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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/714

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

quaintance with the public service of the country is not thoroughly familiar with the official in the last year or so of his terra, looking forward to removal and too profoundly discouraged to throw any zeal into his work, or to form any plans for putting things around him into better shape? We have seen him and know whereof we speak, nor will it be devised that the type abounds in the country to-day. As to plans for the future, the simple knowledge that his successor in office will want to do things in his own way, and will lack the experience necessary to the appreciation of arrangements based on experience, would alone dispose the retiring official to live a kind of hand-to-mouth existence till his change came.

Even as we write this article we notice by the dispatches from Washington that the excellent appointment made by the last administration of Prof. T. C. Mendenhall to the superintendence of the Coast Survey is in danger of being canceled in the interest of a Democratic aspirant to the office. There does not appear to be any pretense that Prof. Mendenhall is not in all respects suited to the office he fills, or that he has not already rendered very valuable service in it. It is stated, indeed, in journals not unfavorable to the present administration that he has been and is most efficient, and that under his management the survey is doing better work than ever before; and yet the wolves are howling round him, and the impression is gaining ground that the wolves are to be satisfied. Now, if the public would only reflect a little on what this means and what it costs, we think there would be a more serious revolt against the subordination of civil administration to party politics than this country has witnessed yet. We either want good, faithful, and intelligent service or we do not. If we do, then we must also want the means to the desired end; and an important part of the means will be a secure tenure of office for capable and faithful public servants. If we are indifferent as to the service we get, and wish to keep all the more important offices as rewards for partisan service, let us avow it distinctly and cease to be surprised when officeholders show that they understand why they were appointed and make the public interest as secondary in their own calculations as it was in that of those who gave them their positions. Of course, to avow this would be to accept a very low place in the scale of civilized nations, but if we can not screw our public virtue up to any higher pitch, let us at least honestly acknowledge where we stand.

 

 

A POSSIBLE REFORM.

The saying that "all is for the bet in the best possible of worlds" is one which does not at every moment come home to ns with conviction. It sometimes seems as if many things went unnecessarily awry, as if evil results were being incurred in many quarters through simple carelessness and indifference to the conditions of well-being. It is difficult, for example, to be quite satisfied with the general effects of popular education, or with the fruits which have as yet been reaped from the diffusion of scientific knowledge. If we ask whether the popular press exhibits a higher intellectual stamp than it did twenty or thirty years ago, the answer will not be altogether reassuring. It is within about thirty years that most of the devices now used by the press for taking the strain off the attention of lazy readers have been introduced; and what a development there has been within the same period in the ignoble industry of purveying and tricking out in all the adornments of newspaper rhetoric a kind of news for which the simplest considerations of public interest would prescribe the briefest and driest treatment, it is quite needless to declare.

We have noticed with pleasure lately