Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/183

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ever, been included what we call geology, which is not a separate science, but the application alike of mathematic and of all the natural sciences to the elucidation of both the physiography and the physiology of our planet. So far as geology concerns itself with the history of past life on the earth, or what is called paleontology, it is biological, but in all its other aspects the relations of geology are with Section III. The logical result of this complex character of geology should be either the separation of paleontology from the other branches of geological study, which find their appropriate place in our Section III; or else the union of the two sections through this their common bond.

It will be noticed that in this brief survey of the field of natural knowledge I have not spoken of the technical applications of science, nor alluded to its important aspects in relation to the material wants of life. On this theme, did time permit, I might speak at length. There are two classes of motives which urge men to the pursuit of knowledge; on the one hand, those of worldly fame or profit, and, on the other, the far nobler sentiment which has the finding-out of truth for its object. It would seem as if, by a spiritual law, the great principles which are most fruitful in material results are not revealed to those who interrogate Nature with these lower ends in view. Newton, Darwin, Faraday, Henry, and such as they, were not inspired by a desire for the praise of men, or for pecuniary reward, but pursued their life-long labors with higher motives; the love of truth for its own sake, the reverent desire to comprehend the hidden laws and operations of the universe. To such, and to such alone, does Nature reveal herself. In the material as in the moral order, the promise of achievement is given to those who strive after knowledge and wisdom irrespective of the hope of temporal reward; and the history of science shows that it is such seekers as these who have attained to the discovery of those secrets which have been of the greatest benefit to humanity. The admonition is to all, that we are to seek first for truth and for justice; and with this comes the promise that to those who thus seek all other things shall be superadded.

It is good and praiseworthy to labor to extract the metal from the ore, and the healing essence from the plant, to subdue the powers of electricity and of steam to the service of man. To those who attain these ends the world gives its substantial rewards; but far higher honors are instinctively rendered to those who by their disinterested researches, undertaken without hope of recompense, have revealed to us the great laws which serve to guide the searchers in these fields of technical science; to those who have labored serenely, with the consciousness that whatever of truth is made known by their studies will be a lasting gain to humanity. "Thus," to repeat words used on another occasion,[1] "it ever happens, in accordance with the Divine

  1. "The Relations of Chemistry to Pharmacy and Therapeutics," an Address before the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, by T. Sterry Hunt. Boston, 1875.