A life-story such as that of Michael Faraday is both easy and difficult to tell—it is easy in that he passed a simple and unadventurous life; it is difficult, partly, perhaps, for the same reason, and partly because the story of his life-work is a story of the wonderful advance made in natural science during the first half of the present century. Any detailed account of that scientific work would be out of place in a biography such as the present, which aims at showing by the testimony of those who knew him and by an account of his relations with his fellow-men, how nobly unselfish, how simple, yet how grand and useful, was the long life of Michael Faraday.
Besides this, we are shown—how many an illustrious name in the bede-roll of our great men brings it to mind— that with an enthusiastic love for a particular study, and unflagging perseverance in pursuance of it, the most adverse circumstance of birth and fortune may be overcome, and he who has striven take rank among the great and good whose names adorn the annals of their country. Such lives are useful, not alone for the work which is done, but for the example which they afford us, that we also—to use Longfellow’s well-known, yet beautifully true lines—
“May make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
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