« VorigeDoorgaan »
disclose a premeditated determination on Bacon's part to ignore the work of other men in furtherance of a design to magnify himself, and that is his apparently otherwise unaccountable neglect to make any mention of such striking events as Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, Keppler's astronomical discoveries, and Galileo's experiments on falling bodies, made as early as 1589-92.
This silence, especially in the case of Harvey, who was Bacon's physician, is most astonishing.
Professor Fowler, seeking to explain this last and most curious omission, says that “ most of Harvey's contemporaries, even in his own profession, regarded his theory as hardly worthy of serious discussion.” Is this answer very satisfactory?
Consider, Bacon was the great philosopher and investigator of his day, the man who would accept no theory merely because it existed, but who would, as he himself expresses it, “ kindle a light in nature—a light which shall in its very rising touch and illuminate all the border-regions that confine upon the circle of our present knowledge; and so, spreading further and further, shall presently disclose and bring into sight all that is most hidden and secret in the world.” (T. Fowler, p. 10.) Is it very probable that this great light of science had not made visible the great discovery and shown its importance, especially as it was shining directly on the discoverer, by reason of his relationship to the “ kindler” of the light ?
And, again, it may be asked, was the disregard by other and less great men than Bacon of this addition to scientific research any sufficient reason for its neglect by the man who had proposed to himself the world-wide labor noted above ?
Does it not rather indicate that, as Bacon could not adapt it to his most laudable efforts for his own aggrandizement, he concluded to ignore it ?
The examination might be carried on ad nauseam, interspersed with fine sentiments about temptation and human frailty, with here and there a suggestion concerning the danger of giving loose to ambition; but this is not a sermon, and, therefore, the opportunity must be passed by without being improved.
As a brief summing up of the results of the foregoing inquiry, it may be said that, as a politician, we find Bacon ever self-seeking, and, after the accomplishment of his wishes, followed by the degradation brought on himself by his all-devouring rapacity and greed of gain, he appears so destitute of shame as to seek further honors from the king whom he had disgraced.
As a philosopher, he not only appropriates the work of another, flaunting it in the face of the world as his own, but, in addition to this, he contemptuously ignores what he cannot turn to his own advantage. Notwithstanding Professor Fowler's objections, it does seem as though Pope did more than make a striking epigram when he wrote, in the “Essay on Man," Epigram IV.:
“ If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined:
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind,” especially, if the first two adjectives in the second line be understood in a certain restricted sense.
WM. R. CLAXTON.
THE man who challenges the right of the University to be
I considered “a first-class college " in the days of old, when the Faculty of Arts was the only academic faculty, and consisted, all told, of but five professors, should look at two " University books” that have lately appeared, the work (respectively) of graduates of 1838 and 1837. They are “ Man's Origin and Destiny, sketched from the Platform of the Physical Sciences," by Professor J. Peter Lesley, and “The Theory of Preaching : Lectures on Homiletics,” by Austin Phelps, D. D., late Bartlet Professor of Sacred Rhetoric in Andover Theological Seminary. It would be beside our aim in these items to review these books; but it goes without saying that each is the work of a master. Both authors are known abroad as well as at home, and their works bear ample witness to their wide and varied attainments. Professor Lesley's “philological and archæological studies” were actually the recreations* of a busy life " for forty years; and Professor Phelps has evidently travelled far outside the beaten track of a lecturer on Homiletics. Now, this love of learning for its own sake is the trait that a good college course under competent instructors may be expected to develop; and we would therefore emphasize the facts that both these writers are University men, and that they were formed by the older University, on which some affect in our day to look back with contempt or (at least) with apologetic glances as on an institution very creditable as our ancestor_if too strong a light is not thrown upon her record. Truth is,—and it is a truth attested by both the University traditions and the still better proof drawn from the substantial work done by many graduates of those years,—that the instruction given in the University was always, when taken as a whole, equal to that obtainable elsewhere, and that the present University, though developed to meet the wants of our day, and though capable of yet surther expansion towards the same end, has no room for boasting over its own past. On the contrary, the University of to-day may well look to its laurels. Is it so grounding its alumni in both knowledge and the love of knowledge, that, forty years hence, the editors of these pages in The PENN MONTHLY can justlypraise it for having been indeed, so many. years before, a faithful “ nourisher of ingenuous youth"? It is an excellent law, in the usages of our land, that each generation stands on its own feet, finding neither obstacle in the humble beginnings of an ancestor, nor undue advancement from his distinguished career. Let the University lay the lesson to heart !
* The italics are ours.
Apropos of University books, it is not amiss to say that the University Library will gladly give proper accommodations-including the binding of pamphlets-to all works by University graduates. Indeed, it is the bounden duty of graduates to send to the Librarian, the Rev. Professor Thompson, a copy of each of their productions, however trifling it may seem to the author. In the library of the near future--stored, as must surely come to be, in a special building on the 34th Street side of the campus, and guarded by an officer whose whole time shall be spent in caring for it and extending it—a special alcove may well be set apart for books by University professors and University graduates.
The charge has been made of late, (and it has come to us from at least two separate sources,) that candidates for the academic departments have been admitted without examination. As intended to be understood, the charge is false ; it has probably originated in the following cases :
First. Several students from the High School, having completed at least two years of the course there, were admitted, late last year, to the Five Years' Division of the Freshman Class (T. S. S.,) upon satisfying the professors that they were able to go on. In some cases, the professors accepted their standing at the High School as evidence of their fitness in the required preparatory studies.
Second. Five or six candidates, unavoidably detained from both the June and the September examinations this year, have been allowed to attend with the Freshmen until their examinations can be conveniently had. This means that the examiners, being pressed with other work after the term opened, have simply postponed the examining of these men till the Freshmen who were admitted conditionally come up (about December ist) for re-examination. If any capital can be made out of either class of cases, there is no college in the land, perhaps, against which it could not equally be made.
The era Ab Refectorio Condito progresses finely. No disorder has grown out of the recess; the classes return to their rooms promptly at its close ; and, grandest result of all, the vicious practice of leaving the room during recitation or lecture is nearly broken up. Strange, indeed! The Faculty has for years sought an available means of checking this abuse, and lo! that means proves to be a restaurant. Does not some philosopher say that the road to men's reason is through their stomachs ?
The newly organized course of instruction in botany is doing well. Professor Rothrock has now in his laboratory four students in the course preparatory to medicine, besides two other gentlemen of the regular course, who do not intend studying medicine. On Saturday he has, from io to 12.30 o'clock, a class of teachers from the public schools of this city. His laboratory is also attracting prospective candidates for the naval medical examinations. The events of the last year or two have shown that practical knowledge of biology and modes of biological investigation have come to be favorite examining fields, and that aspirants for medical naval positions do well to prepare accordingly.
The mode of teaching in the botanical laboratory is in all instances by observation. Neither text-books nor lectures are relied upon, or even encouraged. It is too late in the day to argue as to the utility or desirability of a plan of instruction which, here and in Europe, is giving the best results. Microscopical methods, etc., receive attention first; then material is given to the student, upon which observations are to be made and drawings of which are to be produced. The name is never given until the student has discovered what he can. Then the text-book information comes in to supplement and confirm what he has seen. Such study becomes a source of mental power, giving at the same time the facts themselves and a capacity for original investigation.
The course in zoology and comparative anatomy in the Towne Scientific School, under the superintendence of Professor Parker, is progressing satisfactorily. For the past two months the students