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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/402

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388
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tion is stationary or dwindling with greater or less rapidity, according as the district in question is more or less exclusively rural. Then the percentage of young people and children is much smaller than fifty years ago. The old-fashioned large families are the rare exception, and the young folks are early drawn away from the old homestead. In my native town the school districts have been reduced from twenty-one to eleven, and many of these enlarged districts have only a half or fourth the pupils of the original divisions. The real decline of the native stock is greater than the decrease in numbers would indicate, for there is a decided increase in the foreign element, which with all its virtues is not qualified to strengthen and perpetuate the old New England type of character and spirit. Nor is this state of things confined to a few obscure places among the mountains, for some of the historic towns founded by the Puritans are undergoing the same process of decline or change of population. Many of the large towns, deprived of the former stream of recruits from the country, are fast changing from Anglo-Saxon to Celtic and from Protestant to Catholic.

5. In the last thirty years the colleges have been strengthened in endowments and appliances, and are doing a better and wider work than formerly; the larger towns have excellent high schools, and the well-endowed academies are strong and well attended. But, with the rural districts far removed from these advantages, there is no provision for secondary education. The ungraded district school, with its brief school term, is the beginning and the end of local opportunities. The unendowed academies of forty years ago, then filled with young people, are dead and have left no successors. It is true, some young people resort to the high schools and endowed academies, but secondary education here is far less general than in the former time, while many are lost to the college and higher education whom a good local academy of the old type would stimulate to an extended course of study. In one of the most picturesque districts of New Hampshire is an endowed academy that thirty-five years ago had an annual attendance of more than four hundred, and sent to college each year thirty boys, to say nothing of a dozen girls as well and widely trained for whom no college opened its doors. The same school has less than one fourth the old number of students and graduates. It is fair to say that the decadence of this school is partly due to the larger advantages offered by better-equipped rivals, but the main cause of decline is the dearth of young people in its natural region of supply, and the diminished interest in higher education.

6. Many churches have dwindled into insignificance, or have been blotted out altogether, owing to deaths and removals, with no