Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/460

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

for the endowment of physical research. Unquestionably, the abstract proposition that science is worthy of national support must be admitted as just. We may agree with Sir John Herschel in feeling "prepared to advocate or defend" (on abstract principles) "a very large and liberal devotion indeed of the public means to setting on foot undertakings and maintaining establishments in which the investigation of physical laws and data should be the avowed and primary object, and practical application the secondary, incidental, and collateral one." It is hardly necessary for me to say that I recognize the full weight of those considerations which have been urged in favor of wide schemes of endowment. Such schemes have, indeed, had few warmer advocates than myself, nor has any one been more outspoken in their support. But practical experience has taught me, I must confess, that dangers—and serious ones—surround them. Even while as yet they were in their infancy, mischievous tendencies began to show themselves which had certainly not been anticipated by those earnest students of science who first supported the general principle that science deserves the recognition of the state. Greedy hands were stretched out for the promised prizes. Jobbery began its accustomed work; and those who sought to check its progress were abused and vilified. If this happened when schemes for endowment were but mentioned, what evil consequences might not be looked for if those schemes succeeded? Deterred by the consequences of the first few steps they had taken in the direction of endowment, many of the most zealous workers in science now stand aloof. Before long, however, the real position of affairs will be known. If the present desire for the endowment of research is prompted by genuine zeal for science, we shall find that the warmest advocates of the scheme are not those who would themselves profit by it. But if, on the other hand, it should appear that the persons who now speak most earnestly about the endowment of science are in reality eager chiefly for their own preferment, or desire to secure posts of emolument for personal friends and adherents, then every real lover of science must desire the failure of such schemes, seeing that the cause of science could not fail to suffer, nor Science herself to be degraded, should they prove successful.—Contemporary Review.



SOUND is in general, according to natural philosophers, a sensation excited in the organ of hearing by the vibratory movement of ponderable matter, while this movement can be transmitted to the ear by means of an intermediate agent. Sound, properly called musi-