Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/396

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"sentimental education," and yet again "classical education"—the vast numbers of public schools in which not only are all branches of learning taught, but the text-books for teaching them supplied at the public expense (we are confining ourselves to the New England States); the enormous diffusion of cheap literature, or of good literature at cheap prices; the great preponderance of fiction over other reading matter—all these, they tell us, surely and unerringly tend to depopulate farms and to render farm life distasteful to those who live upon them. The farmer's daughter is unwilling to rise early to milk the cows; the farmer's son does not care to fodder the cattle or drive them to the plow or to the harvesting. The daughter has read higher things and prefers her piano, and the son has heard of opportunities of amassing wealth galore in the cities, and every Sunday newspaper tells him of what others have done and of what, therefore, it is assumed that he can do in amassing equal wealth in their streets. This sort of thing is rehashed until it has become a literature in itself, and need not be more than referred to here. But is this the real reason after all? There used to be a proposition quite equally relied upon by these very statistical societies (though I have not heard much of it lately) which ought to counterbalance or compensate for this tendency of the rural youth to cities. It used to be said, I believe, that the cessation of a certain branch of any given industry released a certain proportion of power, which turned itself to some other; for example, that the loss by a city like Portland of its India sugar trade, or by New Bedford or by Sag Harbor of its whaling interests, would be no loss to the community at large, because the handlers of sugar or of whales would gravitate to other employments, and so the economical balance of the community be preserved. If this principle still obtained, then—in view of the large creation of entirely new industries within the last ten or twenty years, such as, for example, the electric power and light, the telephone, the typewriter, the clipper of newspapers (the last three of which certainly do not discriminate in favor of the stronger sex; or, if they discriminate at all, might be said to discriminate against it)—this principle of mutual release ought to be still to the fore; but somehow or other it is not as familiarly quoted now as it was once. I have, for example, heard it gravely argued by a gentleman in New York city, who writes much and well upon economical and politico-economical questions, and who is an enthusiastic free-trader, that, if the doctrine of protection was carried far enough to create new industries in the United States, those industries would require the building of great mills and factories; and that, while those factories were being built, the time of thousands of working people would be on their hands, and that the loss of wages incurred by some thou-