Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/249

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237
EDITOR'S TABLE.

are so great that, for the lighting of pubic places, museums, art-galleries, manufactories, etc., he would advocate its general introduction. Even Madrid, one of the most backward cities in Europe, has introduced the light, one great benefit of which, especially in theatres and other much-frequented places, is that the heat generated and the contamination of the air are greatly less than in the case of gas.

"Let the directors of gas companies do all they can to improve their gas. They may be certain that it will never cease to be required; a considerable splitting up of the electric current is impossible, while the brilliant light that we shall always get when electricity is employed will gradually so raise the pitch of illumination that more gas than ever will be used."

 

 

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY AGAIN.

Commodore Vanderbilt built wiser than he knew in rearing a university at Nashville for the benefit of the Tennessee Methodists, as it is obvious they stand in sore need of education. The Tennessee Conference, meeting in Clarksville in the middle of October, went into the question of education through the report of a special committee, which may thus fairly be taken as indicating the high-water mark of the intelligence and liberality reached by that denomination, in that State, upon that subject. The result shows that the region is excellent missionary-ground for the schoolmaster. It is hardly to be supposed that the inferior schools will be in advance of the higher institutions; and this interests us in what they have to say regarding the character of their new university. The conference applauds it in unmeasured terms, and calls especial attention to the remarkable intellectual influence exerted upon the nascent Tennessee mind by Commodore Vanderbilt's building. They say, "There is an immense educating power in the surpassing beauty of the grounds, the finished elegance of the building, and all that pertains to it." Of this we do not complain. It is indeed ascribing more educational potency to stocks and stones than has been our wont, and leaves Buckle with his "Aspects of Nature," and Spencer with his "environments," far behind; but the conference might well indulge in a little exaggeration out of compliment to the sagacity of the learned and pious founder of the establishment, which could exert this "immense educating power" even before its doors were opened. And it becomes a serious question whether the authorities of the institution might not better have trusted entirely to this silent tuition of structure and surroundings, and not have undertaken to superadd any influences from within. The educational work of Commodore Vanderbilt's architects and landscape-gardeners, whether slight or "immense," is at all events real, honest, and unperverted, which is a good deal more than can be said of the backward and benighted inculcations that are dispensed by the living vocal teachers. We gave an illustration not long ago of the bigotry and intolerance exhibited by the authorities of Vanderbilt University in abruptly dismissing from his position an able professor of science because he taught the present state of knowledge upon the subject confided to his charge. He reported what Science has to say at the present time concerning the antiquity and history of the ancient races of men, and, as this was supposed to conflict with certain old theological dogmas held dear by the Tennessee Methodists, he was summarily ejected from his professorial chair. The proceeding was evidently in imitation of very obsolete precedents, but it proved highly gratifying to the Tennessee Conference. They say:

"The university has afforded us intense gratification by its recent action. This is the age in which scientific atheism, having divested itself of the habiliments that most adorn and dignify humanity, walks abroad in shameless denudation. The arrogant and impertinent claims of this science, falsely so called, have been so boisterous and per-