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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/438

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

make great expenditures for the prevention and cure of pauperism, for the repression and punishment of crime, for the treatment of lunatics of various sorts, for the care of idiots of various grades, for the special treatment of inebriates, for the cure of the sick in hospitals, for general measures of prevention, as regards epidemics, and yet no one will gainsay my assertion that on no subject are our Legislature, and all our various public bodies, so utterly blind as on this. If we look at the result of this as regards expenditure, the case is bad enough. The amount annually expended in all our States for this purpose is enormous. The only approach which we have to the palaces of the Old World are in the various hospitals and prisons and asylums of the New. I can speak of this want of knowledge from personal experience. I can stand in the confessional on this subject. It has been my lot more than once to vote on such appropriations in a legislative body. I remember especially one case where the Legislature of this State was called upon to establish a great asylum, at vast expense, for a certain class of lunatics. The case was very pressing. A careful report from a commission showed that some provision of this sort must be made. A bill was passed, the buildings were erected, and yet, when all was done, we were assured by an expert, who had no interest one way or the other in the matter, that all our well-meant benevolence had, perhaps, resulted in almost as much evil as good, and that the whole institution was a failure as regards the immediate purposes for which it was erected. The simple cause for this was that in that whole Legislature, in the lower House, in the upper House, in the Executive Department, there was not one person who had ever given any close attention to subjects of this kind, and we had been obliged to trust entirely to those who could give us scraps of information, no matter how crude. But, if the immediate results are unfortunate, the remote results are still more so.

If any one wishes to see what vicious methods of dealing with great social questions will produce, he has only to look at the great harvest of evil which England is now reaping from seed sown 300 years ago, especially as regards the treatment of her pauper and criminal classes. I have said that there is no provision for thorough instruction. The reason is twofold. The first is the reluctance of educators to take up new subjects of study, or, at least, to present them thoroughly. But the other and far more effective reason is the fact that we have so few institutions for advanced education which have the means to make provision for such teaching. The last report of the Commissioners of Education at Washington shows that we have in this country about 400 establishments calling themselves colleges or universities. You may count on your fingers all those which really have any claim to either title. In obedience to the demands of sect or of locality, we have gone on multiplying institutions insufficiently endowed, wretchedly wanting in every thing necessary to scientific