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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/424

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

thought and diction rendered his papers profoundly suggestive to other workers."

"The last years of the master's life," his German eulogist says, "were often troubled by illness, but there were not wanting bright days which the love of his students and colleagues prepared for him." Such a one was the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his professorship at Bonn, June 1, 1892, in which the students and officers participated with cordial unanimity. The ceremony began in the morning with an enthusiastic ovation by the students. The chemical theater was decorated with plants; the benzene hexagon was figured on the blackboard with garlands of flowers, in the midst of which the letters A. K. were wrought in a monogram of roses. Alfred Helle, one of the chemical students, delivered a felicitous address, in which he congratulated his fellow-students on being privileged to sit at the feet of the greatest of living chemists, after which three cheers were given to the professor. Kekulé responded to the offering in an address giving some of the details of his life, from which we have already quoted. Kekulé's personal staff and the officers of the university then presented their congratulations.

In the evening the students honored him with a torchlight procession, it being the third time he had received this, the most conspicuous honor which is bestowed by German students. The first occasion was in 1875, when he declined the professorship at Munich; the second was in 1878, when he was rector of the university, and was given in celebration of the restoration of unity among the students, after a long period of disunion. Among the torchbearers on that occasion was the present Emperor of Germany.

During the later period of his life Kekulé was comparatively sterile. Those who knew him, however, Professor Thorpe says, "would be the first to affirm that this seeming apathy sprang from no natural indifference. There is no doubt that he suffered, even in the early period of middle life, from the intense stress and strain of his mental labors prior to the Ghent period. He too surely exemplified the sad truth of Liebig's saying that he who would become a great chemist must pay for his pre-eminence by the sacrifice of his health. There is reason to know that it was the consciousness of failing power which prevented him from finishing much to which he had put his hand, and that his fastidiousness and his sense of 'finish,' amounting almost to hypercriticism, restrained him from publishing much which he realized fell short of his ideal."

The last time Kekulé's name was brought before the public was on the occasion of the renewal of the ancient title of nobility of his family, as August Kekulé von Stradowitz.