Karl Alois Kneller.

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for science, to devote the best years of his life to such
terrible labour. D'Abbadie was of so strenuously moral a

1 Revue des deux mondes 724.

2 Comptes rendus CXXVI 176.


character that he was regarded by the Abyssinians as a
monk. They received with incredulity the news that he had
married in Europe." 1

D' Abbadie's work is a marvel of accuracy. His topo-
graphical details were for a time suspected, but they
have been cleared from that suspicion, as the words of
one of the most judicious geographers of Germany will

Petermann who, before the appearance of D'Abbadie's
maps, had prepared a map of North East Africa, and was
advised to revise his work in view of the French explorer's
discoveries, was in a unique position to appreciate "the
extraordinary conscientiousness of his work, and the ac-
curacy and infinite pains which the measurements and cal-
culations required". "It gives us the greatest pleasure to
say that in our opinion the travels and works of D'Abbadie
are among the most brilliant and fruitful of which the whole
continent of Africa can boast. There is no other part of
Africa in which the observations of the original explorers
were so strikingly thorough, and it is only of places where
the general staffs and scientific expeditions of European
governments have been at work that we possess information
of greater or even equal accuracy." '

In addition to his geographical material, D'Abbadie
brought home 234 Ethiopian manuscripts, the richest

1 D'Abbadie has himself given his opinion as to where the power
of Will is situated, in a letter to Lord Clifford on I. August 1852
(Annales de la Propagation de la foi XXIV, Lyon 1852, 444 454).
Of the climate of Massava, he says: L'activite morale doit s'y affaiblir
chez ceux qui ne retrempent pas leur ame aux sources elevees de la
priere et de 1'esperance (ib. 446).

2 A. Petermann, Mitteilungen , Gotha 1864, 38 116. Also
Embacher says (Lexikon der Reisen und Entdeckungen, Leipzig
1882, i), suspicion unjustly (ungerechterweise) has been thrown on
D'Abbadie's researches. Later travellers have removed all taint of


collection in Europe, and a dictionary of the Amarhasa
language, extending to 15,000 words. All his material
was in due time published. A Catholic missionary named
Sapeto had accompanied D'Abbadie on his first ex-
pedition to Abyssinia, and two missions were established
by him.

D'Abbadie contributed in many other ways to the
advance of science. He effected improvements in the
instruments used for earth-measurement; mooted the idea,
carried out in 1882, of applying photography to the
observation of the Transit of Venus; and endeavoured
to elucidate the remarkable phenomenon of the variation
of the vertical line, ascribing it to the impact of the
tidal wave on the elastic crust of the earth.

But he was not the man to shut himself up in his
study. In July 1851 we find him in Norway, in July 1860
in Spain studying solar eclipses. In 1882 he was in
San Domingo observing the Transit of Venus, and three
years latter he made an extended journey to obtain
observations of telluric magnetism. He went by way
of Athens , Alexandria , Cairo , and Suez to Aden,
and back by way of Suakim and the Nile Valley
Jerusalem , Constantinople , and the Piraeus , Naples,
and Rome. As he had no children, he presented (in
1895) to the Academy of Sciences his property ot
Abbadia in Southern France, the income of which is
20,000 francs a year, and added to it the capital sum
of 400,000 francs. This is to be spent on the con-
struction of laboratories, but more particularly in buil-
ding an Observatory, which is to be used for the com-
pilation of a catalogue of 500,000 stars. The work
is to be completed by 1950, and is to be assigned to
a religious order.


D'Abbadie was well known as a zealous Catholic.
This circumstance was in the eyes of some an obstacle
to his admission to the Academy, but Arago 1 as
D'Abbadie related at the unveiling of a statue to the
great astronomer although himself a sceptic, opposed
and defeated the unworthy intrigue.

About a year before D'Abbadie's expedition, another sa-
vant had entered Abyssinia in order to study the Botany of
that region. This was Wilhelm Schimper, brother of
the celebrated botanist who discovered the law of the leaf-
formation of plants. Schimper became a Catholic in i843 2 ,
married a native of Abyssinia, and remained there till his
death in 1878.

D'Abbadie's work in Abyssinia bore fruit in other
parts of the African continent. Before starting for Mada-
gascar in 1888 to establish an astronomical observatory
there, the Jesuit missionary Elie Colin came to con-
sult D'Abbadie, and to the latter's advice is to be as-
cribed the valuable geodetic work done by Colin in
collaboration with D. Roblet 3 . The latter had in 1888

1 A propos d'une candidature a 1'Academie des sciences , un
membre objecta que le candidat etait un ardent catholique. Nous
n'avons pas , dit Arago , a dissequer ce qu'il y a de plus intime
dans rhomme , ce qu'il a de regler a. sa guise ; nous n'avons a
examiner que les travaux de M. d'Abbadie ; ses opinions religieuses
ne sont pas de notre domaine. Quant a moi, ajouta le secretaire
perpetuel, je porte envie a ceux qui croient (Revue des quest, scient.
XLI, Louvain 1897, 604).

2 The Journal of the R. Geographical Society of London XIV,
London 1844, CXL. Annales de la Propagation de la Foi XVII,
Lyon 1845, 2 74-

3 Cf. Colin's Rechenschaftsberichte in the Comptes rendus CXVIII,
Paris 1 894, 510514570573; CXXVII (1898) 708 711; CXXVIII
(1899) 716 718; CXXXVI (1903) 12985. Les etudes geographiques



published a map, founded, as far as the centre of the
Island was concerned, on his own measurements. It
will be interesting to cite a specialist's estimate of
this map.

"The map before us has already received the best re-
commendation that can be given to a map of Madagascar ;
it has received the praise of A. Grandidier who knows the
island better than any other living man. And Grandidier
expressed his opinion so warmly in a communication to the
geographical society of Paris that they awarded their* gold
medal to the author of the map." l

Equal praise is extended to the detailed maps of the
two provinces of Madagascar, prepared by Grandidier
from the data of Roblet and Colin.

"The maps fill one with amazement at the activity of
these three men who have given us more accurate know-
ledge of Madagascar than we possess of many parts of
Europe, and whose work is worthy to stand by the side
of that of the governmental survey department of any
country." 2

In December 1903 Colin received the prize of the
Academy of Sciences for Physical Geography. The
area surveyed by him ran to 31,000 kilometers 3 .

a Madagascar in La Geographic, Bulletin de la soc. de Geographic II,
Paris 1900, 183 198. Roblet tells us about the labour which
the construction of his map entailed, in Etudes religieuses LIII, Paris
1891, 482492; cf. XLV (1888) 450452.

1 A. Supan, Geograph. Literatur-Bericht fur 1889. Beilage zum
35. Band von Dr. A. Petermann's Mitteilungen, Gotha 1889, 73.

2 Ib. Literatur-Bericht fur 1895. Beilage zum 41. Band, 117.

3 Comptes rendus CXXXVII, Paris 1903, in8f.



We learned from Bessel that a Catholic priest stands
at the head of iQ th century Astronomy. This is true in
a still larger sense of scientific Crystallography. Its
founder was a simple professor in a school at Paris,
conducted by priests.

Rene Juste Haiiy 1 was born on Febr. 28 th 1743
in a little village of the Departement of Oise. His
father was a poor linenweaver, who found it very hard
to earn his bread ; and, despite the talent shown by
his eldest son, there seemed to be no other prospect
before the boy except to earn his bread by the work
of his hands.

Happily there was in Haiiy's native place a house of
the Premonstratensians, and the lad early gave tokens
of a vocation to the religious life. His devout demeanour
brought him under the notice of the Prior, and the
latter, discovering his remarkable talents, undertook to
procure him a place at Paris. This proved somewhat
difficult, and young Haiiy was for some time employed
as a choir boy, but he eventually secured a place at
the College of Navarra. Here he showed such ability
that on the completion of his course he was appointed
on the teaching staff. He taught for many years at
the College of Navarra, and afterwards at the College
of Cardinal Lemoine, absolutely content with his humble
position, careless of advancement, and so far very super-
ficially versed in physical science.

1 C u v i e r , Recueil des eloges historiques , lus dans les seances
publiques de 1'Institut royal de France III, Paris 1827, 123175.


It was solely to oblige a fellow-professor that he began
to study Botany. In the College Lemoine there was
a Father Lhomond, a very learned man and capable
writer, who, however, devoted his brilliant powers solely
to the education of the young, and wrote elementary
books which enjoyed a wide circulation. Hauy chose
Lhomond as his confessor, accompanied him on ex-
cursions, and cared for him when he was ill. Lhomond
studied Botany in his walks, and Haiiy during his va-
cation determined to master at home enough of the
science to surprise and delight his friend on his return.
He carried out his plan, and on his first walk with
Lhomond was able to give the Linnaean names of
nearly all the plants they met with.

This was his first step in a field which was soon
to become more and more attractive. He began to
frequent eagerly the botanical gardens which lay near
his college ; but one day , seeing the mineralogist
Daubenton enter with his class, he joined them and
discovered a subject which ousted even Botany from
his affections.

He was already a mature man when he took up this
study, but in a short time he showed himself as thoroughly
at home with it as if he had been a mineralogist all
his life. One property of minerals struck and surprised
him particularly. While in plants every single part
however complicated, always appears of identically the
same character, in minerals this /constancy seems to be
absent. The same mineral appears now in one, now
in another crystal-form. One day as Hauy was medi-
tating on this peculiarity he had the misfortune to let
fall a beautiful group of prismatic crystals of calcareous
spar and a crystal was broken off.


The fracture exhibited surfaces as smooth as the out-
side of the prism, and a new crystal emerged as it were
from the broken one, the conformation of which was
not prismatic. Haiiy examined it and found to his sur-
prise that it was the same crystal-formation as island
spar, that is to say, it was rhomboidal. An idea flashed
across his mind. Had he not here the solution of the
problem which had so long perplexed him? Might it
not be that the various crystal formations in which the
same mineral appeared were simply different arrangements
of the same ultimate crystal ? Haiiy was by this happy
accident put on the right track; he followed up his
idea resolutely, and laid the foundation of the modern
science of Crystallography.

Although his discoveries gave him a European repu-
tation Haiiy remained always an humble and faithful
priest. When he first began to attend the sittings of the
Academy, he appeared in a clerical dress of somewhat
antiquated cut. His friends fearing that invincible pre-
judices might be aroused aginst him, tried to persuade
him to lay aside his clerical costume on these occasions,
but Haiiy refused to do so until the opinion of a Doctor
of the Sorbonne had been taken on the matter. When
in 1792 those religious who refused allegiance to the
Revolution were thrown into prison, Haiiy was among
the number. His papers were seized, his crystals bundled
away, and he himself, with his fellow-professors, was con-
fined in the Seminary of Saint-Firmin which had been
turned into a prison.

Influential friends interested themselves on his behalf,
and secured an order for his release. Haiiy at first
refused to accept his liberty. His crystals and instru-
ments had been brought to his cell, and he was working


away at them as contentedly as if he were in his own
laboratory. It was only with difficulty that he was
persuaded to leave on the following day 1 .

He suffered no more under the Revolution. "While
Lavoisier was under arrest, and Borda and Delambre
were dismissed, it is a remarkable fact that Haiiy, a
priest who had refused the oath and who continued to
exercise the religious duties of his office, was actually
presenting memorials for the release of his lay colleagues.
This he did without hesitation, and without incurring
any penalty for it." 2 It was during the Revolution that
he finished his great work:

"Possessed of a vast collection", says Cuvier, "which con-
stantly received fresh accessions of all known minerals and
aided by the co-operation of those ardent and capable stu-
dents whom the ficole Polytechnique placed at his disposi-
tion, many of whom stand to-day in the front rank of mine-
ralogists, he soon made up for the time which he had spent
on less valuable work, and raised in a few years that striking
monument which we may say has done for France what
the peculiar circumstances of his life did for M. Haiiy, and
has lifted her, after centuries of neglect, to the head of
this department of natural history. This book possesses in
effect two qualities rarely found in union : on the one hand
it is founded on a discovery completely original and due
solely to the genius of its author; on the other this disco-
very is applied with inconceivable minuteness and perseve-

1 According to Cuvier he left the prison exactly a day before the
Massacre in September. But Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire says in the
Life of his father, who was chiefly instrumental in securing Hatty's
liberation, that the latter had informed Haiiy of his liberation at 10 p. m.
14 th August, and that Haiiy left the prison on the following day (Vie,
travaux et doctrine scientifique d'Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Paris
1847, 14).

2 Cuvier, Recueil des eloges historiques III 153.


ranee to every known species of mineral. The plan of the
book is spacious, the detail rigorously accurate; the whole
is as perfect as the theory of which it is the formulation." 1

On the death of Dolomieu, Haiiy was appointed Pro-
fessor of Mineralogy at the Museum of Natural History.
His appointment infused new life into the place. The
collections increased fourfold, and "Europe, or at least
that part of it which was interested in mineralogy,
streamed thither, partly to study so exhaustive and well-
ordered a collection, partly to hear a lecturer so lucid,
elegant and courteous" 2 . The most noticeable trait of
Haiiy's character was his courtesy and willingness to
oblige. "The most ordinary students were received as
amiably as the most distinguished savants; for he had
pupils of all classes. . . . He brought his Ecole-Normale
classes to his own house, and initiated them in all his
secrets. He was on these occasions the old college-
professor, he took part in all the fun of the young
people, and never let them go without a merry meal."

Amid all the honours that were showered on him Haiiy
preserved the simplicity of life which had marked his
earlier days. He made no alteration in his hours of
dining or of rising; and he continued his walk, employing
it as in old times as much for the pleasure of others
as for his own. He showed strangers the way, pro-
cured them tickets of admission to his museum, ex-
plained the collections and rendered all sorts of services;
and few indeed, of those whom he was so ready to ob-
lige, recognised the great savant. He was hidden away
under old fashioned clothes, and an almost exaggerated

1 Recueil des eloges historiques III 153.

2 Ib. 165.


modesty of speech and manner. One day he encoun-
tered two ex-soldiers, who were preparing to fight a
duel. He ascertained the cause of the quarrel, recon-
ciled them, and brought them into a cafe to seal the
peace with a bottle of wine. On external splendour
he set no value. He had free access to the finest
collections of precious stones in Europe, he wrote a
memoir on jewels, but to him they were no more
than interesting crystals. A variation of half a degree
in the angle of a familiar crystal would have stirred
his attention more acutely than all the treasures of India.
In his declining years Haiiy had reason to congratu-
late himself on the modest habits of life which he had
cultivated. Circumstances led to a considerable reduction
of his salary, and he had to live out his days on crippled
resources. He lived to the ripe age of seventy-nine.
A fracture of the knee, resulting from a fall in his room,
marked the beginning of the end. Throughout the whole
course of his illness he never altered in benevolence
towards others, in cheerful submission to Providence,
or in zeal for science. He divided his time between
prayer, supervision of the new edition of his book, and
labour to secure the future of the students who had
worked in collaboration with him. He died on June 3 rd
1822. He had been a living proof that a man may be
the pioneer of a new era in science, without for that
reason contemning God and His Church. "As loyal to
his religion as to his science", saysCuvier 1 , "he never
suffered the loftiest speculations to draw him away from
the minutest discharge of the observances prescribed by
his Church."

1 Ante 1 68.


An opponent of Haiiy in several scientific questions,
but united with him in religious sentiment was a Ger-
man savant who has deserved well of Mineralogy.

After the break-up of the Scientific Conference of
Naples in 1845, Leopold Von Buch after taking leave
of the Munich professor Von Thiersch called after him :
"Present my respects to Fuchs in Munich! He is a
man to whom I have never spoken without learning
some valuable new thing." 1

Such praise from such an authority is high indeed,
but not too high for Fuchs. He is described by
Von Gumbel, also, as one of the foremost and most
original mineralogists of the nineteenth century.

"In that head of his", writes Von Martius 2 , "there was a
whole universe of clearly apprehended facts, reduced to co-
herence and unity, not by fantastic combinations and in-
tuitions, but by the operations of pure intellect. Fuchs was
the personification of reason. Logical, almost to a fault, he
was fore-armed against all the prejudices of the schools. It
would be difficult to find in his writings a single passage
showing any trace of a 'Philosophy of Nature', although to
such a philosophy he made invaluable contributions. He
concentrated his mind solely on his special subject and
buried himself in its depths, preserving all the while, how-
ever, that wise scepticism, that prudence and foresight
without which an inquirer is apt to lose sight of his goal
and stray from his proper path. The laws which he formu-
lated were put to the test not only of experiment but of
counter-experiment. He was as original in the objections
which he advanced against his own conclusions as in the
conclusions themselves, and he never regarded an investiga-
tion as complete until he had determined the relation of

1 Bulletin der k. Akademie der Wissenschaften, Miinchen, 18. Mai
1853, 214.

2 Akademische Denkreden, Leipzig 1866, 592.


his subject to other known facts, and either subsumed it
under or distinguished it from them."

Johann Nepomuk Von Fuchs (f I856) 1 was
born of an humble peasant family in Mattenzell near
Regensburg, and received his early education from the
friars of Frauenzell. Subsequently he studied at the
gymnasium at Regensburg managed by the ex-Jesuits
of St. Paul. He began with medicine, but although
he duly obtained his degree he never practised, but
devoted himself entirely to Chemistry and Mineralogy,
securing a chair in these sciences at Landshut in 1805,
and at Munich in 1823.

His work at Landshut and Munich covers a wide area
of subjects. Beginning with certain improvements in
the spirit-lamp and the blow-pipe of the laboratory, he
advanced to investigations of the first importance. He
turned his attention to mineral analysis, and with appa
ratus of the poorest kind obtained the most excellent-
results. The reputation which these brought him was
greatly heightened by a successful controversy with Haiiy.
He made contributions not only to Chemistry and Minera-
logy but also to technical industrial processes. Under the
first head, as being mainly of theoretical value, we may
mention his discovery of the amorphous character of
many substances, and of the fact that in minerals certain
chemical combinations can appear as substitutes of one
another. Turning his attention to industries he led the

1 v. G umbel in the Allg. deutsche Biographic VIII 165168.
Gesammelte Schriften des Job. Nep. v. Fuchs. Zum ehrenden An-
denken herausgeg. von dem Zentral-Verwaltungs-Ausschusse des poly-
technischen Vereins fur das Konigreich Bayern. Redigiert und mit
einem Nekrologe versehen von Dr. Kajetan Georg Kaiser,
Munchen 1856.

Knell er, Christianity. 1 6


way in the artificial production of ultra-marine, and effected
many improvements in the processes of dyeing, in the
manufacture of sugar from beetroot, and in the brewing
of beer. He was also a pioneer in the manufacture of
cement, and of hydraulic lime. A discovery which he him-
self valued highly was that of water-glass and its appli-
cation to wall-painting, or as it is called, "stereochrome".
He was working at this in the last year of his life,
'noting down his investigations with a hand tremulous
with old age 1 . At the close of his paper on the subject
he takes his leave of the world.

"Here I conclude my notes on stereochrome, and bring
to its end an inquiry which has cost me more trouble and
time, not to speak of the great expense, than half the rest
of my works put together, a fact to which many of my
friends can bear witness, for many of them gave me their
co-operation in the task. To them I offer my sincere thanks.
But above all I give thanks to God that He has allowed
me, old and feeble as I am, to complete this work on
water-glass and its practical uses in such detail that it can
without much labour be applied and extended by others.

"To the Giver of all good gifts I offer up my work, and
the labours I have endured in preparing it. May He vouch-
safe to bless it!

"Omnia ad maiorem Dei honorem et gloriam."

These were his last published words. "Towards the
middle of February 1856 he fell ill of a complaint that
for many years had been troubling him at ever shorter
intervals. His physical exhaustion was such that he
knew death to be at hand, and he prepared to meet
it with a resolution and piety which edified all about
him. 'Christ lead us to the light!' he said with his

1 Bereitung, Eigenschaften und Nutzanwendung des Wasserglases
mit EinschluC der Stereochromie, in Gesammelte Schriften 260 285.

F. S. BEUDANT. 243

dying breath." * . . . During the last ten years of his
life he had laboured "with ever increasing zeal to establish
and assimilate the religious truths, which he had always
clung to", and his conversations on the subject showed
"the same lucidity as his scientific treatises". We may
quote Von Ringseis in this connection :

"Fuchs lived and died in the fullest assurance of the truth
of the Christian Revelation. I feel it a special duty ' to fjear
this witness to his memory; for from 1805 to 1812 I lived
continuously with him at Landshut, and for nearly four years
attended his lectures on Chemistry and Mineralogy. From
1826 till his death, and especially towards the end, I was
constantly with him, and I can testify to the exact fervour
with which he took part in the exercises of his religion.
His life and death are in themselves a complete refu-
tation of the assertion that the physical sciences, especially
Geology, have destroyed the foundations of the ancient
faith." 2

Frangois Sulpice Beudant (f 1852) was another
who combined a fervent faith with the greatest distinction
in Crystallography. He delivered many lectures at the

1 lb. Nekrolog xxvni. An obituary notice of the editor of the

Online LibraryKarl Alois KnellerChristianity and the leaders of modern science; a contribution to the history of culture in the nineteenth century → online text (page 19 of 32)