Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/382

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

state of our finances is notoriously unsatisfactory, and that which Mr. Lowe is pleased to call the "great work" of political economy, the establishment of free-trade principles, with us remains undone. Is it not time seriously to consider what can be done to make the readjustment of the social elements a favorable one for us—one more adequate to the exigencies of the time?

Prolonged immunity from wars, the sway of sound commercial doctrines, the absence of the element of uncertainty in her finances, has enabled England to absorb a great part of the exchange business of the world. Continental disturbances made her opportunity, and she was ready to improve it. London is a vast clearing-house, while the United States do not act as middle-man between any two nations.

It is almost universally admitted that there can be no peaceful settlement of the Eastern question which can be lasting. Sooner or later it must be submitted to the arbitrament of war, and when that comes England cannot stand aloof. Engaged in such a struggle, she can no longer offer so secure a refuge as formerly to capital seeking a place of safety and stability. She must relinquish, in part at least, this function, and there is nothing mercenary in the suggestion that that would be our opportunity. But, however favorable for our aggrandizement foreign complications might become, they would now find us unprepared to take our rightful place in the world's commerce—unable to arrest the hour. Economical reform is an essential preliminary to success in such an endeavor. Our distance from Old-World centres finds compensation in our freedom from European entanglements; but the obstacles presented by a cumbrous and oppressive tariff, and a depreciated, fluctuating currency—compared with which three thousand miles of ocean are as nothing—would be simply insurmountable. And what is the prospect of their removal?

The answer which must be given is not satisfactory.

There is reason to believe that the vagaries of inflationists are giving place to sounder financial views. There is warrant for the hope that the friends of free trade are increasing in numbers, and that its principles are slowly gaining ground, but no demonstration of this by legislation has yet appeared—nor are there any signs of it. Neither set of politicians seems to consider them worthy of consideration. Meantime the forces of protection are in close order, well appointed and alert—they will make a stout fight, and that there should, at this critical period, be a disaffection anywhere in the ranks of sound political economy, must be regarded as a matter of the gravest concern.




Lady Burdett Coutts, who, having much money to give away, patronizes numerous charities and receives great applause, has come to be a kind of authority in the sphere of philanthropy, duty, ethics, etc. Hearing much said against science, on account of the experimental study of animals, she sought Prof. Tyndall, to inform him that science was growing immoral, because it did not formerly do such dreadful things as it is in the habit of doing now. Prof. Tyndall replied that it was rather growing biological, or passing into a new sphere to explore the laws of life, to which experimental investigations on organisms in life are indispensable.

This comparatively new subject, biology, which, after three centuries of preparation in physics and chemistry, has only been fully reached by the scientific mind of the world during the last fifty years, is now beginning to be recognized in its full import in our system of higher education. Biological chairs have been founded, and laboratories and schools of biological research