Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/867

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established which have now become available in their useful applications. Priestley's "History of Electricity," published a hundred and sixteen years ago, was even then a ponderous volume, though it was but an epitome of older successful work, and took little note of the labors that failed to issue in new results. Science is, indeed, a very slow growth, and long periods of unremitting toil must pass before its final stages of flowering and fruiting are reached, even in those comparatively few cases where the fruit can be turned into gold. There are those who have at length the good fortune to shake the tree of scientific knowledge when its fruit is ripe, and they may be alert to clap the padlock of the Patent-Office on their results so as to be able to use them with profit; but there can be no greater mistake than to assume that the time has come when scientific workers generally can be encouraged to devote themselves to the reaping of the profitable pecuniary harvest of past researches. In the broad field of original scientific investigation, not one part in a hundred is capable of being cultivated with any possible hope of turning its results to pecuniary account. A hasty glance at the pages of "Science" is quite sufficient to show the utter futility of supposing that the multifarious labors there indicated can ever issue in any pecuniary advantage to those who perform them.

But the writer in "Science" pushes his case still further, as follows:

The science of to-day is in thorough accord with the spirit of the American people. They are proud of every achievement it makes, and are satisfied with the returns it is giving them for their investments. To continue this entente cordiale should be the object of every scientific worker. He may the more readily concede some practical return for the facilities for investigation which the people have furnished, since the march of discovery is not in the least hindered but rather promoted by the practical application of the new truth it develops. His attitude toward invention should be appreciative and cordial. He should cast aside all prejudice against the man of patents and practical devices, and should stand ready to welcome the investigator, m whatever garb he appears.

Again we protest against this confounding of science with business. The writer talks about the American people investing in science, and being satisfied with the returns. But science is not a thing to be invested in; people invest in patent-rights and stock-companies, and may be well pleased with their returns, and proud of their inventors, but they are not therefore patrons of science. Let the man of patents stand upon his own merits, and go for what he is worth, and not construe the success of his business operations as an evidence of the high public appreciation of genuine scientific work.

The disparagement of scientific investigation from its highest motive, by the writer in "Science," is undisguisedly and almost offensively explicit. He says, "While the scientific cynic may condemn the utilitarianism of our age, the more liberal man rejoices in it." The devoted student, impelled by the loftiest spirit, which refuses to be influenced by lower considerations, is not well characterized as a "scientific cynic"; nor is he who works from the lowest motive entitled to applause as "the more liberal man." We reiterate that the nobler motive has been a thousand-fold more potent in creating the great body of scientific truth than the more sordid motive. The one supreme lesson taught by the history of science for the last three centuries is, that the world mainly owes its great results to the single-minded devotion of its cultivators, to the pursuit of truth for the sake of truth alone. This has ever been, and it must always continue to be, the most elevated and generous, as well as the most powerful mental motor in the prosecution of truly scientific investigations. That there is a wide-spread and an active tendency in this country to degrade science to the low, money-making