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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/860

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ities of intellect, scientific cast of imagination, and a will that never faltered in the earnest pursuit of truth for its own sake. In every age these are the true characteristics of a man of science.

 

SKETCH OF MICHEL CHASLES.

“IN the death of Michel Chasles,” said M. J. Bertrand, in his funeral eulogy of the deceased mathematician, "France has lost one of its glories, and the members of the Academy of Sciences have lost an excellent friend, who, devoted without reserve to the beautiful studies which made his fame, showed an equal and active kindness to all who traveled in different directions along the highways of science." "As far back as the present generation can remember," says Mr. R. Tucker, in "Nature," "Chasles has been a prince of geometers, and it has come upon many of us as a surprise to hear that he was still walking and working in our midst. . . . To many," says the same writer, "the man who had surpassed in age Leibnitz by seventeen, Euler by eleven, Lagrange by ten, Laplace and Gauss by nine, and Newton by two years, was a ‘venerabile nomen,’ but yet a ‘nomen’ only."

M. Chasles was born at Epernon, France, November 15, 1793, and died December 18, 1880. His mathematical tastes were exhibited at a very early age; while a pupil in elementary mathematics in the Imperial Lyceum, he was accustomed to communicate to the students in the rival colleges the problems and exercises of each week, asking them, in return, to furnish him the questions proposed by their masters. He entered the École Polytechnique in 1812, and passed out from it with a diploma in engineering in 1814, after having taken his place in the defense of Paris. He was about to go to Chartres to bid farewell to his mother before proceeding to duty at Metz, when he was waited upon by the father of one of his comrades, who asked him to resign in favor of his son, who had failed to obtain a position, pleading that he had made great sacrifices, which he could not afford to repeat, to prepare the youth for a career suited to his taste. Young Chasles made no reply, but went on to Chartres and told his mother he would stay with her. He returned to the École Polytechnique in 1815, but voluntarily renounced public employment, and went to Chartres to spend ten years working quietly at mathematical occupations. "Always," says M. Bertrand, "passionately fond of geometry, he worked out elaborate problems, discovered elegant theorems every day, invented general and fruitful methods, without attracting the attention of the masters of science, or pretending to do so. . . . Without grieving or com-