Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/389

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studying the familiar phenomena of Nature. He keenly felt that his life had been made less enjoyable to himself and less valuable to the public for want of that early cultivation of the observing powers by natural objects, of which we have just been speaking, as the great defect of our common education. He knew nothing of science, but he never despised it, as is too common with the devotees of literature and politics, who are generally ignorant of it; and he was always strong in his condemnation of our educational system, because of its culpable neglect of scientific studies. He was emphatic in insisting that the study of natural things should be commenced in childhood, so as to maintain a place in after-development, for he saw how difficult it is, when the mind becomes engrossed with other knowledge, to give proper attention to the study of science. Mr. Greeley's love of Nature was a profound and genuine feeling, and his interest in rural affairs was very far from being an affectation. All who are familiar with the course of the Tribune in its early days will remember the prominence given to science in its columns—the copious illustrated reports of the lectures of Lardner and Agassiz, and the fulness and ability of its treatment of scientific agriculture. Had it not been for the all disturbing influence of the antislavery convulsions which distracted the country for twenty years, this early policy of the Tribune would undoubtedly have been carried out in a systematic way, and with the most salutary public results. If Mr. Greeley did not understand science, and was therefore unable to assist in its direct development, he, nevertheless, appreciated the noble part it is to play in the world's affairs, and the great service the press can render in promoting it; and, in the card announcing his return to the editorial control of the Tribune, he stated that this would be among the great objects to which he proposed to dedicate the remainder of his life. It is to be hoped that the managers of that journal will share in the discernment of its founder, and, as its history is indissolubly linked with the diffusion of ideas among the American people, that they will see to it that its future shall, in this respect, be worthy of its past.



In the same ship came two wise men from the East, at the urgent solicitation of our people, to instruct them by public lectures. But it turns out that there are different kinds of wisdom, and our illustrious teachers represent very diverse sorts of it. Prof. Tyndall accepts, as the problem of his life-study, the universe as it is. By the help of all that has been hitherto revealed concerning the order and harmony of Nature, he engages with the living phenomena of the world as it exists around us, and is accessible to all. To understand the present on-goings of the universe, the course and polity of Nature, and the living laws by what we are all enmeshed, is his supreme and immediate task. Not what men have thought in past times, nor what they may happen to think now, but what can be demonstrated, and what all can actually know to be true, is his great concern. Asking no man to take his bare word, he shows us facts that can be recognized, principles that can be proved, laws that can be verified, truths that can no more be resisted than the physical forces themselves. He speaks to us of the order of Nature in its latest and grandest interpretations, and with such force of proof that his crowded listeners are convinced, and assent to his utterances as one man. Multitudes in our leading cities have heard him with eager attention; but there has not been a ripple of criticism or dissent even sufficient to indicate his presence among