Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/295

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY



APRIL, 1907



PIONEERS OF SCIENCE IN AMERICA[1]

Benjamin Franklin

By Dr. S. WEIR MITCHELL
PHILADELPHIA, PA.

WE are here, as I understand, to unveil memorial busts of Americans distinguished in science. I, Sir, am honored by the privilege of speaking of Benjamin Franklin. This man, the father of American Science, was possessed of mental gifts unequaled in his day. Even yet he holds the highest place in the intellectual peerage of a land where, in his time, men had few interests which were not material or political. But no man entirely escapes the despotic influences of his period. Thus in every life there are unfulfilled possibilities, and so it was that, paraphrasing Goldsmith, we may say that Franklin to country gave up what was meant for mankind, when with deep regret he resigned, in middle life, all hope of whole-souled devotion to science. When most productive his scientific fertility was the more remarkable because of the other forms of dutiful activity which in a life that knew no rest left small leisure for those hours of quiet thought without which science is unfruitful of result.

  1. There were unveiled at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, on December 29, ten marble busts of American men of science, designed by Mr. William Couper and presented by Mr. Morris K. Jesup, the president of the museum. The occasion was arranged in honor of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the affiliated societies meeting at the time in New York City. The exercises took place in the presence of a distinguished audience that crowded the large lecture hall of the museum. By the courtesy of the director of the museum, Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus, we are able to print here the addresses given in connection with the unveiling and photographs of the busts.—Editor.