Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/328

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In all directions there is good hope for the future. Perhaps, then, you will listen without impatience for a few minutes this evening to one of the laborers who has taken part in the toil of the generation now finishing its work, who looks back, not without a sentiment of pride, on what that generation has done, who points out to you the duties and rewards that are awaiting you, and welcomes you to your task. Let us look at the prospect before us.

The progress of science among us very largely depends on two elements: fiirst, on our educational establishments; second, on our scientific societies. To each of these I propose to direct your attention; and, first, of our colleges:

Prof. Silliman, in his address delivered on the occasion of the centennial of chemistry, at the grave of Priestley, in commemoration of the discovery of oxygen, makes this remark: "The year 1845 marks the beginning: of a new era in the scientific life of America, which is still in active progress, and chemistry has had its full share in this advance." He then enumerates the causes which, in his opinion, had brought about this increased activity. Among them are the centennial celebration of the American Philosophical Society, in Philadelphia, in 1843; the reorganization of the United States Coast Survey, in 1845; the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, in 1846; the enlargement of the American Journal of Science, in the same year; the contemporaneous foundation of the Astronomical Observatory at Cincinnati; the institution of the Analytical Laboratory at Yale College, in 1847; and, simultaneously, the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard. To these he adds especially the establishment of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1848. Coinciding with him fully as to the character and power of these and other local causes which he mentions, I cannot but regard them as being themselves the issues of influences of a much more general kind.

A revolution had been taking place in Europe—a revolution not so much political as industrial or social, though it was followed by political consequences of the most important nature. Its commencements may be seen in the preceding century, in the canal-engineering of Brindley; in the improvements of iron-manufacture; in the construction of all kinds of machinery, which reached its acme when the hand of man was deposed from its office, and, through the slide-rest and planing-machine, engines were made by themselves. Then came the exquisite contrivances for the manufacture of textile fabrics, so that a man could do as much work in a day as he had formerly done in a year, the movement in that direction culminating in the two steam-engines, the condenser and non-condenser. The demand for cotton rose; the value of the slave, its cultivator, was enhanced; and the negro question became the paramount political question in the United States. See how scientific discoveries and inventions lead to