Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/May 1886/De Candolle on the Production of Men of Science


THE first edition of Alphonse de Candolle's "History of the Sciences and of Scientific Men during two Centuries,"[1] which was published in 1873, was speedily exhausted, and the book became, as the author says, a rarity in the library catalogues. A search for it two years ago revealed the fact that there was but one copy to be found in the European markets, and that was held at three times the ordinary price. Frequent references to the work as an authority, and many inquiries for it, made a second edition necessary, and it has appeared, with careful revisions and valuable additions, within the year. The primary object of the work was to study the influence of heredity in developing men of science; but it was obvious from the outset that this was only one of many factors that concurred in producing the result, and by no means always a predominant one. Hence the task became at once that of learning what influence was contributed by birth, and what by exterior circumstances, such as education, examples, institutions, etc. The mixture of the two categories is often inextricable, as Mr. Galton has remarked, but in many cases we may succeed in determining which one of them is predominant.

M. de Candolle precedes his principal study with general discussions of the subjects of heredity and selection, and of the operation of selection in the human species, to which he has added in the later edition of his book an account of his processes and the results of his newer investigations on heredity. The latter were made upon thirty-one persons belonging to sixteen different families in comfortable circumstances, and bore reference to 1,032 distinct traits of character, for each of which he also inquired into its presence or absence in either or both parents. These traits were arranged in four categories: external, 287; internal, 140; instinctive and sentimental, 410; and intellectual, 195. The general result of the examination was to show in a striking manner that heredity is the usual, general, and predominant law, in both sexes and various degrees for all the categories of characteristics not acquired. Other facts of more limited application were brought out. Interruption of heredity during one or more generations, or atavism, was rarely presented, and seemed to say, when it occurred, not that the particular trait was wanting, but that it was feebly accentuated, in the intermediate generations. The more prominent or influential the person, for good or bad, the more he appeared to exhibit pronounced and numerous characteristics in the category of instinctive feelings and intelligence. Some of these feelings in such cases appeared in the family for the first time. Women present fewer distinctive traits than men. All the distinctive characteristics, regarded in groups, are more freely transmitted by fathers than mothers. This is particularly the case with traits of intelligence; probably because the characteristics in question are more strongly developed in the fathers. It is hard to learn whether characteristics acquired by education, reading, and example, and from social influences, such as patriotism, religious opinions, the point of honor, devotion to a dynasty, etc., are transmitted. Probably they rest on weak but native and transmissible bases, such as sociability for patriotism, timorousness and curiosity for religion, a submissive spirit for loyalty, etc. The external influences of education, example, and other factors, develop upon these bases sentiments which become very strong, and are perhaps easily transmissible. The characteristics most marked in an individual are ordinarily those which he derives from both parents, and they exhibit special force if they are derived from these and also from other ancestors. A curious element of hereditary influence in developing men addicted to high mental effort may be found in considering the condition of the clergy of a country. It is not indifferent, M. de Candolle observes, "whether some categories of the instructed, intelligent, and respectable public, be restricted to celibacy or not. Laying aside all dogmatism and views respecting the discipline of the clergy, the result, relative to instruction, is not the same for a country where there are, for example, forty or fifty thousand celibate ecclesiastics, or the same number of clergymen fathers of families. Even if we reduce heredity in intellectual affairs to a minimum, the mere existence, in Protestant countries, of married pastors, assures the development, from year to year, of a certain number of educated persons who will exert a wholesome influence upon society." Thus, Agassiz, Berzelius, Boerhaave, Robert Brown, Camper, Clausius, Encke, Euler, Fabricius, Grew, Hansteen, Hartsoeker, Oswald Heer, Jenner, Linnæus, Mitscherlich, Olbers, Claus Rudbeck, W. P. Schimper, Studer, Schweizer, Arthur Young, Wargentin, Wollaston, and Würtz, among men of science; a list that includes Hallam, Hobbes, Puffendorf, and De Sismondi, among publicists and historians; Addison, Gessner, Ben Jonson, Lessing, Jean Paul Richter, Swift, Thomson, Wieland, Young, and Emerson, among poets and men of letters; and Christopher Wren and David Wilkie, among artists, would not have existed if their fathers, Protestant pastors, had been Roman Catholic priests, or would not have been what they were had their education been defective.

These are examples of an external influence, operating in a country at large, to modify heredity of intellectual tendencies, or to work along with it. The special object of M. de Candolle's research is to determine how far such external influences, peculiar to different countries, have had effect, during the past two centuries, on the development of the sciences by producing the men most eminent in them.

M. de Candolle takes as the criterion, in the selection of men to be subjects of his review, the judgment of the principal learned societies of Europe as expressed toward scientific men severally not of their own nations. He thus avoids possible errors of his own judgment, and those which might originate in the prejudices of any other persons by whose judgment he could be guided. The opinions expressed by those societies in the manner indicated are impartial, if any opinions can be. They may not be wholly just as to individuals, for not all the most deserving have received the notice of foreign societies, but, as averages, they are probably as fair as possible. The Royal Society of London is accustomed to name fifty foreign members from among the distinguished in all branches of science. The French Academy of Sciences confers the title of Foreign Associate on eight scientific men not of France, and has usually, also, on its general list of correspondents from forty to seventy foreigners. The societies of Germany and Italy likewise confer suffrages among those men whom they consider to have done the most for science in other countries than their own. Taking the lists of the foreign members of these societies as they stand at stated periods from 1666, when Huygens was elected a foreign associate of the French Academy of Sciences, down to the present, we have a large catalogue of names which the scientific world has united, as it were, to pronounce its greatest.

The first conclusion drawn from the analysis of the lists is that of the greater importance that has been attained during the last hundred years by the natural as distinguished from the mathematical and physical sciences. Another fact to be learned from them is the growing tendency to devotion to special branches. The Greek philosophers and those of the middle ages were interested in all branches. In the days of Leibnitz and Newton, two or three designations were needed to describe a philosopher's pursuits, as "astronomer and physicist," or "mathematician, astronomer, and physicist," and it might sometimes be necessary to add "linguist" or "poet." But science has now become too large for this. Single branches must absorb the whole attention of those who would be proficient in them. And the impossibility of rising in science while following a lucrative profession or pursuing a hobby is becoming daily more evident. In this may lie one of the reasons why Roman Catholic ecclesiastics appear to have given up scientific pursuits. The lists, till the end of the eighteenth century, included many names of Jesuits, monks, and abbés. In the present century we have only the Abbe Haüy and Father Secchi. The difference is also in part due to the changed condition of the clergy. The clerical names on the lists of the last centuries were chiefly taken from the sedentary clergy, whose ecclesiastical duties were light. The number of clergy of this class has been greatly reduced since the French Revolution; and the bishops and parish priests of to-day have no time for science. The increasing specialization of scientific work is also seen in the separation, in natural history, between collectors and describers, and between those who make applications of science and those who work at original research; and a separation is growing up between teaching and purely scientific work. Dividing society into three classes—the aristocratic, the middle class, and the workers—the former appears to be most fruitful in proportion to its numbers in the development of scientific excellence; but the list of Frenchmen in the present century appears to show an inclination in favor of the middle and working classes. By the force of circumstances a life of research is one of abnegation, which can hardly be recommended to those who have no worldly goods; and the conferring of scholarships and fellowships upon poor students can hardly change the conditions to any great extent. It may result in making well-informed men and teachers, but many other circumstances and influences than a university education must concur to induce a young man to devote himself to investigation, to the discovery of truths, and the publication of his results. These come next under review.

The appearance on the Academy lists in several instances of the names of father and son or of members of the same family, and in numerous instances of persons whose fathers had made a good record in professional or scholastic life, suggests heredity; but it is not safe to build too much on the suggestion—at least not in its application to the specific talent. There are other factors than heredity in the family life of professional and scientific men to direct the attention of the children toward kindred pursuits to those of the father. Heredity has a considerable effect, but it consists chiefly in the transmission of tastes and faculties that are useful in such pursuits, rather than of superior aptitudes for particular branches. Further than this, it does not operate directly, except perhaps in the case of the mathematical sciences. The power of family influences under the direction of scholarly fathers to cultivate such tastes in youth is shown in the large proportion of the names of sons of Protestant pastors on the scientific rolls. The occupations of physicians and pharmacists are more directly scientific than that of the pastor, but the number of sons of members of those professions on the lists is much inferior to that of sons of pastors. The difference is ascribed to the more quiet and intimate life of the pastoral home, and to the direct and constant supervision which is exercised by the pastor over the training of his sons. Switzerland furnishes more instances than any other country of members of the same family on the academical lists. This is because Swiss youth, particularly the sons of pastors, pursue their studies at home, living in their own families, while in France and Italy they are taken away from home at the age of attending college. This was particularly true in Switzerland in the last century and the first half of the present one, especially at Geneva and Basle, the towns which have furnished the largest proportion of savants connected by family ties.

Inquiring what personal traits contribute most to the making of a scientific man, a comparison is made of the characteristics possessed in common by four eminent men—Darwin, Linnæus, Cuvier, and the author's father, Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle. They all had heads larger than the ordinary size; strong and persistent will; curiosity for the examination of accessible things and of truths; great activity, exhibited in the walking excursions of Linnæus and De Candolle, the untiring industry of Darwin, and the constant occupation of Cuvier with his work, although he seemed to be phlegmatic; order, shown in their aptitude in classification; observing faculties, in which none could be superior to Darwin and Cuvier; freedom from any taste for metaphysics; sound judgment; excellent memory; great power of attention, and remarkable faculty for generalization. As points of difference, Darwin, Cuvier, and De Candolle were distinguished by amplitude of ideas, while Linnæus was narrow; Darwin and De Candolle were independent in opinion, Linnæus and Cuvier less so. None of the four had a natural taste for languages, but De Candolle and Darwin regretted that they knew so little of other languages than their own. Looking for the origin of the qualities they had in common, we find that Linnæus was the son of a country pastor, and grandson, through his mother, of another pastor. Cuvier, whose brother Frédéric was also a zoölogist, but less celebrated than he, was the son of a military officer, whose life does not throw any particular light on the origin of his distinctive characteristics. The De Candolle family were distinguished by an independence of judgment that compelled them to change the country of their residence, for opinion's sake, four times in three hundred years. These four naturalists were singularly favored by external circumstances. They were born in long-civilized countries; they received a Protestant education which did not repress their curiosity or the independence of their opinions; they found, at home and around them, good examples, counsels, and encouragement; and they studied in good schools.

Special or innate tastes are not as important as they appear to be, unless they prove persistent. In that case they are cultivated in afterlife, and are remembered and spoken of. But those who have the same tastes in infancy and fail to cultivate them, forget them and never speak of them. Multitudes of children chase butterflies and make collections of shells or insects without becoming naturalists, or construct toy houses and machines without becoming architects or engineers. Some scientific men have also been poetasters or amateur dramatists in their youth. Other special tastes and antipathies have some influence, but they result as often from the circumstances of sights, conversations, examples, or other incidents occurring in youth, as from descent.

In instruction much depends on exciting curiosity or keeping it active. If, within the family or the school, we put questions to a child, or place it in such conditions that it will ask questions, its curiosity is excited. If, on the other hand, we discourage and repress the inquisitive disposition, the impulses of curiosity are arrested, and the mind gradually bends toward indifference or timidity. "From the primary school to the university, the teaching may favor, contradict, or direct in one manner or another the inquisitive spirit of young people. Appropriate questioning, the repulsion of frivolous or inappropriate questions, approval of those which are serious, and the solution of which is possible to the pupil, speaking about things which are not yet discovered or comprehended, but the discovery of which by means of research and reflection is hopeful, a rare use of the principle of authority, which is opposed to scientific methods, are means which may be indicated to teachers as adapted to direct the minds of their pupils toward the higher region of the sciences. Those are not the most eloquent or the most lucid professors who excite inquisitive minds, but those rather whose teachings leave doubts and suggest questions. If they can tell the whole and still excite curiosity, it is well; but to provoke the efforts of the pupils by badly directed teaching is not as regrettable as it is thought to be. Especially in the mathematical sciences, in which it is so important for the student to fix his attention, a merely ordinary teacher often succeeds better than a very skillful one.[2] The worst teacher, in the author's opinion, is the one who represents science as finished. A point on which many of Mr. Galton's correspondents, in the course of his inquiries respecting the education of English scientific men have insisted, "is that of giving freedom and leisure to pupils who show strong tastes in their studies. As they are original, curious, and independent in disposition, they are not very fond of having tasks imposed upon them. They are often poor scholars, but they are scholars who have a future, and provision ought to be made for giving them special treatment. Unfortunately, the system of education in common is opposed to that; and this is one of the reasons why so many schools form mediocrities, without favoring individuals who are superior to the average."

In reading the biographies of the several foreign associates of the French Academy, it is often a matter of surprise to observe how mediocre were some of the instructors of illustrious men, and how many who were pupils of the most celebrated professors held a secondary rank in science; and we have to admit that, while illustrious savants may give good instruction, good teaching does not make illustrious savants. A deplorable effect of instruction is to diminish originality, without some proportion of which quality a scientific man can not rise above the mean.

When we inquire what is the influence of religion upon the development of scientific men, we find that the non-Christian countries are completely foreign to the scientific movement. We have no right to conclude from this that one has to be a Christian to be distinguished in science, for there are many examples to contradict such an assertion. We can only say that the Christian religion has been favorable to science by its general influence upon civilization. We can at least affirm that it has been, in the modern epoch, the only religion which has coincided with a real scientific development. Between the divisions of Christendom, the advantage is vastly in favor of Protestantism. While the proportion of Protestant to Roman Catholic populations is one to one and a half, Europe, outside of France, has furnished four times as many Protestant as Roman Catholic foreign associates to the French Academy of Sciences. France, where most of the Roman Catholic scientific men reside, has furnished about an equal number of Protestant and Roman Catholic foreign members of the Royal Society of London. No English or Irish Roman Catholic name appears on the list of the French Academy, although that Church includes a fifth of the population of the United Kingdom. Austria is not represented there, and Roman Catholic Germany makes but a poor showing by the side of Protestant Germany. In Switzerland, where the Catholics are to the Protestants as one to one and a half, not one of the foreign associates is a Roman Catholic. A similar difference appears to exist as among Swiss, English, and Irish, of the two cults in the lists of the London and Berlin societies. The difference is not attributable to anything in the doctrines of the churches, but rather to the different attitude—direct or indirect—of their clergy toward education, according as it is their habit to prescribe by authority or to leave every one free to form his own opinion. The more we proceed in an authoritative way, the more we repress curiosity, the mother of science, and increase mental timidity. A population educated for many generations under the principle of authority naturally becomes timid in intellectual affairs. But a population habituated from infancy to scrutinize concerns which it is told are of the greatest importance, like those of religion, will not be afraid to examine purely scientific questions, and will know better how to proceed to the solution of them. The fact, already referred to, should not be forgotten, that a large number of distinguished men of science have been the sons of Protestant pastors. Remove from the list of savants of Protestant countries the names appertaining to this class, and we shall find the scientific standing of the two cults as to the other names nearly equal. Thus, a rule of pure discipline, foreign to the doctrines and which has not always existed in the Church, has had bad consequences for science in Roman Catholic countries.

Classes of ideas, feelings, sympathies, and antipathies may be transmitted in families by imitation or tradition, and have great influence on the course of their members. They often result from some great event which has made a marked impression on the family; and we may have among the number traditions favorable to the pursuit of science. Pointed examples are afforded of them in the history of some of the Protestant families who were expelled from Roman Catholic countries in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Among these are the nine Bernouillis, who were famous in mathematics or physics. Of the men of this class there have been eleven of the one hundred and one foreign associates of the French Academy—an enormous proportion for a total population of less than a million souls. If the same proportion had ruled among, say, the Germans at large, we should have had three hundred and thirty German foreign associates instead of twenty-three; or in the United Kingdom, one hundred and thirty British associates instead of twenty-seven; and ten of these eleven lived in Switzerland. We might increase this number if we could trace all the cases of descent from refugee mothers. The English Puritans, who emigrated to this country, had essentially the same dispositions and character with the French Protestant refugees of the sixteenth century. Their descendants, direct and indirect, in New England have also shown favorable tendencies toward sciences of every kind. They have given Franklin and Rumford to the European academies and have furnished other distinguished men of science and historians and men of letters in the United States. The current immigration to the United States, being composed chiefly of working-men, does not bear the promise of exercising influence on the progress of science. But if every emigrant-vessel carried only one such man as Nuttall, Agassiz, Engelmann, Marcou, or Pourtales, we might expect different results. These men and others like them are already laying the foundations of good scientific traditions, and are adding their influence to that of the Pilgrims of New England.

Public opinion is beneficial or not, according as it encourages or gives the stamp of fashion to those tastes and aims which are congenial with scientific pursuits, or to the opposite ones. Form of government seems to exercise but little positive influence. Provided civilization is not destroyed by long seasons of revolutionary violence or wars, there is no reason for supposing that scientific work will be arrested in any country solely on account of its political régime. Customs are much more important, and also education and family traditions. The most favorable geographical situations are in the midst of civilized nations, in the temperate zone. Science does not prosper in the equatorial and tropical regions, nor in the south of Europe as much as in the north and center.

Nationality is not intrinsically a factor in science. Nevertheless, some nations have in their geographical situation, their extent, language, customs, or other incidental circumstances, features which are more or less favorable to science than corresponding features in other nations. The rank in representation in the academies has fluctuated variously between England, France, and Germany during the two centuries, while the smaller nations, like Holland, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian states, have, in proportion to their population, more than held their own in the competition with them. Switzerland seems to hold an extraordinary and constant superiority. Some of the reasons for this have been already explained. Another reason is to be found in the fact, which is brought out in the investigation, that a small country is on the whole more favorable to science than a large one.

If public institutions could really furnish incitements to scientific researches and promote their success, large countries would have a manifest advantage. In other words, there should regularly be more illustrious savants to the million souls in a great nation than in a small one. The facts as revealed by statistics are of contrary import, and it is not impossible to divine why this is so. There are in a small country, so far as concerns science, two advantages which may afford ample offsets to the lucrative places and honorary distinctions of large countries. One of the advantages is the relatively smaller importance of all public functions. In a small country, the careers of the army, the magistracy, and the administration can offer only moderate temptations to youth who feel themselves capable. If they aspire to a European reputation, science is the best means within their reach by which to obtain it. The public comprehends this, and, as it desires the value of the country to be measured by some other standard than that of the extent of its territory, it gives a moral support to men who seek to distinguish themselves in affairs purely intellectual. And this support of opinion, which is quite sensible in very small states, like Denmark and the Swiss cantons, comprehends also the advantage that men of merit prefer to remain in their country; and they preserve there their good influence and their wholesome traditions, instead of removing to the capitals of great states.

Furthermore, small countries touch upon other states at all points, or are, we might say, all frontiers. One can not live in one of them without making frequent comparisons with the institutions, laws, and usages of adjacent countries. This alone is a cause of intellectual activity, and profits to the cultivation of science. The vicinity of national boundaries has also the excellent effect of rendering a complete tyranny impossible. It is very easy for persecuted persons to escape from a country of small extent and live at peace in an adjoining state. This has often been seen in Switzerland, and was observed in Germany and Italy, when they were divided up into many small states. Then, when the fugitives have escaped into the other states, they can generally get along with the language and customs, which will not be far removed from their own. But, in a very large country, not only is it hard to escape, but if one expatriates himself he will be exposed to the annoyance of finding himself among populations speaking a different language, and having other habits than his own.

Of twenty conditions which M. de Candolle lays down as favorable and the opposite of them as decidedly unfavorable to the progress of science, Switzerland has all, and no unfavorable opposites; Turkey all the unfavorable ones, and no favorable ones; the United States all but four favorable, and the exceptions—want of a wealthy class, want of a leisurely class devoting themselves to scientific enjoyments, lack of museums, etc., and non-proximity of civilized countries—are neither grave nor characteristic, but only temporary.

Above all the conditions enumerated, and controlling them, is the superior condition, primarily requisite, that every individual shall be secured in the ability to do what he judges fit, provided he does no harm to another. The idea is commonly expressed by the two terms, security and liberty; but, in fact, there can be no security without liberty, nor liberty without security. The terms complement one another. The favorable conditions appear as a whole to have accumulated in their most obvious form in a triangular space comprehended between Central Italy, Scotland, and Sweden, with a projection extending across the ocean to New England. This peculiar shaping is the result of historical causes, the chief of which are the three decisive movements for European civilization of the Renaissance, which originated in Tuscany; the Reformation, which started in Germany; and political liberty, which has been laboriously and slowly developed in England. Other very important factors or superior conditions are, that the race shall be European, or of European origin; that a long selection shall have prepared a considerable number of families for intellectual labors; that the climate shall not be one of depressing heat, and that the geographical situation shall not be too far removed from centers of intellectual culture.

If we inquire what have been the most important scientific discoveries—that is, those which have not been mere applications, but which have opened new fields of research—made during the last forty years, we shall find among them those of spectral analysis, the transformation of forces, the ancient extension of the glaciers, the antiquity of man and prehistoric studies, evolution and natural selection, alternating generations, and deep-sea explorations. These have all originated in Scandinavia, Central Germany, Switzerland, Northern France, or England, or in the countries which have been found to occupy the first places in the academical lists. If we extend the inquiry to fifty or sixty years back, we shall find the case substantially the same. The countries all lie within the region which has been marked as governed by the most favorable conditions for science.

Very distinguished or illustrious men compose in a manner the framework of our history; but by their side we may see a considerable number who have perhaps contributed quite as much, by their collective efforts, to the continuous progress of science. There may be found in this category some very ingenious men, very industrious, and worthy to figure in the first ranks, but whom a premature death has removed from activity, who have been prevented from publishing, or who have been obliged to give most of their time to work which made no showing. The celebrities who shine in the full light are, in reality, the manifestation of the existence of a public well informed and friendly to research. Scientific work is, in fact, much more than it appears to be, collective. This is one of the reasons why particular countries and groups of population obtain a superiority over others, and keep it for centuries. One or two celebrated men may disappear, without the choice and progressive population of which they were the highest expression being annulled. A group which has once produced such illustrations of its vigor may at any time furnish others.

Under the present multiplication of scientific schools and societies, laboratories, museums, and establishments in which science is applied, thousands of persons are competing in scientific labors. The more this array of workers grows, the more should it have within itself inventive minds who will perfect processes and occasionally make discoveries. The average class of scientific men is now of higher quality, because it represents better teaching and more skill in practice; but there will always be above this medium rank better endowed and more active savants, or those who are more masters of their time and their persons. The popularization of science by means of books, periodicals, lectures, and societies, and the interest taken by all intelligent people in scientific matters, are of great advantage to the progress of knowledge, for specialists make recruits and easily find assistance in mediums thus disposed. The slow and costly movements of governments are not equal in value to the zealous and disinterested impulsion of the public. M. de Candolle's opinions respecting the influence of politics and government patronage on scientific pursuits are, in fact, very decidedly expressed. After showing how religious prepossessions, which are usually more positive, more firmly held, and more exclusive than any other kind of prejudices, may interfere with the free exercise of scientific thought, he observes that the incompatibility of political relations is still greater; for politicians defend, not what they believe to be true, but what appears practicable or possible to realize, and are subservient to the authority of chiefs and majorities. Politics agree well with the aims of those whose chief pursuit is that of material gain, for such men frequently have to use the same methods as politicians to succeed; but the person who is seeking for pure truth in history, in law, or in moral, natural, or other science, is out of his place in a political assembly. He would hardly go there except from motives of patriotism, or under a transitory, enthusiastic impulse, and would very soon find out that he did not belong there. How could he lend himself to the manoeuvres of politicians? How, for example, could he trade off a principle against a railroad, a charitable foundation for an election? How could he consent to transactions between truth and falsehood, to the barter of opinions which is the rule in political affairs? Men of science are sometimes found in considerable numbers in political assemblies, but the others always do their best to make them ridiculous, and kill them off by giving them bad names. "As a rule," M. de Candolle adds, "governments too much confound teaching with progress in science. Many of them believe they have done everything when they have created schools and universities. They do not comprehend that they often do more harm than good by restricting these institutions in their methods, or in the choice of teachers. They do not know to what degree science lives on liberty and on the individual work of masters and pupils outside of the lessons. Sometimes they overcharge the professors with courses, examinations, or administrative details which deprive those who wish to work of the time to do so.[3] They pay but little attention to the encouragement of original publications, the sale of which at the book-stores is far from being remunerative, and even when they do anything in that way, it is awkwardly, and to poor purpose.

"The idea of constructing expensive buildings for universities, laboratories, etc., is now very much in vogue. Such munificence furthers some works and gives means of obtaining greater precision in experiments, but it discourages isolated investigators who have not the same resources, while researches at home are usually the best thought out and the most original."[4]

Absolute sovereigns have sometimes invited distinguished men to their capitals and bestowed their favors upon them. But this, after all, was only a way of changing the place of scientific culture, not of creating it. Generally, emigrations of savants have been useful to themselves, to science, and to the countries which have welcomed them, in proportion as rulers have had the good sense to leave them time to work.

Democracies encourage savants most by leaving them the widest liberty of opinion. They have furthermore the advantage of causing the separation from political life and public functions of those men who have taste for research, cabinet-work, independence of thought, and for the truth as set above popularity and material considerations, or for precisely those things which most further the advance of science. In general, whatever may be the form or the tendency of the government, men who cultivate science for itself should rather consider themselves fortunate if they are out of favor with the administration.

  1. "Histoire des Sciences et des Savants depuis Deux Siècles." Preceded and followed by other studies on scientific subjects, particularly on "Heredity and Selection." By Alphonse de Candolle. Second edition, with Additions. Geneva, Basle, and Lyon: H. Georg. Pp. 594. 1885.
  2. "They say," said the author to Regnault, professor in the École polytechnique of Paris, "that when you were young the school produced many more celebrated mathematicians and physicists than it does now. Is it true?" "Perhaps so," he answered. "Why?" "Because, you see, our principal professor of mathematics was so obscure, that the pupils had to meet after each lesson to go over it again. For some time I had to revise the exercise-books of my comrades. You can not imagine how it made me work."
  3. "At the moment of writing this phrase, I have before me letters of French, German, and Italian professors, lamenting that they can not work for science, because they are charged with hundreds of examinations which could be attended to just as well by persons whose time is less valuable."
  4. Haeckel has gone so far as to say that the scientific work of institutions and the intrinsic value of their publications stand in an inverse ratio to the magnitude of the buildings and the splendid appearance of their volumes. "I need only refer," he adds, "to the small and miserable institutes and the meager resources with which Baer in Königsberg, Schleiden in Jena, Johannes Müller in Berlin, Liebig in Giessen, Virchow in Würzburg, Gegenbaur in Jena, have not only each advanced their special science most extensively, but have actually created new spheres for them. Compare with these the colossal expenditures and the luxurious apparatus in the grand institutes of Cambridge, Leipsic, and other so-called great universities—what have they produced in proportion to their means?"