Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/116

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106
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing the night. Or, let him place a speck of spoiled egg in one corner of his house: its sulphuretted hydrogen will soon be perceived throughout all the connecting rooms, but the strongest near the speck, unless it be carried out of the house by a current of air. The attenuated diffusion of deleterious gases tends to render them harmless—their concentration to produce disease by a denovo process. The inspiration of concentrated or nearly pure sewage-gas has often caused instant death, a larger dilution habitually inspired often breeds fever, but an attenuated amount of it is not appreciably harmful. And what is more promotive of this dilution or attenuation than the great mobility of day-air?

J. R. Black.

 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

HOW NEW YORK GOT A COLLEGE.

NEW-YORKERS are somewhat exercised over the question what to do with their college, a problem which it ought to be easier to solve, by remembering how they came by it. What on earth New York City wanted with a college, when there were two good ones already in the town, not half full of students, might be a perplexing inquiry, did we not know that corporations, as well as individuals, often find themselves possessed of things which they don't want and never intended to have. The people did not say, "Go to, let us have a college, cost what it will, and teach Columbia and the University how to manage a higher institution of learning." The city has been drawn into running an opposition line to these establishments in a very different way, and the case is instructive as showing that education can be "managed" as well as other public interests.

What the people of New York did propose, upward of thirty years ago, was to organize a sort of polytechnic or practical high-school, connected with the school-system of the city, to give a little extra preparation to boys, who expected to devote themselves to some form of mechanical industry, and not to the learned professions. If we are not mistaken, such was the explicit object of the institution, and it was so stated upon the ballots by which the citizens voted to establish such a school. This was done by a very large popular majority, and it was set agoing under the name of the "Free Academy." But the movement was premature for New York, or its direction fell into incompetent hands, as nothing efficient was done to stamp it with the character it was designed to have, or to carry out intelligently its distinctive purpose. The plan of education wanted had to be theoretically shaped, and should have been then cautiously carried into practice, by the selection of a faculty in thorough sympathy with the idea, and as well qualified for the work as could anywhere be found. But the parties chosen failed in these respects. That they were unfit to be intrusted with the responsibility, was shown by their work, and by the fact that they were dissatisfied with the status of the concern, and wanted it turned into a "regular college." They complained that their graduates did not stand well at a distance from home, as a "Free Academy" was regarded as not amounting to much. They accordingly set to work to change it, and, by quiet, persistent effort, they at length lobbied a bill through the Legislature at Albany, abolishing the "Free Academy," and creating in its place "The College of the City of New York." How completely the original purpose of the institution was abandoned in this transformation, and the old idea of a classical college substituted, was well shown by the official and authoritative address of Judge Larremore, President of the Board of Education that voted the supplies, and also President of the Board