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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/722

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The caution which the address contains against taking too utilitarian a view of science is timely and judicious. We do not believe the intention of the author is to encourage the prosecution of alleged scientific researches independently of all assignable human motive; but he would have all the main lines of scientific inquiry pursued in a liberal and disinterested spirit, in the belief that the enlargement of knowledge can not but subserve in some way or another, and sooner or later, the interests of the human race. He feels that the true scientific spirit is not one that makes pecuniary gain its chief object. True types of the scientic worker are to be found in Michael Faraday and the elder Agassiz, who was "too busy to make money"; and the student of science who can not to some extent work in the spirit of these men may as well recognize that it is not scientific truth he is after but money. The greatest advances in Science, it is almost needless to say, have been made by those who were serving her not for the lust of gain, but for the love of discovery—that is to say, by men like Copernicus, Galileo, Harvey, Cavendish, Newton, Franklin, Jenner Watt, Darwin, and Pasteur; and if we would know what science is, it is the lives, characters, and labors of such men as these that we should study, and not the achievements of merely successful patentees.

Another danger to which the student of science is exposed is that of paying little or no attention to any department of science save that of which he is making a specialty. It is therefore of great importance that the courses of study laid out in science colleges should at the outset be sufficiently broad to afford a thorough grounding in the leading principles of all the sciences and in the application of scientific method to

every field of inquiry. Only in this way can a true sense of the power and universality of science as a method of thought and an engine of the human mind be obtained. Why is it that we are often so little impressed with the intellectual character of this or that noted specialist? The reason, we take it, is that his mind lacks breadth; he knows his own field of observation, but seems to have little sense or appreciation of what lies beyond it. It may have been some one of this type who suggested to Wordsworth his idea of an "ever-dwindling soul"; certain it is that a man may, by the too exclusive pursuit of a narrow line of thought and inquiry, fatally cramp his mind and dim his spiritual vision.

The foundation of all science is observation, and Sir Archibald rightly dwells upon the supreme importance of cultivating and developing the observing faculty to the utmost extent. He states that a man may possess a colossal intellect while his faculty of observation may be of the feeblest kind, and gives as an example a very eminent mathematician, lately deceased, who used to make the most ludicrous mistakes as to time and place. Upon this point we feel like venturing a little dissent. We doubt whether there ever was a colossal intellect apart from a considerable development of the power of observation; and that a great mathematician should take very little notice of what was going on in the world about him would only show that his powers of observation were otherwise engaged. Take him in his own field, and what a multitude of things he would observe which a man of inferior intellect, occupied with the same studies, would overlook! It would be a somewhat rash thing to undertake to cure an Archimedes or a Newton of that absentmindedness which, to the world at