Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/489

This page has been validated.

only obtain such glimpses of the progressive order of plant-chemistry, and we have only such a distant view of chemical action itself, as can give us some hints of the order, harmony, and grandeur, of the molecular changes going on in ripening fruits before us. None the less for our ignorance, the forces each season complete their work and drop their bountiful products into our hands.


Address of President C. W. Eliot.

IN whose honor are the chief personages of the nation, State, and city, here assembled? Whose palace is this? What divinity is worshiped in this place? We are assembled here to own with gratitude the beneficent power of natural science; to praise and thank its votaries, and to dedicate this splendid structure to its service. The power to which we here do homage is the accumulated intelligence of our race applied generation after generation to the study of Nature; and this palace is the storehouse of the elaborated materials which that intelligence has garnered, ordered, and illuminated. What has natural science done for mankind that it should be thus honored? In the brief moments allotted to me I can but mention three pregnant results of the scientific study of Nature.

In the first place, natural science has engendered a peculiar kind of human mind—the searching, open, humble mind, which, knowing that it cannot attain unto all truth, or even to much new truth, is yet patiently and enthusiastically devoted to the pursuit of such little new truth as is within its grasp, having no other end than to learn, prizing above all things accuracy, thoroughness, and candor, in research, proud and happy not in its own single strength, but in the might of that host of students, whose past conquests make up the wondrous sum of present knowledge, whose sure future triumphs each humblest worker in imagination shares. Within the last four hundred years this typical scientific mind has gradually come to be the kind of philosophic mind most admired by the educated class; indeed, it has come to be the only kind of mind, except the poetic, which commands the respect, of scholars, whatever their department of learning. In every field of study, in history, philology, philosophy, and theology, as well as in natural history and physics, it is now the scientific spirit, the scientific method, which prevails. The substitution in the esteem of reasonable men of this receptive, fore-reaching mind for the dogmatic, overbearing, closed mind, which assumes that it already possesses all essential truth, and is entitled to the exclusive interpretation of it, is