Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/480

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

productive. If desirable material calls him to a climate that induces lassitude and exposes him to infectious diseases, let his salary or the funds at his disposal for research be sufficient to enable him to choose his time and limit his stay to the necessities of the case.

Having said this much on the principles that must guide us to a wise choice of location, I must add a word on the tendency to scatter forces. On this point the words of Lacaze-Duthiers (Archives de Zoologie expérirnentale et générale, tome ix, 1891, page 258), the distinguished director of the Marine Laboratory of Roscoff and Banyuls, are of interest. Speaking of the tendency to multiply seaside laboratories in France, he says: "We have been able to count as many as seventeen or eighteen stations on our coasts in the course of 1891. Are they all born to live? Will they all endure as long as the pompous announcements that have accompanied or preceded them would have us believe? Have not some discounted too quickly the future? . . . Is this not also an exaggeration and a dissipation of precious energies, which, if concentrated into a single strong organization, might render very great service?"

The survival of the fittest will in time answer these questions for us. But there is something to be said in favor of multiplying stations, if their creation be well considered, and determined with a view to extend rather than duplicate the facilities of a central station. Obviously a central station organized on a foundation that would permit of supplementing local by itinerary research would profit immensely by stations at favorable points, standing in auxiliary relations. Of such stations let us have all that we can possibly have without diverting either forces or funds that should go to make a strong common center. The danger lies, not in the possession of auxiliaries, but in the tendency to build up isolated laboratories in antagonistic rather than co-operative relations. In union there is strength, in division impotence. The advantages of a strong central station are so immeasurably superior to those of many weak local ones, that we are bound to encourage the former and discourage the latter. Our first effort should be to secure one foundation in the interest of all, rather than a multitude of isolated ones in the interest of individual colleges or universities. No university in this country can undertake to found a biological observatory for the whole country; but all can well afford to unite in the support of one founded by private munificence and open to all on equal terms. This is the only basis on which we can expect to secure an observatory of national importance. No scheme that ignores this simple, common-sense fact can ever lead to anything more than a small local success at the best. Now, I think every prominent naturalist in the country