and humiliating showing. What is yet worse, we cannot claim to be improving our relative position, but are rather falling back, scientific activity increasing more rapidly in Europe than here."
The question now arises as to the cause of this state of things. "Why, with our numerous educational institutions and our great crowd of professors, should our contributions to the exact sciences be so nearly zero?" And to this question he answers: "The real proximate cause is found in the lack of any sufficient incentive to the activity which characterizes the scientific men of other nations, and of any sufficient inducement to make young men of the highest talents engage in scientific pursuits. The reason that so much more scientific investigation is done in Germany than in this country is, simply, that the inducements to do it are there so much more powerful."
Prof. Newcomb points out that, "in Germany, the seats of scientific activity are the universities; in France and England, the learned societies;" and that, while in Germany it is the professors who make the universities, in this country it is the universities that make the professors. "Students flock to Berlin, not because the university is an old, celebrated, and good one, but to hear Helmholtz and Virchow. If all the men like these should leave the university, the students would follow them. But, in this country, students are not attracted to Harvard and Yale by the names of individual professors, but by the reputation and organization of the colleges." Professors may, perhaps, be held in as high esteem here as in Germany, but for different reasons. The question in Germany is not, How much does he know? but, What has he added to knowledge? "What has he discovered that is new? what doubts has he cleared up? what fallacies has he exposed? what increase of precision has he given to the subject he has studied?" On the contrary, in our own so-called universities, "nothing more is expected of a professor than acquaintance with a certain defined curriculum and ability to carry the student through it. He has nothing to do but to satisfy the appointing power that he understands what is found in a certain text-book, and that he can teach what he knows to others." He is not for a moment expected to be an original investigator; while, for the kind of work not required here at all, the German is held in the highest estimation, and may secure large pecuniary rewards, and a position in the affections of a large body of educated men.
In England and France, on the contrary, it is not the universities but scientific societies which furnish the incentives to research. "It is a fact which we have to face, and which it would be folly to disguise, that our scientific societies do not compare with those of England in wealth and power.... The great weakness of most of our scientific organizations does not, however, consist in the want of financial means, but in something much more difficult to determine and define. We can only say that, with a few exceptions, they exhibit a total lack of cohesive power, vitality, and that undefinable something which may be called weight and importance. However eminent may be the men who compose them, most of them are, as organizations, insignificant, and exhibit the same liability to die from slight causes that weak and sickly individuals do. A history of all the attempts to organize learned societies in this country would afford an instructive study in human nature, and might show that they died by causes as uniform as those which cause the decay and death of individuals....
"The important fact which we wish to impress on the mind of the reader Is, that, when an Englishman makes any scientific investigation or discovery of merit and importance, he is considered