Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.—At those great Science Congresses held by the British Association for the Advancement of Science —the mother of such associations throughout the world—the President has dealt not infrequently with the more recent history of scientific advance in that special branch of knowledge which is his life-work. At future public meetings of the New Zealand Institute addresses of like character would be most desirable. The history of New Zealand science itself in its various branches would be of especial moment and form a basis for further advance. But on this occasion—the first time, indeed, that the New Zealand Institute since its initiation has come before the public—it seems fitting rather to deal, but of necessity briefly, with the history of the Institute itself, touching on its modest beginnings, its past achievements—if I dare so call them—and its activities at the present time. Then I shall say something about what I take to be the aspirations of the Institute, and its aims.
To the great majority of the people of this Dominion the New Zealand Institute is at best but a name. The world over, the incalculable benefits of science are accepted without a thought as to how or from whom such benefits are derived.
This present time is assuredly a critical period in the history of mankind; it is even a critical period in the history of this wonderful New Zealand, endowed though she be with an infinity of riches and potentialities for greatness. At no time in the history of the British Empire has the untiring prosecution of science been more urgently demanded.
As for New Zealand, it is not sufficient to rely upon investigations carried on beyond her borders. She has her special problems, which can be solved only upon her own soil, and which ought surely to be investigated by her own sons and daughters. It is essential, then, that the sole scientific body of the Dominion—the New Zealand Institute—should get into much
closer touch with the people, and that the relation of the Institute to the progress of the Dominion, both materially and intellectually, should become more fully understood.
The New Zealand Institute had its beginnings in certain small societies which were formed at Nelson and Wellington respectively in the early days of those provinces. The colonists had brought with them the freedom and the manners and customs of the Motherland, and, so equipped, their intention was to form a Britain in this far south. Evidently some of these colonists were not forgetful of those splendid British learned societies which had their origin in that small coterie—soon to become the Royal Society—which met in London in 1651, even while the Civil War was raging. Therefore quite early certain scientific bodies were established. The Nelson Society yet remains as the Nelson Institute. The New Zealand Society founded in Wellington in 1851 by Sir George Grey soon became defunct owing to the departure of its gifted founder from New Zealand. In 1859 a new society, but bearing the same name, was formed in Wellington. Some years later, at the instance of Bishop Abraham, the name was changed to the “Wellington Philosophical Society.” In 1862 the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury was founded, and, later on, the Auckland Institute. All the above bodies had as their main, though not their sole, object the prosecution of scientific research. Amongst the earliest workers the names of Buchanan, Buller, Colenso, Haast, Hector, Monro, Sinclair, and Travers stand out prominently. These small societies were greatly hampered not only through lack of funds, but for want of a local journal in which the results of the investigations of their members could be published. This crying need was met by the establishment in 1867 of the New Zealand Institute by means of an Act of the General Assembly. The Institute as thus constituted consisted of a Board of Governors, three of whom were members ex officio, six were nominated by the Government, and three were elected by the Board of Governors from nominees of the incorporated societies. Dr. (afterwards Sir James) Hector, F.R.S., was appointed Manager—a position unknown in learned societies in general. This important post he filled most ably until his retirement from the Public Service in the year 1903.
The societies originally incorporated with the New Zealand Institute were the Wellington Philosophical Society, the Auckland Institute, the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, and the Westland Naturalists' and Acclimatization Society. A year later (1869) the Otago Institute was incorporated, and in 1874 and 1875 the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute. Each incorporated society had by statute to consist of “not less than twenty-five members, subscribing in the aggregate a sum of not less than fifty pounds sterling annually for the promotion of art, science, or such other branch of knowledge for which it is associated.” Moreover, each incorporated society had to spend not less than one-third of its annual revenue towards a local public museum or library, or towards the extension or maintenance of the museum and library of the New Zealand Institute.
This provision has led to the building-up of scientific libraries in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, which, though inadequate for many classes of research, have been and still are of no small benefit to New Zealand science.
The most important feature of the New Zealand Institute was, however, that it provided, and at first adequately enough, for the publication of
scientific papers of all kinds. This was made possible by a statutory grant of £500 per annum—quite a bold step for a young colony, and one which showed great foresight in the Government of the day. The publications were to consist of Transactions of the New Zealand Institute and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute; the latter was to give a current abstract of the proceedings of the incorporated bodies and the former to consist of selected papers read before them. These two publications are issued in one volume under the title Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, which, in citation, is usually limited to Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, as the Proceedings are at best of mere local or ephemeral interest. So far fifty volumes have been published—i.e., a volume every year since 1869.
In addition to publishing scientific papers and forming a library, the Institute at first had control of the Colonial Museum, the Colonial Laboratory, and the meterological records. All the above were under the direction of Dr. Hector, who was also Director of the Geological Survey.
The inaugural meeting of the New Zealand Institute was held on the evening of the 4th August, 1868, “when” (so read the minutes of the meeting) “many members of various local societies for the promotion of art and science assembled to listen to the inaugural address of the Governor,” who at that time was ex officio President of the Institute. In his prefatory remarks His Excellency, referring to the presence of so many members of the Legislature while an important debate was in progress in the House of Representatives, said their presence was “a proof that the attractions of intellect and science could even triumph over the excitement of politics.” After His Excellency had delivered his address, which may be seen in volume 1 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Mr. Fox delivered a truly eloquent speech. I should like to quote it in full, but must be content with a few extracts. Everywhere, he said, describing what he had seen during his recent visit to Europe and Asia, the mighty developments of Western civilization were marvellous. It was something to see in Egypt—the cradle of learning, and the tomb of a past civilization—Western Europe taking back to her the results of a little seed which ages ago had been sown on the banks of the mighty Nile. In Greece the same metamorphosis was in progress. Rome, too, was being elevated from its ruins. We in New Zealand were not behindhand, the speaker declared, but were engaged in the heroic work described by Lord Bacon—we were here to lay the basis of a true civilization; not only to subdue nature and till the soil, but, impelled by Anglo-Saxon ardour and energy, to develop all that was worthy of development.
The first volume of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute appeared in May, 1869. In the preface is a list of thirty-one subjects which the Editor suggested should be dealt with by the various incorporated societies. Most of these subjects are strictly utilitarian—e.g., fisheries, best localities and seasons for fishing; habits of animals, especially of those destructive to trees and cultivated plants; plants suitable for live fences in this country; experiments in the improved breeding of stock; plans and descriptions of mines; harbour improvements; proposed lines of railway; machines and processes for washing sheep; adulteration of food. It rather looks as if the Manager were attempting to camouflage the public; even meteorological phenomena has the word “extraordinary”
before it, while plants or animals to be of interest must be “rare.” There is hardly a mention of those subjects which have filled most of the fifty volumes!
In the year 1903 Sir James Hector resigned the Directorship of the Museum and the Geological Survey, and with these the position of Manager of the Institute. For a number of years the members of the incorporated societies had been dissatisfied with their scanty representation on the Board of Governors and their right of nomination only. Consequently the retirement of Hector gave a chance for the Institute to be reconstructed. The matter was taken up, in the first place, by the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, which, supported by the other societies, succeeded in getting a new Act passed in 1903 by which the major societies each elected two Governors and the minor societies each one Governor. Thus at the present time the nine affiliated societies are represented by thirteen members, there are two ex officio members (His Excellency the Governor-General and the Hon. the Minister of Internal Affairs), and there are four members nominated by the Government. Instead of there being a permanent Manager, the Governors must elect a President, who need not of necessity be one of themselves. The above and other regulations which need not be detailed put the New Zealand Institute on an entirely new footing. No longer was the policy to be directed entirely from Wellington; no longer was the supreme power to be in the hands of one alone—no matter how capable—but the whole Dominion could take a hand; in short, from autocratic the Institute became democratic.
The first President of the reconstructed Institute was the late Captain F. W. Hutton, F.R.S. What he has done for New Zealand science need not be told to a Christchurch audience. He was succeeded by the late Sir James Hector, F.R.S., a fitting compliment to one who had virtually founded the Institute, raised it to a proud position amongst the learned societies of the world, and gained an honoured name amongst the scientific men of the last century. Next came the Hon. G. M. Thomson, F.L.S., whose connection with the Institute dates from 1872. He has published many excellent papers, both zoological and botanical, one of the latter, dealing with the pollination of New Zealand plants, being a classic. Further, above all, in season and out of season has Mr. Thomson striven to advance the cause of science. Then the late Mr. Augustus Hamilton occupied the chair, a man of wide knowledge with many scientific interests; the author, too, of that splendid pioneer work Maori Art. Then came New Zealand's premier botanist, Mr. T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S., who has been a member of the Institute since its foundation, and whose first paper in the Transactions appeared in 1871, in the fourth volume. But not in pure science alone is Cheeseman truly great; under considerable difficulties he has built up the admirable Auckland Museum. After Cheeseman came Professor Charles Chilton,” D.Sc., C.M.Z.S. Since he first joined the Institute in 1881 he has year by year added to the world's knowledge of the Crustacea, so that now he is the foremost authority of the day on that group so far as the great Southern Hemisphere is concerned. Mr. Donald Petrie, M.A., was the next President. He has done much for the Institute. Paper after paper shedding a flood of light on the New Zealand flora he has produced since the year 1879. He and the Hon. G. M. Thomson were the first to explore Stewart Island scientifically. Furthermore, Mr. Petrie is the leading authority on the classification of New Zealand grasses. Then (1916–17) Professor W. B. Benham, F.R.S., occupied the chair. He
was the first representative of our men of science who had come much later into the Institute than the foregoing. His scientific work in New Zealand broke new ground when he carefully studied the earthworms and through this study threw great light on the relation of the New Zealand biological world to that of South America.
Perhaps the most noticeable change brought about since the reorganization of the New Zealand Institute has been a considerable improvement both in the matter and in the mode of presentation of the papers published. The greater number of the papers which have appeared of recent years would have been accepted by the scientific journals of Great Britain or America, if the numerous papers strictly of local interest be excluded from this estimate.
This too brief history of the New Zealand Institute has cleared the path for an account of what the Institute has done towards advancing science. This can be seen, in part, by giving a few statistics regarding the papers which have appeared in the fifty volumes of the Transactions.
To begin with, the total number of papers in the fifty volumes is 3,117, making about sixty contributions each year. The above estimate does not include abstracts of communications published in the Proceedings; if such are considered, the contributions of all kinds exceed four thousand. The whole of these papers, many the results of months of toil, have been produced without pay of any kind, while many have represented no small monetary outlay. Only a few of the authors were professional scientific men; most were daily engaged in other pursuits—they had only their few hours of leisure for study and research. All classes of the community have borne their share in the labour of love: there are contributions by more than one Governor of the colony; there are others by working-men. Class distinctions cease to be in the pages of these historic volumes. Taking the papers themselves, there are certainly various degrees of merit. Some have gained a place in the select scientific literature of the world—no mean achievement—while a few should never have been published. Generally speaking, there are not many papers which do not fill a want, and as a whole they shed a strong light upon the natural history of New Zealand, and tell not a little regarding the general progress of the Dominion. Surely no five hundred pounds yearly of the people's money has been spent more profitably or more for the benefit of the people themselves than that which has produced these fifty volumes.
If an analysis be made of the contents of the fifty volumes, using the same classification of subjects as in the index to the first forty volumes, except that the two headings “Trade” and “Economics” are united under the latter name, the following is the result, the number after each subject denoting the number of published contributions: Zoology, 1,143; botany, 654; geology, 503; anthropology, 204; physics, including astronomy and meteorology, 152; chemistry, 135; engineering, 76; mathematics, 40; economics, 37; history, 34; presidential addresses, 29; metaphysics, 22; medicine, 20; literature, 15; education, statistics, and obituary notices, 12 each.
Certain of the above numbers do not reflect accurately the scientific output of members of the Institute. At times specially important papers have been published in scientific journals of Great Britain. Geology since the very early days of the colony has had State assistance, and much research has found its way into Government publications. So, too, the Departments of Agriculture and Lands have published a good deal which
otherwise would have found its way into our. Transactions. In the case of anthropology, the excellent Polynesian Journal has published much which otherwise would have come before our Institute.
A consideration of the statistics given above shows clearly that natural history, using that term in a broad sense, fills the greater part of the volumes. This was to be expected in a new land with both the fauna and the flora so little investigated and containing so much that is endemic. Also, if the papers on zoology and botany be referred to, it will be seen that by far the greater part are devoted to classification. This must have been so; it is the natural evolutionary process in the history of biological research the world over. But even in New Zealand this stage is passing away, and in botany the ecological study of the vegetation as opposed to the floristic study of the species is making headway, and is even being applied to economic ends—another step in the evolution of a science. So, too, in zoology, animal ecology, a more difficult study, is also coming to the fore. Botany with its 654 papers apparently makes a poor showing alongside zoology with its 1,143 contributions. It must be remembered, however, that there are many groups of animals, and frequently a worker confines himself to one group. Also, a considerable number of papers deal with birds, a subject in which so many people take an interest who really care little for science as a whole. As for chemistry and physics, which make but a poor showing in the work of the New Zealand Institute, it must be pointed out that little progress can be made in these sciences without well-equipped chemical and physical laboratories and men specially trained in such. Laboratories of this class are now attached to the various. University colleges, and chemical and physical contributions—the work of trained students—are slowly but surely finding a place in the Transactions.
The Transactions have not been the sole publication of the Institute, by any means. Thus there are the magnificent volumes of Hamilton's Maori Art; Major Broun's Manual of the Coleoptera and his three bulletins on the same group; H. N. Dixon's Studies in the Bryology of New Zealand—an important revision of our moss-flora; and Tregear's Mangareva Dictionary. Then, the Canterbury branch of the Institute has published the Index Faunae Novae-Zealandiae, and the admirable Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand, a work in two quarto volumes with many beautiful illustrations
The New Zealand Institute has control of the Hutton and the Hector Memorial Funds. With regard to the former a bronze medal is awarded every three years for original research in New Zealand zoology, botany, or geology. There is also a small income from the fund, from which grants are made for purposes of research. The Hector Fund also supplies a medal, but with this goes the yearly interest of the fund—some £45—as a prize-Medal and prize are alloted yearly, but each year to a different science, six sciences being included. Thus the medal for any particular science is awarded only every six years. Three Hutton and seven Hector medals have been awarded up to the present time. These medals have already done a good deal to stimulate research; as year succeeds year the value of these awards will greatly increase.
The influence of the New Zealand Institute has been very considerable on New Zealand science other than that under its actual control. There is no Government Department connected in any way with science which is not constantly indebted either to the publications or libraries of the Institute. The following important works would never have appeared
had there been no New Zealand Institute: Kirk's Forest Flora, Kirk's Students' Flora, Cheeseman's Manual of the New Zealand Flora, and Suter's Manual of the New Zealand Mollusca. So, too, with many important papers and reports issued by various Government Departments.
Certainly, training is given by the various University colleges in some of the sciences, but the very nature of their relation to that purely examining body—the New Zealand University—reduces to a minimum the value of these colleges as a training-ground for the all-important scientific research. This crying want is supplied to some extent by the New Zealand Institute, whose Transactions are open for papers from young aspirants for scientific research if they appear to show aptitude at all. Had it not been for this, scientific career after career would have been stifled at its birth.
The meetings, too, of the incorporated societies are not mere gatherings for specialists. They are open to the public, and popular lectures are frequently delivered by the leading scientific men of the Dominion. Nor are the ordinary evenings devoted to original papers barren for the student or even for the non-scientific listener. To hear a master of his subject detailing the methods, objects, and results of his research is most inspiring. Mere technical papers are taken as read; any one is free to ask questions after the reading of a paper, and illuminating discussions may ensue. Finally, the student comes into personal touch with those working at that branch of science he would pursue if he knew how; he is inspired by the enthusiasm of the older worker; friendships beneficial to science may arise which endure for life.
The various activities of the New Zealand Institute have been supported by the statutory grant of £500 per annum, an amount deemed necessary by the Government in 1868. However, the population of the Dominion has greatly increased during the subsequent fifty-one years, and so, too, in proportion the monetary requirements of the Institute. So acute has the position become that for some time past it has been necessary to make a levy of about £200 on the affiliated societies, who, with their responsibilities for their local museums or libraries, to say nothing of their other activities, could ill bear the imposition of such a burden. Many papers of great value await publication; much work of national interest awaits its initiation; but there are hardly funds sufficient to publish the Transactions. Happily, more than a gleam of hope appears. The Hon. Mr. Russell is not unmindful of the call of science; full well does he know its inestimable value to the nation. Already has he greatly assisted the Institute by special grants for economic science, and now he has promised to do his utmost to place the New Zealand Institute on a firm financial footing. Thus it seems not unlikely that this Congress heralds a new era of usefulness for the Institute.
The New Zealand Institute possesses a library of scientific works, at present housed in that worn-out wooden building—a true fossil—called “the Dominion Museum.” The Transactions of the New Zealand Institute since their commencement have been sent to a great number of the leading scientific bodies throughout the world. These in like manner send the Institute their publications. It stands out clearly, then, that an important collection of scientific literature is in the possession of the Institute, and that it is being added to year by year. For years there have been no funds for binding, the resources of the Institute having been strained to breaking-point to pay the rapidly-increasing cost of its Transactions. The Museum
authorities certainly do their best to make the library available for scientific workers, but any one who has occasion to use it knows that it is of little benefit. This the Board of Governors fully realized some time ago, and an offer was made by them to the Government, which was accepted, to hand over the library as a nucleus of a real scientific library as soon as a proper building was erected and a qualified librarian appointed. Nothing has been done as yet—with a war raging it was not to be expected—but we live in hope. With the power of exchange possessed by the New Zealand Institute through its Transactions virtually all the publications of every scientific society throughout the world could be acquired. But this would not be enough, for equally important are the many scientific journals which can only be acquired by purchase. Then there is the host of books, constantly appearing, essential for scientific progress. Obviously, the maintenance of such a library is far beyond the income of the Institute, were that quadrupled. But the Institute could supply the lion's share of the acquisitions. Much also could be done by the various scientific Departments of the Government, whose libraries should also be added to this central library. I do not know of anything that is so greatly needed for scientific research as such a library, and if it were only of one-half the value to the nation which I am claiming for it this evening no money should be less grudged by the people, and no money would be better invested. As it is, every serious worker must at his own expense greatly supplement the scanty literature available; this has been done for years willingly, and it will continue to be done, but it does not seem to me an altogether creditable state of affairs.
This fundamental question of an adequate scientific library leads me at once to other aspirations of the New Zealand Institute—that body of scientific folk, and believers in science, who are banded together to add something to human knowledge and to advance thereby the interests of this glorious country of which they are citizens. Next to provision for the library, the Institute desires recognition by the people of New Zealand as a body devoted entirely to their interests, both material and intellectual—a body ready at any time to advise the Government on scientific matters, and to assist to the utmost in any national service for which science is required.
In the early days of the Institute most of the scientific workers were amateurs. These, it is true, were endowed with the holy fire of enthusiasm, but had their limitations nevertheless. At the present time highly trained men—not holders of degrees merely, but men trained by years of experience in research—most of them New Zealand born—are fully competent to undertake almost any scientific investigation. To one like myself, growing old, it is a joy to see how many capable young men belonging to our Institute have come to the front of recent years.
Before dealing specifically with certain branches of research which I think might well be undertaken by members of the Institute, or others in this country who ought to be members, I must say something regarding the separation of science into the two classes, “pure” and “applied,” as they are called, the former at best merely tolerated by the public, who value a scientific discovery only if it has an evident practical bearing. This state of mind would certainly kill all advance. If carried out for a sufficient time throughout the world civilization would not merely remain at a standstill, but deterioration would rapidly set in. The purely scientific must come first, and the practical, without any special coddling by the State, will assuredly follow. The cure of an infectious disease is only the
last link—for the time being—in a long chain of researches nine-tenths of which were purely academic, but each leading slowly but surely to the final result. And this great wealth of research—apparently medical—was the work of the biologist, the chemist, and the physicist. The electric tram, the frozen lamb, the marconigram, the spraying of an apple-tree, the moving picture, the field of turnips—all these and far more of our everyday life are but the final—again I say, “for the time being”—practical application of exact knowledge painfully acquired by enthusiasts such as Michael Faraday—the mighty, the maker of history—with his £100 a year, a room or two to live in, and coals and candles! “Faraday's early investigations on the chemical aspects of electrolysis,” wrote in March, 1918, Professor Pope, President of the Chemical Society, “and his studies on magnetic induction, led immediately to the invention of the dynamo, and, through Clerk Maxwell, to the introduction of wireless telegraphy. This one branch of Faraday's investigations, in point of fact, constitutes the groundwork of the whole stupendous vista of results of the general introduction of the electric current into modern life which is so familiar to us all. Cavendish's early production of nitric acid by the passage of an electric spark through the air, reproduced on an enormously large scale, is now furnishing Central Europe with the nitric acid without which no explosives could be manufactured.” The Faradays of the present day, instead of being able to devote all their time to research, in order to get their daily bread are forced to waste their time as teachers. For this fair wages are available; for the prosecution of pure science there is usually nothing, unless temporarily, and that for inexperienced young men.
On this matter of pure and applied science let me quote a resolution of the Inter-Allied Conference on International Scientific Organizations held by the Royal Society during October, 1918. Thus the resolution runs: “The Conference, being of opinion that all industrial, agricultural, and medical progress depends on pure science, draws attention of the various Governments to the importance of theoretical and disinterested researches, which after the restoration of peace should be supported by large endowments. The Conference urges similarly the creation of large laboratories for experimental science, both private and national.”
New Zealand is above all else a farming community. Many of Nature's secrets of a hundred years ago are now the priceless possessions of man. These when more generally applied than at present will make our fields yield a much greater return. This would be a great advance, but without the discovery of further fundamental principles, now unknown, agriculture can only reach a stage far from perfection. Our scientific duty as a nation is not only to apply to the best of our ability our present knowledge, but by means of purely academic investigations to discover further fundamental principles on which the greatly improved farming of the future will depend. Suppose, for example, such characters as we wished could be bestowed at will upon certain fodder plants or food plants—i.e., that the plant-breeder could by methods now unknown create exactly the plant suitable for a special environment, just as one can forge a special tool. Experiments of seemingly the most worthless kinds in genetics might lay the foundation for such knowledge, the value of which is beyond our wildest dreams. Even open-air studies on the plants of bog, or lake, or forest, or mountain-top well might lend valuable assistance.
Finally, with regard to the New Zealand Institute—and, indeed, with regard to this Dominion's science in general—what should be some of our
immediate aims, having regard to those special New Zealand problems which early in this address I declared could only be carried out on New Zealand soil? In this farming community nothing more demands years of close study than this soil itself. The world over, soil science, notwithstanding many books on the subject, is in its infancy. Chemical analysis of a soil, even were the methods for so doing far more satisfactory than at present, is only one portion of the question. The extremely difficult matter of soil-physics at once confronts the investigator. Then there is the rich soil-flora and the rich soil-fauna. When more of a fundamental character is known as to the relation of soil-physics, soil-chemistry, and soil-biology to one another, then undoubtedly new methods of soil-utilization will be in sight.
Turning to a very different matter, there is the science of economics—really hardly a science as yet. A small community such as we are offers material not too bulky to estimate rightly. The effect of our legislation called “experimental,” and of that which is non-experimental also, ought to be gauged with fair ease. Problem after problem is offered, but all such problems must be approached in the spirit of true science; all political bias must go to the winds; doubt may unhesitatingly be felt for many accepted dogmas; the accurate methods of science must alone be used.
In the domain of anthropology there is no need always to confine one's investigations to primitive races. Amongst the settlers of a new land evolution in certain directions goes on apace. The question of dialect among the people of New Zealand would form a valuable study. The mere record of how various words of the English language are generally or occasionally pronounced in various parts of the Dominion would make a beginning in the study of that gradual change of dialect which is taking place, but which is far more noticeable by the old than by the young. The Oxford Dictionary lays down the so-called correct pronounciation of each word. But no one follows its dictum. On the other hand, according to its tenets the most cultured are constant sinners.
Education—still far away from being a science—should be approached by true scientific methods. At present the best that can be got are opinions more or less biased. The teacher of classics of the present day will explain that Latin affords the perfect mental training: the schoolmaster in Queen Elizabeth's time would explain that it was necessary to read and write the Latin tongue fluently, since it was the written language of the learned. Many subjects are taught not because any one really knows that they are essential, but because it is the fashion to teach them; and so too with the methods of teaching. Certainly the sooner education becomes an exact science the better for the nation, so that less time be wasted in teaching useless subjects or using bad methods. The use of standards in the elementary school may be necessary, but it is biologically unsound, as it assumes that all the scholars are equal in intellect. At one time—and the custom is not extinct by any means here in New Zealand—every girl in an English middle-class school was taught music, no matter the degree of tone-deafness with which she was afflicted. How many, too, I wonder, are there in our schools who are forced to study subjects for which they have no aptitude?
There is room for much research in New Zealand history, young though our country may be. The splendid gift of his library to the people of the Dominion by the late Mr. A. H. Turnbull should certainly stimulate historical research. With this end in view we may cordially welcome the establishment of an historical section by the Wellington branch of our Institute.
One more example out of the many subjects crying aloud for research in this country and I have done. Our cultivated plants of all kinds are subject to attacks of parasitic fungi, the majority of which are considered identical with those affecting similar plants in other countries. For the suppression of such fungi many fungicides have been devised, especially in France and America. Now, that these methods have been successful on trees in the country of their origin does not say that similar methods will serve equally well here. A certain apple-tree growing in California will probably differ from the same variety grown on the clay soil of Nelson. The effect of the fungus on such a New Zealand tree and the life-history of that fungus must be studied in New Zealand; so, too, must be investigated the use of the fungicide. This method of attacking the pests of fruit-trees by means of fungicides and insecticides costs the State of California alone about £400,000 per annum. At best it is a rather clumsy way of dealing with the pests. It is exactly a case in point with regard to pure and applied science. Pure science paved the way by first classifying and then finding out the life-histories of the fungi; pure science had also to devise by aid of much experiment the beautiful technique with regard to pure cultures, and so on, which can now be learnt in the laboratory. Then pure science devised fungicides, and finally applied science is brought into the orchard in the form of the spray pump and its contents. But is science content to rest at this stage? Is she not eagerly seeking to find out more about the relation of fungus and host, more about the cause of parasitism? Here comes in the plant-physiologist, who seeks to find out more about the actual life processes of the plant, whose ultimate aim is perhaps to discover what is life itself. This latter problem seems well-nigh hopeless, but long before the problematical success is achieved science will know so much about the plant that new methods of combating disease will be in the hands of every orchardist. The Cawthron Institute of Scientific Research could easily spend all its income on investigations with regard to plant-diseases, but it would not be performing its full scientific duty if it were not carrying out plant-physiological researches with regard to the living tree as it grows in the orchard, and thus working not for the present day alone but for posterity. This, I take it, is also the attitude of the New Zealand Institute and should be the attitude of this Dominion. Not for the present alone but for the future must this New Zealand of ours—our beloved country—strive with might and main if she is to become truly great.