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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/81

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THE PRUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE.

lost materially through improvement in methods of education and a deeper and truer spiritual life. Neither he nor his advisers would admit that there was no future for their suffering country. In spite of losses of territory and of the choicest specimens of art and sculpture in the museums, in spite of the fact that even the academy had been robbed of its most valuable treasures, it was in this period that the University of Berlin was founded and men of the highest attainments obtained as professors and also as members of the academy. King and people seemed to be determined to prove to the world that the spirit and pride of Frederick the Great still ruled the Prussian heart. There were some who desired a union of the university and the academy, but of this plan the king did not approve, although he was not averse to a very close connection between them. So far as they had ability for it, he wished professors to work in the academy as well as in the university.

Upon the whole, the king favored the academy, and although he did not relieve it as it requested from the burden of Lambert's presidency, he gave it the four secretaries it asked for, one for each class, and allowed them to direct its work. Before the royal decree establishing the university had been issued, Schleiermacher, Wulff, Schmalz and Fichte, through their lectures, had really laid its foundations and begun its work. At about this time (1810) Alexander von Humboldt proposed a good many changes in the constitution and rules of the academy, most of which were adopted. These changes sought to promote equality among the members and favored the reception of men of high attainments rather than of large wealth or political influence. All the desired changes, however, were not adopted until they were incorporated in the constitution of 1812.

William von Humboldt became an honorary member of the academy in 1806, when he was serving the government as ambassador in Borne, and an active member in 1810. His entrance speech, limited to a few words, is said by those who heard it to have been delivered in such words as he only could use. As minister of instruction he had rare opportunity, which he did not fail to embrace, to work for the interests of the academy. It needed all the aid he could give. Financially it was in great straits. Although Napoleon offered to send plaster casts of the objects of art the French, army had carried away, there was no money with which to pay the cost of transportation. Expenses as planned by its members would have been nearly $25,000 a year. The request for a grant to this amount, though some of the older members looked grave and shook their heads, was not at all extravagant, considering the salaries the academy had to pay and the fact that it had to provide for the support of the library, the observatory, the botanic garden, the scientific collections, the care of the buildings, as well as to meet many unexpected miscellaneous expenses. At this time it was