Alexander von Humboldt was born in the city of Berlin on the 14th September, 1769. The occurrence of the centennial anniversary of the birth of this great man was commemorated in his native city by the dedication of a national monument with appropriate ceremonies. In New York city also, a colossal bronze, representing him in the prime of life, was-unveiled. Professor Francis Lieber delivered an appropriate address in German, followed by one in English by Professor Doremus. Numerous German singing societies took part in the celebration, and a banquet was given at living Hall. It was generally supposed that Humboldt was little known and not much appreciated by the people at large on account of the fact that his works are so learnedly ivrittn that they can only be perused by one who is already in possession of a considerable amoxmt of scientific knowledge. No supposition can be more erroneous than this. In the ivinter of 1827-8 . Humboldt delivered in his native city, Berlin, a course of sixty-one lectures, commencing November 3d and concluding on the 36th of April. These lectures formed, as it were, the first sketch of the " Cosmos," published subsequently, and were especially arranged for the people at large, those that had not enjoyed the advantages of higher education. Some scientists of an inferior rank would perhaps have considered it beneath their dignity to appear as teachers. Humboldt did not, though he was then Baron, Chaiaberlain, Councilor, and confidential ad"viser of the king. The inhabitants of Berlin and Potsdam all knew him personally, and showed him as much honor as to a king. With a ???? but firm step, tl.e head slightly bent forward, one arm at his back, holding a pamphlet, he was often seen passing through the streets. Wherever he appeared he was received by tokens of reverent esteem, the passers-by stepping aside through fear of disturbing him in his thoughts, and one was often heard saying to his neighbor, " There goes Humboldt." The following instance goes to prove what reverence even the lowest classes paid him. During the time of the revolution, in 1848, a troop of bristly fellows stormed his house, ignorant of the fact that they were in the residence of the great savant : " I have no weapons, my boys ; I am an unpretending philosopher, and my name is Humboldt"uttered a small, bowed, and white-haired figure. "Back !" called the commander of the troop, " this is our great citizen Humboldt ; four men remain before his house to ivatch that no wrong is done to him." The following sketch Of this great man is from the pen of Dr. Francis Lieber : "VVlio has not enjoyed the pleasure of finding the spots on the chart of human progress where you put doivn your finger and say, here is Aristotle, and here again ; here is Hilde-brandt, here is the conquest of Constantinople traced even in the discovery of our continent, even in Descartes and Bacon; here are the causes and the effects of the University ; and to trace the Bnes of civilization radiating in.different directions, from point to point ? Snd this delight we may enjoy when meditating on the period of which Humboldt was one of the most distinct exponents. We enjoy it even now, although he has left us but yesterday ; for God allowed to him days so long that he passed into history before he passed away from among us. Humboldt died as old as Sophocles. Hiftboldt received the livingtraditioas of the great circumnavigator, Cook, through Foster, Cook's companion, and lived to gather facts for his Cosmos from the latest reports of the geological surveys of our States. He lived when"Voltaire died, and must have grown up "with many French ideas floating around him, for Humboldt was a nobleman whose family lived within the atmosjjhere of the Berlin court; and he lived to witness the great revolutions in literature as well in Germany as in France and England. He lived when Rousseau died (the same year that "Voltaire deceased), and must have remembered, from personal observation, that homage, which even monarchs paid (at a distance, it is true) to the Contrat Sociale, and he outlived, by some weeks. De Tocqueville. He lived throu the period of the American Revolution, was a cotemporary of Washington and Adams, and a friend of Jefferson. He lived through the French Revolution and the age of the classic orators of Britain. He lived through the Napoleonic era and the resuscitation of Prussia and of all Germany. He studied under Werner, with whom mineralogy begins, and knew Houy. He knew La Place, survived Arago and Gauss, and worked with Enke. He lived "with Kant, and knewSchel-ling and Hegel. He knew Goethe and read Heine. He read " Gibbon's Decline" as a work of a living author, and perused Niebuhr, and later still praised Prescott. He gre?V up in the Prussian monarchy according to the type of Frederic the Great, and "with the fresh reminiscences of the Seven Year's War, and left it changed in army, school, governmentin every thing. He saw the beginning of the Institute of France, and lived to be considered by its associates as one of its most brilliant ornaments at its most brilliant period. He lived through the periods which distinctly mark the science of chemistry, from Lavoisier to Rose and Liebig. Humboldt was seventeen years old when the great king, perhaps the most illustrious despot of history, died so tired by the genius of his own absolutism that we cannot forget the words of the dying king ; " I am weary of ruling over slaves ;" and he li"ved through the whole period of growing popular sentiments and habits, of constitutinal demands, and revolutionary, fearful conflicts. He wore the lace and ruffle of the last century, and the more practical dress of our times. - Yet no one ever heardfrom him any useless regret for what had passed and was gone. I have heard him speak with warmth of noble things and men that he had known, but not with gloomy despair of the present or the future. What an amount of thinking, observing, writing, travel* ng, and discovering lie has performed, from that juvenile essay of his on the textile fabrics of the ancients to the last line of his " Cosmos," which reminde us of Copernicus reading the last proof-sheet on his death-bed, shortly before his departure ; or of Mozart, who, in his darkened room, directed vnih dying looks the singing of a portion of that requiem which he had in part composed, conscious that his ears would never hear its pealing sounds of resurrection. Let us, one and all, young and old, symbolize by the name of Humboldt the fact that, however untrue assuredly the saying is that genius is labor, it is true that the necessary co-efficient of genius and of any talent is incessant diligence. We are ordained not only to eat the bread of our mouth in the sweat of our brow, but to earn in the same way the nourishing bread of tho mind. This is no world of trifling ; it is a world of work ; and Humboldt, like the Greeks whose intellectuahty he loved to honorwhose Socrates loved to say: "Arduous are all noble things"was a hard-working manfar harder-working than most of those who arrogate the name to themselves. lie ceased to work, and to work liard, only when he laid himself down on that coiich from which he rose no more. I visited Humboldt at Potsdam in the year 1844, when he had reached, therefore, the age of seventy-five; for you know tliat he was born in that remarkable year of 1769, in which Cuvier was born, and Wellington, and Cliateaubriand, and Napeleonjust ten years after Schiller, just twenty after Goethe. Ilumboldft told me at that time that he was engaged on a work which he intended to call " Cosmos." I desire to sho.v what interest he took in everything connected with progress. I have reason to believe that it was chiefly owing to him that the King of Prussia offered to me, not long after my visit, a chair to be created in the University of Berlin, exclusively dedicated to the Science and Ai-t of Punishment, or to Pocnology, as Iliad akeal y called this branch. I had conversed with the monarch on the superiority of solitary confinement at labor over all the other prison systems, when he concluded the interview with these words : " I wish you would convince Mr. von Humboldt of your views. He does not entirely agree with them. I shall let him know that you will see hijn." Humboldt and prison discipline sounded strange to my ears. I went, and found that he loved truth better than his own opinion or bias, and my suggestion that so comprehensive a university as that of Berlin, our common native city, ought to be honored with having the first chair of Poenology, for which it was high time to carve out a distinct branch, treating of the convict in all .his phases after the act of conviction, was seized upon at once by his liberal mind. Many of my young friends have asked me, as their teacher, and, indeed, many other friends have repeated the question Was he not the greatest man Of tlie century ? I do not believe it is fit for man to seat himself on the bench in the chancery of humanity, and there to pronounce this one or that one the greatest man. If all men were counted together, each one of whom has been called in his turn the greatest of all, there would be a crowd of greatest men. Mortals ourselves, we should call no one the greatest. History is abstemious even in attributing simple greatness. But if it is an attribute of greatness to impress an indelible stamp on the collective mind of a race, and to give a new impulse to its intellect ; if greatness, in part, consists in devising that which is good, large, and noble, and iji perseveringly executing it by means which, in the hands of others, would have been insufficient, and against obstacles which would have been insurmountable to others ; if it is great to graft new branches on the trees of science and culture, leading the sap to form henceforth choicer fruit ; if the daring solitude of lofty thought and loyal adhesion to its own royalty is a constituent of greatness ; if lucid common sensethe health and rectitude of our intelligence which avoids, in all direction, the Too-Muchis a requisite of greatness ; if rare and varied gifts, such as mark distinction when singly granted, showered by Providence on one manif this makes up or proves greatness, then indeed we may say, without presumption,that one of the great men has been our own. That period has arrived to which Croesus alluded in the memorable exclamation, "Oh! Solon, Solon, Solon!" And we are now allowed to say that Humboldt was one of the most gifted, most fortunate,and most favored mortalsfavored even with comeliness, with a brow so exquisitely chiseled that, irrespective of its being the symbol of lofty thought, is pleasant to look upon in his busts as a mere beautiful thing ; favored even in his name, so easily uttered by all the nations which were destined to pronounce it. When we pray not only for the kindly fruits of the earth, but also, as we ought to do, for the kindly fruits of the mind, let us always gratefully remember that He who gives all blessed things has given to our age and to all posterity such a man as Humboldt. Tbe Cedars of Lelbanoii. Mr. Jessup, an American missionary, has recently discovered several extensive groves of cedars in Lebanon. Of these there are three of great extent in Southern Lebanon. This grove lately contained 10,000 trees, and had been purchased by a barbarous Sheikh, from the Turkish Government, for the purpose of trying to extract pitch from the wood. The experiment of course failed, and the Sheikh was ruined, but several thousand trees were destroyed in the attempt. One of the trees measured fifteen feet in diameter, and the forest is full of young trees, springing up with great vigor. He also found two small groves on tlie eastern slope of Lebanon, overlooking the Buka'a, above El Medeuk ; and two other large gGO?'es containing many thousand trees, one above El Baruk, and another near Ma'asiv, whore tho trees are very large and equal to any others jail are heing destroyed for firewood* New Style of Fbotograpbs. The process is due to Mr. Charles Durand. Put into a small mortar a teaspoonful of kaolin, add thereto about a quarter of an ounce of sensitive collodio-chloride, and well stir with the pestle until it becomes a smooth paste. Add to this three fourths of an ounce more of the collodion, and again stir, and pour the whole into a bottle with one or two drops of castor oil. Well shake, and place it aside until the coarse particles have subsided. Edge a piece of talc or glass for about a quarter of an inch all roxmd with dilute albumen, afterwards coat with the kaolin collodion, and dry by gentle heat, when the talc or glass, if placed upon a piece of white paper, will have the appearance of alabaster. If the film splits, it should have a trifle more castor oil in the collodion ; but the best remedy is to choose a more powdery collodion. If the film is upon glass, the progress of printing may be examined from the back ; but if talc be the medium used, it may be turned back in the same manner as when printing upon paper. Tone, fix, and wash in the same manner as with an ordinary collodio-chloride print upon opal glass, and mount in a frame or case, to protect the picture from being scratched. It must not be varnished. After three years' trial, the film has been found not to crack or leave the talc or glass after the picture has been once finished. - Many pretty effects may be produced by putting different colored papers behind vignettes produced in this way, as what(jver color is placed behind the picture gives a delicate tinge of that color to the picture. I may add that I have tried oxide of zinc in place of kaolin, and that it also -gives a good effect, but not better than the latter. There is another point worth naming. For those skilled in the use of powder colors, here is the most delightful surface which can possibly be worked on. The surface has a tooth which hites the color most perfectly, and the purity of the white gives a rare delicacy and brilliancy to the applied colors. By skillful manipulation and some knowledge of flesh painting, an efiect resembling a highly-finished miniature can be obtained. A good print produced in this way on mica, and backed, to give warmth, with cream or buff-tinted paper, makes one of the prettiest, cheapest, and most easily produced portraits for a locket which can be de sired.Phifadelphia Photographer.
This article was originally published with the title "The Humboldt Centennial Celebration" in Scientific American 21, 13, 202-203 (September 1869)