Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/342

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was by no means uncommon for iron rails to be removed from the track worn out before they bad been subjected to a single season's wear. About that time the Bessemer steel rail was introduced, and its hard, homogeneous metal offered great resistance to the wear and abrasion of the rolling wheels. But a new difficulty appeared; for, while the steel rails suffered but little from wear, they developed a provoking tendency to break without giving any previous warning, which served to increase the danger of railroad traveling. Upon the discovery of this evil, the engineers in charge neither discarded the Bessemer rails, nor did they close their eyes to its obvious defects, but, in imitation of our social concerns, they kept acuratestatistics of the life and breakage of the rails, and finally discovered that, in the effort to resist the tendency to wear, they had gone so far as to make the metal brittle; hence the saving to wear was partly lost because of the failure of rails by breaking. Less carbon was put into the steel, and a softer metal was produced, which, while vastly superior to iron as against lamination and abrasion, was sufficiently soft to avoid the breaking, with its attendant dangers.

Do not the facts disclosed by our social statistics cause it to appear that, in the adjustment of our schools, we have gone too far in our aim for material advancement and development of wealth, and that we are correspondingly losing in the direction of moral growth and culture? Let us, then, imitate the prudence of the railway engineer, and, though seeking to retain the advantages which are already ours, let us not be blind to the visible defects and besetting dangers of our present system. Let us determine the composition of the training of our public schools; let us see if its parts are well proportioned and the compound skillfully wrought, and a thorough analysis may prove, as with the Bessemer steel rail, that, by a judicious change in the nature or proportion of the ingredients, our rapid increase of wealth may suffer a trifling diminution, but the moral balance of education will be restored, and material, political, and moral progress will move forward together.


Is his presidential address to the Royal Geographical Society, President Strachey, assuming that the last barrier excluding us from unknown regions would soon he broken through, named the establishment of the supremacy of modern civilization and progress over Africa as the next geographical problem. That continent presents wholly different conditions from any other land that has been brought under civilization, and will call for different methods of management. It can not be directly colonized, as were North America and Australia, or administered as India is; and amalgamation between European settlers and the indigenous races is wholly out of the question. The operation will necessarily be a long and, in some respects, a painful one.