Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/343

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

ments should be equal to make the university real. It was enough at Harvard to have Agassiz and Gray, Lowell, Goodwin and Holmes to justify the name of the university. Silliman and Dana made a university of Yale. Such men are as rare as they are choice, and no university faculty was ever yet composed of them alone, and none ever yet had too many of them. President Gilman has wisely said:

In the conduct of a university secure the ablest men as professors regardless of all other qualifications excepting those of personal merit and adaptation to the chairs that are to be filled. Borrow if you cannot enlist. Give them freedom. Give them auxiliaries. Give them liberal support. Encourage them to come before the world of science and of letters with their publications. Bright students soon to be men of distinction will be their loyal followers and the world will say amen.

The merit of a university depends on the men who are called to conduct it, upon them absolutely if not exclusively, for although the teacher must have such auxiliaries as books and instruments, books are nothing but paper and ink until they are read, and instruments but brass and glass until craft and skill are applied to their handling.

But it is in its men that the real university has its real being. Through the work of such men it stands in the vanguard of civilization. By such men it counts the milestones in its course, and no trick of organization, no urging of the printing press, no subsidy of students can be made to take their place.

A final word as to the practical side of advanced research. Mr. Carnegie once ascribed the foundation of his great fortune to the fact that he first employed trained chemists where other manufacturers chose workmen skilled in making steel by rule of thumb. His chemists were able to suggest improvements. They devised ways of making better steel, cheaper still, and at the same time of utilizing the refuse or slag.

In the future the success of each great enterprise must depend on the improvements it makes. The nation successful in manufacture and commerce will be the one richest in labor-aiding devices. All these nust depend on the advancement of knowledge. Pure science must precede applied science.

Once the manufacturer or the nation could employ its chemists as it needed them. Now it must make them. The advancement of any branch of science depends on the mastery of what is known before. Everything easy and everything inexpensive has been found out. To train the chemist of the future, we need constantly finer instruments of precision for his advanced work; access to greater and greater libraries that he may know what is already done, for each generation of scientific workers must stand on the shoulders of those gone before, else it can make no progress beyond them. The scholars of to-day would be helpless were it not that they can save time by drawing freely on the accumulated knowledge of the past.