Under the patronage of the Abbé de Tourville and others, there have also been developed courses of lectures designed to give instruction to university students or others who may be interested in the "method of observation" and the "art of traveling." Le Play admired greatly the English custom of supplementing university training by a period spent in travel, and hoped, by systematic effort, to develop a similar habit in France. Six courses of lectures in this department have been offered in a single year, which have been attended by about one hundred persons. Some of the students, on completing these courses, have been provided with means to put in practice the precepts taught them, and have gone to other countries to study history, or commerce, or politics.
"The dominant characteristic of my work has been," says Le Play, "the accumulation of innumerable facts, and the incessant gathering together of inductions and conclusions." He tells how, after more than ten years of patient though enthusiastic investigation, he began to wonder how it chanced that in the department of social science he had made none of those discoveries that, in the field of mineralogy, had brought him some renown. Then the thought occurred to him that "in social science there is nothing to invent." And thus the phenomenal Frenchman, who had aspired to be an economist without a theory, proceeded to saddle himself with an assumption as arbitrary as any to which an investigator could well enslave himself. Yet we may notice that acceptance of it need not in any way limit one's activity as a collector of facts, for if there is nothing to invent there must be much to find. But Le Play would not even permit himself to say that he had discovered the truths which he came to believe in, but only that he had refound them. "For," he added, "in social science there is nothing new save what has been forgotten." If only one be an expert quarrier, it matters not whether he supposes himself working at the base of a ruined pyramid or in ledges of living rock. But it is easy to see that, while Le Play was entirely confident that his opinions were the outgrowth of observation, yet in reality his methods of observation were largely shaped by his tenaciously held opinions.
This is still more evident when we come to examine the details of his beliefs and his methods. Wherever he looked he found but two things that are really essential to human happiness: the first is the means of subsistence, the other knowledge of the moral law. Whatever social organization insures these two things to all the members of society, thereby insures to them happiness and peace. The moral law is derived from the nature of man and from the decalogue, which formulates and completes it. He arranges, in parallel columns, "The Decalogue of the Hebrews" and "The Decalogue of the Chinese"
others and began to publish "La Science Sociale," which also claims to follow the method of Le Play.