Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/182

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
178
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of Humboldt and was made professor of oriental languages in the university. He devoted himself mainly to Sanscrit, and published his dictionary of that language in 1827. The first part of his 'Comparative Grammar,' by which his fame was gained, appeared in 1852. Other editions appeared at different times from 1856 to 1862, and the last edition shortly after his death in 1868. To him all orientalists owe a debt of gratitude. Jacob Grimm gave himself to the study of the German language and William von Humboldt to the study of the philosophy of language, in which his writings are as important for the science of law as those of Linnæus for the science of botany. Every one knows what Niebuhr did for history, which he studied in the belief that knowledge of it is of value for the present day. Boeckh found his chief interest for the time in which he lived, in the study of life and government among the ancient Greeks. Bekker was famous for his studies of Homer, his editions of Provencial works, his studies in old French and Italian and in modern Greek. From him Lachmann learned the true method of criticism. Wilker and Friederich von Raumer were students of universal history, the latter being known for his 'History of the Crusades.' Savigny and Eichorn were historians of law, as Niebuhr was of Rome and Neander of the church. Savigny is the founder of the historical school of jurisprudence, and immortalized himself in a six-volume history of 'Roman Law in the Middle Ages.' K. E. Eichorn is the father of the history of German law. Von Ranke, who died in 1886, stands at the head of modern historians. As he went to the original sources for what he wrote, his books will not soon lose their value. Hoffmann, the statesman, became famous as a statistician and a political economist. It is said of him, as of no one else in his time, that he knew how to arrange statistics scientifically and to deduce ethical lessons from them. He was director of the Prussian bureau of statistics and made it one of the most valuable in Europe. These are some of the men who were in the academy during the period under treatment and whose names are sufficient to furnish reasons for the fame it attained and for the share it had in contributing to the knowledge of the world. Indeed it has been proudly said that no volume of the 'Proceedings' during this period is without some treatise which either founds a discipline or lifts an older one to a higher grade.

V. The Academy under Frederick William IV., 1840 to 1859. Not since the days of Frederick the Great had there been so warm a friend of the academy on the throne as the new king. He was willing to identify himself with the academy by attending its public meetings as Frederick had not been. Save in the realm of politics and theology he granted it full liberty of discussion and publication. He was very friendly with Alexander von Humboldt, whom he had as a