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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/759

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SKETCH OF DR. JOSEPH FRAUNHOFER.

scientific methods of thought, illustrated even with the aid of such books as Jevons's "Principles of Science," can do much to enable the young theologian to sufficiently appreciate the attitude of scientific men. Laboratory work will only enable a man to perceive the true scope and limit of science. This laboratory work cannot be undertaken by the young divinity student unless he takes it during a college course, as it is possible to do at Harvard University. An extended scientific training appears to be an impossibility for a young minister; and the most successful sermons seem to the writer, who is both a member of a church and a lover of science, to be those in which argument and logic are laid aside, and simple faith and enthusiasm take their place. A minister cannot expect to meet a scientific man on his own ground, in regard to the scope and bearing of his studies. By his eloquence in denunciation of scientific radicalism he can only hope to carry with him those who are ignorant, and who cling to old traditions. With his present preliminary education a minister cannot influence deep thinkers by any wealth of argument which he may possess. He can only hope to do this by the great power of touching human sympathies which the Bible gives him; by dwelling on the joys and sorrows of man's strange and brief career, and by picturing that hereafter of purity which, we venture to say, no man, even the most short-sighted scientific materialist, ever despairs of.

 

SKETCH OF DR. JOSEPH FRAUNHOFER.[1]

FEW things in the history of science are more interesting than the examples it affords of men devoting themselves with passionate assiduity and untiring persistence to researches which the investigator himself can neither turn to account nor are to be of any ultimate use, and which the public regards as in the last degree frivolous and futile, but the value of which is ultimately and abundantly justified. A man works like a martyr at some obscure and unknown subject, is laughed at and commiserated by his contemporaries, dies, and drops out of memory, until in after-times, in the turns of thought, his results are suddenly invested with a grand interest, and become a passport to their author's immortality. Something like this was the fortune of the subject of the present sketch; he worked in a field which nobody thought of the slightest moment, but he has linked his name forever with one of the most brilliant discoveries of this century.

Joseph von Fraunhofer was born in Straubing, Bavaria, March 6, 1787, of humble parents, and was left an orphan in 1799, at the age

  1. Pronounced Frown'-ho-fer.