Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/118

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But he is a sorry physician who is content with a diagnosis of the disease, and prescribes no preventive, or even remedy; and as in the corporeal body, so in the body corporate—the best remedy is that which operates through natural forces: let us see if such cannot be made available. Cannot this drift cityward be checked, or even turned backward, by rendering farm-life more attractive to young men? For example:

Instead of isolated homesteads, often miles asunder, why not dedicate a central space for a good, old-fashioned Saxon "common," which might hold the school, the church, the park, and other amenities of civilization, and be surrounded by the dwellings of the settlement? And why cannot parents, instead of placing their sons in dusty city offices, or behind ignoble counters, enable these young men—with the aid of competent experts, where necessary—to establish such settlements? Might not education in such a community, by embracing the study of natural objects, applied science, and the practice of handicrafts, convert material that now evolves into boors, "hoodlums," or "counter-hoppers," into interested (because intelligent) and occupied producers, for whom rural life and scenes would possess attractions superior to the vulgar dissipations of the faubourg and the feverish competitions of trade?

G. H. Knight.

Cincinnati, August 10, 1877.




IT is a great mistake to suppose that all the influences exerted on the mind by scientific study are necessarily of a widening or liberalizing character. There is an immense amount of legitimate scientific work that does not tend to produce any such effect, but, on the contrary, has a narrowing and cramping influence upon the intellect. The intense and prolonged concentration of thought upon special inquiries, when it becomes a habit, excludes that breadth of view which can only be attained by contemplating subjects in their wide relations. Absorption in detail is inevitably unfavorable to the grasp of principles, so that the mere specialist is never a philosopher. Of course, all strong scientific men must be more or less specialists, must limit themselves to restricted portions of the scientific field; but in such minds the narrowing influences of particular studies are counteracted by keeping up an interest in various subjects, and the comprehensive results of research. There are many scientific workers, however, who fail to do this, who lose themselves in their own narrow departments, and become, not only inappreciative of the grand connections of scientific truth, but contemptuous of the higher work of scientific generalization. They applaud observation and experiment, and the accumulation of isolated facts, and stigmatize as mere theorizers those who labor to organize these facts and observations into rational systems. It is not to be expected, nor is it desirable, that all scientific workers should be philosophical thinkers, but there is great need that many of them should cultivate a more liberal spirit in this respect, and recognize that the systematic study of the relations of the sciences is as much a legitimate specialty as the working out of their separate and disconnected facts.

There is another respect in which a large class of scientific men exhibit a narrowness of feeling that is far from commendable. They cherish but little sympathy with the work of diffusing science, and take frequent occasion to disparage the motives and character of those of their brethren who devote themselves to this kind of labor. We are glad to notice that the Saturday Review administers a just rebuke to these illiberal and censorious gentlemen. Commenting upon President Thomson's address before the British Association, that journal remarks:

"It is a thankless office to have to re-