Delivered before the Society of Literary Adelphi
August 9th 1813
From the rumours and horrid details of wars, battles, and the convulsions of nations—from the dissentions of political parties, and from the vanities and vexations of the world, let us my Friends, for a moment turn, and tread in the peaceful, flowery paths of science. In every civilized age the great and the good, disgusted with the confusions and contentions of the world, have sought these paths, and there found the sources of pure and rational happiness, sources whence flow the genuine streams of truth. In these paths the Newtons, the Fergusons, the Euclids, the Franklins, the Cavallos, the Lavoisers, the Linneae and the Lockes of the world have spent their whole time. They have plucked up the thorns, leveled the hills, and strewed the way with flowers. In either hand they have adorned the spacious landscape with views pleasant and delightful to the mental vision. To explore the arcane of nature- to ameliorate the condition of man—to expand and ennoble every faculty of the soul—to lift the mind from the vanities [of]
Edward Hitchcock delivered this address to the all-male Literary Adelphi Society of Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1813, when he was 20 years old. In it, he praised the virtues of science and questioned what religion and the arts would be without it. He also claimed that man is uncivilized without knowledge of science, for "[by] the sciences he dissipates the thick film of error from the mind, he bursts the narrow gloomy bounds of superstition prejudice and bigotry . . . " To Hitchcock, science was a realm of purity, an escape to a better world unclouded by politics and war.