Previous Index Next
Page 344
(previous) (Page 000344) (next)

point to that wonderful and mysterious medium which is
the vehicle of light and radiant heat as the probable basis
also of magnetic and electric phenomena. The hope of
such a combination was first raised by the discovery here
referred to.1 Faraday himself seemed to cling with partic-
ular affection to this discovery. He felt that there was
more in it than he was able to unfold. He predicted that
it would grow in meaning with the growth of science. This
it has done; this it is doing now. Its right interpretation
will probably mark an epoch in scientific history.

Rapidly following it is the discovery of Diamagnetism,
or the Repulsion of Matter by a magnet. Brugmans had
shown that bismuth repelled a magnetic needle. Here he
stopped. Le Baillilf proved that antimony did the same.
Here he stopped. Seebeck, Becquerel, and others, also
touched the discovery. These fragmentary gleams excited
a momentary curiosity, and were almost forgotten, when
Faraday, independently, alighted on the same facts; and,
instead of stopping, made them the inlets to a new and
vast region of research. The value of a discovery is to be
measured by the intellectual action it calls forth; and it
was Faraday’s good fortune to strike such lodes of scientific
truth as give some of the best intellects of the age occupa-

The salient quality of Faraday’s scientific character re-
veals itself from beginning to end of these volumes: a union

1 A letter addressed to me by Professor Weber, on the 18th of last
March, contains the following reference to the connection here mentioned:
“ Die Hoffnung einer solchen Combination ist durch Faraday’s Entdeckung
der Drehung der Polarisationsebene durch magnetische Directionskraft
zuerst, und sodann durch die Uebereinstimmung derjenigen Geschwindig-
keit, welche das VerhaItniss der electro-dynamischen Einheit zur electro-
statischen ausdrfickt, mit der Geschwindigkeit des Lichts angeregt
worden; und mir scheint von allen Versuchen, welche zur Verwirklichung
dieser Hoffnung gemacht worden sind, das von Hernn Maxwell gemachte
am erfolgreichsten.”

Previous Index Next