Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/618

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600
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

any shape, be taken for education, still refuse the grant that the central department offers as a bribe for the acceptance of its mischievous interference. Until individual self-reliance has grown among us, let each town administer education in its own way. So, at least, we shall get local life and energy and variety thrown into the work, not the mere mechanical carrying out of regulations of two or three gentlemen sitting at their desks at Whitehall. But do not believe that you will get the highest results in this way. More freedom for action and experiment is wanted than you can get under any local board. Accustom yourselves to the idea that men will act better in voluntary groups than if forced into union by external power. Many boards acting freely in a town, and learning gradually to cooperate together to some extent and for some purposes, is what we should look forward to. Perhaps the best step in advance, and in preparation for a purely free system, is to obtain powers from Parliament under which any considerable number of electors, say from one sixth to one tenth, according to the size of the town, might elect, and pay their rate to, their own board. Under such a plan there would be imperfections and possible evasions; but it would cast off the swaddling-clothes imposed by the Privy Council, and would give a life to the work which would far more than compensate for the loss of mechanical regularity. It is always difficult to introduce freedom into a system that is founded on authority and officialism. You can only escape from anomalies and contradictions by being either rigidly despotic or completely free. But a little life and light are worth getting at almost any price, and will make us wish for more. The final step will be to render the rate purely voluntary, and to give full freedom and responsibility of action, for which the people will never be fit as long as they are persuaded to subject each other to official regulations under the much-abused name of self-government.—Fortnightly Review.

 
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HOW ANIMALS DIGEST.
By HERMAN L. FAIRCHILD.

IN reception of food, animals have been compared to plants turned outside in. The plant absorbs nourishment by pores in the foliage and rootlets. Higher animals absorb food by similar closed tubes which line a cavity of the body. This interior cavity, the food-tract or alimentary canal, is the most important and the most nearly universal organ of the animal structure. Its purpose is threefold—that of a reservoir, as animals can not always procure their proper food and can not, like plants, be ever eating; a liquefier, as all food, both for plants and animals, must be in the fluid state; and, thirdly, a chemical