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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/123

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SKETCH OF FRANK WIGGLESWORTH CLARKE.

described as being to a large extent denominational institutions, "equipped and endowed with due reference to the perpetuation of sound faith, and incidentally to the encouragement of what is supposed to be learning. . . . The very fact that a college has been established for theological purposes, or for ecclesiastical aggrandizement, is adverse to good scientific research. . . . Every year professors are chosen, not on account of scientific ability, but for reasons of a theological or sectarian character. If two men, one a Baptist and the other a Unitarian, were candidates for the same professorship in a Baptist university, the former, even if very much inferior to his rival, would almost certainly be elected. . . . Theological soundness in such an institution far outranks scientific ability. If Laplace had lived in America, no college would have tolerated him for an instant. Almost any decayed minister, seeking an asylum, would have beaten him in the race for a professorship."

These conditions were shown to have necessarily a bad effect upon American science, and to be not likely to arouse or encourage the scientific spirit. The student "becomes accustomed to regard the sciences as comparatively unimportant," and "graduates in complete ignorance both of the methods and of the aims of science, having learned only a few disconnected facts concerning the great world about him."

Improvement in these conditions, the author argued, must come partly from within and partly from without. The colleges must reform their ways, and, not being likely to do it spontaneously, must be hepled—by pressure of public sentiment and, later, of legislation. This suggestion proved to be introductory to that of a very important line of work, for the furtherance of which Professor Clarke seems never to have been able to labor too earnestly and industriously.

"But how," he says, "should public sentiment be properly shaped and made available for service? How is the natural, though slow, growth to be fostered and directed? Mainly by the efforts, organized and individual, of scientific men. Personally, every worker in science should strive to awaken in the community about him a comprehension of the value and purposes of his particular branch. In other words, the real investigators ought to do more toward popularizing their discoveries instead of leaving that task to amateurs or charlatans. At present, unfortunately, too many able scientific men depreciate popular work and hold aloof from it. They do nothing themselves to interest the public, and then lament the fact that the public does not become interested. Yet just here is where the beginning must be made. With a wider public interest in science will come deeper public appreciation, and this will de-