A piece of foolish piety with a concealed purpose . What! the inventors of the earliest cultures, the most ancient devisers of tools and measuring-rods, of carts and ships and houses, the first observers of the celestial order and the rules of the twice-times-table: are they something incomparably different from and higher than the inventors and observers of our own day? Do these first steps possess a value with which all our voyages and world-circumnavigations in the realm of discoveries cannot compare? That is the prejudice, that is the argument for the deprecation of the modern spirit. And yet it is palpably obvious that chance was formerly the greatest of all discoverers and observers and the benevolent inspirer of those inventive ancients, and that more spirit, discipline and scientific imagination is employed in the most insignificant invention nowadays than the sum total available in whole eras of the past.