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[405] is very pregnant. The discussion in France at the close of the seventeenth century on the comparative merits of the ancients and the moderns struck out some things bearing on this subject, in the writings of Perrault and also of Fontenelle. As a student of Vico, you are doubtless acquainted with the work of his admirer, Cataldo Jannalli,—Cenni sulla natura e necessity della Scienza delle cose e delle store umane. This writer was a librarian at Naples some thirty years ago, and held Vico to be in the same list with Newton, Leibnitz, and the great masters. But the work of Dove,1 to which I first called your attention, is wrought out of a severely logical and reflective mind, without the learning of Vico, and indeed with little knowledge of the literature of the subject; but it seems to me to have a strong grasp, and to open more clearly than any other book the future of science and life. The substantial harmony between his views and those of Comte is curious, when it is known that he wrote without any knowledge of the Frenchman. His book, more than anything else in my studies or speculations, has made me hope for a science of politics, exact and reliable. In my own mind I had foreseen this distant millennial result; his book has made it palpable. Still, I may err; and I know full well that this grand consummation can be reached only through cycles of history. But that it will be reached I have now a full assurance; and to live for that future, to strive for it, with the eye ever fixed upon it, seems to me the only thing which can worthily tempt a person into public life. But I speak of things familiar to you; though, while the Senate proses, there is a pleasure in drawing about one these pleasant memories.

To Louis Agassiz, October 10:—

This forenoon, walking through the market, I stopped, as is my custom, at the fish stall, particularly to take a look at the eel, which old Izaak Walton calls “the Helena of fishes,” and also to enjoy the various stripes on the backs of the mackerel, when my attention was arrested by a small fish which I at first took to be a flounder, but which I soon saw differed from anything fishy within my experience. On inquiry I was told that it was caught yesterday by a net in the Mystic River; and that though a large number of persons, amounting, it was said, even to a thousand, had seen it, nobody knew what it was, or had ever seen anything like it before. For your sake and for the sake of science, I secured l'innominato, and now send him to you in a strawberry box; and I have promised the dealer in the market to let him know your report upon the monster. What is it?2

To the Earl of Carlisle,3 October 26:—

To-day came your very pleasant and kindest letter, and a night shall not pass without at least a word of gratitude and friendship. I often think of you

1 ‘The Theory of Human Progression.’

2 Agassiz answered that the fish belonged in Southern waters, though at remote intervals appearing at the North, and was of a species described in his earliest book on fishes published in 1829; but he did not give the name.

3 The Earl had written, October 12: ‘You do seem to me to fill a very remarkable position, and you show no symptoms of not being fully equal to the occasion. It makes me very proud of you, and of the estimate I long ago formed of your understanding, heart, and character. . . . Do the Ticknors and Appletons smile on you again yet? How is the gentle Hillard? I hope not among the estranged. Apart from fame and duty, do you like your Washington life?’

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