Popular Science Monthly/Volume 13/September 1878/Editor's Table



THE report of the English commission on the general subject of copyright is now complete and before the public. It shows that there has been a searching investigation into the existing condition and working of copyright-laws in that country, with an honest view to such amendments as are necessary to more thorough protection of the right to literary property. The report is able and exhaustive, and recommends parliamentary measures which, if carried out, will be of great advantage to authors, and will be an honor to England. The commissioners found the subject encompassed with serious and perplexing difficulties, but they did not make these the occasion of shrinking from the duty that had been assigned to them. If any American wishes to preserve a decent self-respect, we advise him not to pass from the reading of the English copyright report to the report of the United States Senate upon the same subject, made in 1873, by Mr. Morrill, of Maine. The contrast between the two documents is remarkable. The English report is grave and formidable, and shows that there has been long and earnest work over a question that is felt to be of great national importance; the American report is a miserable tract of half a dozen pages, evincing by its meagreness the utter indifference of those who drew it up to the subject which they had been appointed to consider. The English report recognizes extensive defects in the legislation of that country upon the question, and recommends bold changes in it to secure a better state of things; the American report sees nothing wrong that it is desirable to amend, and recommends Congress to take no action in the matter. It treats the subject from the low and selfish point of view of the American political demagogue, enters with a relish into the sordid squabbles of book-manufacturers, and pays not the slightest attention to the important principles that should be recognized as at the basis of a just and enlightened policy of international copyright. The English report, on the contrary, treats the subject with dignity and seriousness, bringing out clearly the great principles that should control it, and taking high and impregnable moral ground in regard to the duty of the English Parliament in legislating with reference to it. It is a question of international ethics, and England has shot a long way forward by adopting the Christian standard of conduct in this relation, and saying we are prepared to do as we would be done by. The high-water mark of international morality hitherto reached has been to do as you are done by, to reciprocate, to concede benefits if benefits are granted, and to deny them if they are denied. England takes the lead in affirming that the thing which is right, just, and equitable, must be done, whether other nations reciprocate or not. She took an important step in this direction in entering upon the policy of free trade, and now proposes to carry it out in her international treatment of literary property and the rights of authors. The commission recommends to Parliament to grant copyrights to American authors whether the United States will do the same thing for English authors or not. They say: "It has been suggested to us that this country would be justified in taking steps of a retaliatory character, with a view of enforcing, incidentally, that protection from the United States which we accord to them. This might be done by withdrawing from the Americans the privilege of copyright on first publication in this country. We have, however, come to the conclusion that it is advisable that our law should be based on correct principles, irrespective of the opinions or policy of other nations. We admit the propriety of protecting copyright, and it appears to us that the principle of copyright, if admitted, is one of universal application. We, therefore, recommend that this country should pursue the policy of recognizing the author's rights, irrespective of nationality."

On a subject which presents so much that is conflicting and unsettled, it is not to be supposed that there would be complete unanimity of opinion among the fifteen members of this commission, who were chosen because they are men of intelligence, and capable of forming their own views. The subject, besides, was one of great extent and complication of rival interests, involving the policy to be pursued regarding home and foreign copyrights, abridgments of books, musical compositions, dramatization of novels, lectures, newspapers, paintings, photographs, translations, registrations, forfeitures, infringements, and scores of other matters hitherto left to a chaotic system of legislation. But, considering the task they had before them, the commissioners have come to substantial agreement as to the measures recommended. There were two or three wrong-headed and crotchety men, who made dissenting reports on various points, although concurring in the main practical results. Chief among these eccentric dissentients was Sir Louis Mallet; he could not agree with his coadjutors, and with some of the leading gentlemen who testified before them, as to the ground of rights in literary property. Many ingenious and fanciful arguments have been made to prove that men have no right to the property they create by brain-labor, or have only such a qualified right to it that to appropriate it without consent is not stealing. What a man earns by his hands, and by capital invested in tools and machinery, they admit he has a right to against the world; but what he earns by laborious thinking, and by capital invested in education, may be taken from him by anybody who wants it. Many funny reasons, as we have said, have been offered for allowing those who can make anything by it for themselves to plunder authors of the products of their toil, but Sir Louis Mallet has the honor of contributing the last curious pretext for this sort of robbery. He says: "The right conferred by a copyright-law derives its chief value from the discovery of the art of printing; and there appears no reason for giving to authors any larger share in the value of a mechanical invention, to which they have contributed nothing, than to any other member of the community." But, if authors are not to be permitted to hold their property because the discovery of the art of printing has contributed to its value, what right has anybody to hold any property that is the result of an invention or discovery to which he has not contributed? The doctrine would make sad havoc of the rights of capitalists and laborers in all countries, whose earnings and accumulations are due to the use of steam-engines, telegraphs, spinning-machinery, and a thousand other devices to which they have never contributed.

Sir Louis Mallet coincides in the practical recommendations of the report, although not agreeing with the grounds upon which they are made. Yet he exhibited a good deal of ingenious perverseness in embarrassing the inquiry. This was well illustrated by the case he undertook to make out against the necessity of international copyright by the success of the "International Scientific Series," where foreign authors are paid without the compulsion of an international copyright-law. His case, in a word, is this: By a satisfactory arrangement contributors to the "International Scientific Series" are liberally paid by the English publisher, and then fairly paid again by the American publisher—what more is wanted? The answer, of course, is very simple: There is wanted legal protection to the property. The American publishers concede that there is a property-value in the books they reissue, for which they are willing to pay under a voluntary contract; but how does that proceeding absolve the United States Government from the duty of protecting that property as it protects other property? Reasonable men will see that the convention of publishers in different countries, to carry out such a project, is but a weighty testimony to the just claims of authors which it is the duty and office of government to sustain and enforce by the proper legislation. It is the one great duty of government to protect the rights of its citizens, and prominent among these is the right of property. All civilized countries recognize the right of property in books, and there have been attempts to make this recognition international, that is, to induce nations to extend their morality beyond their geographical borders. In the absence of any such arrangement, a few parties agree that they will voluntarily recognize the rights of intellectual property, and the very doing of this is to be made a new excuse for neglecting to enforce the fundamental obligations of justice.


It was a suggestive remark of Count Rumford that "the number of inhabitants who may be supported in any country upon its internal produce depends about as much upon the state of the art of cookery as upon that of agriculture; but, if cookery be of so much importance, it ought certainly to be studied with the greatest care. Cookery and agriculture are arts of civilized nations; savages understand neither of them."

There is a great deal of important truth wrapped up in this passage, of vital interest to society in general and to individual welfare, but which it has taken a hundred years to appreciate so fully that any considerable number of people can begin to cooperate in reducing it to practice. But, if what Rumford said is true, if the scale of population as well as the comfort and health of the people depends to such a degree upon the art of cookery, what are all the issues of politics over which men are fighting with such desperation in comparison with the systematic improvement of the culinary art? How greatly the public weal is dependent upon the condition of agriculture begins now to be widely understood, and since the time of Rumford great progress has been made in its scientific study through the establishment of special schools and colleges for the purpose. Agricultural education is now a recognized branch of popular culture which is destined to be greatly developed and extended in the future. The next great step must be to do the same thing for the art of cookery; and the friends of genuine social improvement may congratulate themselves that the progress of education is beginning to take effect upon this important department of domestic life. Cooking-schools are springing up in many places in this country and in England, and the English are taking the lead in organizing them as a part of their national and common school system.

Of the importance, the imperative necessity of this movement, there cannot be the slightest question. Our kitchens, as is perfectly notorious, are the fortified intrenchments of ignorance, prejudice, irrational habits, rule of-thumb, and mental vacuity, and the consequence is that the Americans are liable to the reproach of suffering beyond any other people from wasteful, unpalatable, unhealthful and monotonous cookery. Considering our resources, and the vaunted education and intelligence of American women, this reproach is just. Our kitchens are, in fact, almost abandoned to the control of low Irish, stupid negroes, and raw servile menials that pour in upon us from various foreign countries. And, what is worse, there is a general acquiescence in this state of things, as if it were something fated, and relief from it hopeless and impossible. We profess to believe in the potency of education, and are applying it to all other interests and industries excepting only that fundamental art of the preparation and use of food to sustain life which involves more of economy, enjoyment, health, spirits, and the power of effective labor, than any other subject that is formally studied in the schools. We abound in female seminaries and female colleges, and high-schools, and normal schools, supported by burdensome taxes, in which everything under heaven is studied except that practical art which is a daily and vital necessity in all the households of the land.

Acquiescence in this state of things as something permanent and irremediable is no longer possible. If, as Rumford says, cookery is an art of civilized nations, it must improve with the advance of civilization. It is undoubtedly the most backward of all the arts, and various causes conspire to its continued neglect. But, whatever the difficulties to be overcome, the time has arrived when the advance of intelligence and the spirit of improvement must invade that last stronghold of traditional stupidity, the kitchen. Nor are the difficulties of doing this by any means so great as is commonly supposed; they will vanish as soon as the task of alleviation and amendment is earnestly undertaken. As soon as thought and cultivation are brought to bear upon the domestic operations of the kitchen, they will be elevated in the common respect, and a most formidable impediment will thus be removed. American women have been driven out of the kitchen because all its associations are degrading, and they demand education as a preparation for all those other activities to which educations leads. When the art of cookery becomes a matter of intelligent study, so that its practice will no longer be a badge of debasement and humiliation, occupation will be sought and honored in this field as elsewhere. The establishment of cooking-schools is, therefore, in the direct line of our domestic amelioration and emancipation. They are already, as we have said, established, and, considering the embarrassments of an initial movement of this kind, are in most successful operation. Though at present narrow in their scope, they will develop and widen so as to afford a training in the broader field of general household activity; but we are well content with what has been already gained. The South Kensington Cooking-School, in London, is a normal school for training teachers to go out and take charge of other schools in different parts of the country. How successful this institution has been may be inferred from the fact that it has already given us the best practical cook-book that we now have. We call attention to the notice of this work in the following pages, from which the reader will gather some interesting information as to what has been accomplished on the other side of the Atlantic in relation to this important subject, and which will afford important hints for carrying out a similar work in the United States.


Of all the applications of science to the practical arts, there is none that can for a moment bear comparison with its application to the art of teaching. Scientific education, as currently understood, refers to something of greatly inferior importance: it means instruction in the sciences. Many of the teachers in our schools know something of these sciences, and do what they can to expound them. This, of course, is useful, but it is the lowest agency for the diffusion of science. Of the uses of science to themselves as professors of the art of teaching, or of its value in guiding the processes of education, it is not too much to say that the mass of teachers as yet know nothing. This, however, is the main and essential thing now to be imperatively demanded, and which, when attained, will do more toward the universal promotion of science than all other modes of influence combined. Scientific education is far less a question of the number of hours per week that are to be devoted to this kind of study than a question of bringing scientific knowledge to bear upon the operations of the school-room.

We took this ground decisively twenty years ago. When applied to by Mr. Greeley to write some articles for the Tribune on "Scientific Education," we devoted them to a statement of the ground that science requires all intelligent teachers to take in the pursuit of their profession. We illustrated and enforced the position that, to develop the mind and form the character, the starting-point of the teacher must be a knowledge of the brain and of nervous physiology, and that all teaching without this knowledge must be empirical, is certain to be faulty, and liable to be injurious. The discussion was premature. We sowed upon unprepared ground. It was objected that all beyond the bare introduction of more chemistry and physics in the schools was impracticable and fanciful; while to talk of "brain" instead of "mind" was dreaded as dangerous, and condemned as leading "straight down to materialism."

In a work published a dozen years ago, "On the Culture demanded by Modern Life," this view was reaffirmed and more fully illustrated. It was insisted that to gain definite ideas of the laws of mind so as to work the forces of education quantitatively, if we may so speak, for the production of permanent effects, we must recognize the law of mental limitations that is educible from cerebral physiology. In an essay treating of the philosophy of mental discipline we said:

"It no longer admits of denial or cavil that the Author of our being has seen fit to connect mind and intelligence with a nervous mechanism; in studying mental phenomena, therefore, in connection with this mechanism, we are studying them in the relation which God has established, and therefore in the only true relation. Nothing is more certain than that, in future, mind is to be considered in connection with the organism by which it is conditioned. When it is said that the brain is the organ of the mind, it is meant that in thinking, remembering, reasoning, the brain acts. The basis of educability, and hence of mental discipline, is to be sought in the properties of that nervous substance by which mind is manifested. When it is perceived that what we have to deal with in mental acquirement is organic processes which have a definite time-rate of activity, so that, however vigorously the cerebral currents are sustained by keeping at a thing, acquisition is not increased in the same degree; when we see that new attainments are easiest and most rapid during early life—the time of most vigorous growth of the body generally; that thinking exhausts the brain as really as working exhausts the muscles, while rest and nutrition are as much needed in one case as the other; when we see that rapidity of attainment and tenacity of memory involve the question of cerebral adhesions, and note how widely constitutions differ in these capabilities, how they depend upon blood, stock, and health, and vary with numberless conditions—we become aware how inexorably the problem of mental attainment is hedged round with limitations, and the vague notion that there are no bounds to acquisition except imperfect application disappears forever."

The general view (here illustrated in a special application) has been maintained in The Popular Science Monthly from the outset. We have published papers from the ablest scientific men of different countries, illustrating the control of physiological and psychological principles over the objects and methods of education. These able discussions, we are happy to say, have been increasingly appreciated; and it is gratifying to note that the view we have steadily urged for these many years begins to be widely accepted as the basis of a new departure in the progress of scientific education. A conspicuous illustration of this has recently been afforded by the course of the most influential journal in England. There has been a systematic movement in that country to get a larger share of scientific study in the lower schools; and, under the vigorous leadership of Sir John Lubbock, in the House of Commons, efforts have been made to modify school legislation so as to enforce this result. A majority has not yet been gained, but the opposition is giving way, and the end sought will undoubtedly soon be attained. Upon the last and recent defeat of Sir John Lubbock's measure, the London Times came out with a leading editorial on the right side, and which is chiefly remarkable for the advanced and unqualified position which it takes. We reprint this article of the Times in the present number of the Monthly, together with the comments of the editor of Nature upon it. How completely the writer sustains the views that we have long labored to inculcate, is well shown in the following instructive passage:

"As soon as physiologists had discovered that all the faculties of the intellect, however originating or upon whatever exercised, were functions of a material organism or brain, absolutely dependent upon its integrity for their manifestation, and upon its growth and development for their improvement, it became apparent that the true office of the teacher of the future would be to seek to learn the conditions by which the growth and the operations of the brain were controlled in order that he might be able to modify these conditions in a favorable manner. The abstraction of the 'mind' was so far set aside as to make it certain that this mind could only act through a nervous structure, and that the structure was subject to various influences for good or evil. It became known that a brain cannot arrive at healthy maturity excepting by the assistance of a sufficient supply of healthy blood; that is to say, of good food and pure air. It also became known that the power of a brain will ultimately depend very much upon the way in which it is habitually exercised, and that the practice of schools in this respect left a great deal to be desired. A large amount of costly and pretentious teaching fails dismally for no other reason than because it is not directed by any knowledge of the mode of action of the organ to which the teacher endeavors to appeal; and mental growth, in many instances, occurs in spite of teaching rather than on account of it. Education, which might once have been defined as an endeavor to expand the intellect by the introduction of mechanically compressed facts, should now be defined as an endeavor favorably to influence a vital process; and, when so regarded, its direction should manifestly fall somewhat into the hands of those by whom the nature of vital processes has been most completely studied. In other words, it becomes neither more nor less than a branch of applied physiology; and physiologists tell us with regard to it that the common processes of teaching are open to the grave objection that they constantly appeal to the lower centres of nervous function, which govern the memory of and the reaction upon sensations, rather than to those of higher ones which are the organs of ratiocination and of volition. Hence a great deal which passes for education is really a degradation of the human brain to efforts below its natural capacities. This applies especially to book-work, in which the memory of sounds in given sequences is often the sole demand of the teacher, and in which the pupil, instead of knowing the meaning of the sounds, often does not know what 'meaning' means. As soon as the sequence of the sounds is forgotten, nothing remains, and we are then confronted by a question which was once proposed in an inspectorial report: 'To what purpose in after-life is a boy taught, if the intervention of a school vacation is to be a sufficient excuse for entirely forgetting his instruction?' "


Those of our readers who have perused the previous portions of Prof. Du Bois-Reymond's article on "Civilization and Science" will hardly need that we should call their attention to the concluding part herewith published. After a survey of the progress of the human mind as illustrated in the great scientific movement of modern times, he comes to the practical question of German education, considered in relation to those extreme utilitarian tendencies of the age against which he protests. How is the Americanization of European culture to he withstood in Germany?—that is his question. The reply has been, through the liberalizing influence of classical studies. The professor acknowledges himself a devotee to these studies, and has a high opinion of their educational value; but he admits that, although prosecuted with great vigor, they have failed to produce the desired effect." "What other country can boast of imparting so thorough and so learned a classical education, and that to so large a proportion of its youth, even of the less wealthy classes?" But all this is a humiliating failure. They neither acquired a critical familiarity with Latin and Greek vocabularies, nor did they arrive at any such conception of the thought of the ancients as to see in what way we are their intellectual descendants. "Their indifference toward broad ideas and historic sequence makes it difficult for me to believe that they are permeated with the spirit of antiquity, or that they had received a sound historical training." This, it will be remembered, is the complaint everywhere—in the English universities and the American colleges: not one in ten of those who consume years in the study of classics gets any intelligent acquaintance with the subject. It is, moreover, an old and cogent objection to the usual study of Latin and Greek, both in England and in this country, that, so far from favoring a critical knowledge of English, it hinders and defeats the mastery of the mother-tongue. Prof. Du Bois-Reymond alleges that the same effect is produced in Germany. Of the graduates of the gymnasia who had drilled so long, though ineffectually, in Latin and Greek, he says, "For the most part these young people wrote in ungrammatical and inelegant German." They "did not even suspect that any one could care about purity of language and pronunciation, force of expression, brevity, or pointedness of style." The study of classical authors is again arraigned with us as obstructing the proper study of the great English classics; and Prof. Du Bois-Reymond remarks, "This neglect of the mother tongue in the youth of the present day is accompanied by a lack of acquaintance with the German classics that is oftentimes astounding." It is again said that the classical students of English and American colleges very rarely acquire any permanent interest in these studies, so as to keep them up as a part of the mental occupation in after-life. The same complaint is made in Germany. The professor says:

"There are but few students, indeed, who in later years ever open an ancient author. So far from having any warm love for the classics, most persons regard them with indifference; not a few with aversion. They are remembered only as the instruments by means of which they were made familiar with the rules of grammar, just as the only conception they retain of universal history is that of learning by rote insignificant dates. Was it for this that these youths sat for thirty hours weekly on a school-bench till their eighteenth or twentieth year? Was it for this that they devoted most of their time to studying Greek, Latin, and history? Is this the result for the attainment of which the gymnasium remorselessly englooms the life of the German boy?"

Prof. Du Bois-Reymond therefore acknowledges a serious modification of opinion in regard to the employment of classical studies in the German schools. The gymnasia, or higher schools, have failed with their classics, and the industrial schools in which these studies are but little taught are entitled to increasing consideration. Classical studies, he urges, should be retrenched in the gymnasia, and greater attention given to mathematics and the physical sciences. This conflict, therefore, belongs to no nation, but is as broad as the interests of science and the course of civilization itself.

Prof. William Monroe Davis, of Cleveland, Ohio, died on the 21st of July, at the age of seventy years. He was born in New Hampshire, and his ancestry on the father's side went back to the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, while on the mother's side he was closely related to the family of President Monroe. He went to Cincinnati in his boyhood, and grew up there with but a limited education. It was only when married and having children to be trained that he first began the study of science; but such was his native genius that he soon mastered a position as an original thinker and investigator in astronomy. The distinction he had won could not be better shown than by the fact that, when Prof. Mitchell abandoned science and took to the vocation of war, Mr. Davis was called to succeed him as director in the Cincinnati Observatory, a position which he filled with satisfaction and credit. His health failing five years ago, he came to Cleveland to reside with his son-in-law, Mr. A. J. Rickoff, the eminent educationist of Ohio. He constructed a very valuable telescope, the lenses of which were ground by his own hands. He published in the July number of The Popular Science Monthly a paper containing an able and profound discussion of the nebular hypothesis and the phenomena of planetary rings and satellites, the immediate occasion of the article being the recent discovery and apparently anomalous motions of the moons of Mars. Prof. Davis had worked out his own views on these recondite questions, and expected to develop them in a series of essays for the Monthly, when his work was arrested by death. It is to be hoped that his manuscript notes may have been sufficiently full to make it practicable and desirable for his friends to print them in a collected form.