Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/76

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desertion. Rich people even are living in luxury, while their nephews, nieces, and grandchildren are being corrupted in orphan asylums! The niece of a President of the United States was, not long ago, in an asylum, while her uncle, aunt, and three cousins, occupied the White House! Such people often give as their excuse that the child was too vicious, or rude, or even homely, to be received into their families. "No one seemed to want him."

Better the humble home of a poor farmer in the West, far better for such children as are unavoidably orphaned, than these unnatural corrals. But this kind of orphans constitutes not over one fifth of all. The other four fifths represent indulgence, by the asylum founders and managers, toward parents and relatives who wish to shirk responsibilities imposed by Nature upon them. With every such indulgence issues moral miasma upon society, which festers and reproduces its kind. And all this time people with good motives and benevolent spirits thank God that they are not as other men are, and proceed to build additional asylums! Better and far better live and die among the Zuñi Indians of New Mexico, having never heard of Christian charity, than to die and leave your orphan child alone in a large city of the United States! In the latter case he goes to an asylum, to be swallowed up in the masses. In the former case, although he has lost his own father and mother, he has found many fathers and many mothers, all of whom will feel a personal interest in him and responsibility for him, and who will share with him if need be the last pot of corn, and will weep over his grave as if it contained their own flesh and blood. We should need no orphan asylums if we possessed the virtues of the Zuñi.

How to set forth the economic effects of such institutions, and to point out to society the way to make its members rear the children to whom they have given birth, and to show the disastrous effects of ill-considered altruism, is a task which comes within the province of this section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

III. Foundling Asylums.—Here, again, sentimentalism has contributed money to build asylums, and even more unwisely than in the case of the orphans. An orphan can not be committed without something being known of its parents, or their circumstances, and without formal papers of transfer. This routine exposes many frauds, and leads managers to reject thousands of applicants for admission. Managers like to boast of the cases they have. rejected. With foundlings, nothing of the sort occurs. The girl whose yieldings to temptation have made her a mother, be she in high life or in low, the intemperate who prefer to use their means for drink to rearing their own offspring, the society people who have boasted that there will be no children in their