SIR WILLIAM OSLER, BT., M.D., F.R.S.
WITH INTRODUCTION BY
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In writing a prefatory note to an American reprint of this notable address there are three things to consider the writer, his subject, and the occasion. The greatly beloved author had a multitude of friends in all lands, and far abler pens have written much concerning him during the past twelve months. The subject is one of no less moment on this sideof the Atlantic than to those in older countries who concern themselves with scholarship and education, though here the classicists are having a particularly hard struggle to retain in our academies, schools, and colleges a proper footing for the ancient languages and learning termed "the humanities." The circumstances under which the address was given are less familiar in this country than the author and his subject, for we as yet have no cor-
responding organization, or at least none with such an ambitious programme. Consequently it is appropriate that this note should dwell chiefly upon the occasion.
The Classical Association, composed of a large body of university men, teachers, and schoolmasters, with local branches in several places in Great Britain and her colonies, was established in 1904 with this object:
To promote the development and maintain the well-being of classical studies and in particular:
That Sir William Osler should have been chosen to preside over such an assembly of
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British scholars is no matter for surprise, for though a humanist in the broad sense of the term as a student of human affairs and human nature, rather than of Latin and Greek, he at the same time was a wide reader with a "relish for knowledge," successful not only in its quest in many fields beyond that of his chosen profession, but particularly so in his ability to hand his literary gleanings on to others in a new and attractive form. Nevertheless, the presidency of the Classical Association, considering the avowed objects of this body, was a most signal honour in view of his reputation primarily as a scientist and teacher of medicine.
His immediate predecessor, the Professor of Greek at Christ Church, opened his presidential address of the year before with these words:
It is the general custom of this Association to choose as its President alternately a classical scholar and a man of wide eminence outside the classics.
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Next year you are to have a man of science, a great physician who is also famous in the world of learning and literature. Last year you had a statesman, who, though a statesman, is also a great scholar and man of letters, a sage and counsellor in the antique mould, of world-wide fame and unique influence.
Thus, though in himself sufficiently representative of humanistic culture, Osler was in this strict sense an alternate, and among the fourteen earlier Presidents of the Association three had like himself been Fellows, of the Royal Society, which long since had abandoned even the pretence of concerning itself with classical studies which had been the very basis of the Revival of Learning.
The list of Presidents since the foundation of the Association may be a matter of interest to those in this country who may not have been aware of the existence and purposes of this organization of British scholars:
As reported in the Annual Proceedings of the Association, Professor Murray at the meeting in 1918, in nominating his successor, spoke of him as a man, "who is not only one of the most eminent physicians in the world, but represents in a peculiar way the learned physician who was one of the marked characters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and stands for a type of culture which the Classical Association does not wish to see die out of the world the culture of a man who, while devoting himself to his special science, keeps nevertheless a broad basis of interest in letters of all kinds."
In seconding this proposal, Sir Frederic Kenyon pointed out that it had come at a very appropriate time in the work of the As-
sociation, for: "During this last year our main activity has been directed towards getting representatives of Natural Science and of the Humanities to work together, on the principle that those subjects never should be in conflict with one another, but merely in friendly competition. Both are equally essential for a liberal education. It is a continuation and a symbol of that policy that we should ask Sir William Osler to become our President, and that he should have accepted cordially and readily, as he did. He is eminent as a man of science, is President of the Bibliographical Society, and represents scholarship in medicine in its best form."
It is quite possible that these last remarks may have suggested to the succeeding President an appropriate topic for his address, for he told the writer a few months later that he planned to talk on Science and the Humanities. He was already turning the matter over in his mind, but where he found
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time or inclination to write the address it is difficult to imagine.
Staggered by the loss of his son, an only child, who had fallen in action near St. Julien during the Passchendaele battles in September the year before, his days occupied with a succession of duties in connection with the war, his household filled as always with friends and visitors innumerable, and every young American or Canadian in service in England gravitating there, eager above all things to further the progress of the elaborate catalogue of his unique and valuable collection of books, he nevertheless set himself to prepare this, one of his most brilliant and what proved to be his last formal address.
The meeting of the Association was to be held in Oxford, the bed-rock of classical learning the only place, it seems, where the word "humanism" in its narrow sense still survives in modern university termi-
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nology as that part of the curriculum known as Litterae Humaniores. As was characteristic of his methods, the mere address itself did not suffice, but he prepared for the occasion in other ways. Thus he collected from the various Oxford colleges and placed on exhibition an array of historical objects illustrating the important part Oxford had once played in science and natural philosophy in days antedating the Royal Society which had its seeds of origin there. In addition, and as a possible offset to this, he exhibited from his own collection of books those volumes which constituted in their original editions the outstanding classics in Science and Medicine. A small pamphlet concerning them reads as follows:
Faced with a bewildering variety and everincreasing literature, how is the hard-pressed student to learn
1. The evolution of knowledge in any subject;
2. The life and work of the men who made the original contributions?
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So far as concerns Science and Medicine, an attempt is made to answer the question by the collection of a Bibliotheca Prima, examples from which are here shown. The idea is to have in a comparatively small number of works the essential literature grouped about the men of the first rank, arranged in chronological order.
I have put out the editiones principes of twenty of such works. The fundamental contribution may be represented by a great Aldine edition, e.g. Aristotle, by the brief communication such as that of Darwin and Wallace in the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, 1858, or by a three-page pamphlet of Roentgen. From the card lists of Galen, Hippocrates, Vesalius, and Harvey, those interested will see the aim and scope of the collection.
The works on exhibition are:
Though it is hardly pertinent to this introductory note, the temptation is strong to dwell further on the treasures of his library. These mentioned above were but samples from the Bibliotheca Prima, and the superb collection, with copious notes on each separate item, is further subdivided into some seven sections Bibliotheca Secunda, historica, biographica, literaria, the incunabulas, and so on.
He was for seven years President of the Bibliographical Society and as great a lover of books as of men, but it should be borne in mind that his library was being collected and catalogued, not as a series of treasures by reason of their rarity, but were regarded as instruments for the advancement of knowledge, and with this end in view the collection was bequeathed to McGill University.
By good fortune, letters which give interesting descriptions of the effect of the
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address have been received from two distinguished members of Sir Williams audience, one of them an eminent classical scholar, the other an eminent scientist. Sir Frederic Kenyon writes that:
The delivery of Sir William Oslers address was a very memorable occasion. As can be seen by those who read it, it was full of learning, of humour, of feeling, of eloquence, and it contained suggestions of real weight with regard to the interconnection of science and the humanities, But it gained much in delivery from the personality of the speaker. No one could hear it without being impressed by his width of outlook, by his easy mastery of great tracts of literature and learning, by his all-embracing humanity in the widest sense of the term. I hope it made many students of science anxious to extend their knowledge of classical literature; I know it made one student of the classics wish that he had a wider knowledge of natural science. Osler himself was a well-nigh perfect example of the union of science and the humanities, which to some of us is the ideal of educational progress; and his address embodied the whole spirit of this ideal.
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Professor William H. Welch has given the following account:
Most fortunately for me my last visit to the Oslers in Oxford happened to be on Friday, May 16, 1919, when Osler delivered his presidential address before the Classical Association.
Of the many honours which came to Osler few gave him so great pleasure, as well as surprise, as his election to the presidency of the British ClassicalAssociation. Thiswas arecognition, not merely of his sympathetic inLecest in classical studies and intimate association with classical scholars, but also of his mastery of certain phases of the subject, especially the bibliographical and historical sides, and the relation of the work and thought of classical antiquity to the development of medicine, science, and culture. There have been physicians, especiallyin England, well known for their attainments as classical scholars, but I am not aware that since Linacre there has come to a member of the medical profession distinction in this field comparable to Oslers election to the presidency of the British Classical Association.
Osler told me that he had never given so much time and thought to the preparation of an address as he did to this one. The occasion and the whole
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setting were to me most interesting and impressive. At noon the audience of distinguished scholars and guests assembled in the "Divinity Room," the most beautiful assembly room in Oxford. At one end of the hall the Vice-Chancellor of the University presided and halfway down one of the sides was the high seat of the orator. The distinguished company, the brightly coloured academic gowns and hoods, the traditional ceremonies for such an occasion inOxford, the figure of Oslerhimself the charm and interest oftheaddress and itscordial appreciation and reception by the audience, all combined to make a scene of brilliancy and delight which I shall always carry in my memory.
At the close of the address the vote of thanks was moved by Sir Herbert Warren, the President of Magdalen College, who described Osler as the modern Galen, and was seconded by SirJohn Bar-ran, the member of Parliament from Leeds, in felicitous words of discriminating praise of the Presidents address. The audience responded most enthusiastically.
I shall never forget the hour which I spent with Osler just before the address, in inspecting the wonderful collection of scientific instruments of historical interest which Mr. Gunther had assembled at Oslers request from the various colleges at Ox-
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ford, especially from Merton, the old home of science. An interesting descriptive catalogue of the collection had been prepared. With what delight Osler showed me and told me the histories and associations of the astrolabes, armillary spheres, orreries, telescopes, lenses, microscopes, books, etc., which he had caused to be gathered together in connection with the meeting of the Classical Association! You will recognize a characteristic touch and thought of Osler in arranging for such an original exhibit to interest a meeting of scholars.
When not long after the address I said goodbye to Osler I little thought that it was to be our final parting, but I rejoice to have been with him then and to remember him as I saw him last on that triumphal day.
Thus, though from first to last his heart was wrapped up in his profession and its science, his mind was open to other things, and his confession that the Religio Medici was the second book he ever purchased and that the particular copy had always remained at his bedside is not without significance. He lived to prove himself, not only
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a worthy disciple of those scholars of the Renascence who interested themselves in natural philosophy, but also of those who were devotees of the ancient languages and literature. But Sir William Osler was a man first a physician and scholar afterward; and beneath his high spirits, his love offun, lay an infinite compassion and tenderness toward his humankind. "Write me as one who loves his fellow-men." And upon few men has such a measure of admiration, affection, and love been bestowed in return. These things he bore without pride, as he bore his great success in life with humility.
On July 12, 1919, less than two months after the address was delivered, he attained his seventieth year, and was presented with two volumes containing sixty-seven original "Contributions to Medical and Biological Research" written in his honour. In addition to this, tributes were showered upon him from all sides, and his work, char-
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acter, and accomplishments became the subject of papers innumerable. It was an extraordinary outburst, one of those exceptional occurrences when people do not wait for the passingin this case so near at hand to say, what is in their hearts to say, of the life of a friend. A brief characterization of him from one of the most eminent of British scholars was quoted early in this note, and it may be fitting to close with some lines by the dean of American classical scholars, Basil L. Gildersleeve, written for what proved to be his last birthday:
ON A PORTRAIT OF SIR WILLIAM
William the Fowler, Guillaume lOiseleur!
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February 18, 1920
THE OLD HUMANITIES AND
THE NEW SCIENCE
EARLY in the sixteenth century a literary joke sent inextinguishable laughter through the learned circles of Europe. The Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum is great literature, to which I refer for two reasons its standard is an exact gauge of my scholarship, and had Magister Nostrandus Ortuinus Gratius of Cologne, to whom most of the letters are addressed, been asked to join that wicked Erfurt Circle, he could not have been more surprised than I was to receive a gracious invitation to preside over this gathering of British scholars. I felt to have been sailing under false colours to have ever, by pen or tongue, suggested the possession of even the traditional small Lat
in and less Greek. Relieved by the assurance that in alternate years the qualification of your President was an interest in education and literature, I gladly accepted, not, however, without such anticipatory qualms as afflict an amateur at the thought of addressing a body of experts. Not an educated man in the Oxford sense, yet faint memories of the classics linger the result of ten years of such study as lads of my generation pursued, memories best expressed in Tom Hoods lines:
In a life of teaching and practice, a mere picker-up of learnings crumbs is made to realize the value of the humanities in science not less than in general culture.
To have a Professor of Medicine in this Chair gives to the Oxford meeting an appropriate renaissance shall we say medi-
aeval? flavour, and one may be pardoned the regret that the meeting is not being held in May, 1519, to have had the pleasure of listening to an address from a real Oxford scholar-physician, an early teacherof Greek in this University, and the founder of the Royal College of Physicians, whose Rudimenta Grammatices and De Emendata Structura Latini Sermonis upheld for a generation, on the Continent at least,the reputation of English scholarship. These noble walls, themselves an audience indeed, most appreciative of audiences have storied memories of Linacres voice, and the basis of the keen judgment of Erasmus may have been formed by intercourse with him in this very school. In those happy days, to know Hippocrates and Galen was to know disease and to be qualified to practise; and my profession looks back in grateful admiration to such great medical humanists as Linacre and Caius and Rabelais. Nor can I claim
to speak for pure science, some salt of which remains from early association, and from a lifelong attempt to correlate with art a science which makes medicine, I was going to say the only but it is more civil to say the most progressive of the learned professions.
To have lived right through an epoch, matched only by two in the story of the race, to have shared in its long struggle, to have witnessed its final victory (and in my own case, to be left I trust with wit enough to realize its significance) to have done this has been a wonderful privilege. To have outgrown age-old theories of man and of nature, to have seen west separated from east in the tangled skein of human thought, to have lived in a world re-making these are among the thrills and triumphs of the Victorian of my generation. To a childhood and youth came echoes of the controversy that Aristarchus began, Coperni-
cus continued, and Darwin ended, that put the microcosm into line with the macrocosm, and for thegolden age of Eden substituted the tellus dura of Lucretius. Think of the Cimmerian darkness out of which our generation has, at any rate, blazed a path! Picture the mental state of a community which could produce "Omphalos: An Attempt to untie the Geological Knot"! I heard warm clerical discussions on its main thesis, that the fossils were put into the earths strata to test mens faith in the Mosaic account of the creation, and our Professor of Natural Theology lectured seriously upon it! The intellectual unrest of those days wrapped many in that "dyvine cloude of unknowynge," by which happy phrase Brother Herp designates medieval mysticism; and not a bad thing for a young man to live through, as sufficient infection usually remains to enable him to under-
1 By the distinguished naturalist Philip Henry Gosse.
stand, if not to sympathize with, mental states alien or even hostile.
An Age of Force followed the final subjugation of Nature. The dynamo replaced the steam-engine, radiant energy revealed the hidden secrets of matter, to the conquest of the earth was added the control of the air and the mastery of the deep. Nor was it only an Age of Force. Never before had man done so much for his brother, the victory over the powers of Nature meant also glorious victories of peace; pestilences were checked, the cry of the poor became articulate, and to help the life of the submerged half became a sacred duty of the other. How full we were of the pride of life! In 1910 at Edinburgh I ended an address on "Mans Redemption of Man" with the well-known lines of Shelley beginning, "Happiness and Science dawn though late upon the earth." And now, having survived the greatest war in history, and a
great victory, with the wreckage of medieval autonomy to clear up, our fears are lest we may fail to control the fretful forces of Caliban, and our hopes are to rebuild Jerusalem in this green and pleasant land.
Never before in its long evolution has the race realized its full capacity. Our fathers have told us, and we ourselves have known, of glorious sacrifices; but the past four years have exhausted in every direction the possibilities of human effort. And, as usual, among the nations the chief burden has fallen on that weary Titan, the Motherland,
Not alone did she furnish the sinews of war, but she developed a spirit that made defeat impossible.
No wonder war has advocates, to plead the heroic clash of ideals, the purging of a
nations dross in the fire of suffering and sacrifice, and the welding in one great purpose of a scattered people. Even Montaigne, sanest of men, called it "the greatest and most magnificent of human actions"; and the glamours of its pride, pomp, and circumstance still captivate. But there are other sides which we should face without shrinking. Why dwell on the horrors such as we doctors and nurses have had to see? Enough to say that war blasts the soul, and in this great conflict the finer sense of humanity has been shocked to paralysis by the helplessness of our civilization and the futility of our religion to stem a wave of primitive barbarism. Black as are the written and unwritten pages of history, the concentrated and prolonged martyrdom surpasses anything man has yet had to endure. What a shock to the proud and mealy-mouthed Victorian who had begun to trust that Love was creations
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final law, forgetting that Egypt and Babylon are our contemporaries and of yesterday in comparison with the hundreds of thousands of years since the cave-dwellers left their records on walls and bones. In the mystic shadow of the Golden Bough, and swayed by the emotions of our savage ancestors, we stand aghast at the revelation of the depth and ferocity of primal passions which reveal the unchangeableness of human nature.
When the wild beast of Platos dream becomes a waking reality, and a herd-emotion of hate sweeps a nation off its feet, the desolation that follows is wider than that in France and Belgium, wider even than the desolation of grief, and something worse the hardened heart, the lie in the soul so graphically described in Book II of the "Republic" that forces us to do accursed things, and even to defend them! I refer to it because, as professors, we have
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been accused of sinning against the light. Of course we have. Over us, too, the wave swept, but I protest against the selection of us for special blame. The other day, in an address on " The Comradeship of Letters" at Turin, President Wilson is reported to have said: "It is one of the great griefs of this war that the universities of the Central Empires used the thoughts of science to destroy mankind; it is the duty of the universities of these states to redeem science from this disgrace and to show that the pulse of humanity beats in the classroom, and that there are sought out not the secrets of death but the secrets of life." A pious and worthy wish! But once in war a nation mobilizes every energy, and to say that science has been prostituted in discovering means of butchery is to misunderstand the situation. Slaughter, wholesale and unrestricted, is what is sought, and to accomplish this the discoveries of the sainted
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Faraday and of the gentle Dalton are utilized to the full, and to their several nations scientific men render this service freely, if not gladly. That the mental attitude engendered by science is apt to lead to a gross materialism is a vulgar error. Scientific men, in mufti or in uniform, are not more brutal than their fellows, and the utilization of their discoveries in warfare should not be a greater reproach to them than is our joyous acceptance of their success.
What a change of heart after the appalling experience of the first gassing in 1915! Nothing more piteously horrible than the sufferings of the victims has ever been seen in warfare. Surely we could not sink to such barbarity! Is thy servant a dog? But martial expediency soon compelled the Allies to enlist the resources of chemistry; the instruction of our enemies was soon bettered,and before theArmistice there were
I am sorry to have seen Sargents picture "Gassed" in this years Academy. It haunts the mind like a nightmare.
developments in technique and destructive force that would have delighted Nisroch, who first invented aerial "machinations to plague the sons of men." A group of medical men representing the chief universities and medical bodies of the United Kingdom was innocent enough to suggest that such an unclean weapon the use of lethal gases, "condemning its victims to death by long-drawn-out torture," and with infinite possibilities for its further development should be forever abolished. "Steeped in folly by theories and prepossessions," failure to read the "lessons of war which should have sufficed to convince a beetle " such were among the newspaper comments; and in other ways we were given to understand that our interference in such matters was most untimely. All the same, it is gratifying to see that the suggestion has been adopted at the Peace Congress.
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With what a howl of righteous indignation the slaughter of our innocent women and children by the bombing of open towns was received! It was a dirty and bloody business, worthy of the Oxydracians by means of Levin-bolts and Thunders and more horrible, more frightful, more diabolical, maiming, breaking, tearing, and slaying more folk and confounding mens senses and throwing down more walls than would a hundred thunderbolts.
Against reprisals there was at first a strong feeling. Early in 19161 wrote to the "Times": "The cry for reprisals illustrates the exquisitely hellish state of mind into which war plunges even sensible men. Not a pacifist, but a last-ditcher, yet I refuse to believe that as a nation, how bitter soever the provocation, we shall stain our hands in the blood of the innocent. In this matter let us be free from bloodguiltiness,
1 Rabelais, Book iv, ch. LXI.
and let not the undying reproach of humanity rest on us as on the Germans." Two years changed me into an ordinary barbarian. A detailed tally of civilians killed by our airmen has not, I believe, been published, but the total figures quoted are not far behind the German.
Could a poll have been taken a week before the Armistice as to the moral justification of the bombing of Berlin for which we were ready how we should have howled at the proposer of any doubt! And many Jonahs were displeased that a city greater than Nineveh, with more than the threescore and ten thousand who knew not the right hand from the left, had been spared. We may deplore the necessity and lament, as did a certain great personage:
Yet public reason just
All the same, we considered ourselves "Christians of the best edition, all picked and culled," and the churches remained open, prayers rose to Jehovah, many of whose priests even his bishops! were in khaki, and quit themselves like men yes, and scores died the death of heroes! Into such hells of inconsistency does war plunge the best of us!
Learning new or old seems a vain thing to save a nation, but possibly, as a set-off, science, as represented by cellulose and sulphuric acid, may yet prove the best bulwark of civilization! In his "History of the Origin of Medicine," Lettsom maintains that the invention of firearms has done more to prevent the destruction of the human species than any other discovery; he says:
"Invention and discernment of mind have made it possible to reverse the ancient maxim that strength has always prevailed over
1 1778, p. 30.
wisdom." Science alone may prevent a repetition of the story of Egypt, of Babylonia, of Greece, and of Rome. The suggestion seems brazen effrontery when we have not even given the world the equivalent of the Pax Romana! Ah! what a picture of self-satisfied happiness in Plutarch! One envies that placid life in the midst of the only great peace the world has known, spanning a period of more than two hundred years. And he could say, "No tumults, no civil sedition, no tyrannies, no pestilencesnorcalamities depopulating Greece, no epidemic disease needing powerful and choice drugs and medicines"; though as a Delphic priest there is a pathetic lament that the Pythian priestess has now only commonplace questions to deal with. Surely those cultivated men of his circle must have felt that their house could never be removed. Has Science
"Why the Pythian Priestess," etc. (Plutarchs Morals, vol. III, p. 100, Goodwins edition).
reached such control over Nature that she will enable our civilization to escape the law of the Ephesian, written on all known records panta rei? Perhaps so, now that material civilization is world-wide; cataclysmic forces, powerful enough in centres of origin, may weaken as they pass out in circles. Let this be our hope in the present crisis. At any rate, in the free democracies in which Demos with safety says "L'Etat c'est moi," it has yet to be determined whether Science, as the embodiment of a mechanical force, can rule without invoking ruin. Two things are clear: there must be a very different civilization or there will be no civilization at all; and the other is that neither the old religion combined with the old learning, nor both with the new science, suffice to save a nation bent on self-destruction. The suicide of Germany, the outstanding fact of the war, followed an outburst of national megalomania. For she
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had religion it may shock some of you to hear! I mean the people, not the writers or the thinkers, but the people for whom Luther lived and Huss died. Of the two devotional ceremonies which stand supreme in my memory, one was a service in the Dom, Berlin, in which" not the great nor well bespoke, but the mere uncounted folk" sang Luthers great hymn "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott." With the Humanities Germany never broke, and the proportion of students in her schools and universities who studied Greek and Latin has been higher than in any other country. You know better than I the innumerable classical studies of her scholars. In classical learning relating to science and medicine she simply had the field; for one scholar in other countries she had a dozen, and the monopoly of journals relating to the history of these sub--
1And the other, how different! The crowded Blue Mosque of Cairo, and the crowded streets with the thousands of kneeling Moslems awaiting the cry of the muezzin from the tower.
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steal the much-sought liquid without any compensatory gift of nourishment.1
What does the community at large, so careful of your comforts, expect
from you? Surely the honey-dew and the milk of paradise secreted from
your classical exudatoria, which we lap up greedily in recensions,
monographs, commentaries, histories, translations, and brochures.
Among academic larvae you have for centuries absorbed the almost undivided
interest of the nest, and not without reason, for the very life of
the workers depends on the hormones you secrete. rrhough small in
number, your group has an enormous kinetic value, like our endocrine
organs. For mans body, too, is a humming hive of working cells,
each with its specific function, all under central control of the
brain and heart, and all dependent on materials called hor-
LVII, no. 4, 1918.
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mones (secreted by small, even insignificant-looking structures (which lubricate the wheels of life. For example, remove the thyroid gland just below the Adams apple, and you deprive man of the lubricants which enable his thought-engines to work it is as if you cut off the oil-supply of a motor and gradually the stored acquisitions of his mind cease to be available, and within a year he sinks into dementia. The normal processes of the skin cease, the hair falls, the features bloat, and the paragon of animals is transformed into a shapeless caricature of humanity. These essential lubricators, of which a number are now known, are called hormones you will recognize from its derivation how appropriate is the term.
Now, the men of your guild secrete materials which do for society at large what the thyroid gland does for the individual. The Humanities are the hormones. Our
friend Mr. P. S. Allen read before this Association a most suggestive paper on the historical evolution of the word "Humanism." I like to think of the pleasant-flavoured word as embracing all the knowledge of the ancient classical world what man knew of nature as well as what he knew of himself. Let us see what this university means by the Literae Humaniores. The "Greats" papers for the past decade make interesting study. With singular uniformity there is diversity enough to bear high tribute to the ingenuity of the examiners. But, comparing the subjects in 1918 with those in the first printed papers of the school in 1831, one is surprised to find them the same practically no change in the eighty-seven years! Compare them, again, with the subjects given in John Napletons "Considerations" in 1773no change! and with the help of Rashdall we may trace the story of the studies in arts, only to find that as
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I quote from a Report to the Board of the Faculty of Arts made just before the war on a proposed new Honour School, the subject of which should be the principles of philosophy considered in their relation to the sciences. That joint action of this kind should have been taken by the Boards of Arts and of Science indicates a widespread conviction that no man is cultivated up to the standard of his generation who has not an appreciation of how the greatest achievements of the human mind have been reached; and the practical question is how to introduce such studies into the course of liberal education, how to give the science school the leaven of an old philosophy, how to leaven the old philosophical school with the thoughts of science.1
Since I wrote this lecture, Professor J. A. Stewart has sent me his just-published essay on Oxford after the War and a Liberal Education, in which he urges with all the weight of his learning and experience that the foundations of liberal education in Oxford should be "No Humane Letters without Natural Science and no Natural Science withuut Humane Letters."
It is important to recognize that there is nothing mysterious in the method of science, or apart from the ordinary routine of life. Science has been defined as the habit or faculty of observation. By such the child grows in knowledge, and in its daily exercise an adult lives and moves. Only a quantitative difference makes observation scientific accuracy; in that way alone do we discover things as they really are. This is the essence of Platos definition of science as "the discovery of things as they really are," whether in the heavens above, in the earth beneath, or in the observer himself. As a mental operation, the scientific method is equally applicable to deciphering a bit of Beneventan script, to the analysis of the evidence of the Commission on Coal-Mines, a study of the mechanism of the nose-dive, or of the colour-scheme in tiger-beetles. To observation and reasoned thought, the Greek added experiment, but never fully
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used it in biology, an instrument which has made science productive, and to which the modern world owes its civilization. Our every-day existence depends on the practical application of discoveries in pure science by men who had no ofher motives than a search for knowledge of Natures laws, a disinterestedness which Burnet claims to be the distinctive gift of Hellas to humanity. With the discovery of induced currents Faraday had no thought of the dynamo. Crookess tubes were a plaything until Roentgen turned them into practical use with the X-rays. Perkin had no thought of transforming chemical industry when he discovered aniline dyes. Priestley would have cursed the observation that an electrical charge produced nitrous acid had he foreseen that it would enable Germany to prolong the war, but he would have blessed the thought that it may make us independent of all outside sources for fertilizers.
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The extraordinary development of modem science may be her undoing. Specialism, now a necessity, has fragmented the specialities themselves in a way that makes the outlook hazardous. The workers lose all sense of proportion in a maze of minutiae. Everywhere men are in small coteries intensely absorbed in subjects of deep interest, but of very limited scope. Chemistry, a century ago an appanage of the Chair of Medicine or even of Divinity, has now a dozen departments, each with its laboratory and literature, sometimes its own society. Applying themselves early to research, young men get into backwaters far from the main stream. They quickly lose the sense of proportion, become hypercritical, and the smaller the field, the greater the tendency to megalocephaly. The study for fourteen years of the variations in the colour scheme of the thirteen hundred species of tiger-beetles scattered over the earth may
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sterilize a man into a sticker of pins and a paster of labels; on the other hand, he may be a modern biologist whose interest is in the experimental modification of types, and in the mysterious insulation of hereditary characters from the environment. Only in one direction does the modern specialist acknowledge his debt to the dead languages. Men of science pay homage, as do no others, to the god of words whose magic power is nowhere so manifest as in the plastic language of Greece. The only visit many students pay to Parnassus is to get an intelligible label for a fact or form newly discovered. Turn the pages of such a dictionary of chemical terms as Morley and Muir, and you meet in close-set columns countless names unknown a decade ago, and unintelligible to the specialist in another department unless familiar with Greek, and as meaningless as the Arabic jargon in such medieval collections as the "Synonyma"
of Simon Januensis or the "Pandects" of Matheas Sylvaticus. As "Punch" put it the other day in a delightful poetical review of Professor Wests volume:1
Let me give a couple of examples.
1 The Value of the Classics. Princeton University Press, 1917.
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find the key to the secret of life itself. And what a Grecian he has become! Listen to this account, which Aristotle would understand much better than most of us.
The karyogranulomes, not the idiogranulomes or microsomenstratum in the protoplasm of the spermatogonia, unite into the idiosphaerosome, acrosoma of Lenhossek, a protean phase, as the idiospkerosome differentiates into an idiocryptosome and an idiocalyptosome, both surrounded by the idiospkerotheca, the archoplasmic vesicle; but the idioectosome disappears in the metamorphosis of the spermatid into a sphere, the idiophtharosome. The separation of the calyptosome from the cryptosome antedates the transformation of the idiosphaerotheca into the spermiocalyptrotheca.1
Or take a more practical if less Cratylean
1 Of course I have made this up out of a recent number of the American Journal of Anatomy, 24, I.