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verton's theories about competitive examination. My friend said to me, that he had “read like a tiger" at the University. That was his expression, though I have not found the feline tribe to be very studious. They seem to be given chiefly to sleeping, if I can judge from your beloved cat, Bijou. But, however, he read“ like a tiger,” he said, to get his fellowship, and so to get his living. And, as for science, he “ did not care a straw about it.” He wanted me, very much, to give him, in exchange for his small modicum of mathematical information, a legal opinion upon the “Common Rights” appertaining to his glebe.
To come back again to what were my thoughts after mastering this immense mass of knowledge respecting the infinitely small portions of creation ;-I really think I should have been a good reasoner on scientific matters, as I am very slow to believe anything.
Milverton. I do hope, Ellesmere, that amidst the many scientific works
you seem to have studiedCranmer. Dipped into
Ellesmere. It is a pity that Cranmer's nature is so prone to depreciation.
Milverton. Well, I hope then you did not omit to dip into Huxley's “ Address to the British Association.” It is really excellent. You would immensely delight in it, Ellesmere, because it is so fair and so argumentative a production. And then the man is very eloquent, and writes well—a merit not always to be observed in the works of scientific Then, too, he comes to much the same conclusion that
do, Ellesmere, about the value of the infinitely small. Please give me the “ Address,” Johnson. It is on the table close to you. I am afraid Ellesmere has not read it, as it does not appear to have been moved. Let me read to you one or two passages as illustrations of the style. It is not a work from which we can quote bits, in order to give a just idea of the substance. In concluding, he says, “Our survey has not taken us into very attractive regions; it has lain, chiefly, in a land flowing with the abominable, and peopled with mere grubs and mouldiness. Nevertheless,” he adds, “you will have observed, that before we had travelled very far upon our road, there appeared, on the right hand and on the left, fields laden with a harvest of golden grain, immediately convertible into those things which the most sordidly practical of men will admit to have value, namely, money and life.”
Ellesmere. Huxley and I agree. We are birds of the same feather, only his scientific plumage happens to be a little more brilliant than mine. I would plead a cause for that man without taking a fee. Can I say more to show my appreciation of his merits ?
But, reverting to the main subject, I do admit that there is an
immense deal which we unscientific people might learn of science, if we only aimed at mastering the results of scientific research.
Milverton. Now, this was where Lord Palmerston was so great. There was no discovery in science during his time, which that muchinquiring man did not read about, and, as far as he could, master. I daresay I have told some of you this before.
Sir Arthur. You have not told me. I knew Palmerston pretty well; but I had no idea that he cared about science.
Milverton. He did, though. I have often made long railway journeys with him—we two alone in a compartment. For about the first fifty miles he would work at his official boxes. Then, for he was the most courteous and kind of men, he would have a little talk with me about affairs in general, thinking it right to be companionable. And then, out of his capacious great-coat pockets, he would bring some scientific paper—the last thing published by the Astronomical Society, or the last discovery in optics; and he would be absorbed in this paper until the end of the journey. The only things that occasionally took the place of his scientific studies, were works relating to the grammar of foreign languages. He know more about Italian and modern Greek than almost any other man. Now, I have always put him down in my mind as a man of real culture. Of course it would have been a grand thing for him if he had been better educated, scientifically speaking, and had known more of pure mathematics; but then, I suppose, we should have lost him as a politician, for the bent of his mind was scientific.
Sir Arthur. You do surprise me, Milverton. How true that line of Henry. Taylor's is—which, by the way, the same Henry Taylor (I beg his pardon, Sir Henry) once told me he had written without any notion that people would find so much meaning in it—"The world knows nothing of its greatest men.”
Milverton. Yes; I think it ought to make us all very modest and dubious in our judgments of other men when we see that a man like Lord Palmerston, living in the front of the world, always on the stage, one of the frankest of men too, was so little understood.
But I must not go on talking about Lord Palmerston, or I should talk for an hour. By the way, one thing more I must tell you,
and that is, that he was a most sensitive man.
Milverton. Yes; about other people's difficulties and misfortunes. In his latter days one was obliged to conceal from him, occasionally, things of this kind; he fretted over them so much. And yet I daresay you have a notion that he was a mere man of the world ; jovial and good-natured, not taking things much to heart. You never were more mistaken.
It is particularly fitting that Lord Palmerston's name should be mentioned in connection with the subject which Ellesmere has brought so prominently before us; for his lordship, shortly before his death, wrote to me, desiring me to cause scientific inquiries to be made respecting a matter deeply concerning the public welfare, which inquiries chiefly related to the possible presence of small • animalculæ, or fungoid spores. He had not been put up to this by any scientific man, but it was his own idea that an investigation of this kind might lead to important practical results.
Ellesmere. I wish I had given the attention to these things that Lord Palmerston did. Upon my word, if he, in his busy life, could keep an eye on the results of science, surely the rest of us could do
Milverton. Now, is not this a triumph for me, that I should ever have induced Ellesmere to take to science !
Sir Arthur. It is a very delightful circumstance; but at the present moment, though rejoicing in any improvement of our friend Ellesmere, I confess I am impatient to hear what Milverton was about to say anent the prevention of war—that something which we were scarcely worthy to hear.
Ellesmere. “Oh loss in heaven to judge of wise,” as the Archangel Gabriel says in “Paradise Lost." " Wise” there means wisdom.
Milverton. No; we will touch upon the Machiavellian subject afterwards; but do let me take this opportunity of proceeding with my main subject,-culture. If you will allow me to do so, I assure you I will enter upon a branch of that subject which will be of eminent service to you-practical service. Johnson wants me to make use of my notes on books; but I might as well ask this east wind, which half kills me, to be courteous and kind, as to ask you to put aside talking about war at this time for the sake of mere literary discussion; but I think you will allow me to do so for the sake of "improving” the fact of Ellesmere's scientific conversion.
Ellesmere. You need not sneer. I shall be a scientific man longbefore you are a musician—a feat which you are always declaring you will undertake.
Milverton. I assure you, I really am glad that you have made a beginning in your scientific studies, and a very good beginning too. I do not say that you will be of as much use as any good friend Ruskin would be, if he were here; but your recent scientific acquirements will enable you to be of some use in supporting the views I am going to put forward.
I want to insist upon the deficiency of culture in the construction of those things upon which health and comfort in domestic life depend. I must, of necessity, go over much ground that has been
trodden by me before; but what there will be new in it will be, the endeavour to show that it is the want of culture which allows the existence of the evils I shall enumerate. You must admit, I think, if you are at all observant, that our streets, our houses, our furniture, our modes of conveyance, and, in short, all those constructions which we form for the uses of daily life, are full of errors. Now, in the first place, it will be natural for you to say to me, "we do admit this: we admit, for instance, that our streets are ill-devised, our houses ill-built, our apparatus for warming and lighting most wasteful and absurd, and our furniture mischievously ugly; but we are neither architects, builders, tradesmen, nor artizans, and the blame must rest with them.” I cannot agree with you. It is the want of general culture in the customer that creates the inferiority of the thing purchased by him.
Cranmer. As usual, I am the slow person who does not exactly understand the drift of your discourse.
. Ellesmere. If you want to be understood, Milverton, always take a particular case.
Milverton. I will now do so; and I will profit at once by your scientific researches. Thanks to Tyndall and Huxley, and others of the chief men of science in our time, you have discovered_for
you a somewhat late discovery—the enormous influence of the small creatures and things in this world. You have learned to respect, with all the respect that flows from terror, the awful power of dust and invisible animalculæ. Now, what is the first thing to be done in a sick-room? The first thing is to remove out of it everything that could be a nidus of infection; but if you observe carefully the construction of nearly all furniture, and especially of the ornamentation of furniture, it is such as to make the furniture a habitat for dust. I sometimes wonder to myself, how infectious disease, when it has once got into a house, is ever to be got out, as there are so many little receptacles cleverly formed for holding it. Now, here comes in the main point I wish to prove, which is this—that if many more people had much more knowledge of the physical circumstances and laws of the world in which they live, these foolish forms of construction, of which I complain, would be put down. In the absence of this kind of culture, the most obvious facts pass unheeded. For example, it is a fact, patent to all men's eyes, that in a coal-burning country there is a great deal of concentrated smoke in great cities. Does a perception of this fact make us a bit wiser in the construction of houses and public buildings in those cities ? Look at a certain great public building which has been recently constructed. Observe the pattypans, as I call them, which surround that building, and are fondly supposed to be an ornament to it, but which are rapidly becoming
black dabs upon it. Observe, too, the grimy statues. If
must have such ornaments and such statues, they should be of terra-cotta —they should be washable.
Ellesmere. There spoke the man of knowledge, as he believes himself to be, in the ceramic art.
Milverton. I knew I should hear that ill-natured remark from Ellesmere; but I had expressed the same opinion long ago, before I knew anything about plastic clays. Passing from all personalities, let me insist once more upon showing you that these vast errors in domestic comfort result from want of culture. Now, I assure you I am going to the root of the matter. There is a certain time that elapses between the period when knowledge is ascertained about any subject, and the period when that knowledge is brought into practical operation. Of course that time is longer or shorter, according to the number of persons in a community who are imbued with the knowledge in question. For example, Ellesmere has honoured us with his company for about a fortnight. During that time, and when he has not been occupied in eating, drinking, walking, or in snubbing me, he has been picking up a little science, chiefly giving his mind to very small creatures and things. I admit that, with his lawyer-like power of getting up a subject, he has probably acquired more in this fortnight than most people would have acquired in six weeks. But I venture to tell you that if there were only a few thousands of persons who knew what Ellesmere now knows about these matters, there would be a public to which scientific men could appeal, and that public would very soon begin to make alteration in the direction which I have pointed out. After all, the constructor and the seller ultimately adapt their works and their goods to the wishes of the purchaser.
Ellesmere. See what a useful unit I am, or may become! I am sorry to say, however, that my vast scientific researches have led me to an equal fear and admiration of great things as well as small. In fact, I now believe in nothing but the biggest of big guns and the smallest of small animalcula. I see that that nation will prevail in war which has guns of the longest range, and that that people will excel in health and comfort which has the greatest knowledge of dust and animalculæ.
Milverton. Now you must let me go on and express to you thoroughly my whole thoughts in this matter. The early training of the young must be greatly altered. I shall never forget a certain great author stopping me once in Belgrave Square, and, to the astonishment of the passers-by, scolding me for wishing to inflict upon him knowledge about the Dolopēs. “Sir,” he said, “I do not desire to hear anything about the Dolopēs. No, sir, I entirely decline to have any acquaintance with the Dolopēs.” Had he been a man given to swearing, he