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will have added a perfect knowledge of plains their progress, how it was imphysical astronomy, and a good portion peded, how accelerated; so must a phyof mathematics; that his mind and eye sical history of creation, happily conmay be exact in the calculation, and able ceived, and executed with a due knowin the estimate. Nor will these help ledge of the state of discovery, remove a him without a lively power of general- part of the contradictions which the warization: not rapid, superficial, or in love ring forces of nature present, in their agwith itself; but with a firm foothold, and gregate operations. General views raise a perfect readiness to change and shape our conceptions of the dignity and granitself anew, with the advance of obser- deur of nature, and have a peculiarly envation. He must be able to carry whole lightening and composing effect upon the regions of the earth's surface in his mind spirit.” They accustom us to regard at once: and, by his knowledge of the each part of nature as a portion of the substances which compose the terrestrial whole. The individual is made to feel crust, to predict easily, from a distant that he is connected, by the very nature view, the structure of an island or a and substance of his body, with every mountain. Nor will he neglect the study part of the universe. He perceives that of plants and animals, but be rather a pro- the universe is itself, and in its total, a ficient in them. Taking a fossil in his body to him, of which his organic body hand, he will see at once the animal to is only the nucleus, or point of reunion. which it belonged; and will be able to His eye associates him with the remotest identify the rock in which it was dis- stars; his muscular sense places him in covered with a brother rock in the an- union with the gravity of the world. In tipodes. He is, of course, a voyager by tides, he observes the mutual affection of land and sea, and marked with every the sun, earth, and moon; in falling mequality of endurance. His labors will so teors be beholds messengers from the far exceed the reward and the fame, that planetary spheres. Knowing the nature nothing but a philosophical indifference of electricity and magnetism, he finds will sustain him through their neglect. himself in a state of equilibrium, living
It would be easy to bring many more by the antagonism of the great powers-such examples; but these perfectly suffice the opposition of air, earth and sea. to show, that one man cannot practically Thus, by intellect, he is in a manner master all sciences; and, indeed, that blended and reconciled with all existence. none will desire or attempt it.
He is no longer agitated with the divorce It becomes evident, from this point of of spirit and matter, but feels their intiview, that not only the masses of man mate reconciliation in every point and kind must be contented with a knowledge instant of existence : he is cured of both of the generalities of science, but that the diseases of the soul—the distrust of matsavan himself is under the same neces ter, and the distrust of spirit; perceiving sity; and that, by this necessity, he is that neither is truly inimical 10 the compelled to respect the labors of his other. But these considerations, while brothers and predecessors. From such a they operate profoundly and silently, do necessary division of labor, and the com not in the least diminish the ardor of inpulsory respect attending it, it happens, vestigation. The inferior powers of his that all the learned, and all the scientific, mind are only sharpened to a keener acare knit among themselves, and with the tivity. He delights the more in practice multitude, in a bond of humanity more and detail. If, to the merely meditative, powerful even than community of belief. on the other hand, the Cosmos, or The savans of all sorts make common ture of the world, cannot be presented cause against ignorance and prejudice. with an outline equally sharp and clear If the world is ever to be harmonized, it in every part, it will at least enrich the must be through a community of know. mind with ideas, and arouse and fructify ledge, for there is no other universal or the imagination.” No injury, but rather non-exclusive principle in the nature of a great good, will result even from the
slightest and most superficial knowledge Rising from such considerations, the of nature. arguments of this chapter suggest others, The author next turns to the savans of no less important. * As universal his. his own country, with the reproach pertory, when it suceeeds in exposing the petually cast upon them,
that they true connection of events, solves many make science inaccessible ;" and, to any enigmas in the fate of nations, and ex one who is familiar with their methods
of communicating their discoveries, it on the other side of the Rhine possess an will be perfectly understood. To in- immortal work, Laplace's System du stance but one example: A German Monde, in which the results of the prophysiologist, of great fame,* and who has foundest mathematical investigations are made many great additions to his science, luminously presented, freed from the inin certain papers on the structure of dividualities of the demonstration. The nerves, exhausts the patience of his read- structure of the heavens there presents er, and one would think his own, (if it itself as the simple solution of a great were possible,) in a history, long and problem in mechanics. Yet no one has minute, of the microscopical manipula- ventured to charge the · Exposition du tions attending his discoveries; beginning System du Monde' with want of depth.” with the formal capture and dissection of • The separation of the General from the a frog, running through the sharpening Special,” he continues, " is not merely, of several needles, and continuing with useful in facilitating the acquisition of the raising up and down, with vast care, knowledge; it farther gives an elevated of the staging of his microscope-all and earnest character to the treatment of miserably unprofitable to the reader, who natural science. As, from a higher stafinds the whole substance of the dis- tion, we overlook larger masses at once, covery in an explanation of the plates at so are we pleased, mentally, to grasp the end of the volume. The method of what threatens, from its variety and exthe French savans is no less remarkable. tent, to escape the sense.". One of these will easily exhaust a whole This tendency of the sciences, and of book in a description of a bit of the sur- . natural history—the one by artificial forface of a cow's tongue. This is render- mulas and cumbrous hypotheses, the ing science inaccessible indeed. To reap other by an accumulation of scientific any satisfaction from the journals of these names—to remove farther and farther minute philosophers, one must be en into obscurity, and withdraw from the dowed with a certain magnetical quality popular view, may be paralleled with a of eye and mind, to gather precious par. similar tendency in systems of belief. ticles out of dust and rubbish. Not less The savan is sometimes willing, like the injurious is the use of a fantastic nomen- divine, for reasons that are very evident, clature, based upon artificial views of na to indulge in mystery. The steps to. ture. The whole of science has been re knowledge were bard and difficult to him, peatedly involved in obscurity, by the and he is, possibly, unwilling to make introduction of terms intended to express them too easy to another. It is easier, not facts themselves, but inventions to moreover, to be obscure than to be clear. explain them; and the road, even to the It is easier to invent a compound Greek simplest of all sciences, has been so name for a difficulty, than to explain it clogged up by hypothetical lumber, it re in the common language. Apart, too, quires a degree of diligence to arrive at from the indolence and indisposition of problems, that are self-evident when the mind itself, every new idea requires simply stated. The consequence is, that a new language; and if this language is of the thousands who enter every year symbolic or analogical, it will, of neces. into the lecture-rooms, only a very few sily, convey a degree of falsehood and go away with a knowledge of their rudi uncertainty. ments.
But of all the causes that retard the With some savans it is a piece of progress of true knowledge, none can be policy to shut out the multitude from the named more potent than the existence and benefit of their researches, by a barricade influence of false metaphysical systems, of mathematical formulas, set like hurdles operating to misguide and mystify the to be leaped over. Humboldt, on the understanding; and that such systems do contrary, would have all obstacles re- operate as the most effectual of all binmoved, and science be made accessible to derances, may be judged from that sceptithe people. He even thinks it no dis- cism of the savans, so constantly opposed grace to a savan, if he is willing to to the dogmatism of the learned. Why popularize the results of his investiga- should a study of nature inspire a contions; and, after finishing the work, to tempt for the ancient metaphysical sys. remove the scaffolding. « Our neighbors tems, if those systems do noi operate to
* English Translation, p. 10.'
retard and incumber science? It is very may justly be employed to enforce this evident, that for all these hinderances the argument, “ stands on the same grade of cure must be sought, if anywhere, in the empirical * ladder with the history of science itself, or rather in its advance. human actions at large, of the struggles ment to a higher stage. Having exhausted of man with the elements, or of one nathe physical, and the physiological, its tion against another. But a luminous next step, if it takes another, must be treatment of either, a rational arrangeupon the psychological. Having sepa ment of natural phenomena, and of historated and described the powers and rela- rical events, impresses us with a belief in tions of substances and forms, it may turn an old inherent necessity, which rules all next upon the energies which rule them; the operations, both of spiritual and mateand marking these energies, as species of rial forces.” “ This necessity (i. e., ceasethe invisible world, it may define them, lessness, or permanency, of causes,) is, by their proper actions and functions. If indeed, the very essence of nature. It is this should ever happen, there can then nature herself; and it leads to clearness be no longer any war between false phi- and simplicity of view; to the discovery losophy and true science; for the former of laws (principles) which present themmust by that time have withdrawn into selves as the ultimate term of human inthe region of fiction, leaving Science to quiries.” assert her ancient empire over Powers After some observations
the proand Ideas.
gress of science, and the simplification The epoch of this happy consumma that is fast reducing it to a whole, and so tion seems far removed, when it is consid. making it accessible, the author concludes ered that the mind itself, notwithstand- his introduction with remarking upon the ing the example of Plato and the advice beneficial effects of a scientific study of of Bacon, has not yet been admitted among nature, as well to the individual as to objects of science. Life is confessed to communities. By ideas—in other words, have its laws, notwithstanding the efforts by insight into the spirit of nature—the of the chemists to reduce it under those of aims of the student are elevated, and his the atoms; it is to be hoped that the same labors rendered fruitful. But ideas are concession will be made to the powers of not to be extracted out of nothing-nor the soul. But here, as in physical science out of words; there must be an actual and in physiology, the progress must most contact and experience; and the breadth evidenily be from parts to laws, from laws of the wisdom will be as the breadth of to species and principles. If it is now ob- the knowledge. Let him, therefore, vious, (and who will deny it?) that the whose circumstances permit him to esuniversal history of man discovers no ac cape, from time to time, from the circle cident, or chance, ruling over the destiny of common occupations,” learn a little of of nations; but a certain orderly course the delights of knowledge, and feed his of events, marked by the qualities of the hungry understanding with the fruits of people which compose them; can we science. It will awaken new faculties, any longer refuse to recognize the exis- and inspire new hopes. The dead world tence of principles in the soul itself, will be revived again, and he will find principles as fixed and recognizable as himself suddenly placed in intimate conthe laws of gravity and life? Can we nection and sympathy with the best and fail to see an order and scale in the ope- wisest of men. ration of these laws, leading to the idea Having, by general contemplations of of permanent energies, as distinct as the grandeur of the world, divested himthey are universal, forming by their ag- self of those prejudices against science gregate and harmony, the system of the which are excited by false philosophy intellectual nature? But these cannot be and confirmed by a natural hatred of pefound by ratiocination, or by the tossing dantry, the observer will not any longer to and fro of dogmas, though with never entertain the opinion, “ that every departso admirable a skill. In this region, as ment of knowledge is not equally importin those of life and matter, “nothing can ant in the culture and welfare of manbe derived or built up from à priori con kind.” None would have guessed, that ceptions.” " The natural history of the from the contortions of a frog's limbs, earth,” continues Humboldt, whose words observed by Galvani, an instrument
* All is “empirical” that comes by observation and experiment.
should be originated, by means of which the wealth of nations—sometimes a subinformation should be carried instantane- stitute for material wealth-which naously from one extremity of the continent ture distributes with so partial a band. to another? No one could have seen in Those nations which have remained be. Newton's idea of gravity, a means of per- hind, in general manufacturing activity, fecting navigation ; so that in the open in the practical application of chemistry sea, the shipmaster should know, by the and mechanical arts-nations among moon's place, his own position on the whom respect for such activity does not earth? much less would any one have pervade all classes---must inevitably fall guessed the fruit of the forty-seventh away from any prosperity they may proposition of Euclid, in its application to have attained; and this by so much the astronomy, navigation and architecture. more certainly, and speedily, as neigh
But while examples to show the useful. boring states—instinct with powers of ness of science may serve a popular pur- youthful renovation—in which science pose, to raise it in the common estimation, and the arts of industry coöperate, or lend and prevent its total neglect, all good in- each other assistance, are seen pressing tellects love it for its own sake; because forward in the race.
:** The taste for man. it yields an exquisite, a harmless, and a ufacturing industry, he continues, will sublime gratification; and, finally, be. not injure philosophy, or learning, or the cause its greater uses are not so much to liberal arts. Each presents its own fruit increase the comfort of the body, as to to the commonwealth ; one, to augment give consolation to the soul, by justifying the comforts, another, to add to the ele. the ways of the Supreme in his works, gances, or the consolations of life. The and drawing the mind to a nearer contem- rigid and economical Spartans prayed the plation of perfection. When these ends gods "10 vouchsafe them the beautiful are considered, it is necessary to have an associated with the good.” equal respect for every department of But, finally, in all departments of science ; for, in all, the same intellect science, the aim is not economical, but is employed, and the same conclusions moral; knowledge of nature being no more attained. The argument from utility is than preparation for knowledge of self. presented with peculiar force, by the “ So much of this science as flows over," author of Cosmos, in favor of an univer- says the author of Cosmos, “and minsal pursuit of science, and a proper re- gles with the industrial life of communi. spect for its cultivators. The material ties, does so by virtue of the happy conwealth of nations rests upon the use of version in human things, by which the natural productions and natural forces.” true, the exalted and the beautiful, mix “ The most superficial glance at the con- unintentionally, (as it seems,) but cerdition of Europe”—much more of Ame- tainly, with the useful, and cooperate rica—" in these days, assures us that with it advantageously, with the struggles against serious odds,” “The improvement of agriculture by the ---prejuice, ignorance, and selfish absorp- hands of freemen, and on lands of mode. tion—"any relaxation of effort would be rate extent; the flourishing condition of followed, first by diminution, and then by manufactures, emancipated from oppressive annihilation of national prosperity; for in restrictions ; the extension of commerce” the destiny of nations there is neither -connecting nations among themselves, rest nor pause, but either a progress or a “ are all inseparably connected with the decline. Nothing but serious occupation unimpeded progress of mankind, as well with chemical, mathematical and natural in KNOWLEDGE as in social institutions ; studies, will defend any state from evils all are connected, and severally and pow. assailing it on this side”—the side of pov. erfully advance each other.
The im. erty, vice, ignorance and superstition. pressive picture of the late history of the Man can produce no effect upon nature - world, forces this faith upon the minds, can appropriate none of her powers-if even of those who most eagerly oppose it." he be not conversant with her laws. And After these and other observations of here, too, lies the power of popular intelli- equal weight, tending all to inspire adgence. It rises and falls with this. Science miration and respect, as well for ihe anand information are the joy and justifica- thor as for the cause he advocates, he tion of mankind. They are portions of proceeds, in the second number of his
* English translation, p. 12.
† lbid., p. 12.
work, to show its object and purpose; of fixed cause ;-prevailing winds; ocean which is, to give an exposition of a Cos- tides ; rise of islands; enchainment of mography, or scientific picture of the mountains; great and steady movements universe. In the introductory chapter he of earth, air, and sea; the distribution of has given the reasons of science in gen- vegetation in groups and bands, following eral, against the policy and the prejudices the lines of equal temperature;-even the that oppose its progress. He now sepa- migrations of animals and of man, with rates and defines that part of it which is their distribution over the earth, are em. to be the subject matter of his work. braced under this grandest of all views of After this follows a picture of nature, or visible nature. From a great eminence general survey of natural phenomena; of thought, with a glance of wonder and limited, however, to the inorganic world. of knowledge, it overlooks the whole.. With the conclusion of this general pic “ It embraces the description of all that is ture, which is almost a cosmography of created; of all that exists in space,
both itself, and includes the most remarkable natural things and natural forces, as universal discoveries of physical astron a simultaneously existing coördinate omy, up to the present time, the first and whole.”+ Such is physical cosmography, only published portion of the work is a grand form of knowledge, first clearly concluded. It will be followed by a third expressed and attempted by the author and fourth preparatory part; the first of Cosmos. « But it is no more to be treating of the effects of natural scenery mistaken for an encyclopedia of all sciupon imagination and feelings, “ through ences, than the history of philosophy is the medium of descriptive poetry and to be mistaken for a chronicle, or a comlandscape painting, as stimulating to the parative arrangement of philosophical study of nature:" the other showing the opinions.” The word Cosmos, is placed gradual progress and unfolding of the idea at the head of the work, that the idea of of the Cosmos, or universe, from antiqui- it may be more definite. For this term, ty to the present time.* After these will in Homeric times, was used to signify follow the serious detail of the work, beauty and order; but by and by employwhich promises to be of vast extent and ed as a philosophical expression for the minuteness, if we are to judge of it by the harmony or arrangement of the world.”[ character of the introductory parts.
The great care which he takes to deThe contents of the second chapter of velop and define the idea of his work, the introduction, which treats of the idea cannot be attributed solely to the desiru of a general Cosmography, or World-His- of securing for himself the honor of so tory, deserve a very careful notice; nor grand a conception : he aims rather to will the scientific, or the meditative read- unfold it in the mind of his reader, that er, pass it over lightly. Here, for the he may escape detail, and expand his first time, the idea of the Material Whole, imagination to the utmost; for it is a neor Cosmos, is presented in bold outline, cessity of science, that many of its votaas an object of knowledge, distinct and ries must cultivate it with contracted comprehensible. As the science of Hy- views; and finding more of the consedrography pictures all the great waters quences they look for in a mechanical, of the earth, their depth, figure, extent, or a learned, devotion to the parts, are and changes ;—as Geography represents willing to neglect the whole. The collectthe earth's surface, and all that rests per or of species looks with indifference upon manently upon it;-as Uranography maps the philosophical systematist, if he fails the heavens, and notes the movements of of an immediate profit from his speculathe stars ;-Cosmography, taking in all of tions. The mathematician indulges not these, pictures the universe as a whole, in generalities; the cast of his mind forwith all its systems, suns, planets, satel- bids it. The minute anatomist, delightlites and wandering meteors ; describing ing in the parts, seldom turns an eye upon boldly the visible features of the whole, the total of the species he anatomizes : and of the greater parts, from the haze of the pleasure of the detail is sufficient, remote nehulæ to the clothing of the hills and the reputation of minuteness satisfies of the earth, and the changes of the beds him. That the world, therefore, may of its seas. All great masses of phenomena reap an universal benefit, there is needed that show the presence of slow change, or some universal mind, learned in the facts,
* English Translation, p. 17.
Ibid., p. 17.
#Ibid., p. 20.