THE ENDOWMENT OF RESEARCH.*
THE movement for the endowment of research is no longer the impracticable crusade which it appeared to be twelve months ago. The activity of its, promoters, and the unexpected sympathy which it has inspired in official quarters, have enabled it to make its way into the arena of practical politics. In the struggle which is being carried on as to University reform, it is one of the forces which must be calculated for, and it is therefore extremely im- portant that we should understand its direction and its aim. The volume before us throws welcome light upon much that was before vague or enigmatical in the programme of the new party. It is a collection of essays, brought together by the co-operation of independent writers, and reviewing the several aspects of the subject from various stand-points. The authors with one voice condemn the presentsyste.m of examinations and prize fellowships, though there is a marked difference of tone between the discrimi- nating severity of Mr. Mark Pattison and. the fierce vituperation of Mr. Sayce. They are further agreed in thinking that a large • Asap on the Endowment of Research. By Various Writers. London Hoary S. Maraud Co. 1878. proportion of the endowments which, in their view, are now wasted or abused should be employed in liberal subsidies to "re- search" or " disinterested knowledge." Their general position, both with reference to the past and to the future, is admirably stated in the very able and characteristic " review of the situa- tion" which the Rector of Lincoln has prefixed to the volume. The ideal University, according to Mr. Pattison, is a place " to which free science and liberal letters attract by their own lustre only such ingenuous youth as have a true vocation." Oxford and Cambridge were intended by the founders of the Colleges to answer this de- scription. But they have been perverted by a mistaken zeal for education into "great national lyce:es," and have adopted, after the Jesuit seminaries, a system of examinations and bounties which attracts numbers who have no " true vocation," and pro- duces in its pupils, at beat, " a base imitation of true knowledge." It is against this misconception of the real purpose of a Univer- sity, this abuse of funds which were meant to foster quiet study in an atmosphere from which all vulgar emulation should be banished, that the movement for the "endowment of research" protests. " We are beginning to see that science and letters are a vocation, that they have a value in themselves, and are not merely useful as teachable materiaL That universities have other functions than that of educating youth. That liberal and scientific culture, intelligence, and the whole domain of mind is a national interest, as much as agriculture, commerce, banking, or water-supply." (p. 22.) To the principle, as it is thus stated, and as it is illustrated historically by Mr. Cotton in the lucid and temperate essay which follows, it is impossible to take much ex- ception. It is true that, whatever Oxford and Cambridge may have been meant to be, they are, as a matter of fact, and in our opinion they will continue to be in the main, educational institutions. But that they should, in addition to their teaching and examining ma- chinery, provide a home for mature and independent study is an emi- nently reasonable requirement. Nor can it be denied that some con- siderable portion of the funds which now go in prize fellowships might be, more usefully employed in encouraging the labours of scholars and scientific inquirers. It is melancholy to think how much the progress of knowledge has been retarded by the hard conditions which our modern life imposes upon the vocation of the student. Every one who has seen anything of the silent struggles of men of genius or originality with uncongenial sur- roundings, can call to mind instances in which the creative in- stinct has been either altogether blunted by the constant pressure of sordid cares, or degraded into the service of lucrative, but un- worthy, employments. The splendid endowments which are squandered on All Souls and kindred anachronisms might supply to many the means of leisure, and the freedom from vulgar anxieties, which are almost indispensable to a fruitful pursuit of science or philosophy. The Universities themselves would gain by the introduction into their rather prim and stereo- typed societies of such a stimulating element. They would justly claim a share in the prestige of their new members' achieve- ments, and far from abandoning their educational work, they would constantly be recruiting the numbers and invigorating the energy of their teaching staff. And here we must protest against the notion which runs through all these essays, and which seems to us equally repugnant to experience and to common-sense,—that the work of education cannot be carried on together with the work of research. To take Oxford and Cambridge alone, the voluntary labour expended on literary or scientific inquiries by those who are actively engaged in college duties contrasts very favourably, both in the value and the amount of its results, with the languid and spasmodic "studies" or " monographs " of the " unencumbered investigator." It must not be forgotten that the academical work of the University tutor only occupies him during six months of every year. If during the remaining six months he can or will do nothing, we do not see what great thing can reasonably be expected from him when be has the whole twelve to himself. In Germany, again, of whose unquestioned superiority in the matter of original research we are reminded in this volume with almost nauseating frequency, the scientific class are almost to a man engaged in tuition. For our own part, we have sufficient Philistinism to hope very little from the average investigator, secure of his income, unembarrassed by educational responsibilities, and lapped in the intellectual Sybaritism of our homes of learning. We are not concerned to defend the reckless prodigality, with which University funds are at present lavished on persons who have done nothing for the place except win its -prizes, and intend to do nothing for their money except carry about with them into society the impressive jargon of the higher culture. But we fail to see the merits of a reform which would
result in the creation of a gigantic system of sinecures, and which would fill Oxford and Cambridge with a select corps of well- endowed' Researchers,' waiting for the afflatus of a happy idea, or languidly toying with the preliminaries of a great discovery.
Of course Dr. Appleton and Mr. Sayce will tell us that this is a gross misrepresentation, a grotesque caricature, of their favourite scheme. The investigator whom they have in their mind's eye is a very different being,—a man of proved capacity, who has already given hostages to culture, and who may be trusted to go on ' researching' for the pure love of it. No doubt, there are such people, and they ought to find their way to the Universities ; but where are they to be found, how are they to be chosen, by what means is their activity to be secured ? These are important practical questions, and we should have felt more obliged to our essayists if they would have thrown a little light on them, and dwelt rather less on generalities which everybody admits. Dr. Appleton, for instance, to whom we naturally turn for infor- mation, takes up nearly a quarter of the volume with a reprint of two papers on the " economical character " of educational endowments. He might, we think, with advantage have allowed these not very favourable specimens of his dialectical ability to remain where they were, and have applied himself to removing the substantial obstacles which lie in his path. The first of the two essays is mainly taken up with proving that, inasmuch as the higher education might be made self-supporting, all endowment of it is "a wasteful diversion of wealth from productive purposes." It is, of course, true that the existence of endowments enables people to purchase education at a cheaper price than they would otherwise have to give for it. But, says Dr. Appleton, they would pay the difference if the bounty were removed, and the liberated fund would be devoted to productive purposes. That either of these results would follow is by no means clear to us ; and even if they would, the real argument for educational endowments, which is that they enable capacity to break through the artificial barriers of birth and fortune, remains entirely unaffected. We altogether demur to Dr. Appleton's statement that scholarships are only, or mainly, gained by those who have been expensively educated at school, and who are, therefore, able to do without them.
Dr. Appleton's second essay is written to maintain the paradox that the endowment of research is a form of productive expendi- ture. To express his conclusion in his own words, he attempts to show "that knowledge possesses all the essential marks of wealth, and that therefore that portion of the material resources of a nation which is employed in carrying on and re- munerating the labours of research, in whatever field of inquiry, ' is a highly productive part of its expenditure.'" (p. 115.) It is to be remembered that the term "knowledge" is here used in a peculiar and restricted sense, and is expressly divested of all its educational or industrial applications. It means truth, as it ap- pears to the mind of its discoverer, the state of consciousness which results when a man "comes at first-hand in contact with fact." (p. 113.) To say that the labour spent in the acquisition of such an object is " productive" appears to us to be mere trifling with language. Productive labour is labour spent in the acquisition of wealth ; wealth includes those commodities, and those only, which command a price in the market, or which, in the economist's phrase, possess " exchange value ; " and to give a thing exchange value, it must not only be desired by somebody other than the producer and be difficult to obtain, but it must also be capable of being transferred. Dr. Appleton admits that knowledge, in his sense of the term, is not a transferable commodity, and that it is not quoted in the market. How, then, can it be said " to possess all the essential marks of wealth ?" Obviously, only by aban- doning or mutilating the definition of " wealth" which is given by every economist of repute—an achievement of speculative audacity from which apparently Dr. Appleton does not shrink. He certainly does not help us much by his analogy of a violin, whose maker and player "should always of necessity be one," and whose " player should always of necessity perform upon the instrument for his own enjoyment alone." (p. 113.) Apart from the difficulties, physical and metaphysical, which the conception of such an instrument presents to the ordinary mind, it is sufficient to remark that could it exist, it would not be an article of wealth, and that the labour spent, whether in making it or in playing on it, would be equally and in the same sense unproductive. The truth is, we suspect (though the suggestion is made with be- coming diffidence), that Dr. Appleton has fallen a victim to the time-honoured fallacy which lurks in the ambiguous term " pro- ductive." He is anxious to show that money spent on the en- couragement of research is not spent unproductively, in the sense of being squandered on an idle and frivolous pursuit. But that
is a very different thing from saying that it is spent pro- ductively from the economist's point of view. The labour which brings the greatest satisfaction, and leaves behind it the most splendid results, is not called productive, in the dialect of political economy. We may even go further, and say that it is just because scientific inquiry, followed for its own sake, is an unproductive pursuit, and because truth, when it is at last found, presents to the discoverer none of " the essential marks of wealth," and commands no price in the market, that funds which were left to encourage religion and learning may reasonably be claimed for the endowment of research.
Dr. Appleton is followed by Mr. Sayce, who is apparently a gentleman of very decided views. He exhausts the re- sources of a copious vocabulary in denunciations of the
examination system and all its fruits. It is difficult to say whose fate is harder, that of the Passman, who is taught to write Latin prose "which would have made a provincial stone- cutter of the fourth century sick to read," or that of the Class- man, " the best and most receptive years" of whose life are passed " in having the doctrine ground into him that the end of all reading is to cheat the examiner." No wonder that Mr. Sayce turns regretfully from the " dreary echoes of college lectures and parrot - like repetitions of misunderstood ideas and phrases," which fill the papers of candidates for fellow- ships, "to the crowded lecture-rooms and eager students of a German university." " Competitive examinations and original• research are incompatible terms. The object of the one is to appear wise, the object of the other to be so. The one is neces- sary, the other unselfish." Original research may be unselfish, but its requirements, as interpreted by Mr. Sayce, are not distres- singly modest—the annual sum of £385,000 (the net income of Oxford) being, as he assures us, " quite inadequate" to meet all that could be reasonably demanded of the University. (p. 221.) We can well believe that this may be so, when Mr. Sayce proceeds to unfold the necessities of his own peculiar department,—the sciences of history and language. " First of all will come a numerous and well-endowed staff of Professors " (including nine new ones, according to Professor Max Miiller). " Next we must have museums and galleries, filled with carefully selected speci-
mens Then will follow collections of inscriptions and manuscripts. Lastly, funds must be forthcoming for the
despatch of scientific missions for excavating abroad, or for observing the manners of fast-perishing savages," &c. The other sciences are to be subsidised on the same princely scale, and as we read on, and realise the full proportions of this heroic scheme, we are both surprised and gratified by Mr. Sayce's relenting admis- sion, towards the close of his second essay, that " the present en- dowments of the Universities may yet be found to meet almost all the claims advanced by original research." We believe that these essays of Mr. Sayce's, and similar deliverances which abound in the book, have done great harm to the cause which he advocates. The reckless vehemence with which he attacks the Ex- amination system cannot fail to provoke suspicion in outsiders, and to those who know anything of Oxford the scorn which the writer pours upon the " doctrinaire Liberals," who are responsible for the introduction of competition, can only excite a smile. Everybody knows that cram is a bad thing, and that examinations are a rude and fallible test. But in an average of cases, when full allowance has been made for inevitable accidents, success in examinations will be found a good criterion, both of the moral and the intellectual qualities which combine to form superior capacity. One thing, at least, is certain,—that they are the great, and often the only, securities against waste of time and dilettanteism. We are by no means sure that some such safeguard would not be a desirable addition to the University of the future, where every- body will be paid to teach what nobody will be paid to learn. We need not dwell on the extravagance of the claims which Mr. Sayce and some of his brother essayists put forward for Research. We have sufficiently intimated our opinion that the Universities must remain primarily places of education, and that when proper provision has been made for efficient teaching, a portion of the surplus fund should be applied, under proper conditions, to the support of scientific inquiry. What those conditions are, and how they are to be enforced, we regret that the present volume does not help us to determine.