Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/757

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737
SCIENCE AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS.

The honored guest of this evening comes among us as another of those men who, in following a very high vocation, have given no thought to money-getting.

Of course, indirectly, his brilliant discoveries have, in many cases, aided to heap up gold in the world's coffers, but that has not been the direct object of his life-work. As to the money value of most of his discoveries, you might as well try to fix the worth of a fixed star, or a baby. His career has been that of a seeker for new truth—and an eloquent proclaimer of it; and it is in this apostolate that he has been so warmly welcomed in this great metropolis of money-making.

The toast, sir, to which you ask me to speak is, "The Relation of Science to Political Progress."

Now, sir, I maintain that the true spirit of scientific research—incarnate before us in our honored guest—embracing as it does zeal in search for truth, devotion to duty which such a search imposes, faith in good as the normal and necessary result of such a search that such a spirit is, at this moment, one of the most needed elements in the political progress of our country.

I might go on to show how usefully certain scientific methods might be brought to bear on the formation of political judgments, and in determining courses of political action. I might show how even a very moderate application of scientific principles would save us from what is constantly going on in municipal, State, or national legislation—the basing of important statutes to-day, on the supposition that two and two make four, and to-morrow on the theory that two and two make forty; but the hour is late, and I spare you; I will confine myself simply to the value, in our political progress, of the spirit and example of our honored friend, and of those like him.

What is the example which reveals that spirit? It is an example of zeal—zeal in search for the truth, sought for truth's sake—and not for the sake of material advantage; it is an example of thoroughness—of the truth sought in its wholeness, not in dilutions or adaptations, or suppressions, supposed to be healthy for this man's mind, or that man's soul; it is an example of bravery—the fearlessness that leads a truth-seeker to brave all outcry and menace; it is an example of devotion to duty; without which, for a steady force, as Prof. Tyndall just now observed, no worthy scientific work can be accomplished; and, finally, an example of faith—of a high and holy faith that the results of earnest truth-seeking cannot be other than good—faith that truth and goodness are inseparable—faith that there is a Power in the universe which forbids any honest truth-seeking to lead to lasting evil. A faith, this is, which has had its "noble army of martyrs" from long before Roger Bacon down to this present—martyrs not less real than that devoted saint, from whom, as I understand, our guest takes his name, who perished in the flames as a martyr to religious duty.

What I maintain then, is, that this zeal for truth as truth, this faith.,