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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/853

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835
SKETCH OF L. D. VON SCHWEINITZ.

his family with him. Lewis was removed from the Nazareth seminary and after the family reached Germany was entered as a student in the theological institution at Niesky, in what was then known as the province of Lusatia, in Silesia. Here he made the acquaintance of Prof. J. B. de Albertini, who became his fast friend and his fellow-worker in botanical investigations. After completing his course as a student he became a teacher in the academy. His leisure at Niesky was occupied in the pursuit of his favorite science, in general reading and study, and in writing for the literary journals of the time. In his Memoir of von Schweinitz, read before the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Walter R. Johnson says of his literary activity at this time: "Scarcely any important topic in the wide field of science escaped his notice, and especially did the constitution and management of the affairs of his social and religious fraternity call forth from his pen many able and spirited articles."

The first published botanical work of von Schweinitz appeared in 1805, when he was twenty-five years of age. From the beginning of his residence at Niesky he had given especial attention to the fungi, previously little studied. The association with Albertini had continued and the discoveries of the two friends in this field had been so many as to warrant the publication of a volume of about four hundred pages on the fungi of Lusatia embodying the results of their united efforts. It was written in Latin, as was still the custom for scientific works in Europe, and the twelve plates, containing figures of ninety-three new species, with which it was illustrated, were drawn and engraved by von Schweinitz's own hands. In this work the authors creditably refrained from the then too common practice of giving new names to the already known plants included in their descriptions. They were convinced that natural history had been grievously burdened by the accumulation and confusion of synonyms, many of which promoted no other purpose than an unworthy ambition.

Soon after this Mr. von Schweinitz began to preach, and in 1807 was called to the Moravian settlement at Gnadenberg, not far from Niesky. "Considered as literary performances," says Johnson, in the memoir already cited, "his sermons were characterized by the utmost simplicity, both in style and delivery, and were addressed more to the heart than to the head. His discourses were invariably practical, not argumentative—experimental, not speculative." It was now the time of Napoleon's continental wars, and troops were quartered at Gnadenberg. The inhabitants found the presence of the soldiery irksome, but the happy disposition and winning deportment of the young pastor had much influence in preventing collisions. The next year he was invited to Gnadau, in Saxony, where he remained four