The Science of Statesmanship


    POLITICAL science and politics are two very different A things; some progress has been made in methodising the facts and inductions of political economy, but politics is still little more than a chaos of party prejudices and personal invective. Yet there is surely no reason why political action, the conduct of the State, should not be guided by scientific method quite as much as the conduct of a scientific exploring expedition such as that which has so recently sailed over the North-East Passage. Prof. Nordenskjöld's feat is one of the finest instances of scientific prediction based on ascertained data that we know of, and we would recommend it to Sir William Harcourt's consideration when he contemplates taking part in another political “agitation.” Sir William has succeeded in getting such a firm grasp of the real nature of scientific method, and he applied it so wittily and so well in his recent Birmingham address that we would advise him to follow out this line in real earnest. So thoroughly does he seem to understand the method of scientific research and scientific prediction, and so ably, although only in sport and to banter his opponents, did he expound it, that we think science has lost in him a successful worker. To this loss we could resign ourselves if Sir William would set himself to rescue politics from its present degraded position as a mere theatre for party strife, and to elevate it into something like a science of national life and progress. He must have taken considerable pains to obtain his knowledge of the method and uses of the Nautical Almanac; his natural mistake as to its editorship we can overlook. As to the truth of his application of the method of the almanac to the construction of a Conservative Almanac; “after a careful induction from the conduct of Tory government,” we have nothing to do here; its ingenuity is amusing. With the following remarks, however, men of all parties cannot but agree:—

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    The Science of Statesmanship . Nature 21, 295–297 (1880) doi:10.1038/021295a0

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