Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/754

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assume to himself the responsibility of attaching praise or blame to his fellow-men for the judgments which they may venture to express, I say that, unless he would commit a sin more grievous than most of the breaches of the Decalogue, let him avoid a lazy reliance upon the information that is gathered by prejudice and filtered through passion. Let him go to these great sources that are open to him as to every one, and to no man more open than to an Englishman; let him go back to the facts of Nature, and to the thoughts of those wise men who for generations past have been the interpreters of Nature.

By Professor HELMHOLTZ.[1]

THE awakening desire for scientific instruction, ever finding new expression among the educated classes of all European countries, we must consider not merely as a striving after new forms of amusement, or a mere empty and barren curiosity; it is rather a well-justified intellectual necessity, and is in close connection with the most important springs of mental development in these times. The natural sciences have become a powerful influence in the formation of the social, industrial, and political life of civilized nations, not only from the fact that the great forces of Nature have been subordinated to the aims of man, and have supplied him with a host of new means to attain them; though this mode of their action is sufficiently important that the statesman, the historian, and the philosopher, as well as the manufacturer and the merchant, cannot pass without participation in at least, the practical results; but because there is another form of their action which goes much deeper and further, though it is, perhaps, more slow in manifesting itself; I mean their influence in the direction of the intellectual progress of humanity. It has often been said, and even brought as a charge against the natural sciences, that, through them, a schism (Zwiespalt), formerly unknown, has been introduced into modern education. And, indeed, there is truth in this. A schism is perceptible; yet such must mark every new step of intellectual development wherever the New has become a power, and the question to be settled is, the definition of its just claims, as against the just claims of the Old. The past progress of education of civilized nations has had its central point in the study of language. Language is the great instrument through possession of which man is most distinctly separated from the lower animals; through use of which he is

  1. From the preface to the recently-published German translation of Tyndall's "Fragments of Science," revised by the writer, Prof. Helmholtz, for Nature.