Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/688

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grow, the rain fall, the wind howl, and generally all things that are occasional and exceptional; an indifference being contracted toward what is familiar, constant, and regular. When anything goes wrong, the child has the wish to set it right, and is anxious to know what will answer the purpose; this is the inlet of practice, and, by this, correct knowledge may find its way to the mind, provided the power of comprehension is sufficiently matured. Still the radical obstacle remains—the impossibility of approaching science at random, or taking it in any order; we must begin at the proper beginning, and we may not always contrive to tickle the curiosity at the exact stage of the pupil's understanding. Every teacher knows, or should know, the little arts of giving a touch of wonder and mystery to a fact before the explanation is given; all which is found to tell in the regular march of exposition, but would be lost labor in any other course.

The very young, those that we are working upon by gentle allurement, are not properly competent to learn the "how" or "wherefore" of any important natural fact; they cannot even be made to desire the thing in the proper way. They are open chiefly to the charm of sense novelty and variety, which, together with accidental charm or liking, impresses the pictorial or concrete aspects of the world, whether quiescent or changing, the last being the most powerful. They further are capable of understanding the more palpable conditions of many changes without penetrating to ultimate causes. They learn that to light a fire there must be fuel and a light applied; that the growth of vegetables needs planting or sowing, together with rain and sunshine through a summer season. The empirical knowledge of the world that preceded science is still the knowledge that the child passes through in the way to science; and all this may be guided so as to prepare for the future scientific revelations. In other respects the so-called curiosity of children is chiefly valuable as yielding ludicrous situations for our comic literature.

By Professor T. H. HUXLEY.

WHEN I undertook, with the greatest possible pleasure, to act as a lieutenant of my friend the president of this section, I steadfastly purposed to confine myself to the modest and useful duties of that position. For reasons, with which it is not worth while to trouble you, I did not propose to follow the custom which has grown up in the Association of delivering an address upon the occasion of taking the

  1. Address before the Department of Anthropology of the British Association at its recent meeting held in Dublin, August 14, 1878.