Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/39

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

of the societies and institutions associated with it. The opinion that its influence was never greater than at this moment will be fully confirmed by the creditable series of these reports.

The first of all the academies, that Platonic one of which Herr Curtius lately gave an eloquent sketch in this place, arose in a free state. Since its birth no republican commonwealth has brought forth a lasting and important work of the kind. According to M. de Candolle's statistics, Switzerland has, from the middle of the last to the middle of the present century, contributed, relatively, the largest contingent of the foreign and corresponding members of the Paris and Berlin Academies and of the Royal Society; it has itself not founded any academy. The origin of the Royal Society is lost in the storms of the Commonwealth; but it was not Cromwell's Puritans who prepared a place for human knowledge, and the name of the young society betrays the effort to lean upon monarchical institutions. That popular rule is not kindly to academies is shown by Bailly's and Lavoisier's bloody heads, and by Condorcet's sad end. Certainly there would be no place for the Academy in a social democratic state, which recognizes no principle but that of common utility.

Not only because in Prussia crown and state have always been one does our body, maintained, protected, and supported by the state, bear the title of royal with better right than many so-called learned societies. None of them have had so close relations to the ruling house. The Hohenzollerns' own peculiar creation, borne on the hands of Prussia's kings through good and evil times, the Berlin Academy has likewise numbered the greatest among its fellow-workers. Grateful expressions of thanks have often been given here for these recollections; to-day a word appears to be in place which it is our proud prerogative to speak.

To praise the Emperor William, as the victorious hero, the restorer of the empire of the German nation, the arbiter of the Continent, the mighty warrior and the real prince of peace, as one of the most remarkable figures described by history, is the task of others. It is for us to say, what finds but a slight echo in the world, but what signifies to the minds of those who are interested in affairs of the intellect another laurel-leaf in his crown, that in this culmination of his life, in the pressure of so important affairs of state, under the load of such consuming cares, in the grasp of such world-stirring questions, the Emperor William, true to the spirit of his house, has always had a friendly, open ear for his Academy of Sciences.