Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/522
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
ous swamp of humbugs and impostures is bound to be drained and reclaimed to the higher uses of civilization.
"Physics and Politics" has been written to show that the noble field of political thought and activity is not necessarily the chaos it is generally supposed, but that it involves great natural laws, which it is the destiny of science to trace out and formulate, just as it has done with other branches of knowledge which have been made scientific by modern inquiry. In what does the progress of political communities consist, and how has it arisen? What were the first conditions and steps of social advancement? What are the uses of slavery, war, and other barbarities in the early tutelage of races? And when the rude stages of barbarism and violence are passed, what are the recent agencies which take up the work of amelioration and carry it up to still better and finer results? These are the questions which Mr. Bagehot answers in his successive disquisitions on "The Preliminary Age," "The Use of Conflict," "Nation-Making," "The Age of Discussion," and "Verifiable Progress Politically considered." In treating these questions, the author brings out the action of those laws of Nature and of human nature that precede the age of legislation, and are a thousand times more potent than the edicts of kings or the enactments of congregated law-makers.
To the cultivated reader who enjoys literary excellence, fine analysis, fresh and striking views, with many passages of picturesque eloquence, and all vivifying and illuminating a current of close and vigorous reasoning, this little treatise on "Physics and Politics" will prove a rare treat. We had marked several passages for quotation, but lack of space prevents their insertion.
In this discourse, which was given at the first annual celebration of a young chemical society, Prof. Silliman regards the problem of higher education from the modern and American point of view—not as a radical innovator, but as a friend of rational progress and judicious reform. He says:
"Public opinion, however, has made itself felt by the outward pressure it has exerted, and the demand, which has grown up for men better trained in general science, and in its several departments, has brought about a change, visible on every hand, alike in the modification of the studies, as in the development of new departments with separate Faculties devoted to science-training; as also occasionally in the establishment of new institutions, on entirely independent foundations, in some of which only special subjects are taught, while in others the experiment is on trial of a curriculum, in which the modern languages, either wholly, or in part, replace the ancient, and where the student is trained during three or four years by a course of studies in which the inductive sciences have a prominent part."
Prof. Silliman admits the former excess of deductive training in our colleges, and recognizes the necessity of so modifying the curriculum as to introduce a larger amount of inductive science to correct the evil, and afford a sounder and more symmetrical culture. On this point he observes:
"The defect of an education based on the study of the deductive methods of geometry, the pure mathematics, jurisprudence, and ancient literature, will now be readily understood. Intuitive principles, those which underlie geometrical and mathematical studies, or those principles obtained by common consent, and of human authority, which are the foundations of jurisprudence; or again, the study of the historical, poetical, and literary precedents, images, and ideas of ancient writers, and their rendering into English, which is the staple of the ancient classics, leaves completely undeveloped the entire body and soul of ideas connected with the experimental and demonstrative sciences, which have to do with natural phenomena, and the entities of natural history in the broadest sense. In other words, no room is left for the study of the inductive methods, the logic of science, by the aid of which we, in this nineteenth century, find ourselves so immeasurably in advance of all former times, in our ability to comprehend and control the powers of Nature, and adapt them not only to the service of our human wants, but, what is more, to the interpre-