Ignorance is bliss

July 1880

General assent hailed the application to the government in the House of Commons to hasten the completion of the large Ordnance Survey of England, which was originally due to be completed in 1879.

The subject is one of more than professional interest. For the projection of public works – of drainage, irrigation, harbourage, or land or water inland communication – the importance of the six-inch survey is of the first order.

It was, however, rather with reference to the purchase and sale of landed property that the subject attracted attention in the House of Commons.

It might have been thought that no opposition could have been raised but no proposal, however sound, seems to command universal assent. In one of the morning papers a writer, under the signature “Observer”, claimed that as long as the survey was in the hands of professional men it would never be completed.

This implies a view of the status and the character of the royal engineer very similar to that which we lately directed attention as applied to the architect in the British Quarterly Review.

It is not necessary for us to take up the defence of an honourable service, But we call attention to the great want of knowledge of what “survey” means, no less than to that of what “architecture” means, displayed by writers who seem to think that the best preparation for doing any kind of scientific or artistic work is to be wholly uneducated in either art or science.

Incredible as it may seem there is class of men who do, in point of fact, ride that ridiculous hobby.