Points of Character.

Points of Character.

A point highly illustrative of the character of Faraday now comes into view. He gave an account of his discovery of Magneto-electricity in a letter to his friend M. Hachette, of Paris, who communicated the letter to the Academy of Sciences. The letter was translated and published; and immediately afterwards two distinguished Italian philosophers took up the subject, made numerous experiments, and published their results before the complete memoirs of Faraday had met the public eye. This evidently irritated him. He reprinted the paper of the learned Italians in the 'Philosophical Magazine,' accompanied by sharp critical notes from himself. He also wrote a letter dated Dec. 1, 1832, to Gay Lussac, who was then one of the editors of the 'Annales de Chimie,' in which he analysed the results of the Italian philosophers, pointing out their errors, and defending himself from what he regarded as imputations on his character. The style of this letter is unexceptionable, for Faraday could not write otherwise than as a gentleman; but the letter shows that had he willed it he could have hit hard. We have heard much of Faraday's gentleness and sweetness and tenderness. It is all true, but it is very incomplete. You cannot resolve a powerful nature into these elements, and Faraday's character would have been less admirable than it was had it not embraced forces and tendencies to which the silky adjectives 'gentle' and 'tender' would by no means apply. Underneath his sweetness and gentleness was the heat of a volcano. He was a man of excitable and fiery nature; but through high self-discipline he had converted the fire into a central glow and motive power of life, instead of permitting it to waste itself in useless passion. 'He that is slow to anger,' saith the sage, 'is greater than the mighty, and he that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh a city.' Faraday was not slow to anger, but he completely ruled his own spirit, and thus, though he took no cities, he captivated all hearts.

As already intimated, Faraday had contributed many of his minor papers--including his first analysis of caustic lime--to the 'Quarterly Journal of Science.' In 1832, he collected those papers and others together in a small octavo volume, labelled them, and prefaced them thus:--

'PAPERS, NOTES, NOTICES, &c., &c., published in octavo, up to 1832.
M. Faraday.'

'Papers of mine, published in octavo, in the "Quarterly Journal of Science," and elsewhere, since the time that Sir H. Davy encouraged me to write the analysis of caustic lime.

'Some, I think (at this date), are good; others moderate; and some bad. But I have put all into the volume, because of the utility they have been of to me--and none more than the bad--in pointing out to me in future, or rather, after times, the faults it became me to watch and to avoid.

'As I never looked over one of my papers a year after it was written without believing both in philosophy and manner it could have been much better done, I still hope the collection may be of great use to me.

'M. Faraday.
'Aug. 18, 1832.'

'None more than the bad!' This is a bit of Faraday's innermost nature; and as I read these words I am almost constrained to retract what I have said regarding the fire and excitability of his character. But is he not all the more admirable, through his ability to tone down and subdue that fire and that excitability, so as to render himself able to write thus as a little child? I once took the liberty of censuring the conclusion of a letter of his to the Dean of St. Paul's. He subscribed himself 'humbly yours,' and I objected to the adverb. 'Well, but, Tyndall,' he said, 'I am humble; and still it would be a great mistake to think that I am not also proud.' This duality ran through his character. A democrat in his defiance of all authority which unfairly limited his freedom of thought, and still ready to stoop in reverence to all that was really worthy of reverence, in the customs of the world or the characters of men.

And here, as well as elsewhere, may be introduced a letter which bears upon this question of self-control, written long years subsequent to the period at which we have now arrived. I had been at Glasgow in 1855, at a meeting of the British Association. On a certain day, I communicated a paper to the physical section, which was followed by a brisk discussion. Men of great distinction took part in it, the late Dr.

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