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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and college courses are planned less with a view to general culture than to enabling each individual to jump at once on the very thing-he wants, or thinks he wants, for the purposes of a practical career.

What has the mental result of it all been? The part which science has played has been to greatly enlarge our means of obtaining knowledge. It rested with this generation to use these enlarged means for wise or for foolish purposes; and we fear it is not possible to read the more widely circulated of our daily papers without concluding that, to a very large extent, the gift of science in bringing us so marvelously into touch with all the ends of the earth, and in cheapening so extraordinarily the means of information, has resulted far otherwise than could have been wished. Our vast intellectual advantages have culminated in the advent and reign of the Yellow Journal, to spread whose malodorous froth over the surface of the land whole forests are tumbled annually into the pulp mill.

When we speak of intellectual advantages, our "magnificent public-school system" should not be forgotten. It probably is as magnificent as the people's taxes expended by the people's politicians can make it; but does it educate? That is a question about which our most prominent educators can never entirely agree. It seems to us to be just a case in which, if the people could rise to the level of their opportunity, they might reap an enormous advantage; but the people do not effectively demand the best education for their children, and they do not get it. They effectively demand not a training for life, not a true education for the mind, but an education for business. Even in our higher institutions of learning, calculations in relation to business largely predominate. And the result is that high authorities in the educational world write articles on "The Increasing Illiteracy of the American People," and experienced professors explain how it is that all the instruction they give to their pupils in English language and literature can not overcome their corrupt habits of speech. But this is not the worst; the worst is that to thousands and thousands what is called education is rather a spur to lawless desires than an aid in the government of life.

The problem of the Sphinx is therefore confronting us as it has confronted other races and periods: how to stand up against the sun of our own prosperity. When it has been a question of enduring the storm and the blast, humanity has never failed; but when the victory over hardship has been won. then another battle has begun, in which, from a national standpoint, the forces of integration and progress have too often suffered defeat. We are enduring the strain of that conflict now, and while it is impossible not to hope for victory, the signs are many that the victory—which must take the form of the establishment of a true moral equilibrium in modern society—will not be achieved without difficulty.

 

 

THE BOSTON MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION.

The meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science recently held in Boston was in many respects a notable one. Marking as it did the completion of the first half century of the life of the association, it afforded a suitable opportunity for taking stock of the progress of science in this country during the last fifty years and for estimating the influence of the association as a leading factor in such