Jubilee celebrations 1902
Lecture by Professor Edgeworth David, 3 October 1902
Professor Edgeworth David, BA, FGS FRS, Professor of Geology, delivered a lecture entitled "University Science Teaching" before a large audience in the Great Hall.
Among those who attended at the Great Hall on the morning of October 3rd, to hear the lecture were the official visitors, Sir Normand MacLaurin, the Vice-Chancellor, Judge Backhouse, and members of the University teaching staff.
A number of students testified by frequent and hearty applause to the popularity enjoyed by the lecturer among those who are privileged to sit at his feet in the lecture-room and Laboratory.
It has been said that all knowledge is science capable of being placed in orderly sequence and of being increased by the method of scientific investigation. "Science," says Huxley, "is organized common sense, and men of science are common men drilled in the ways of common sense." That this definition is sometimes liberally interpreted will appear from the following : - David Starr Jordan, the well-known President of the Ireland Stanford University, California, records the fact that when, many years ago, he went to a college in Illinois as Professor of Natural History, he found on his arrival that he was expected to teach under that head the following subjects: - Zoology, Botany, Geology, Physiography, Physics, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Natural Theology, Political Economy, German, Spanish, and Evidences of Christianity. He was also expected to take a class at Sunday school.
His first efforts at establishing a little laboratory met with a sharp rebuke from his Board of Trustees, who directed him to keep the students out of what was called the cabinet on the ground that they were likely to injure the apparatus and use up the chemicals. Professor Jordan states that later he was relieved of his multifarious duties through the Board appointing a Professor of History.
The Board ruled that as history included all history of which Natural History formed a part, the new Professor must teach Natural History also ; and he did.
If now we return to the statement by Huxley that all knowledge is science, which simply means in this case that knowledge and science are synonymous terms, recourse may be had to the same source for a definition of the forms of knowledge. He groups them into three classes :
(1) Knowledge of limits and scope of the mental faculties in Man, i.e., Logic and part of Psychology, with Metaphysics.
(2) Knowledge relating to Man's Welfare, as determined by his own acts, i.e., Moral and Religious Philosophy.
(3) Knowledge of the Phenomena of the Universe, as that which lies about the individual man: and of the rules which those phenomena are observed to follow in the order of their occurrence, which we term the Laws of Nature.
The term Science, as generally understood now, is the third of the classes of knowledge above mentioned.
II. Should Science be Taught at a University? - The question - " Should science " (as above defined) "be taught at a University"' has for some time past been answered in the affirmative at most Universities, but it may be well to consider a few important reasons why science should be taught at Universities.
This old order has long since given place to new, and Illinois is now furnished with numerous Colleges where Science is well taught.
First. - The view that it should be taught is in accord with the spirit of the first University founded to the west of the Alps, the great University of Paris, known by the grand old name of "Universitas Studii Generates" a society for knowledge of all things knowable ; and this, surely, should be the ideal of modern, as of mediaeval, University studies.
Secondly, from the lower motives of national prosperity in industries and commerce we should teach science at Universities,
for it is essentially Universities that impart the higher scientific training which enables students to pursue original research. Original research leads to discovery, and constant discovery is necessary in order to maintain the industries and commerce of a nation. Proof of this (if proof be needed) is afforded by the recent wonderful commercial progress of Germany, due chiefly to her doctors of philosophy, most of whom are men trained at Universities. These are the elite of science, whose researches lead on to discoveries ; and what is true of Germany is true also of America, France, and Great Britain. Huxley well states the importance to a nation, of scientific discoveries as follows:
"I weigh my own words when I say that if the nation could purchase a potential Watt or Davy or Faraday, at the cost of a hundred thousand pounds down, he would be dirt cheap at the money. It is a mere common-place and everyday piece of knowledge that what these three men did has produced untold millions of wealth in the narrowest economical sense of the word."
Well were it for us to take to heart thje warning of Lord Rosebery as to the danger to our commercial and industrial welfare if we neglect scientific method. He says :
"I humbly think that in this country we live a good deal too much from hand to mouth. We do not proceed by scientific method. We go on the principle that things have carried us so well, so far ; that we are a noble nation ; that we are pretty numerous; and that we have always muddled out right in the end.
"But I say this, that we are a people of enormous waste ; we waste simply by not pursuing scientific methods.
"Germany is infinitely more painstaking and scientific than we are. In commerce, in education, and in war we are not methodical, we are not scientific, we are not abreast of the more advanced nations of the day. And if we want to keep our place, we shall have to consider the lessons we have been taught in this respect. Depend upon it, however brilliant you may be, the tortoise of investigation method and preparation will always catch up and overtake the hare, which leaves everything to the inspiration and effort of the moment."
Thirdly, a reason why science should be taught at a University is that science is a part of that culture to confer which upon its alumni is considered to be the special function of a University. According to Arnold, culture is "to know the best that has been thought and said in the world," so that a man of culture should always be able to form a sound judgment upon the problems of daily life. In other words, Arnold considers that criticism of life is the essence of culture. He considers that criticism of life is contained in literature. Huxley, however, has so fully shown in his address on "Science and Culture" that culture is not contained in. literature alone - that it should suffice to state, briefly, that knowledge of science is part of culture, inasmuch as science is an important part of the great sum of truths, to attain which university teaching aspires, so that a fully cultured man should be one who is not only acquainted with the best thoughts of the best men as contained in literature, but one who is also acquainted with the great scientific truths revealed in Nature's Laws. A man of sound judgment should have, therefore, the culture that comes from study of science as well as that which comes from study of literature.
Fourthly : It is generally admitted that Ethics and Logic should form part of a University curriculum. Now although the study of Ethics does not necessarily teach us to lead moral lives it tends to do so ; and surely the study of science has in itself a distinct moral and logical value, for the sustained effort, the "intending of the mind," so necessary in scientific study, particularly in research work, strengthens the character, and entails self-denial, and the correct interpretation of experiments strengthens the reasoning powers, while the fanaticism for veracity in his special scientific work must promote a love of truth in general in the mind of the scientific worker.
Fifthly : It has been the experience of the past that many of the most brilliant scientific workers have been trained at Universities. Amongst those which suggest themselves on the spur of the moment are the following : - In Mathematics, Abel, Leibnitz, W. R. Hamilton, Sylvester, Cayley; in Astronomy, Sir J. Herschel, J. Airey, J. C. Adams, Vogel ; in Physics, Isaac Newton, Helmholtz, H. Hertz, Lord Kelvin, Clarke-Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, J. J. Thomson, Rbntgen; in Chemistry, Berzelius, Liebig, Bunsen, Sir William Ramsay, A. W. Hoffman; in Biology, Linnaeus, Virchow, Pasteur; in Mineralogy, Haiiy; in Geology, Humboldt, Von Buch, De Saussfure, Agassiz, Suess, Lyell, etc.
The above are five of the many reasons for including science in a University curriculum. Briefly recapitulated they are as follows: (1) It is in accordance with the whole spirit of University teaching that all forms of knowledge should there be studied; (2) it is essential to a nation's industrial and commercial prosperity that the higher branches of science be taught such as lead through research to discovery, and such studies can be best pursued at a University ; (3) the study of science is part of culture, and culture is a special attribute of a University training ; (4) the study of science is of distinct moral value, and, besides, strengthens the reasoning powers, giving it thus a claim akin to that of moral philosophy and logic for inclusion as a University subject ; and (5) last and not least, University science teaching in the past has succeeded in producing many of the most eminent men of science ; continues to produce them in the present - and will, if proper care is taken, succeed in producing them in the future.
III. Science Teaching at Extra-Australian Universities. - Reasons having been given for the teaching of science at Universities, attention may next be paid to the leading characteristics of science teaching at Extra-Australian Universities.
France. - In France University teaching of all kinds has of late years greatly expanded, and probably to no city in the world do the words of Claude Bernard, "the laboratories of Paris are the tombs of savants," less apply now than to Paris. Under the law of July 10th, 1896, fifteen Universities have been constituted, the number of University chairs has been greatly increased, libraries have been enlarged and fine laboratories have been built.
The informing idea in French Education which applies specially to the teaching of the higher branches of science is thus expressed by Mr. Albert Dumont :
"An Elite must bring forth ideas; the crowd then lives upon them, and absorbs them as it does the ambient air. This Elite, which must exclude no willing mind, and must be accessible to all whatever their origin and position may be ; this ever vigorous, active, and constantly renovated aristocracy, welcoming every intelligent and noble mind - can only be created by high culture. Primary knowledge is only of service when applied to the general direction of every-day life according to rules and considerations which are much above ordinary reasoning powers. Secondary knowledge, being essentially didactic, can only serve as a weapon or a tool ; the mode of turning to good account this preparatory knowledge in order to live well, i.e., to elevate and develop the mind and character, is taught by higher speculations.
"In industrial matters the primary student is an artisan, the secondary student a foreman, whilst the higher student is an inventor; each of them can only rise from the first two classes by an effort and by work. A nation of artisans and foremen would soon be beaten by a nation having inventors, for it is invention alone which in important or secondary matters can secure the first place among so many competing efforts.
"So also in intellectual matters the artisans and foremen are powerless unless assisted by inventors."
Germany. - One of the great features in the teaching of science at German Universities is that while the course in science is very thorough, the range of studies is broad. With regard to the teaching of Philosophy Students in Germany, it has been said that the reason why there are a greater number of Philosophy Students in Germany than in France or England is that in Germany the student, before he enters any special profession, is required to be perfectly trained in Philosophy, for then he is able to understand his particular vocation with a broader mind, and can do more in it than he could do without that preliminary general training.
The magnificence of the equipment of the science laboratories at German Universities, and of laboratories for general research purposes like the Physikalische Technische Reichanstalt at Charlottenburg, may well excite our admiration, and stimulate our emulation.
Professor Thorpe, quoting from a letter written by Dr. Oswald to Professor Ramsay, shows how different are the methods of chemistry teaching respectively at English and German Universities (Graduates from England often go to Leipzic to Professor Oswald's splendidly organized laboratories) :
"The German chemical manufacturer is almost invariably the product of a university laboratory.
"He has been matured in an atmosphere of pure science and imbued with the spirit of research.
"The output of chemical research from the German university laboratories is enormous, when compared with the driblets which occasionally escape from our own universities. But large as the amount of research work in Germany is, it hardly keeps pace with the demands of German chemical industry, and it has come to pass that some of the greatest industrial concerns in Germany, now possess research laboratories, differing only from those in the universities by being more splendidly and sumptuously fitted.
"This organization of the power of invention in manufactures, and on a large scale is, as he (Dr. O.) says, ' unique in the world's history, and it is the very marrow of our splendid development. Each large work has the greater part of its scientific staff - and there are often more than 100 doctores phil. in a single manufactory - occupied, not in the management of the manufacture, but in making inventions.'
"It would not be difficult to show that this extraordinary spectacle - this organization of the power of discovery, so unique in the world's history and so wondrously fruitful in its results - is the direct outcome of Germany's University System ; and as regards Chemistry, of Liebig's genius in organizing Chemical instruction.
"Whatever demands the highest chemical knowledge and the power of applying the newest and most recondite chemical facts remains in Germany. Few of the newer chemical industries are started with us, and even of those few some of the most successful have been controlled by German.' Mr. Sydney Webb warns us that " the same national neglect which lost us the great industry of coal-tar colours - positively a British discovery that we failed to utilise and abandoned to Germany - now bids fair to lose us one branch of applied chemistry after another. Professor Thorpe adds:
" It is not by cheap evening classes, by science examinations of the South Kensington type, by the spread of Technical education of the character of that furnished by County Councils, that Germany has won her scientific supremacy, and with it her supremacy in those industries which are directly dependent on chemical science. Her industries owe their position to the knowledge, training and skill of those who direct her artisans; and this knowledge, training and skill are the immediate results of that scientific supremacy which, in chemistry at least, her universities have enabled her to acquire."
United States. If we now turn to the United States one might expect to find that in that rapidly progressing country, more stress would be laid upon the practical side of scientific and other teaching than upon the theoretical (included under the latter term being those subjects which are generally comprised by the term Arts). That this, however, is not the case, must be clear to anyone who has studied their system of education. For example, in the case of no less than 318 Institutions out of 432, both Greek and Latin are compulsory subjects ; and as stated in the able address to the Melbourne Medical Students by my colleague, Prof. Wilson, the Harvard Medical School enacted only as recently as September, 1901, that a preliminary college course in Arts, of four years' duration, must form a qualification for the admission to the medical curriculum, the latter also of four years' duration. He adds that the system is already in operation in the Medical School of John Hopkins University, whilst Columbia University has
given notice to apply a like regulation to the curriculum in law after 1903.
The tendency then at American Universities is to insist that the student who wishes to proceed to a science degree, shall have had a preliminary training in literature and philosophy, as well as of course in mathematics. It is largely in order to find time for laying this broad foundation of preliminary liberal education that the system of post-graduate courses has been so widely introduced in the United States. Mr. Sidney Webb summarises the matter thus :
" For alongside the University Democracy of the undergraduates class brought about by the multiplication of brain working occupations and widespread education, we see everywhere emerging at the beginning of the twentieth century, a new aristocracy of advanced students, intent on pursuing their chosen subjects above and beyond the first, or 'bread and butter' degree. Every day it becomes more clear that, as an equipment for the highest grade of brain-workers, the three or four years' general course of the ordinary undergraduate is far from sufficient. In the United States we find a practically unanimous opinion that it is to the post-graduate courses started five-and-twenty years ago at the John Hopkins, and now general at all the great Universities, that the advances in American technique and American science are to be ascribed : an opinion explained by Lord Kelvin's recent statement that it takes now ac least six years to make a competent scientist.
It may be added that as a further development of the system of post-graduate teaching, at the present moment there are hundreds of carefully-selected American graduates who are maintained by travelling scholarships as well as by private munificence at foreign Universities."
Mr. Grustave Lanson summarises thus the characteristics of University Education in the United States : " Universities, those which are worthy of that name, are laboratories of research; the individual does not work for himself, but for science. He does not go there to seek benefits for a career, technical acquirement, or diplomas which have a money value. To speak truly, the conflict here is acute. Already in the high schools the positive spirit had to be fought against; here the evil is worse. There is hardly a University whose philosophical faculty in the German sense (comprising letters and science), is not flanked by a school of law, or medicine, or engineering, frequently by a veterinary or dental school. Those in a hurry abridge even their college course or skip it altogether, - passing from the high school into the professional school. Everywhere in the universities influence must be brought to bear against the students rushing into bread-and-butter courses. But public sentiment reacts. University Boards, State Superintendents, the Central Bureau at Washington, are making vigorous efforts to stem the utilitarian tendency. And on the whole the disinterested taste for science is gaining ground. Twenty-nine State universities, the millions bestowed by John Hopkins in Baltimore, by Ezra Cornell in Ithaca, by Rockefeller in Chicago, bear witness that science has won its case with a people who, Taine believed, were destined to devote themselves eternally to sell salt beef and to worship the almighty dollar.
It may be added that an unofficial estimate of the amount given by individuals during the year 1899 for Universities, Colleges, Schools, and Libraries, in the United States, is over £16,000,000.
Great Britain and Ireland. Of late years there has been a great development of the teaching of science at the Universities of the Old Country. It is satisfactory to note that on the physical side of pure science, the University of Cambridge still leads all the other Universities of the world. This is chiefly to be ascribed to the efficiency with which applied, as well as pure mathematics, is
there taught; to the fact that the student is taught to use mathematics as a key with which to unlock the door of physics. At the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge a striking new departure in favour of science has bean made in the provision for giving men research degrees in science as well as in literature, two academic years of residence and study being required for the B.Sc. research degree. At London University the proposed change in the curriculum now being discussed is specially characterised by the prominence assigned to science subjects. Great advances, too, in science teaching have been made recently at the Universities of Scotland and Ireland.
In all the leading Universities of the Old Country, post-graduate work has been encouraged by the system of fellowships, the award of which to men who have shown capacity for original research relieves them from the drudgery which would otherwise be necessary for them in order to win their bread.
Russia. Education of all kinds has been advancing with great rapidity of late years. The words of a Russian attache at the Paris Exposition of 1900 may be quoted: - "There is an absorbing thirst for knowledge taking possession of our people ; we need no compulsory laws when we have not school accommodations for those anxious to come and for those who would travel many versts at a great sacrifice if they might come. Special encouragement is given to the Russian University students to travel to foreign Universities for post-grade courses in science, etc.
Japan, too, where education has spread and improved so wonderfully of late, has recently set us of the British Empire an excellent example in its decision to send, at the expense of its Government, 200 picked graduates to spend some years in post-graduate study in the capitals of Europe.
This brief review of some phases of modern science teaching at extra-Australian Universities suggests the consideration as to what are the chief aims and methods of this teaching.
The chief aims are two : to teach the student to live well and to teach him to think right. In order to help to attain these ends, two important changes are being gradually introduced into the method of teaching science, especially such branches of it as are required for professions such as those of medicine, and civil, mining, or electrical engineering. The following appear to me to be the chief changes in method: (1) The laying of a broad foundation of general education before building upon it the special science teaching required for the professions ; (2) the lengthening of the time of University study. The latter change is obviously largely an outcome of the former.
To live well and to think right are priceless gifts, largely, though not wholly, in the power of the culture that comes from a study of Arts and Science to bestow. So far as education alone can confer them, they are to be conferred by such an education as makes for the foundation of good character - such as comes from studying through literature the best thoughts of the best men, through history the actions (good and bad) of individuals and peoples and their results, through moral philosophy, logic and metaphysics, the ethical ideas and system of reasoning of the best men, and through mathematics the rigid discipline of exactness. Unless there is a foundation of this kind for those who build the city of science, their labour is often lost that build it.
Of the need for maintenance of a high standard of moral character in a people, Huxley says : - " Our sole chance of succeeding in a competition which must constantly become more and more severe, is that our people shall not only have the knowledge and skill which are required, but that they shall have the will and the energy and the honesty ; neither knowledge nor skill without these will be of any permanent avail."
And again, "If the wealth resulting from prosperous industry is to be spent upon the gratification of unworthy desires, if the increasing perfection of manufacturing processes is to be accompanied by an increasing debasement of those who carry them on, I do not see the good of industry and prosperity."
If honesty and integrity are so dearly to be prized in the humbler scientific workers, they are surely at least as much to be prized in those that sit in the high places of learning.
The lengthening of the time of University study for science students, which has been referred to as an important recent change, has been brought about, partly to admit of the broadening of this early foundation before the science course proper begins, and partly to admit of research work being carried on after the student has obtained his degree, so that he may not only learn, but make science.
It is to this end that at Harvard and elsewhere the elective system of studies has been introduced into the final year of the medical curriculum ; and it is to this end that post-graduate courses have been organized and are so well attended in the United States, and that of late so many research and travelling scholarships and fellowships have been instituted in the countries where science is best taught.
To reason out truths for themselves, and not merely to commit to memory the truths of the past, without intelligently verifying them, is the great object of the higher teaching of science. Teaching on these lines will place the mind of the student almost on a level with that of the original discoverer.
Soon being the chief aims of modern science teaching - to make the student live well and be a right thinker, capable of and eager for original research - there follows the consideration of certain hindrances to the study of science, then of certain helps and needs for help.
Hindrances. Opposition has been offered to the introduction of science teaching in University curricula by the votaries of the Arts; but it is possible that this opposition has proved a blessing in disguise, having had the effect of strengthening, rather than weakening, the champions of science. The arts man used to regard the science laboratory at the University, either as a white elephant; or as a wooden horse of Troy, threatening destruction to the fair citadel of art. But now, happily, the days are come when the Arts man wields the sword of science, and the Science man wears the breast-plate of arts.
Happily the days are over when Emerson and Agassiz fought their Homeric battles; but if any of the old antagonism survives, the answer of Agassiz to Emerson applies today as of yore. Emerson complained that at Harvard natural history under Agassiz was getting too great an ascendancy, and that a checkrein would not be amiss on the enthusiastic professor who was responsible for this. Agassiz' reply was, "Do you not see that the way to bring about a well proportioned development of all the resources of the University is, not to check the Natural History Department, but to stimulate all the others? - not that the zoological school grows too fast, but that the others do not grow fast enough. "
Perhaps in England there still exists some hindrance to the pursuit of science arising from too much wealth and ease and love of sport. Huxley compared in his time the English University student with his Scotch contemporary greatly to the disadvantage of the former, and even after allowance is made for the fact that Huxley at the time was speaking at Aberdeen there can be no doubt that there was some truth in his comparison between "the host of pleasant monied, well-bred young gentlemen, who do a little learning and much boating by Cam and Isis," and the "brave and frugal Scotch boy, spending his summer in hard manual labour, that he may have the privilege of wending his way in autumn to this University, with a bag of oatmeal, ten pounds in his pocket, and his own stout heart to depend upon through the northern winter."
Helps. The hindrances to University science teaching have fortunately been few as compared with the helps. Sometimes the State, sometimes private individuals, have munificently endowed scientific laboratories and libraries. "A principal laboratory sufficiently well built to last a hundred years, and extensive grounds, where light temporary buildings might be erected and pulled down, as cases would require," the ideal of many a scientific worker, are now available at most Universities where science is taught. With reference to laboratory accommodation, the following statement by Albert Dumont, is open to comment :
" Comfortable appointments and perfect scientific appliances do not produce genius. In order to be convinced of this it is enough to see the dark and cold room in the 'College de France' where Claude Bernard made his most remarkable discoveries. M. Pasteur's experiments on fermentation were carried on at the Ecole Normale Superieure in a small room having as an annexe a closet where the most delicate manipulations were performed. The first laboratory of Liebig at Giessen ought to remain as an example of what exceptional intellects can accomplish even with the most imperfect means at their disposal."
It is of course greatly to the credit of the above distinguished scientists that they were able to do so much with such simple apparatus and laboratories, but doubtless much invaluable time would have been saved had the appliances at their disposal been more perfect, and it must also be remembered that every year more and more elaborate laboratories and apparatus are needed for modern research work.
As pure scienoe seldom pays commercially the problem of how to win bread and butter, and, at the same time, conduct research work becomes a very serious one. The liberal endowment of travelling scholarships and fellowships has to a certain extent met this difficulty, in the Old Country. In Germany the difficulty has been met by giving men of high scientific attainments teaching appointments paid partly by the State, partly by students' fees, the duties of which are sufficiently light to admit of the teacher spending the greater part of his time upon ccientific research.
IV. Australian University Science Teaching. Science has been admitted for many years to the curricula of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney Universities, each having the power of conferring degrees of Bachelor of Science and Doctors of Science, Melbourne giving in addition the Degree of Master of Science. In the case of each University a knowledge of not less than two languages other than English, either Latin, Greek, French or German, is required before admission to the science course.
Each University has a Faculty of Science. The Faculty of Science at our University was established in 1881, and since that time 45 students have taken the B.Sc. Degree, 45 the B.E. Degree in Civil Engineering, 41 the B.E. Degree in Mining Engineering, and 4 the M.E. Degree in Civil Engineering, the above Degrees belonging to the Faculty of Science.
Results. As already stated the success of University science teaching is to be estimated largely by the amount of research accomplished. With regard to this I am not sufficiently familiar with the post-graduate work of the Adelaide or Melbourne University students to be able to speak with authority, though I know that much valuable work has been done especially by some of the holders of travelling scholarships. As regards the work of the teaching staffs, at Adelaide the work of the late Professor Tate upon the Tertiary Invertebrate Fauna of South Australia, is an important contribution to science, and his organization of and work upon the Horn expedition is worthy of all praise. The recent discovery by his successor in the geology lectureship, Mr. Walter Howchin, of immense glacial moraines, of Lower Cambrian age, near Adelaide, is certainly of world-wide interest and subversive of many previous ideas as to the climate of the earth in Cambrian time. Melbourne has done much for the cause of science. Professor Baldwin Spencer, among his many other valuable scientific works, is perhaps best known to us as the leading figure in the Horn Expedition to Central Australia, the whole work of editing that most useful contribution to our knowledge of the Natural History of Central Australia devolving upon him. His recent work with Mr. Gillen upon the Aborigines of Central Australia, valuable as it is, is but the forerunner of a still more important work upon the results of his toilsome trans-continental trip with Mr. Gillen, undertaken with the object of gathering together, before it became too late, all possible ethnological information about the aborigines of Central Australia.
Professor C. J. Martin, of the Melbourne Medical School, has contributed to the world's knowledge as to the chemistry of the venom of Australian snakes, and has shown for the first time which of the particular proteoses among the proteids form the poisonous constituents of snake venom, and he has shown the particular physiological effects of snake venom upon the blood. Professor Gregory has already plunged into the subject of the geology of S.E. Australia with the energy and enthusiasm which might have been expected of the author of "The Great Rift Valley." Of the work done by the science students and teaching staff at Sydney University, a brief account has already been given by me in the Jubilee number of our University agazine, "Hermes," and though repetition is sometimes vain, the following might well be referred to : Professor Liversidge's labours in organizing the fine scientific Library of the Royal Society of N.S.W., in sustaining the Royal Society of N.S.W., as well as in inaugurating and keeping together the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, is one that will always be gratefully remembered by Australian science workers. Professor Harwell's text-book of Zoology, written in collaboration with the late Professor Parker, of Dunedin, N.Z., which may fairly claim to be the best of its kind in the English language, is an ornament of which our University may be justly proud. And the recent discoveries by his demonstrator, Mr. J. P. Hill, B.Sc., that a true allan-toic placenta is present in the bandicoot (pcramcles) as well as his still more recent discovery, in conjunction with Professor Wilson, that omithorhynchus in the early development of the egg shows one most striking evidence of reptilian affinity, are of far reaching biological interest.
The researches, too, of Professor Elliott Smith, of Cairo, late student at our Medical School, upon the cerebral commissure of the monotreme and marsupial brain, are of such importance as to have necessitated a thorough restudy of the mammalian brain in general. He is one of the few but fit young labourers from among our alumni who has put in his sharp 3ickle to reap the plenteous harvest which waves upon our shores. So far Australia has no cause to be ashamed of the contributions to pure science, especially upon the Natural History side, made by her Universities.
On the professional side of the Faculty of Science at our University, we have schools of Civil, Mechanical, Mining and Electrical Engineering. The schools of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering are just commencing their career, and already there are 9 students in Electrical Engineering. In Civil Engineering there are 5 students and in Mining Engineering 53 students. It is natural and right in a country of such vast mineral wealth as Australia, in general, and New South Wales in particular, that the school of Mining Engineering should be as strong as is our present school at this University. Some idea of the vastness of the mineral resources of this State in coal alone may be found in Mr. E. F. Pittman's recent work, "The Mineral Resources of New South Wales" in which he estimates, on certain assumptions, our available coal supply at about 100,000 million tons, which at the low estimate of 5s. per ton, represents a gross value of 5,000,000,000 pounds, a munificent inheritance, which we should learn not to waste but to use wisely.
Helps, Hindrances and Needs. The helps and hindrances to our science teaching at our University, and certain needs may next be considered. Science teaching at our University has undoubtedly derived great help in the past from our Scientific Societies and Science Libraries. One of our most prominent research workers, Professor Threlfall, in taking leave of the Hon. Sec. of the Royal Society, said, "Personally I am immensely indebted to the Society for the encouragement it has always given me, and also for the great use I have had of its fine library." That library, it may be added, we owe chiefly to the personal efforts of Professor Liversidge.
The Library of the Linnaean Society for which we are indebted almost entirely to the munificence of a late Senator and firm friend of this University, Sir William Macleay, has also proved in the able hands of its secretary, Mr. J. J. Fletcher, a very great aid to research. The Free Public Library, too, is at times most useful,! as is also the Library at the Australian Museum, and the excellent Library of the Geological Survey, which has been so well organised by Mr. R. Etheridge, junior, and the present librarian, Mr. W. S. Dun.
In connection with libraries and books, it may be mentioned that the University Science Departments stand much in need of further funds for purchase of books. The present funds are almost all absorbed in the purchase of scientific periodicals. In addition to the help afforded by their libraries, the scientific societies have supplied a valuable stimulus to scientific work by science graduates. This is notably the case with the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science.
In the matter of apparatus and material for laboratory work we are sorely in need of increased funds, if our University, as regards its science teaching and equipment, is to keep in line with the general advance of science. To encourage research work we need post-graduate courses, and a great increase in number of owr travelling scholarships. The suggestion has been made by Professor Pollock that possibly in the case of the 1851 Exhibition Commissioners' Travelling Scholarship, the Commissioners might see their way to allow the holder of the scholarship to work part of the time of the tenure of the scholarship in one of our own laboratories. It would be fairer, he thinks, to the laboratories and to the cause of science in Australia if this could be done.
The student elected to a science travelling scholarship, after he has worked with us up to such a standard as will admit of his undertaking research work on his own responsibility, goes to some extra-Australian University and accomplishes useful research there, helping thereby to increase the reputation of that laboratory, whereas, however brilliant may be his discovery, his old Sydney laboratory is illumined thereby only with a borrowed light. We must not, however, forget that the stimulus which comes from new environment is highly beneficial to the student, but there is no reason, why he should lose this advantage, even if the above proposal were carried out, as after devoting the first year of his scholarship to research in his own University, the remainder of his time would be spent abroad. It may be questioned, however, whether this innovation would be quite fair to the student unless there were a reasonable prospect of his two years tenure of the travelling scholarship being lengthened to three years, as is often the case, as one year alone spent abroad is insufficient for a thorough study of even a small branch of science.
What is perhaps more needed at our University than travelling scholarships, are fellowships.
Pure science does not pay financially, at all events it does not pay those engaged in science research. A past President of our Royal Society has summarized the matter thus : "The devotees of science have necessarily abandoned the paths that lead to possible affluence, and yet from their limited means they contribute, as a rule, liberally to the cause that lies nearest their hearts. But the institutions on which the progress of humanity depends, require assistance in the material means for their maintenance, far beyond what lies in the power of men of science to provide. It is peculiarly gratifying, therefore, when those, whose financial genius has won for them affluence, use the great power which that brings to promote the welfare of the people."
The endowment of fellowships would enable us in New South Wales to regain the services here of our research science scholars, when the tenure of their travelling scholarships had expired ; and the establishment in our midst of a body of scientific workers familiar with the latest methods of research in the Northern Hemisphere would bring light and power to the cause of science in this country.
Of all Sir William Macleay's bequests to science probably none will prove more useful than the fellowships, which he has endowed. It is only by the labours of bands of advanced research students, such as these, and the force of their living example, that our University can hope to win for itself a reputation that may be world wide, so that men may seek to its halls as of old they sought those of Bologna, Paris, and Oxford.
As regards teaching staff our University on the Science side has many needs, but perhaps none is more keenly felt than the need for a teacher of Botany. At present Botany is grouped with Zoology under the chair of Biology, but obviously it is no more possible for one man to deal with these two vast subjects at our University than at other Universities, where the two great branches of Biology are invariably represented by at least two chairs. Additions to the teaching staff are also needed in Organic Chemistry and in Electrical and Physical Chemistry. The question as to whether Agriculture should not also form the subject for a University chair, is one well worthy of serious consideration. Agriculture is taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, at no less than 17 of the American Universities, at many of the universities of Germany, and at teaching establishments of University standard in France, at Grignon, Grandjouan, Montpelier, etc. In Switzerland it is taught at the University of Lausanne, and in Italy at the superior colleges of Milan and Portici. Surely the great industry of agriculture, the greatest in the coruntry, in the words of Lord Rosebery, "as old as it is honourable," and yearly more and more dependent on the higher branches of science, is one not unworthy of a place on a University science curriculum. Another question lately mooted by my colleague, Professor Wilson, has been the introduction of German into the University curriculum, or into the entrance examination for science and medical students. Obviously such students should at least be able to read with facility scientific literature in German as well as French. Another improvement in our curriculum may possibly soon be the conversion of the three years' courses in Science and Mining Engineering each into a course of four years. This by giving the students more time will make them more thorough in their work.
Another direction in which science teaching at the University may be helped is in the way of subsidising scientific expeditions, as has been so generously done by Mr. W. A. Horn, of South Australia, and Miss Eadith Walker, of New South Wales.
The handsome donations, too, of the Hon. David Syme proprietor of the Melbourne Age, and that of Professor Baldwin Spencer's father, for the purpose of Natural History and Ethnological Research in Central Australia and Northern Territory, have been the means of securing for science information, some of which would otherwise have been irrecoverably lost.
There is great need for the exploration of our own country. The native fauna and flora are being so modified by bush fires, rabbits, and the agency of man, that it will soon be almost impossible to decide which forms are indigenous and which introduced.
The study of land and freshwater fauna and flora of Australia are matters of almost as great urgency as is the Ethnological study of our aborigines.
The question of making accurate hydraulic surveys of all the artesian wells of New South Wales, and elucidating the physical problem presented by our artesian water, is one of great importance from a scientific as well as from a commercial standpoint.
The nature of the organisms in our artesian water, is another urgent matter for research as well as is the oceanography of the South Eastern Coast of Australia.
It is gratifying to note that Mr. Hedley, of the Australian Museum, and Mr. Halligan, the Government Hydrographer, have made a good beginning at the work of current observation and study of the deep sea fauna of our coast ; the results obtained are of the greatest interest, showing that numerous forms of marine life previously believed to be extinct, are still living.
There is need, too, for a thorough geodetic survey of Australia, and for a systematic srtudy of our Australian Meteorology, of Local Force of Gravity, Terrestrial Magnetism, Seismology, etc.
Of hindrances to science in Australia fortunately little may be said. Such as have occurred have been similar to those in the older countries, but in one respect we, in Australia, suffer under a disability from which most of the older countries are exempt - there is practically little or no scientific opinion in the people of Australia. The Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, has, however, already done something to remove this disability. Another drawback is one to which a past president of our Royal Society has already directed attention. We take our outdoor games too seriously, and our laboratory work too lightly. Time should remove the former of these evils, and the storm and stress of competition should eliminate the latter.
V. Conclusion. So far I have tried to show why science should be taught at Universities ; how Universities other than our own teach it, and how we teach it, and also how our teaching might be improved.
It is to be regretted that in Sydney, as in London, the number of students at the University is small in proportion to the population as compared with the numbers at Paris and Berlin. Paris and Berlin each have 12,000 University students, London has 2,000 matriculated students at work. There are 7 millions of inhabitants in London within the 30-mile radiius, and if the proportion of students to population in London were similar to those in Paris and Berlin, London ought to have 20,000 University students instead of 2,000. Sydney, tested by the Paris and Berlin standard, and credited with the total population of New South Wales and Queensland, on which to draw for students, should have 5,000 University students instead of 700. The cost and difficulty of travel to Sydney from remote parts of New South Wales and Queensland, as compared with the ready access of the populations of Paris and Berlin to their Universities, must be allowed for. A greater appreciation by the public of the advantages of University teaching should tend more than anything else to raise the proportion of our students to population to the continental standard.
It cannot be any spirit of exclusiveness that deters students from coming to us, for we have maintained a thoroughly open door policy in our science as in all our other teaching. The fact cannot be too strongly emphasized that the science classes and laboratories of the University are open to all comers, irrespective of the question as to whether the student has matriculated or not. It cannot be expense, for the fees are as low as under the circumstances they can well be made, and compare very favourably in this respect with the fees at other Universities. In cases where insufficient means prevent a student from paying the University fees, the Chancellor has the power to remit them, a power which is exercised in a spirit far more liberal than the public imagines. Here, truly, then, exists at our University Huxley's ideal - "a ladder reaching from the gutter to the University." Neither can it be said that want of freedom to study hinders students from coming to us, for "Lernfreiheit" the freedom to pursue knowledge, has been preserved in the science no less than in the other departments of this University.
Apart from higher considerations, if only the commercial aspect of the case be taken, it is high time that the Australian nation awoke to the need for learning the lessons of modern science, such as our University courses afford. The future of British trade wears a serious outlook. The rapid exhaustion of the supplies of coal in Great Britain must inevitably mean a decline in her manufactures. Already she has been outstripped in the production of iron by America and Germany, whereas only as recently as 1870, as shown by the author of "Our Imperial Heritage", in a recent magazine, her output of iron was more than equal to that of America and Germany combined. It is not pleasing to contemplate this comparative shrinkage in British production. There are two chief remedies : (1) We must work harder and work better ; (2) More attention must be paid to the development of the British Empire beyond the seas ; and our Science Graduates are the best equipped men to accomplish this work on the science research and industrial side, just as are our Arts Students in their professions. But the fact must once more be emphasized that success or failure of our University science men in keeping this nation to the forefront in scientific methods and scientific discovery which make for a nation's industrial greatness, depends on the efficiency of the science teaching, and to be efficient it must be founded on a broad and liberal education a foundation such as is specially supplied by a study of the Arts, such as will teach stiudenits to live well and to think right.
In pressing forward for the prize of discovery of fresh truth, science should heed neither praise nor blame, not unmindful of Huxley's words, "When science has made an important discovery, great is the acclamation of those that are benefited thereby, and for the time being science is the Diana of all the craftsmen, but even while the cries of jubilation resound, the crest of the wave of scientific investigation is far away on its course over the illimitable ocean of the unknown. "
The thought, that nothing like the thousandth part of the scientific truths that shall be known by man are already known, should surely inspire us to press onward.
Science is like a great lighthouse on an island in a vast sea. From time to time the lantern may be improved ; even the lighthouse itself may be pulled down to its foundations, and rebuilt higher and stronger, and the new light now chases darkness from the face of the deep over an area greater than before, but this only serves to widen to our gaze the infinite darkness that lies beyond.
In the grand pursuit of Truth differences between individuals, between classes, and even between nations, are forgotten ; and on an occasion like this of our present jubilee, the holy bond of learning has united us, as shown by the many friendly greetings sent us, with many nations, kindreds and tongues. Such a bond of world-wide sympathy is very strong between scientific men, and gives additional inspiration and encouragement to us in our work.
On such an occasion as that of our present Jubilee one is reminded of the beautiful words spoken by Gaston Paris, as to the ideal of the scientific cult, in a lecture to his students during the siege of Paris - a lecture punctuated by bursting shells : - " I profess absolutely and without reserve this doctrine, that the sole object of science is truth, and truth for its own sake, without regard to consequences, good or evil, happy or unhappy. He who through patriotic, religious, or even moral motives, allows himself the smallest dissimulation, the slightest aberration, is not worthy to have a place in the great laboratory where honesty is a more indispensable claim to admission than ability. Thus understood, common studies, pursued in the same spirit, in all civilized countries, form, above restricted and too often hostile nationalities, a ' grande patrie ' which no war stains, no conqueror menaces ; and where spirits find rest and communion perfect as that given in olden times to those who sought shelter in the city of God."