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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/278

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who were to be helped without regard: to their nationality or religion. His last great benefaction is the establishment and the equipment of a Science College, "to provide for a thorough systematic education in science with a distinctly practical application to the industries of the Midland district and particularly to those of Birmingham (in which the founder has spent the greatest portion of his life), and of Kidderminster, where he was born."

Two courses of study are provided for in the deed of foundation. The course of regular systematic instruction is to be of such a kind as shall qualify students either for passing the examinations necessary to obtain the degrees of Bachelor of Science, or of Doctor of Science, of the University of London; or for any profession or pursuit in which scientific knowledge can be usefully applied. Besides this there is a course of popular instruction in the practical applications of science which it is intended shall be given by means of evening lectures to artisans and others who can not attend the classes of regular systematic instruction. All departments in the college are open to both sexes on the same terms. The faculty consists of able men carefully chosen, and the institution was opened October 1st, with an introductory address by Professor Huxley on "Science and Culture," which is herewith reprinted.

Professor Huxley's interesting discourse was well suited to signalize the occasion which called it forth; but on the other hand there was that in the occasion which gave a telling emphasis to the discussion. The Mason College was put upon a new basis. It was to be broadly devoted to science, and, to prevent interference with this distinctive and comprehensive purpose, its founder excluded "theology," "party politics," and "mere literature" from its scheme of studies.

In thus constituting his college, Sir Josiah Mason must be regarded as representing a pronounced tendency of the age. But the theory of education embodied in his institution was the result of extensive practical intercourse with the common people, and an intimate knowledge of their real wants. He was not an enthusiastic scientific student, run away with by a hobby, but a cool-headed observer of affairs, and the bold ground that he took testifies to both his sagacity and his independence. The founders of colleges and universities are usually ambitious to enlarge their schemes of study, so that "all knowledge" may be obtainable within their precincts. Sir Josiah Mason had the good sense to recognize that, in all such attempts, traditional and fashionable studies will usurp the places of those that are really far more valuable; so he determined to keep out those subjects which would hinder instead of promoting scientific proficiency. It was a plucky thing to do in England, where the reverence for old classical literature amounts to a superstition, while acquaintance with it is held as the sole test of a liberal education.

It would probably not have made much difference what educational absurdity an old man might have perpetrated, as he was himself unlettered, and his college was to be a mere vulgar, useful knowledge dispensatory for working people. But when Professor Huxley came forward and endorsed the wisdom of the founder, and when, moreover, he began to talk about a new and higher type of culture, the offspring of modern thought, and grounded upon science, there were at once symptoms of perturbation and perplexity in the literary circles. There was not, as there could not be, any intelligent controversy with the Professor over the positions he took; but the proprieties had been shocked, and the real question was, where did Huxley stand, and what could the man mean? His concessions, as the reader will see, were large, but that availed little, if he denied the exclusiveness of the