science. In this direction the benefactors of education and science have still almost everything to do. It is, in fact, the field that promises the greatest returns and the greatest blessings to mankind. As examples of what such institutes signify, may be mentioned the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Zoölogical Station at Naples, the Lick Observatory, and the Smithsonian Institution. In what way could money bring swifter, surer, more magnificent, or more lasting rewards than when invested in such foundations? Our country suffers from the lack of these,while it is burdened with a plethora of impotent colleges. For this pathological overplus of colleges, secreting a sort of purulent education, with little or none of the saving basic properties of scientific culture, the best anti-toxine would be the creation of research laboratories. There is no antagonism between scientific and literary education; but no one will now venture to deny that culture implies something more than a knowledge of words. Mr. Arnold's definition of culture—"to know the best that has been thought and said in the world"—needs the supplement furnished by Huxley: "Culture implies the possession of an ideal, and the habit of critically estimating the value of things by comparison with a theoretic standard. Perfect culture should supply a complete theory of life, based upon a clear knowledge alike of its possibilities and of its limitations." "Observation and reflection"—the significant words with which Carl Ernst von Baer closed his Embryology of Animals—connote mental attributes that are the fundamentals of culture. They imply powers and habits best nurtured by scientific, but best polished and adorned by literary, training. Both means of culture are to be combined, but duly balanced. My plea is not against any source of culture, but against exaggerating one out of proportion with another. At present we are in desperate need of more science, and my appeal is in behalf of science in general, and biology in particular. I rejoice in the splendid gifts to astronomy, physics, and chemistry, but I feel impelled to urge that that great division of sciences, comprising the whole animate world, has claims upon the enlightened generosity of this country which have not yet been fairly met. The claim which I would place foremost at the present moment is the urgent need of an American marine biological observatory. What grander commemoration of the labors of Louis Agassiz at Penikese or of the efforts of Spencer F. Baird at Woods Holl, or what higher and more fitting tribute to the memory of the discoverer of this hemisphere, could this centennial year bring than the foundation of such an observatory? My humble plea is but the echo of a chorus of voices a thousand times more potent from the leading biologists of America and Europe. This weighty consensus of opinion shows so well how the scientific world regards this subject, and how broadly and
Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/484
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.