Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/31

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THE SCIENCE OF THE PRESENT PERIOD.

head after head in its circle, and comes between the learned of different lands, who have hitherto felt themselves members of a single community. People who have done nothing for their fame except occasionally to stir themselves lustily, put themselves boastfully and contentiously into the fore-rank of those who have a thousand years of intellectual creation behind them. Instead of dynastic wars, we are threatened with incomparably more shocking race-wars, without the religious wars having ceased much otherwise than in name. Have not the last two years witnessed an agitation the shame of which we considered as unlikely to fall upon us as that of the rack, of trials for witchcraft, or of man-selling? With this, sentimental ignorance, whose well-meaning way can not be distinguished in its effect from slanderous accusation and vicious persecution, has dared to brand as mischievous methods of scientific research which Robert Hooke, in the bosom of the old Royal Society, and the God-fearing Haller, unquestionably used.

But even the later development of scientific life lets few distinguishing traits of itself be recognized. A persistent effort, devotedly directed toward ideal objects, has rarely been pursued to the end by the after-growing generation. A thousand busy workers, renouncing high fame, are daily bringing in a thousand details, unconcerned about inner and outer completeness, caring only to attract attention to themselves for the moment, and to gain the best price for their goods. Instead of honorable alliance, a reckless struggle for existence frequently prevails in a very odious form. The men of one party regard those of the other with the feelings of rival gold-diggers, but with less security, for a kind of law prevails in the diggings. Whoever in them acquires a rich claim is allowed to work it in security, without any other one forcing himself into partnership.

The stream of knowledge is continually dividing itself into more numerous and smaller rills, and there is danger of its getting lost in the sands and marshes. In the onward-pressing haste, every pause for survey or review seems lost time. With historical reflection passed away one of the most fruitful germs of greatness, Carlyle's hero-worship; with comprehensive survey, the possibility of comparing the different branches of science together, and of causing one to illustrate and fructify another. Instead of healthy generalization, the tendency to unrestrained speculation again prevails in Germany. Brought up in abhorrence of false philosophy, we have had to live to see that the generation following us, which we thought we had strictly schooled, is falling back into the faults from which the generation before us scornfully turned away.

Finally, the complaint is generally set up that the more munificently laboratories and seminaries are founded, the more richly means are poured out for scientific journeys and enterprises, the more indifferent do youth hold themselves toward the treasures and expendi-