Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/136

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126
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

rational living, and we are persuaded that much good will be done and much social enjoyment obtained. Of course, there is a good deal of this kind of thing going on in different places, but there might be a great deal more. Too many "cultured" people think of their culture mainly, if not wholly, as a valuable personal possession, and an enviable mark of distinction from the crowd. That is a wrong and selfish view to take of it. The world is full of people who are starving for the bread of intellectual life. They may not know they are starving, but they are, all the same. Their lives are poor, empty, frivolous, and wholly unideal. Yet the sources of intellectual wealth are at their doors, and those who could open up these sources to them are among their acquaintance. Such at least is often the case, and what we are anxious to do is to rouse the possessors of culture to a sense of their responsibility in the matter. Freely they have received, why should they not freely give? Why should they not institute a propaganda of culture, and strive to redeem here and there a mind from the slavery of ignorance and commonplace?

We take this opportunity of making a long-delayed apology to a correspondent who wrote to us some four or five years ago, suggesting that a portion of each Sunday should be devoted to purposes of intellectual improvement in a social way. His letter was an interesting one, and we had ordered it for publication, when an accident destroyed both the manuscript of the letter and the writer's name and address, a circumstance which we much regretted at the time and should have referred to in these columns. We are aware of cases in which what our correspondent recommended has been done with very good results. Friends have met on Sunday evenings at one another's houses for profitable discourse, sometimes of a spontaneous and sometimes of a prearranged character. In one group with which we are acquainted, each person is supposed to read during the week as much as he or she has opportunity for and to bring to the meeting an extract of from one hundred to two hundred words taken from some favorite author. In this way the little society gathers an anthology of its own of more or less memorable passages. Other readings are given in prose or poetry, and the various topics or thoughts presented are freely discussed. In this way a common proprietorship is created in ideas which would else have remained isolated in particular minds, and it is needless to say that much correction of individual errors is at the same time made possible.

Now, what is wanted for the popularization of culture is a great extension of work, if work it can be called where so much pleasure is involved, of precisely this kind. Where university extension classes are established, small social gatherings such as we have described would carry on their work admirably, and, where they are not established, would to some extent take their place. The signs are abundant that our people need more culture, and if those who possess culture were only animated with a little of the missionary spirit which very uncultivated people sometimes possess, they might turn their gifts and accomplishments to much better purpose than, speaking generally, they now do. What is wanted to vivify culture is a social aim an—aim of social usefulness: give it that, and it will become a power for the regeneration of the world.

 

 

An Index to Volumes I to XL of The Popular Science Monthly is well advanced in preparation, and will be published probably in the course of the coming summer. In the new Index the contents of the whole forty volumes will be entered both by author and by subject in one alphabetical list. It will possess all