Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/419

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405
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

purely secular education," writes Mr. Macnamara, "is gross materialism and rank socialism. Hence the necessity of suppressing the vernacular press, a measure calculated, it may be, to smother for a period one of the many outlets by means of which Europeans had an opportunity of ascertaining the state of feeling among the natives of the country, and which [sic] I fear will too certainly burst forth in an insurrection in comparison with which the mutiny was a mere brawl."

 

Our Parks.—In a recent paper on "Our Parks," read before the New York Academy of Sciences, Dr. E. Seguin vigorously protests against the policy that is rapidly surrendering the Battery to commercial uses, and destroying its value for esthetic and health-giving purposes. The beautiful view of the harbor which the Battery once afforded is gradually being narrowed: to the west by Castle Garden, formerly a simple terrace—a lookout, now an immigrant shed; toward the east six buildings form an immense barrier, behind which none would suspect how near the ocean displayed its ever-changing scenes; from the sea the city looks as if inclosed by barracks, from the land it is the sea that appears to be imprisoned. The little space for an outlook remaining is now threatened with invasion by Government buildings, the city consenting with offers of additional land if required. A total obstruction of the view will follow next, completing the severance of the city from the bay, and presenting the shocking contrast of a harbor unequaled in grandeur leading up to a row of barracks on the water-front—no monuments in view, the ocean-breeze shut out, all perspective destroyed; the whole scene a violence to the eye and an humiliation to patriotic pride.

Preceded by the destruction of St. John's Park, and the attempt of last year to ruin the Washington play-ground, Dr. Seguin regards this as a third plot against the best interests of the city, coolly set to execution for no apparent purpose save the destruction of what is both a health resort and a powerful educating agency for the children and youth of the metropolis; and thus blunting the sense of the beautiful by cutting them off from the enjoyment of the natural scenery of which New York, above all other cities, is the fortunate possessor.

All right thinking people will agree with Dr. Seguin that an exactly opposite policy should be adopted and carried out by the municipal authorities. This whole shore up to its original limits should be thrown open to the bay, and made to present to the stranger the noble face of a great city, the hospitable welcome of a great nation. It should be made an entrance of honor for distinguished guests, where the greetings of a cultured people could not be drowned by the rush and turmoil of trade. It should be rescued from its present and prospective degradation, and, by a wise combination of Nature with art, converted into a school for the millions that in future generations would make it a resort. To this end says Dr. Seguin: "The waves of the bay should be made to expire in marble basins, fronting the widened entrance to Broadway, perceptible through the trees. Where the land and water meet the vegetation, transformed from terrestrial to aquatic, may extend from the shore to the reefs beyond, and here also could be established subterranean aquaria, whose population might be made more varied and rich in the life of the sea than that which now delights and instructs the visitors at Brighton." Dr. Seguin gave several interesting illustrations of the great influence exerted by early impressions in shaping the future of the individual, and contended that every opportunity should be seized to make such impressions contribute to elevation of character, and to the encouragement of noble aims. He also called attention to the advantages that would follow the union of outdoor with indoor teaching by what he terms the mobilization of the schools.

 

The Light of the Sun's Corona.—Before the occurrence of the solar eclipse of 1878, Mr. W. T. Sampson, U. S. N., made elaborate preparations for studying minutely the corona's spectrum, with the sole view of deciding, by the absence or the presence in it of dark lines, whether the light is reflected sunlight, whether it is due to the self-luminous matter of the corona, or whether it is due to both of these causes combined. In the American Journal of Science he