Popular Science Monthly/Volume 31/September 1887/Speeches at the Recent Tyndall Banquet
|←A Botanical Bonanza||Popular Science Monthly Volume 31 September 1887 (1887)
Speeches at the Recent Tyndall Banquet
|Some Human Instincts II→|
By Professors STOKES and TYNDALL, Sir LYON PLAYFAIR, the Earl of DERBY, and Others.
AT the dinner given to Professor Tyndall in London, on the 29th of June, the chairman, Professor Stokes, in proposing the health of the guest of the evening, said: A social gathering like the present is not an occasion on which it is desirable to enter into detail as to the scientific labors of a man, however eminent. Yet the circumstances of the present meeting seem to demand that I should say a few words on some of Dr. Tyndall's researches. Some of his earliest scientific work related to diamagnetism and magnecrystallic action, and in part of this he was associated with the well-known German physicist, Knoblauch. But I can not dwell on these now. And I will even dismiss with this brief mention his researches on the properties of ice and his application of them to the theory of glaciers and the observations which he made in common with his friend and colleague Professor Huxley, whose necessary absence from among us to-night we so much regret. If I be not trespassing too much on the patience of those who listen to me, I would wish to say a little more on that elaborate series of researches, forming no less than six separate papers in the "Philosophical Transactions" in which Dr. Tyndall investigated the relation of simple and compound gases and of vapors to radiant heat, especially radiant heat from sources at a moderate temperature. According to his researches, while the main constituents of the earth's atmosphere, nitrogen and oxygen, are practically diathermous, at least with regard to radiations which can traverse rock-salt, as we know that by far the greater part SPEECHES AT THE RECENT TYNDALL BANQUET. 655
of those that we have to deal with can, such is far from being the case with other gases equally transparent with regard to light. Dr. Tyndall found that as a rule the more complex the composition of a gas the greater is its defect of diathermancy. To confine ourselves to the two gases which occur in the atmosphere mixed with its main constituents I allude of course to carbonic acid and to water in the gaseous state of vapor he found that both, especially the latter, which likewise is present in by far the larger quantity, are very distinctly defective in diathermancy, and he concluded that the main part of the absorption of solar heat in passing through the atmosphere, absorption as distin- guished from scattering, is due to the watery vapor which it contains. From this result he drew important inferences as to atmospheric tem- perature and climatological conditions. Dr. TyndalPs researches on the relation of gases to radiant heat came naturally before me dur- ing my long tenure of office as one of the Secretaries of the Royal Society ; and for my own part I may say that it seemed to me all along that the results were established on so firm a basis, and the con- clusions regarding the invisible radiations were so perfectly analogous to what we know to be true regarding the visible ones, where the in- vestigation is comparatively easy, that the work bore on it the stamp of truth. The conclusions were not, however, accepted without op- position. In the late Professor Magnus, Dr. Tyndall met a foeman worthy of his steel ; a foeman, however, only in the sense of an in- tellectual athlete ; for socially I doubt not they were the firmest friends, and their friendship was even cemented by the fact that they were both alike seeking after truth in a similar subject. But truth only gains by opposition : its defenders are led to engage in fresh researches, which end in strengthening its foundations. I think that the validity of Dr. Tyndall's results is now generally admitted. If some hesitation is still felt, it arises mainly, I think, from miscon- ception ; from imagining that assertions which were meant to apply only to heat-rays of such refrangibilities as to be absorbed by water were meant to be affirmed of the invisible radiations generally which lie beyond the extreme red. The time reminds me that I must only very briefly refer to another investigation in which Dr. Tyndall has more recently been engaged, and of which the interest is biological, while the means of investigation are physical ; I allude, of course, to the question of abiogenesis. Here, again, Dr. Tyndall was working on contested ground, and the objections of opponents stimulated him to fresh inquiries, which resulted in the continual strengthening of his negative conclusions. In the course of his work he was led, for in- stance, to the discovery of the great difference which exists between the germs of microscopic creatures and the creatures themselves, in relation to their power of resisting the destructive influence of a high temperature. This discovery not only detected a source of error in some experiments which had seemed to favor the hypothesis of abio-
�� � 656 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
genesis, but threw important light on the conditions which must be fulfilled in order to secure complete sterility. But original research is not the only way in which a man can advance the cause of science. All-important though it is, it nevertheless often happens that an origi- nal investigation is too abstruse to be followed by more than a few experts ; nor is it by any means necessarily the case that an eminent investigator is equally successful in expounding to others, especially to a mixed audience, the results at which he himself or other investi- gators may have arrived. The general diffusion of science depends largely on the clearness with which its leading principles and results are expounded, whether by lectures or by treatises, in which, while they are scientifically sound, popularity of style and general readable- ness are not sacrificed to the dry exactness of scientific detail. Most of us have had opportunities, whether at the Royal Institution, with which the name of Tyndall has so long been connected, or elsewhere, of being impressed with the singularly lucid style and graphic expres- sion with which he expounded to his audience the salient points of the scientific subject which he brought before them. Nor was it only in clearness of verbal exposition that he excelled ; the manipulative skill with which his original investigations were carried on served him in good stead in his more popular expositions ; and by the aid of that " domestic sun," which even the murky atmosphere of a London win- ter could not obscure, he was enabled in very many cases to exhibit to the audience the actual results of experiments which had first been carried out in the quiet of the laboratory. Nor is it our own country- men alone who have had the benefit of Dr. Tyndall's lucidity of ex- position. Our friends across the ocean have flocked to hear and have appreciated the lectures which ho has there delivered as a free gift to transatlantic science. But oral lectures, after all the lectures at least of one individual can only reach a fraction of the community ; nor do they admit of that pause for thought which the learner requires in endeavoring to make himself master of a new subject. But the same qualities of mind which enable a man to be a clear and interesting lect- urer fit him also to be the author of eminently readable books ; and for the general diffusion of science which is taking place we owe much to the writings of Dr. Tyndall.
TROFESSOR TYNDALL's SPEECH.
Mr. President, my Lords, and Gentlemen : "When the project of a dinner was first mentioned to me by a very old and steadfast friend of mine, who, to my regret and his, is not here to-night, had any dream, or vision, of the assembly now before me risen on my mind's eye, I should have declined the risk of standing in my present position ; for I should have doubted, as I still continue to doubt, my ability to rise to the level of the occasion. Gratitude, however, is possible to all men ; and I would offer you, sir, my grateful thanks for
�� � SPEECHES AT THE RECENT TYNBALL BANQUET. 657
the manner in which you have proposed this toast ; I would thank with equal warmth an assembly which, in intellectual measure, is, probably, as distinguished as any of the same size ever addressed by man, for the way in which they have received it ; and I would extend my thanks to my friends of the Department of Science and Art, for their spontaneous kindness to an old colleague, who for many years lent his humble aid to the department in diffusing sound scientific knowledge among the masses of the people. My own scientific edu- cation began late. It had, of necessity, to be postponed until after I had reached the age of seven or eight and twenty. Notwithstanding this drawback, in learning, teaching, and working in the laboratory, I have been permitted to enjoy a spell of thirty-nine years. In 1850, during a flying visit from Germany to England, I stood, for the first time, in the bright presence of Faraday. In February, 1853, I gave my first Friday evening lecture in the Royal Institution ; and three months afterward, on the motion of Faraday, the old chair of Natural Philosophy, which had been filled at the beginning of the century by Thomas Young, was restored, and to it I was elected. It causes me genuine pleasure to think that I shall be succeeded in that chair by so true and so eminent a man of science as Lord Rayleigh.
It is not my intention to overburden you with egotism to-night ; but, casting an earnest glance back upon the past, a few words seem due from me to the memory of one or two of the group of good men, no longer with us, with whom I was so intimately associated. Re- garding Faraday, I will confine myself to stating that years have not altered my estimate of the beauty and the nobleness of his character. He was the prince of experimental philosophers ; but he was more than this in every fiber of his mind he was a gentleman. It is, how- ever, of two of our honorary secretaries that I wish now to speak ; premising that, for the first seven years of my life in the Royal Insti- tution, the post of honorary secretary was held by a cultivated and very worthy gentleman, the Rev. John Barlow. From 1860 to 1873 that is, for a stretch of thirteen memorable years I had the happi- ness of working hand in hand with Dr. Bence Jones. Never in my experience have I met a man more entirely and unselfishly devoted to the furtherance of scientific work. I hardly like to mention the fol- lowing incident, because it furnishes but a scanty measure of his de- votion. On one occasion I was in need of funds to carry out some ex- periments of a delicate and costly character. Bence Jones came to me, and after some hesitation for he knew that money was likely to raise a difficulty between us he said, with earnestness : " Dear Tyndall, behave as my friend ; do me the favor and the honor of devoting this to your investigation. There is more, if you need it, where that came from." He handed me a check for 100. Had I asked for 1,000, he would have given it to me, and the world, as far as he was concerned,, would have been none the wiser. Bence Jones was a strong man, and
VOL. XXXI. 42
�� � 6 5 8 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
liked to have his own way. At first, as was natural, we sometimes surged against each other ; but these little oppositions were rapidly adjusted, and for many years before his death the tie of brother to brother was not truer or tenderer than that which united myself and Bence Jones. On my return from the United States I found him dying. In fact, the knowledge of his condition caused me to take leave, earlier than I otherwise should have done, of a people that I had learned to trust and love. Soon after my return I saw him lowered into the grave.
The death of Bence Jones, whose steadfast loyalty to the Institu- tion he loved so well, showed itself to the last, was a sore calamity to be met. At that time one man only seemed fitted to supply his place. That man was the beloved and lamented William Spottiswoode. To him I appealed to stand by the Institution at a critical hour of its for- tunes. He had his own mathematical work on hand, and he was too well acquainted with the duties of our honorary secretaryship to ac- cept them lightly. After much reflection, he wrote me a letter regret- fully but distinctly declining the office. But he reflected a second time. He knew that his refusal would cause me pain, and his affection for me prevailed. "When, therefore, the letter of refusal for he sent it to me came, it was accompanied by a second letter, canceling the refusal and accepting the post. With William Spottiswoode I had the happiness of working in close companionship for six years. The dili- gence, wisdom, and success with which he discharged his onerous duties the princely hospitality which shed a glow upon the office while he held it are well remembered. Of the dignity with which he afterward filled the high position now occupied by the illustrious man who presides here this evening it is needless to 6peak. Him also we have seen lowered to his rest, amid the grief of friends assembled to do honor to his memory. Such were the men who served the Royal Institution in the past ; and their example has been worthily followed by other men of eminence, still happily among us. Never was an in- stitution better served than the Royal Institution, and not by its honorary secretaries alone. With singleness of purpose and purity of aim, its successive presidents, boards of managers, and honorary treas- urers have unswervingly promoted the noble work of investigation and discovery. May they never lower the flag which, for well-nigh a cent- ury, they have kept victoriously unfurled !
The year after my appointment I was called upon to deliver, in conjunction with Dr. Whewell, Faraday, Sir James Paget, and some other eminent men, one of a series of lectures on scientific education. I then referred with serious emphasis to the workers in our coal-mines, and to the terrible perils of their occupation. I pointed to the intel- lectual Samsons toiling with closed eyes in the mills and forges of Manchester and Birmingham, and I said, "Give these toilers sight by the teachings of science, and you diminish the causes of calamity,
�� � SPEECHES AT THE RECENT TYNDALL BANQUET. 659
multiply the chances of discovery, and widen the prospect of national advancement." Thus early, you will see, I was alive to the importance of technical education ; and I am no less alive to it now. You will not, therefore, misunderstand me when I say that to keep technical education from withering, and to preserve the applications of science from decay, the roots of both of them must be well imbedded in the soil of original investigation. And here let it be emphatically added, that in such investigation practical results may enter as incidents, but must never usurp the place of aims. The true son of science will pur- sue his inquiries irrespective of practical considerations. He will ever regard the acquisition and expansion of natural knowledge the un- raveling of the complex web of Nature by the disciplined intellect of man as his noblest end, and not as a means to any other end. And what has been the upshot of science thus pursued ? Why, that the investigator has over and over again tapped springs of practical power which otherwise he would never have reached. Illustrations are here manifold. I might point to the industries which affiliate themselves with Faraday's discovery of benzol, and with his discovery of the laws of electrolysis. But I need not go further than the fact that in this our day a noble and powerful profession has been called into existence by his discovery of magneto-electricity. The electric lamps which mildly illuminate our rooms, the foci which flood with light of solar brilliancy our railway-stations and public halls, can all be traced back to an ancestral spark so small as to be barely visible. With impatient ardor Faraday refused to pause in his quest of principles to intensify his spark. That work he deliberately left to others, confidently pre- dicting that it would be accomplished. And, prompted by motives both natural and laudable, but which had never the slightest influence on Faraday, others have developed his spark into the splendors which now shine in our midst.
It would be a handsome jubilee present, if it were a possible one, to roll up the career of Faraday into portable form, and to offer it to the Queen as the achievement of one of Her Majesty's most devoted subjects during her own reign. Faraday's series of great discoveries, however, began in 1831, which throws his work five or six years too far back. During the rest of his fruitful life he was a loyal son of the Victorian epoch. But, passing beyond the limitations of the indi- vidual, what is science, as a whole, able to offer, on the golden wed- ding of the Queen with her people ? A present of the principle of gravitation a handing over to Her Majesty of the bit and bridle whereby the compelling intellect of Newton brought the solar system under the yoke of physical laws would surely be a handsome offer- ing. I mention this case of known and conspicuous grandeur, in order to fix the value of another generalization which the science of her reign can proudly offer to the Queen. Quite fit to take rank with the principle of gravitation more momentous if that be possible is that
�� � 660 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
law of conservation which combines the energies of the material uni- verse into an organic whole ; that law which enables the eye of science to follow the flying shuttles of the universal power, as it weaves what the Earth Spirit in " Faust " calls " the living garment of God." This, then, is the largest flower of the garland which the science of the last fifty years is able to offer to the Queen.
The second generalization is like unto the first in point of impor- tance, though very unlike as regards its reception by the world. For whereas the principle of conservation, with all its far-reaching, and, from some points of view, tremendous implications, slid quietly into acceptance, its successor evoked the thunder-peals which it is said always accompany the marriage of thought and fact. For a long time the scent of danger was in the air. But the evil odor has passed away ; the air is fresher than before ; it fills our lungs and purifies our blood, and science, in its jubilee offering to the Queen, is able to add to the law of Conservation the principle of evolution.
In connection with these victories of the scientific intellect, I have mentioned neither persons nor nationalities holding, as Davy ex- pressed it, when the Copley medal was awarded to Arago, that " science, like Nature, to which it belongs, is neither limited by time nor space. It belongs to the world, and is of no country and no age." Still, it will not be counted Chauvinism, if I say that in the establish- ment of these two great generalizations Her Majesty's subjects have quitted themselves like men. With regard to a third generalization, neither England nor Germany has been idle. Omitting the name of many a noble worker in both countries, the antiseptic system of sur- gery assuredly counts for something in the civilized world. And yet it is but a branch of a larger generalization, of momentous import, which in our day has been extended and consolidated to an amazing degree by a Gallic investigator. To some, however, any flower culled in this garden will be without odor. Let me therefore add a sweet- scented violet under the name of spectrum analysis which, besides re- vealing new elements in matter, enables the human worker to stretch forth his hand to sun and stars, to bring samples of them, as it were, into his laboratory, and to tell us, with certainty, whereof they are composed. Surely all these, and other discoveries of high importance, taken and bound together, form an intellectual wreath, not unworthy of Her Majesty's acceptance in her jubilee year.
A short time ago an illustrious party leader summed up the politi- cal progress of the Queen's reign. What I have said will, I trust, show that the intellectual world is not entirely compounded of party politics that there is a band of workers scattered over the earth whose arena is the laboratory rather than the platform, and who noise- lessly produce results as likely to endure, and as likely to influence for good the future of humanity, as the more clamorous performances of the politician.
�� � SPEECHES AT THE RECENT TYNDALL BANQUET. 661
One word more. On the Continent of Europe, kings had been the nursing fathers and queens the nursing mothers of science ; while republican governments were not a whit behind in the liberality of their subventions to scientific education. In England we had nothing of this kind, and to establish an equivalent state of things we had to appeal, not to the Government, but to the people. They have been roused by making the most recpndite discoveries of science the prop- erty of the community at large. And as a result of this stirring of the national pulse this development of self-reliance we see schools, colleges, and universities now rising in our midst, which promise by- and-by to rival those of Germany in number and importance.
It is time that I should cease ; but, before doing so, I would ask as they do in the House of Commons permission to say a word in personal explanation. I have climbed some difficult mountains in my time, and after strenuous effort for a dozen hours or more upon ice, rock, and snow, I have not unfrequently reached the top. I question whether there is a joy on earth more exhilarating than that of the mountaineer, who, having achieved his object, is able to afford him- self, upon the summit, a foaming bumper of champagne. But, my lords and gentlemen, the hardest climb, by far, that I have ever ac- complished, was that from the banks of the Barrow to the banks of the Thames from the modest Irish roof under which I was born to Willis's Rooms. Here I have reached my mountain-top, and you God bless you ! have given me a bumper which no scientific climber ever before enjoyed.
Sir Frederick Pollock, in proposing the toast of " Literature and Art," said that on most occasions similar to the present one this toast was a triple one, and included the three sisters Science, Literature, and Art. But this evening they were assembled together to do hom- age to science, in the person of one of its most distinguished votaries, and for the time the room in which they had met became a temple of science. In such a temple the principal figure, standing upon the pedestal appropriated to the presiding goddess, must be that of Sci- ence, and to her due rites had been already rendered. But for the sisters, Literature and Art, room must be found also in the sacred edi- fice ; they too must have their altars and their shrines. He pointed out that the highest powers of the imagination were required by the man of science, as well as by the poet and the painter, and instanced the prediction by Fresnel of the bright spot in the center of the shadow of a disk ; and the suggestion made to Goethe of his theory of the de- velopment of the vertebrate skeleton, by his accidental observation of the scattered fragments of the deer's skull lying in his path. He ad- duced the names of Aristotle, Bacon, and other great men who had connected literature with science ; and instanced Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Christopher Wren, one of the founders of the Royal Society,
�� � 662 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
as linking together science and art. He accordingly had great pleas- ure in submitting for acceptance " Literature and Art," coupling with it the name of Lord Lytton, who was not only a distinguished repre- sentative of modern literature, but had also a distinct hereditary claim to represent that of the last generation ; and Sir Frederick Leighton, the distinguished President of the Royal Academy.
The Earl of Lytton. In returning thanks for " Literature " upon an occasion when we are all met to honor science in the person of one of its most illustrious adepts, I can not but forcibly remember that we are living in an age when inquiry is more active and more wide-spread than conviction, and it is natural that in minds of the highest order under these conditions even the imaginative faculty should be more powerfully attracted to scientific research than to purely literary produc- tion. But inquiry, I think, would be very sterile if conviction in some form or another were not the ultimate fruit of it, and I think that for a period of really vigorous, creative, imaginative art, we must look forward, in the course of scientific research, to some such general re- settlement of ideas upon the basis of a common conviction which is not now, perhaps, altogether attainable as may enable art, instead of representing, as it does now, merely the mental attitude of the indi- vidual poet or the individual painter, once more to become the uni- versally spontaneous and universally recognized imaginative expres- sion of ideas and emotions which are common to a whole generation or a whole community. If that is the case, if science is ultimately to render this great service to literature and art, surely, in the mean while, we can not but gratefully appreciate the literary labors of those men of science who, in our own and in other countries, are promoting, or have promoted, this result, not only as original discoverers, but also as popular and powerful interpreters of scientific fact, and who, in this latter capacity, have already enriched contemporary literature with writings of rare literary value. If, instead of returning thanks for literature, I were permitted to return thanks on behalf of literature to those writers who have powerfully influenced my own generation, not only by thoughts which stimulate and instruct the intellect, but also by words which stir and elevate the heart, then assuredly I should ask leave to mention some distinguished names which occupy in the field of literature a position only second to the high rank they hold in the hierarchy of science ; and foremost among those names I should not hesitate to mention with a special personal gratitude the name of the illustrious man who is the honored guest of this great assembly to- night. I can not say it is as a student of science that I myself have studied the writings of Professor Tyndall, but this I can say, and most truly, that those writings have been to me, from a very early period of my life, companions so cherished that I learned to look upon their writer as a dear personal friend and benefactor long before it was my
�� � SPEECHES AT THE RECENT TYNDALL BANQUET. 663
privilege to be admitted to his personal intimacy. I believe that scientific research has succeeded in establishing on a physiological basis certain evidences of intelligence even among oysters ; and cer- tainly there is, I think, one form of intelligence which is conspicuously displayed by the oyster which might, perhaps, be cultivated with ad- vantage by after-dinner speakers in my position. The oyster knows when to shut up. Admonished by that very interesting and suggest- ive fact in natural history, what little else I have to say upon behalf of literature, I shall confine to the expression of a hope that the well- deserved relaxation from his more systematic scientific labors in con- nection with the Royal Institution may enable my valued and honored friend Professor Tyndall to enjoy an increased leisure for the con- tinued cultivation of that department of literature which has already been so richly adorned by his admirable writings."
Sir Lyon Play fair, 31. P., proposed the next toast, " The Public Services in Relation to Science." He said that undoubtedly the pub- lic services were intimately connected with science, and were pro- foundly affected by its progress, but, unfortunately, the truth was only beginning to be recognized in this country. In the United States scientific men were attached to all public offices, but in this country the attachment was of the loosest possible character. Never- theless, science had undoubtedly affected our public services in the most profound way. The telegraph had altered the whole system of commerce, and also the methods and the powers of government. There was to be a great naval review next month ; it would be inter- esting to imagine Elizabeth's thirty small ships, which conquered the Armada, sailing through two miles of modern ironclads. The largest piece of ordnance used in the Crimean War cost less than a single shot fired from the huge guns of our ironclads. But it was in peace rather than in war that science rejoiced in aiding government. A strong feeling was arising that we must improve our intellectual position as a nation, and this, at last, was being recognized by the Government. A material index of progressive civilization had always been desired. Liebig contended that the best index of civilization was the quantity of soap consumed. When the Queen ascended the throne we con- sumed per head 7f pounds of soap, and now we use 10 pounds per head. The consumption of paper was a more reliable index. At the commencement of the Queen's reign the consumption was 1^ pound of paper yearly ; now it was 12 pounds, while in the United States it was 10 pounds, in Germany 9 pounds, in France 8 pounds, and in Italy 4 pounds. But the main question was whether we were de- veloping the national intellect at the same rate as other nations. Our general intelligence is still high, but our trained scientific intelligence is low. Our secondary education in all matters relating to science was far behind that of the United States, Germany, and France. Neither
�� � 66 + THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
the Government nor the people governed could go on in simple faith on our practical aptitudes by relying on a blind and vain empiricism, like a tree severed from its roots.
The Earl of Derby. "My Lords and Gentlemen: You have asked me to return thanks on behalf of the public services in connec- tion with science, and Sir L. Playfair, in relation to that toast, has re- ferred to the increased consumption of soap in this country. I have attended a good many public dinners, and I must say that the expen- diture of what is vulgarly called soft soap has been great this even- ing. I am sincerely grateful to him for the quantity of that article which it has pleased him to expend upon me. But really the toast is one which hardly any man is competent to do justice to, and certainly not one who, like myself, has no connection with science, except a sincere admiration and respect for its professors, and whose con- nection with the public service has only been that of a parliamentary chief. Under our system the parliamentary head of a department is mainly concerned to keep it in harmony with the House of Commons and with the public. He has to warn the permanent officials that something that is done, or something that is left undone, or proposed to be left undone, is what public opinion will resent ; and, on the other hand, he has to tell outsiders that the things they ask him and press him to do are things unwise or impossible from an administrative point of view. That is useful ; it is certainly laborious, and it is often a difficult function ; but it does not involve much more scientific knowledge than is implied in driving a cab through a crowded street. It does require some knowledge of men, but that is a department of study to which, as yet, no scientific formula has been found to apply. Sir L. Playfair told us, and I was sorry to hear it, of the loose con- nections which exist between science and the Government. I can only say that I am entirely ignorant of any such immoral transactions. But if the departments were better represented here, and if they could speak for themselves, I am sure that they would not be backward in acknowledging their obligations to science. The Treasury would tell you that those useful though sometimes ungraceful coins in which our dinner is paid for would not circulate through Europe as they do if they had not been subjected to a careful and complicated process, re- quiring scientific knowledge. The Excise might tell you, if they chose, of the frauds that might be perpetrated upon the revenue and the pub- lic if it were not for the careful and scientific examination of all tax- able articles. The Post-Office would find no difficulty in acknowledg- ing its obligations to TVatt and to Stephenson for where would postal revenue be without railways ? and in later days to investigators whose researches made the telegraph possible. But the fighting departments, or the spending departments, which is their more common name in Downing Street, would have the most to return thanks for. They
�� � SPEECHES AT THE RECENT TYNDALL BANQUET. 665
would point to the modern ironclad, the most elaborate, the most complete, and the most costly, of all contrivances in which the art of construction has been utilized for purposes of destruction. They would tell you how the chemist, metallurgist, the engineer, the elec- trician, the mathematician, have all contributed their share to that extraordinary result of science and skill. The War-Office would fol- low the Admiralty. They would not say, as Frederick of Prussia did, that Providence is on the side of the biggest battalions, but they might possibly say that Providence was generally on the side of the army which could bring into the field the most scientifically effective weapon in the hands of the most carefully-trained soldier. If I were to turn to the line of business with which I had once something to do, I might ask any diplomatist or any statesman to explain to you how largely the position of Egypt, and, with that, the diplomacy of Europe, has been affected by that little scratch which the genius of M. de Les- seps drew across the Egyptian sands ; and if, as is quite possible, the coal-carrying power of steamers and their speed and their economy are largely increased I do not speak of those wilder predictions accord- ing to which steam is to be superseded as the motor power by some- thing more efficient suppose, I say, the large increase of the coal-carry- ing power of steamers, and the results to which I have referred may be again reversed ; and again, at least in war-time, the route to India may lie through the South African seas. If I speak of the colonies, every one conversant with that department would admit that if we had had the ocean telegraph in existence twenty-five years ago half our little wars beyond the seas would never have taken place, and those that have taken place would have been disposed of in half the time. I know that these things are commonplace, but I can not help that. If I could tell you what the next great discovery was going to be, that would not be commonplace. But, unfortunately, that is not in my power ; and if it were, I do not think I should be in a hurry about it, because I have observed that those who are the first to an- nounce a discovery are generally rewarded by having a remarkably unpleasant time. But however great may be the gains which we have derived from the applications of science, they are nothing as compared with those which will and do accrue to us from the acceptance of sci- entific habits of thought. That is coming already, and it will come more in a not remote future. We have many things in this age and country of which we can not boast, but we may boast that in science England has done something more than hold her own. The great name of Darwin will survive, it may be, the British Empire itself, and with him will be remembered some others also, whom to single out might, perhaps, be invidious. But we may be sure of this, that among their names will be included the name of our distinguished guest of to-night. It is a common complaint that politicians have done nothing for science. In that I do not agree. They have done the best they
�� � could for it — they have let it alone; they have not corrupted it by their intrigues, nor vulgarized it by their squabbles; and they being what they are, and science being what it is, that is probably the best service they could have rendered it.