Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/474

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stance, that the great scientists and the great artists are in really closer brotherhood than many suppose—they hold divided sway over much common ground; it is only a seeming paradox, that few discoveries in science, perhaps no great ones, have been made without the exercise of the imagination, or of some faculty so nearly like it that distinction between them is difficult; for the line which separates the operations and results of imagination from those of induction is obscure. Ratiocination is the twin-brother of imagination. The apple that Eve plucked, and the apple that Newton saw fall, grew on the same tree.

But to my intrenchment: "Poetry," says one who understood it, "is the first and last of all knowledge—it is immortal as the heart of man. If the labors of the men of science should ever create any material revolution, direct or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the poet will sleep then no more than at present; he will be at the side of the man of science, carrying sensation into the midst of the objects of science itself. The remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist, the mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the poet's art as any upon which it can be employed, if the time should ever come when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which they are contemplated by the followers of the respective sciences shall be manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If the time should ever come when what is now called science, thus familiarized to men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, then the poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will welcome the being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of men."[1]

This utterance of half a century ago seems like prophecy now when the presaged changes are imminent. The conflict may nevertheless be protracted as long as either contestant is blinded to the real strength of his antagonist—senseless though it be to attempt the impossible divorce of the material from the immaterial, of matter from force, of the body from the spirit—that would be death. And it is the physicist himself who is loudest to proclaim that, without the force which gives motion to material particles, there is no light, no heat, no life.

    the whole world more saddening and more revolting than is offered by men sunk in ignorance of everything but that other men have written—seemingly devoid of moral belief or guidance, but with the sense of beauty so keen, and the power of expression so cultivated, that their sensuous caterwauling may be almost mistaken for the music of the spheres.

    "At present, education is almost entirely devoted to the cultivation of the power of expression and of the sense of literary beauty. The matter of having anything to say beyond a hash of other people's opinions, or of possessing any criterion of beauty, so that we may distinguish between the godlike and the devilish, is left aside as of no moment. I think I do not err in saying that, if science were made the foundation of education, instead of being, at most, stuck on as a cornice to the edifice, this state of things could not exist."

  1. Quoted from E. C. Stedman's "Victorian Poets," the page where Wordsworth is thus reproduced being further laid under contribution.