Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/466

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celebrating. Day before yesterday it was four hnndred years since Christopher Columbus descried the first land of that New World in which now many millions are joyously engaged in commemorating him. For him was the enviable fortune reserved of demonstrating at a stroke, by a bold experiment, the truth of the theory that the earth is round, and of opening at the same time to human enterprise the widest field that had ever been unlocked to it. Let us at this place bring the deserved offering to his genius and his energy. Let us not forget that with him, notwithstanding his mistakes, which have been perhaps made for the moment too prominent, a new era began—an era of new thought and new traffic.

Then mental activity prevailed everywhere; great mathematicians and physical astronomers of the first rank arose; the great reformation in the Church began, and the foundations of modern medicine were laid. We are still in the midst of the movement, but it is victorious everywhere. Our age has been called the scientific age. None of the humanities have escaped this influence. Even the Roman Catholic Church, which endeavored so earnestly to restrain it, has joined it; and an appointed representative of the Evangelical Church, our honored colleague Dillmann, a few years ago spoke in his rectoral address the strong words, “A church which can not bear the light of science, or which has to temper it with colored glasses, should be laid with the dead.” In fact, the modern doctrine of the universe is wholly built up on the ground of natural science, and nobody can seriously deny that it must be so.

The question is therefore permissible, whether the youth of our learned schools should not be advanced further than they are now in this new knowledge. It can be readily granted that there are still questions that have not yet been determined among the learned concerning the instruction that should be excluded from the schools and the instruction in specialties that should be reserved for the universities. But we may ask that a young man, credited with self-reliance enough to make good use of academical freedom, shall be in a condition to absorb without danger the leading facts of astronomy and biology. Can he be regarded as really mature when the whole world around him is to a certain extent closed to him? And how can university instruction effectively influence the young man if he is deprived of the instrument he needs in order to carry on his hard work?

He needs mathematics, not for its own sake, and not merely in order that he may understand the motions of the heavenly bodies; even physics has gradually become a mathematical science; and in chemistry and physiology it is becoming more and more necessary to carry out minute calculations. By their aid