Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/428

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414
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

use of minerals. The director of the survey states that there are in the sur- vey three distinct corps of geologists engaged in the study of economic geol- ogy ; that there are five distinct pale- ontologic laboratories; that there are three other laboratories one chemical, one lithologic, and one physical ; that there is an extensive geological library, the librarian having a corps of assist- ants engaged in bibliography ; and that, finally, there is a division of mineral statistics, with a large corps of men engaged in statistical work, the results of which are published in an annual report entitled "Mineral Resources." The annual expenses of publication in connection with the survey are esti- mated to exceed two hundred thousand dollars. This, however, is exclusive of any expenditure on the geological map of the country, supposed to have been for some years in preparation, but of which no portion has yet been pub- lished. The minimum cost of this map is put at $1, 690,000 for plates alone.

Now, to any reflecting mind it will be quite apparent that the Government can not undertake all this varied scien- tific work without discouraging the ap- plication of private effort and study to the same field. "There is no more reason," says Professor Agassiz, in a letter to Mr. Herbert, " why the Gov- ernment should publish a history of the mining enterprises of the country than that they should publish a history of manufacturing processes." So with paleontology. " This," according to Professor Agassiz, " is just one of the things which private individuals and learned societies can do just as well as Government." Much of the matter, he further observes, which is published in official bulletins would be published by private individuals or societies if the Government did not lay hold of it; while, on the other hand, much of the stuff which the Government prints would not be printed by private indi- viduals or societies even if they had the necessary finds at their command. The

��main result of Government interference would thus appear to be the unneces- sary official publication of a certain amount of good matter and the waste- ful publication of a quantity of com- paratively, if not absolutely, useless matter. Professor Agassiz furnishes to Mr. Herbert a list of forty-eight publi- cations of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge, and most signifi- cantly states that he had "a written proposition from a former Superintend- ent of the Coast Survey, offering to publish all this as appendices of the Coast Survey reports at Government expense " an offer which he " respect- fully declined to accept."

To show the value placed, in the markets of the world, upon the publi- cations of the Geological Survey, Mr. Herbert calls attention to the fact that, though the law of its organization re- quires the survey to sell its publica- tions, not exchanged, at cost, and turn the proceeds into the Treasury, the whole amount thus realized in six years was $1,543.10 testifying to an annual demand to the amount of $257.18.

We have thus far referred only to the Geological Survey ; but the report before us gives a statement of the total cost of the several surveys organized by the Federal Government, exclusive of the cost of printing. The amount is close upon a million and a half of dol- lars. That no adequate return is being received from this really vast expendi- ture there is too good reason to be- lieve ; but that is not the worst feature of the case. The worst feature is that hinted at by Mr. Herbert when he op- portunely reminds us of Buckle's con- clusions as to the effects wrought in France by Louis XlVth's patronage of science and art ; individual thought and private enterprise were repressed, sci- ence and literature were put into bond- age and reduced to a state of abject servility. It is this evil, however ridic- ulous the idea may appear to some, with which we are threatened here. In the field of geology the vast opera-