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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/41

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and powerful nation has been created on the face of the earth. We are proud of our advancement. We are proud of such cities as this, founded in a day upon a spot over which, but a few years since, the red-man hunted the buffalo. But we must remember that this is only the spring of our country. Our glance must not be backward; for, however beautiful leaves and blossoms are, and however marvelous their rapid increase, they are but leaves and blossoms, after all. Rather should we look forward to discover what will be the outcome of all this, and what the chance of harvest. For, if we do this in time, we may discover the worm which threatens the ripe fruit, or the barren spot where the harvest is withering for want of water.

I am required to address the so-called physical section of this Association. Fain would I speak pleasant words to you on this subject; fain would I recount to you the progress made in this subject by my countrymen, and their noble efforts to understand the order of the universe. But I go out to gather the grain ripe to the harvest, and I find only tares. Here and there a noble head of grain rises above the weeds; but so few are they that I find the majority of my countrymen know them not, but think that they have a waving harvest, while it is only one of weeds, after all. American science is a thing of the future, and not of the present or past; and the proper course of one in my position is to consider what must be done to create a science of physics in this country, rather than to call telegraphs, electric lights, and such conveniences, by the name of science. I do not wish to underrate the value of all these things: the progress of the world depends on them, and he is to be honored who cultivates them successfully. So also the cook who invents a new and palatable dish for the table benefits the world to a certain degree; yet we do not dignify him by the name of a chemist. And yet it is not an uncommon thing, especially in American newspapers, to have the applications of science confounded with pure science: and some obscure American who steals the ideas of some great mind of the past, and enriches himself by the application of the same to domestic uses, is often lauded above the great originator of the idea, who might have worked out hundreds of such applications, had his mind possessed the necessary element of vulgarity. I have often been asked which was the more important to the world, pure or applied science. To have the applications of a science, the science itself must exist. Should we stop its progress, and attend only to its applications, we should soon degenerate into a people like the Chinese, who have made no progress for generations, because they have been satisfied with the applications of science, and have never sought for reasons in what they have done. The reasons constitute pure science. They have known the application of gunpowder for centuries; and yet the reasons for its peculiar action, if sought in the proper manner, would have developed the science of chemistry, and even of physics, with all their numerous applications. By contenting