Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/133

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LITERARY NOTICES.

do only good, and may, if they come with the requisite preparation, do a great deal of good. Neither Science nor Philosophy has yet spoken its last word; and all true men of science will be thankful for any help they may get toward throwing aside their errors and rising to fuller and clearer perceptions of the truth.




DR PLAYFAIR ON STATE SCIENCE.

We print the first portion of Sir Lyon Playfair's recent inaugural address 89 President of the British Association. It is unconscionably long, so that we must postpone to next month his concluding sections on "Science and Industry," and "Abstract Science the Condition of Progress." Sir Lyon follows the precedents of his predecessors in discussing what he knows most about, for ho is probably the most prominent and experienced scientific office-holder and engineer of state science generally that is to be found in the British Empire, lie was early taken into the royal family, and has ever since been on intimate relations with those upper classes which constitute the governing power of England, and this fact is not without its bearing on his discussion of "Science and Secondary Education."

Of course, he is driven upon the question of science and the classics, and must recognize, as does all the world, that science is scandalously neglected in leading British schools, while excessive attention is given to classical studies. This educational issue in England is intricately involved with the English social system. Classics and science is a question of classes: science is for the lower classes, classics for the higher classes. A succession of parliamentary commissions has deplored the neglect of science in the great endowed schools, but with very little effect. The Duke of Devonshire was compelled to report, in 1873, "considering the increasing importance of science to the material interests of the country, we can not but regard its almost total exclusion from the training of the upper and middle classes as little less than a national misfortune." But why should the middle-class schools be hero ranked with the upper-class schools? Because they imitate them. Dr. Playfair says, "Unfortunately, the other grammar-schools which educate the middle classes look to the higher public schools as a type to which they should conform." But the upper-class schools are places ^here science is despised and the classics worshiped. Sir Lyon Playfair, although professedly representing science, is not the man to condemn a settled upper-class English policy. he virtually gives up the contest in saying, "The great public schools of England will continue to be the gymnasia for the upper classes, and should devote much of their time to classical and literary culture." What is this but yielding everything, and reducing the whole movement for a higher scientific education to a farce? If classics are the superior mental pabulum of aristocrats and gentlemen, and science only suited for plebeians, then is the English resistance to scientific education right, as it would be a degradation and a step backward toward barbarism. The affiliations of classics and aristocracy are old and intimate, and still profoundly cherished in countries like England and Germany; but when eminent scientists like Hoffman and Playfair avail themselves of great occasions to indorse them to the damage of science, we say, deliver us from our nominal friends.




LITERARY NOTICES.

Modern Science and Modern Thought. By S. Laing, Esq., M.P. London: Chapman & Hall; Philadelphia: Lippincott. Pp. 320. Price, $4.

Both the plan of this book and the manner of its execution will give it a strong claim upon many readers. The first six chapters, comprising more than half the volume, are devoted to summing up the large