Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/643

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WARD'S NATURAL SCIENCE ESTABLISHMENT.

of his neighborhood, is viewed by the so-called educated community as insignificant in comparison with that of the college boy who can relate stories, from classical history, of persons who never existed and events that never occurred.

Considering the circumstance that all things, except what we make of them, are natural objects, it would seem that the first and main efforts of education, after acquiring sufficient language and arithmetic to express our ideas of qualities and numbers, would be to learn what the objects are. The child on learning to speak at once begins to ask about the things it sees, but unfortunately too often the parent and teacher are incapable of giving the desired information, and ordinarily it meets with so little satisfaction that finally the spirit of inquiry disappears. For most persons, after distinguishing the ordinary articles pertaining to the necessities and conveniences of life, the crudest generalities of knowledge appear to be sufficient. With them it seems to be enough to know that things are stones, metals, and dirt; weeds, flowers, and trees; bugs, animals, and men. Among the cultivated, one is considered the no less educated if he calls a worm a snake, or a caterpillar a nasty reptile; while he may run the risk of being called ignorant, or at least uneducated, if he can not translate a Latin text. Though quartz is the most abundant mineral substance of the land in which we live, yet perhaps not one in a hundred of an educated community knows a quartz-pebble from any other.

To the writer the sciences, including natural history, have appeared to be of the utmost importance to the welfare and happiness of mankind, and no other branches of knowledge can equal them in these relations.

To facilitate the study and to create a more general interest in natural history, museums of characteristic specimens should not only be connected with every college and other educational institutions, but there should be established in every considerable town a free public museum—not a mere show or place of amusement, a collection of curiosities and rare specimens, queer things, a two-headed calf, or a dried hand of a murderer, but a series of specimens, often of familiar objects, illustrative of the classes, orders, and other chief divisions of the mineral, vegetal, and animal kingdoms, together with those which illustrate geology and kindred subjects. A museum of this kind should further be supplied with specimens of all the natural productions of the vicinity, which may be collected from time to time by those who are, or may become, most interested in the study of natural history. Such a museum would not only be of the greatest service as a means of instruction, but would prove useful in a variety of ways to the community, and would also give additional interest to the visits of strangers to the locality.

Professor Ward's great establishment is intended to supply a com-