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   Chapter 2 OF THE INDUCEMENTS TO INDIVIDUALS TO CULTIVATE SCIENCE.

Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of Its Causes By Charles Babbage Characters: 35952

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Interest or inclination form the primary and ruling motives in this matter: and both these exert greater or less proportionate influence in each of the respective cases to be examined.

SECTION 1. PROFESSIONAL IMPULSES.

A large portion of those who are impelled by ambition or necessity to advance themselves in the world, make choice of some profession in which they imagine their talents likely to be rewarded with success; and there are peculiar advantages resulting to each from this classification of society into professions. The ESPRIT DE CORPS frequently overpowers the jealousy which exists between individuals, and pushes on to advantageous situations some of the more fortunate of the profession; whilst, on the other hand, any injury or insult offered to the weakest, is redressed or resented by the whole body. There are other advantages which are perhaps of more importance to the public. The numbers which compose the learned professions in England are so considerable, that a kind of public opinion is generated amongst them, which powerfully tends to repress conduct that is injurious either to the profession or to the public. Again, the mutual jealousy and rivalry excited amongst the whole body is so considerable, that although the rank and estimation which an individual holds in the profession may be most unfairly appreciated, by taking the opinion of his rival; yet few estimations will be found generally more correct than the opinion of a whole profession on the merits of any one of its body. This test is of great value to the public, and becomes the more so, in proportion to the difficulty of the study to which the profession is devoted. It is by availing themselves of it that men of sense and judgment, who have occasion for the services of professional persons, are, in a great measure, guided in their choice.

The pursuit of science does not, in England, constitute a distinct profession, as it does in many other countries. It is therefore, on that ground alone, deprived of many of the advantages which attach to professions. One of its greatest misfortunes arises from this circumstance; for the subjects on which it is conversant are so difficult, and require such unremitted devotion of time, that few who have not spent years in their study can judge of the relative knowledge of those who pursue them. It follows, therefore, that the public, and even that men of sound sense and discernment, can scarcely find means to distinguish between the possessors of knowledge, in the present day, merely elementary, and those whose acquirements are of the highest order. This remark applies with peculiar force to all the more difficult applications of mathematics; and the fact is calculated to check the energies of those who only look to reputation in England.

As there exists with us no peculiar class professedly devoted to science, it frequently happens that when a situation, requiring for the proper fulfilment of its duties considerable scientific attainments, is vacant, it becomes necessary to select from among amateurs, or rather from among persons whose chief attention has been bestowed on other subjects, and to whom science has been only an occasional pursuit. A certain quantity of scientific knowledge is of course possessed by individuals in many professions; and when added to the professional acquirements of the army, the navy, or to the knowledge of the merchant, is highly meritorious: but it is obvious that this may become, when separated from the profession, quite insignificant as the basis of a scientific reputation.

To those who have chosen the profession of medicine, a knowledge of chemistry, and of some branches of natural history, and, indeed, of several other departments of science, affords useful assistance. Some of the most valuable names which adorn the history of English science have been connected with this profession.

The causes which induce the selection of the clerical profession are not often connected with science; and it is, perhaps, a question of considerable doubt whether it is desirable to hold out to its members hopes of advancement from such acquirements. As a source of recreation, nothing can be more fit to occupy the attention of a divine; and our church may boast, in the present as in past times, that the domain of science has been extended by some of its brightest ornaments.

In England, the profession of the law is that which seems to hold out the strongest attraction to talent, from the circumstance, that in it ability, coupled with exertion, even though unaided by patronage, cannot fail of obtaining reward. It is frequently chosen as an introduction to public life. It also presents great advantages, from its being a qualification for many situations more or less remotely connected with it, as well as from the circumstance that several of the highest officers of the state must necessarily have sprung from its ranks.

A powerful attraction exists, therefore, to the promotion of a study and of duties of all others engrossing the time most completely, and which is less benefited than most others by any acquaintance with science. This is one amongst the causes why it so very rarely happens that men in public situations are at all conversant even with the commonest branches of scientific knowledge, and why scarcely an instance can be cited of such persons acquiring a reputation by any discoveries of their own.

But, however consistent other sciences may be with professional avocations, there is one which, from its extreme difficulty, and the overwhelming attention which it demands, can only be pursued with success by those whose leisure is undisturbed by other claims. To be well acquainted with the present state of mathematics, is no easy task; but to add to the powers which that science possesses, is likely to be the lot of but few English philosophers.

SECTION 2. OF NATIONAL ENCOURAGEMENT.

The little encouragement which at all previous periods has been afforded by the English Government to the authors of useful discoveries, or of new and valuable inventions, is justified on the following grounds:

1. The public, who consume the new commodity or profit by the new invention, are much better judges of its merit than the government can be.

2. The reward which arises from the sale of the commodity is usually much larger than that which government would be justified in bestowing; and it is exactly proportioned to the consumption, that is, to the want which the public feel for the new article.

It must be admitted that, as general principles, these are correct: there are, however, exceptions which flow necessarily from the very reasoning from which they were deduced. Without entering minutely into these exceptions, it will be sufficient to show that all abstract truth is entirely excluded from reward under this system. It is only the application of principles to common life which can be thus rewarded. A few instances may perhaps render this position more evident. The principle of the hydrostatic paradox was known as a speculative truth in the time of Stevinus; [About the year 1600] and its application to raising heavy weights has long been stated in elementary treatises on natural philosophy, as well as constantly exhibited in lectures. Yet, it may fairly be regarded as a mere abstract principle, until the late Mr. Bramah, by substituting a pump instead of the smaller column, converted it into a most valuable and powerful engine.-The principle of the convertibility of the centres of oscillation and suspension in the pendulum, discovered by Huygens more than a century and a half ago, remained, until within these few years, a sterile, though most elegant proposition; when, after being hinted at by Prony, and distinctly pointed out by Bonenberger, it was employed by Captain Kater as the foundation of a most convenient practical method of determining the length of the pendulum.-The interval which separated the discovery, by Dr. Black, of latent heat, from the beautiful and successful application of it to the steam engine, was comparatively short; but it required the efforts of two minds; and both were of the highest order.-The influence of electricity in producing decompositions, although of inestimable value as an instrument of discovery in chemical inquiries, can hardly be said to have been applied to the practical purposes of life, until the same powerful genius which detected the principle, applied it, by a singular felicity of reasoning, to arrest the corrosion of the copper-sheathing of vessels. That admirably connected chain of reasoning, the truth of which is confirmed by its very failure as a remedy, will probably at some future day supply, by its successful application, a new proof of the position we are endeavouring to establish.

[I am authorised in stating, that this was regarded by Laplace as the greatest of Sir Humphry Davy's discoveries. It did not fail in producing the effect foreseen by Sir H. Davy,-the preventing the corrosion of the copper; but it failed as a cure of the evil, by producing one of an OPPOSITE character; either by preserving too perfectly from decay the surface of the copper, or by rendering it negative, it allowed marine animals and vegetables to accumulate on its surface, and thus impede the progress of the vessel.]

Other instances might, if necessary, be adduced, to show that long intervals frequently elapse between the discovery of new principles in science and their practical application: nor ought this at all to surprise us. Those intellectual qualifications, which give birth to new principles or to new methods, are of quite a different order from those which are necessary for their practical application.

At the time of the discovery of the beautiful theorem of Huygens, it required in its author not merely a complete knowledge of the mathematical science of his age, but a genius to enlarge its boundaries by new creations of his own. Such talents are not always united with a quick perception of the details, and of the practical applications of the principles they have developed, nor is it for the interest of mankind that minds of this high order should lavish their powers on subjects unsuited to their grasp.

In mathematical science, more than in all others, it happens that truths which are at one period the most abstract, and apparently the most remote from all useful application, become in the next age the bases of profound physical inquiries, and in the succeeding one, perhaps, by proper simplification and reduction to tables, furnish their ready and daily aid to the artist and the sailor.

It may also happen that at the time of the discovery of such principles, the mechanical arts may be too imperfect to render their application likely to be attended with success. Such was the case with the principle of the hydrostatic paradox; and it was not, I believe, until the expiration of Mr. Bramah's patent, that the press which bears his name received that mechanical perfection in its execution, which has deservedly brought it into such general use.

On the other hand, for one person who is blessed with the power of invention, many will always be found who have the capacity of applying principles; and much of the merit ascribed to these applications will always depend on the care and labour bestowed in the practical detail.

If, therefore, it is important to the country that abstract principles should be applied to practical use, it is clear that it is also important that encouragement should be held out to the few who are capable of adding to the number of those truths on which such applications are founded. Unless there exist peculiar institutions for the support of such inquirers, or unless the Government directly interfere, the contriver of a thaumatrope may derive profit from his ingenuity, whilst he who unravels the laws of light and vision, on which multitudes of phenomena depend, shall descend unrewarded to the tomb.

Perhaps it may be urged, that sufficient encouragement is already afforded to abstract science in our different universities, by the professorships established at them. It is not however in the power of such institutions to create; they may foster and aid the development of genius; and, when rightly applied, such stations ought to be its fair and honourable rewards. In many instances their emolument is small; and when otherwise, the lectures which are required from the professor are not perhaps in all cases the best mode of employing the energies of those who are capable of inventing.

I cannot resist the opportunity of supporting these opinions by the authority of one of the greatest philosophers of a past age, and of expressing my acknowledgments to the author of a most interesting piece of scientific biography. In the correspondence which terminated in the return of Galileo to a professorship in his native country, he remarks, "But, because my private lectures and domestic pupils are a great hinderance and interruption of my studies, I wish to live entirely exempt from the former, and in great measure from the latter."-LIFE OF GALILEO, p.18. And, in another letter to Kepler, he speaks with gratitude of Cosmo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who "has now invited me to attach myself to him with the annual salary of 1000 florins, and with the title of Philosopher and principal Mathematician to his Highness, without the duties of any office to perform, but with most complete leisure; so that I can complete my treatise on Mechanics, &c."-p.31. [Life of Galileo, published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.]

Surely, if knowledge is valuable, it can never be good policy in a country far wealthier than Tuscany, to allow a genius like Mr. Dalton's, to be employed in the drudgery of elementary instruction. [I utter these sentiments from no feelings of private friendship to that estimable philosopher, to whom it is my regret to be almost unknown, and whose modest and retiring merit, I may, perhaps, have the misfortune to offend by these remarks. But Mr. Dalton was of no party; had he ever moved in that vortex which has brought discredit, and almost ruin, on the Royal Society of England;-had he taken part with those who vote to each other medals, and, affecting to be tired of the fatigues of office, make to each other requisitions to retain places they would be most reluctant to quit; his great and splendid discovery would long since have been represented to government. Expectant mediocrity would have urged on his claims to remuneration, and those who covered their selfish purposes with the cloak of science, would have hastened to shelter themselves in the mantle of his glory.-But the philosopher may find consolation for the tardy approbation of that Society, in the applause of Europe. If he was insulted by their medal, he escaped the pain of seeing his name connected with their proceedings.] Where would have been the military renown of England, if, with an equally improvident waste of mental power, its institutions had forced the Duke of Wellington to employ his life in drilling recruits, instead of planning campaigns?

If we look at the fact, we shall find that the great inventions of the age are not, with us at least, always produced in universities. The doctrines of "definite proportions," and of the "chemical agency of electricity,"-principles of a high order, which have immortalized the names of their discoverers,-were not produced by the meditations of the cloister: nor is it in the least a reproach to those valuable institutions to mention truths like these. Fortunate circumstances must concur, even to the greatest, to render them eminently successful. It is not permitted to all to be born, like Archimedes, when a science was to be created; nor, like Newton, to find the system of the world "without form and void;" and, by disclosing gravitation, to shed throughout that system the same irresistible radiance as that with which the Almighty Creator had illumined its material substance. It can happen to but few philosophers, and but at distant intervals, to snatch a science, like Dalton, from the chaos of indefinite combination, and binding it in the chains of number, to exalt it to rank amongst the exact. Triumphs like these are necessarily "few and far between;" nor can it be expected that that portion of encouragement, which a country may think fit to bestow on science, should be adapted to meet such instances. Too extraordinary to be frequent, they must be left, if they are to be encouraged at all, to some direct interference of the government.

The dangers to be apprehended from such a specific interference, would arise from one, or several, of the following circumstances:-That class of society, from whom the government is selected, might not possess sufficient knowledge either to judge themselves, or know upon whose judgment to rely. Or the number of persons devoting themselves to science, might not be sufficiently large to have due weight in the expression of public opinion. Or, supposing this class to be large, it might not enjoy, in the estimation of the world, a sufficiently high character for independence. Should these causes concur in any country, it might become highly injurious to commit the encouragement of science to any department of the government. This reasoning does not appear to have escaped the penetration of those who advised the abolition of the late Board of Longitude.

The question whether it is good policy in the government of a country to encourage science, is one of which those who cultivate it are not perhaps the most unbiased judges. In England, those who have hitherto pursued science, have in general no very reasonable grounds of complaint; they knew, or should have known, that there was no demand for it, that it led to little honour, and to less profit.

That blame has been attributed to the government for not fostering the science of the country is certain; and, as far as regards past administrations, is, to a great extent, just; with respect to the present ministers, whose strength essentially depends on public opinion, it is not necessary that they should precede, and they cannot remain long insensible to any expression of the general feeling. But supposing science were thought of some importance by any administration, it would be difficult in the present state of things to do much in its favour; because, on the one hand, the higher classes in general have not a profound knowledge of science, and, on the other, those persons whom they have usually consulted, seem not to have given such advice as to deserve the confidence of government. It seems to be forgotten, that the money allotted by government to purposes of science ought to be expended with the same regard to prudence and economy as in the disposal of money in the affairs of private life.

[Who, for instance, could have advised the government to incur the expense of printing SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY copies of the Astronomical Observations made at Paramatta, to form a third part of the Philosophical Transactions for 1829, whilst of the Observations made at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, two hundred and fifty copies only are printed?

Of these seven hundred and fifty copies, seven hundred and ten will be distributed to members of the Royal Society, to six hundred of whom they will probably be wholly uninteresting or useless; and thus the country incurs a constantly recurring annual expense. Nor is it easy to see on what principle a similar destination could be refused for the observations made at the Cape of Good Hope.]

To those who measure the question of the national encouragement of science by its value in pounds, shillings, and pence, I will here state a fact, which, although pretty generally known, still, I think, deserves attention. A short time since it was discovered by government that the terms on which annuities had been granted by them were erroneous, and new tables were introduced by act of Parliament. It was stated at the time that the erroneous tables had caused a loss to the country of between two and three millions sterling. The fact of the sale of those annuities being a losing concern was long known to many; and the government appear to have been the last to be informed on the subject. Half the interest of half that loss, judiciously applied to the encouragement of mathematical science, would, in a few years, have rendered utterly impossible such expensive errors.

To those who bow to the authority of great names, one remark may have its weight. The MECANIQUE COELESTE, [The first volume of the first translation of this celebrated work into our own language, has just arrived in England from-America.] and the THEORIE ANALYTIQUE DES PROBABILITES, were both dedicated, by Laplace, to Napoleon. During the reign of that extraordinary man, the triumphs of France were as eminent in Science as they were splendid in arms. May the institutions which trained and rewarded her philosophers be permanent as the benefits they have conferred upon mankind!

In other countries it has been found, and is admitted, that a knowledge of science is a recommendation to public appointments, and that a man does not make a worse ambassador because he has directed an observatory, or has added by his discoveries to the extent of our knowledge of animated nature. Instances even are not wanting of ministers who have begun their career in the inquiries of pure analysis. As such examples are perhaps more frequent than is generally imagined, it may be useful to mention a few of those men of science who have formerly held, or who now hold, high official stations in the governments of their respective countries.

Country. Name. Department of Public Office.

Science.

France.. Marquis Laplace(1) Mathematics President of the

Conservative

Senate.

France.. M.Carnot Mathematics Minister of War.

France.. Count Chaptal(2) Chemistry Minister of the

Interior.

France.. Baron Cuvier(3) Comparative Minister of

Anatomy, Public

History Instruction

Prussia.. Baron Humboldt Oriental Ambassador

Languages to England

Prussia.. Baron Alexander The celebrated Chamberlain to

Humboldt Traveller the King of

Prussia

Modena. Marquis Rangoni(4) Mathematics Minister of

Finance and

of Public

Instruction,

President of

Italian Academy

of Forty.

Tuscany. Count Fossombroni Mathematics Prime Minister

(5) of the Grand Duke

of Tuscany.

Saxony.. M. Lindenau(6) Astronomy Ambassador.

(1) Author of the MECANIQUE COELESTE.

(2) Author of TRAITE DE CHIMIE APPLIQUE AUX ARTS.

(3) Author of LECONS D'ANATOMIE COMPAREE-RECHERCHES SUR OSSEMENS

FOSSILES &c. &c.

(4) Author of MEMORIA SULLE FUNZIONI GENERATRICI, Modena, 1824,

and of various other memoirs on mathematical subjects.

(5) Author of several memoirs on mechanics and hydraulics, in the

Transactions of the Academy of Forty.

(6) Author of TABLES BAROMETRIQUES, Gotha, 1809-TABULAE VENERIS,

NOVAE ET CORRECTAE, Gothae, 1810-INVESTIGATIO NOVA ORBITAE A

MERCURIO CIRCA SOLEM DESCRIPTAE, Gothae, 1813, and of other

works.

M. Lindenau, the Minister from the King of Saxony to the King of the Netherlands, commenced his career as astronomer at the observatory of the Grand Duke of Gotha, by whom he was sent as his representative at the German Diet. On the death of the late reigning Duke, M. Lindenau was invited to Dresden, and filled the same situation under the King of Saxony; after which he was appointed his minister at the court of the King of the Netherlands. Such occurrences are not to be paralleled in our own country, at least not in modern times. Newton was, it is true, more than a century since, appointed Master of the Mint; but let any person suggest an appointment of a similar kind in the present day, and he will gather from the smiles of those to whom he proposes it that the highest knowledge conduces nothing to success, and that political power is almost the only recommendation.

SECTION 3. Of Encouragement from Learned Societies.

There are several circumstances which concur in inducing persons pursuing science, to unite together, to form societies or academies. In former times, when philosophical instruments were more rare, and the art of making experiments was less perfectly known, it was almost necessary. More recently, whilst numerous additions are constantly making to science, it has been found that those who are most capable of extending human knowledge, are frequently least able to encounter the expense of printing their investigations. It is therefore convenient, that some means should be devised for relieving them from this difficulty, and the volumes of the transactions of academies have accomplished the desired end.

There is, however, another purpose to which academies contribute. When they consist of a limited number of persons, eminent for their knowledge, it becomes an object of ambition to be admitted on their list. Thus a stimulus is applied to all those who cultivate science, which urges on their exertions, in order to acquire the wished-for distinction. It is clear that this envied position will be valued in proportion to the difficulty of its attainment, and also to the celebrity of those who enjoy it; and whenever the standard of scientific knowledge which qualifies for its ranks is lowered, the value of the distinction itself will be diminished. If, at any time, a multitude of persons having no sort of knowledge of science are admitted, it must cease to be sought after as an object of ambition by men of science, and the class of persons to whom it will become an object of desire will be less intellectual.

Let us now compare the numbers composing some of the various academies of Europe.-The Royal Society of London, the Institute of France, the Italian Academy of Forty, and the Royal Academy of Berlin, are amongst the most distinguished.

Name Number of Number

Population. Members of

Country. of its Foreign

Academy. Members

1. England. 22,299,000 685 50

2. France. 32,058,000 76 8 Mem. 100 Corr.

8. Prussia. 12,915,000 38 16

4. Italy.. 12,000,000 40 8

It appears then, that in France, one person out of 427,000 is a member of the Institute. That in Italy and Prussia, about one out of 300,000 persons is a member of their Academies. That in England, every 32,000 inhabitants produces a Fellow of the Royal Society. Looking merely at these proportions, the estimation of a seat in the Academy of Berlin, must be more than nine times as valuable as a similar situation in England; and a member of the Institute of France will be more than thirteen times more rare in his country than a Fellow of the Royal Society is in England.

Favourable as this view is to the dignity of such situations in other countries, their comparative rarity is by no means the most striking difference in the circumstances of men of science. If we look at the station in society occupied by the SAVANS of other countries, in several of them we shall find it high, and their situations profitable. Perhaps, at the present moment, Prussia is, of all the countries in Europe, that which bestows the greatest attention, and most unwearied encouragement on science. Great as are the merits of many of its philosophers, much of this support arises from the character of the reigning family, by whose enlightened policy even the most abstract sciences are fostered.

The maxim that "knowledge is power," can be perfectly comprehended by those only who are themselves well versed in science; and to the circumstance of the younger branches of the royal family of Prussia having acquired considerable knowledge in such subjects, we may attribute the great force with which that maxim is appreciated.

In France, the situation of its SAVANS is highly respectable, as well as profitable. If we analyze the list of the Institute, we shall find few who do not possess titles or decorations; but as the value of such marks of royal favour must depend, in a great measure, on their frequency, I shall mention several particulars which are probably not familiar to the English reader. [This analysis was made by comparing the list of the Institute, printed for that body in 1827, with the ALMANACH ROYALE for 1823.]

Number of the Members of the Total Number of each Class

Institute of France who belong of the Legion of Honour.

to the Legion of Honour.

GrandCroix......... 3 80

GrandOfficier..... 3 160

Commandeur........ 4 400

Officier.......... 17 2,000

Chevalier......... 40 Not limited.

Number of Members of the Institute Total Number

decorated with of

the Order of St. Michel. that Order.

Grand Croix....... 2

100

Chevalier......... 27

Amongst the members of the Institute there

are,-

Dukes................... 2

Marquis................. 1

Counts.................. 4

Viscounts................ 2

Barons.................. 14

-23

Of these there are

Peers of France.......... 5

We might, on turning over the list of the 685 members of the Royal Society, find a greater number of peers than there are in the Institute of France; but a fairer mode of instituting the comparison, is to inquire how many titled members there are amongst those who have contributed to its Transactions. In 1827, there were one hundred and nine members who had contributed to the Transactions of the Royal Society; amongst these were found:-

Peer........................ 1

Baronets.................... 5

Knights..................... 5

It should be observed, that five of these titles were the rewards of members of the medical profession, and one only, that of Sir H. Davy, could be attributed exclusively to science.

It must not be inferred that the titles of nobility in the French list, were all of them the rewards of scientific eminence; many are known to have been such; but it would be quite sufficient for the argument to mention the names of Lagrange, Laplace, Berthollet, and Chaptal.

The estimation in which the public hold literary claims in France and England, was curiously illustrated by an incidental expression in the translation of the debates in the House of Lords, on the occasion of His Majesty's speech at the commencement of the session of 1830. The Gazette de France stated, that the address was moved by the Duc de Buccleugh, "CHEF DE LA MAISON DE WALTER SCOTT." Had an English editor wished to particularize that nobleman, he would undoubtedly have employed the term WEALTHY, or some other of the epithets characteristic of that quality most esteemed amongst his countrymen.

If we turn, on the other hand, to the emoluments of science in France, we shall find them far exceed those in our own country. I regret much that I have mislaid a most interesting memorandum on this subject, which I made several years since: but I believe my memory on the point will not be found widely incorrect. A foreign gentleman, himself possessing no inconsiderable acquaintance with science, called on me a few years since, to present a letter of introduction. He had been but a short time in London; and, in the course of our conversation, it appeared to me that he had imbibed very inaccurate ideas respecting our encouragement of science.

Thinking this a good opportunity of instituting a fair comparison between the emoluments of science in the two countries, I placed a sheet of paper before him, and requested him to write down the names of six Englishmen, in his opinion, best known in France for their scientific reputation. Taking another sheet of paper, I wrote upon it the names of six Frenchmen, best known in England for their scientific discoveries. We exchanged these lists, and I then requested him to place against each name (as far as he knew) the annual income of the different appointments held by that person. In the mean time, I performed the same operation on his list, against some names of which I was obliged to place a ZERO. The result of the comparison was an average of nearly 1200L. per annum for the six French SAVANS whom I had named. Of the average amount of the sums received by the English, I only remember that it was very much smaller. When we consider what a command over the necessaries and luxuries of life 1200L. will give in France, it is underrating it to say it is equal to 2000L. in this country.

Let us now look at the prospects of a young man at his entrance into life, who, impelled by an almost irresistible desire to devote himself to the abstruser sciences, or who, confident in the energy of youthful power, feels that the career of science is that in which his mental faculties are most fitted to achieve the reputation for which he pants. What are his prospects? Can even the glowing pencil of enthusiasm add colour to the blank before him? There are no situations in the state; there is no position in society to which hope can point, to cheer him in his laborious path. If, indeed, he belong to one of our universities, there are some few chairs in his OWN Alma Mater to which he may at some distant day pretend; but these are not numerous; and whilst the salaries attached are seldom sufficient for the sole support of the individual, they are very rarely enough for that of a family. What then can he reply to the entreaties of his friends, to betake himself to some business in which perhaps they have power to assist him, or to choose some profession in which his talents may produce for him their fair reward? If he have no fortune, the choice is taken away: he MUST give up that line of life in which his habits of thought and his ambition qualify him to succeed eminently, and he MUST choose the bar, or some other profession, in which, amongst so many competitors, in spite of his great talents, he can be but moderately successful. The loss to him is great, but to the country it is greater. We thus, by a destructive misapplication of talent which our institutions create, exchange a profound philosopher for but a tolerable lawyer.

If, on the other hand, he possess some moderate fortune of his own; and, intent on the glory of an immortal name, yet not blindly ignorant of the state of science in this country, he resolve to make for that aspiration a sacrifice the greater, because he is fully aware of its extent;-if, so circumstanced, he give up a business or a profession on which he might have entered with advantage, with the hope that, when he shall have won a station high in the ranks of European science, he may a little augment his resources by some of those few employments to which science leads;-if he hope to obtain some situation, (at the Board of Longitude, for example,) [This body is now dissolved] where he may be permitted to exercise the talents of a philosopher for the paltry remuneration of a clerk, he will find that other qualifications than knowledge and a love of science are necessary for its attainment. He will also find that the high and independent spirit, which usually dwells in the breast of those who are deeply versed in these pursuits, is ill adapted for such appointments; and that even if successful, he must hear many things he disapproves, and raise no voice AGAINST them.

Thus, then, it appears that scarcely any man can be expected to pursue abstract science unless he possess a private fortune, and unless he can resolve to give up all intention of improving it. Yet, how few thus situated are likely to undergo the labour of the acquisition; and if they do from some irresistible impulse, what inducement is there for them to deviate one step from those inquiries in which they find the greatest delight, into those which might be more immediately useful to the public?

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