RECORD: Darwin, C. R. et al. [c.1873]. [Memorial for the endowment of scientific research]. [n.p., n.p.]

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 8.2022. RN1

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A signed offprint of this memorial is in the American Philosophical Society (APS-B-H981.26). Joseph Norman Lockyer was an astronomer and founding editor of Nature. Charles Appleton was editor of the Academy and Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford. Both were leading figures in the movement for the endowment of scientific research and the Association for the Study of Academical Organisation (established in November 1872). For the context around this memorial, see: MacLeod, R. M. 1971. The support of Victorian science: The Endowment of Research Movement in Great Britain, 1868-1900. Minerva (April) vol. 9, no. 2: 197-230. Reproduced with permission of the American Philosophical Society.


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WE venture to state in order the following reasons for the subsidy on a large scale of research unencumbered with teaching, not because we desire to commit those who may sign the accompanying protest, to the adoption of any of them, but as being amongst those which have determined our own decision in this matter, and induced us to regard the maintenance of the original principles of the Association as of vital importance.

We think, then, that in any redistribution of University and College endowments, the subsidy of research unencumbered with the obligation of teaching should be made the first and foremost aim to be kept in view:

1. Because it is as the homes of unremunerative learning and original research, and not as teaching bodies, that the Universities can offer any legitimate objection to the distribution of their revenues over the Educational institutions of the Nation at large.

2. Because the nation has already accepted the principle of endowing research disjoined from teaching on the ground of public benefit accruing therefrom in the fields of Mathematical Astronomy, Meteorology, Geology, Natural History, and many other subjects.

3. Because Fellowship funds, which from the main part of the endowments whose present application has become obsolete, were originally intended by the founders and benefactors of the Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, as endowments for learning and research and not for teaching.

4. Because the proposed annexation of Teaching duties to all except a few pensions for research, would involve the condition of residence within the Universities. Whereas there are many fields of investigation which cannot be explored at first hand without perfect liberty to travel and even reside for a considerable time abroad.

5. Because the annexation of Educational duties to posts of original research, really affords no more guarantee than any other extraneous employment (though it is frequently supposed to do so) that the person holding such a post will really devote his life to extending the bounds of knowledge.

On the contrary such annexation of educational duties to some of the Fellowships has had the precisely opposite effect, viz. that of destroying their original character as pensions held by persons engaged in unremunerative study, and of converting them gradually into purely educational pensions.

Besides there are many cases in which persons already known for their researches have been appointed to educational functions, who after such appointment have become entirely

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unfertile in original investigation; while on the other hand there are also cases of men who so soon as their teaching duties have been given up, have again contributed largely to human knowledge.

6. Because as a matter of fact, knowledge has been in the past largely increased by persons who were entirely unfettered by teaching: and it is a characteristic of England as distinguished e.g. from Germany, that it has always possessed a large class of persons actually engaged in research, who have no connection with any Educational Establishment.

7. Because if we annex educational duties to nearly all our proposed pensions, the candidates for the latter will naturally select those subjects for study which are adapted for teaching to a large class, and which will thus bring in a considerable income from fees. The tendency of this system in the long run will therefore be to encourage investigation in those subjects only which form a part of the educational curriculum.

8. Because it is almost certain that if the typical Academical office is made the composite one of the student-teacher, in nine cases out of ten, in the election to such offices by whatever Board ingenuity may devise, the qualities of the teacher will count, and the qualities of the investigator and the student will not.

9. Because the area of fact which is the field of investigation and of sciences is infinitely more extensive than the area of fact which can practicably be made use of in education. The number of persons engaged in research is therefore likely to become in the long run out of all comparison larger than the number required to teach even much more populous Universities than our present ones. This is already the case with the Physical sciences; and will become so with other branches of study so soon as they become subjects of serious investigation in this country, although, therefore, we might not want to use it at once, it seems to us desirable to reserve a large fund for the subsidy of the future development we have indicated. And this consideration derived especial force from the danger which is no unreal one, that those funds for whose employment the scheme of our Association does not satisfactorily account, may be diverted from Academical purposes altogether.

J. NORMAN LOCKYER.

C. E. APPLETON.

[Signed] Ch. Darwin


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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