Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

the question how best to discover latent genius is an eminently practical one. 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 belong to

of 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.

names

men

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

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

a

or

classical 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.

[blocks in formation]

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 progress. 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 be. cause 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

[blocks in formation]

"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 is clever, he is daring, he is ready with hundred years ago, scheduled four his knife, he moves as swiftly as he things for which Cabul is as famous strikes; and if in the pursuit of his now as it was in the days when he calling he perchance slays a Kafir, flourished. Cabuli grapes picked from why, that too is all to the good, for the stem and packed in their round the same stroke that gives him the chip boxes are much in evidence in the Kafir's property ensures also his own upper parts of India; Cabuli horses, speedy admittance to Paradise and to curved of ear and crooked of temper, the presence of the houris who await are to be found in many places be- him there. And of this privilege you yond the bounds of Afghanistan. Of cannot deprive him, unless you hang the surpassing beauty of Cabuli him in a pigskin, or having killed him women rumor has spoken much, but burn him with fire, either of which by the nature of things rumor cannot things makes him unacceptable to the in their case be justified. They are, Prophet. we must believe, fair of skin, lissom And now we come to Hafiz Ullah, of figure; their eyes are like the stars Cabuli, who sat upon a newly-bought for brilliance and the moon for tender- Cabuli horse and ate Cabuli grapes,

Their voices resemble the mur- making his way to the house of his mur of the wind playing amid the kinsman, Chirag Ud Din, and swaggerdancing blossom of peach-trees; their ing as he did so. breath is perfumed like the jasmine; Hafiz Ullah was dressed in his best their little feet are white as the snow; finery; upon his shaven head was a their fingers recall the rosebuds that turban of Kohat, the body of it black, blow in Gulistan—The Land of Roses. the ends of it a glorious flare of safTheir love, ah! that is like a draught fron with perpendicular stripes of of snow-water to one who wanders in green, red and blue. His shirt was the desert. So it really seems that very clean and white, with silver studs Cabuli women are exquisite creatures, at the throat, each linked to the next though of course it is not for the with a slender silver chain; his waisteyes of a Kafir to dwell upon such coat was of apple-green, his baggy perfection.

trousers white, and upon his feet were If the Cabuli woman is a perfect shoes of scarlet leather, with leather type of her kind (and though Kafirs, tags at the toes that curved stiffly let us politely grant her to be so), we backwards towards his insteps, showknow of our own knowledge and expe- ing brown and sinewy in the interval rience that the Cabuli thief is an 'twixt trouser and shoe. equally perfect type of his kind. He Certainly Hafiz Ullah was something

ness.

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.

on

as

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

him 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

"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? to custom and to propriety. And then Jest not, Chirag Ud Din, but tell me that uncovered face, which he ought the price, and tell me quickly."

not to have seen, had so charmed him, "It is no jest,” was the answer; had so bewitched him, that,-oh alack “bring me two rifles and one hundred for the strength of Cabuli men, for the cartridges from Hindustan, and I will hearts of ex-troopers of the King-Emgive thee the girl. Otherwise she will peror! he had actually fallen in love go to Sher Khan."

with it. Five minutes at gaze, and Hafiz Ullah reflected for some min- that beau sabreur Hafiz Ullah Khan utes in silence; the procuring of rifles had fallen a victim to his quarry, infrom India is not a thing that can be stead of the quarry falling a victim to arranged for off-hand. He sat, then, him. He was actually in love; he, without speaking till he had thrashed swaggering, swashbuckling Hafiz Ul. out a rough plan.

lah! Very much in love too, so that “How much time wilt thou give the blood mounted to his temples at me?" he asked at length. “This is not the bare thought of her, and then casa thing to be done in a day or a caded back to his heart, and from week, or even in a month. If I bring there danced and tingled through every thee the rifles in six months, wilt then vein of his body. give me the girl?"

And to crown this folly he had en"That will I," answered Chirag Ud gaged to procure two rifles and some Din; "if thou givest me two rifles and ammunition and to hand them over to fifty cartridges, all European, within that old fox Chirag Ud Din. That six months from this day, the girl shall meant a long, weary journey back to be thine."

India, for the state of the market in "Swear it upon the Prophet's beard, stolen rifles most certainly did not Chirag Ud Din," said Hafiz Ullah. permit of his buying them; why, they

"I swear," said the lady's father, would cost him more than 2000 rupees and bowing his head with due rever- Cabuli. So back to India he must ence he took the oath.

go, and that would be the least part Now when Hafiz Ullah had gone of the business. &-wooing to the house of Chirag Ud Men cannot go to a shop in India Din he had done so after the manner and say—“Please give me two Lee-Enof Orientals; he had never seen the field rifles, and one hundred rounds. girl he wanted to marry, nor had he Here is my cheque." No, that cannot expected to do so before he was ac- be done. If a native wants a Governtually wedded to her; therefore he was ment rifle he must steal it, and stealnot in love with her. He had not ing rifles is a difficult job. First you thought of love as forming a factor in must mark down the regiment whom the business; he knew all he wanted to you propose to victimize; then you know of the girl, for his mother had must study it and its habits, the habits seen her and was able to assure him of its quarterguard, the vigilance of its that she was suitable and sound in sentries. You must find out whether mind and limb. All he had to do was' natives prowling round the magazines to arrange the bargain with the girl's on dark nights are fired upon on sight father.

or whether the sentry has the courtesy But, of course, it was the unex. to challenge before he pulls the trigpected that occurred. First he had ger. When you have done all that, seen Lala Gul with her face uncovered, you have got to get hold of the rifles; which was, of course, strictly contrary if you are detected in the act and are

« AnkstesnisTęsti »