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 survey three distinct corps of geologists engaged in the study of economic geology; that there are five distinct paleontologic 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 assistants 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 estimated 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 published. 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 scientific work without discouraging the application 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 Government 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 individuals or societies even if they had the necessary finds at their command. The main result of Government interference would thus appear to be the unnecessary official publication of a certain amount of good matter and the wasteful publication of a quantity of comparatively, if not absolutely, useless matter. Professor Agassiz furnishes to Mr. Herbert a list of forty-eight publications of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Cambridge, and most significantly states that he had "a written proposition from a former Superintendent of the Coast Survey, offering to publish all this as appendices of the Coast Survey reports at Government expense"—an offer which he "respectfully declined to accept."

To show the value placed, in the markets of the world, upon the publications of the Geological Survey, Mr. Herbert calls attention to the fact that, though the law of its organization requires the survey to sell its publications, 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 dollars. That no adequate return is being received from this really vast expenditure there is too good reason to believe; but that is not the worst feature of the case. The worst feature is that hinted at by Mr. Herbert when he opportunely reminds us of Buckle's conclusions as to the effects wrought in France by Louis XIVth's patronage of science and art; individual thought and private enterprise were repressed, science and literature were put into bondage and reduced to a state of abject servility. It is this evil, however ridiculous the idea may appear to some, with which we are threatened here. In the field of geology the vast opera-