Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/866

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
846
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

relaxation of the law that forces us all to keep our faculties in exercise it would be difficult to say; but, taking into account what we know of average human nature, we can hardly predict that the effect would be good. It is easy to find fault with Nature, but not so easy to put her aside and do the work that she is doing. There are few intelligent men who do not recognize what an advantage it is to them to be, in many things, under the law of necessity; and probably also there are few who have much reason to pride themselves on what they have done wholly apart from any such pressure. When a man may either do a thing requiring effort or leave it undone, the chances that he will do it are not overwhelmingly great.

Mr. Graham criticises very effectively the wilder suggestions of socialistic writers, but he does not hesitate to express his opinion that a certain infusion into legislation and government of the socialistic spirit and of socialistic methods is a present necessity. "The state," he says, "has great power: through its laws and institutions it can affect the relations of classes. It can temper great inequality. It can mitigate poverty. It can check the strong oppressor. It can protect the poor, their health, their lives, their property. Many of these things it has already done to some extent, and it has shown an increasing tendency, within the past forty years, to interfere in order to protect the feeble workers and to restrain unscrupulous employers. . . . Its duty is more than the protection of life and property. It has to make just and beneficial laws respecting property. It is its duty to enforce contracts; but it may also be its duty to narrow the sphere of contracts in certain cases where the contracts can not really be free." He draws a fearful picture of what would have happened in England had it not been for the interference of the state in the passing of factory laws and other similar acts. "We should have had a proletariat of servile workers, degraded in physique, in mind, in morals; mothers working in mines and factories, their sickly children dying without a mother's care, or surviving with enfeebled frames; other children ignorant and lawless, worked to death or growing up savages; the whole laboring population turned into mere human plant and instruments to make the fortunes of masters, constantly becoming more insolent and inhuman from impunity. We should have had the slave gangs of the Roman Republic repeated, only that the slaves would have been the countrymen of their masters, neither conquered in battle nor born in slavery." This is strong language, and to some the conclusion may appear somewhat too dogmatically stated. Some such idea, we think, must have occurred to the writer himself, for he hastens to add, "That is a deducible consequence, had the system continued in its strictness and the hands submitted." It is worth recalling that so judicious and philanthropic a man as the late John Bright was of opinion that the factory laws had done more harm than good. Prof. Graham's book is one that ought to be widely read, as we are persuaded that, whether the writer's own conclusions are accepted or not, his candid and able discussion of the various questions comprised under the general head of "Socialism" can not fail to be helpful and beneficial.

The Draper Catalogue of Stellar Spectra. Photographed with the Eight-inch Eache Telescope as a Part of the Henry Draper Memorial. Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College, Edward C. Pickering, Director. Pp. 388.

This volume contains a catalogue of the photographic spectra of 10,351 stars, nearly all of them north of 25° south declination. Six hundred and thirty-three photographic plates are discussed and 28,266 spectra measured. Exposures of about five minutes were generally used for equatorial stars, and somewhat longer exposures for northern stars. Photographic plates eight inches by ten were employed; and at each exposure the spectra were obtained of all the stars of sufficient brightness in a region of 10° square. All stars brighter than the seventh magnitude would generally give images of sufficient intensity to be measured, unless they were of a reddish color. Many stars of the eighth magnitude or fainter appeared on the plates with sufficient distinctness to be included. The total number of spectra on a single plate sometimes exceeded two hundred. The plan of work was such that the entire sky north of 25° S. was covered