Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/570

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554
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

freedom of their country and for human liberty? At the beginning of this period Italy was, as Talleyrand had said, with a sneer which was also truth, only "a geographical expression." It was divided up among some dozen or twenty foreign sovereigns, some of whom were of very low degree, and all used their power for dynastic ends only, regardless of the sufferings of the people. This was and had been for centuries just the condition to breed lazzaroni and bandits. One sovereign away up in the northwest, a man of the country, had ideas beyond his family, and thought of the people. With him and his son Victor Emanuel as chiefs, and the great native hero to urge them on and compel them when they would not be persuaded, and Cavour to organize, the long battle was fought of the people of Italy against the world. The people of Italy triumphed and founded a kingdom than which no modern state is more enlightened or progressive. This great work of persistent heroism and its crowning success are the achievement of the common people of the country the "dagoes" and no one else, with no help except what they compelled. Its champions, Victor Emanuel, Garibaldi whom Mr. Morgan's "dagoes" in person resident in America have honored with a creditable bronze statue Cavour, and their associates, are counted to-day among the world's noblest men. We might speak of Italian music and of Italy's contemporary literature and science, which occupy no mean position, but we have said enough. What shall we do with the dago? Give him a chance.

W. H. Larrabee.

Plainfield, N. J., December 10, 1890.




EDITOR'S TABLE.


RELIGIOUS TEACHING IN TEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

FOR good or for evil, education is now very generally regarded as a function of the state, and has, in point of fact, been assumed by the state to such an extent that private enterprise in the matter of education is reduced to an altogether secondary rôle. One drawback to this is that questions of school management have now become, in the main, questions of politics. When we ask, "What should the schools teach?" we mean, as a general thing, "What, as parties and votes are balanced, is it practically possible and desirable for the schools to teach?" We are strongly of the opinion, for our own part, that this is not a satisfactory position of the question. Had education been left untrammeled by state interference, we should have had many different types of schools, and many different experiments made by different teachers. Instead of discussing the question as to what the schools should teach in a good deal the same way as a political convention would canvass the merits of rival candidates, we should content ourselves with noting what the schools were teaching, and with laboring individually to bring this or that special conviction of our own on the subject of education into practical recognition. Under the present system we do not inquire what makes or would make for full intellectual and moral development, but merely what courses of study will be free from objection on the part of this, that, or the other section of the electorate. This is part of the price we pay for state education.

Well, there is nothing to do but to make the best of things as they are, and it was perhaps a wise thing on the part of the Presbyterian Synod of New York to summon a conference of representatives of the different Protestant churches to discuss the question as to the extent to which religious instruction might and should be imparted in the public schools, regard being had to all the circumstances of the case. Now that the conference is over, it is sufficiently evident that the views of those who would introduce more or less of theological doctrine into the schools can not prevail. They can not prevail, simply because the conditions necessary to their success are absent. "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera," and the stars in their courses, or at least the influences of the time,