Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/121

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111
EDITOR'S TABLE.

giving to the coffee public-house a distinctively class designation, or one which might appear to connect the house with any particular social or philanthropic movement.

"The plan of partitioning off portions of the ground-floor, or setting apart rooms for reading, smoking, or other purposes, though occasionally useful, does not always work well. Men like being in a crowd; isolation is not to their taste; and an arrangement of this kind is apt to lead to overcrowding of particular rooms while others may be almost unoccupied. The only other exception to the foregoing rule is where a room can be set apart for the accommodation of women and children, or for youths. Wherever a room especially for women has been opened, as in some of the Liverpool houses, the boon has been highly appreciated. It should be understood that men accompanied by their wives may use the women's room, and every encouragement should be given to men who may be disposed to bring their wives and children to the coffee public-house. Women should be encouraged to avail themselves of the public rooms when no other accommodation has been provided for them."

There is everything to commend and nothing to condemn in this mode of promoting the work of temperance. It proceeds upon the assumption that there is no use in trying to shut up dram shops until something else has been provided to take their places. Various causes lead to the formation of intemperate habits, but perhaps the most powerful are social influences. Men are gregarious, and as they are cultivated they become more social and crave companionship. They meet together, and wine favors geniality and conviviality. If men are to be delivered from this temptation, they must be furnished with a substantial equivalent, or places where they can come together and have some social enjoyment without the temptation of intoxicating drinks. Reform here begins at the right end. Its spirit is not ascetic, but sympathetic, and it cannot fail to be well received by large numbers who would not be influenced by bare moral inculcations.

It is to bo hoped that the experiment that has proved so successful in Liverpool will be tried in New York and other American cities, under such modifications as the changed circumstances may call for. The desirableness of some systematic movement of the kind is undoubted; and if it will do positive good, and pay its expenses and yield a liberal profit, there ought to be no difficulty in getting capital for it, whatever may be the difficulty in finding competent and trustworthy managers, who will not steal the funds.

 

 

THE PROGRESS OF RATIONAL EDUCATION.

It is often impatiently asked whether the world is really making any advance in more reasonable views of mental cultivation. The old errors live on with such a persistent vitality, after they seem to have been cut up by the roots, that the question is naturally raised whether this is a sphere in which common-sense has any chance against tradition and superstition. Yet there are many indications of a decided and healthful progress in the direction of greater liberality and the increasing control of enlightened principles. Take, for example, the matter of discipline. It has long been the pretext for conserving whatever is old and established in the schemes of academic and collegiate study. Greek, Latin, and classical studies must be kept in the ascendant because of their unrivaled and exclusive potency in mental discipline. The sciences and practical studies must be resisted and repressed to give scope for those venerable studies that have such a wonderful efficacy in disciplining the mind. When it is proved that this is a groundless claim—when it is shown that the discipline afforded by classical study is grossly defective, that it leaves some of the most important parts of the intellect not exercised at all, and when it is proved that modern science has high claims on still broader disciplinary ground, what does it seem to avail?