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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SCIENTIFIC LECTURES.

That lectures will always continue to be, as they always have been, a valuable mode of public instruction, there can be little doubt; but, that what is called the lecture system is going to prove an agency of national regeneration, may be seriously questioned. In so far as it is in any sense a system, it has degenerated to a mere catering to public amusements. The platform is crowded with readers, singers, declaimers, dramatists, and buffoons, and the "course of lectures" is transformed into a "series of entertainments." People cannot have their intellects on the rack forever, you know; they must have a little relaxation. This tendency to pander to a low public taste, and, under the respectable name of lectures, to degrade the platform to purposes of mere speculation, ought in every way to be withstood. Let amusements stand upon their own basis, and not appeal to the public under false pretenses. Lectures upon science, history, or philosophy, to be really valuable, should be given in courses with sufficient fullness to produce some depth of impression. It is in this way that such men as Lardner, Mitchell, and Tyndall, have helped on the work of public education. We spoke last month in commendation of Mr. Proctor, as a popular teacher of astronomy; and, to those who desire lectures of a similar first-class character in another and widely-different field, we now recommend Prof. Edward S. Morse, of Salem, Mass. Prof. Morse's department is zoology, in which he is an original investigator, of excellent standing, and therefore thoroughly acquainted with the actual phenomena of his subject. As a teacher of natural history, he has rare merits, a lively and wide-awake manner, by which he keeps the attention of his audience; simple and untechnical language, suited to make everybody understand him; and remarkable skill in the rapid and accurate drawing of diagrams upon the black-board. To most lecturers this is an interruption and a bore. They have to stop speaking while they are drawing, to outline the object they are dealing with. Prof. Morse makes his figures rapidly and elegantly, using both hands at once, and keeps up an unbroken flow of talk. The advantage of being thus able to hold Ms audience, by engaging two senses at once, is very great; for, not only is he more secure of the listeners' apprehension by creating his forms before the eye at the same time they are described to the ear, but the pleasure of full mental occupation is also in a high degree favorable to the retention of what is learned. It may be added that in this way the lecturer's work is not only of superior quality, but there is a great deal more of it in the same time. Every town where there is a college or high-school, and any serious mental activity, should arrange for a special course of lectures such as Prof. Morse furnishes.

 

 

"THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY"

The first article this month closes the series of papers upon "The Study of Sociology" that have been running through our pages for a year and a half. We have previously stated the relation of this discussion to Mr. Spencer's other works, but there still remains much misapprehension upon this point, and the present is, therefore, a suitable occasion for a brief restatement of the case. That we are here concerned with the advance of a new division of scientific knowledge of great importance to the public is a further excuse for repetition.

In 1860, Mr. Spencer threw out the prospectus of a system of philosophy which he expected it would take him twenty years to complete. The undertaking was new, comprehensive, and original, as it proposed to construct a system of general philosophy on the