Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/768

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing the general plan now entered upon, we expect to enlarge its resources, to make more prominent the applications of science to common life, to give a more popular form to its discussions, and, in short, to make it a magazine that no family with brains in it can afford to do without.

Our object will continue to be to furnish a higher grade of reading for purposes of public instruction. In this matter the press of the country has been false to its trust. We have an educational system that brings the whole mass of the people up to the reading-point, and hardly carries them beyond it. The school-master, when he has done with them, hands his pupils over to the editors, and the Dailies, Weeklies, and Monthlies, go on with the work of education. In the school they are taught to worship books, and to consider print and wisdom as synonymous, so that there arises a superstition that mere reading is an intellectual virtue. Were the supreme object of education to make customers for newspapers, our system could hardly be improved. But how does the press meet its responsibilities and use its power? With rare exceptions, it must be said, by ministering to popular weaknesses. Editors fill their pages with worthless gossip, with interminable comment on passing frivolities, with trashy and demoralizing fictions, with the lies, libels, and multitudinous inanities of politics, and with endless, ambitious writing on every empty topic that will serve to make a sensation and beguile the reader without the exertion of thought. It is not in this way that the serious work of public education is to be carried forward. Excess of reading without regard to its quality is a pernicious dissipation, and, besides wasting precious time, it disqualifies those who indulge in it from that serious effort of thought which is the first condition of mental improvement. The main purpose in starting our magazine was to do something to counteract this baneful influence, to contribute something toward elevating the standard of popular reading, and to promote the higher ends of education by diffusing valuable knowledge, and making accessible the productions of the world's ablest thinkers.

A few have criticised the Monthly as containing too much foreign matter; but our aim is to get the best, be it foreign or domestic. In the interests of truth we have to guard against the "bias of patriotism," and all who do this will recognize that the leading intellectual work of the world is now done in Europe. A spurious patriotism fosters national jealousies and teaches us that foreigners are our enemies; but, in the sphere of science, the selfish and paltry antagonisms of men can be forgotten, and to talk about "foreignners" is impertinent. Our allegiance is to the age and to the growing spirit of liberality, which is its greatest honor. But we shall guard against undervaluing American scientific thought, and would refer to the present contents of the Monthly in attestation of this purpose.

Again thanking our friends for their generous encouragement, we ask for its continuance, and an increase of their efforts to promote the diffusion of our magazine. As it was for the people to decide whether it should be sustained, so it will be for them to enlarge the sphere of its usefulness by extending its circulation, and thus enabling us to carry out our plans for its improvement.

 

MR. GODWIN ON THE LIMITS OF SCIENCE.

Mr. Parke Godwin, of the Evening Post, was chosen to speak for the press at the Tyndall banquet; but he saw fit to throw his toast behind him, and take up a more ambitious róle. He used the occasion to give a lesson to the scientific gentlemen present as to the proper