Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/315

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301
THE STUDY AND TEACHING OF BIOLOGY.

come a Linnæus, or a Cuvier, or an Agassiz. It may not be given to any of us to make some brilliant discovery, or to first expound some illuminating generalization; but we can, each and all, if we will, do good and valuable work in elucidating the details of various branches of knowledge. All that is needed for such work, besides some leisure, intelligence, and common-sense (and the more of each the better), is undaunted perseverance and absolute truthfulness; a perseverance unabated by failure after failure, and a truthfulness incapable of the least perversion (either by way of omission or commission) in the description of an observation or of an experiment, or of the least reluctance to acknowledge an error once it is found to have been made. Moreover, this love of truth must extend to a constant searching and inquisition of the mind, with the perpetual endeavor to keep inferences from observation or experiment unbiased, so far as may be, by natural predilections or favorite theories. Perfect success in such an endeavor is, perhaps, unattainable, but the scientific worker must ever strive after it; theories are necessary to guide and systematize his work, and to lead to its prosecution in new directions, but they must be servants, and not masters. I may, perhaps, seem to be insisting at too great length on a self-evident point; but the more one knows of scientific work and workers, the more does one realize the importance and the difficulty of attaining a perfectly-balanced mind and of arriving at an unprejudiced deduction from observation.

I believe, then, that the only absolutely necessary faculties for the scientific investigator are love of his work, perseverance, and truthfulness; to make the great leader and master in science, one of those who cast a new ray of light on our conceptions of the universe, other and far rarer powers are, of course, needed—the most essential being originality of thought; and, as that cannot be either self-taught or taught from outside but must be born in the bone, all that the rest of us can do when we meet such men is to give them a free course and ungrudging help. That an army may attain its best success, needs indeed that every man be brave and loyal, but it is by no means requisite that every soldier be a brigadier-general; so in the army of Science there is place for soldiers of all ranks and capabilities—and, at any rate, we know this, that Nature reveals her secrets, which are her rewards, on no system of purchase or favoritism—what a man deserves that he gets, every drummer-boy who enters her service carries the marshal's bâton in his pocket. His reward will be proportionate to the amount of time and intelligence he devotes to his work; given, in addition, certain opportunities which every one has not for himself, but which it is one great object of such institutions as this to provide for all.

If what I have just stated be the general requisites of the scientific investigator, we have next to inquire what special needs has the biologist: these may all be ground under the head of preliminary train-