Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/712

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EDITOR'S TABLE.


WEALTHY SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATORS.

THE appearance of Sir John Lubbock's remarkable book on "Ants and Bees" lias awakened some interesting discussion as to why there are not more such authors, and why, especially, we have no representatives of the class in this country. Sir John Lubbock is a man of wealth, who could, if he pleased, "enjoy" his liberal means—that is, spend his time in dignified idleness or elegant amusement; but he finds his pleasure, on the contrary, in all kinds of hard work, and, although he takes abundant relaxation, he never wastes an hour. The "Scientific American" remarks that we have a wealthy, idle class of men, who have no need to labor with hand or head, and who are free from every care. But, impelled by fashion, hundreds of such young men are to-day scouring the Adirondacks, or shooting the rapids of the St. Lawrence, and boring themselves to death in quest of amusement, because "it is quite the thing, you know." Here is the material from which naturalists and independent investigators of nature ought to be recruited in this country.

To such men Sir John Lubbock has set a noble example. Something—much, indeed, is to be first of all allowed to genius, but more is to be allowed to a dominant purpose, and the unremitting assiduity which is pleasurable when there is a cultivated interest in the subject. There is an all-sided activity in this case which is quite remarkable. To begin with, Sir John Lubbock is by profession a banker, and so thoroughly a man of business as to be not only a successful money-maker, but a leading reformer of the English banking system. His important work in this direction is thus well summed up in the "Whitehall Review":

He has made two great landmarks in the history of banking which will always be associated with his name. One of these is the bank holiday; the other, the institution of the clearing-house of country hanks, by which the benefits long known in the city of London were extended to all parts of the country. All the honors that the banking world could confer upon him have been liberally bestowed. He is the president of the Institute of Bankers, with its two thousand members, and holds the peculiar and remarkable position of honorary secretary of the London Association of Bankers. He is thus, the medium between the banks and the Government, and the chosen exponent of the: views of hankers in relation to Government. Then, he has instituted a system of examination for bankers' clerks corresponding to the civil-service examinations. Sir John was a member of the International Coinage Committee appointed by Government, and he is the author of a great variety of papers in financial literature.

And yet all this is but the subordinate and incidental part of Sir John Lubbock's work. He is preeminently a scientific investigator, and it is as such that he will be chiefly known in the future. A sagacious, patient, plodding observer of minute phenomena, he is at the same time a comprehensive original thinker, and had made a world-wide reputation by his researches into prehistoric archaeology before he entered upon the systematic study of the social hymenoptera, the results of which are but just published.

If, now, we press the question why there are not more such men, particularly in this country, in the ranks of science, and helping forward its work, it will be an evasion to answer that it is for lack of native capacity or the talent for such labor. We have plenty of this good mind running to waste