SINCE society is held together by the mutual services which men render one to another, and since to this end the arts and sciences have largely contributed, investigations in these fields have always been held in great esteem and have been highly regarded by our wise forefathers. The larger the utility and excellence of the inventions, the greater has been the honor and praise bestowed upon the inventors. Indeed, men have even deified them and have united in the attempt to perpetuate the memory of their benefactors by the bestowal of this supreme honor.
Praise and admiration are likewise due to those clever intellects who, confining their attention to the known, have discovered and corrected fallacies and errors in many and many a proposition enunciated by men of distinction and accepted for ages as fact. Although these men have only pointed out falsehood and have not replaced it by truth, they are nevertheless worthy of commendation when we consider the wellknown difficulty of discovering fact, a difficulty which led the prince of orators to exclaim: Utinam tam facile possem vera reperire, quam falsa convincere.* And indeed, these latest centuries merit this praise because it is during them that the arts and sciences, discovered by the ancients, have been reduced to so great and constantly increasing perfection through the investigations and experiments of clear-seeing minds. This development is particularly evident in the case of the mathematical sciences. Here, without mentioning various men who have achieved success, we must without hesitation and with the____________________