Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/513

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prevailing with their attendant trouble, uncleanliness, dust, vexation, and disease. And should electro-technics succeed—as there is well-founded hope that it will—in solving the problem of obtaining electricity direct from the fuel, instead of by an expensive indirect method as heretofore, the far-reaching effect of such success can scarcely be overestimated. As with respect to material progress this century is fittingly called the Century of Steam, so most likely the coming century will have to be designated the Century of Electricity, when the more extended control of the forces of Nature by the human mind shall have taken an immense stride in the forward direction. If we add to all this that the grand material as well as intellectual development of the great land of liberty in the far West of our globe, the like of which has never been seen before, promises to continue in the same or even a higher degree, then the men of the coming century will of necessity be more profoundly impressed than the children of the present by the achievements of human intellect and human power.

It may be that we are, with respect to the coming century, in the same immature mental condition in which the people of the eighteenth century were with regard to the nineteenth. If some one in the preceding century had dared to predict the wonderful achievements of the nineteenth, he would probably have been declared a fool, and treated as was Robert Mayer, in Germany, in this century, who, after the discovery of the law of the conservation of force, was put into an insane asylum. A like fate might befall the man who should dare now to cast a horoscope for the twentieth century, and to predict the progress of the human mind in the various domains of scientific research. After all, those may be right who, in spite of all those acquisitions on which we so justly pride ourselves, are of opinion that we are still moving in only the initial steps, in the leading strings of evolution, and that we are yet very far from the goal of those material and ideal aims which the human race in its unremitting onward struggle is destined to attain, or to show its capacity of attaining. The great Sir Isaac Newton used, perhaps, the most appropriate simile when he compared men with children who on the seashore are picking up here and there a curious pebble or colored shell while the great sea of truth lies still unexplored before them. We can only conjecture as to the probable progress, as we can not know which position we occupy in the course of human evolution, whether we are still in its beginnings or well advanced. This lies hidden in the bosom of the future. We therefore discontinue this line of thought, and remark here again that unfortunately this great progress in knowledge and power in our century has not extended to the moral, general intellectual, literary,