Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/107

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97
RESPECTING RUBBISH.

lar education—an age when people have been taught to expect constantly new advances, and, in a rough kind of way, even to appreciate the enjoyment of an intellectual change of air. But though this love of change may be appropriate to a state of progress, we must remember, after all, that it is most inappropriate to a state of knowledge. The condition of the highest knowledge is the condition of least surprise. The more we have that is real to lean upon the less excuse there will be for this straining and craning of the neck after startling intellectual novelties. Even now we are sure that the tendency to grasp at new ideas is often fatal, not merely to the utilization of old truths, but to the mere holding of the ground which had been gained by our ancestors. All this razing to the earth of the moral and religious beliefs of former days is far more loss to man than the best of the new glimpses of truth are gain. And, indeed, the tendency is to eradicate the temper of repose, the heart of confidence in what has been gained, and to substitute for it a constant reliance on the stimulus of an intellectual excitement the very essence of which depends on change. Professor Clifford begins one of his lectures by pointing out that if any one will consider what he has done during that day, that which he has done oftenest is to change his mind—i.e., not to alter his resolves, but to change the subject-matter of thought and resolve. It is very true, but the tendency of Professor Clifford's and his clique's teaching is to something much more dangerous—to make change of mind an object of aspiration, and almost of moral duty; to depreciate the value of the leaning disposition which rests on what is old, and to overrate that of the mercurial disposition which cares only for what is novel.—Spectator.

 
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RESPECTING RUBBISH.

MOST of the substance we call the rubbish of our houses finds its way sooner or later into the dust-bin, and thence into the dust-man's cart, which conveys it to the dust-contractor's yard; and there we are for the most part contented to lose sight of it. It is worthless to us, and we are thankful to be rid of it, and think no more of it. But no sooner does it reach its destination in the yard than our rubbish becomes a valuable commodity. The largest cinders are bought by laundresses and braziers, the smaller by brickmakers. The broken crockery is matched and mended by the poor women who sort the heaps, that which is quite past repair being sold with the oyster-shells to make roads; and the very cats are skinned, before their dead bodies are sent away with other animal and vegetable refuse to be used as manure for fertilizing our fields. Nothing is useless or worthless in the contractor's eyes; for rubbish, like dirt, is simply "matter out of place."