206 ENGLISH MEN OF SCIENCE. [CHAP.
was obtained in, direct opposition to family influences.
Scientific studies in boyhood are apt to meet with scant favour at home ; they deal too much in abstractions on the one hand, and sensible messes and mischief to furniture and clothes on the other. They lead to no clearly lucrative purpose, and occupy time which might be apparently better bestowed. These hindrances were far more seriously felt when the men on my list were young, when apparatus was hardly to be procured, and when scientific work was exceptional. I ascribe many of the cases of encouragement to the existence of an hereditary link ; that is to say, the son had inherited scientific tastes, and was encouraged by the parent from whom he had inherited them, and who naturally sympathized with him.
Attention should be given to the relatively small encouragement received from the mother. I have sorted the extracts so as to permit the comparison to be easily made. The female mind has special excellencies of a high order, and the value of its influence in various ways