Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/358

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light, heat, magnetism, double refraction and the polarization of light were partially solved. Some traces of a knowledge of the results of the interference of light are seen in the works of Grimaldi, Hooke, William Gilbert and Halley. But it was the discovery of the calculus by Newton and Leibnitz, and its use by scientific men, that the new impulse was given to the study of astronomy and physics. Some of the marked periods in history may be mentioned. One of these periods was that of the Argonautic Expedition under Jason in search of the Golden Fleece which took place about 1200 B.C. Another was the passage of Europeans into the regions of the Euxine and the settlements made there by the Greeks; another the expeditions of Alexander the Great, whose campaigns have been called scientific as well as military. Another period of great importance is marked by the growth of scientific interest, especially in Egypt, under the Ptolemies, and still another by the dominion of Rome and the influence of the Cæsars. In the Middle Ages, Arabs who had absorbed and added to the learning of the Greeks, brought it back from Bactria, a kingdom which lasted 116 years, to western Europe and thus in the fifteenth century became the pioneers in the new world of awakened thought. Phoenicians led in the early voyages of explorations. The Greeks followed and established colonies on the coasts of Asia Minor and on the southern shores of the Black Sea. Wherever Romans went they remained as conquerors. From the Phœnicians we have few descriptions of nature. From Roman writers like Cicero, Ovid, Livy, Cæsar, there are more. There are some also in the writings of the Greeks from Homer and Hesiod down, but for the most part the interest centers in man, not in the beauty or striking features of the region in which he lives. The Hebrews are not insensible to the importance of natural scenery upon the character of men, nor are they unable to give vivid utterance to the impression which sublime scenery, as witness Ps. 104, makes upon them. From the christian fathers, as in the writings of Basil the Great, whom Humboldt especially admired, we have many descriptions, though even here the human element is always of prime importance. The Aryan races, natives of India and Persia, recognize the charms of nature, but still men are the objects upon which interest in their writing rests. In the early Italian writers, and in the poets to the time of Petrarch and Dante, there is evidence of a growing fondness for scenes of natural beauty. Calderon is a representative of many a Spanish poet who does not think it beneath his dignity to convey to others some of the impressions which the vision of a lovely landscape has made upon the mind. Camoens in his Lusiad proves that this is true for Portugal also. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries travelers were careful to describe the strangeness and at the same time the attractions of the regions they visited. Thus the way was prepared for Columbus, who had the ability to give a description in a single luminous sentence which lingers in the mem-