Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/295

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ment on, for or against variation in the shape of any of the brighter portions of the nebula.

It is hoped that enough has been said to show how much care, skill, and patience, have been spent upon these drawings, and to show, too, how important are the conclusions which may be drawn from them. Their careful discussion involves considerations which might be out of place here, but which are well worth general attention. A full explanation of different methods has been given in the hope that some of the large telescopes in various parts of the United States in the hands of private gentlemen may be devoted to work of this class, in which it is easy for an amateur, with but a trifling expenditure of time and labor, to produce valuable results. Provided only that the work be done conscientiously and faithfully, it will be a definite gain to astronomy; without such care and fidelity, it will only introduce new confusion.


THREE times within the last twelve years a royal commission has reported on the science-teaching of our higher schools. In 1864 the Public Schools Commission announced that from the largest and most famous schools of all it was practically excluded. In 1868 the Endowed Schools Commission declared that the majority of schoolteachers had accepted it as part of their school-work. The Science Commissioners of 1875, in their sixth report, on "Science-Teaching in Schools," testing this statement by inquiry, state that of 128 endowed schools examined by them not one-half has even attempted to introduce it, while of these only 13 possess a laboratory, and only 10 give to the subject as much as four hours a week. And this statement is curiously illustrated by the statistics of the recent Oxford and Cambridge school examination, which show that out of 461 candidates for certificates, from 40 first-class schools, while 438 boys took up Latin, 433 Greek, 455 elementary mathematics, 305 history, only 21 took up mechanics, 28 chemistry, 6 botany, 15 physical geography.

In a volume whose research and condensation make it not only a monument of conscientious toil, but an invaluable hand-book to all who are laboring to work out practically the great problem of which it treats, the commissioners investigate the obstacles which have caused the endowed schools to defy the weighty recommendations of former commissions, the unanimous verdict of educational authorities outside the scholastic profession, and the increasingly urgent demands of English public opinion. They find the school-masters' excuses to be threefold: absence of funds, want of time, and skepti-