Henry Thomas Buckle, in a paper read at the weekly evening meeting of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Friday, March 19th, 1858, said that” an exclusive employment of the inductive philosophy was contracting the minds of physical inquirers and gradually shutting out speculations respecting causes and entities; limiting the student to questions of distribution, and forbidding to him questions of origin ; making everything hang on two sets of laws, namely, those of co-existence and of sequence; and declaring before hand how far future knowledge can carry us. But,” added this great man, “we shall not always be satisfied with see ing the laws of nature rest on this empirical basis; and the most advanced thinkers are looking to a period when we shall deal with problems of a much higher kind than any yet solved; when we shall incorporate mind and matter into a single study; when we shall seek to raise the veil and penetrate into the secret of things.”
No man nor woman of intelligence, who is conversant with the writings of “the most advanced thinkers” of our age, can fail to see that this time is near at hand; and yet dogmatic science refuses to put itself in a position where it could announce that the veil is already raised, and, to quote the words of Prof. Lascellesscow, that” the door which prejudice has declared to be shut and bolted is even now ajar, and gleams of light are struggling over the threshold from Keely’s discoveries.”
Of course, new hypotheses should not meet with too ready an acceptance, and the professor, with admirable caution, takes the text of his review of” Keely and His Discoveries,” from the Syracuse philosopher -Epicharnus “The very nerves and sinews of knowledge consist in believing nothing rashly.” But with such evidence as he sets before his readers (in the October number of THE New SciENCE REVIEW), the determined blindness of dogmatic science should not be permitted to delay, to another century, the general promulgation of truths which have been already established by the testimony of some of the most distinguished American men of science of this age. The fact that there are, as yet, no commercial profits from Keely’s discoveries is all that retards the promulgation of these truths; but the law allows no patents on new truths nor on a principle of nature. Until the vibratory circuit, operated by thi8 costless current of force drawn direct from space, is connected with some patentable device, Keely’s discovery has no more commercial value than Newton’s discovery of gravity. Therefore, as science still denies the fundamental doctrines on which this new system of physics is based, the only hope lies in the prolongation of Keely’s life until commerce, instead of science, is able to make the announcement; unless the press, with its gigantic power, lends itself to the efforts now being made to bring before the public the present position of Keely in his great work of evolution. Of another discoverer of unknown truths the poet Cowley wrote:
” Bacon, like Moses, led us forth at last; The barren wilderness he passed ;
Did on the very border stand
Of the blest, promised land;
And from the mountain’s top of his exalted wit, Saw it himself, and showed us it.
But life did never to one man allow
Time to discover worlds and conquer too.”
Scientific caution is necessary at all times, and more especially so with discoveries which antagonize the established order of what is supposed to be scientific truth. But of quite a different nature is that stolid and contemptuous indifference manifested by those “lights of science,” who consider it derogatory to their dignity to interest themselves in an examination of claims that, if proved to be true, would revolutionize the accepted dogmas of science. “When Italy was disturbed by Galileo’s discovery, the same thing occurred. It was a professor of the University at Padua who refused Galileo’s invitation to look through his telescope and obtain proof of his assertion that” the world moves.”
The world of thought moves faster than in the days of Galileo. Under the pressure of outside opinion and the gradual infiltration of new truths, men of science will, in the end, be awakened into honest and serious attention to Keely’s claims. New truths pass more quickly, now than formerly, through stages of blind, unreasoning opposition. This improvement does not spring out of any change in human nature in scientific men, for their “good-fellowship,” among themselves, is never extended beyond those re searchers who maintain orthodox views and support each other in their claims.
The hope of Keely’s life being prolonged ” to conquer too” (nearly three score years and ten as he is now), would be much more likely to be realized if the certainties of the scientific value of his discoveries were made known more widely, together with the uncertainties of his living to complete all that is necessary before there can be any financial gain therein.
Notwithstanding the persistent denial of physicists, who have not examined into Keely’s claims, the advancing wave of interest in his work cannot be kept back, for it will be sustained in its course by the ever-increasing pressure of a larger outside public of intelligent and interested minds, not wedded by long association of thought to special systems, and having no motives of self-preservation prompting them to repel what appeals to their intellectual capacity of comprehension with much greater force than to minds educated on rigid lines of thought, as is the mind of the physicist. Such minds, says llovenden, from the necessities of the case, are the least capable of solving a problem which can only be solved by views that are foreign to the fundamental ideas in which the physicist has been educated.
The distinguished men of science, Profs. Leidy, Brinton and Koenig, who investigated Keely’s work in 1889-90, testing the current of force produced with the most sensitive galvanometer of the University of Pennsylvania, publicly asserted that it was free of electricity, magnetism or any known force-scoffing at the less than school-boy knowledge, which had, in 1876, pronounced it to be com pressed air.
Ricarde-Seaver, an European electrician, who, after investigating, returned to London and gave testimony in favor of the discoverer, was asked to withdraw his name, when the balloting was about to take place for membership at the Athenreum Club, by the very man of science’ who had pro posed him sixteen years before, the only reason given being his espousal of Keely’s claims as a discoverer.
Such an experience (and more notably the recent experience of Prof. Oliver J. Lodge) proves that the founder of new systems must look to the power of the press, which is greater than that of the sword, when help is needed in making known to the world the importance of newly-discovered truths not accepted in general by those whose canons they controvert.
One of the most widely-known English physicists,2 who for more than ten years has followed Keely’s progress in his experimental researches, when asked in 1891 why he was not willing to make public his views of their nature, replied: “If I am called before a bar of justice to give testimony, I am cross-questioned by judge and counsel. It is the same at the bar of science. I cannot say what I think. I must say what I know, what I believe, what I have seen.”