THE Comptroller of the City of New York deserves the thanks of all good citizens for his serious indictment of the abuses of public charity that have grown up in this city and State within the past ten years. Probably very few of the more intelligent men and women of the community were aware that three million dollars, raised by taxation, are annually appropriated to the assistance of private charitable institutions, over which the public has no real control and only the most shadowy authority through the inspection of the State Board of Charities.
RECENT LEGISLATION AGAINST THE DRINK EVIL. RECENT LEGISLATION AGAINST THE DRINK EVIL.
FIVE years ago it was sought in these pages * to discover the cause or causes of the total failure in the United States of prohibitive legislation. Our conclusion, so far as a conclusion could be said to have been reached, was that the failure lay in the misapplication of ways to means, rather than of means to ends—namely, that an attempt to abolish the crime (or misdemeanor) of drunkenness by punishing, not the criminal, but the community in which he committed the crime, and to prevent law-breaking by legislating out of existence the neutral instrument which happened to form the particular temptation to the particular law-breaker (or with which he found it convenient to commit the crime), was quite too logical to be practicable; as, for instance, laws abolishing the use of spoons, as so many temptations to housebreakers; or of railways, because trespassers on railway tracks were often killed; or steamboats, because steamboat boilers sometimes burst, would be quite too logical for public convenience.
HE who would most effectually improve school tuition must find out the most effectual way of improving the teachers. Hence he is the greatest educational benefactor who does most to raise the character and qualifications of the teachers,” said John D. Philbrick, late superintendent of the public schools of the city of Boston, in his twenty-third semiannual report.
PROPER OBJECTS OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE.
THE objects of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are clearly expressed in the opening paragraph of its constitution, which was adopted at its first meeting, held September 20, 1848, in Philadelphia. From that day to this the paragraph referred to has not been modified except by the replacement of three words, viz., “ the United States ” by a single and more comprehensive word—“ America.”
WHEN I published my article on the History of Separatism in the Spanish colonies, in the Deutsche Rundschau for July, 1898, I said that the colored peoples of a colony would always be inclined to struggle for the independence of their native country, because the rule of the mother country of the colony makes their access to the highest positions in the state impossible.
PROBABLY every reader who owns a dog or cat has already answered the question which forms our title, and the chance is ten to one that he has answered, “ Yes.” In spite of the declarations of the psychologists from Descartes to Lloyd Morgan, the man who likes his dog and the woman who pets a cat persist in the belief that their pets carry on thinking processes similar, at least in kind, to our own.
A NATIONAL museum should be the center of scientific activity in the country in which it is located. In England the British Museum is the Mecca of scientific men. In Paris, Copenhagen, Vienna, Berlin, and other capitals of Europe the national museum stands in similar relations to the scientific work of its own country.
IN the December (1898) and January (1899) numbers of tons’ Popular Science Monthly Prof. William Z. Ripley cludes the remarkable series of articles on the Racial Geography of Europe, originally delivered as Lowell Institute lectures, by a couple of articles on the Jews.
MODERN studies in neurology have contributed much to our knowledge of the function of the nervous system as a whole and of its several parts, and also of the relation of psychical activity to cerebral conditions and processes. The architecture of the neural mechanism delineated by these investigations is not only interesting in itself on account of the marvelous unity of things apparently diverse, but it is at the same time suggestive respecting its office as the physical instrument through which mind must express itself in this world.
IN passing from the tariff, or duties on imports, to the internal or excise taxes imposed by the Federal Government, there is evidently a distinct change in purpose. However subject to abuse the tax on distilled spirits has proved, and however frequently its agency has been invoked to exaggerate the profits of interested parties, there has never been an open and avowed intention of turning it to private gain.
THE annual reports of the “ Conference of Charities and Corrections ” indicate a growing interest in the study of scientific philanthropy. That there has been marvelous progress in methods of charitable work during the past decade no one will deny, but, gratifying as this is (or appears to be on the surface), we find a somewhat discouraging feature in the tendency of the present to multiply institutions, to inaugurate new and extravagant enterprises where theories may be proved, and which threaten to become burdensome to a generous public and to absorb energy in the financial struggle to maintain them which is sorely needed for the more vital issues of the work.
THE portrait of Herbert Spencer, which forms the frontispiece to this number of the Monthly, is from a photograph taken soon after he reached the age of seventy-eight. Though of late years his health has been unusually feeble, this is scarcely reflected in the face, which still retains in a marked degree the expression of intellectual strength that was so characteristic of his prime.
IT is probably not too much to say that the true measure of the intelligence and efficiency of a government is the extent to which, in the various spheres of activity which it controls, it recognizes the authority and adopts the methods of science.
The Theory of the Leisure Class * of Mr. Thorslein Vehlen is primarily an inquiry into the place and value of the leisure class as an economic factor in modern life. Hardly less attention, however, is given to the origin and line of derivation of the institution, and to features of social life not commonly classed as economic, into the very heart of some of which the study goes.
Climate and Acclimatization.—In view of the rapid growth of West Indian and South American commerce and the considerable emigration to Cuba and neighboring islands, which our present relations with them will probably bring about, the following extracts from an editorial in the London Lancet are of interest : “ The American nation has entered upon a new and, in a sense, imperial policy, which may be regarded as forming an epoch in its history.