Popular Science Monthly/Volume 5/September 1874/The Nobility of Knowledge
|THE NOBILITY OF KNOWLEDGE.|
ERVING PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY AND MINERALOGY IN HARVARD COLLEGE.
WITHIN a comparatively few years schools for the instruction of artisans have become a prominent feature in the educational systems both of this country and of Europe, and seem destined to supersede the old system of apprenticeships. The establishment of these schools has been an important step in human progress, not because any great advantage has been gained in the cultivation of mechanical skill, but because here the future mechanic acquires culture of the mind as well as skill of the hand. Indeed, it may be doubted whether our utilitarian age can ever successfully compete with those "elder days of art" when
But, if our industrial schools do not make better mechanics than the workshops of the olden time, they certainly educate better men, and, by adding to skill, knowledge, they are elevating the mechanic and ennobling his calling.
If, therefore, these schools are the representatives in our age of the workshops with their bands of apprentices in the days of yore, then that by which the schools are distinguished, that which they have added to the old system, is not art but mental culture; and therefore, when asked to address you on this occasion, I could think of no more appropriate subject than the Nobility of Knowledge. Identified with an institution in which mental culture is the chief aim, I felt that I was asked to address a body of cultivated working-men with whom, though employed in the mechanic arts, the acquisition of knowledge was also a privilege and a pride. I felt, moreover, that a proper appreciation of the true dignity of knowledge, in itself considered, and apart from all economical considerations, is one of the great wants of our age and of our country.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge is wealth. These trite maxims are sufficiently esteemed in our community, and need not that they be enforced by any one. So far as knowledge will yield immediate distinction or gain, it is sought and fostered by multitudes. But when the aim is low the attainment is low, and too many of our students are satisfied with superficiality, if it only glitters, and with charlatanry, if it only brings gold.
Let me not be understood to depreciate the material advantages of learning. I rejoice that in this world knowledge frequently yields wealth and fame, and I should have little hope for human progress were the prizes of scholarship less than they are. Power and wealth are noble aims, and when rightly used may be the means of conferring unmeasured blessings on mankind; but I desire at this time to impress upon you, my friends, the fact that knowledge has nobler fruits than these, and that the worth of your knowledge is to be measured not by the credits it will add to your account in the ledger or the position it may give you among men, but by the extent to which it educates your higher nature, and elevates you in the scale of manhood.
I address young men who are just entering on life, who are at an age when the mystery of our being usually presses most closely upon the soul, and whose aspirations for higher culture and clearer vision have not been deadened by the sordid damps of the world. Trust no croakers who tell you that your youthful visions are illusions, which a little contact with the real business of the world will dispel. It is only too true that these visions will become fainter and fainter, if you allow the cares of the world to engross your thoughts; but, unless your higher nature becomes wholly deadened, you will look back to the time when the visions were brightest, as the golden period of your life, and let me assure you that, if you only are true to the aspirations of your youth, they will become clearer and clearer to the last, and, as we firmly believe, will prove to be the dawn of the perfect day.
My friends, if you have seen these visions, "the nobility of knowledge" has been a reality of your experience. You know that there is a life lived in communion with the thoughts of great men or with the thoughts of God as we can read them in Nature and Revelation, which is purer and nobler than a life of money-making or political intrigue, and I would that I could so bring you to appreciate not only the nobility, but also the happiness, of such a life as to induce you to try to live it. Do you tell me that it is only granted to a few men to become scholars, and that you have been educated for some industrial pursuit? But remember, as I said before, that it is your special privilege to have been educated, to have added knowledge to your handicraft, and that this very knowledge, if kept alive so far as you are able, will ennoble your life. Knowledge, like the fairy's wand, ennobles whatever it touches. The humblest occupations are adorned by it, and without it the most exalted positions appear to true men mean and low.
Nor is it the extent of the knowledge, alone, which ennobles, but much more the spirit and aim with which it is cultivated, and that spirit and aim you may carry into any occupation however engrossing, and into any condition of life however obscure.
And let me add that what I have said is true not only of the individual, but also, and to an even greater degree, of the nation. Our people, for the most part, look upon universities and other higher institutions of learning as merely schools for recruiting the learned professions, and estimate their efficiency solely by the amount of teaching-work which they perform. But, however important the teaching function of the university may be, I need not tell you that this is not its only or chief value to a community. The university should be the centre of scientific investigation and literary culture, the nursery of lofty aspirations and noble thoughts, and thus should become the soul of the higher life of the nation. For this and this chiefly it should be sustained and honored, and no cost and no sacrifice can be too great, which is required to maintain its efficiency. And its success should be measured by the amount of knowledge it produces rather than by the amount of instruction it imparts.
Harvard College, by cherishing and honoring the great naturalist she has recently lost, has done more for Massachusetts than by educating hosts of commonplace professional men. The simple title of teacher, which in his last will Louis Agassiz wrote after his name, was a nobler distinction than any earthly authority could confer; but remember he was a teacher not of boys, but of men, and his influence depended not on the instruction in natural history which he gave in his lecture-room, but on his great discoveries, his far-reaching generalization, and his noble thoughts. Although that man died poor, as the world counts poverty, yet the bequest which he left to this people cannot be estimated in coin.
It is a sorry confession to make, but it is nevertheless the truth, that, if we compare our American universities, in point of literary or scientific productiveness, with those of the Old World, they will appear lamentably deficient. Let me add, however, that this deficiency arises not from any want of proper aims in our scholars, but simply from the circumstance that our people do not sufficiently appreciate the value of the higher forms of literary and scientific work to bear the burden which the production necessarily entails. Scholars must live, as well as other men, and in a style which is in harmony with their surroundings and cultivated tastes, and their best efforts cannot be devoted to the extension of knowledge unless they are relieved from anxiety in regard to their daily bread.
In our colleges the professors are paid for teaching and for teaching only, while in a foreign university the teaching is wholly secondary, and the professor is expected to announce in his lectures the results of his own study, and not the thoughts of other men. Until the whole status of the professors in our chief universities can be changed, very little original thought or investigation can be expected, and these institutions cannot become what they should be, the soul of the higher life of the nation. It is in your power, however, to bring about this change, but the reform can be effected in only one way. You must give to your universities the means of supporting fully and generously those men of genius who have shown themselves capable of extending the boundaries of human knowledge, and demand of them, only, that they devote their lives to study and research, and let me assure you that no money can be spent which will yield a larger or more valuable return.
If you do not look beyond your material interests, the higher life of the nation, which you will thus serve to cherish and foster, will guard your honor, and protect your home; and, on the other hand, what can you expect in a nation whose highest ideal is the dollar, or what the dollar will buy, but venality, corruption, and ultimate ruin?
But, rising at once to the noblest considerations, and regarding only the welfare of your country and the education of your race, what higher service can you render than by sustaining and cherishing the grandest thought, the purest ideals, and the loftiest aspirations, which humanity has reached, and making your universities the altars where the holy fire shall be kept ever burning bright and warm?
Do you think me an enthusiast? Look back through history, and see for yourselves what has made the nations great and glorious. Why is it that, after twenty centuries, the memory of ancient Greece is still enshrined among the most cherished traditions of our race? Is it not because Homer sang, Phidias wrought, and Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Thucydides, with a host of others, thought and wrote? Or, if for you the military exploits of that classic age have the greater charm, do not forget that, were it not for Grecian literature, Thermopylæ, Marathon, and Salamis, would have been long since forgotten, and that the bravery, self-devotion, and patriotism, which these names embalm, were the direct fruits of that higher life which those great thinkers illustrated and sustained. And, coming down to modern times, what are the shrines in our mother-country which we chiefly venerate, and to which the transatlantic pilgrim oftenest directs his steps? Is it her battle-field, her castles and baronial halls, or such spots as Stratford-on-Avon, Abbotsford, and Rydal Mount? Why, then, will we not learn the lesson which history so plainly teaches, and strive for those achievements in knowledge and mental culture which will be remembered with gratitude when all local distinctions and political differences shall have passed away and been forgotten?
While I was considering the line of discourse which I should follow on this occasion, an incident occurred suggesting an historical parallel, which will illustrate, better than any reflections of mine, the truth I would enforce. The ship Faraday arrived on our coast after laying over the bed of the Atlantic another of those electric nerves through which pulsate the thoughts of two continents, and, as I read the description of that noble ship, fitted out with all the appliances, which modern science had created to insure the successful accomplishment of the enterprise, I remembered that not a century had elapsed since the first obscure phenomena were observed, whose conscientious study, pursued with the unselfish spirit of the scientific investigator, had led to these momentous results, and my imagination carried me back to an autumn day of the year 1786, in the old city of Bologna, in Italy, and I seemed to assist at the memorable experiment which has associated the name of Aloysius Galvani with that mode of electrical energy which flashes through the wire-cords that now unite the four quarters of the globe.
Galvani is Professor of Anatomy in the University of Bologna, and there is hanging from the iron balcony of his house a small animal preparation, which is not an unfamiliar sight in Southern Europe, where it is regarded as a delicacy of the table. It is the hind-legs of a frog, from which the skin had been removed, and the great nerve of the back exposed. Six years before, his attention had been called to the fact that the muscles of the frog were convulsed by the indirect action of an electrical machine, under conditions which he had found very difficult to interpret. He had connected the phenomenon with a theory of his own: that electricity—that is, common friction electricity, the only mode of electrical action then known—was the medium of all nervous action; and this had led him into a protracted investigation of the subject, during which he had varied the original experiment in a thousand ways, and he had now suspended the frog's legs to the iron balcony, in order to discover if atmospheric electricity would have any effect on the muscles of the animal.
Galvani has spent a long day in fruitless watching, when, while holding in his hand a brass wire, connected with the muscles of the frog, he rubs the end, apparently listlessly, against the iron railing, when, lo! the frog's legs are convulsed.
The patient waiting had been rewarded, for this observation was the beginning of a line of discovery which was ere long to revolutionize the world. But Galvani was not destined to follow far the new path he had thus opened. The remarkable fact observed was this: The convulsions of the frog's legs could be produced without the intervention of electricity, or, at least, of the one kind of electricity then known, and Galvani soon found out that the only condition necessary to produce the result was, that the nerve of the frog should be connected with the muscle of the leg by some good electrical conductor. But, although Galvani followed up this observation with the greatest zeal, and showed remarkable sagacity throughout his whole investigation, yet he was too strongly wedded to his own theory to interpret correctly the facts he observed. He supposed, to the end of his life, that the whole effect was caused by animal electricity flowing through the conductor from the nerve to the muscle, and his experiments were chiefly interesting to himself and to his contemporaries, from the light they were supposed to throw on the mysterious principle of life. We now know that animal electricity played only a small part in the phenomena he observed, and that the chief effects were due to a cause of which he was wholly ignorant.
Galvani published his observations in 1791, in a monograph entitled "The Action of Electricity in Muscular Motion." This publication excited the most marked attention, and, within a year, all Europe was experimenting on frogs' legs. The phenomena were everywhere reproduced, but Galvani's explanation of the phenomena was by no means so universally accepted. His theory was controverted in many quarters, and by no one more successfully than by Alexander Volta, Professor of Physics in the neighboring University of Pavia. Volta, while admitting, with Galvani, that the muscular contractions were caused by electricity, explained the origin of the electricity in a wholly different way. According to Volta, the electricity originated not in the animal, but in the contact of the dissimilar metals, or other materials used in the experiment. This difference of opinion led to one of the most remarkable controversies in the history of science, and for six years, until his death in 1798, Galvani was occupied in defending his theory of animal electricity against the assaults of his distinguished countryman.
This discussion created the liveliest interest throughout Europe. Every scholar of science took sides with one or the other of these eminent Italian philosophers, and the scientific world became divided into the school of Galvani and the school of Volta. Yet, so far at least as the fundamental experiment was concerned, both were wrong. The electricity came neither from the body of the frog nor from the contact of dissimilar kinds of matter, but was the result of chemical action, which both had equally overlooked. But, nevertheless, the controversy led to the most important results: for Volta, while endeavoring to sustain his false theory by experimental proofs, was led to the discovery of the voltaic pile, or, as we now call it, the voltaic battery, an instrument whose influence on civilization can be compared only with the printing-press and the steam-engine. Yet, although the whole action of the battery was in direct contradiction to his pet theory, still, to the last, Volta persistently defended the erroneous doctrine he had espoused in his controversy with Galvani thirty years before, and he died in 1827, without realizing how great a boon he had been instrumental in conferring on mankind; so true it is, that Providence works out her bright designs even through the blindness and mistakes of man.
But there is another lesson to be learned from this history, which cannot be too often rehearsed in this self-sufficient age, which boasts so proudly of its practical wisdom. There were, doubtless, many practical men in that city of Bologna to smile at their sage professor who had spent ten long years in studying, to little apparent purpose, the twitchings of frogs' hind-legs, and there was many a jest among the courtiers of Europe at the expense of the learned philosophers who "wasted" so much time in discussing the cause of such trivial phenomena. But how is it now?
Less than a century has passed since Galvani's death; and, in a small hut, on the shores of Valentia Bay, may be seen one of the most skillful of a new class of practical men, representing a profession which owes its origin to Galvani and Volta. This electrician is watching a spot of light on the scale of an instrument which is called a galvanometer. Since the fathers fell asleep, the field of knowledge which they first entered has spread out wider and wider before the untiring explorers who have succeeded them. Oersted and Seebeck, Arago and Ampère, Faraday and our own Henry, have made wonderful discoveries in that field; and other great men, like Steinheil, Wheatstone, Morse, and Thomson, have invented ingenious instruments and appliances, by which these discoveries might be made to yield great practical results.
The spot of light, which the electrician is watching, is reflected from one of the latest of these inventions—the reflecting galvanometer of Thomson. He and his assistants had been watching by turns the same spot for several days, since the Great Eastern had steamed from the bay, paying out a cable of insulated wire. These electricians had no anxiety as to the result, for daily signals had been exchanged between the ship and the shore, as hundreds after hundreds of miles of this electrical conductor had been laid on the bed of the broad ocean. The coast of Newfoundland had already been reached, and they were only waiting for the landing of the cable at the now far-distant end.
At length the light quivers, and the spot begins to move! It answers to concerted signals! And soon the operator spells out the joyful message. The ocean has been spanned with an electric nerve, and the New World responds to the greetings of the Old.
Here is something practical, which all can appreciate, and all are ready to honor. We honor the courage which conceived, the skill which executed, and, above all, the success which crowned the undertaking. But, do we not forget that professor of Bologna with his frogs' legs, who sowed the seed from which all this has sprung? He labored without hope of temporal reward, stimulated by the pure love of truth; and the grain which he planted has brought forth this abundant harvest. Do we not forget, also, that succession of equally noble men, Volta, and Oersted, and Faraday, with many other not less devoted investigators of electrical science, without whose unselfish labors the great result never could have been achieved? Such men, of course, need no recognition at our hands, and I ask the question not for their sakes, but for ours. The intellectual elevation of the lives they led was their all-sufficient reward.
It is, however, of the utmost importance for us, citizens of a country with almost unlimited resources, that we should recognize what are the real springs of true national greatness and enduring influence. In this age of material interests, the hand is too ready to say to the head, "I have no need of thee," and, amid the ephemeral applause which follows the realization of some triumph over matter, we are apt to be deceived, and not observe whence the power came. We associate the great invention with some man of affairs who overcame the last material obstacle, and who, although worthy of all praise, probably added very little to the total wealth of knowledge, of which the invention was an immediate consequence; and, not seeing the antecedents, we are apt to underrate the part which the student or scientific investigator may have contributed to the result.
It is idle, for example, to speak of the electric telegraph as invented by any single man. It was a growth of time; and many of the men who contributed to win this great victory of mind over space "builded far better than they knew." As I view the subject, that invention is as much a gift of Providence as if the details had been supernaturally revealed. But, whatever may be our speculative views, it is of the utmost importance to the welfare of our community that we should realize the fact that purely theoretical scientific study, pursued for truth's sake, is the essential prerequisite for such inventions. Knowledge is the condition of invention. The old Latin word invenio signifies to meet with, or to find, and these great gifts of God are met with along the pathway of civilization; but the throng of the world passes them unnoticed, for only those can recognize the treasure whose minds have been stored with the knowledge which the scholar has discovered and made known.
If, then, as no one will deny, science and scholarship are the powers by which improvements in the useful arts are made, I might appeal to your self-interest to support and cherish them. But I should despise myself for appealing to such a motive, and you for requiring it. The supreme importance of science and scholarship to a nation does not depend in the least on the circumstance that important practical results may follow. When, as in the case of Galvani's frogs, they come in the order of Providence, let us thank God for them as a gift which we had no right either to expect or demand. Science, if studied successfully, must be studied for the pure love of truth; and, if we serve her solely for mercenary ends, her truths, the only gold she offers, will turn to dross in our hands, and we shall degrade ourselves in proportion as we dishonor her. Galvani, and Volta, and Oersted, who discovered the truths of which the electric telegraph is a simple application, sure to be made as soon as the time was ripe, are not the less to be honored because they died before the fullness of that time had come. We honor them for the truths they discovered, and the lustre of their consecrated lives could be neither enhanced nor impaired by subsequent events; and it is because I am persuaded that such lives are the salt of the world, the saviors of society, that I would lead you to cherish and sustain them; and, that I may enforce this conclusion, allow me to ask your attention to another historical incident, which presents a striking parallelism to the last.
I must take you back to a period which we, of a nation born but yesterday, regard as distant, but which was one of the most noted epochs of modern history—the age of Luther and the Reformation. I must ask you to accompany me to the small town of Allenstein, near Frauenberg, in Eastern Prussia, where, on the 23d of May, 1543, there lay dying one of the great benefactors of mankind. This man, old at seventy years, "bent and furrowed with labor, but in whose eye the fire of genius was still glowing," was then known as one of the most learned men of his time. Doctor of Medicine as well as of Theology, Canon of Frauenberg, Honorary Professor of Bologna and Rome, while devoting his leisure to study, he had passed a life of active benevolence in administering to the bodily as well as the spiritual wants of the ignorant people among whom his lot had been cast. He was also a great mechanical genius, and, by various labor-saving machines, of his own invention, he had contributed greatly to the welfare of the surrounding country; but the superstitious peasants, although they had hitherto reverenced the great man as their best friend and benefactor, had been recently incited by his enemies and rivals in the Church to curse him as a heretic and a wizard. A few days back he had been the unwilling witness of one of those out-of-door spectacles, so common at that time, in which his scientific opinions had been travestied, his charities ridiculed, and his devoted life made the object of slander and reproach. This ingratitude of his flock had broken his heart, and he could not recover from the blow.
The occasion of this outburst of fanaticism was the approaching publication of a work in which he had dared to question the received opinions of theologians and schoolmen, in regard to cosmogony. He had, forsooth, denied that the visible firmament was a solid azure-colored shell, to which the sun and planets were fastened, and through whose opened doors the rain descended. He had proved that the sun was the centre of the system, around which the earth and planets revolved, and, with his clear scientific vision, he had been able to gain glimpses, at least, of the grand conceptions of modern astronomy: For this man was Nicolas Copernicus, and the expected book was his great work—"De Orbium Cœlestium Revolutionibus"—destined to form the broad basis of astronomical science. The work was printing at Nuremberg, and the last proofs had been returned; but reports had come that a similar outburst of fanaticism was raging at that place, that a mob had burnt the manuscript on the public square, and had threatened to break the press should the printing proceed. But, thanks to God! the old man was not to die before the hour of triumph came. While still conscious, a horse, covered with foam, gallops to the door of his humble dwelling, and an armed messenger enters the chamber, who, breathless with haste, places in the hands of the dying man a volume still wet from the press. He has only strength to return a smile of recognition, and murmur the last words:
Grand close of a noble life! The seed has been sown—what could we desire more?
Again the centuries roll on—not one, but three; while the seed grows to a great tree, which overshadows the nations. Great minds have never been wanting to cherish and prune it, like Tycho Brahe and Kepler, Galileo and Newton, Laplace and Lagrange; and although at times some, while lingering in the deep shade of the foliage, may have lost sight of the summit, the noble tree has ever pointed upward to direct aspiration and encourage hope.
On the evening of the 24th of September, 1846, in the Observatory of Berlin, a trained astronomical observer was carefully measuring the position of a faint star in the constellation Capricorn. Only the day before, he had received from Le Verrier a letter announcing the result of that remarkable investigation which has made the name of this distinguished French astronomer so justly celebrated. By the studies of the great men who succeeded Copernicus, his system had become so perfected as to enable the astronomer to predict, with unerring certainty, the paths of the planets through the heavens. But there was one failing case.
The planet Uranus, then supposed to be the outer planet of the solar system, wandered from the path which theory assigned to it; and although the deviations were but small, yet any discrepancy between theory and observation in so accurate a science as astronomy could not be overlooked. Long before this, the hypothesis had been advanced that the deviations were caused by the attractive force of an unseen and still more distant planet; but, as no such planet had been discovered, the hypothesis had remained until now wholly barren. The hypothesis, however, was reasonable, and furnished the only conceivable explanation of the facts; and, moreover, if true, the received system of astronomy ought to be able to assign the position and magnitude of the disturbing body, the magnitude and direction of the displacements being given.
This possibility was generally appreciated by astronomers, and the very great length and difficulty of the mathematical calculation which the investigation involved was probably the reason that no one had hitherto undertaken it. Le Verrier, however, had both the courage and the youthful strength required for the work. And now the great work had been done; and, on the 18th of September, Le Verrier had sent to the Observatory of Berlin his communication announcing the final result, namely, that the planet would be found about 5° to the east of the star Delta of Capricorn.
The letter containing this announcement was received by Galle, at Berlin, on the 23d, and it was Galle whom we left measuring the position of that faint star on the evening of the 24th. It so happened that a chart of that portion of the heavens had recently been prepared by the Berlin Observatory, and was on the eve of publication; and, on the very evening he received the letter, Galle had found, near the position assigned by Le Verrier, a faint star, which was not marked on this chart. The object differed in appearance from the surrounding stars, but still it was perfectly possible that it might be a fixed star which had escaped previous observation.
But, if a fixed star, its position in the constellation would not vary, while, if a planet, a single night would show a perceptible change of place. Hence, you may conceive of the interest with which Galle was measuring anew its position on the evening of the 24th.
The star had moved, and in the direction which theory indicated; and for once, at least, the world rang with applause at a brilliant scientific conquest, from which there was not one cent of money to be made. Yet, was that conquest any the less important to the world? What had it secured? It had confirmed the theory of astronomy which Copernicus and his successors had built up, and it had clinched the last nail in the proof that those grand conceptions of modern astronomy, now household thoughts, are realities, and not dreams. Certainly no military conquest can compare with this.
Do you smile at the enthusiasm which rates so high a purely intellectual achievement? Go out with me under, the heavens, in some starlit night, and, looking up into the depths of space, recall the truths you have learned in regard to that immensity, and allow the imagination free scope as it stretches out into the infinitudes of time, space, and power, carrying the mind on, bound by bound, through the limitless expanse, until even the imagination refuses to follow, and fairly quails before the mighty form of the Infinite, which rises to confront it! Remember now that your forefathers, of only a few centuries back, saw there nothing but a solid dome hemming in the earth and skies, and that you are able to look upon this grand spectacle only because great minds have lived who have opened your intellectual eyes; and then answer me, is not this result worth all the labor, all the sacrifice, all the treasure, it has cost?
Every educated man, who has not sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, lives a grander and a nobler life, because the great astronomers have thought and taught, and this elevation of human life is the greatest achievement of which man can boast. Before it all material conquests appear of little worth, and the lustre of all military or civil glory grows dim. Cherish this intellectual life; foster it; sustain it; do what you can by your own spirit and influence, and, if you are blest with riches, give of your abundance to support and encourage those who, by genius, talent, and devotion, will widen the intellectual kingdom. Be assured you will thus help to confer an inestimable boon on your race and on your country; and the influence for good will not be felt by the intellectual life of the nation only; that corruption which is now festering at the heart of our body politic, and threatening its destruction, can in no way be fought and conquered so effectually as by keeping constantly before the nation noble and high ideals; for, where the higher life is cherished and honored, the mercenary and sensual motives of action, which both invite and shield corruption, lose much of their force and power.
But you may tell me that there is a life higher than the intellectual life, and that I have ascribed to science and scholarship influences which come only from a source which I have forgotten, or left out of view. My friends, all truth is one and inseparable, and I have therefore made no-distinction in this address between the truths of science and the truths of religion. That grand old word knowledge, as I have used it, includes both, and in just the proportion that you reverence religion, you must reverence also, true science. All truth is God's truth, and, in praying for the coming of his kingdom, you certainly do not expect that Nature will be divorced from Grace. If the truths of religion required a special revelation, it must be expected that they would transcend human intelligence. These very conditions imply conflict, but the conflict comes not from the knowledge, but from the ignorance and conceit of men; and the only proper attitude for the devout scholar is 'to labor and to wait.' And what more wonderful confirmation could we have of the essential unity of the two phases of truth than is to be found in the fact that the characteristic of science, which I have been endeavoring to illustrate in this address, is the great prominent feature of Christianity. Christianity was revealed in a life, and ever abides a life in the soul of man, to purify, ennoble, and redeem humanity.
With human hands, the creed of creeds,
In loveliness of perfect deeds.
More strong than all poetic thought—
"Which he may read that binds the sheaf,
Or builds the house, or digs the grave,
And those wild eyes that watch the wave,
In roarings round the coral-reef."
- An address delivered before the Free Institute at Worcester, Mass., July 28, 1874.