Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/242

This page has been validated.



The function of liberty in politics deeply interests us. Its power to promote healthful change is obvious. It is really liberty, with its discussion, its free thinking, and free speaking, that makes good politics. Cæsarism is a thief, robbing free times of their ideas and social results. It can live just as long as the loot holds out; but, when the stock on hand is exhausted, free men must be set to producing a new crop.—The Northwestern Review.


JUSTUS VON LIEBIG, the famous German chemist, who died at Munich, April 18th, was born at Darmstadt, May 12, 1803. Having graduated from the gymnasium of his native place at the age of sixteen, his taste for the study of natural science led him first to accept a situation in an apothecary's shop, where he expected to have abundant opportunity for experiment and research.

After six months' service in the apothecary's shop, Liebig set out for the University of Bonn, where he studied for a while, and then went to Erlangen. At the latter university he attracted notice by the zeal with which he devoted himself to the study of chemistry, and he received from the Grand-duke of Hesse a "travelling stipend," which enabled him to spend two years (1822-'24) in Paris. There he had the advantage of association with Alexander von Humboldt, Gay-Lussac, and other eminent scientists. During his stay in Paris he read before the Academy of Sciences a paper on "Fulminic Acid" which at once stamped him as an able chemist. He was then only twenty-one years of age. In 1824 he was, through the influence of Humboldt, appointed Adjunct Professor of Chemistry in the University of Giessen, and two years later he succeeded to the full dignity of professor. The laboratory which he established at Giessen was the best-appointed school of chemistry in Germany, and thither flocked students from all parts of Europe, but especially from England, and also from this country. Leipsic and Gottingen set up chemical laboratories on Liebig's model, and the Giessen school became a kind of scientific focus, a centre of discovery, whose influence was felt everywhere.

Prof. Liebig visited England in 1838, attending a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He there brought forward the discovery made by his associate, Wohler, of a process for obtaining urea artificially. This announcement of the first successful step toward the synthesis of compounds in the laboratory, which had been supposed producible only under the influence of the mysterious forces of life, was received by the Association with profound interest. At the urgent request of the Association he wrote