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at once with well-matured plans how to supply them with the greatest certainty and to the greatest public advantage.
We may be justified in hoping, however, that by the gradual diffusion of Science, and its inreasing recognition as a principal part of our national education, the public in general, no less than the Legislature and the State, will more and more recognize the claims of Science to their attention; so that it may no longer require the begging-box, but speak to the State like a favoured child to its parent, sure of his parental solicitude for its welfare ; that the State will recognize in Science one of its elements of strength and prosperity, to foster which the clearest dictates of self-interest demand.
If the activity of this Association, such as I have endeavoured to describe it, ever found or could find its personification in one individualits incarnation as it were—this had been found in that distinguished and revered philosopher who has been removed from amongst us in his ninetieth year, within these last few months. Alexander von Humboldt incessantly strove after dominion over that universality of human knowledge which stands in need of thoughtful government and direction to preserve its inte
grity; he strove to tie up the fasces of scientific knowledge, to give them strength in unity. He treated all scientific men as members of one family, enthusiastically directing, fostering, and encouraging inquiry, where he saw either the want of, or the willingness for it. His protection of the young and ardent student led many to success in their pursuit. His personal influence with the Courts and Governments of most countries in Europe enabled him to plead the cause of Science in a manner which made it more difficult for them to refuse than to grant what he requested. All lovers of Science deeply mourn for the loss of such a man. Gentlemen, it is a singular coincidence, that this very day on which we are here assembled, and are thus giving expression to our admiration of him, should be the anniversary of his birth.
To return to ourselves, however : one part of the functions of the Association can receive no personal representation, no incarnation : I mean the very fact of meetings like that which we are at present inaugurating. This is not the thoughtful direction of one mind over acquired knowledge, but the production of new thought by the contact of many minds, as the spark is produced by the friction of flint and steel ; it is
not the action of the monarchy of a paternal Government, but the republican activity of the Roman Forum. These meetings draw forth the philosopher from the hidden recesses of his study, call in the wanderer over the field of science to meet his brethren, to lay before them the results of his labours, to set forth the deductions at which he has arrived, to ask for their examination, to maintain in the combat of debate the truth of his positions and the accuracy of his observations. These meetings, unlike those of any other Society, throw open the arena to the cultivators of all sciences, to their mutual advantage: the geologist learns from the chemist that there are problems for which he had no clue, but which that science can solve for him ; the geographer receives light from the naturalist, the astronomer from the physicist and engineer, and so on. And all find a field upon which to meet the public at large,-invite them to listen to their reports and even to take part in their discussions,—show to them that philosophers are not vain theorists, but essentially men of practice
—not conceited pedants, wrapped up in their own mysterious importance, but humble inquirers after truth, proud only of what they may have achieved or won for the general use of man. Neither are they daring and presumptuous unbelievers—a character which ignorance has sometimes affixed to them—who would, like the Titans, storm heaven by placing mountain upon mountain, till hurled down from the height attained, by the terrible thunders of outraged Jove; but rather the pious pilgrims to the Holy Land, who toil on in search of the sacred shrine, in search of truth—God's truth—God's laws as manifested in His works, in His creation.
SIR, AND GENTLEMEN,T BEG to return you my best thanks for your 1 kindness in drinking my health with such gratifying demonstrations of good will towards me.
It is in accordance with our nature, that, after having accomplished a task and succeeded in any work of our hands, we should banish from our minds the recollection of the troubles and anxieties which accompanied its conception and progress, and rejoice not only ourselves in our success, but ask our neighbours and friends to come and rejoice with us. We want them to see what we have done, and to share in our satisfaction.
I am grateful to you that you should have thought of including me in the number of your