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scholarship of Germany. It stood embodied in the life and the motto of the aged, matchless artist Angelo — Ancora imparo, I am learning still.
But impulse and activity may move blindly. Another cardinal quality of such a culture, therefore, must be precision -- the close, clean working of the faculties. A memory trained to clear recollection, what a saving of reiterated labor and of annoying helplessness ! A discrimination sharpened to the nicest discernment of things that differ, though always a shining mark for the arrow of the satirist, will outlive all shots with his gray-goose shaft ; for it shines with the gleam of tempered steel. An exactness of knowledge that defines all its landmarks, how is it master of the situation! A precision of speech, born of clear thinking — what controversial battlefields of sulphurous smoke and scattering fire might it prevent! He has been called a public benefactor who makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before. He is as great a benefactor who in an age of verbiage makes one word perform the function of two. Wonderful is the precision with which this mental mechanism may be made to work. Some men can even think their best on their feet in the presence of a great assembly. There are others whose spontaneous thoughts move by informal syllogisms. Emmons sometimes laid off his common utterances like the heads of a discourse. Johnson's retorts exploded like a musket, and often struck like a musket-ball. John Hunter fairly com pared his own mind to a beehive, all in a hum, but
the hum of industry and order and achievement. It reminds us, by contrast, of other minds formed upon the model of the wasp's nest, with a superabundance of hum and sting without, and no honey within. It was of the voluminous works of a distinguished author that Robert Hall remarked : “They are a continent of mud, sir." Nuisances of literature are the men who fill the air with smoke, relieved by no clear blaze of light. There have been schools of thought that were as smoky as Pittsburgh. We have had "seers” who made others see nothing, men of "insight" with no outlook, scientists who in every critical argument jumped the track of true science, and preachers whose hazy thoughts and utterances flickered between truth and
Pity there were not some intellectual Sing-Sing for the culprit !
How refreshing, on the other hand, to follow the clear unfolding of the silken threads of thought that lie side by side, single and in knots and skeins, but never tangled ! What a beautiful process was vestigation by Faraday in electro-magnetism, as he combined his apparatus, manipulated his material, narrowed his search, eliminated his sources of error, and drew his careful conclusions! With similar persistent acuteness in the field of Biblical investigation, how does Zumpt, by an exhaustive exclusion and combination, at length make the annals of Tacitus shake hands with the Gospel of Luke over the taxing of Cyrenius. In metaphysics, how matchless the razorlike acuteness with which Hamilton could distinguish, divide, and clear up it may
the questions that lay piled in confused heaps over the subject of perception! What can be more admirable than the workings of the trained legal, or rather judicial, mind, as it walks firmly through labyrinths of statute and precedent and principle, holding fast its strong but tenuous thread, till it stands forth in the bright light of day — it may be some Sir John Jervis, unraveling in a criminal case the web of sophistries with which a clever counsel has bewildered a jury; or
be Marshall or Story, in our own college case, shredding away, one by one, its intricacies, entangle. ments, and accretions, till all is delightfully, restfully clear.
It is a trait all the more to be insisted on in these very times, because there is so strong a drift toward a seeming clearness which is a real confusion. By two opposite methods do men now seek to reach that underlying order and majestic simplicity which more and more appear to mark this universe. The one distinguishes, the other confounds, things that certainly differ. The one system belongs to the reality and grandeur of nature, the other to the pettiness and perverseness of man. Not a few seem bent on seeing simplicity and uniformity by the short process of shutting their eyes upon actual diversity. They proceed not by analytical incision, but by summary excision. They work with the cleaver and not with the scalpel. What singular denials of the intuitive facts of universal consciousness, what summary identifications of most palpable diversities, and what kangaroo-leaps
beyond the high wall of their facts mark many of the deliverances of those who loudly warn us off from "the unknowable”! What shall we say of the steady confusion, in some arguments, of structure and function, and of force with material ? When men, however eminent, openly propose to identify the force which screws together two plates of metal with the agency which corrodes or dissolves both in an acid, or to identify the affinity that forms chemical combinations with the vitality that so steadily overrides, suspends, and counteracts those affinities, is this an ascent into the pure ether or a plunge in the Cimmerian dark ? When, in opposition to every possible criterion, a man claims that there is but “one ultimate form of matter out of which successively the more complex forms of matter are built up,” is this the advance march of chemistry or the retrograde to alchemy? When a writer, in a style however lucid and taking, firmly assumes that there is no essential difference in two objects alike in material elements, but separated by that mighty and mysterious thing, life, is that the height of wisdom or the depth of folly? And how such a central paralysis of the mental retina spreads its darkness ! - as, for example, in the affirmation that as oxygen and hydrogen are reciprocally convertible with water, so are water, ammonia, and carbonic acid convertible into and resolvable from living protoplasm !
a statement said to be as false in chemistry as it certainly is in physiology. An ordinary merchant's accountant will, if need be, work a week to correct in his trial balance the variation of a cent. But when he listens to Sir John Lubbock calmly reckoning the age of the human implements in the valley of the Somme at from one hundred thousand up to two hundred and forty thousand years ; when he sees Croll, in dating the close of the glacial age, leap down from the height of near eight hundred thousand to eighty thousand years; when he finds Darwin and Lyell claiming for the period of life on the earth more than three hundred millions of years, while Tait, Young, and Thompson pronounce it quite impracticable to grant more than ten, or, at most, fifteen millions, — this poor benighted clerk is bound to sit and hearken to his masters in all outward solemnity, but he must be excused for a prolonged inward smile. Who are these, he says, that reckon with a leeway of hundreds of thousands of years, and fling the hundreds of millions of years right and left, like pebbles and straws ?
Brilliancy, so called, is no equivalent or substitute for precision. It is often its worst enemy. A man may mold himself to think in curves and zigzags, and not in right lines. He sends never an arrow, but a boomerang
Or he thinks in poetry instead of prose, deals in analogy where it should be analysis, puts rhetoric for logic, scatters and not concentrates, and while he radiates never irradiates. A late divine was suspected of heresy, partly because of his poetic bias; and one of his volumes was unfortunate for him and his readers, in that for his central position he planted himself on a figure of speech and not on a