Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/374

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
360
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Science will certainly neither ask for, nor receive, the aid of the secular arm. It will trust to the much better and more powerful help of that education in scientific truth and in the morals of assent which is rendered as indispensable as it is inevitable by the permeation of practical life with the products and ideas of science. But no one who considers the present state of even the most developed countries can doubt that the scientific light that has come into the world will for a long time have to shine in the midst of darkness. The urban populations, driven into contact with science by trade and manufacture, will more and more receive it, while the pagani will lag behind. Let us hope that no Julian may arise among them to head a forlorn hope against the enevitable. Whatever happens. Science may bide her time in patience and in confidence.

But to return to my "Anonymous." I am afraid that if he represents any great party in the Church, the spirit of justice and reasonableness which animates the three bishops has as slender chance of being imitated, on a large scale, as their common sense and their courtesy. For, not contented with misrepresenting science on its speculative side, "Anonymous" attacks its morality.

For two whole years investigations and conclusions which would upset the theories of Darwin on the formation of coral islands were actually suppressed, and that by the advice even of those who accepted them, for fear of upsetting the faith and disturbing the judgment formed by the multitude on the scientific character—the infallibility—of the great master!

So far as I know anything about the matters which are here referred to, the part of this passage which I have italicized is absolutely untrue. I believe that I am intimately acquainted with all Mr, Darwin's immediate scientific friends; and I say that no one of them, nor any other man of science known to me, ever could, or would, have given such advice to any one—if for no other reason than that, with the example of the most candid and patient listener to objections that ever lived, fresh in their memories, they could not so grossly have at once violated their highest duty and dishonored their friend.

The charge thus brought by "Anonymous" affects the honor and the probity of men of science; if it is true, we have forfeited all claim to the confidence of the general public. In my belief it is utterly false, and its real effect will be to discredit those who are responsible for it. As is the way with slanders, it has grown by repetition. "Anonymous" is responsible for the peculiarly offensive form which it has taken in his hands; but he is not responsible for originating it. He has evidently been inspired by an article entitled, "A Great Lesson," published in the September number of this Review.[1] Truly it is "a great lesson," but not quite in the sense intended by the giver thereof.

  1. See "The Popular Science Monthly" for December, 1887.