Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/137

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

the importance of the work that has been done by Mr. Herbert Spencer, and gives him the foremost place as a systematic thinker, not only among his contemporaries, but among all English thinkers of the century. Of the other two workers in psychology who have claims to a position somewhere near the level of Mr. Spencer, George Henry Lewes and Alexander Bain, Mr. Courtney gives to Mr. Lewes the higher place. The book is a very readable one, and, from the extent and variety of its information, will prove attractive to a large class of persons.

The Interoceanic Canal and the Monroe Doctrine. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1880. Pp. 118. Price, $1.

In the pages of this little volume will be found compiled a considerable amount of information concerning the commercial importance of the interoceanic canal, the history of the various schemes for constructing it, and its relation to the interests of the United States. It is a timely summary of the leading general facts regarding the enterprise, but does not go fully into the discussion of the merits of any particular project. The book was evidently prepared for an emergency—the arrival of De Lesseps in this country—with the design of heading him off in his project. Unless there was an unavowed and sinister purpose in its publication, we can not see why it should have been issued anonymously. If its author was interested in a rival scheme, and a man of mark, he would very naturally withhold his name from the title page; but, in treating a great public interest like this in an open and candid way, there can be no occasion for the concealment of authorship. That the book is aimed at De Lesseps is shown by the prominent use the writer makes of the Monroe doctrine, as a means of defeating a foreign project. We showed last month the humbug of this Monroe-doctrine pretext, and there are plenty of indications that the public is beginning to understand how utterly it is perverted when applied to the cutting of a ship-waterway across the American Isthmus. The book is narrow in spirit, and advocates a bigoted and illiberal national policy, which, if carried out, would become a scandal to American history.

Free Ships. By Captain John Codman.

Labor-making Machinery. By Frederick Perry Powers. Price, 25 cents each.

The Action of the United States Tariff. By Alfred Tylor, F. G. S. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1880. Price, 10 cents.

In issuing the series of "Economic Monographs," of which the first two pamphlets above are numbers, the Putnams are rendering a valuable service to popular education, in a direction in which enlightenment is greatly needed.

The essay on "Free Ships" is an able discussion of the reasons for the decline of the American carrying-trade, in which the folly and stupidity of our legislation on the subject are clearly shown. Captain Codman points out that this legislation has been continually in the interests of a handful of ship-builders, while the vastly larger interests of the ship-owners have been systematically ignored. At the time when the carrying-trade of the world was done in wooden ships, Americans were able to build the best and cheapest ships; and England, recognizing the interests of the ship-owners as rightly predominant over those of her ship-builders, allowed her merchants to freely purchase ships wherever they pleased. Under this policy, her carrying-trade thrived, and has continued to thrive. And when American merchants were placed under the same conditions—as they were when our ships were the best that could be had—our carrying-trade also thrived. When iron supplanted wood in ship-construction, and we could, in consequence, no longer build as cheaply as England, our legislators had not the wisdom to follow the policy that had proved so successful in England. Instead of allowing our merchants to purchase vessels where they could get them cheapest, they began fostering the ship-building interest—not by putting a heavy duty on foreign ships, but by prohibiting the purchase of such ships at all. Those engaged in other protected industries have been content with the imposition of onerous duties on competing foreign products, but, if one prefers these, he is at liberty to buy them and pay the duty. This sort of protection is not enough, however, for the ship-builders; nothing short of absolute prohibition has been able to satisfy them. The inter-