Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/707

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fact or principle, some addition of more or less importance to the sum of human knowledge, there may come upon us the eager desire to make our discovery known. We may long to be allowed to add our own little stone to the growing temple of science. We may think of the pride with which we should see our names enrolled among those of the illustrious builders by whom this temple has been slowly reared since the infancy of mankind. So we commit our observations to writing, and send them for publication. Eventually we obtain the deep gratification of appearing in print among well-known authors in science. Far be it from me to condemn this natural desire for publicity. But, as your experience grows, you will probably come to agree with me that if the desire were more frequently and energetically curbed, scientific literature would gain much thereby. There is among us far too much hurry in publication. We are so afraid lest our observations or deductions should be forestalled—so anxious not to lose our claim to priority, that we rush before the world, often with a half-finished performance, which must be corrected, supplemented, or canceled by some later communication. It is this feverish haste which is largely answerable for the mass of jejune, ill-digested, and erroneous matter that cumbers the pages of modern scientific journals. Here it is that you specially need patience. Before you venture to publish anything, take the utmost pains to satisfy yourselves that it is true, that it is new, and that it is worth putting into print. And be assured that this reticence, while it is a kindness to the literature of science, will most certainly bring with it its own reward to yourselves. It will increase your confidence, and make your ultimate contributions more exact in their facts as well as more accurate and convincing in their argument.

The other danger to which I referred as demanding patience is of an opposite kind. As we advance in our career, and the facts of our investigations accumulate around us, there will come times of depression when we seem lost in a labyrinth of detail out of which no path appears to be discoverable. We have, perhaps, groped our way through this maze, following now one clew, now another, that seemed to promise some outlet to the light. But the darkness has only closed around us the deeper, and we feel inclined to abandon the research as one in which success is, for us at least, unattainable. When this blankness of despair shall come upon you, take courage under it, by remembering that a patient study of any department of Nature is never labor thrown away. Every accurate observation you have made, every new fact you have established, is a gain to science. You may not for a time see the meaning of these observations, nor the connection of these facts. But their meaning and connection are sure in the end to be made out. You have gone through