Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/54

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GOLDWIN SMITH


THE SECRET BEYOND SCIENCE[1]


Born in 1823; graduated from Oxford in 1845; Professor of History in Oxford 1858-66; became Professor in Cornell University in 1868; removed to Toronto in 1871.


What is the sum of physical science? Compared with the comprehensible universe and with conceivable time, not to speak of infinity and eternity, it is the observation of a mere point, the experience of an instant. Are we warranted in founding anything upon such data, except that which we are obliged to found upon them—the daily rules and processes necessary for the natural life of man? We call the discoveries of science sublime; and truly. But the sublimity belongs not to that which they reveal, but to that which they suggest. And that which they suggest is, that through this material glory and beauty, of which we see a little and imagine more, there speaks to us a being whose nature is akin to ours, and who has made our hearts capable of such converse. Astronomy has its practical uses, without which man's intellect would scarcely rouse itself to those speculations; but

  1. From an address at the University of Oxford entitled "The Study of History." Printed here by kind permission of Messrs. James Parker & Co.