Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/361

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347
MEDICAL PROFESSION IN MODERN THOUGHT.

cration, and their crown was the martyr's crown of thorns. We have, happily, fallen on better days; the secrets which we win from Nature we may proclaim without fear, and in the confident assurance that, after being proved and tried, they will be accepted; we are fighting a winning fight, and the stars in their courses are with us. What cause, then, for arrogant self-assertion, overbearing aggression, and willful determination to seek occasions of offense? The advantages of our position and strength entail the responsibility of moderation and forbearance, for the strength is not our own—it is the power of the universe working in us to its higher ends.

One may esteem science duly, then, without feeling sympathy with the aggressive delight with which some persons accentuate its hostility to expiring doctrines, and exult in the overthrow of articles of faith which have sustained and solaced multitudes of men in. the dark hours of life and in the darker hour of death. It can be no pleasure to a generous nature, inevitable though it be, to shatter the faith of even the poor Indian, who, driven from his hunting-grounds by the inexorable fate of a stronger race, looks upward with feeble faith to a Great Spirit, and forward with dim hope to the happy hunting-grounds far away where the sun goes down. To aspire to be the first to proclaim the downfall of a position of refuge to which men have clung with passionate earnestness for many generations seems to show "a pitiful ambition in the fool who uses it," a singular blindness to the essential continuity of development, a strange ignorance of what is the final end of all science. A scientific discovery is a very good thing in its way, but it is only a means to an end, after all—the improvement of man's estate—that is to say, his moral and intellectual as well as his material state; and when he who has been happy enough to discover a new metal or a new star or a new cell or a new salt magnifies himself mightily, and fondly dreams of an immortal fame, one cannot help some such feeling of the ludicrous as would be raised by the spectacle of a hodman who, having carried his brick to the building in course of construction, should call upon all the world to take notice of the wonderful work which he had done in architecture. Science has yet to realize, at any rate its cultivators seem oftentimes to forget, that its end must be constructive; that after analysis must come synthesis; that all the analytical work in the world will leave matters in a chaotic state until the constructive spirit, moving over their surface, shall organize the incoherent results, and make them serve for a higher social development. The problem is to make straight in the future a highway over which mankind may pass to a higher life. The philosopher who, with far-reaching eye, overlooks the relations of sciences; the poet who reveals subtilties of human feeling, gives lofty utterance to human sympathies with Nature, and infuses nobler aspirations into men; the preacher of human brotherhood who, inspired with strong moral feeling, proclaims the lessons of self-