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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/496

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SCIENCE, EDUCATION, AND ARISTOCRACY.[1]

THERE could be no doubt that, in the age in which it was their lot to live, the tendency of education ran toward science and abstract science, and every man who was interested in the fortunes of his generation would naturally ask himself the question what the effect of such scientific teaching was likely to be, what it would be still more likely to produce, if it rose to absolute predominance, and whether it would raise or lower, soften or harden, those upon whom it was brought to bear. As he said before, no reasonable man could doubt that the tendency of the age was to make scientific teaching the predominant study. The greatest of philosophical writers would admit that was so. That which followed the main teaching of former times—the great arts of sculpture, painting, writing, oratory, and the like—all comparatively sank before the abstract science of the present day. Compare for one moment the range of teaching in the middle ages with the present circles of learning. In the tenth century Pope Gebert was said to embrace within himself all the knowledge of the time; but let any one contrast his attainments, great as they were, with the correlation of arts now practised, and the enlarged field over which modern science ranged. There was undoubtedly a vast difference between the two states of things. When they looked at the present state of scientific education they might fairly distinguish three different classes of persons to whom it might be applied. First, there were those like the late Mr. Brassey, great captains of labor, who led men not only over Europe, but over every quarter of the globe, and changed the whole face of the earth by their vast engineering power and skill. Secondly, there were those among them at the present day who saw only through the eyes of material philosophy, who accepted that material philosophy and scientific teaching as their surest and safest standard and guide, who reduced most things to it and judged most things by it, but whose minds were nevertheless open to other considerations, and who did not feel that it was the sole and exclusive standard of their lives. To both those classes what he was about to say did not apply. There was, however, a third class who were tempted to reduce every thing to the one standard of science—who knew no other law and applied no other rule, not only to science itself, but to all the other conditions of life and action. To such a class, though he alluded to no one in particular, his observations would, he thought, apply. When science was pushed to that extreme its professors would not be the best rulers for mankind, and he, for one, should regret to see the affairs of men regulated solely by such a

  1. Extract from an address of Lord Carnarvon before the London Birkbeck Institution, with comments thereupon by "J. H. L.," of the London Examiner.