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LITERARY NOTICES.

the sole reason of any scientific undertaking by the state.

How the immense system of official science at Washington, which Government neither called for nor is competent to supervise, has gradually grown up under outside management, is easily explained. Alliance with politics has been very sedulously and skillfully cultivated by our leading scientific men. The most decisive step in this direction was taken a few years ago, in the organization of the National Academy of Sciences, an institution copied after an old French model. Through its act of incorporation a limited and select number of men became scientific leaders by national authorization. It was a specious and insinuating project, offering itself as a kind of bureau of advice to Congress on all scientific matters. Money was not solicited: the savants were to serve the state for nothing. It was to be a Washington institution, pledged to hold meetings at the capital permanently. The headquarters of the Coast Survey were already established there. The United States Government had accepted the magnificent bequest of Smithson, and established a national institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men"; and the newly instituted Academy of Sciences became the agency for combining the elements to secure the extension of Government patronage to all kinds of scientific undertakings. The tendency to centralization and the enlargement of Government powers, after the war, greatly favored the accomplishment of the work. The great extensions of state education also favored it. A splendid national university, with a twenty-million endowment by the General Government, was strenuously advocated. Everything was thus propitious to the multiplication and consolidation of scientific departments, and to the general plan of employing scientific men to carry on their inquiries at the expense of the state, and under the direction of Government.

For many and urgent reasons we hold that our overgrown Government science ought to be arrested and retrenched. That administrative officers are bad judges of it is one of them. But, even if this were not so, the policy would still be thoroughly objectionable. The promotion of science is not an object for which Government exists. The civil authority has its legitimate duties, and can only perform them by being confined to them. It is the business of Government to maintain the order of society and the rights and liberties of individual citizens by the establishment and enforcement of wise laws; and the sole condition on which this can be accomplished is that the law-makers and law-executors shall allow nothing to interfere with this supreme duty. By attempting to do everything else this is neglected, and the multiplication of government functions ends in the defeat of the objects for which Government exists. We do not say that Government denies the rights of foreign authors and leaves them a prey to American plunderers because it has gone into the promotion of science; but we do say that its absorption in business interests and enterprises has deadened its moral sense so that it has little care about a gross delinquency which is a scandal to the American name throughout the world. Justice between man and man, the first condition of all sound prosperity in communities, can only be enforced by the civil authority; but science can be advanced by private enterprise, individual interest and effort, and voluntary association, better than by state regulation, and there it is better that the Government should leave it.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Collected Essays on Political and Social Science. By William Graham Sumner, Professor of Political and Social Science in Yale College. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 173. Price, $1.50.

This volume consists of discussions upon the following subjects: "Bimetallism";

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