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however, as the public is, it is not many-sided. It has latterly remorselessly narrowed its tastes to a very few scientific subjects; and the present period marks something like the culmination of a morbid relish for the exploits of applied physics. Supernaturalism is either entirely discredited, or reduced to a quite tangible realism, and subjected to manipulation - as in animal magnetism and phrenology. From chairs of chemistry, lectures are delivered on the nature of the soul: And the pupils of such a class, in a celebrated university, may be instructed one day as to the properties of magnesia or cream of tartar, and learn, on the next, that the burning kisses which passionate lovers exchange, are accompanied by actual flames, which the duly gifted may perceive hovering round their meeting lips ! So strangely in our own day has the once invisible eagle, who dwelt near the sun, submitted to have his wings clipped, and taken his place among

and barn-door fowls. The natural-history sciences, in short, although now of far greater interest to philosophers than they ever were before, have been completely eclipsed in general estimation by the Experimental sciences. Travellers’ tales have long been at a discount. The most distant places of the globe are now so near, in time, that it is worth no one's trouble to palm a deliberate fiction upon us as to their condition -- when a few weeks at furthest may expose the fabrication. Every fortnight brings a mail from India and the New World; so that two weeks on an average bound the longevity of the most plausible imported lie. The public, needy as it was, waited with patience for exact information concerning the Californian gold; and its patience has been rewarded. It is still more willing to suspend its merely speculative curiosity till the mail shall arrive. We now hear little, accordingly, of marine or transmarine monsters; and the few that do present themselves are called to so strict an account by Professor Owen and his brethren, that if so much as a scale, a bristle, or a claw are out of order, it goes hard with them; and they are likely to be refused their certificates, like doubtful bankrupts. All this is well, and but wholesome discipline for the world of science. But the unscientific public has gone far beyond the most sceptical naturalist, in excluding from favour the once prized objects of natural history and phenomenal science. The only rare animals that have recently excited interest have been all, we think, of the human species, — Red Indians, Bosjesmans, and Tom Thumb. Zoological gardens are everywhere in Great Britain struggling against extinction, and are indebted in many places to the humiliating assistance of fireworks or gymnastic exhibitions for their prolonged existence. How great the extremity is, may be gathered

from the fact, that even the Zoological Society of London has gone the unusual length of prosecuting the defaulters among its members for their arrears. The same spirit appears in the loud outcry at present raised against the expenditure of public money on the palm-house at Kew,— whilst thousands which no tax gatherer demanded have been voluntarily flung away on hopeless projects which experimental physics were rashly supposed to sanction. Geology, except as a searcher for coal, metallic ores, limestone, or gold, is not the popular science it is often supposed to be. It is too difficult, comprehensive, and expensive a pursuit, to be largely followed by any but the highest grade of amateurs. The number of unscientific persons, accordingly, who realise to themselves, so that they can properly be said to believe, that coal was once wood, and ironstone once mud, and that there formerly lived on this earth such creatures as Pterodactyles or Icthyosaurs, is, in fact, very small. Unscientific religious people are still to a great extent ready to account for every fossil by Noah's deluge; and reluctant to make any creature older than Adam. The irreligious semi-scientific public, on the other hand, reads eagerly whatever seems to contradict the book of Genesis: But understands too little of what it reads, and finds what little it understands too far removed from its every day cares, hopes, and fears, to trouble itself much with the speculations of palæontology.

The oldest and grandest of the sciences fares no better. Although astronomy has recently been discovering planets at the rate at which she formerly discovered comets, and by her one gift to the known heavens, of Neptune, has cast far into the shade all the younger branches of knowledge, yet the public heard with perfect indifference the really idle, but for it, trustworthy announcement, that Neptune had gone a missing, or rather had never been found. Were it to be rumoured, however, that the electric light had proved, or would prove on the large scale, a total failure, its extinction would be lamented as a public calamity; or had it been but hinted that the wires of the electric telegraph were found to be rapidly losing their power to conduct electricity, and would soon refuse to conduct it at all, the whole island would have taken fright.

In speaking thus, we must be understood as excluding from our reference not only all those who study science as science, and all those who study it professionally as the basis of art, but likewise all that large class of intelligent amateurs of both sexes, who cannot be divided by a sharp line of demarcation from the students of science or art, among whom they are often amply entitled to take their places. But after deducting the philosopher, the professional man, and the amateur, there remains the great VOL. XC. NO. CLXXXII.


bulk of the people of all ranks, who only indirectly and occasionally interest themselves in science. They are very important, however, not only by their numerical preponderance, and as the raw material out of which the special students must be drafted, but likewise as filling the important offices in the community of treasurer, banker, and pursebearer--and as furnishing the supplies, without which neither science nor art, in many of their provinces, any more than war, can be carried on.

The sciences which the public, thus defined, at present crowds to popular lectures to hear expounded, are Natural Philosophy and Chemistry – though it would probably be more just to say that the arts springing out of these sciences are popular, than that the sciences themselves are. The laws regulating the elasticity of steam at different temperatures, the theory of waves, the - Idea of Polarity,' the doctrines of diamagnetism, of electromagnetics, of isomerism or organic types, and much else, find no favour with such disciples; but screw-propellers, electric lights, and new manures are cordially welcomed.

The preference thus shown for the sciences of Experiment, as contrasted with those of Observation, appears to admit of a twofold explanation. The former have always the charms of novelty about them; the latter have long been familiar to all. Among the sweetest remembrances, no doubt, of happy childhood, are the early listening at a mother's knee to the sacred record of the Creation; the appointment of the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night; and Adam's giving names to the living creatures in the garden of Eden. Nor is there any toy more welcome to children than the well-freighted Dutch-built Noah's ark, nor any spectacle more delightful than a wild beast show, or a peep through a telescope at the man in the moon. But when childhood and youth are once gone by, natural history is but too often left behind with them; and the starry heavens are seldom consulted-except at the changes of the moon, when the roads are dark and the weather threatening.

A character of peacefulness, serenity, and unchangeableness, belongs to the phenomenal sciences; and is one of their charms for those who study them profoundly: And this indeed is more or less clearly perceived by all. The heavens upon which we gaze are felt to be the heavens to which the first pair lifted their eyes in Paradise. The plants and animals we now see are not distinguishable from those which the Egyptian draughtsman made his designs from, or the Greek artist carved on his relievos. But this thought, so soothing in some moods of mind, is out of keeping with the turbulent activity of busy manhood —especially as it occupies itself in our own country at present. "Man's newest planet is probably heaven's oldest one. The last discovered flower has been growing for any one to pluck, since the flood; and kangaroos were in New Holland before Britons were in Great Britain. An air of majestic antiquity and completeness belongs almost exclusively to the phenomenal sciences. But even this makes them less attractive to a generation living more in the future than the past. In addition too, to the great charm novelty, the idea of Power is much more connected by the people with the experimental than the phenomenal sciences. The experimental sciences have in truth, within this century, effected so vast a revolution in the political, commercial, and social relations of the world, that men do not now know what next to dread, or to expect from them. The natural history and phenomenal sciences, on the other hand, have not very visibly affected the recent progress of mankind. The services of geology in discovering valuable minerals, of zoology in pointing out the localities of valuable fisheries, and of botany in introducing new vegetables, have been unobtrusively rendered ; and have not come before the public in such a way as either to startle and be wondered at, or even to be understood or, appreciated. Mechanics is applauded indeed for its steam ships; but geology is not thanked for discovering in Labuan, Chili, Australia, Vancouver's Island, and elsewhere, the coals, without which the ocean steamers could never have ventured on their stupendous careers. Chemistry has the whole credit of introducing guano; the fertilising virtues of which had, however, been indicated by natural history, long before chemistry had subjected it to analysis.

This habitual application of an utilitarian test to the sciences, has necessarily excluded from attention some of the noblest of them. What was the planet Neptune to the utilitarian public, or that public to Neptune? His appearance in the heavens did not lead to any reduction in the window tax, or to any saving in candles. The skies looked no brighter for his coming, and the street lamps were as needful as before. The sea serpent comes home to no man's business, and we trust will come home to no man's bosom. But the gunpowdermakers naturally enough quailed at the report of gun-cotton; and Sir Walter Scott's famous stage-coach companion, who, silent on every subject suggested for conversation, exclaimed at last, Tak me on bend leather, and I'm your man!' would, if now alive, have taken interest in at least one additional topic, and have woke up at the sound of 'gutta percha soles.' The shareholders the gas companies go about anxiously inquiring concerning the electric light; and coal merchants look blank at a recent newspaper paragraph which announces a method of producing an inflammable vapour from resin, charcoal, and water.

In all this, however, there is nothing surprising; and not much to be lamented. The scientific discoveries of recent years, and their marvellous applications in the arts, have been of such a nature and magnitude, as to astonish the most sober philosophers; so that we cannot wonder that they have filled the less reflecting public with extravagant hopes and fears. We are far from wishing to impute to the mass of the people a merely selfish or sordid interest in applied science. The least avaricious may well take alarm, at the prospect of a single unlucky invention ruining his trade or profession; and in a densely peopled country like this, enterprising young men, unpossessed of capital, naturally entertain sanguine expectations as to the substantial gains and honourable independence which may accrue to them from one successful investigation or ingenious device. But apart altogether from the perception of a pecuniary interest in the progress of discovery, every newspaper reader, however unscientific, perceives that the world is moving onwards at an accelerated rate - which, according to his temperament, exceedingly delights or exceedingly alarms him. Intelligent appreciation, in short, childish fear, childish wonder, a feverish spirit of speculation, and a strong infusion of cupidity, are all strangely mingled in the popular estimate of what the sciences are destined to effect for the world. The general faith in science as a wonderworker is at present unlimited; and along with this there is cherished the conviction that every discovery and invention admits of a practical application to the welfare of men. Is a new vegetable product brought to this country from abroad, or a new chemical compound discovered, or a novel physical phenomenon recorded ? The question is immediately asked cui bono? What is it good for? Is food or drink to be got out of it? Will it make hats, or shoes, or cover umbrellas? Will it kill or heal? Will it drive a steam-engine, or make a mill go? And truly this cui bono question has of late been so often satisfactorily answered, that we cannot wonder that the public should persist in putting it, somewhat eagerly, to every discoverer and inventor, and should believe that if a substance has one valuable application, it will prove, if further investigated, to have a thousand. Gutta percha has not been known in this country ten years; and already it would be more difficult to say what purposes it has not been applied to, than to enumerate those to which it has been applied. Gun-cotton had scarcely proved in the saddest way its power to kill, before certain ingenious Americans showed that it has a remarkable power of healing,

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