Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/142

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lie; while the very instruments used by Davy, and which I first saw figured in the pages of the journal just mentioned, are the identical and familiar instruments with which my lectures in London are now illustrated.

Another point brought more or less home to me in those early days was the injury inflicted on the learner by bad scientific exposition. It does more than the negative damage of withholding instruction. It daunts the young mind, and saps the motive power of self-reliance. This I had experienced; and the essays referred to had this special value for me, that they not only instructed me, but gave me faith in my own capacity to be instructed. Since those days I have written books myself, and in doing so have tried to remember, and to act on the remembrance, that the labor spent in logically ordering one's thoughts, and in saying what one has to say clearly and correctly, is labor well bestowed.

The position assumed at the outset has, I think, been now made good. Glasgow in my case cast its bread upon the waters, and lo! it has returned after many days. Of the nutritive value of the return it is not for me to speak; for it may well have been soured by fortuitous ferments, mixed by the world's tainted atmosphere with the first pure leaven derived from the pages of The Practical Mechanics and Engineer's Magazine.

The figure of speech here employed will become more intelligible as we proceed; for it is my desire and intention to spend the coming hour in speaking to you about ferments, not in a metaphorical, but in a real sense. Proper treatment is, I am persuaded, the only thing needed to make the subject both pleasant and profitable to you. For our knowledge of fermentation, and of the ground it covers, has augmented surprisingly of late, while every fresh accession to that knowledge strengthens the hope that its final issues will be of incalculable advantage to mankind.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the age in which we live is its desire and tendency to connect itself organically with preceding ages—to ascertain how the state of things that now is came to be what it is. And the more earnestly and profoundly this problem is studied, the more clearly comes into view the vast and varied debt which the world of to-day owes to that fore-world in which man, by skill, valor, and well-directed strength, first replenished and subdued the earth. Our prehistoric fathers may have been savages, but they were clever and observant ones. They founded agriculture by the discovery and development of seeds whose origin is now unknown. They tamed and harnessed their animal antagonists, and sent them clown to us as ministers, instead of rivals, in the fight for life. Later on, when the claims of luxury added themselves to those of necessity, we find the same spirit of invention at work. We have no historic account of the first brewer, but we glean from history that his art