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adulteration, by trying how much water a certain weight of silver displaced, how much a certain weight of gold, and how much a certain mixture of the two, he rushed out of the chamber, exclaiming, 'I have found it! I have found it!! "
The illustrious LEIBNITZ, when only in his sixteenth year, conceived the brilliant idea of reducing the elements of thought to a species of alphabet, which should consist of the representatives or characters, as it were, of all our simplest ideas, and serve to express distinctly their different combinations, just as the sounds of speech are expressed by the common letters. Without attempting to maintain the practicability of this notion, it is impossible to deny that it evidenced great subtilty and originality of mind in the young metaphysician: and we can well conceive the delight with which such a conception must have been contemplated by a spirit like his, ardent in the pursuit both of knowledge and of distinction; and beholding, as it were, in this dazzling speculation a new and untraversed continent of thought, wherein it might spend its first strength, and raise for itself immortal trophies. In a production, written many years after-his treatise on a universal language-Leibnitz himself describes to us what he calls the infantine joy which this idea brought with it, when it first suggested itself to him, filling his mind, as it did, with the hope of the great discoveries to which it promised to conduct him; and although, in the multiplicity of hisasubsequent pursuits, he had never been able to accomplish the high enterprise which he had so early planned, he declares that the deeper he had carried his reflections and inquiries, he had only become the more convinced of its practicability. Such allurement is there even in the veiled countenance of a new truth! But beyond all, perhaps, that a discoverer ever felt, must have been the
surprise and delight of Galileo when, having turned for the first time to the heavens, the wonderful instrument which his own ingenuity had invented, he beheld that crowd of splendours which had never before revealed themselves to the eye, nor even been dreamed of by the imagination of man. While Galileo resided at Venice, a report was brought to that city that a Dutchman had presented to Count Maurice of Nassau an instrument, by means of which distant objects were made to appear as if they were near; and this was all that the rumour stated. But it was enough for Galileo. The philosopher immediately set himself to work to find out by what means the thing must have been effected; and in the course of a few hours satisfied himself that, by a certain arrangement of spherical glasses, he could repeat the new miracle. In the course of two or three days he presented several telescopes to the Senate of Venice, accompanied with a memoir on the immense importance of the instrument to science, and especially to astronomy. He afterwards greatly improved his invention; and brought it to such a state of perfection, that he was in a condition to commence, by means of it, the examination of the heavens. It was then that, to his unutterable astonishment, he saw, as a celebrated French astronomer has expressed it, “ what no mortal before that moment had seen the surface of the moon, like another earth, ridged by high mountains, and furrowed by deep vallies—Venus, as well as it, presenting phases demonstrative of a spherical form; Jupiter, surrounded by four satellites, which accompanied bim in his orbit; the milky way; the nebulæ; finally, the whole heaven sown over with an infinite multitude of stars, two small to be discerned by the naked eye. *" Milton, who had seen Galileo, described, * “Life of Galileo, by Biot,” in the Biographie Universelle. nearly half a century after the invention, some of the wonders thus laid open by the telescope:
- The moon, whose orb,
Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.” A few days were spent by Galileo in rapidly reviewing the successive wonders that presented themselves to him; and then he proceeded to announce his discoveries to the world by the publication of a paper, which he entitled the Nuncius Sidereus, or Herald of the Heavens, which he continued from time to time, as he found new objects to describe. From this period the examination of the heavens became the sole object of Galileo's thoughts, and the occupation of his life. He wrote, he talked, of nothing else.
Every mind which is yet a stranger to science is, in some respects, in the same situation with that of Galileo, before he turned his telescope to the heavens; and such a mind has a world of wonders to learn, many of which are as extraordinary as those which then revealed themselves to the philosopher. It has, in fact, to behold all that he beheld;—not certainly, like him, for the first time that any one of the human race had been admitted to that high privilege, but yet for the first time, too, in so far as itself alone is concerned. The consciousness of discovery was Galileo's alone; the novelty and sublimity of the sight remain the same for all by whom it has been yet unenjoyed. And so it is with every other sort of knowledge. Although it may have been in reality discovered for the first time a thousand years ago, it remains as new a pleasure as if it had only been found out yesterday, for him who has not yet acquired it. Such pleasures, in
truth, are the only ones that admit of being indefinitely multiplied. | The enjoyments of sense, to say nothing of their comparatively short endurance, their certainty to pall upon repetition, and the positively injurious and destroying tendency of many of them, are, from the nature of things, necessarily limited in point of number; for the senses themselves are but few, and no one of them has many varieties of enjoyment to communicate. What are even the highest pleasures brought us by the eye, or the ear, apart from that character which they derive from the moral or intellectual associations they awaken? Momentary excitements for the child, but hardly the gratifications even of a moment to the man—as is abundantly evidenced by the case of many a one in whom the mere corporeal organ is as perfect as usual, but who, nevertheless, hardly receives from it any pleasure worth naming, owing to the uncultivated state of those mental faculties, which are truly the great creators and bestowers of human happiness. But when did we hear of any one who, having fairly commenced the pursuit of literature or science, ever became tired of it; or would not have gladly devoted his whole life to it, if he could? There may be other passions to which men will deliver themselves up, in the first instance, with greater precipitation and impetuosity; there is none, assuredly, which will engage them so long, or eventually absorb their whole thoughts so thoroughly, as the passion for knowledge. We have numberless instances of persons, in every rank of life, who, for the sake of gratifying it, have contended with, and overcome, such difficulties and impediments of all sorts as certainly would have worn out the strength of almost any other impulse with which we are acquainted. But this is an impulse which, we may venture to affirm, when once truly awakened, no discouragements that the most unfavourable circumstances have interposed have ever been able effectually to subdue.
The late Professor Heyne, of Gottingen, was one of the greatest classical scholars of his own or of any age, and during his latter days enjoyed a degree of distinction, both in his own country and throughout Europe, of which scarcely any contemporary name, in the same department of literature, could boast. Yet he had spent the first thirty-two or thirty-three years of his life, not only in obscurity, but in an almost incessant struggle with the most depressing poverty. He had been born, indeed, amidst the miseries of the lowest indigence, his father being a poor weaver, with a large family, for whom his best exertions were often unable to provide bread. In the Memoirs of his own Life,'Heyne says, “Want was the earliest companion of my childhood. I well remember the painful impressions made on my mind by witnessing the distress of when without food for her children, How often have I seen her, on a Saturday evening, weeping and wringing her hands, as she returned home from an unsuccessful effort to sell the goods which the daily and nightly toil of my father had manufactured!” His parents sent him to a child's school in the suburbs of the small town of Chemnitz, in Saxony, where they lived; and he soon exhibited an uncommon desire of acquiring information. He made so rapid a progress in the humble branches of knowledge taught in the school, that, before he had completed his tenth year, he was paying a portion of his school fees by teaching a little girl, the daughter of a wealthy neighbour, to read and write. Having learned every thing comprised in the usual course of the school, he felt a strong desire to learn Latin. A