Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/161

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

and ecclesiastical power acting through thousands of subtle channels was made to aid this development. The old idea of the vast superiority of theology was revived. Though Albert's main effort was to Christianize science, he was dealt with by the authorities of the Dominican order, subjected to suspicion and indignity, and only escaped persecution for sorcery by yielding to the ecclesiastical spirit of the time, and working finally in theological channels by scholastic methods.

It was a vast loss to the earth; and certainly, of all organizations that have reason to lament the pressure of ecclesiasticism which turned Albert the Great from natural philosophy to theology, foremost of all in regret should be the Christian Church, and especially the Roman branch of it. Had there been evolved in the Church during the thirteenth century a faith strong enough to accept the truths in natural science which Albert and his compeers could have given, and to have encouraged their growth, this faith and this encouragement would to this day have formed the greatest argument for proving the Church directly under divine guidance; they would have been among the brightest jewels in her crown. The loss to the Church by this want of faith and courage has proved in the long run even greater than the loss to science.[1]

The next great man of that age whom the theological and ecclesiastical forces of the time turned from the right path was Vincent of Beauvais. During the first half of the twelfth century he devoted himself to the study of Nature in several of her most interesting fields. To astronomy, botany, and zoology he gave special attention, but in a larger way he made a general study of the universe, and in a series of treatises undertook to reveal the whole field of science. But his work simply became a vast commentary on the account of creation given in the book of Genesis. Beginning with the work of the Trinity at the creation, he goes on to detail the work of angels in all their fields, and makes


  1. For a very careful discussion of Albert's strength in investigation and weakness in yielding to scholastic authority, see Kopp, Ansichten über die Aufgabe der Chemie von Geber bis Stahl, Braunschweig, 1875, pp. 64 et seq. For a very extended and enthusiastic biographical sketch, see Pouchet. For comparison of his work with that of Thomas Aquinas, see Milman, History of Latin Christianity, vol. vi, p. 461. "Il ctait aussi très-habile dans les arts mécaniques, ce que le fit soupçonner d'etre sorcier" (Sprengel, Histoire de la Médecine, vol. ii, p. 389). For Albert's biography treated strictly in accordance with ecclesiastical methods, see Albert the Great, by Joachim Sighart, translated by the Rev. T. A. Dickson, of the Order of Preachers, published under the sanction of the Dominican censor and of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, London, 1876. How an Englishman like Cardinal Manning could tolerate among Englishmen such an unctuous glossing over of historical truth is one of the wonders of contemporary history. For choice specimens see chapters ii and iv. For one of the best and most recent summaries, see Heller, Geschichte der Physik, Stuttgart, 1882, vol. i, pp. 179 et seq.