Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/299

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

months to the study of the American people and the institutions of this country.

Finally, the great scientist, he whom people call the scientific discoverer of America, returned to his country, carrying with him a vast store of intellectual and material treasures of science. So abundant were the results reaped from his expeditions that he needed the cooperation of the best scholars of his time to compile that great mass of material, and to place it into proper shape and form.

Throughout his long and industrious life, Alexander von Humboldt has ever retained his love and devotion for the country where his great field of labor lay, and for its people to whom he always felt so closely connected by his love for freedom in thoughts and for liberty. It is a well-known fact that in his later days of all foreign people who ever knocked at his door no one was more heartily welcomed than the American citizen.

The benefits of his investigations in America returned to that country in the course of time. No wonder that her people recognize him as their benefactor. Another great man, whose monument will be unveiled to-day, and most deservedly placed beside the one of Alexander von Humboldt, Louis Agassiz, says of him: "To what degree we Americans are indebted to von Humboldt, no one knows who is not familiar with the history of learning and education in this country. All the fundamental facts of popular education in physical science beyond the merest elementary instruction, we owe to him," and at another place: "Let us rejoice together that Humboldt's name will permanently be connected with education and learning in this country, for the prospects and institutions of which he felt so deep and so affectionate a sympathy."

Of all the tributes that have been paid to Alexander von Humboldt the latest and most fitting has now found its expression in this building. For here, in this magnificent Museum of Natural History, the ideal aim of all his theories is realized most perfectly: to cultivate the love of nature, and thus to ennoble man and beautify his life.

Gentlemen, permit me to thank you for the honor you have done me to-day, and to express the hope that this splendid building may become a shrine of pilgrimage for scientists and students also of the Old World, helping to bind the nations closer together.