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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/499

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SCIENCE, EDUCATION, AND ARISTOCRACY.

exercised by priests and sacerdotal parties to the philosophical class, but he was obliged, in constructing his theory, to form a sort of corporate hierarchy and invest them with the very powers taken from those whom he had so strongly denounced. In so doing, as Mill in an early book had said, he had furnished "a monumental warning" to those who dealt with such matters. Science itself, however speculative a range it might take, could not naturally be pregnant with the tender and softer feelings unless it was coupled with altogether different principles, which would enable it to be applied to the affairs of mankind. Look back for a moment on the different forms which science had sometimes taken. In the middle ages "Italian cruelty" was a proverb. Italy, which could then count more men of science than the rest of Europe, was not hindered on that account from also claiming a monopoly of cruelty. Chaucer threw out the same sneer at scientific men of his day, and during that time there arose that curious and mysterious combination of poisoners in Europe who united science with no tenderness of heart. Science, therefore, he thought, was no safeguard or guarantee of itself for tenderness and affection, but when joined with something higher in the human system it would call into play all the highest qualities of the mind, and assert an intellectual and moral domain in which the greatest of men could serve.

 

 

The speech delivered on December 6, 1873, by the Earl of Carnarvon, at the Birkbeck Institution, is a very significant indication of the progress of public opinion, at all events in one direction, during the last half-century. Fifty years have passed away since the late Dr. Birkbeck, aided by a small band of the ultra-Radicals of his day, founded the Mechanics' Institute in Southampton Buildings. The work was begun and carried on amid the howls, and execrations, and sinister prophecies of those "upper" classes whose lordly representative came down, a week ago, to smile his approval upon its success, and to hallow it with a patrician benediction. No words were too hard for the revolutionist and heretic whose profanity had reached such a pitch that he dared to encourage working-men to learn something besides the Church Catechism. Here was a man—and, strange to say, a gentleman—acting on the assumption that the horny-handed and ill-smelling laborer had a mind which ought to be cultivated, had a life which ought to be lived for some other purpose than that of making his "betters" comfortable. Worse still, he did not hold it as a theory to be dilated upon on Sundays from a pulpit, and to be realized on the other side of the grave; but, to the horror of the Newdegates and Tomnoddies of 1823, he actually went and set up an institution in which science—"hard, abstract science"—might be taught to the "great unwashed." No wonder that a noble-minded aristocracy held