Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/562

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

planted in a people, it becomes the inspiration of its institutions, arts, and conduct. Its empire over the minds of the people is absolute. Men of action think of nothing else than of carrying it out and applying it; and philosophers, artists, and literary men occupy themselves with presenting it in various forms. Transient accessory ideas may arise from the fundamental idea, always bearing the impress of the one from which they issued. Egyptian civilization, European civilization in the middle ages, and the Mussulman civilization of the Arabs, were all derived from a very small number of religious ideas that put their mark on the most minute elements of those civilizations, and made them distinguishable at once.

In fact, the men of every age are surrounded by a network of traditions, customs, and opinions, created by their ideas, from the yoke of which they can not subtract themselves, and which make them very like one another. Men are more than anything else led, with a despotism which no tyrant ever exercised, by custom and opinion, which regulate the slightest actions of our existence, and from which the most independent man never thinks of extricating himself. Asiatic sovereigns are often represented as despots guided only by their fancies. These fancies are really confined within singularly narrow limits. The network of traditions and the yoke of opinions are especially strong in the East. Religious traditions, which have been loosened with us, retain all their empire there. The most self-sufficient despot would never strike at these two masters, which he knows are infinitely more powerful than he.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.



CHARLES UPHAM SHEPARD was born at Little Compton, a town in the southeastern corner of Rhode Island, June 29, 1804. He was fitted for college in the Providence Grammar School and entered Brown University in 1820, but left the following year to join the sophomore class of the new college which opened then at Amherst, Mass. He was graduated in due course in the class of 1824.

In a graphic sketch of Amherst College as it was during his student days, contributed to Prof. Tyler's History, Prof. Shepard has said:

"I remember that I was the youngest of my class. Most of my fellows were mature youths who did not appear to me youths at all—seniors in character and manlike in purpose, with an air which seemed to tell of years of yearning for the ministry, and