Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/81

This page has been validated.
71
THE MARTYRDOM OF SCIENCE.

And of Cassius—

"Would he were fatter!

If my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid

As soon as that spare Cassius."

Macbeth was not fat, nor Richard III., nor Henry V., nor Harry Hotspur. They did the things which they planned to do. They did not have to stop to "breathe" themselves like the Prince of Denmark. Who can possibly conceive of a fat Coriolanus? The fat man may be greedy and avaricious like Cardinal Wolsey, or witty and sensual like old Jack, or brooding and melancholy like Hamlet; but he who can vault into his saddle "like feathered Mercury" will ever win the day by action.

Hamlet's uncle-father might confidently have left the unhappy philosopher to his questionings and musings; had he not set his own trap he might have finished his reign in safety, if not in peace, for the Hamlet of Shakespeare, unlike the real Hamlet of Saxo Grammaticus, would no more have set the palace on fire than he would have produced a conflagration of the Skager Rack—for he was "fat and scant of breath," impeded at every step by a superfluity of adipose.

 

THE MARTYRDOM OF SCIENCE.
By J. W. SLATER.

THE history of human progress presents no feature more interesting yet more commonly overlooked and misrepresented than the treatment of discoverers and inventors. That these men have, as a rule, fared ill at the hands of their species is carelessly or grudgingly admitted. But the questions by whom have they been persecuted, and what may have been the motive of their enemies, are avoided even in works where we might expect them to be carefully discussed and fully answered. Such omission may be especially charged against Sir D. Brewster. His treatise is merely a biography of certain astronomers who have been, for anything the reader learns to the contrary, incidentally and casually afflicted by their contemporaries, and it omits the most striking instances of persecution. Nay, the very term "martyrs of science" is applied quite vaguely, and is made, e. g., in the work of M. Tissandier, to include three distinct classes of men. We have on the one hand personages whose love for research has cost them health and even life itself. We find physicists like Richmann, chemists like Gehlen, Mansfield, Chapman, who have been struck dead while engaged in some hazardous experiment. We read of naturalists like Marcgrave and the elder Wallace, geographers, navigators, and trav-