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incorporated into their relative groups, and the entire system of nature in its great essential laws revealed to the inquiring human mind. He became therefore the founder of both comparative and botanical geography ; of a new theory of geology, of a new system of chartography; and of a new method of treating natural science in general-a method which, striving for universality, studies the connection of the various fields of nature in its most secret recesses, and explores the intimate connection of cause and effect as a means for the comprehension of natural laws.” 10 Such is an epitome of what Humboldt did.

Surely a life cast in such an era, protracted to such a length, fruitful of such results, cannot, when rightly regarded, be other than an impressive and suggestive one. The study of it—of the elements that enter into it, and of the sources of its power-is both an attractive and ennobling employment. But while it is an interesting and instructive study for all, it is peculiarly such for those whose characters are yet in the gristle, and whose earthly future it is still given them to determine. Some of the lessons it suggests we may do well to ponder.

The first is the unlimited capacity of the human mind. Not that the finite can compass the infinite ; but that there is no conceivable degree of knowledge and wisdom to which the soul may not lawfully aspire, and no point, reaching which, it is compelled to feel that it can no farther go.

That emphatic affirmations of all this concerning human abilities are not uncommon, we are aware ; but that men have comparatively little faith in such assertions, and continually demand fresh illustrations of the greatness of their capacities, we are just as strongly persuaded. How else than on the ground of men's distrust in their own powers, shall we account for their moral and intellectual timidity, and their indisposition to attempt a solution of the sublime problems which nature is constantly thrusting upon their attention. To afford ever-recurring and ever-varying illustrations of the wondrous possibilities of the soul, therefore, seems to be one important use of great men in the world. It would be ungrateful and unwise to doubt that such is one of the ends which the illustrious Humboldt was providentially appointed to subserve. How can we follow him along his noble career, from his early boyhood at Tegel to his serene departure, and question it! How can we see him surmounting obstacle after obstacle to his progress, year after year adding to his vast stores of knowledge, rising ever to higher views of truth, and to broader, and more harmonious conceptions of the universe, and not feel a profounder conviction of the dignity of human nature, and of the grandeur of our personal capacities! How can we do so without feeling and saying, As we are kindred to that lofty genius, so we too have divine powers-powers which no given attainments can satisfy, and which therefore not only permit us to hope for, but give us the assurance of an immortal existence, and an immortal growth.

10 Life, pp. 149, 150.

Another suggestion of the life we are considering is the grand results of persistent, regulated industry. Doubtless upon

Humboldt were bestowed natural abilities conferred upon few. Doubtless also such facilities were afforded for their development as fall to the lot of few. But what results would even his gigantic powers, blessed with so wondrous opportunities, have achieved, had it not been for that indefatigable spirit which knew no weariness, and was daunted by no barrier ? Let the multitudes of persons

of brilliant parts and enviable opportunities, whose lives have been miserable abortions, witness. While therefore it is not pretended that many, with any amount of effort, could reach so exalted a height as did Humboldt, it is affirmed that he could have done so only by herculean labor continued through more than four score years. Of this no one was more deeply conscious than himself. At however late an hour, accordingly, he might have been seen in the saloon, his rising prevented the morning cock-crowing; while so great was his absorption in his favorite studies that he was not unaccustomed to allege his lack of time to read the public journals as an excuse for his ignorance of passing events. It is also affirmed that by a similar fidelity to talent and opportunity, there are none of our readers, male or female, whatever their sphere or avocation, who may not, without neglecting a single practical duty, or foregoing a single desirable recreation, attain an intellectual development of which they have now no conception. Truism though it be, it is labor that conquers all things. It makes favorable circumstances more helpful than can be imagined. wrests success from the most unpromising conditions. It scales the heavens ; for our salvation can be secured only as it is worked out with humility and earnestness. And when we see how great even yet is the indifference to mental culture, how sadly laziness affects nine-tenths of mankind, and how many golden opportunities are suffered to pass unimproved, we feel that the occasion for the repetition and enforcement of this truism has not passed.

The career we are considering suggests also the power of personal character. For many years Humboldt was the central orb in the brilliant constellation of Berlin, and the most influential private person in “father-land,” if not in the civilized world. As, in simple dress, with slow but firm step, and form somewhat inclined under the weight of years, he walked the streets of his native city he received the tokens of universal reverence and esteem. The passers-by stepped quietly aside so as neither to incommode his progress nor disturb the meditations in which he was often completely absorbed ; while the common day-laborers, pausing in their work to observe him, would say to each other, in subdued tonęs, “ There goes the great Humboldt." Whenever he appeared on any public occasion he was received with the heartiest demonstrations, all ranks and classes vieing to do him honor.11 With almost equal deference was his word listened to by court and populace, as each was confident that however it might be with others, his was the utterance of a pure and comprehensive wisdom, and an enlightened and humane patriotism. His letters, circulating in all lands, whatever the topics they discussed, were read with avidity, and accorded almost the authority of inspiration.

True, the factitious advantages of noble birth, and distinguished social position were his, affording doubtless many unusual facilities for a worthy career, while at the same time they brought with them many temptations to an unworthy one. Yet it was in a very trifling degree to these that he owed this wondrous influence. That had its origin in, and was chiefly sustained by his personal charac

11 Life. p. 148.

And a

ter—the integrity against which suspicion never breathed ; the gentleness which immediately won the confidence of all who approached him ; and the benevolence, discriminating, unostentatious, unfailing. 12 So manifest were these that no one could enter his presence, look upon


and expanded brow, listen to his simple and sublime conversation, and feel the touch of his spirit, without being inwardly quickened, and resolving to make a better use of life's manifold opportunities. More, it is believed, has he done through the influence of his personal character than in any other way, to inspire receptive souls with his own unquenchable ardor for knowledge, and thus to complete the great designs of Providence in nature and the race. power, the same in kind, if not in degree, goes forth from every true spirit. For it is what men are, and not what they pretend, or do, that determines with unerring precision what influence they wield.

The final suggestion of this remarkable life that will now

12 While to the existence and prominence of the former traits abundant testimony might be adduced, we cannot forbear citing one more beautiful illustration of the latter. It shall be told in the language of its now distinguished object, Prof. Agassiz. Speaking of Humboldt's unbounded generosity, the Professor says:

“May I be permitted to tell a circumstance which is personal to me in that respect, and which shows what he was capable of doing, while he was forbidding an opportunity of telling it. I was only twenty-four years of age when in Paris, whither Thad gone with means given me by a friend; but was at last about to resign my studies from want of ability to meet my expenses. Prof. Mitscherlich was then on a visit in Paris, and I had seen him in the morning, when he asked me what was the cause of my depressed feelings, and I told him that I had to go, for I had nothing left. The next morning, as I was seated at breakfast in front of the yard of the hotel where I lived, I saw the servant of Humboldt approach. He handed me a note, saying there was no answer, and disappeared. I opened the note, and I see it now before me as distinctly as if I held the paper in my hand. It said:

My friend : I hear that you intend leaving Paris in consequence of some embarrassments. That shall not be. I wish you to remain here as long as the object for which you came is not accomplished. I enclose

you a check for £50. It is a loan which you may repay when you can.

“Some years afterwards, when I could have repaid him, I wrote, asking for the privilege of remaining forever in his debt, knowing that the request would be more consonant to his feelings than the recovery of the money, and I am now in his debt. What he has done for me,

know he has done for many others; in silence and unknown to the world.”

be named is trust in essential truth and righteousne88. In the highest expression of moral truth and personal righteousness-in Christianity-Humboldt has often been said to have lacked confidence. While living he was sometimes stigmatized as an atheist. Since his death one of his Christian eulogists asserts that “ he was, undoubtedly, a materialist ;” while one of his countrymen dwelling with us, and with whom, apparently, “the wish is father to the thought," declares that he left no place in the universe for God. On the other hand both his atheism and materialism are stoutly denied by some who had the honor of his personal acquaintance. From these contradictory assertions, as well as the infrequency and ambiguity with which the subject of religion is mentioned in his writings, it appears that the data are insufficient to warrant any great confidence upon

the subject either way. That in what often passes for Christianity-human creeds and puerile rites—he had very little faith, there is, probably, not much reason to question. In this respect he was not very singular; for how few of the eminent scholars and thinkers of the nineteenth century have preserved much respect—have been able wholly to disguise their contempt—for ecclesiastical pretension and ceremony? That like so many others of his countrymen he did distrust what is generally termed “the supernatural element” of religion, seeking to identify its origin and development with the ordinary course of Providence, there are also quite good reasons for supposing. But while the references to Christianity in his published works, so far as we have read them, are few, and some of those of doubtful import, others, by all fair rules of construction, are indicative of profound respect and hearty confidence in it. He declares that, “ Wherever Christianity diffused itself, and was adopted as the religion of the state, it not only exercised a beneficial influence on the condition of the lower classes by inculcating the social freedom of mankind, but also expanded the views of men in their communion with nature. no longer rested on the forms of the Olympic gods. The fathers of the church, in their rhetorically correct and often poetically imaginative language, now taught that the Creator showed himself great in inanimate no less than in animate nature, and in the wild strife of the elements no less than in the still activity of organic development.

The eye

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