Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/716

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and most unenlightened principles of an antiquated state-craft. While the spread of knowledge and the improvement in means of communication are drawing men together, and more or less effacing the lines of separation between nation and nation, this country, which, having received, in point of territory and material resources, the fairest and richest heritage of all, might have been expected to show the brightest example of good feeling and hospi'tality to other peoples and governments, has apparently considered it its mission to antagonize as far as possible the unifying influence of the modern spirit, to counteract the work of science in drawing the nations together, and to promote to the extent of its power a régime of international exclusiveness and jealousy. Shall we not some day wake up to a sudden shame of our conduct as a people in this matter? Shall we not some day be led to feel that we owe the world a better example? What is the use of endowing colleges and teaching the rising generation how to subdue the forces of nature, if, after the forces of nature have been subdued, and the lifegiving and health-giving currents of international intercourse are prepared to flow in full tide of beneficent activity, we empower a lot of politicians at Washington to place artificial obstacles and resistances in the way of our commerce? The thing is really too absurd—philosophy and religion alike proclaiming the solidarity of human interests, science showing how natural obstacles to intercourse may be reduced to a minimum, while politics—flouting all the teachings of religion and philosophy, handicaps the achievements of science and insists on the perpetuation of a semi-barbarous régime of international hostility. Does any one say the word "hostility" is too strong? It is not too strong. What more hostile thing can we do to any one than to refuse intercourse with him? What deadlier or crueller form of hostility is there than the "boycott"? Of course, in boycotting others, we boycott ourselves; for, big as we are, we are not the whole world. What Mr. Atkinson is striving to show is the injurious effect of the boycott upon ourselves. We heartily wish him success in his patriotic labors; but we could wish also that a more generous sentiment might come and help to lift us out of our present false and retrograde position.

 

 

Our biographical sketch this month is devoted to Prof. T. C. Mendenhall, Superintendent of the Coast Survey and retiring President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As the author of the sketch rightly observes, we have in this gentleman a typical specimen of that class of Americans who, by the determined cultivation and development of their natural gifts, have arrived at the highest distinction. Many perhaps will consider the surroundings of Prof. Mendenhall's boyhood as unfavorable to his becoming eminent; but there is an element in his early school training, commonplace as that may appear, which to our mind was decidedly favorable, because it contributed directly to the formation of those habits of observation and independent thinking which are conspicuous in the characters of able men. Deriving from his father an inquiring turn of mind, the boy was fortunate enough to fall into the hands of a teacher who was an interested observer of physical phenomena, and who was in the habit of occasionally varying the school-work by such simple experiments as were within the means at her command. Insignificant as this episode may appear to many, it was well calculated to arouse the interest and fix the attention. The native curiosity of the childish mind was stimulated, and observation, experiment, and reasoning on his own account were the natural result.