Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/403

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

gler besides, interpreted for me. I had my blackboard and chalk, and did my best to make the principles of natural selection clear. As soon as I can write them out they will be published in Japanese, with illustrations, which I shall draw as far as possible from Japanese animals. Prof. Penollosa, one of the new foreign professors at the university, follows with a course of four lectures on the evolution of religions.

It seems such a delight to these people to find that there are some other views held abroad besides those taught by the missionaries, and the hearty way in which they applaud shows how welcome rational views are.

Prof. Mendenhall, of the university, formerly of the Ohio State University, will give a course of lectures on the magnet, capillarity, gravitation, and other subjects, before the same audience—Mr. Agee, the originator of the course, interpreting for him. All the money raised in this way will be devoted to building a lecture hall in Tokio.

At present the lectures are given in a large tea-house on Sunday afternoons—the large audience seated in the usual Japanese fashion on the floor, with boxes of hot coals here and there for the convenience of pipe-smokers. The audience have presented to them from four to five lectures succeeding each other, with but a few minutes' intermission between each lecturer. Their endurance in this respect is remarkable. I hope to lecture for them repeatedly during the winter.

Faithfully yours,

Edward S. Morse.
Tokio, November 10, 1878.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

PROTECTION AND SOCIALISM.

THOSE who study the influence of legislation in a careful, dispassionate way, and merely as a problem of science, will soon be struck by two things: first, that laws frequently fail to produce their expected effects; and, second, that they give rise to many results which were not at all anticipated. There are various reasons for this; among which are the intrinsic difficulties of a complex subject, false notions in regard to it, and the arrant incapacity of the men who deal with it. In the first place, human society is regulated by laws of its own, which cannot be suspended in their operation by civil interference, and which are, moreover, highly complicated and often obscure and unresolved. And when to the complexities which belong to each locality there are superadded the diversified conditions—climatic, industrial, and racial—which pertain to a vast region of country, the complication of social forces is vastly augmented. Even the most powerful minds, after long application to the subject, are unable to grasp these multifarious conditions so as to know how laws will take effect. Hence the ablest thinkers on social matters are the most cautious, and have least confidence in the production of social good by legislative projects.

But even in those cases that are sufficiently understood to make knowledge valuable for the law-maker's guidance, it is difficult to get the actual benefit of it. Our "legislative wisdom" is too apt to be swamped in legislative folly. There are prevalent superstitions about the dignity, and grand offices, and mysterious potencies of government, which lead people enormously to exaggerate what can really be got out of it. Stripped of this glamour, what is popular government at any time but the office-holding politicians that have been got together to represent and embody it? Constitutions and laws derive their value and virtue from the competency and character of the men chosen to interpret and apply them. If these are low, legislation will be degraded. What government is and does is determined by the quality of those who carry it on. The American Congress is invested with power to abolish past legislation and substitute new legislation;