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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/36

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

great weight; but it must not be forgotten that it does not, in a very great degree, depend upon the personality of him who directs the experiment or plans the investigation. One must not confound himself and his work to the extent of assuming that upon him ought to be bestowed the praise and admiration to which his work is perhaps justly entitled. This blunder is analogous to that of the mechanic in whom the first symptom of insanity appeared as a conviction that he was as strong as the engine which he had built, evidence of which he unpleasantly thrust upon any who might deny the truth of his assertion. "By your works shall ye be judged" may be especially affirmed of men of science, not only as regards the judgment of the public, but particularly that of their colleagues and fellow-workers. Least of all should title, degree, membership in learned societies, or the possession of medals or other awards of distinction and honor, be paraded unduly, or offered by himself in evidence of his own fitness. In general these are honorable rewards which are justly prized by scientific men, but some of them have been so indiscriminately bestowed, and in some instances falsely assumed, that the general public, not yet properly educated in this direction, does not attach great value to them as an index of real scientific merit. Where real merit actually exists, nothing is usually gained and much is likely to be lost by boastful announcements of high standing or of accumulated honor. A distinguished man of science, at the end of a controversy into which he had been called as such, complained that he had not been recognized as a Fellow of the Royal Society. "You gave us no reason to suspect your membership," quietly but severely replied a man of the world.

As another element of weakness in the scientific man I venture to suggest that he is often less of a utilitarian than he should be. This is a sin, if it be such, which seems especially attached to those who, unconsciously or otherwise, are imitators of men of science of the highest type. The latter are so entirely absorbed in profound investigation, and their horizon is necessarily so limited by the very nature of the operations in which they are engaged, that they are altogether unlikely to consider questions of utility; nor, indeed, is it desirable that they should. The evolution of processes and methods by means of which the complex existence of the present day is maintained, is largely the result of specialization or the division of labor. In such a scheme there is room for those who never demand more of a fact than that it be a fact; of truth, that it be truth. But even among scientific men the number of such is small, and as a class they can never be very closely in touch with the prople.

Strong to imitate, even in those characteristics which are akin to weakness, many persons of lesser note affect a contempt for