Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/571

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THERE are multitudes who still remember, with vivid pleasure, the brilliant course of scientific lectures delivered in 1872, in several of our chief cities, by Professor John Tyndall, of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. They made a strong impression at the time, and impelled many young persons to give greater prominence to science in their studies. But there was another and a more special influence exerted by these lectures in accordance with the deeper purpose of Professor Tyndall. The public mind was favorably affected by them in regard to the claims of pure or theoretic science. We plume our-selves on being very practical in this country, and by "practical" we generally mean the opposite of theoretical—that which issues in tangible and immediate use. Professor Tyndall showed that this is a mistaken view. He was not complaisant toward the lower motives from which science is so generally pursued; and insisted strongly upon the more elevated considerations by which the students of science should be animated. He enforced, with much impressiveness, the important lesson that to yield its noblest results science must be studied for the simple love of truth and the extension of our knowledge of Nature, leaving its utilitarian benefits to follow as they always will when new light has been thrown upon any important group of phenomena. The un-selfish pursuit of science for these nobler ends was urged by Professor Tyndall upon our young men with great earnestness and something of the inspiration of religious conviction; yet none realized at the time how firm and far-reaching was his purpose, nor how lasting was to be the influence of his work in this direction in this country.

When Professor Tyndall was solicited to come to America, and told what a golden harvest he could reap by lecturing here, he invariably replied that no consideration of the kind would have any weight in inducing him to accept the invitation. "If I come to you," he would say, "it must be because my friends in the United States desire it, and think that I could be of service in the cause of American science; but I will not lecture for the sake of money, nor would I bring away a dollar of the proceeds of my labor." And when the lectures closed, true to his purpose, he left all of the money he had earned, above expenses incurred, for the promotion of scientific education among American youth. But this was not all: he devoted the money to the advancement of the distinctive ideas which he had illustrated in his lectures, by appropriating it to the assistance of such young men as desire to devote themselves to original scientific study and research. He left it in care of three trustees, the income to be expended in aid of American students of tested ability, who might wish to avail themselves of the higher opportunities of scientific culture available in the European universities.

But there were difficulties attending the carrying out of this plan which prevented the full realization of its advantages. Several students were aided, and with great satisfaction; but it was not so easy to find the young men who had the proper qualifications to be entitled to the benefits of the trust. There were, of course, plenty of them, but the finding them out was more of a task than had been anticipated. The trustees were scattered, and were busy men, having little time for correspondence, while the employment of a paid secre-