Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/563

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

In the numerous reviews of the nineteenth century published in the magazines and in the daily press, science occupies the most prominent place. The news of the world for a day, as we read it in the newspaper, or for a month, as given in certain journals, may contain no reference to science, yet the contemporary events which at the time excite such general interest are forgotten, while the quiet progress of science gradually emerges in its true proportions. The century witnessed other great achievements—music in Germany, poetry in England, the novel in France, Russia and England—but these are like royal palaces, beautiful and complete, more likely now to decay than to grow. Science, on the other hand, has laid the foundations on which the future rests. The applications of science to the arts and to commerce, permitting one man to do what formerly required ten, and giving more nearly than ever before to each the return of his labor, have made modern democracy possible. The methods of science, slowly spreading and exerting their control, have made democracy comparatively safe. The results of science will help to make democracy worth the while. Thus, to take an example, there is now sufficient wealth to permit the education of each child; scientific methods will ultimately determine how he shall be educated, and science offers the material to be used in the training. It may be that we shall some day arrive at a scientific scholasticism, for atrophy and degeneration are no less real than growth and progress, but it seems probable that the history of the twentieth century will be chiefly a history of science.

 

The death of Queen Victoria closes an era in the history of a great nation; but, like the century, it is a somewhat artificial period. The monarchy in Great Britain is primarily a social institution, and it does not appear that the Queen exerted any influence on the development of science, except in so far as her sane and kindly character tended to maintain the peace and morality that are favorable to science. The death of the Prince Consort, forty years ago, was a distinct loss to science, for lie was interested in scientific and educational problems, and showed in the case of the Exhibition of 1851 that he could exert powerful influence on their behalf. Queen Victoria was a German woman of domestic and religious type, and she was doubtless ignorant of the contributions to the physical sciences made by her subjects, while she regarded with aversion the advances in the natural sciences due to Darwin. Still, in the social heirarchy, of which the Queen was the head, science was recognized to a greater extent than ever before. Lords Kelvin, Lister, Playfair and Avebury were elevated to the peerage wholly or in part for scientific work, and minor titles have been conferred in many cases. Scientific men occupy a higher social and political position in Great Britain than in the United States, and this has been an outcome of the Victorian Age. It is not, however, due to the favor of a court, but to the great men of science of the period, and to the fact that many of these belong to the higher social classes. King Edward VII. will preside with dignity at scientific functions, but it is not likely that he will attempt to exert an active influence on behalf of science. Still, he was educated under the direction of a scientific man, Lord Playfair, and he is said to be well informed in the sciences. It is possible that he will not only give the social recognition which is not with-