Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/November 1878/Editor's Table

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EDITOR'S TABLE.
COFFEE-HOUSES AGAINST RUM-SHOPS.

THE contrasts of the deductive and inductive habits of mind are seen in philanthropy as well as philosophy, and give rise to two schools of reformers. What we may call deductive reformers start from general principles, and many of them never get much further. Reformers of this stamp are apt to be impracticable. Whether their plans can be carried out, or what the results may be, concerns them much less than the soundness of the postulates. If the cause be right, and the evils and wrongs attacked are undoubted evils and wrongs, they hammer away at them, generation after generation, regardless of anything except that they are in the line of their duty. This school has no patience with expediency, which seeks for the best thing under the circumstances, because it abhors the philosophy of circumstances, and will never compromise high principles. Reformers of this type generally work with the tongue rather than the hand, and their crusades are for the dissemination of their doctrines. They may do a great deal of good, but there is a great deal of practicable good that they certainly tail to do.

There is another class of reformers whose habits of thought are more inductive, viz., they study the facts first, perhaps make trial or experiments with them, allow for conditions, aim at attainable ends, and form their conclusions on the basis of experience. They may have just as decisive views in regard to abstract rights and wrongs as the opposite school; but, as the world is constituted, they think that wisdom consists in following expedient and practicable courses by which actual results can be reached. They therefore take into account many considerations which the other party ignores, and are apt to be looked upon as temporizing, make-shift, and patchwork philanthropists.

These two attitudes of mind are well illustrated in the temperance reform. A large party has been striving for half a century to eradicate the evils of intemperance by proclaiming certain great inflexible principles and insisting upon their being uncompromisingly carried out. Immense evils result from the use of alcoholic drinks as beverages, and it has been thought to extirpate these evils by reprobating the use of anything alcoholic under any circumstances, and by outlawing the commerce in these beverages. The rum-shops have been denounced, and the politicians have been called upon to suppress them. Much good may have been done; but drinking habits are still prevalent, and rum-shops still abound. The temperance reform, from this point of view, has been a failure, if by success we understand the eradication of the evils of intemperance. This failure has been, we think, at least partially due to the refusal of the master-minds of the movement to study the various ways in which partial advantages may be gained. Those who view the subject practically maintain, for example, that much benefit to the community would result if the weaker liquors could be generally substituted for the stronger, as wine and beer for distilled spirits; but this notion has been sternly resisted by the great mass of ardent temperance reformers as sacrificing first principles. All alcoholic liquors, they maintain, are poisonous, baneful, and to be equally condemned, unless, indeed, the weakest are not the most dangerous. To which the reply is, that these extreme views are self-defeating; that they have been preached until the community is wearied with it, while the liquor traffic still flourishes, and that it is the part of wisdom to check, diminish, and circumscribe an evil where it cannot be wholly removed. Something might, therefore, be gained, they maintain, by substituting wines and beers, containing five or ten per cent, of alcohol, for whiskey and rum containing forty or fifty per cent.

However this may be, of one thing there can be. little doubt, that to substitute the use of tea, coffee, and cocoa, for spirituous liquors, would be a great gain. In the literature of teetotalism thus far there has been but one dietetical alternative to alcohol, and that is water. With curses upon alcoholic drinks, the temperance lecturer has interspersed copious praises of "clear, cold, sparkling water." In practice the abandonment of alcoholic stimulation has been often accompanied by a resort to the stimulations of opium and tobacco—a change which has in it but few elements of reform. As an ultimate fact of man's nature, he is so constituted that he seeks stimulus of some kind—some method of breaking the monotony of the feelings and getting contrasts in the psychical life. This may be wrong, and water may be the drink that should be exclusively patronized by everybody; but that consummation, whether desirable or not, is undoubtedly remote, very remote indeed. Meantime, there would unquestionably be a great gain in substituting tea, coffee, chocolate, and cocoa, for alcoholic liquors.

Accordingly we are glad to see that a vigorous movement has been set on foot to fight rum-shops with coffeehouses. We have received a very interesting tract from Mr. Charles Collins, describing the results of experiments made chiefly in Liverpool, to maintain a system of "public coffee-houses" and "cocoa-rooms" for the use of English laboring men. There is a society in Liverpool for the promotion of this object, and the pamphlet before us is made up from its reports.

It appears that twenty-nine places under the denomination of "cocoa rooms" have been opened in Liverpool under the auspices of this society, by the employment of a subscribed capital of $100,000. So successful has been the enterprise, not only in its favorable influence upon the habits of the people, but also pecuniarily, that ten per cent, profit on the investment was distributed to the stockholders last year, and it is now proposed to increase the capital of the association to $200,000, in order to still further extend its operations. The following are some of the most important suggestions of the company in regard to the management of such places, as arrived at by their own experience:

"1. It is necessary to provide accommodation for the working-classes, men and women, on the same principle as the public house—free admission to all, a cordial welcome, and no more restraint than is required for the orderly conducting of the house.

"2. It is desirable to have the ground floor open on the street level, not up several steps; and in the front shop space for a bar, conveniently placed for customers, within which the manager and attendants are to be found. On the counter will stand the large tins, holding from six to ten gallons, and kept hot by gas ring-burners underneath. Behind the bar there should be a sideboard with shelves for the cups, mugs, and other utensils, and also for the rolls, cakes, etc. Here also will be found convenient hot-water troughs for washing the crockery immediately after being used.

"3. The other parts of the room should be furnished with benches and tables, according to the available space; the benches are found most convenient 7 feet in length with backs, the tables, when of strong plain deal, 6 feet long by 15 inches wide; when marble top, 4 feet by 22 inches.

"4. If there are other rooms to be furnished, tables of the same kind are recommended, but in some cases strong Windsor chairs are found more convenient than benches.

"The premises ought, as far as possible, to be taken in a locality convenient to the largest number of workpeople. Attention should be paid to the thoroughfare, and the facility of access. Back streets or quiet neighborhoods, even where rents may be cheaper, will not answer the purpose.

"6. The houses should be as nice as possible—cheerful in appearance, clean, airy, and with sufficient space for customers to approach the bar, and to sit down to eat and drink at the narrow tables.

"7. The manager should be one who has the work at heart—to throw some spirit into it, and aim at success. He should be willing to take any trouble, and do what he can to please his customers. He should be bright, pleasant, friendly, not easily provoked, but able to take chaff from rough customers without offense. Withal he must be reliable for integrity, and must try to make his influence felt by force of example rather than by law.

"8. The other attendants are embryo managers, and should be trained to the same qualities. If female attendants are employed, they must be especially discreet, as no familiarity should be allowed; they should also be clean and tidy in their person. Proper attention should be paid to the hours of service, so that no undue strain be put upon willing workers. The plan of relays of servants meets the case of early and late hours.

"9. As the cocoa-room movement is an effort to counteract the evil of drunkenness and the baneful influence of the public house, it is essential that those in the employ be bona fide 'abstainers.' No spirits or alcoholic drinks of any kind are allowed to be sold or consumed on the premises.
 

It may be added that the rooms are open to all at five in the morning, so that men may call on their way to work, as the early morning cup of hot cocoa, coffee, or tea, is found to be of immense advantage. It is said that many by this means have been saved entirely from the use of other stimulants. The cocoa, coffee, and tea are of good quality, and are furnished hot at the following prices: two cents per large mug and one cent per small mug of cocoa and coffee; tea, two cents per cup. The large mug contains a pint, the small mug and the cup contain each a gill. Newspapers are provided for reading, smoking is allowed for those who wish to indulge in it, and separate rooms for women are said to have been much appreciated. All the arrangements have been placed on a business footing, and with an eye to profit.

There is an association in London for the promotion of a similar object, and in their circular, entitled "The Coffee Public-house: how to establish and manage it," they say:

"Give the workingman a public-house, where he may meet his friends, and talk and smoke, and play games with all the freedom to which he has been accustomed, and where good coffee and tea—with stimulus and nourishment in them—take the place of beer and gin, and you set before him for the first time, plainly, the choice between sobriety and comfort on the one hand, and dissipation and wretchedness on the other. If it is proposed to carry on mission-work, it is better that this should be done in adjoining premises, rather than in the coffee public-house itself.

"The rooms should be airy and pleasant, full of light and color. It is better to avoid giving to the coffee public-house a distinctively class designation, or one which might appear to connect the house with any particular social or philanthropic movement.

"The plan of partitioning off portions of the ground-floor, or setting apart rooms for reading, smoking, or other purposes, though occasionally useful, does not always work well. Men like being in a crowd; isolation is not to their taste; and an arrangement of this kind is apt to lead to overcrowding of particular rooms while others may be almost unoccupied. The only other exception to the foregoing rule is where a room can be set apart for the accommodation of women and children, or for youths. Wherever a room especially for women has been opened, as in some of the Liverpool houses, the boon has been highly appreciated. It should be understood that men accompanied by their wives may use the women's room, and every encouragement should be given to men who may be disposed to bring their wives and children to the coffee public-house. Women should be encouraged to avail themselves of the public rooms when no other accommodation has been provided for them."

There is everything to commend and nothing to condemn in this mode of promoting the work of temperance. It proceeds upon the assumption that there is no use in trying to shut up dram shops until something else has been provided to take their places. Various causes lead to the formation of intemperate habits, but perhaps the most powerful are social influences. Men are gregarious, and as they are cultivated they become more social and crave companionship. They meet together, and wine favors geniality and conviviality. If men are to be delivered from this temptation, they must be furnished with a substantial equivalent, or places where they can come together and have some social enjoyment without the temptation of intoxicating drinks. Reform here begins at the right end. Its spirit is not ascetic, but sympathetic, and it cannot fail to be well received by large numbers who would not be influenced by bare moral inculcations.

It is to be hoped that the experiment that has proved so successful in Liverpool will be tried in New York and other American cities, under such modifications as the changed circumstances may call for. The desirableness of some systematic movement of the kind is undoubted; and if it will do positive good, and pay its expenses and yield a liberal profit, there ought to be no difficulty in getting capital for it, whatever may be the difficulty in finding competent and trustworthy managers, who will not steal the funds.

 

 
THE PROGRESS OF RATIONAL EDUCATION.

It is often impatiently asked whether the world is really making any advance in more reasonable views of mental cultivation. The old errors live on with such a persistent vitality, after they seem to have been cut up by the roots, that the question is naturally raised whether this is a sphere in which common-sense has any chance against tradition and superstition. Yet there are many indications of a decided and healthful progress in the direction of greater liberality and the increasing control of enlightened principles. Take, for example, the matter of discipline. It has long been the pretext for conserving whatever is old and established in the schemes of academic and collegiate study. Greek, Latin, and classical studies must be kept in the ascendant because of their unrivaled and exclusive potency in mental discipline. The sciences and practical studies must be resisted and repressed to give scope for those venerable studies that have such a wonderful efficacy in disciplining the mind. When it is proved that this is a groundless claim—when it is shown that the discipline afforded by classical study is grossly defective, that it leaves some of the most important parts of the intellect not exercised at all, and when it is proved that modern science has high claims on still broader disciplinary ground, what does it seem to avail? Classical studies are still determinedly urged on the ground that they afford the best possible training of the mind. It must not be inferred from this that the truth fails to make headway. There are plenty of signs that this old pretense is becoming more and more rated at what it is actually worth. Books on education now treat the subject very differently from what they did twenty years ago, and one of the objects of Mr. Bain in the important work he is now preparing on Education as a Science, is to bring modern psychology to bear upon this doctrine of discipline, to expose its fallacies, and place it upon a more rational basis. The London Times, that steady-going organ of British conservatism, which never moves forward except as it is moved by the progress of public opinion, is beginning to yield on this question. It turns from the English universities to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and eulogizes its educational influence, making, at the same time, the important concession that "Physical science affords an admirable means of mental training in schools." There is certainly nothing new in the proposition, and it is no more true than before because the Times has indorsed it; but the declaration is a significant index of the progress of educational ideas.

Another pertinent illustration of the active spread of rational views upon this subject is at hand. Scribner's Monthly for September had an excellent article on the waste of effort in education, taking the ground of Spencer in his book, that it is still the college rule to sacrifice the useful to the ornamental in cultivating the minds of youth. The views of the writer are decided, but he seems to be a good deal discouraged in regard to the hope or prospect of much amendment. He says: "Mr. Herbert Spencer's views of education, as contained in his book on that subject, now for some years before the public, ought by this time to have made some impression, and worked out some practical result. We fear, however, that it has accomplished little beyond giving to a wise man, or woman, here or there, a shocking glimpse into the hollowness of our time-honored educational systems." This fear is hardly well grounded. The exposure of the defects of the existing systems of education is but a small part of the service to society done by Mr. Spencer in the preparation of his work. Its main and eminent value is in the principles it lays down for the shaping of better methods of culture. Its chief value is in pointing out the way to essentially improve methods of study. This is strikingly shown by the fact that the book has been translated into the different languages of Europe, in nearly all cases either by or at the instance of men who have been officially engaged in the work of forming and carrying out systems of public education.

There was lately published in London an expensive, two-volume work, entitled, "Twenty Years' Residence among the People of Turkey: Bulgarians, Greeks, Albanians, Turks, and Armenians. By a Consul's Daughter." The Messrs. Harper have republished this very instructive work at fifteen cents, and so we bought it and read it. Chapter XIX. is devoted to education among the Greeks and Bulgarians, and it is very interesting. After noticing some of the girls' schools, she proceeds to describe an institution, the marked superiority of which so surprised and interested her that she gives a very full account of it, from which we extract the following:

"I also visited another Greek school at Salonica, which was under the direction of a Greek gentleman educated in Germany, who has designed a new educational system, which, having had a fair trial, will eventually be adopted in all the educational establishments of the Greeks. The origin of the institution does not date further back than two years, and of all the schools I have visited here and elsewhere, this certainly struck me as being the best and most perfect of its kind. The children were divided into classes, each of which was examined by the master, the result of which greatly surprised myself and some friends who were present. The director, who justly took great pride in his work, assured us that all these boys under his care (whose ages did not exceed eleven), in consequence of the quickness, facility, and ability with which they received his instructions, had learned in one year what he had been unable to teach in double that space of time to children in Germany. He added that he was constantly called upon to answer a shower of questions and remarks made by the pupils on the theme of the lesson, which having explained, he allows them time and liberty to discuss the difficult points, until they have quite mastered them. On their first entrance they appear listless and uninterested; but, as the love of knowledge is developed and grows upon them, they often, when school-time is up, beg permission to remain an hour longer in class."

This was certainly a curious phenomenon to stumble upon among the barbarians. We recommend the troubled school-hunters, of whom there seem to be many who can find nothing satisfactory at home, to send their children to Salonica—the missionaries will convoy them.

Deeply interested in what she saw, and being of a turn of mind to look into causes and seek explanations, she desired to inform herself further in regard to the methods of this Greek teacher, and remarks:

"Very much pleased with all I had seen and heard in this establishment, I begged the director to let me have one of the class-books containing the routine of teaching. He replied that he had no special work on the subject to abide by, and that the routine of lessons, left to his own judgment, had been combined by him partly from the system he had studied in Germany, and partly from ideas suggested to him by reading the philosophical works of Herbert Spencer, for which he appeared to have a great admiration."

The writer in Scribner's Monthly should, therefore, feel encouraged. If "a new educational system, which, having had a fair trial, will eventually be adopted in all the educational establishments of the Greeks," has been specially moulded by ideas derived from Herbert Spencer, it will be no longer possible to say that his work is without practical result.