Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/45

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37
RELATIONS OF SCIENCE TO THE PUBLIC WEAL.

have become! But when ninety per cent has gone, he will be able to hold his head as high as the best; and the accomplishment of this percentage is not half so difficult now as the task encountered by the pioneers who first blazed a path in the wilderness of ignorance and superstition in which they found him in 1802. Educate the negro, and he becomes free indeed in "mind, body, and estate."


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RELATIONS OF SCIENCE TO THE PUBLIC WEAL.[1]

By Sir LYON PLAYFAIR, K.C.B., M.P., F.R.S.

PART FIRST.

I. VISIT TO CANADA.—Ladies and Gentlemen: Our last meeting at Montreal was a notable event in the life of the British Association, and even marked a distinct epoch in the history of civilization. It was by no mere accident that the constitution of the Association enabled it to embrace all parts of the British Empire. Science is truly catholic, and is bounded only by the universe. In relation to our vast empire, science as well as literature and art are the common possession of all its varying people. The United Kingdom is limited to 120,800 square miles, inhabited by thirty-five million people; but the empire as a whole has eight and one half million square miles, with a population of three hundred and five millions. To federate such vast possessions and so teeming a population into a political unit is a work only to be accomplished by the labors and persistent efforts of perhaps several generations of statesmen. The federation of its science is a subject of less dimensions well within the range of experiment. No part of the British Empire was more suited than Canada to try whether her science could be federated with our science. Canada has lately federated distinct provinces, with conflicting interests arising from difference of races, nationalities, and religions. Political federation is not new in the history of the world, though it generally arises as a consequence of war. It was war that taught the Netherlands to federate in 1619. It was war which united the States in America; federated Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, and unified Italy. But Canada formed a great national life out of petty provincial existences in a time of profound peace. This evolution gave an immense impulse to her national resources. The Dominion still requires consolidation in its vast extent, and applied science is rapidly effecting it. Canada, with its great expanse of territory, nearly as large as the United States, is being knit together by the iron bands of

  1. Inaugural address of the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at the Aberdeen meeting, September 9, 1885.