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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/205

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AMERICA'S INTELLECTUAL PRODUCT

dread the influence of Germany. Although I can not sympathize with them, I am far from maintaining that our liberation from bondage to medievalism began when students began to go to Germany. I do not forget Franklin, whose scientific researches made him a great figure in the great world when it was hardly known what an American was, but I must point out distinctly that Franklin was not only the product of no university, but that he was never a professor in one, so that he constitutes no exception to the condition that I have described. I remember also with pride the discoveries of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, whose great discoveries in electricity entitle him to be named with Faraday, and had there been here any appreciation of scientific research or had the means of communication with Europe been greater, and especially had not Faraday made most of the same discoveries in England, Henry would have made his name one for all Americans to cherish as a national glory. It is with feelings of peculiar pleasure that I notice, each spring on my visit to Washington, the statue of Henry in front of the Smithsonian, a welcome change from the bronze man on horseback with cocked hat and sword with which the capital swarms, and a quiet proof that even republics are not totally ungrateful, and that they recognize that there are other kinds of glory than military glory.

It would be impossible to pass over in silence the great influence of Louis Agassiz, coming to Cambridge over fifty years ago, who by his wonderful personality not only encouraged many to take up research as a profession, but also kindled the imagination of the public, and led it to see that science was deserving of respect, and not of the suspicion that it had often encountered on religious grounds. Such was the success of Agassiz that we still hear stories of him that would seem to mark him as the first to succeed in opening the purses of the rich for scientific research. Agassiz did more for science than is possible to many; he left a son who not only rose to the highest level among American scientists in the same line as his father, but, more practical in his applications of science, and equally actuated by the desire to advance science itself, was able to exercise a generosity that, until the time of the present millionaire gifts, made him the largest single contributor to Harvard.

It is frequently supposed that the American public is extremely interested in the results of scientific progress, and so it is, in a certain sense. Certainly we can not accuse it of lack of alertness, when it reads more than any other—in the newspapers. It reads with eager interest, and with implicit credulity accounts of the supposed discoveries of science, taking at equal value the productions of notorious charlatans and those of real investigators. It reads with wonder of the discovery of radium, laying particular weight on its costing millions of dollars