Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/44

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

all the chemists the association contains will not transmute a layman into any more precious kind of metal. Yet it is my hard destiny to have to address on scientific matters probably the most competent scientific audience in the world. If a country gentleman, who was also a colonel of volunteers, were by any mental aberration on the part of the commander-in-chief to be appointed to review an army corps at Aldershot, all military men would doubtless feel a deep compassion for his inevitable fate. I bespeak some spark of that divine emotion when I am attempting to discharge under similar conditions a scarcely less hopeless duty. At least, however, I have the consolation of feeling that I am free from some of the anxieties which have fallen to those who have preceded me as presidents in this city. The relations of the association and the university are those of entire sympathy and good will, as becomes common workers in the sacred cause of diffusing enlightenment and knowledge. But we must admit that it was not always so. A curious record of a very different state of feeling came to light last year in the interesting biography of Dr. Pusey, which is the posthumous work of Canon Liddon. In it is related the first visit of the association to Oxford in 1832. Mr. Keble, at that time a leader of university thought, writes indignantly to his friend to complain that the honorary degree of D. C. L. had been bestowed upon some of the most distinguished members of the association. "The Oxford doctors," he says, "have truckled sadly to the spirit of the times in receiving the hodge-podge of philosophers as they did." It is amusing, at this distance of time, to note the names of the hodge-podge of philosophers whose academical distinction so sorely vexed Mr. Keble's gentle spirit. They were Brown, Brewster, Faraday, and Dalton. When we recollect the lovable and serene character of Keble's nature, and that he was at that particular date probably the man in the university who had the greatest power over other men's minds, we can measure the distance we have traversed since that time, and the rapidity with which the converging paths of these two intellectual luminaries, the university and the association, have approximated to each other. This sally of Mr. Keble's was no passing or accidental caprice. It represented a deep-seated sentiment in this place of learning, which had its origin in historic causes, and which has only died out in our time. One potent cause of it was that both bodies were teachers of science, but did not then in any degree attach the same meaning to that word. Science with the university for many generations bore a signification different from that which belongs to it in this assembly. It represented the knowledge which alone in the middle ages was thought worthy of the name of science. It was the knowledge gained not by external observation, but by mere reflection. The