Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/132

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

edge indeed is not more in danger than capital of throwing off social restraint is quite an open question.

Prof. Mendenhall touches a very important point when he speaks of the unfortunate absence of the scientific element from our political life. There may be, doubtless there are, causes for this for which men of science are not to be blamed; but still it is a fact that a man of science is commonly looked upon as a man inapt for affairs. In the British Parliament science is represented by such men as Sir Henry Roscoe, Sir John Lubbock, Sir Lyon Playfair; literature and philosophy by Mr. John Morley, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Gladstone, to mention but a few names out of many; and no one will question that the presence of such men raises the intellectual tone of any assembly in which they sit. In this country we seem to have no use for men of science and not much even for littérateurs. The consequence is that with us political discussion shows a total lack of breadth and an almost total lack of conviction. A tariff bill is the occasion for a simple tug-of-war, not for discussion in the true sense. Time was, as Prof. Mendenhall points out, when our politics could show such names as Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton—men strongly tinctured w T ith philosophy and at the same time of high practical intelligence. Why should the Republic not have to-day the services of its most thoughtful sons? While the thought of the age is rising why should our politics grovel? When so many practical problems of the gravest moment are pressing for settlement, why should the very men whose habits of mind best fit them for social service retire, as it were, to a Sacred Mountain of their own and leave the field of civic activity to sentimentalists and adventurers? To answer these questions or to attempt to answer them would require more space than we command. Suffice it to say that these things should not be, and that much harm will result if they should remain as characteristic features of our civilization. Our chief hope lies in the adoption by the scientific class of that new and better view of their duties and functions indicated by Prof. Mendenhall. There is not much use in preaching to large masses, but small bodies may be more easily influenced; and it hardly seems an impossible thing that the corps of scientific workers should be penetrated by a new sense of social duty and should resolve to keep in closer touch with the people than heretofore. What gives the clergy of the several churches their undoubted influence? It is that they are with the people and of them. If they deal in mysteries, those mysteries are not their private property: whatever benefit or grace they yield is available for all. The mysteries of some of our scientists, on the contrary, far from being for all, are prized in direct proportion to the fewness of those who can take any part in them. The soaring specialist is never satisfied till he stands on a pinnacle so small that no one can get footing beside him.

We need hardly say that we find in the address of Prof. Mendenhall an abundant justification of the work in which we have been engaged now for a long term of years—the work of bringing home the best and surest results of science to a popular circle of readers and of keeping up as active a connection as possible between true scientific workers and the public. To this work we shall apply ourselves in future with increased courage and determination—increased courage from the hope that the stirring words of the retiring President of the American Association will bring us new allies and helpers; increased determination from a quickened sense of the need of just such work. It is no new dogmatism that the times call for, but a new spirit of helpfulness and hopefulness guided by science. By this means, and this only, will the world solve its problems and outride the storms that threaten its civilization.