Brewster's discoveries respecting double refraction and dipolarisation proved the essential truth of the classification of crystalline forms according to the number of axes, by showing that the molecular constitution depends upon the axes. In these and in numerous other cases, the mutual influence of the sciences has been quite independent of any supposed hierarchical order.
Any man or woman of average intellect, if they will but observe and think for themselves, freely, boldly, patiently, accurately, may judge for themselves of the conclusions of these sciences, may add to these conclusions fresh and important discoveries; and if I am asked for a proof of what I assert, I point to "Rain and Rivers," written by no professed scientific man, but by a colonel in the Guards, known to fame only as one of the most perfect horsemen in the world.
I like to be amused and instructed on the particular things I want to know; but works of genius, as such, give me very little pleasure, and as to the physical sciences, they interest me only so far as they illustrate the true method of inquiry. They, or rather some of them, have the advantage of being particularly true, and so a guide in the pursuit of moral and distinctively human truth.
To those pupils who, like my brother Ludo, were pursuing the study of the sciences, he, the mathematician of the institute, must have been an unusually clear and competent teacher. I was under his charge only a short time, and his branch of knowledge was unfortunately my weak point.
There are reasons enough why the moral sciences must remain inferior to at least the more perfect of the physical; why the laws of their more complicated phenomena can not be so completely deciphered, nor the phenomena predicted with the same degree of assurance.
It is, therefore, only one science among all the sciences which inform us about the laws and conditions of our life on earth.
It was during his administration that I was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, through his influence, and the influence of the professors at the College. I resigned the office of Secretary, January 1, 1861, with the purpose of resuming the practice of law.
Its very superiority consists in the complexity, the association of contraries, the skillful combination it implies. The man of to-day, fashioned by the historical and geographical influences of twenty countries and of thirty centuries, trained and modified by all the sciences and all the arts, the supple recipient of all literatures, is an entirely new product.
"Just the way it is with bell ringing," said Carhaix. "No, you see, messieurs," Gévingey went on, "the day when the grand sciences of the Middle Ages fell foul of the systematic and hostile indifference of an impious people was the death-day of the soul in France.
Take the man, for instance, who deals in the mathematical sciences. There is no elasticity in a mathematical fact; if you bring up against it, it never yields a hair's breadth; everything must go to pieces that comes in collision with it.