The Scientific Basis of National Progress/IV

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CHAPTER IV.
The Promotion of Scientific Research.

Nearly the whole of the most distinguished mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, and physiologists of Great Britain, also the Earl of Derby, the Marquis of Salisbury, Sir Stafford Northcote and many other eminent men, have given evidence before the Royal Commissioners on "Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science"[23] to the following effect:—1st. That the promotion of original scientific research is neglected in this country. 2nd. That such research is encouraged more by the State in Germany than here. And 3rd. That much greater encouragement of it by our Government, by the Universities and the Public, is highly necessary to our commercial prosperity. They have also stated in evidence their opinions as to the best ways in which they consider it may be assisted. The additional fact that all the greatest scientific men who have ever existed have pursued research, and sacrificed much for it, is a practical proof that they also approved of its encouragement.

That research should be promoted is further the opinion of many men learned in politics, literature, art, and science. The views expressed in numerous letters on the subject, received by me from Members [ 171 ] of the Privy Council, and of both Houses of Parliament, and from other eminent persons, confirm this. It has also been adopted as a chief part of the programme of the "Association for the Organization of Academical Study."[24]

"M. de Candolle, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Science, Paris, is a strong advocate for the encouragement of a class of sinecurists like the non-working Fellows of our Colleges, who should have leisure to investigate and not be pestered by the petty mechanical work of continued teaching and examining." "The modern ideas of democracy are adverse to places to which definite work is not attached, and from which definite results do not flow. This principle is a wise one for the mass of mankind; but is utterly misplaced when applied to those who have the zeal for investigation, and who work best when left quite alone."

The correctness of the principle of promoting research is also recognised by our Governments in their yearly grants of money to the Royal Society, and to the Royal Irish Academy[25] to aid research, also by the Council of the Chemical Society, which has established a fund for the same purpose; and by the British Association in their annual grants for the promotion of scientific enquiry. The Fishmonger's Company also presented to Mr. W. R. Parker, F.R.S., the sum of £50, followed by an annual gift of £20 for [ 172 ] the three years, to assist him in bearing the expenses of his researches on the skulls of vertebrate animals. And the British Pharmaceutical Conference voted the sum of £80 from the Bell and Hills fund, during the period of three years, in aid of research in connection with pharmaceutical science. A small fund for the purpose of research exists also at the Royal Institution. Fellowships also with a similar object have been founded at the Victoria University. Dr. Priestley also was aided in his researches by contributions from a small circle of friends. In recognition of the same principle, nearly all of the most eminent scientific men on the Continent have been assisted by their respective Governments. The total amount of aid to research in this country is however very small, and to one acquainted with the great commercial and other any valuable results of such labour, it is simply astounding that we have not systematically organized a powerful means of promoting discovery.

A few scientific persons however still continue to oppose aid to research; quite recently, scientific investigators have been spoken of as a class of "men amusing themselves without any result whatever."[26] That idea however abundantly refuted in the foregoing pages. It has also been remarked[27] that "practically, endowment of research comes to the creation of positions where there is payment without corresponding labour." "In England above all countries in the world, there will always be plenty of [ 173 ] amateurs ready and willing to assist in research, and it is notorious that in England, almost without exception, all the great advances in science have been made by such amateurs. Therefore I do not think it at all desirable that the British tax-payer should be required to put his hand in his pocket to provide salaries for gentlemen who might be working rightly or wrongly. He could not control them, and while there are such a body of amateurs in the country, I think the researches may be very well left to them."

The first of these statements is not correct; the endowment of research does not amount to "payment without corresponding labour." Scientific discoverers have always been distinguished as a body of men intensely devoted to their labours, and willing to perform much work for small payment. Most of the great advances in science also in England, have been made not by "amateurs," but by men of great experience, such as Newton, Herschel, Priestley, Davy, Faraday, Graham, and many others. Endowment of research is not desired for wealthy amateurs, but for investigators of proved ability and small pecuniary means and who require assistance. Such men, although not infallible, are the least likely to "work wrongly," and much less likely to do so than amateurs. Many scientific investigators also of repute, object to give their services wholly to a wealthy nation, because they cannot afford to do so, and because it is only just that the nation should make them some pecuniary return for their skill and labour. The great evils [ 174 ] in this country requiring new knowledge to remedy them[28] also prove that there are not "plenty of amateurs ready and willing to assist in research here," or that "the researches may be very well left to them."

Whilst some investigators have had abundant means to carry on research, and have excelled in that occupation, many of the most eminent have been persons of limited circumstances; and their insufficient pecuniary means has often restricted their degree of success. The argument also that insufficiency of means stimulates research, is only employed by persons who are not making investigations under such a condition.

The President of the Royal Society, Dr. Spottiswoode, in his recent address[29] also remarked:—"The question has been raised whether it be wise, even in the interests of science, to encourage any one not yet of independent income, to interrupt the main business of his life. It is too often assumed that a profession or a business may be worked at half speed, or may be laid down and taken up again, whenever we like. But this is not so, and a profession temporarily, or even partially laid aside, may prove irrecoverable, and the temptation to diverge from the dull and laborious path of business may prove to have been a snare." Each of these remarks appears to be made upon the assumption that it is still a doubtful question whether persons qualified for research should be encouraged or not to abandon occupations they reluctantly follow, and for which they are less fitted, in order to become scientific [ 175 ] discoverers. As it is a fact that the welfare of this country is suffering through deficiency of encouragement of research, it is certainly desirable to encourage, by every proper means, qualified persons to occupy themselves in such labour. Some of the greatest discoveries have been made by men "not yet of independent income," for instance, those made by Scheele, Priestley, Dalton, Faraday, W. Herschel, and many others.

The late Astronomer Royal, also,[30] who has made many researches, and was a scientific official paid by the State, says:—"I think that successful researches have in nearly every instance originated with private persons, or with persons whose positions were so nearly private that the investigators acted under private influence, without incurring the danger attending connection with the State. Certainly I do not consider a Government is justified in endeavouring to force, at public expense, investigations of undefined character, and, at best, of doubtful utility; and I think it probable that any such attempt will lead to consequences disreputable to science. The very utmost, in my opinion, to which the State should be expected to contribute, is exhibited in the large grants intrusted to the Royal Society. The world, I think, is not unanimous in believing that they have been useful." He then enumerates what he considers "the proper foundations of claims upon the State," which he illustrates, and substantially includes in and [ 176 ] limits by, the kinds of scientific research done under his direction at the Royal Observatory. He further adds—"The Royal Observatory was founded expressly for a definite utilitarian purpose (the promotion of navigation) necessarily connected with the highest science. And this utilitarian purpose has been steadily kept in view for two centuries, and is now followed with greater vigour than ever before. To its original plan have also been added—but still in the utilitarian sense—the publication of time, the broader observation of terrestrial magnetism, and local meteorology." His views therefore appear to be, that State aid to research should be limited to utilitarian objects; and that it is with propriety given to his own department, which is connected with the State. It has however been abundantly proved that nearly all the great scientific utilities of every-day life, had their origin in the pursuit, not of utilities, but of pure truth, and that immediate usefulness is neither the most successful nor the highest motive in scientific research, nor should research be limited by so narrow a condition. The investigations also made by the aid of Government Grants possess the usual degree of definiteness and of utility of such labours, and it cannot be reasonably expected that the world would be unanimous respecting any measure, especially respecting a subject so little understood by the public as the Endowment of Research.

If investigators were to limit their researches to utilities, or what appeared to be such, scarcely any [ 177 ] essentially new experiments or new discoveries of importance would be made. No attempts would be made to discover essentially novel facts, nor would many trials be made to test fundamental abstract questions which affect the very basis of scientific knowledge. The principles of electro-magnetism, of magneto-electric action, and of the magnetic rotation of polarized light, were each discovered by means of perfectly novel experiments, in which immediate utility was not the motive.

It is worthy of notice that of the very small proportion of scientific investigators who disapprove of State aid to Research, nearly every one already possesses sufficient pecuniary means to carry on investigations, and therefore cannot adequately appreciate the position and necessities of investigators having only small incomes. In some cases also the objections to aid investigators come from scientific men who have attempted to make discoveries but have not succeeded.

Dr. Robinson of Armagh, a well-known investigator, has very properly pointed out[31] what has been done in this country towards giving assistance to those engaged in the pursuit of science, and mentions the Observatories maintained by the Universities and by the Nation. He says also that if anything more were to be done in increasing the amount of grants of money to assist scientific work, he thinks "it might be best applied in establishing in the great commercial [ 178 ] centres of the realm, physical and chemical laboratories such as that which the Duke of Devonshire has established at Cambridge, provided with the most refined apparatus, and accessible to all who are considered privileged by a competent tribunal." He also says "when there is found a man so far surpassing his fellows in any department of science that he may be expected to do work beyond their power, he ought to be made independent of any other pursuit, so that none of his time and energy may be lost, such a case is exceptional, and when it occurs it should be exceptionally provided for."

Original research will for a long time to come, be opposed by a large section of the non-scientific public:—by the numerous persons whose source of income depends upon the ignorance of their fellow-men:—by those who are deficient of faith in demonstrable truth, and fear that their most cherished beliefs are endangered by it:—and by many of those who are insufficiently acquainted with it to perceive its great value to mankind.

With regard to the fears of many objectors that the Endowment of Research would lead to jobbery and abuses, and thus retard the progress of discovery instead of promoting it; it is evident that such a risk is an inseparable concomitant of every remunerated office and is not peculiar to that of research, and must therefore be accepted as unavoidable and be provided against in the usual ways. It does not however appear probable that the risk in this respect is at all greater [ 179 ] than that already existing and provided against in many other appointments.

Many persons, not clearly perceiving the difference between pure research and other scientific occupations, suppose that because science is encouraged in various ways in this country; and because sums of money are occasionally given to scientific institutions, and some scientific men are evidently receiving good incomes, that discoverers are remunerated, but this is a great mistake; there is probably not a scientific man in the kingdom who is wholly employed in such work in abstract physics or chemistry, and paid for his entire skill, time, and labour. Wherever payment is made for scientific labour, it is nearly always for that performed with a view to some immediate practical application. Inventors and expositors are remunerated, but discoverers are not.

At the present time in this country scientific men are paid for teaching, lecturing, writing popular scientific articles, compiling scientific books, editing scientific journals, making chemical analyses and experiments for manufacturers, companies, and others, for practical purposes, or to obtain evidence for legal cases, giving evidence on scientific subjects in courts of law, with consultations and advice to manufacturers and others, superintending scientific commercial undertakings, &c. Some also unfortunately obtain an income and cheap publicity by the empirical contrivance of selling to tradesmen, their scientific opinions in the form of testimonials which are extensively [ 180 ] advertised at the cost of the purchasers. But not one of these occupations constitutes pure research, or is an immediate source of new discoveries. Payment is made for all kinds of scientific labour which will immediately benefit individuals or corporations, but very little for pure investigation, and nearly every inducement exists to attract men of science from pursuing such labour.

It might be supposed that investigators would patent or sell their discoveries; but discoveries in pure science cannot usually be patented or sold, because they have not been converted by invention into commercial commodities. New scientific truth is utterly unsaleable; no one will purchase it. Whilst the real or intrinsic value of it is great, its extrinsic value is small and is the sum of money it will sell for in the market. No one would have purchased Oersted's great discovery of electro-magnetism. It would also be less to public advantage if investigators were to neglect discovering new knowledge in order to apply that knowledge to practical uses. It requires a different training of mental power to discover new truths, than to utilize them by means of invention, teaching or lecturing; and men who can invent and instruct are far more numerous than those who are able to discover. Discoveries are also generally much more valuable than inventions, because a single discovery (that of gutta percha for example) not unfrequently forms the basis of many inventions. Discoverers not unfrequently meet with new facts [ 181 ] which they perceive might be applied to valuable technical uses, but they hesitate to patent them because the process of invention, taking out a patent, seeking a manufacturer to work it, and protecting their patent from piracy, would occupy a large portion of their time, and take them away from research. Sir D. Brewster got no money by patenting his kaleidoscope because the patent was instantly pirated in all directions.

Some persons have suggested that scientific men should keep their discoveries secret, but this would usually be a greater disadvantage to the investigator even than publishing them, and no one would then derive any benefit; discoveries also, being often capable of numerous applications, and not being in a saleable shape, cannot usually be monopolised by any one. New scientific knowledge is like a powerful light, it cannot be hidden. Discoveries are eminently national knowledge, and research should therefore be national employment.

Other persons suppose that investigators should be satisfied with the fame of their discoveries, and not require any payment; but this is a most unfair supposition, because no man can live without means, and every useful person deserves to be paid for his labour. Ought the late Duke of Wellington to have been satisfied with the fame alone of his exploits, without being paid any salary? Ought a Bishop to be content with the renown of his eloquence, without receiving any payment for his services? Genius alone is [ 182 ] appropriately rewarded by fame, but time, unusual skill, labour and expenditure, should be repaid by money.

It has been suggested that an investigator, if he is a man of practical ability, is very often put into an office, the duties of which he can efficiently discharge, and yet have leisure for original research, as in the case of the late Dr. Graham, the eminent Master of the Mint,[32] our Astronomers Royal, &c., and thus obtain his reward. But this is a very imperfect plan, because research is very difficult, and to be carried out effectually, requires the whole of a man's time and attention; the investigator would also be taken from more important work to do that which is of less value to the nation, and which might be performed by a more suitable person; appointments also of the kind referred to are much too few in number. Such a plan as this, of relegating important national work to odd hours spared from official duties, is a makeshift, and quite unworthy of this nation. Entire occupation in research, combined with efficient publication of the results, is the only satisfactory plan of procedure.

Probably one of the most satisfactory ways of rewarding scientific discoverers and serving national interests at the same time, would be to create salaried professorships of original research, and appoint discoverers of repute to fill them.

The time is near at hand when this nation will be compelled by the injurious consequences arising from its neglect of scientific research, to acquire a [ 183 ] knowledge of the relations of science to national existence and welfare, and to adopt some means of encouraging discovery. The greatest difficulty, probably, which has to be overcome, is not so much how to obtain funds for the purpose, as how to employ them successfully, and especially how to prevent their getting into the hands of unsuitable persons. But, as methods have been found of remunerating all other classes of persons, ways may be devised of remunerating scientific investigators. It is only because the case is novel that it seems difficult; it is probably no more intrinsically difficult to establish a professorship of research than to found an ecclesiastical benefice.

The great difficulty of determining from what source discoverers should be paid for their labours, arises from the fact that all classes of the community share in the benefit. It is evident they should in some measure be paid from a source towards which all classes either directly or indirectly contribute, and therefore from some public fund. The persons who first use scientific knowledge are the compilers of scientific books, and teachers of science; but these only disseminate the knowledge, and do not derive from it any great pecuniary advantage, they are only the agents for supplying the knowledge to others. The persons who first convert such knowledge into valuable commercial commodities are inventors and manufacturers who have received scientific education or advice; but those who derive the greatest pecuniary benefit from it, and who should therefore either [ 184 ] directly or indirectly pay in the largest degree for it, are the great manufacturers, capitalists, and landowners. Whilst the question is being settled as to what class of persons shall primarily bear the expense of research, discoverers themselves are suffering great injustice, and our manufactures and commerce are passing into the hands of foreign nations. What the amount of loss and disadvantage suffered by this nation, through want of encouragement of scientific enquiry is, cannot be estimated, but it is certainly enormous. Had even a very moderate amount of payment been made for such labour, and the expenses out of pocket paid in full, the amount of research performed would have been greatly increased.

Under present circumstances, many promising young men, fitted to become good investigators, have been driven out of science altogether. I have found by long experience and persistent enquiry, that there are many young men distributed over this country, who are very desirous of engaging in scientific research, and likely to make good investigators, but are entirely prevented by the non-remunerative character of the labour, every one wishes to know "what will it lead to"? Even amongst our most able discoverers, scarcely one who has not possessed private means has continued research beyond the middle age of life, because such labour enables no provision to be made for old age; and all those who have left have devoted themselves to less important but more lucrative occupations. Most of these gentlemen have been [ 185 ] obliged to abandon research at a period of life when their faculties were in the most perfect state for continuing it.

Where one young beginner in science meets with the fortunate circumstance of a helping hand, as Scheele did in Bergmann, and Faraday in Davy, many are crushed out. The want of encouragement to scientific discovery in this country is so very great that extremely few men are able to struggle through it, and this is one reason why we have had so few discoveries. Some persons have argued that the very difficulties and discouragements offered are an advantage to science by producing only men of the very highest eminence in discovery; but it is manifest that however great the amount of ability may be that is developed by discouragement, that amount would probably be still greater by judicious assistance. Moreover, progress in the developement of the national scientific intellect is not so much to be reckoned by the few great successes which have occurred in spite of all obstacles, but rather by the much more numerous ones which would have resulted from proper encouragement. The advocates of such an argument can have no idea of the heart-sickening feeling of long deferred hope experienced by the young beginner in science; or the disgust gradually engendered in his mind at the injustice of other men taking all the profits of his labours and leaving him without means of support; or they would never adduce it. In this country the success of the few [ 186 ] eminent men of science has resulted from the accidental combination of a few more or less fortuitous circumstances, and their own great natural determination, and not from legitimate and just support. How many investigators we have lost from the above causes it is impossible to tell. The encouragement also of unusual ability should not be left to accident.

As scientific research has proved itself to be of such great value to this nation, the question naturally arises, how can it best be promoted? A number of plans have been proposed. Amongst these may be mentioned. 1st. By founding State Laboratories, in which discoverers of established repute, supplied with every aid and appliance, should be wholly engaged in research in their respective subjects, and be paid by the State. 2nd. By founding colleges or Professorships of original research in each of the Universities, and appointing professors similarly. 3rd. By founding provincial colleges or Professorships of research, the funds being raised locally by means of subscriptions, donations, and endowments, with or without State assistance. 4th. By State or Local aid, in the form of additional salary, to Professors in colleges, to enable them to pursue research. 5th. By an extension of the present Government grants distributed by the Royal Society. 6th. By making it a condition at each of our Universities that every student entering for a degree in science, should previously make an original research. 7th. By the formation by learned societies, of Endowment of [ 187 ] Research Funds, and making grants of money therefrom to recognised investigators. 8th. By aid to local scientific investigators by Municipal bodies out of the rates. And 9th. The support of Institutes of Scientific Research by private munificence. Aid to research, in Germany, has been chiefly been made by the State, by affording means to the Professors in the Universities; in America, more by munificence of wealthy individuals; and in this country, chiefly in the form of Government grants of money to investigators. The greatest difficulty to be surmounted in carrying out any of these schemes, is the very general ignorance in this country of the value and necessity of research; and this can only be overcome by scientific men themselves performing their duty of enlightening the public on the subject.

1st. By founding State Laboratories. One of the first duties of a Government is to protect its subjects in the enjoyment of their property; but as no law reserves to discoverers the fruits of their ability, it is clearly a duty of the State to protect them in other ways. It is believed to be a duty of the State to provide and pay for pure scientific research, for the following reasons:—because research is eminently national work; because the results of such labour are indispensable to national welfare and progress, and are of immense value to the nation, and especially to the Government; because nearly the whole pecuniary benefit of it goes to the nation, and scarcely any to the discoverer; because research is not sufficiently [ 188 ] provided for by means of voluntary effort, nor can its benefits be restricted to a locality; and because there appears to be scarcely any other way (except by application of University revenues) in which discoverers can be satisfactorily recompenced for their labour. Also "Government should for its own sake honour the men who do honour and service to the country." (Faraday.)

The founding of State laboratories for original research was proposed and advocated by the late Lieutenant-Colonel Strange, F.R.S., in communications read before the British Association, and in evidence given before the Royal Commissioners.[33] As the erection and maintenance of State laboratories would require a large sum of money, and as all classes of the community would share in the benefit, it is reasonable to suggest that the money should come from some source towards which all classes of the community, either directly or indirectly contribute, and therefore from some national fund.

In national improvements, expense is quite a secondary consideration; the funds however for providing State laboratories already exist; the sum of nearly £600,000 has accumulated in the form of fees received by Government for the granting of patents for inventions; and as the discoveries made by scientific men form the materials by means of which those inventions were made, the money thus accumulated may be justly claimed by scientific discoverers as a suitable [ 189 ] source from which their labours should be remunerated by the State.

Strong arguments might be adduced both against and in favour of the application of this money for the purpose. Inventors are a great wealth-producing class of the community; they are at present very highly taxed, and receive but little advantage in return; to tax them without giving them equivalent advantages, strikes very near to the root of commercial prosperity, by diminishing improvements in arts and manufactures. If an inventor is poor and his patent is valuable, he is also frequently harassed out of it by litigation. Inventors are usually poor, and but little able to pay taxes on patents at all; their pecuniary position in this country is not greatly better than that of discoverers; they are largely at the mercy of manufacturers and capitalists; and the injustice to which they are sometimes subjected is notorious and disgraceful. On the other hand, the fund already exists; inventors also receive an equivalent from investigators, discovery is the indispensable basis of nearly all invention; patented inventions are formed by means of the knowledge obtained by pure scientific research. The poverty of a man does not justify his taking the fruits of the labours of another man without paying for them. If also the patent fees were thus applied, the cost of research would then be paid for by all classes of the community, somewhat in proportion to the benefit derived, because the cost of patents in general ultimately falls upon the public at [ 190 ] large, in the shape of an increased price put upon the commodity, in order to pay the cost of the patent, like the grower of wheat is paid by the consumers of bread, through the medium of the baker, the miller, and corn merchant.

Whilst the benefits derived from the labours of discoverers, flows chiefly in the form of money into the hands of wealthy manufacturers, and finally gets locked up in the possession of capitalists and landowners, it is hardly to be expected that the Government will be in possession of funds necessary to promote research unless some such plan as this is adopted. Should the wealthy and governing classes however become sufficiently acquainted with the value of research, and of the essential and permanent dependence of their material prosperity upon it, there will then be some hope that they will be willing to contribute in a more direct manner their just share towards paying the expenses. There is, however, but little prospect of this whilst the influence of wealth so depresses the scientific education of those classes at the Universities.

The fundamental object in founding State laboratories should be to keep a staff of the most competent men wholly engaged in original research in pure science, and a secondary object might be to train assistants to become investigators. Such laboratories would doubtless be located in London, and be on a scale of magnitude creditable to science and the nation. They might very suitably include [ 191 ] departments for the simpler pure sciences and even for biology.

It is manifest that the arguments which support the proposition for professorships of original research in those sciences apply in a greater or less degree to other sciences; and it has been stated that "there is no ground upon which the scheme can be limited to the subject of natural philosophy." In reference to this remark, (which, like most objections, contains some truth), it must be remembered that there is a natural order of dependence of the sciences upon each other, in which order also they are being evolved. It is a general truth that the physical sciences of light and heat are based upon mechanical conditions of the particles of matter; that the science of chemistry is founded upon physics; that biological phenomena are dependent upon physical and chemical conditions; that psychological subjects are based upon biology; and that biological science cannot progress excepting in proportion to the advance of the sciences on which it is based. In addition to this general order of precedence of evolution in point of time, the various sciences are so mutually related that all must advance together, the simple ones taking the lead, and the concrete and more complex sciences, with their attendant arts, following behind.

As this natural order of dependence and development of the sciences is a great fact of nature, over which we have little or no control, and as a scheme for the simultaneous establishment of professorships of research in all the sciences, simple, complex, and [ 192 ] concrete, would probably be too great an undertaking, the most proper course would be to commence with the simpler ones, such as those of mathematics, mechanics, physics, and chemistry, and perhaps biology. If it be argued that it would be unadvisable to commence with the simple and purely experimental sciences, it would be still more unadvisable to commence with the concrete subjects of "natural history, medicine, civil history, law, and theology," or with the arts which also depend upon science.

The number of investigators in such an institution would not be large, because few of high repute could be obtained, many of our ablest ones abandon research for remunerative pursuits. In order to make the plan succeed, the conditions of the appointments should be such as to limit the election to the most competent persons. In the selection of such gentlemen, the verdict of opinion of scientific men generally, upon the published researches of the candidates, would have previously determined who were qualified for the office. Any man who had published reliable papers in the Transactions of the Royal Society, might very properly be considered a fit candidate, and the selection and appointment might be made by the Government, with the advice of the Council of the Royal Society.

Probably there exists no class of persons upon whom the country might more rely for industry in office than eminent investigators, because they have pursued truth for its good effects alone. Men who had [ 193 ] previously exercised the degree of self-sacrifice necessary to make a number of long and difficult experimental researches, with only very limited pecuniary means, must necessarily be possessed of great enthusiasm in their calling, and would therefore be extremely unlikely persons to become idle by being supplied with a sufficiency only of means to carry on their labours. Further, such men might at present obtain a much larger income than they would receive in such a post, by abandoning research and devoting themselves to the various profitable engagements which are open to every man of scientific ability who is willing to devote himself to applied science. The actual work of research is much too arduous and difficult to permit such an office to become an object of desire to a place-seeking or idle person. But in order to exclude with certainty those who might devote themselves to research solely or primarily for the purpose of subsequently obtaining a well paid appointment, (as persons sometimes devote themselves to learning, with the object of getting an "idle Fellowship,") and to ensure in all cases a reasonable continuance of industry, it would be necessary, that whilst the salaries paid should be sufficient to render the professors free from care, if expended with a reasonable degree of economy, they should not be so large as to conduce to idleness. The professors should undertake not to engage in any other remunerative employment, and provision should be made, that in case a professor persistently failed to make, complete, or publish his [ 194 ] researches, or devoted less than the stipulated amount of time to such labour in the Institution, without reasonable cause, he should be removed.

Many persons fancy that "it must be very nice to be always making experiments," and that they "should be delighted with such an occupation" if they "could only spare the time." But such an idea is only another illustration of the general ignorance of the subject, and it is only expressed by those who have never made a laborious and difficult research. Pure research is by far the most difficult of all scientific occupations, and this is another chief reason why discoverers are few, and why they will probably remain so.

To succeed in research, a man must set aside all human pride, and approach the subject with perfect humility; and this is not an easy task, men cannot so readily abandon preconceived and cherished notions. Many researches are moreover extremely dangerous. Thilorier was killed by the explosion of a vessel of liquefied carbonic anhydride; Dulong lost an eye and finger, and Sir Humphrey Davy was wounded by an explosion of chloride of nitrogen. Faraday was near being blinded by an experiment with oxygen. Nicklès of Nancy, and Louyet of Brussels, lost their lives, and two other chemists were seriously injured in health by exposure to the excessively dangerous fumes of hydrofluoric acid. Bunsen lost the sight of an eye and was nearly poisoned by an explosion whilst analysing cyanide of cacodyl.[34] Hennel was killed by an [ 195 ] explosion of fulminate of silver, and Chapman by one of nitrate of methyl; and nearly every chemical investigator could tell of some narrow escape of life in his own experience. Any one who wishes to know whether it is "very nice to be always making experiments" should attempt the isolation of fluorine, the chemical examination of some offensive substance, or the determination of some difficult physical, or chemical problem.

That a professorship of original research would "involve substantial work" does not admit of doubt, and therefore "there would be some security that it would be worthily bestowed." It would not become an "ornamental sinecure," in which "there is pay but no work," unless, by assigning to it too large a stipend, inducement was held out to that numerous class of persons whose love of money is stronger than their love of truth, to seek the office; to say the utmost, it could hardly become so largely a sinecure as many offices now held by ecclesiastics. Jobbery and abuse of patronage would be still further prevented by making the duties sufficiently heavy.

The appointment, and remuneration by salary, of professor of research, would not lessen the independence of scientific men if the office was not placed under the superintendence of active and interfering officials ignorant of science. Although the professors might not be highly paid, the appointment would increase their independence because it would be one of the most honourable to which scientific men could [ 196 ] attain, and because they would thereby be put into a sphere in which they could exercise their talents to the fullest extent, and render the greatest service and honour to the nation. If also the salaries offered were not too great, those persons only would become candidates who at present have insufficient means to defray the considerable cost of experiments.

It would be necessary to appoint only persons who would undertake to devote their time solely to the discovery of new facts and principles in science, and the determination of purely scientific questions, and not to the making of inventions; because discovery is of far greater national value than invention; and because inventions would immediately on their publication be seized, modified, and patented by individuals for their own personal benefit. Discoveries, on the other hand, would require a large additional amount of labour expended upon them by inventors before they could be converted into saleable commodities.

Each professor should be allowed perfect freedom to choose his own special subjects of research in the sciences he had been accustomed to study, because each investigator is usually the best judge of what researches are the most likely to yield him important results. No discoverer of repute would be very likely to trespass on another man's sphere of research, because he would usually have an abundance of good subjects of his own; and every honourable man would purposely avoid doing so; and we find this practically to be the case at the present time. Separate sets of [ 197 ] rooms would be necessary for each investigator in order to keep the researches private and distinct.

The whole of the new knowledge obtained by research should be treated as national property, and all of it worthy of publication should be made known without the least reserve, it would also be desirable to publish the results at reasonable intervals of time. The publication might take place, as at present, in the journals of the learned Societies, or in the leading scientific magazines, and the value of the work would be largely guaranteed by such a mode of publication. The professors should also engage not to sell, patent, or prematurely disclose any of the knowledge obtained. By electing to such offices only discoverers of repute, the nation might reasonably depend for the results upon the known ability and industry of the men. That the results obtained would, many of them, be highly valuable, does not admit of doubt, because long experience has uniformly proved it; but no discoverer can tell beforehand what results he will obtain, otherwise research would hardly be needed.

An objection has been made that no one can tell how long it will be after a discovery is made before the nation will derive the chief benefit. The length of time which elapses between the publication of discoveries and their practical fruits is very variable. Usually benefit commences at once and gradually widens; directly discoveries are published they begin to be used by compilers of scientific books, and by teachers and lecturers in science, and are thus diffused [ 198 ] amongst the public in general, and begin to produce beneficial effects. Inventors, manufacturers, medical men, and others, also begin to apply them to their respective purposes. In some cases striking applications are immediately made of them, and public attention is thus directed to the useful result; but in many cases the beneficial effects are small, numerous, and indirect, and it is difficult to trace and describe them. The objection also is deficient in force, because expenditure in any other occupation, and receipt of the profit upon it, are rarely simultaneous. Many of the wisest reforms in this country have been a long time in producing their results. We must therefore be content, as in all ordinary cases of investment, with the conviction that the expenditure will be profitable, and we must wait patiently for the certain harvest. In research, as in many other human enterprises, a man who will not move until he is absolutely certain that what he intends to do will at at once succeed, must sit still and perish.

Suggestions have also been made to appoint a Government Committee, or Council, whose function should be to value scientific discoveries, and make corresponding amounts of reward to the discoverers. But this appears to be a less feasible plan, because no man can, at the period of discovery, determine what amount of practical result a discovery will ultimately produce. Who could have foretold with certainty at the date of Oersted's discovery of electro-magnetism, that this discovery would result in [ 199 ] the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds upon telegraphs alone?[35]

Objections have been made to definite payment for labour in research, on the ground of indefiniteness of the results, and the impossibility of measuring their value. Can we expect to buy new scientific knowledge at so much a pound, or to retail discovery by the pint? The work of discoverers is as definite as that of many other persons who are paid. Who can measure the value of the cure of souls, of the duties of a judge, or of those of a field-marshal? Instead of paying for the labour of research in a definite way, we have adopted unsatisfactory makeshifts. Exceptional gifts, and semi-charitable pensions, have been with difficulty obtained in a few cases for scientific men; most often for those who applied scientific knowledge to practical uses than for those who discovered that knowledge. In this country, neither lawyers, medical men, military persons, nor clergymen are paid definitely by results, but by time and labour, in accordance with the reputation of the man, and there is no sufficient reason why investigators should not be similarly remunerated. The differences in the cases are only ones of degree.

The time has arrived when this great evil should be made known and remedied, and men of science should press upon our Government, as a matter of justice to themselves, and necessary for the nation's welfare, that the accumulated fees from patents should be applied to the establishment of a Scientific [ 200 ] department of the State, the erection of State laboratories, and the payment of discoverers for the national work of research.

2nd. Professorships of Research at the Universities. Most of the remarks already made respecting the appointment and maintenance of professors of research in State laboratories, would apply equally to those proposed in connection with the Universities. Amongst the reasons which may be adduced in favour of the establishment of such professorships the following may be selected. Because the advancement of learning is peculiarly the function of a University, and one of the chief objects for which such institutions were founded. The word University implies a seat of universal knowledge, and it is reasonable to assume that Universities should act as fountains of new theoretical knowledge, as well as perform the function of diffusing it; such an addition would also raise their intellectual position, and make them much more respected, both at home and abroad.

With regard to such professorships, the "Association for the Organization of Academical Study," consisting of a number of learned men belonging to the Universities, the Royal Society, and other learned bodies, adopted the following resolutions:—

"That the chief end to be kept in view in any redistribution of the revenues of Oxford and Cambridge is the adequate maintenance of Mature Study and Scientific Research, as well for their own sake as with the view of bringing the higher education within the [ 201 ] reach of all who are desirous of profiting by it." "That to have a class of men whose lives are devoted to research is a national object." "That it is desirable, in the interest of national progress and education, that Professorships and special institutions shall be founded in the Universities for the promotion of Scientific Research." "That the present mode of awarding Fellowships as prizes, has been unsuccessful as a means of promoting Mature Study and Original Research, and that it is therefore desirable that it should be discontinued."

With regard to the funds necessary:—It has been estimated that the money paid in the form of sinecure fellowships or retiring pensions, to young men in Oxford alone now amounts to about £80,000 or £90,000 a year; and it has been suggested that this money be applied to the purpose. These funds were originally intended for promoting knowledge, but vested interests prevent their being used for discovering new truths.

The chief object of such professorships would be the same as that in the proposed State laboratories, viz.—to keep a staff of the most competent men wholly engaged upon research in pure science. The professors of physical and chemical research might be selected in accordance with the suggestions already made, and be appointed by the Senate or other governing body, with the advice of the Council of the Royal Society. All the precautions which have been already suggested under the head of "State laboratories," would [ 202 ] have to be taken in order to exclude unsuitable persons, and to secure industry in the professors. The remarks also, already made respecting the limitation of the duties of the professors to research in pure science, the exclusion of invention, the publication of results, the class of sciences with which a commencement might best be made, etc., apply equally in this case. I do not however mean by these remarks to suggest the disendowment of research in the more complex or concrete subjects, in order to make a commencement with the simpler sciences.

The existence within the Universities of offices in which the faculties of scientific men might be developed to their fullest extent, would induce those engaged in the work of scientific instruction in those institutions to devote more time to research, in order that they might improve their scientific talents, and in their turn become fitted to occupy such posts.

It has been suggested that discoverers should teach as well as investigate; but this would be an imperfect plan, and would largely convert the position of a professor into that of one at an ordinary college. Every person who has had much experience in experimental investigation also knows, that to carry it out effectually, requires the whole of his time and attention. If, therefore, teaching or lecturing constitutes a part of the duties, a portion of the professor's time must be taken from the more important occupation of research, and the fundamental object of the institution will be frustrated. Research evolves new knowledge; [ 203 ] teaching simply distributes it. The labours of a scientific teacher or lecturer consist essentially of a continued series of repetitions of other men's discoveries. For each single man who can discover, there exist many who can teach. With teaching in addition to research, all the usual educational machinery, lecture theatres and apparatus, diagrams, audiences, pupils, registration of students, receipt of fees, examinations, marking of papers, valuing of answers, attending annual meetings, etc., would be brought into requisition, and the result would probably be, as it is at present, the duties of teaching would, in nearly all cases, swallow up the time, and prevent the freedom from interruption necessary for successful research Under present circumstances, it is the testimony of nearly every teacher and lecturer in science, that he "has no time for research." If teaching is also carried on, the Research laboratories will compete with educational institutions, established and carried on by private enterprize, and place them at a disadvantage, and thus discourage voluntary effort in the diffusion of science; but by limiting the functions of the professors entirely to pure research, there will be no competition with any private interests, because no persons gain a livelihood entirely by means of such occupation.

That the practice of teaching is however of very great use in preparing the mind of a scientific man for research is quite certain, because it compels him to study all parts of his subject, and whilst doing so, many questions for investigation occur to his mind. [ 204 ] Many of our most eminent discoverers have also been teachers. But teaching is not a necessary condition of success in research, nor even a necessary preparation for it; the examples of various able discoverers prove this. In some cases discoverers have devoted themselves to teaching, only after having attained high repute in research; in others they have not been teachers at all. Original research itself usually suggests plenty of new subjects of investigation, without the additional ones suggested by teaching.

In order that self improvement in a man of science might never stagnate, there should exist a continuous and complete series of steps of preferment, by which the merest beginners in scientific knowledge, might be enabled to attain to the highest scientific position; and finally become wholly occupied in that kind of labour by which their scientific faculties would be developed to their fullest extent, but this last step is wanting. By the proposed plan however a student would become a teacher; the teacher develope into a professor; and a professor might employ for a period a portion of his time in research, and thus become qualified for entire devotion to original investigation and discovery.

After a scientific teacher has acquired a thorough knowledge of his subjects, and a high position in his profession, his occupation becomes to him a species of intellectual routine, in which he is continually going through the same courses of lectures and examinations over and over again, and his personal improvement stagnates. But if there was remuneration for research, [ 205 ] or there existed some post or employment, to which those who had acquired the ability to investigate might be appointed, there would be an inducement to continued intellectual improvement, and a sphere in which the most valuable faculties of scientific men might be developed for national benefit to their fullest extent.

3rd. Provincial Colleges of Research.—The success of this plan would depend essentially upon the diffusion of a knowledge of the importance of scientific research amongst the richer classes. There are at present a very few wealthy persons in this country who perceive to some extent the value of such research, and the dependence of their wealth upon it, who would be willing to contribute to a fund for the purpose; and there are many more who would assist if the importance of the subject was properly explained to them. The chief argument in favour of provincial colleges of research is, that it is a duty of wealthy persons to aid research, because they have derived, and are continually deriving great benefits from it, for which they make no payment. The ways in which some of those benefits have been derived have been already briefly stated. As the large manufacturers and capitalists are generally the persons who derive great pecuniary benefit from the progress of science, it might be reasonably urged that they should contribute freely towards its advancement.

Such an institution might be located in each of the [ 206 ] largest centres of industry. The objects of the institution; the branches of science to be investigated in it; the number of professors, the mode of selecting them, and of excluding unsuitable candidates for the office; the means by which industry might be secured and jobbery prevented; the exclusion of invention, and of teaching and lecturing; the publication of results, removal of professors, etc., have already been treated of under the head of "State laboratories." The chief difficulties to be overcome in this, as in all other plans of aiding research, are to find a sufficient number of influential persons acquainted with the subject to practically carry out the plan; to secure investigators of high ability; and to prevent the offices being filled by incompetent persons.

4th. Aid to Professors of Science in Colleges.—Another way by which research might be promoted, would be by giving assistance in the form of a definite amount of additional salary, for the purpose of pure research, to professors and teachers in colleges and institutions; the money being supplied by the State or from the funds of the Institution. In carrying out this plan, it would be necessary to assist only those persons who had already published a good research, and thus proved their ability; and who would engage to devote a definite portion of their time to the labour as a part of their duty. The selection of suitable men might be made with the advice of the Council of the Royal Society. [ 207 ] The additional salary should be entirely in the form of remuneration for labour, time, and materials, etc., expended upon research in pure science, and not in effecting inventions. The knowledge obtained should be treated as public property, and be published in the usual manner, and the investigator should not be permitted to sell or patent it. It would be necessary to provide that in case the investigator failed to make or publish a reasonable amount of good research, the additional salary should cease. Publication in the journals of the Royal Society, or in a leading scientific magazine, might be considered a sufficient proof of the satisfactory quality of the labour.

It is very desirable that all the higher teachers and professors of science in our educational institution should devote a portion of their time to original research. It would make their lectures more reliable, because research yields experience in the detection of error; whilst there is usually only one way of succeeding in making an experiment, there are always many ways of failing, and in the directions given in books, the latter are usually omitted. It would also induce the students to take a greater interest in the subject, and feel more respect for the teacher. The special excellence of the German system of teaching consists in the union of teaching and original research. This plan of aiding research would induce some of our teachers of science who have not yet made researches, to attempt such labour, it would also develope a superior class of scientific teachers generally; and produce a supply of candidates for professorships of research. [ 208 ]

A great obstacle to the carrying out of this plan lies in the fact that in consequence of the ignorance of the value of original research by the founders of such Institutions, no definite provision usually exists in the Trust deeds to authorise the Trustees to devote any of the funds to such a purpose.

5th. Extension of the Government Grant System.—During a number of years the British Government has entrusted to the Royal Society the annual sum of £1,000 for the purpose of aiding science; and that sum has been given in varying portions to different investigators who have applied for grants in aid of their expenses in making investigations.

Although the total amount to be disbursed annually was not large, very few persons, qualified to make good researches, usually applied for its assistance, and it was difficult to dispose of the whole. The chief causes of this difficulty were:—a grant from the fund was an unprofitable gift to accept, because it was only sufficient to partly pay the expenses out of pocket for chemicals and apparatus, and allowed nothing for the skill, time, or labour, nor for payments made to assistants. Further, "By order of the Council, all instruments, apparatus, and drawings, made or obtained by aid of the Government Grants, shall, after serving the purpose for which they were procured, and in the absence of any specific understanding to the contrary, be delivered into the custody of the Royal Society."

By far the greater part of the expense of an investigation in physics or chemistry is the exceedingly large [ 209 ] amount of time it occupies. Many necessary preliminary experiments have to be made, which yield either negative, unsuccessful, or incomplete results, and make the undertaking expensive. A good investigation in chemistry also not unfrequently costs the investigator a sovereign a day if he is wholly employed upon it. In some cases, for each £100 received as a grant, at least a £1,000, was directly and indirectly expended. Any person therefore who undertook a research became a loser, and aid from the Government Grant fund did not entirely cover his loss. Only scientific men who had other sources of income were able to avail themselves of the grants. The existence of the grants also was not widely known. The advantages of the plan were, it diminished the loss to the investigator, and the fact of being allotted a sum from the fund was considered highly creditable to the recipient.

In consequence largely of the evidence collected from eminent men of science from all parts of Great Britain, and the recommendations based upon it, by the Royal Commission for the Advancement of Science, the Grant system has been extended; our Government recently placed an additional amount of £4,000 a year, for five years, to be distributed in sums at the recommendation of the Royal Society to suitable applicants, and the five years have now elapsed.

This extension of the Grant system has been an [ 210 ] improvement. It has resulted both in a large increase in the number of applicants and of researches; and has shown that there exists in this country a large amount of scientific ability in need of encouragement. The amounts granted were increased in magnitude so as to cover in some cases payments made to assistants and the entire outlay made for experiments, also a small payment for a portion of the time occupied in actual research. The plan of awarding the grants has been for work proposed by the applicants to be done, and not for that already performed. How far a retrospective method might be worthy of trial, is difficult to decide. It has been objected to it that the claims of scientific investigators for researches already made, would be so great and so convincing that it would be impossible to resist them, and the funds required to satisfy those claims would be so large as to render the plan quite impracticable; if however the retrospective period was limited to a short time, a year for example, the difficulty would be lessened. There would still however remain the great difficulty of valuing the results. This might probably be overcome by regulating the money payment according to the time, labour, pecuniary expenditure, and scientific status of the particular investigator, and leaving genius to be rewarded by the fame and honour of the results.

No system of aid however can place scientific investigation in a satisfactory position in this country, which does not include certain remuneration for time, [ 211 ] money and labour expended; and no sound argument can be adduced why investigators should not be adequately recompenced. The genius alone of a discoverer should be rewarded by fame, and his time, labour, and expenditure, in accordance with his professional reputation, be repaid by money, as in all other intellectual occupations. The same amount of time and labour expended in any ordinary profession, requiring an equal, or even less amount of preparatory education and experience, and less rare ability, would yield an income of several thousand pounds a year. Although the lives of a few eminent discoverers have proved that it has been possible for them to do a considerable amount of research under the conditions which have existed, that is no reason why they should not be remunerated. Previous success in research has been due to the unusually great perseverance, industry, and self-denial of the men, and but little to any pecuniary encouragement received. The fewness of such men, supports this view of the case. The plan of aiding research by grants which include no certain payment for time or labour, is quite incommensurate with the importance of the subject and entirely unworthy of the reputation of a great nation.

6th. Students pursuing Research at the Universities. In the German Universities each student is required to make an original research before he can obtain a degree in Science, and the plan has worked successfully; also in the Victoria University, Manchester, [ 212 ] several Fellowships have recently been established for the encouragement of students in original investigation.

If this plan could be carried out in our old Universities it would produce most valuable results, because the governing, wealthy, and influential classes of this nation are chiefly educated at those institutions, and they would then acquire habits of more accurate scientific thought, and some knowledge of the nature and importance of scientific research, and of the essential dependence of national welfare upon it.

But a great and probably insuperable obstacle exists to the carrying out of such a plan, viz., the wealth possessed by the parents of students. An original research cannot be made without considerable industry, and the greatest opponent of industry, especially with young men, is the possession or expectation of wealth. According to college tutors at our old Universities, there is no large class of industrious students at those institutions. The greatest cause of the idleness of the students is parental neglect and the habits of wealthy society. Many parents allow their sons too much money, and over-look too readily their idleness and frivolity; the young men also know their parents are rich, and act accordingly. Many persons send their sons to those places chiefly to form aristocratic acquaintances, and for other purposes than those of educational discipline and learning. The college authorities have also largely acquiesced in the wishes of the parents and students. And in this way [ 213 ] scientific research has been almost entirely excluded from our old Universities. If the present tutors and governing bodies of those Institutions cannot induce students generally to be industrious, by what means can it be expected that these young men can be persuaded to exercise the still greater degree of industry and intelligence requisite to prosecute research, whilst they are decoyed from it by the attractions of wealth? In Germany the conditions are very different, the students in the Universities of that country have much less money at their disposal. Nearly the whole of the educational courses also at the Grammar schools and other educational institutions in this country, are formed upon the plan of sending all the superior scholars to our Universities, and thus the defective state of scientific training at the Universities operates through our whole scholastic system, and depresses the entire scientific instruction of the nation. It is evident that in this way the undue wealth of this country largely retards national progress.

7th. Local Endowment of Research Funds. In addition to the foregoing means, local efforts might be made to encourage research in each great centre of industry; through the medium of the local scientific societies. Nearly as early as the year 1660, Cowley in a treatise, proposed a Philosophical Society to be established near London, with liberal salaries to learned men to make experiments; but he could not get the money raised. A plan of this kind is in operation in Birmingham and carried out by the [ 214 ] Council of the Birmingham Philosophical Society in accordance with the following:—

"Scheme for Establishing and Administering A Fund for the Endowment of Research in Birmingham."

"The Council are of opinion that this Society would be omitting a principal means of the advancement of Science—the end for which all such associations exist—if it neglected the question of the Endowment of Research. To maintain a successful investigator in his labours, even though no results of immediate or obvious utility can be shown to spring out of them, is of interest to the community at large. Indeed, it is just because the practical usefulness of such work is not immediate or obvious that it becomes necessary to give it special support, for otherwise it would have its own market value, and endowment would be superfluous. But the proper and effectual administration of an Endowment Fund is perceived to be so beset with difficulty, as often to deter even those who recognise the principle from advocating it in practice. Most of the dangers usually foreseen would, however, as a rule be avoided, simply by the distribution of such funds from local centres, under such a scheme as is now proposed. The Council, are therefore, anxious to establish a Fund, in connection at once with the Society and the Town, for the direct Endowment of Scientific Research."[36]

[ 215 ]

8th. Local Laboratories of Research. Another plan would be for local scientific societies to raise money by soliciting subscriptions and donations for the support of local laboratories; a prospectus of the following kind being issued:—

Proposal to Found A Laboratory of Pure Scientific Research in ——.

"As the manufacturers, merchants, capitalists, land-owners, and the public generally, of this town and district, have derived and are still deriving great pecuniary and other benefits from the discovery of new knowledge by means of pure research in the sciences of Physics and Chemistry; and as in consequence of the great neglect of such research in this country, and the increased cultivation of it in other lands, our commerce is suffering, and a great many evils in manufacturing and other operations, in sanitary and many other matters dependant upon physical and chemical conditions, remain unremedied; it is proposed to found a Local Laboratory of original research in those sciences, with every suitable appliance in it; and to employ one or more investigators of repute, with assistants, who shall be wholly engaged in such labour in their respective sciences."

As it is largely the custom in this country to effect great objects by means of individual liberality and corporate enterprise, instead of trusting to State assistance, it is not improbable that when the great importance of scientific research and its claims [ 216 ] to encouragement have become more generally known, that aid which has hitherto been with-held from it will be rendered by private generosity; and local institutions, wholly for the purpose of original scientific research will be established and supported by public-spirited wealthy persons. An institution of this kind upon a small scale, and called "The Institute of Scientific Research" has already been established in Birmingham, (see <a href="#Nt5">Note</a> p. 40). By founding local institutions of this kind there exist opportunities for wealthy persons to do great good to mankind, and acquire renown as philanthropists by the action.

And 9th. In consequence of the great benefit derived from scientific research by the inhabitants of each locality, it has become a duty of each large community to promote it, and local Town Councils might with advantage and perfect justice to the public, devote a portion of municipal funds to the purpose of aiding local scientific research. To this plan it may be objected, that as the results of research are cosmopolitan, diffusing themselves everywhere, and this diffusion cannot be prevented; the benefits arising from research cannot be restricted even to a large community. In reply to this:—As knowledge and its advantages are cosmopolitan, the duty of promoting research must be equally extensive. There is also a real return received by the public for expenditure of money in research, in the free liberty to use all new knowledge developed everywhere by such labour, and although the money expended by a [ 217 ] community upon particular researches or upon an individual investigator, does not directly produce an immediate return; practically an immediate and direct benefit is received by that community, because new scientific knowledge for the use of teachers and popular lecturers, and new inventions based upon it, of local value to that society, continually become public. Every civilized community has also received beforehand such benefits to an enormous extent; and each investigator may reasonably claim public support on the ground that he contributes to the general stock of new knowledge. Some persons however, who have not fully considered the subject, wish to receive not only the advantages accruing from the common stock of knowledge, but also to reserve to themselves the entire benefit arising from their own special contributions.

Experience alone will prove which of the foregoing schemes is the most suitable in this country, or in particular cases. At present the plan largest in operation is the system of Government Grants, next in magnitude are the other funds distributed by the Royal Society, the British Association, the Chemical Society, the Royal Institution, the Birmingham Philosophical Society, and those provided by the munificence of private individuals. It is greatly to be hoped that the liberal spirit of private individuals will yet further remove the great blot which lies upon the reputation of the wealthy manufacturers, capitalists, and land-owners, who have derived such great profits from [ 218 ] scientific research and have scarcely aided it at all in return. It is also to be desired that the Corporations of manufacturing towns will recognise the value of original scientific enquiry to their fellow townsmen, and will undertake the responsibility of voting money from municipal funds to promote it.


23 ^  See vols. 1 (1872) 2 (1874) of the Reports of that Commission.

24 ^  See pages 100 and 101.

25 ^  "Nature," April 3rd, 1873. p. 431.

26 ^  Sir Edmund Beckett, "English Mechanic", 1881, No. 830, p. 560.

27 ^  The Earl of Craufurd, "English Mechanic," 1881, No. 830, p. 560.

28 ^  See page 68, et seq. p. 134.

29 ^  See "Nature," Dec. 2nd, 1880, p. 112.

30 ^  "English Mechanic," 1881, No. 831, pp. 586, 587.

31 ^  "English Mechanic," August 17th, 1881, p. 83.

32 ^  The Mastership of the Mint is no longer given to scientific men.

33 ^  See Reports of Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and Advancement of Science, Vol 2, pp. 75-92.

34 ^  See "Nature" No. 600, p. 597, April 28th, 1881.

35 ^  A fleet of thirty ships, varying in size from 500 to 5000 tons each, is employed in laying and repairing telegraph cables, and 25 millions of pounds have already been invested in submarine cable enterprises.

36 ^  See "Nature," vol. XXII, page 203.