Was the spring of science exaggerated?

"Man, even man, the inhabitant of cities, trained and tempered to an artificial state, awakes of a spring morning with a fuller consciousness of mind ... than when the fogs of gloom and winter hung like the charmed robes upon the limbs of the giant." Thus continues Hunt's The Poetry of Science, which reads in an enthusiastic tone comparable to the excitement of a child when it makes its first crystals, dipping string into saline solutions.
To him, the progress made in science in the 19th century far surpassed prior knowledge, which was "superstitious," a "poetic dream" and at best a "prophetic glance" at the science that was to come. The imagination of mystery was replaced by the highest poetry of all - that of science, a poetry based on reality, not fiction. Yet, he concurs that poetry retains its relevance in this rational state, in that it elevates man's consciousness: lifting the mind from mere "materialities."
It is pretty unfathomable to consider how far science has come - the practical applications of which have moved entire cultures (steamships, airplanes and emigration); saved lives (sometimes I think of all the illnesses we are no longer exposed to: scurvy, TB...); brought 'virtual friends' together in a way that once books could only do - but back then then, one would never be able to 'meet' these 'virtual' friends, but enjoy them only virtually, in the imagination.
Yet if you were to ask me to praise science like Hunt does, I would not comply. He argues, for instance, that when it comes to noticing the effect spring has on the human being, the psychologist must consult science to better understand this phenomenon. But do all answers lie in science?
It seems not. There is a current trend to introduce into medical school courses on narrative: it turns out that for long term recovery, it is not enough just to physically cure a patient. There is also the problem of ethics, which was once part and parcel of the education associated with natural philosophy, so men of science were to consider the implications of their actions. Natural philosophy was the precursor to what we now call "science," which, incidentally, is a word invented in the 19th century by William Whewell, at the behest of - ! - the poet, Coleridge. So the word "science" emerged when these new knowledges were in their spring. Also of note is that Whewell 'invented' the terms "cathode" and "ion" for Michael Faraday, a man of incredible character, who knew as much about human nature as he did about science.

Elements: washi tape, rabbit, scalloped graph paper: pugly pixel;

button: minitoko; canvas and scrabble letters: fuzzimo.
We may be made up of atoms, but what of the psyche, what of the soul? We may have developed to the point of (happily!) making 'virtual libraries' accessible to all, but depress a man, and he will not be able to read.
As Hunt points out, even the ancients understood the power of sunlight - which anyone with eyes can see especially in spring, after the darkness of winter. But seeing as man cannot seem to hold everything in his mind at once, which means that when he concentrates on one area of life, another gets neglected, understanding the nature of light needs be tempered by an understanding of the human soul. Seeing light is fine as long as one concurrently sees the soul.
As Aristotle wrote, and as some 19th century scientists like my favourite J.C. Maxwell knew (I have such a reader's crush on him), one must observe the golden mean. Interestingly, Maxwell's Cambridge professor misread the maxim "a virtue is the mean between two vices," thinking Aristotle meant this to be a pocket rule to find virtue. In a wonderful logical extension of what Aristotle really meant, Maxwell shows how the pleasure of knowledge can lead to virtue, but it can also be in excess, and thus lead to evil.
Maxwell, like Faraday, never turned his back on his friends as he was pursuing what Hunt would call the higher endeavour. He would walk miles to nurse a sick friend, and kept a lively correspondence with those he was distant from in geography. He also wrote poetry. As he was doing experiments on sound under water, it occurred to him to quote one of Horace's odes in a letter to a friend:
My poetic spirit is neither common nor wear
But is double formed like a powerful bird
Which cuts through the liquid air above
Beyond the envious limits of the earth.
As Maxwell flew into the spring skies of science, he - like Faraday, and unlike so many other later scientists, led a happy earthly existence, in good marriages, with good friends. That is the spring of the soul, to explore freely, but without exaggeration.