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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/49

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A PLEA FOR PURE SCIENCE.

which prompted Faraday to devote his life to the study of nature may actuate a few noble men to give their lives to scientific work; but, if we wish to cultivate this highest class of men in science, we must open a career for them worthy of their efforts.

Jenny Lind, with her beautiful voice, would have cultivated it to some extent in her native village; yet who would expect her to travel over the world, and give concerts for nothing? and how would she have been able to do so if she had wished? And so the scientific man, whatever his natural talents, must have instruments and a library, and a suitable and respectable salary to live upon, before he is able to exert himself to his full capacity. This is true of advance in all the higher departments of human learning, and yet something more is necessary. It is not those in this country who receive the largest salary, and have positions in the richest colleges, who have advanced their subject the most: men receiving the highest salaries, and occupying the professor's chair, are to-day doing absolutely nothing in pure science, but are striving by the commercial applications of their science to increase their already large salary. Such pursuits, as I have said before, are honorable in their proper place; but the duty of a professor is to advance his science, and to set an example of pure and true devotion to it which shall demonstrate to his students and the world that there is something high and noble worth living for. Money-changers are often respectable men, and yet they were once severely rebuked for carrying on their trade in the court of the temple.

Wealth does not constitute a university, buildings do not: it is the men who constitute its faculty, and the students who learn from them. It is the last and highest step which the mere student takes. He goes forth into the world, and the height to which he rises has been influenced by the ideals which he has consciously or unconsciously imbibed in his university. If the professors under whom he has studied have been high in their profession, and have themselves had high ideals; if they have considered the advance of their particular subject their highest work in life, and are themselves honored for their intellect throughout the world the student is drawn toward that which is highest, and ever after in life has high ideals. But if the student is taught by what are sometimes called good teachers, and teachers only, who know little more than the student, and who are often surpassed and even despised by him, no one can doubt the lowered tone of his mind. He finds that by his feeble efforts he can surpass one to whom a university has given its highest honor; and he begins to think that he himself is a born genius, and the incentive to work is gone. He is great by the side of the mole-hill, and does not know any mountain to compare himself with.

A university should not only have great men in its faculty, but have numerous minor professors and assistants of all kinds, and should