Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/11

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ONE can scarcely fail to notice, in the intellectual life of America, how very rapidly a new thought sweeps across the continent. It travels with almost the speed of the whirlwind. The storm center is commonly Boston or New York or Philadelphia, and progress is toward the westward. At once the impulse is felt in Chicago and Denver and San Francisco. A new book, a new creed, or a new social ideal easily gains the popular ear. Like the Epicureans and Stoics, we delight to hear a new thing. It can not be said that this interest is always, or even generally, a profound or fruitful one. But it has at least this advantage, that it secures a speedy hearing for such ideas as are put in a form suitable for assimilation, and this alone is no inconsiderable gain. The educational movement known as university extension is an admirable illustration of this national alertness and versatility. It is a movement capable of very definite presentation and of calling up equally definite mental images. As a result, it is now familiar in name at least to the majority of our people, and it has become so in a surprisingly short space of time. Returned travelers from England have whispered the name in private for several years past. Certain phases of the movement, such as the Toynbee Hall experiment of planting a colony of culture-loving men in the arid district of London, have for some time attracted attention on both sides of the water. But, as a distinct object of public interest and discussion in America, university extension is hardly two years old. It was not until the winter and spring of 1890 that the movement took rank as a question of the day. Outside of the larger and more interested cities, and possibly even within their borders, it may still be that the name of the move-