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sciences. If we read such works as Whewell's History of the Inductive Sciences or Humboldt's Cosmos, we find that the origin, the progress, the causes of failure and success have been the same for almost every branch of hunan knowledge. There are three marked periods or stages in the history of every one of them, which we may call the Empirical, the Classificatory, and the Theoretical. However humiliating it may sound, every one of our sciences, however grand their present titles, can be traced back to the most humble and homely occupations of half-savage tribes. It was not the true, the good, and the beautiful which spurred the early philosophers to deep researches and bold discoveries. The foundationstone of the most glorious structures of human ingenuity in ages to come was supplied by the pressing wants of a patriarchal and semi-barbarous society. The names of some of the most ancient departments of human knowledge tell their own tale. Geometry, which at present declares itself free from all sensuous impressions, and treats of its points and lines and planes as purely ideal conceptions, not to be confounded with those coarse and imperfect representations as they appear on paper to the human eye; geometry, as its very name declares, began with measuring a garden or a field. It is derived from the Greek gē, land, ground, earth, and metron, meas
Botany, the science of plants, was originally the science of botanē, which in Greek does not mean a plant in general, but fodder, from boskein, to feed. The science of plants would have been called Phytology, from the Greek phyton, a plant. The founders
1 See Jessen, Was heisst Botanik? 1861.
of Astronomy were not the poet or the philosopher, but the sailor and the farmer. The early poet may have admired “the mazy dance of planets,” and the philosopher may have speculated on the heavenly harmonies ; but it was to the sailor alone that a knowledge of the glittering guides of heaven became a question of life and death. It was he who calculated their risings and settings with the accuracy of a merchant and the shrewdness of an adventurer; and the names that were given to single stars or constellations clearly show that they were invented by the ploughers of the sea and of the land. The moon, for instance, the golden hand on the dark dial of heaven, was called by them the Measurer, the measurer of time; for time was measured by nights, and moons, and winters, long before it was reckoned by days, and suns, and years. Moon is a very old word. It was môna in Anglo-Saxon, and was used there, not as a feminine, but as a masculine; for the moon was a masculine in all Teutonic languages, and it is only through the influence of classical models that in English moon has been changed into a feminine, and sun into a masculine. It was a most unlucky assertion which Mr. Harris made in his Hermes, that all nations ascribe to the sun a masculine, and to the moon a feminine gender.2 In Gothic moon is mena, which is a masculine. For month we have in A.-S. mônádh, in Gothic menoth, both masculine. In Greek we find mēn, a masculine, for month, and mēnē, a feminine, for moon. In Latin we have the derivative mensis, month, and in Sanskrit we find mâs for moon, and måsa for month, both mas
1 Kuhn's Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, b. ix. s. 104. 2 Horne Tooke, p. 27, note.
culine. Now this mâs in Sanskrit is clearly derived from a root má, to measure, to mete. In Sanskrit, I measure is má-mi; thou measurest, md-si; he measures, má-ti (or mimi-te). An instrument of measuring is called in Sanskrit ma-tram, the Greek metron, our metre. Now if the moon was originally called by the farmer the measurer, the ruler of days, and weeks, and seasons, the regulator of the tides, the lord of their festivals, and the herald of their public assemblies, it is but natural that he should have been conceived as a man, and not as the love-sick maiden which our modern sentimental poetry has put in his place.
It was the sailor who, before intrusting his life and goods to the winds and the waves of the ocean, watched for the rising of those stars which he called the Sailingstars or Pleiades, from plein, to sail. Navigation in the Greek waters was considered safe after the return of the Pleiades; and it closed when they disappeared. The Latin name for the Pleiades is Vergiliæ, from virga, a sprout or twig.
was given to them by the Italian husbandman, because in Italy, where they became visible about May, they marked the return of summer.2 Another constellation, the seven stars in the head of Taurus, received the name of Hyades or Pluvice in Latin, because at the time when they rose with the sun they were supposed to announce rain. The astronomer retains these and many other names; he still speaks of the pole of heaven, of wandering and fixed stars, but he is apt
1 See Curtius, Griechische Etymologie, s. 297.
8 As early as the times of Anaximenes of the Ionic, and Alemæon of the Pythagorean, schools, the stars had been divided into travelling (åorpa
to forget that these terms were not the result of scientific observation and classification, but were borrowed from the language of those who themselves were wanderers on the sea or in the desert, and to whom the fixed stars were in full reality what their name implies, stars driven in and fixed, by which they might hold fast on the deep, as by heavenly anchors.
But although historically we are justified in saying that the first geometrician was a ploughman, the first botanist a gardener, the first mineralogist a miner, it may reasonably be objected that in this early stage a science is hardly a science yet: that measuring a field is not geometry, that growing cabbages is very far from botany, and that a butcher has no claim to the title of comparative anatomist. This is perfectly true, yet it is but right that each science should be reminded of these its more humble beginnings, and of the practical requirements which it was originally intended to answer. A science, as Bacon says, should be a rich storehouse for the glory of God, and the relief of man's estate. Now, although it may seem as if in the present high state of our society students were enabled to devote their time to the investigation of the facts and laws of nature, or to the contemplation of the mysteries of the world of thought, without any side-glance at the practical result of their labors, no science and no art have long prospered and flourished among us, unless they were in some way subservient to the practical interests of society. It is true that a
πλανώμενα or πλανητά), and non-travelling stars (απλανείς αστέρες, οι απλανή άστρα). Aristotle first used άστρα ένδεδεμένα, or fixed stars. (See Humboldt, Cosmos, vol. iii. p. 28.) Iónos, the pivot, hinge, or the pole of the heaven.
Lyell collects and arranges, a Faraday weighs and analyzes, an Owen dissects and compares, a Herschel observes and calculates, without any thought of the immediate marketable results of their labors. But there is a general interest which supports and enlivens their researches, and that interest depends on the practical advantages which society at large derives from their scientific studies. Let it be known that the successive strata of the geologist are a deception to the miner, that the astronomical tables are useless to the navigator, that chemistry is nothing but an expensive amusement, of no use to the manufacturer and the farmer — and astronomy, chemistry, and geology would soon share the fate of alchemy and astrology. As long as the Egyptian science excited the hopes of the invalid by mysterious prescriptions (I may observe by the way that the hieroglyphic signs of our modern prescriptions have been traced back by Champollion to the real hieroglyphics of Egypt 1) - and as long as it instigated the avarice of its patrons by the promise of the discovery of gold, it enjoyed a liberal support at the courts of princes, and under the roofs of monasteries. Though alchemy did not lead to the discovery of gold, it prepared the way to discoveries more valuable. The same with astrology. Astrology was not such mere imposition as it is generally supposed to have been. It is counted as a science by so sound and sober a scholar as Melancthon, and even Bacon allows it a place among the sciences, though admitting that “ it had better intelligence and confederacy with the imagination of man than with his reason.' In spite of the strong condemnation which Luther pronounced against astrology,
1 Bunsen's Egypt, vol. iv. p. 108.