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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/713

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

that might do invaluable service in the extension and diffusion of scientific knowledge. The difficulty is a lack of sufficient interest in such things to resist other solicitations. We do not begin early enough with the study of science to form deep, persistent controlling impressions. Other subjects get the start, and the loss of ground can not be subsequently recovered. Sir John Lubbock recognizes that this is a great deficiency of education in England, and he has again and again brought forward measures in Parliament for extending and rationalizing scientific study in the primary schools, so as to lay a better foundation for this mental pursuit in later life. We suffer sorely from the same neglect. Our primary school science is not genuine; it is book-science, and awakens no feeling or enthusiasm for the study of natural things. Our rich young men, however nominally educated, have never seriously taken hold of the study of nature, and, of course, care nothing about it. Intellectual ambition, therefore—and we have plenty of that—takes other directions. Two unregulated and overwhelming passions in this country stifle the growth of science: the intense and absorbing passion for wealth, and the universal infatuation for politics. These are great national diseases, not peculiar to America, but malignant in America, and the state of mind they engender makes the systematic cultivation of scientific thought next to impossible. Hence our education issues in moneymaking and politics as exclusive passions, with no cherished intellectual interests to counteract and restrain them. When our early scientific education becomes more perfected and better organized, so that a strong interest in the study of nature shall be enkindled in the minds of the young, we may then hope that American young men of affluence will be more inclined to seek their gratification in some of the varied and inexhaustible pursuits of scientific knowledge. As the "Scientific American" truly remarks:

We have men of brains, of leisure, and of means, seeking in vain for some new way of getting rid of the most valuable thing on earth—time. But they are of no use to us or to science; let them finish their days as they have begun, let them listen to a few law lectures that they do not understand, or join some political party and set up for statesmen if they have money enough to buy an office. But shall this thing go on for ever \ Is it not possible to cut off, in part at least, the source of supply by turning it to other channels? Many of these young men who have now no thought beyond the morrow, no higher ambition than to color a meerschaum, were boys once—real, genuine, inquisitive boys. Then their powers of observation were capable of cultivation, then a love of nature could have been implanted in their souls, and life would have been brightened by an object, and one worthy of a lifelong pursuit. When teachers cease to hold up as models those great men who, like Lincoln and Garfield, have risen from poverty and obscurity to the presidency, and point with pride to the boys who, in spite of wealth and luxury, have had the courage and perseverance to do a noble act by devoting their time, money, and talents (for some rich boys have genius as well as poor ones) to the study of nature, when teachers begin to have common sense, we may hope to see some of this valuable material rescued from its present downward course. Rich men are not all fools, and there are some who would take pride in a son who, although he might not be a Leidy or a Lubbock, a Darwin or a Dawson, should be able to associate on terms of scientific equality with men of that class.
 

 

BEECHER ON THEOLOGY AND EVOLUTION.

The first article in the "North American Review" for August—an excellent number—is by Henry Ward Beecher, on "The Progress of Thought in the Church." It is an independent, a powerful, and a most significant discussion, which we recommend everybody to read. We shall not attempt to make any statement of the argument, and only call attention to the large and hearty recognition of science as an agency for the purification of religion.