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ments have arisen which have permanently enlarged the common heritage of the race, and which have been followed by an aftermath of Pharisaism, when the high priests of learning holding the keys of knowledge can neither enter in themselves nor allow others to do so. Youth has so far preserved science from that fate, but there is another powerfully contributive factor in the usefulness of much of scientific knowledge. Great and striking discoveries to-day are to-morrow the starting-points of whole industries and professions, and the pioneer is compelled to keep marching on. If a contemporary of James Watt were to return and attempt to lecture to us on the design and construction of the steam-engine, tens of thousands of quite humble people would in turn instruct him. No doubt he would feel much the same as a classical scholar being corrected by some cad who had got his classics from a crib, but he would have to recognise that his first-hand acquaintance with James Watt made of him no high-priest of the steam-engine. So a pioneer in what but yesterday was an abstruse field of inquiry, purchasing instruments for its pursuit, may receive a lucid exposition of the principle of his subject from the instrument maker, and any wireless operator on board ship would probably be equal to expounding to one Hertz, were he alive to profit by the information, the ether waves by which messages were sent. To be a scientific pioneer to-day, in any of the useful branches of science, at any rate, it is necessary to keep moving on.
It is just because we, to-day, are not such great sculptors or poets as the Greeks, so great lawgivers as the Romans, or so great architects as the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, and because the desire to study these past ages of pre-eminence has not resulted in any overmastering
ability to emulate and surpass them, that they are revered and cherished. At their own valuation their present-day exponents are feeble and pale imitations of the original masters, who uphold an example which they genuinely believe it is impossible to improve upon, and to them of all people are entrusted the shaping of the youth of an age, in science the greatest that has ever been, and in which the achievements are not objects of veneration impossible to be imitated, but stepping-stones to greater.
Science would accord to the ancient studies the fullest and most generous appreciation were the original ideals which dominated the creative ages of the past, rather than the overgrown ruins of those creations themselves, still in active and effective existence.
But the overwhelming love of truth for its own sake, and the passion for enlarging the boundaries and deepening the foundations of knowledge, which are the ideals of science and therefore of any scientific school worthy of the name, need not lead us into the error of supposing that these ideals alone are sufficient to satisfy the human mind, though we may believe that, apart from the aspiration for truth, and, moreover, apart from the belief that truth is humanly attainable, other aspirations are likely to prove evanescent.
If we may cut ourselves adrift completely from the past and, in imagination, attempt to state, in this twentieth century, the objects for which a university should live, we shall find them expressed fairly comprehensively in a favourite phrase of Professor J. Arthur Thomson, “the true, the beautiful, the good.” But we shall not mean precisely by those terms what they would have connoted in any earlier epoch of human thought, for we are living in the twentieth century, and quotations from other ages must be interpreted with regard to the state of learning at the time. Thus, to take the well-known quotation from Keats :
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
and to make of it the motto of a university to-day would be absurd. Even as an answer to the famous question of Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?” in the spirit of the pagan classics he worshipped, it was out of date. For had not Plato written over the garden gates of the place destined to give the name Academy to a school of learning, “Let no one enter who is destitute of geometry?” Now nothing is truer than geometry, nor so far removed from the æsthetic emotions. It has been contended 1 that this inscription secures for Plato the priority for the discovery that real truth is ascertainable by mortal men, and that his famous Dialogues were satirical commentaries on the systems of education in vogue among the Athenian youth of his day, in which that important discovery had not been grasped. If so, would he were alive still, for what a first-rate champion of science he would be, and what a wealth of illustration for his argument he would find in sciences other than geometry.
Of another of these great masters, Aristotle, it is of interest to note that Huxley put forward the theory that the text of his works, which blindly dominated intellectual Europe to the time of Galileo, is in reality nothing more than a collection of the notes of his lectures taken down by one of his students. It is impossible otherwise to account for such an amazing juxtaposition of marvellously
1 William Whewell, “Science and Education," p. 23. W. Heinemann, 1917. (Lectures delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, edited by Sir E. Ray Lankester.)
accurate observation and absolute rubbish, as, from the standpoint of present knowledge, they are found to contain. Think of some new Dark Age oversweeping the earth again--another war such as the last may bring it yet-and, a thousand years hence, all that survives of our present knowledge of the internal structure of atoms being some notes, taken down by one of you, of the lectures I have been giving this term. . It might well take another thousand years of patient study to unravel them, during which epoch my reputed lectures would constitute part of the classics. Punch tells a story of how, to amuse a patient laid aside on a bed of illness, a friend sent her a jig-saw puzzle of “The finding of Moses,” with a handful of “The Map of Europe" thrown in to make it interesting. So, beware of relying too implicitly upon what has come down to us by ancient records.
To return to our theme, it is idle to pretend that what is true must necessarily be either beautiful or good. To adopt such a position is to assume different kinds of truth: one for spiritual matters, elevating and inspiring, another for the things of the flesh, sordid and base, and yet a third for the inanimate world, of utilitarian but of no possible human significance. The scientific man regards truth, not as an aspiration, but as an achievement, and he holds that the truth he has been permitted to achieve is but part of an ascertainable whole, to which poets, seers and prophets have aspired.
Science can claim to have kept the ideal of truth burning very brightly in our universities.
How have the older studies covered their part of the field and cherished the ideals of beauty and virtue? As regards the first, I am quite certain that a Labour Government would not find the present faculties of arts in our universities to be sufficiently catholic. The cult of beauty there is confined almost to the beauty of words. Poetry and literature, however beautiful in form, if divorced from the spirit and knowledge of the age and finding therein only what is ugly, sordid and low, degenerate into one of the most artificial and insidious forms of the æsthetic function. There surely would be a renaissance of classical studies, more in keeping with their original models, to the interpretation and portrayal of the world in its present greatness. The beauty of form_sculpture in marble and bronzethe beauty of colour---painting and the arts of decoration—the beauty of harmony-music-finds no official recognition in most of our modern faculties of arts, and the same may be said of the chief values for which the ancient world stcod. The drama, the building of cities and the general ordering of the civic and national life received attention in the early world, but now are neglected, not because of the growth of science or of what is termed in contempt “materialism," but because of the decay of the creative spirit of the past and its usurpal by a craven imitative habit of mind, which deems the present inferior and tries to make it so.
You may wonder that I should really look for a revival of the lost glories of the ancient world to Labour. First, I would answer, because Labour is young, virile and strong, and, secondly, because upon it has pressed without mitigation the sordidness and squalor of our modern industrial and commercial life. The love of beauty, like the love of truth, is innate and inextinguishable, and from the horrors of the nineteenth century and the mismanagement of the blessings of science under systems that had atrophied even before its advent, men are now earnestly looking everywhere for a way of escape.
The following extract from the Report on Recon