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THE FIRST REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION ON SCIENTIFIC
It would be a curious study of national character to inquire how it has happened, that whilst Englishmen have been during the last 150 years, beyond all doubt, the leaders of the great industrial revolution by which all the conditions of human existence have been changed, they have as yet done so little to promote the study of the physical sciences and their application to the arts on the part of those who intend to devote their lives to technical pursuits. However this may be, our engineers and manufacturers are at last becoming convinced that the great natural advantages which we possess—and the greatest of these is the constructive genius of our people,
-are insufficient to secure our preeminence, unless we apply to their development the knowledge of principles by the cultivation of which our continental neighbours are deservedly advancing, in spite of inferior resources, to a level with ourselves.
Even now the Institution of Civil Engineers, in its recent report, describing the schools for the education of its continental brethren, adds no word of blame or of warning to the bare state ment of the fact that our own young engineers receive, as a rule, no scientific training whatsoever.
The creation of the Royal School of Mines, a graft on the Geological Survey, crowded into a few spare rooms of its Jermyn Street house, now urgently required for the work of the Survey itself, and the display of its collections,—was, it is true, determined on so early as the year 1851 by a memorial from gentlemen connected with mining ; but even in that instance the desire for scientific teaching cannot have been widely diffused or deeply felt, otherwise it would not have happened that of the number of men
trained in that school, and examined in mineralogy or mining, not more on the average than three per annum are up to the present time cmployed in the mines and metal works of this country. Indeed, the whole nuniber of science students of those special subjects, and of metallurgy, is incredibly small. The laboratory of Dr. Percy will not accommodate more than eight or nine workers; and yet when it is proposed in the Report of the Royal Commission on Science to provide him with more spacious and appropriate accommodation elsewhere, he, and some of his colleagues, as if content with their "sleepy hollow," protest; and the Times, in an inspired leader, fears that the very limited influence which the School now exerts will be further curtailed, or entirely extinguished, if it should be removed from its present habitation.
Happily there is a somewhat brighter side to the picture. The Royal College of Chemistry in Oxford Street-founded twenty-five years ago by the late Prince Consort, Sir James Clarke, and a few other far-seeing men-is full to overflowing, and furnishes a list of hundreds of its late students, usefully employed in our great chemical and metallurgical works, many of them distinguished by inventions like those of Perkins and Nicholson, by which new industries of the greatest value have been created. The extension of Owens College at Manchester by the munificence of the leading Lancashire engineers and manufacturers, the foundation of a chair of Civil Engineering at Edinburgh by Sir David Baxter, the active steps now in progress at Newcastle-on-Tyne for the establishment of a High School of Science to be affiliated to the University of Durham, are signs of a new order of ideas in the provinces and in Scotland, on the
First Report of the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction.
relations which should exist between practice and science. We do not speak of the progress of science in the University of Oxford, with its new physical laboratory just opened by Professor Clifton, nor of Cambridge, to whom its noble Chancellor has made a similar gift, as it is doubtful whether the older Universities will be able to exert more than an indirect, though not on that account an unimportant, influence on the scientific education of our industrial population. The Jermyn Street School itself, which, though called a School of Mines, embraces a wider field, has furnished the Geological Survey with its admirable staff; and the services rendered there by Professor Huxley to the students of natural history, in spite of the absence of a biological laboratory, are too well known for us to dwell upon them. It may be that, even in its proper technical department, the School of Mines would have been more fre. quented if its courses had been less incomplete. The School being without a mathematical chair, and the pupils as a rule coming up, and remaining ignorant of mathematics, there can be no instruction worth naming in theoretical mechanics, and the whole course of applied mechanics—including the steam-engine, water-engines, the strength of materials, and the construction of arches, roofs, and girders—is compressed into one of the six terms which a student passes in the School. Such being the instruction, it is fortunate that we already possess the Cornish pumping engine and the steam-hammer, for the Jermyn Street students in mining and metallurgy could not have been likely to produce them.
And all the time there exists in London another Government School in which mathematics, mechanical drawing, and engineering are admirably taught, and which may be made accessible to the students of the School of Mines. We speak of the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, which has already turned out a number of well-instructed engineers. And, on the other hand, because the two Schools
are distinct, the instruction in metallurgy and chemistry to the pupils of the Naval School is nearly as defective as is that of the Mining School in mathematics and engineering.
About twelve years ago the managers of the Kensington Museum were allowed by the Government to encourage the establishment of Elementary Schools of Science for Artizans, by paying to teachers of certain subjects a bonus in respect of the numbers of students under instruction who should pass a satisfactory examination. We may find an occasion before long to describe the organization and operation of the socalled Science Classes which have thus arisen in connexion with the Science and Art department. It will be sufficient for us in the meantime to state that the system has spread over the country, until in May, 1870, there were 34,283 persons under instruction ; that in the interval from the latter date to last Christmas 300 additional classes have been established ; and that, in the estimation for the year 1871-72, a sum of no less than 26,0001. is asked for payments to teachers “on results.” The printed examination papers are prepared and looked over by men of the greatest eminence in their respective departments of science; but although the large amount which we have named will be paid on their certificates, these examiners are compelled to admit that, in spite of every endeavour on their part to detect and discourage mere bookwork and cramming, the result of incapable or dishonest teaching, this is not altogether in their power. The Royal Commissioners on Science state in their Report that they have taken evidence on this subject, and that “the quality of the instruction under the department would be greatly improved if the teachers received practical instruction in elementary science.” The authorities of South Kensington have made a slight effort in that direction, by inviting a limited number of teachers every year to short courses of laboratory instruction in chemistry and other subjects ; but the influence of this effort on the mass of
First Report of the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction.
incompetent teachers is, up to the present time, almost inappreciable.
In this state of scientific instruction as offered to our industrial populationwith the Royal School of Mines, incomplete as to its courses, crowded into small and unsuitable rooms coveted by the Geological Survey ; with the Royal College of Chemistry crying out for more space and for laboratories more appropriate to the advanced state of chemical science; with the School of Naval Architecture asking to be removed from old buildings
f honeycombed with dry-rot, the roofs of which cannot be kept watertight, and from a number of temporary sheds where the students shiver in winter and grill in summer, and which are a standing danger of fire to the neighbouring buildings; with a pressing demand for more systematic instruction in science to some, at least, of those who are in their turn to become teachers of the artizans in our manufacturing districts— the Science Commission had to consider what use should be made of a new building at South Kensington, erected, we had almost said, by stealth, capable of affording to all the students of the Naval School, all those of the Mining
those of the Mining School and more, and probably twice the number of students of the College of Chemistry, a series of noble laboratories, lecture-theatres, and class-rooms.
They could arrive at only one conclusion, and we will state it in their own words :
“ Without expressing any opinion, at present, as to the policy of Government Schools of Science, your Commissioners having to deal with the Royal School of Mines and the College of Chemistry as institutions which have existed for twenty years, and which during that period have turned out a large number of well-instructed students, consider that such steps should be taken as may be necessary to render their teaching thoroughly efficient.
“ With this object we recommend that the two institutions be consolidated ; that Mathematics be added to the courses of instruction now given ; and that sufficient laboratories and assistance for practical instruction in Phy. sics, Chemistry, and Biology be provided.
“The institution thus formed (hereinafter called the Science School ') may be conveniently and efficiently governed by a Council of Professors, one of that body acting as Dean.
“We have further heard evidence concerning the buildings at South Kensington now nearly completed and intended for the reception of a projected School of Naval Architecture and Science; and we recommend that the Science School should be accommodated in those buildings. We have given carefulattention to the considerations in favour of the retention in Jermyn Street of the technical instruction in certain branches, but we are of opinion that these considerations are outweighed by the great advantages to be derived from a concentration.
“We have further heard evidence concerning the Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering now conducted at South Kensington ; and we recommend that the theoretical instruction of that School should in future be given in the Science School, the general instruction in Mathematics, Physical Science, and Mechanical Drawing thus becoming common to both Schools."
They proceed to state that “the Science School will be available for the instruction of many science teachers throughout the country.” but they reserve for a further report “ the conditions under which it shall be accessible” to that class of students.
In the Science School, which we sincerely trust will be established in con. formity with this Report the laboratories of which, we may remark in passing, will be available for numerous investigations now conducted at great expense for various Government departments the country will have for the first time a complete Polytechnic School, less imposing, it is true, than the great continental institutions bearing that name, but which will, we are convinced, be the starting point of a new era of industrial progress as much by its own work, as by becoming a model for the various schools certain to be founded, if not already growing up, throughout the country.
In conclusion, we would express the hope that the Metropolitan Polytechnic School may depend directly on a Minister of Public Instruction,
A WEEK IN THE WEST.
FROM A VAGABOND'S NOTE-BOOK,
PART IV. The last of these papers, for which I am mainly responsible, though not published until November was in type before the great fire at Chicago, other wise some word of sympathy for the sufferers, and of respect for their bearing under so fearful a trial, would surely have been spoken. I do not propose Dow to return in these pages, as I did in fact, to Chicago, or to add any description of the busiest and one of the handsomest cities I was ever in, to the multitude of sketches which have appeared during the past month; but I should like to put on record one little episode in my visit. I suppose that all who have come across the notices of the Rev. R. Collyer's sermon, preached on the Sunday which intervened between the first great fire and the destruction of the city, on the text "Think ye that those Galileans on whom the tower of Siloam fell were sinners above all that dwelt in Jerusalem ?” will have been struck by this glimpse of the man and his work, and will be glad to get another side-light thrown upon him and it. I had been advised in New England not to miss the chance of hearing him if I should happen to be in Chicago on a Sunday, and accordingly inquired my way to his church, after breakfast at the Tremont House. The church was a fine, new, modern Gothic building, fronting one of the broad shady avenues which ran from the business centre of the city towards Lake Michigan. It had been quite lately built for Mr. Collyer by his congregation, and certainly was one of the most commodious and comfortable, not to say luxurious, places of worship I was ever in. The whole of the floor, capable I should say of holding 1,500 people, was
laid out in easy open seats, roomy in every direction. These and all the passages were well carpeted, and the large congregation came in noiselessly, and could worship in perfect comfort, without aching backs or cramped legs. Nothing could be better than the atmosphere, so that, apart from anything you might hear, it was physically pleasant to attend the service. This was in the ordinary Protestant form where no liturgy is in use, and consisted of hymns, extempore prayer by the minister, chapters from the Old and New Testament, and a sermon; but by no means in the ordinary spirit, if I may judge by other services of different denominations which I have attended both at home and in America. These too often remind one of the ironical panegyric of a New England humorist on the performance of a celebrated preacher, that his prayers were “the most eloquent ever addressed to a Boston audience." Mr. Collyer's prayers produced an entirely ditferent impression. I do not know that I can illustrate it better than by confessing that, as we stood up for the hymn before the sermon, the old story of the west-country downs shepherd came irresistibly into my head, who, when his new parson asked him what he meant by saying that there was going to be such weather as pleased him, replied, “ T'wull be zech, make zo bauld, ez plaazes God A’mighty, and wut plaazes He plaazes I.”
Mr. Collyer took his text from Job, chap. xxxviii. ver. 16:“Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the deep?". and began by telling us, that he had been spending his holidays by the sea, and had come back full of thoughts about it, which he was anxious to “get
off” to his own people. Then followed a quotation from Ruskin as to the fan tastic power, and terrible beauty, of the sea. This, he said, struck his key-note; for the feeling of mankind for the sea was not that of love, but of fear. No trace of love for the sea, but only of fear, can be found in the Bible; St. John in his Vision sees the New Jerusalem, in which “ there shall be no more sea :" and so it is with all the great poets. The same note runs through them all, even the English ; and he illustrated his position by quotations from Shakspere, Burns, Byron, ending by Dr. Johnson's saying, that a ship was a prison with the chance of being drowned. Even sailors don't look on the sea as home, but fear it, and weave all kinds of mystical notions round it. And yet the sea has its sweet and gentle side too, or it would not be part of God's creation. By its exhalations it requickens all nature, and nourishes every plant and flower that grows, and keeps the rivers sweet and running. Then, look at one of the exquisite little shells which you will find lying perfect on the shore after the fiercest storm, or at the delicate and beautiful sea-creatures and plants which float unharmed. The lashing of the storm has done them no harm, and there they are as perfect as if it had never been raging around them. And so the great stormy sea of life has its gentle and loving side for every one of us, so long as we trust in God, and just obey His laws and do His will, with clear consciences and brave hearts.
The barest outline this, of a sermon of three-quarters of an hour. The preacher never lost hold of us for a moment, a vigorous grey four square man, of middle age, with a wonderfully expressive face, full of the power and gentleness which he was painting. One felt that he was putting his whole self into his words, and all the moods through which he carried us, from broad humour to deep pathos, were fused into a white glow by the heat of the man's own simple earnestness. And there was a fearlessness in the way he laid hold of and used anything which
suited his purpose, which reminded me of the witty description of Theodore Parker's preaching in the “Fable for Critics.” It is too long to quote here more than the last lines. “Every word that he speaks has been fierily
furnaced In the blast of a life that has struggled in
earnest. There he stands, looking more like a plough
man than Priest, If not dreadfully awkward, not graceful at
least; His gestures all downright, and same, if you
will, As of brown-fisted Hobnail in hoeing a drill, But his periods fall on you stroke after
stroke, Like the blows of a lumberer felling an oak; You forget the man wholly, you're thankful
to meet With a preacher who smacks of the field and
the street, And to hear, you're not over particular
whence, Almost Taylor's profusion, quite Latimer's
sense.” I was proud to remember that the preacher was an Englishman born. Mr. Collyer began his life as a Yorkshire blacksmith, and his mission as a Methodist preacher, in England. He emigrated some twenty years ago, and has been at Chicago (I believe) fourteen years, which entitles him to call himself one of the oldest inhabitants. When his new church was built, one of his congregation made a pilgrimage to the Yorkshire village where the pastor's forge had stood, and bought the anvil on which he used to work. I saw it in one of the large rooms over which the church stood. A whole set of these, again most comfortably furnished, ran under the building, and were used for various congregational purposes. On my visit I found a number of the active members of the congregation with their pastor, talking over work of one kind or another, and from all I saw it seemed that the idea of the Independents, the separate life of each congregation as a kind of big family, was very strikingly realized here. I had a good deal of very interesting talk with Mr. Collyer on church matters; and, amongst other things, took objection to the luxury