Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/417

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
401
SKETCH OF AUGUST KEKULE.

is very common to see farmers put guano on a soil begging for potash, and then heap execration on the head of the dealer who sold the guano when the crop failed. To revert to a simile used above, a captain must not blame the salt pork for scurvy.

The other way to buy and use fertilizers is to ascertain what a certain crop needs; then find out whether these be in the soil, and to what extent. With these data the deficiency may be made good without the wasteful cost of the former method. State and Federal Departments of Agriculture furnish their aid freely and gladly, and already the signs are seen of the day when agriculture will take its place among the semi-exact sciences, and the present haphazard methods will become obsolete.

 

SKETCH OF AUGUST KEKULÉ.

"THIS news," said Herr H. Landrelt, president, announcing Kekulé's death in the German Chemical Society at Berlin, "will be received with sorrow not only by our society but by the whole chemical world. Science has again lost one of its greatest representatives, one of those extremely rare spirits who were called upon to found a new epoch in it and push it mightily forward."

Friedeich August Kekulé was born at Darmstadt, September 7, 1829, and died, after a long illness, at Bonn, July 13, 1896. He was originally destined by his father for the profession of an architect; and some houses, he told his students in a festival address, still existed (in 1892) in Darmstadt of which he drew the plans when, a youth, he was attending the gymnasium. The leading events of his life were very tersely told by himself in an address responding to an ovation from the students of the University of Bonn on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his professorship there; a translation of which, from the Kölnische Zeitung, was published by Mr. J. E. Martin in Nature, June 30, 1892.

At Giessen, he said, where he went to study architecture, he attended Liebig's lectures, and was thereby attracted to chemistry. But his relatives would not at first hear of his changing his profession, and he was given a half-year's grace to think over it. He spent his time in the Polytechnicum at Darmstadt. His first teacher in chemistry at Darmstadt was Moldenhauer, the inventor of lucifer matches. His leisure time was spent in modeling in plaster and at the lathe. He was then permitted to return to Giessen. "I attended," he said, "the lectures, first of Will and then of Liebig. Liebig was at work on a new edition of his letters on Chemistry, for which many ex-