Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/498

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
482
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

despotism, and would not impose that yoke, which hard, abstract science would.

He might be asked why he entertained that great dread of scientific men as the ultimate rulers of a community. He was not blind to their great merits, or to the vast intellectual power which they wielded daily more and more, and he was neither out of sympathy with them nor were their subjects uncongenial; but, as he dreaded a monopoly of power by any one class, so he especially dreaded it in their hands. He believed that abstract science, so to speak, was very often devoid of the milk of human kindness and sympathy, and he would quote an illustration of what he meant from one of the most remarkable and touching books he had ever read—"The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill." He should be sorry to take Mr. Mill as a representative of hard, abstract science, for throughout his nature there ran veins of feeling softer and more tender than he was willing himself to allow. But he quoted that book for the moment as one of the fairest illustrations of the action of the philosophical mind in these matters. Those who had read it would remember how carefully Mr. Mill, partly under the influence of his father and partly through his self-education, endeavored not merely to suppress but to trample down and to crush out every thing approaching to feeling in his nature. In that respect he was utterly unlike Bishop Butler, who held that the feelings were of the best and most indispensable parts of the human system. He remembered that so far did Mr. Mill carry his theory into practice that he took the opportunity of stating that in his opinion it would be indefensible for an educated man to enter the same room as an uneducated man except he were the apostle of some creed that he was about to propagate. He could conceive nothing more selfish or more subversive of all the principles on which all society existed than that doctrine. He remembered the story of a conversation related by Southey between Sir Humphrey Davy and Faraday, in which the latter, then a young man, told Davy that he was anxious to join in the pursuits of science because its professors were more likely than others to be of a liberal cast of mind. Davy smiled mournfully, and replied that, whatever science might be, it did not of itself convey that liberality of mind which Faraday so fondly imagined for it. Lord Carnarvon objected to the application of those rules, which naturally and rightly governed abstract science, to legislation, morals, social life—in fact, to every thing which concerned the existence of man. Some would remember that in the years 1848 and 1849, when all the Continent was disturbed, when thrones were laid in the dust and kingdoms shaken, a group of all the most eminent philosophers of the time met in Frankfort to review the condition of affairs, and they would recollect the very unsatisfactory conclusions at which they arrived.

Auguste Comte, whose name was so great abroad, founded a philosophy which contemplated the transfer of all those powers hitherto