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not directly available for the benefit of all. As it has no right to give class preferences in legislation, so it has no right to give class preferences in the expenditure of public money. If we follow this principle, national education is not forbidden, whether given in schools supported by the State, or in museums, or galleries, or gardens fairly distributed over the whole kingdom, and so regulated as to be equally available for the instruction or amusement of all classes of the community. But here a line must be drawn. The schools, the museums, the galleries, the gardens must all alike be popular —that is, adapted for and capable of being fully used and enjoyed by the people at large—and must be developed by means of public money to such an extent only as is needful for the highest attainable popular instruction and benefit. All beyond this should be left to private munificence, to societies, or to the classes benefited, to supply.
“In art, all that is needed only for the special instruction of artists or for the delight of amateurs, should be provided by artists or amateurs. To expend public money on third-rate prints or pictures, or on an intrinsically worthless book, both of immense money value on account of their rarity, and as such of great interest to a small class of literary and art amateurs, and to them only, I conceive to be absolutely wrong. So, in science, to provide museums such as will at once elevate, instruct, and entertain all who visit them may be a worthy and just expenditure of public money; but to spend many times as much as is necessary for this purpose in forming enormous collections of all the rarities that can be obtained, however obscure and generally uninteresting they may be, and however limited the class who can value or appreciate them, is, as plainly, an unjust expenditure. It will perhaps surprise some of your readers to find a naturalist advocating such doctrines as these ; but though I love nature much, I love justice more, and would not wish that any man should be compelled to contribute towards the support of an institution of no interest to the great mass of my countrymen, however interesting to myself.
“For the same reason, I maintain that all schools of art or
of science, or for technical education, should be supported by the parties who are directly interested in them or benefited by them. If designs are not forthcoming for the English manufacturer, and he is thus unable to compete with foreigners, who should provide schools of design but the manufacturers and the pupils who are the parties directly interested ? It seems to me as entirely beyond the proper sphere of the State to interfere in this matter, as it would be to teach English bootmakers or English cooks at the public expense in order that they may be able to compete with French artistes in these departments. In both cases such interference amounts to protection and class legislation, and I have yet to learn that these can be justified by the urgent necessity of our producing shawls and calicoes, or hardware and crockery, as elegantly designed as those of our neighbours. And if our men of science want more complete laboratories, or finer telescopes, or more costly apparatus of any kind, who but our scientific associations and the large and wealthy class now interested in science should supply the want? They have hitherto done so nobly, and I should myself feel that it was better that the march of scientific discovery should be a little less rapid (and of late years the pace has not been bad) than that science should descend one step from her lofty independence and sue in formå pauperis to the already overburthened taxpayer. In like manner, if our mechanics are not so well able as they might be to improve the various arts they are engaged in, surely the parties who ought to provide the special education required are the great employers of labour, who by their assistance are daily building up colossal fortunes; and also that great and wealthy class which is, professionally or otherwise, interested in the constructive or decorative arts.
“I maintain further, not only that money spent by Government for the purposes here indicated is wrongly spent, but also that it is, in a great measure, money wasted. The best collectors (whether in art or science) are usually private amateurs; the best workers are usually home-workers or the employés of scientific associations, not of Governments. Could
any Government institution have produced results so much superior to those of our Royal Institution, with its Davy, Faraday, and Tyndall, as to justify the infringement of a great principle? Would the grand series of scientific and mechanical inventions of this century have been more thoroughly or more fruitfully worked out if Government had taken science and invention under its special patronage in the year 1800, and had subjected them to a process of forcing (in a kind of Laputa College) from that day to this ? No one can really believe we should have got on any better under such a régime, while it is certain that much power would have been wasted in the attempt to develop inventions and discoveries before the age was ripe for them, and which would therefore have inevitably languished and been laid aside without producing any great results. Experience shows that free competition ensures a greater supply of the materials and a greater demand for the products of science and art, and is thus a greater stimulus to true and healthy progress than any Government patronage.
Let it but become an established rule that all institutions solely for the advancement of science and art must be supported by private munificence, and we may be sure that such institutions would be quite as well kept up as they are now, and I believe much better. If they were not, it would only prove more clearly how unjust it is to take money from the public purse to pay for that which science and art lovers would very much like to have, but are not willing themselves to pay for.
"The very common line of argument, which attempts to prove the widespread uses and high educating influence of art and of science, is entirely beside the question. Every product of the human intellect is more or less valuable; but it does not therefore follow that it is just to provide any special product for those who want it at the expense of those who either do not want or are not in a condition to make use of it. Good architecture, for instance, is a very good thing, and one we are much in want of; but it will hardly be maintained that architects should be taught their profession at the public expense. The history of old china, of old
clothes, or of postage-stamps are each of great interest to more or less extensive sections of the community, and much may be said in each case to prove the value of the study; but surely no honest representative of the nation would vote, say, the moderate sum of a million sterling for three museums to exhibit these objects, with a full staff of beadles, curators, and professors at an equally moderate expenditure of £10,000 annually, with perhaps a like sum for the purchase of specimens. But if we once admit the right of the Government to support institutions for the benefit of any class of students and amateurs, however large and respectable, we adopt a principle which will lead us to offer but a weak resistance to the claims of less and less extensive interests whenever they happen to become the fashion.
“ If it be asked (as it will be) what we are to do with existing institutions supported by Government, I am prepared to answer. Taking the typical examples of the National Gallery and the British Museum, I would propose that these institutions should be reorganized, so as to make them in the highest degree instructive and entertaining to the mass of the people; that no public money should be spent on the purchase of specimens, but what they already contain should be so thoroughly cared for and utilized as to render these establishments the safest, the best, and the most worthy receptacles for the treasures accumulated by wealthy amateurs and students, who would then be ready to bestow them on the nation to a greater extent than they do at present. From the duplicates which would thus accumulate in these institutions the other great centres of population in the kingdom should be proportionately supplied, and from the Metropolitan centres trained officers should be sent to organize and superintend local institutions, such a proportion of their salaries being paid by Government as fairly to equalize the expenditure of public money over the whole kingdom, and thus not infringe that great principle of equality and justice which, I maintain, should be our guide in all such cases.
“ALFRED R. WALLACE.”
I received one solitary letter from a scientific man supporting my views—Mr. G. R. Crotch, of the University Library, Cambridge, a very good naturalist and reasoner. But the process of forcing on expenditure for scientific purposes has gone on increasing : the Challenger expedition, with its enormously costly publication of results in thirty-seven large quarto volumes, of not the least interest to any but specialists in biology and physics; the new buildings at South Kensington for the Science and Art Department; the enor. mous and unending increase of new buildings for the housing of all the output of the modern book trade, and of the hundreds and thousands of daily and weekly newspapers, and the monthly magazines and endless trade and art and specialist periodicals—huge mountains of rubbish that each succeeding year will render more utterly impossible of examination by any human being who may live in the next century. In connection with South Kensington, the suggestion has been put forward that a million of money is required to properly house the various scientific departments there; while, most recent of all, there has been an influential request for an anthropometrical survey and sickness registration of the whole population, at a cost comparable with that of the geological survey! the grounds being that it is the only way to ascertain if there is any physical deterioration of the people, and thus enable the Government to stave off any fundamental remedial measures by the excuse of want of further information!
Among the many pleasant episodes of my life was my connection with Mr. Augustus Mongredien, a member of the Corn Exchange, a writer on free trade, and author of a book published by Murray in 1870—"Trees and Shrubs for English Gardens.” When I got my chalk-pit at Grays in 1871, built a house there, and began to take a great interest in gardening, I bought this book, and in consequence wrote to the author. Soon afterwards he invited me to visit him at Heatherside, on the Bagshot sands, where he had formed a nursery of several hundred acres, planted with a great variety of trees and shrubs then just coming to maturity. He then formed