transform one kind of energy into another implies the "degradation" of a portion; this is the second law of thermodynamics. Born into the world with the usual amount of energy, i.e. capacity for work, some minds are so constituted as to transform a large portion of it so that it is of service to humanity, while a comparatively small portion is, as it were, wasted. The sum of the action of such minds constitutes human prog
It is necessary that the progress of the individual genius should be hindered as little as possible by artificial and unnecessary obstacles, and it would appear that in some countries the path is made easier than in others. Taking the membership of national academies as a test, if only a rough one, of scientific eminence, the proportion of distinguished men to the inhabitants, reckoned in millions, is in Saxony 0.2, in Baden and Norway 0.25, in Switzerland 0.33, in Holland and Bavaria 0.41, in England and Prussia 0.49, in France 0.79, in Italy 2.17, in Austria 2.7, in the United States 3.08, and in Russia 16.3; that is, for example, there is in Russia only one member of international academies to 16.3 million inhabitants. It can hardly be doubted that this low number is due to the hindrances which stand in the way of progress of youths who might, in Russia, display genius, and enrich the world by their efforts.
It is impossible to review such a book as this satisfactorily in a short article. It teems with interest, not only on account of the intrinsic attractiveness of the subject, but also because of the masterly grasp of it displayed by the author. Whatever Prof. Ostwald writes is sure to interest, owing to the originality of his mind and his lucid and attractive method of presentment. On every page there occurs some saying which excites attention, even although the reader may some
"Cabuli grapes are sweet, Cabuli horses are swift, Cabuli women are fair, but a Cabuli thief is a son of Satan.”—Sayings of Yakub the Wise.
Yakub the Wise, who died at least a hundred years ago, scheduled four things for which Cabul is as famous now as it was in the days when he flourished. Cabuli grapes picked from the stem and packed in their round chip boxes are much in evidence in the upper parts of India; Cabuli horses, curved of ear and crooked of temper, are to be found in many places beyond the bounds of Afghanistan. Of the surpassing beauty of Cabuli women rumor has spoken much, but by the nature of things rumor cannot in their case be justified. They are, we must believe, fair of skin, lissom of figure; their eyes are like the stars for brilliance and the moon for tenderness. Their voices resemble the murmur of the wind playing amid the dancing blossom of peach-trees; their breath is perfumed like the jasmine; their little feet are white as the snow; their fingers recall the rosebuds that blow in Gulistan-The Land of Roses. Their love, ah! that is like a draught of snow-water to one who wanders in the desert. So it really seems that Cabuli women are exquisite creatures, though of course it is not for the eyes of a Kafir to dwell upon such perfection.
If the Cabuli woman is a perfect type of her kind (and though Kafirs, let us politely grant her to be so), we know of our own knowledge and experience that the Cabuli thief is equally perfect type of his kind.
is clever, he is daring, he is ready with his knife, he moves as swiftly as he strikes; and if in the pursuit of his calling he perchance slays a Kafir, why, that too is all to the good, for the same stroke that gives him the Kafir's property ensures also his own speedy admittance to Paradise and to the presence of the houris who await him there. And of this privilege you cannot deprive him, unless you hang him in a pigskin, or having killed him burn him with fire, either of which things makes him unacceptable to the Prophet.
And now we come to Hafiz Ullah, Cabuli, who sat upon a newly-bought Cabuli horse and ate Cabuli grapes, making his way to the house of his kinsman, Chirag Ud Din, and swaggering as he did so.
Hafiz Ullah was dressed in his best finery; upon his shaven head was a turban of Kohat, the body of it black, the ends of it a glorious flare of saffron with perpendicular stripes of green, red and blue. His shirt was very clean and white, with silver studs at the throat, each linked to the next with a slender silver chain; his waistcoat was of apple-green, his baggy trousers white, and upon his feet were shoes of scarlet leather, with leather tags at the toes that curved stiffly backwards towards his insteps, showing brown and sinewy in the interval 'twixt trouser and shoe.
Certainly Hafiz Ullah was something
of a dandy; also he was light of heart. and as he rode he hummed a stave or two of some bazaar ditty that he had picked up in India. He was in a gay mood, for after serving for ten years in a regiment of native cavalry in India he had now left the service, and he rejoiced to find himself at home for good; he had wearied of guards and duties, of musketry upon the range, of grooming horses, of politeness to policemen, and of the thousand and one irksome little things that were forced on him as a temporarily civilized man. He had wished for freedom and for home, and now he had regained both. There was money in his pockets, the Kafirs had taught him how to sight a rifle, which of course the said money would enable him to buy; he had a horse, and there were several peach-trees and a well of cool water at his house. What else was wanted? Why, of course an heir; therefore he must go courting.
So it was that we find Hafiz Ullah riding to the house of Chirag Ud Din; for his kinsman had a daughter, who might belike suit him.
Now Lala Gul, Tulip Rose as we should say, was a bewitching maiden of sixteen years; and it came to pass that she was drawing water at the well when Hafiz Ullah approached the house of her father, so that the rattle of the bucket as it splashed into the cool depths, and the draw of the rope upon the roller as she pulled it up, prevented her from hearing his approach. So lucky Hafiz Ullah had a chance of seeing her; he at once drew rein and sat quite still, and looked at her as she strained at the rope. He watched her eagerly as she poised the vessel on her head and went back into the house, and he waited awhile in case she should return to draw more water. Surely it must have been his fortunate day, for she came back, and again unseen he watched her, noting the curve
of her cheek, the slender roundness of her neck, the strength of her firm little arms; and when she had raised the bucket to the lip of the well she let it rest, and raising herself waited a moment before she picked it up and withdrew.
Hafiz Ullah tried to whistle, as he had seen his British officers do when surprised. Hafiz Ullah had been smitten with love. So he rode hastily to his kinsman's door.
"Have I not told thee," said Chirag Ud Din, "that I have betrothed the girl? Why then dost thou persist? Have done, and seek thy wife elsewhere."
For the third time Hafiz Ullah repeated his arguments.
"See then, Chirag Ud Din; am I not better than Sher Khan? Am I not a fine man? Have I not money, rupees · of Hindustan, not Cabuli rupees? Am I not a kinsman? Moreover, I love this girl; give her then to me, and thou shalt not lose thereby."
Chirag Ud Din wavered a little, and his greedly old eyes twinkled.
"How shall I not lose if, having promised the girl to Sher Khan, I give her to thee? Sher Khan will be my enemy, and I am but an old man."
"I will make it worth thy while," urged the lover; "name a price, old man. And as for Sher Khan, what.is he that he can harm the father-in-law of Hafiz Ullah?"
Hafiz Ullah spat to show his contempt for his rival.
"Listen then," said Chirag Ud Din: "the price I wish is a great one, but it is not in money nor in cattle."
He paused, and then continued, sinking his voice to a whisper.
"Rifles are what I want, and cartridges."
Hafiz Ullah was annoyed.
"Dost thou think, then, that I have brought rifles with me from Hindu
stan? Are rifles so easy to come by? Jest not, Chirag Ud Din, but tell me the price, and tell me quickly."
"It is no jest," was the answer; "bring me two rifles and one hundred cartridges from Hindustan, and I will give thee the girl. Otherwise she will go to Sher Khan."
Hafiz Ullah reflected for some minutes in silence; the procuring of rifles from India is not a thing that can be arranged for off-hand. He sat, then, without speaking till he had thrashed out a rough plan.
"How much time wilt thou give me?" he asked at length. "This is not a thing to be done in a day or a week, or even in a month. If I bring thee the rifles in six months, wilt then give me the girl?"
"That will I," answered Chirag Ud Din; "if thou givest me two rifles and fifty cartridges, all European, within six months from this day, the girl shall be thine."
"Swear it upon the Prophet's beard, Chirag Ud Din," said Hafiz Ullah.
"I swear," said the lady's father, and bowing his head with due reverence he took the oath.
Now when Hafiz Ullah had gone
But, of course, it was the unex.
to custom and to propriety. And then
And to crown this folly he had engaged to procure two rifles and some ammunition and to hand them over to that old fox Chirag Ud Din. meant a long, weary journey back to India, for the state of the market in stolen rifles most certainly did not permit of his buying them; why, they would cost him more than 2000 rupees Cabuli. So back to India he must go, and that would be the least part of the business.
Men cannot go to a shop in India and say "Please give me two Lee-Enfield rifles, and one hundred rounds. Here is my cheque." No, that cannot be done. If a native wants a Government rifle he must steal it, and stealing rifles is a difficult job. First you must mark down the regiment whom you propose to victimize; then you must study it and its habits, the habits of its quarterguard, the vigilance of its sentries. You must find out whether natives prowling round the magazines on dark nights are fired upon on sight or whether the sentry has the courtesy to challenge before he pulls the trigger. When you have done all that, you have got to get hold of the rifles; if you are detected in the act and are