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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/174

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

amined by your own professor, all of whose heresies can be produced and accepted as current coin—perhaps even a little above par. Oliver Wendell Holmes justly remarked that you can not lift a stone without creating a panic among some of the centipedes and other crawling things which enjoyed the darkness it provided. Infant industries in the intellectual field are apt to be destructive of more things than toys, and so they are justly feared by the powers that be. There is this curiously complicated situation, that whereas intellectual progress is not merely advantageous to a nation, but is in this day of the world essential, it is of positive disadvantage to that numerous company to whom change means injury or destruction. This, however, is exactly what may be said of infants of flesh-and-blood: they are costly, troublesome, often noisy and ugly, and quite unable to do anything useful to compensate for all the injury and expense they involve. In the latter respect, they are much worse than their psychological parallels, for these are usually capable of rendering some service at a very early day. Why, then, do people ever raise children at all? Simply because they have learned to love them; this sentimental attitude has undoubtedly saved the race from extinction, and may be relied upon to do so for some time to come.

I see nothing for it, but the cultivation of a like feeling toward our beloved progeny of the mind. It should be one of the chief aims of university training, it seems to me, to cultivate an appreciation of progress, and an ardent feeling—yes, a sentimental affecting for these babes of the intellect. We should be not merely willing, but happy, to struggle hard to give them birth, to watch them daily, and if need be walk the floor with them at night. Many a man has shown just this devotion, has remained through the small hours with his eye glued to the microscope, or has refused to be comforted while the threads of his argument were still in a tangle. To most, I fear, all this must seem fanciful. I am not so quixotic as to hope that the beginnings of change will ever be widely understood. Nobody supposes that the parents of Shakespear knew the extraordinary value of the little wailing thing they had; nor it is possible for the originators of lines of thought to see where they will lead—much less the general public. Not only are we unable to rightly value our infants, but we have an uncomfortable feeling that some of them will do us no credit—or if we have not that feeling, some of our friends entertain it on our behalf. The truth is, we can not tell the good from the bad at a very early age, and the experience of mankind indicates that a charitable attitude is the wisest. Some of the best thoughts ever born into this world have appeared nonsense to the best friends of their parents.

I may be permitted to cite some instances in which ideas, cherished for the mere love of them, have done unexpected things in their mature