Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  11 (1885–86), 481–87.

Editor's Study

[William D Howells]


Regular Feature, Review

Publications reviewed:

Agassiz 1885 Allen 1885


Scientific Practitioners, Truth, Methodology, Heroism, Romanticism, Government, Nationalism, Science Fiction

    Eulogises the 'simplicity' and 'purity of motive' of Louis Agassiz, who attained his scientific 'results without apparently leaving upon them any stain of egotism' (481), and suggests that although this 'sovereign formula for the finest success, has been open from the beginning of time [...] it has rarely been able to commend itself so attractively to the young imagination as in Agassiz's life'. Observes that when 'Agassiz came to America his life was no longer a romance; it was a fairly tale, whose incidents are known to us all', and in this young nation he 'became a public man [...] as politicians and soldiers and divines are public men, but scientists never before'. Indeed, 'Agassiz found this new world of ours full not merely of vast physical activities, but of eager and thorough scientific work by men who, he tells his European friends, would be noted in science anywhere, and whom he found employed in public enterprises undertaken by popular governments', and this 'liberality of legislatures composed of farmers and country lawyers' contrasted sharply with the 'munificence of kings, as science may experience it' which he 'had been used to' back in Europe. (482) Also criticises the clichéd depiction of an American character in the most recent novel by Grant Allen, and declares 'Apparently Mr. Allen has not thought it a serious thing to write a novel, nor human nature worth that honest inquiry which has given him an honorable name in science. This is a mistake which we hope he will come to regret' [cf. HM1/9/3/6] (485).


Howells 1891

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]