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insouciance of German society touching the condition and culture of the United States. He will consider how slowly new ideas penetrate the learned mind of Germany from outside the prescribed routine of its own investigations. He will consider how indifferently the German press is, for the most part, appointed and conducted. Above all, he will consider how short an interval has elapsed since Germany began to create a truly national literature, and how recent is her emancipation from the humiliating superiority of France in arts and arms, and hence will make allowance for an air of youthful assumption, which will be toned down by a broader experience of the responsibilities of national independence. Just now, the intoxication of a military success, which the sober reports of the staff-office show was more than once due to some lucky accident, leads the untravelled German to prate over-much of “ Bildung,” “Kunst,” “Kultur," “ Wissenschaft," and to assume that every American who visits Germany must look with wonder and envy upon its higher civilization. But the American, who knows too well this infirmity in his own countrymen, can afford to be indulgent toward the Teutonic braggart, who really has so much to boast of. I have had much innocent amusement, as well as some patient discipline, in the supercilious comments of this new-fledged Germany upon the United States. In Germany, breadth and solidity of information are by no means commensurate with depth of learning. A person of the highest social position, and who has always moved within the sphere of university-life, asked me, “ Who is this Mr. Morse ? and what has he done, that your countrymen propose to erect a monument to him?” Suppose I should ask who was Gutenberg? who was Stephenson? — what shrugging of shoulders there would be in "cultivated” circles in Germany and England!
One of the foremost monthlies, which well represents the literature and learning of Germany, in an article on railways, written by a university professor, attributed to " a speech of Pres. Lincoln in the Senate of the United States ” the astounding statement, that, “in building a railway, it was better to finish the road rapidly, because, though such immature work would cost more lives, it would hasten the development of the country.” I wrote to the editor, that Mr. Lincoln never was in the Senate ; that, excepting in the case of the Pacific roads, the Senate had had nothing to do with railways; and though Mr. Lincoln had once urged the rapid and vigorous prosecution of the war, on the ground that the salvation of the Union would infinitely overbalance all present cost and loss, he was utterly incapable of thus staking human life against the gains of a railroad. The editor promised to make the correction; but just then an American newspaper at Berlin made a squib upon his article, to the effect, that, on the occasion referred to, “ Alexander Hamilton, senator from Toronto, had replied to Mr. Lincoln with great eloquence and power.” The bewildered German Gelehrte hereupon sent me this paragraph, which he took to be serious, and said, “ Though I have much confidence in your knowledge, I suspect that my allusion to Mr. Lincoln was correct, since the accompanying paragraph, which gives evidence of minute accuracy, confirms my statement.” I was obliged to answer,
“My dear sir, don't you see that this paragraph is making a fool of you? Don't you know that Toronto is in Canada? that Hamilton was never in the Senate ? and that he was killed five years before Lincoln was born?” But the learned editor never made the correction.
Another journal that aspires to lead opinion in the capital, and whose editor is certified by a doctorate of the university, some time ago enlightened its readers with an account of the American Thanksgiving. After describing the sour New-England Puritan, who would allow no holiday nor festivity, but enforced the Jewish sabbath by stringent penalties, this journal discovered a hopeful triumph of human nature in the fact that the great national festival of Thanksgiving had won its way even into New England, and, by captivating the hearts of the rising generation there, had somewhat relaxed the Pharisaism of the elders. I dropped a respectful line to the editor, assuming that he would be interested to give the true history of the Pilgrim festival that flourished in New England a century and a half before there were any United States, and more than two centuries before it was adopted as a national institution; but an educated German, whose journal has ridiculed an English author for making an error of one year in the date of an incident of German literature, confessed that his readers did not care enough about American affairs to make it worth while to correct such an egregious blunder,
One evening, at a salon where were assembled only the most learned and cultivated society, I was presented first to Prof. , who said at once, “Froin America ? I believe you have as yet no universities : you are too young to have any science.” – “On that point," I replied, * I prefer to accept the verdict of the Berlin Academy, which crowned with its prize a work of our Sanscrit scholar, Prof. Whitney; the verdict of the various European academies that have elected Prof. Dana an associate; the verdict of” – “Ah, so!” And this interlocutor gave place to a second, who said, “I suppose you have no museums yet in America: you are too young for these.” — “ If you intend museums of science, I might remind you of the Smithsonian at Washington, the Peabody at New Haven, the Agassiz at Cambridge. In museums of art and antiquity, of course we cannot compete with nations which were in the market before we were born. Still we have some treasures from Egypt and Assyria that European museums would like to possess; and Berlin or London would be glad to get hold of the Cesnola Cyprus Collection, now at New York. This you know is genuine. But how about those Moabite antiquities in your Berlin Museum, and that other lot from Italy bought by your first Roman archæologist as a precious find? How, too, about the indorsement of the Cardiff giant by German savans after American scholars had promptly exposed the fraud ? You see we take an interest in these matters to the extent of our opportunity." — " Ah, so!”
I was next honored with a presentation to an eminent musician. “In America,” said he, “ you are not at all musical.” — “ If you mean that we have not produced great composers, nor many eminent artists, you are quite correct: nevertheless, your artists seek fame and fortune in America, and wince, too, under our criticisms. As to the love of
music, I may mention that two piano-manufactories in New York alone turn out each at the rate of ten pianos a day for every day of the year; and these are sold at prices from five hundred dollars up to three thousand dollars.” — “ So!” and “ So !” and “ So !”
“Russia has been called a despotism tempered by assassination,” said my host one evening at a supper-table, “and your government is democracy tempered by the revolver. In your Senate, every man has a revolver on his table.” This was said in sober earnest by a university professor; and the company, composed entirely of official and educated persons, laughed heartily at what they fancied was a fair hit at a foreign guest. In a few patient words, I pointed out that the violence of slaveholders in former times, and the roughness of frontierlife, did not represent the character and habits of the Senate of the United States. But it was of little use to talk with men who had never heard the names of Calhoun, Webster, Everett, Seward; who knew nothing at all of the Constitution of the American Government, and met every fact with that annihilating threat (in which the tax-ridden, army-burdened German finds a momentary consolation), “ You'll have to come to a monarchy at last.” These are not selected instances, but could be multiplied by the score. I do not adduce them either to caricature or to characterize the German: people. I think it indecent in a foreigner to caricature the people among whom he lives, by exaggerating their faults, and ignoring their virtues; and a people so kindly and sincere as the Germans, a people of so many fine and noble qualities, could never form a subject for caricature. Neither would I intimate that such examples fairly characterize the higher classes of German society; for though too often the German savant is ignorant of general subjects in the degree that he is learned in his specialty, and vain of his opinion where he is least informed, yet there are many notable exceptions, — men of breadth as well as of accuracy, men of information as well as of learning, men of the cosmopolitan spirit of true science. The many modest, manly Germans whom it is a pleasure to know, the quiet, learned Germans, of broad and liberal training, whom it is an honor as well as a pleasure to know, are a truer type of the national culture. These have travelled far enough to learn that the world is not bounded by the Rhine, the Vistula, and the Danube; and that other countries have a civilization older, or, if newer, yet in some respects better, than their own. Nevertheless, such crude questions and comments upon the United States as one hears in the best circles of Germany do illustrate a prevailing tone, and must conduct to two inferences, — that the reputation of Germans for general knowledge has been strangely overrated ; and that American culture should not seek to measure itself by any foreign standard, but should build itself up quietly upon its natural and enduring basis, assimilating from other civilizations what it may find useful for ornament or expansion, but only in subordination to its own broad plan and lofty aims.
The superiority of the United States in many inventions and manufactures, which was so apparent at the Philadelphia Exposition, was gracefully conceded by the correspondents and commissioners of several foreign countries. Most conspicuous among these was Prof. F. Reuleaux, director of the Royal Gewerbe-Akademie at Berlin, a member of the German Commission and Jury at the Exposition; a gentleman eminently qualified by scientific and practical knowledge, by sobriety of judgment and candor of spirit, for the delicate task of comparing the products of other countries with his own. With marked emphasis Prof. Reuleaux admonishes his countrymen that they have been too much in the habit of undervaluing American industry, which they now find has outstripped that of Germany. He points out that American machinists have brought the steam-engine to its highest perfection, through the combination of beauty of form, and nicety of adaptation, with smoothness of working, and strength and endurance of materials; and that, in tool-serving machines, American ingenuity and skill have outstripped all competition, in new practical ideas, apt adjustment to special ends, precision and harmony of movement, elegance of appearance, and perfection of results. In American steel-ware, surgical instruments, glass manufacture, gas-fixtures, chandeliers, &c., and in gold and silver workmanship and ornamentation, Prof. Reuleaux finds indications of a native skill that may well incite the rivalry of European nations. It is beginning to be understood that Americans can make a watch as well as a sewing-machine, a telescope as well as a revolver. Now, the lesson from all this is, that skilful and tasteful improvements in the industries and comforts of life mark an advancement in the average culture of the people, and may even indicate a higher general culture than is marked by the existence of royal galleries and museums or the art-treasures of the privileged few. The farmer or mechanic who buys some nicer or more convenient article of household furniture, some tasteful knickknack to adorn his home, shows the spirit of culture, the preference of the æsthetic and the enjoyable to the purely useful ; and when the inventive genius of a nation is turned to the improvement of all manufactures in quality, appearance, taste, this is an evidence that the market calls for such elements, because the average culture of the people appreciates them. Germany, which has but little debt, received from France as an indemnity for the war of 1870–71 a thousand million dollars. Since then her taxes have increased, and her industry and manufactures have notoriously deteriorated; yet the conquest of France is constantly adduced as an evidence of the higher culture of the German nation. The United States has a public debt of two thousand million dollars; yet in the past six years that debt has been reduced by more than four hundred millions of dollars, the annual interest by nearly thirty millions, and the taxes by nearly three hundred millions; while, at the same time, American industry and invention have advanced to a position of recognized equality, if not of superiority, in competition with Europe. Is there no token of culture and civilization in these conquests of peace ? Prof. Reuleaux discerned the connection of which I have spoken between the general improvement in technic and the spirit of culture in the people. He testifies that the æsthetic consciousness is thoroughly awake in the United States; that cottage life in America has a charm, in the combination of domesticity, comfort, taste, and refinement, which Germany might profitably take as an example. As further evidence of
this, he adduces the eagerness with which the best foreign wares were bought up for the industrial museums of Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and other places. In short, the æsthetic consciousness showed itself everywhere, in life, in incitement, and in the zeal to appropriate spiritually all that is already possessed materially.1
But, though this inventive type of American progress is getting to be conceded, there are still those who fancy that America has contributed nothing to the scientific progress of the century. On this point, Prof. J. W. Draper, who, so long as he keeps within the domain of the physical sciences, is an unquestioned authority, gives testimony as follows:
“We may without vanity recall some facts that may relieve us, in a measure, from the weight of this heavy accusation. We have sent out expeditions of exploration both to the Arctic and Antarctic Seas. We have submitted our own coast to a hyılrographic and geodesic survey not excelled in exactness and extent by any simila
any similar works elsewliere. In the accomplishment of this we have been compelled to solve many physical probleins of the greatest delicacy and highest importance, and we have done it successfully. The measuring-rods with which the three great baselines of Maine, Long Island, Georgia, were determined, and their beautiful inechanical appliances, have exacted the publicly expressed ailmiration of some of the greatest European philosophers, and the conduct of that survey, their uustiuted applause. We have instituted geological surveys of many of our States and much of our Territories, and have been rewarded not inerely by manifold local benfits, but also by the higher honor of extending very greatly the boundaries of that noble science. At an enormous annual cost, we have maintained a meteorological signal system, which, I think, is not equalled, and certainly is not surpassed, in the world. Should it be said that selfish interests have been mixed up with some of these undertakings, we may demand whether there was any selfishness in the survey of the Dead Sea. Was there any seltishness in that mission that a citizen of New York sent to equatorial Africa for the finding and relief of Livingstone? any in the astronomical expeilition to South America ? any in that to the valley of the Amazon? Was there any in the sending out of parties for the observation of the total eclipses of the sun? It was bv American astronomers that the true character of his corona was first determined. Was there any in the seven expeditions that were despatched for observing the transit of Venus ? Was it not here that the bi-partition of Biela's comet was first detectel? here that the eighth satel.
discovered ? here that the dusky ring of that planet, which had escaped the penetrating eye of Herschel and all the great European astronomers, was first seen? Was it not by an American telescope that the companion of Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens, was revealed, and the mathematical prediction of the cause of his perturbations Teritied ? Was it not by a Yale-college professor that the showers of shoot ing-stars were first scientifically discussed, on the occasion of the grand American display of that meteoric phenomenon in 1833 ? Did we not join in the investigations respecting terrestrial inagnetism instituted by European governments at the suggestion of Humboldt, and contribute our quota to the results obtained ? Did not the Congress of the United States vote a money-grant to carry into effect the invention of the electric telegraph? Does not the published flora of the United States show that something has been done in botany? Have not very important investigations been made here on the induction of magnetism in iron, the effect
nts on one another, the translation of quality into intensity, and the converse ? Was it not here that the radiations of incandescence were first investigated; the connection of increasing temperature
1 Briefe aus Philadelphia, von F. Reuleaux, Prof. Braunschweig, 1877.