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the relative age of rocks by the fossils found in them, which he can now, happily, study in many local museums; and he may be certain, for the rest, that all rocks and soils whatsoever which he may meet have been laid down by the agents, and according to the laws, which I have tried to set forth in this book; and these only require, for the learning of them, the exercise of his own observation and common sense. I have not tried to make this a handbook of geological facts. Such a guide (and none better) the young man will find in Sir Charles Lyell's “Student's Elements of Geology." I have tried rather to teach the method of geology, than its facts; to furnish the student with a key to all geology, rough indeed and rudimentary, but sure and sound enough, I trust, to help him to unlock most geological problems which he may meet, in any quarter of the globe. But young men must remember always, that neither this book, nor all the books in the world, will make them geologists. No amount of book learning will make a man a scientific man; nothing but patient observation, and quiet and fair thought over what he has observed. He must go out for himself, see for himself, compare and judge for himself, in the field, the quarry, the cutting. He must study rocks, ores, fossils, in the nearest museum ; and thus store his head, not with words, but with facts. He must verify—as far as he can—what he reads in books, by his own observation; and be slow to believe anything, even on the highest scientific authority, till he has either seen it, or something like enough to it to make it seem to him probable, or at least possible. So, and so only, will he become a scientific man, and a good geologist; and acquire that habit of mind by which alone he can judge fairly and wisely of facts of any kind whatsoever.
I say-facts of any kind whatsoever. If any of my readers should be inclined to say to themselves : Geology may be a very pleasant study, but I have no special fancy for it. I had rather learn something of botany, astronomy, chemistry, or what not-I shall answer: By all means. Learn any branch of Natural Science you will. It matters little to me which you learn, provided you learn one at least. But bear in mind, and settle it in your hearts, that you will learn no branch of science soundly, so as to master it, and be able to make use of it, unless you acquire that habit and method of mind which I am trying to teach you in this book. I have tried to teach it you by geology, because geology is, perhaps, the simplest and the easiest of all physical sciences. It appeals more than any
to mere common sense. It requires fewer difficult experiments, and expensive apparatus. It requires less previous knowledge of other sciences, whether pure or mixed; at least in its rudimentary stages. It is more free from long and puzzling Greek and Latin words. It is specially, the poor man's science. But if you do not like it, study something else. Only study that as you must study geology; proceeding from the known to the unknown by observation and experiment.
But here some of my readers may ask, as they have a perfect right to ask, why I wish young men to learn Natural Science at all? What good will the right understanding of geology, or of astronomy, or of chemistry, or of the plants or animals which they meet—what good, I say, will that do them?
In the first place, they need, I presume, occupation after their hours of work. If any of them answer: “We do not want occupation, we want amusement. Work is very dull, and we want something which will excite our fancy, imagination, sense of humour. We want poetry, fiction, even a good laugh or a game of play”-I shall most fully agree with them. There is often no better medicine for a hard-worked body and mind than a good laugh; and the man who can play most heartily when he has a chance of playing is generally the man who can work most heartily when he must work. But there is certainly nothing in the study of physical science to interfere with genial hilarity; though, indeed, some solemn persons have been wont to reprove the members of the British Association, and specially that Red Lion Club, where all the philosophers are expected to lash their tails and roar, of being somewhat too fond of mere and sheer fun, after the abstruse papers of the day are read and discussed. And as for harmless amusement, and still more for the free exercise of the fancy and the imagination, I know few studies to compare with Natural History; with the search for the most beautiful and curious productions of Nature amid her loveliest scenery, and in her freshest atmosphere. I have known again and again working men who in the midst of smoky cities have kept their bodies, their minds, and their hearts healthy and pure by going out into the country at odd hours, and making collections of fossils, plants, insects, birds, or some other objects of natural history; and I doubt not that such will be the
Another argument, and a very strong one, in favour of studying some branch of Natural Science just now is this—that without it you can hardly keep pace with the thought of the world around you.
Over and above the solid gain of a scientific habit of mind, of which I shall speak presently, the gain of mere facts, the increased knowledge of this planet on which we live, is very valuable just now; valuable certainly to all who do not wish their children and their younger brothers to know more about the universe than they do.
Natural Science is now occupying a more and more important place in education. Oxford, Cambridge, the London University, the public schools, one after another, are taking up the subject in earnest; so are the middleclass schools; so I trust will all primary schools throughout the country; and I hope that my children, at least, if not I myself, will see the day, when ignorance of the primary laws and facts of science will be looked on as a defect, only second to ignorance of the primary laws of religion and morality.
I speak strongly, but deliberately. It does seem to me strange, to use the mildest word, that people whose destiny it is to live, even for a few short years, on this planet which we call the earth, and who do not at all intend to live on it as hermits, shutting themselves up in cells, and looking on death as an escape and a deliverance, but intend to live as comfortably and wholesomely as they can, they and their children after them-it seems strange, I say, that such people should in general be so careless about the constitution of this same planet, and of the laws and facts on which depend, not merely their comfort and their wealth, but their health and their very lives, and the health and the lives of their children and descendants.
I know some will say, at least to themselves : “What need for us to study science? There are plenty to do that already; and we shall be sure sooner or later to profit by their discoveries; and meanwhile it is not science which is needed to make mankind thrive, but simple common sense.'
I should reply, that to expect to profit by other men’s discoveries when you do not pay for them—to let others labour in the hope of entering into their labours, is not a very noble or generous state of mind-comparable somewhat, I should say, to that of the fatting ox, who willingly allows the farmer to house him, till for him, feed him, provided only he himself may lounge in his stall, and eat, and not be thankful. There is one difference in the two cases, but only one—that while the farmer can repay himself by eating the ox, the scientific man cannot repay himself by eating you; and so never gets paid, in most cases, at all.
But as for mankind thriving by common sense: they have not thriven by common sense, because they have not used their common sense according to that regulated method which is called science. In no age, in no country, as yet, have the majority of mankind been guided, I will not say by the love of God, and by the fear of God, but even by sense and reason. Not sense and reason, but nonsense and unreason, prejudice and fancy, greed and haste, have led them to such results as were to be expected—to superstitions, persecutions, wars, famines, pestilence, hereditary diseases, poverty, waste-waste incalculable, and now too often irre