Too Long; Didn't ReadIt cannot have escaped the attention of those, whose acquirements enable them to judge, and who have had opportunities of examining the state of science in other countries, that in England, particularly with respect to the more difficult and abstract sciences, we are much below other nations, not merely of equal rank, but below several even of inferior power. That a country, eminently distinguished for its mechanical and manufacturing ingenuity, should be indifferent to the progress of inquiries which form the highest departments of that knowledge on whose more elementary truths its wealth and rank depend, is a fact which is well deserving the attention of those who shall inquire into the causes that influence the progress of nations.
To trace the gradual decline of mathematical, and with it of the highest departments of physical science, from the days of Newton to the present, must be left to the historian. It is not within the province of one who, having mixed sufficiently with scientific society in England to see and regret the weakness of some of its greatest ornaments, and to see through and deplore the conduct of its pretended friends, offers these remarks, with the hope that they may excite discussion,—with the conviction that discussion is the firmest ally of truth,—and with the confidence that nothing but the full expression of public opinion can remove the evils that chill the enthusiasm, and cramp the energies of the science of England.
The causes which have produced, and some of the effects which have resulted from, the present state of science in England, are so mixed, that it is difficult to distinguish accurately between them. I shall, therefore, in this volume, not attempt any minute discrimination, but rather present the result of my reflections on the concomitant circumstances which have attended the decay, and at the conclusion of it, shall examine some of the suggestions which have been offered for the advancement of British science.