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nanimity." Most true! — and alike in
Howe's bank and in politics we are not
to inquire too curiously into the sources
of the generosity. It was tiie pride of
Tweed that he took splendid care of his
friends, and the magnanimities of polit-
ical circles are too generally in propor-
tion as politicians are thieves — they are
proverbially generous with the public
money! But, even where politicians
are not thieves, their circles are full of
bounties in the shape of ofiices and pat-
ronage that come as chance advantages

i to the undeserving, like lottery-prizes



and runs of luck at the gaming-table.
In this aspect of its influence the school
of politics is thoroughly demoralizing.
Nothing is better calculated to subvert
all manliness and independence of char-
acter than the habit, now become so
general in this country, of making poli-
tics a business, and depending upon the
bounties of government as if it were a
kind of earthly providence. It is in
the wise order of things that people
shall depend upon their own efforts, and
prosper through the virtues of industry,
frugality, and self-denial. There will be
misfortune, and there is a function for
discriminating charity ; but no teaching
is more unwholesome than that which
encourages people to count upon the
generosity of the rich, government,
favor, or something to turn up. Miss
Dodge's view of life does not correspond
to the realities of life, and is, therefore,
a bad preparation for the experiences of
life. Quite other views must prevail
before we shall see the last of such piti-
able experiments as that of the Ladies'


"We last year republislied an article
by Sir Auberon Herbert, questioning
on various grounds the policy of state
education. We received several answers
to it of various merit, and still more
various logic, but they all agreed upon
one thing — that state education is in-
dispensable to the preservation of the

We print this month an answer to
Mr. Herbert, which is as able as any
that have reached us, and has a kind
of tacit authority as coming from a
public official engaged in the special
work of organizing and consolidating a
state school system. The writer, Mr.
Charles S. Bryant, is Secretary of the
High School Hoard of the State of
Minnesota, which is charged with the
duty of prescribing and adjusting the
courses of study to be pursued in a con-

catenated or unified system of state
schools, from the primary to the uni-
versity. Mr. Bryant is an advocate of
state education in its most compre-
hensive form, and he also maintains
that the right of the state to take
charge of this great work is necessary
to its self-preservation.
; We are abundantly told that this is,
to all intents and purposes, a settled
question; that government education
is nothing less tlian manifest destiny,
and the most foregone of all American
I conclusions. And we have just here
I already one of the fruits of the experi-
I ment — the borrowing of the political
, method of buncombe and bullying to
I force the acceptance of a desired meas-
I ure, and stave off criticism as a matter
j of no account. But it is necessary that
the subject should be freely discussed,
I and the more necessary that the princi-
[ pies involved should be thoroughly can-
vassed, and the objections to the policy
fully pointed out, because of the great
popularity of the policy and the dispo-
sition to push it to its utmost extremes.
The question is no longer of the expe-
diency of giving state aid for the pri-
mary instruction of the children of the
indigent classes who claim to need as-
sistance ; but it is whether the govern-
ment shall undertake this work in all
its grades, and take the property of the
people to make this whole service a

The advocates of government edu-
cation are given to representing it as
an issue between state education and
no education at all ; and the opponents
of the measure are often stigmatized as
being in favor of illiteracy and igno-
rance. But this is a profound mistake.
State education is intelligently and
earnestly opposed in the highest inter-
est of education. The intervention of
the state is resisted because it can not
do in the best manner what it under-
takes to do — because education by au-
thority and political machinery must
fall to a lower standard than tliat which



has been attained by former methods.
Mr. Bryant argues for the state com-
pulsory system as against the volunta-
ry system, but the great advancements
of civilization have been incontestably
made by private enterprise, and spon-
taneous cooperation among the mem-
bers of the community, and with these
things the state has only meddled to
hinder. The state originates nothing;
its highest office is simply to secure the
conditions under which the voluntary
combinations of individuals for desir-
able objects shall have the fullest and
freest play. Nor is the progress of
education any exception to this law.
The work of originating and extending
knowledge, and of diffusing it by the
formation of schools, the organization of
societies, the institution of academies,
and the establishment of colleges, has
always been mainly done by the indi-
vidual forces of society working under
voluntary cooperation and independent
of government. Besides, all the ten-
dencies of modern progress are to give
larger scope to private enterprise, and
to relinquish to the people prerogatives
that formerly belonged to government.
It is now proposed to contradict this :
law of advancement by surrendering to i
the state the whole duty of directing
the mental development of its citizens.
Mr. Bryant maintains that the right
of state control in the matter of educa-
ion is a necessary consequence of state
sovereignty, and he argues that, in the
course of political development, the
family is superseded, the state assum-
ing the parental functions. He says:
" The child passes, in any organized so-
ciety, through all the grades in the re-
lated social state. In the same order,
also, government passes on, until it
rests in the control of sovereignty, the
state. And the right of the state to
the custody and control of the citizen
is as complete as the right of the parent
to the control of the infant child. These
are only the natural laws belonging to
the several relations in the growth of

society in all artificial conditions, un-
der all governments. State control,
therefore, comes into rightful exercise
of authority over the education of every
human being entitled to the privileges
and protection of government. The
particular age at which state authority
may rightfully interfere in this relation
is a matter of state policy and sovereign

Here, again, the law of progress is
misread. Notiiing is more certain than
that it has resulted in cutting down
state sovereignty to make room for in-
dividual rights. Man's development
has ever been an acquirement of rights
against the state, and, in all political ad-
vancement, the state has consequently
become less and less, and the citizen
more and more. The progress of civil
liberty has been from the beginning a
wresting of power from despotic state
sovereignty. Men fought early and des-
perately for the right of life — that is,
that they should not have their heads
cut off at the caprice of a sovereign
will. They wrung from the state the
right of the individual ownership of
property. They reduced the functions
of the state when it repressed free
speech for its own sovereign purposes.
They stripped the state of its power
of determining what religion it thinks
best for the community, and thus se-
cured the rights of conscience. In all
these things, and in many more, gov-
ernment has been restrained and ham-
pered in its tyrannical meddlings, and
the people have correspondingly gained
in liberty. The state has always as-
sumed that it knew more about what
was good for the people than they
knew themselves. What we call lib-
erty is nothing more than the right of
the people to be their own judges, and
to manage their own concerns in the
way that seems best for the promo-
tion of their own interests. But Mr.
Bryant interprets state sovereignty in
a way that dissolves all individual
rights. If the state may interfere at its



" sovereign discretion " to extirpate the
family in the matter of education, if it
may take away a child as soon as it
is ready for the Kindergarten, and dic-
tate the whole cour9e of its cultivation,
stamping its character with a view to
state objects, what else may it not do,
and what becomes of the vaunted free-
dom of the citizen ? The doctrine be-
longs to despotism, and was first and
fitly practiced in Prussia as a means of
shaping subjects to the uses of kingly
1)0 wer.

And now what is the state that
claims such prerogatives in virtue of its
sovereignty, and proposes to take the
education of the whole community into
its own hands? Divested of the glam-
our that surrounds this venerable ab-
straction, that which remains of actual
reality is simply a lot of men got to-
gether to carry on the practical work
of government. The state lives in the
life of its representatives. It exists
only as embodied in its oflicials. Cer-
tain men are chosen to make, repeal,
and execute the laws, and these are
the state. The state can do whatever
they can do; the state is whatever
they are. But we are not yet down to
the naked reality. The community is
divided into two great political parties,
and the one that beats by numbers at
election takes the government. Suc-
cessful oflBce-seekers, therefore, consti-
tute the state. Those who succeed in
partisan politics are those who culti-
vate the art of partisan politics. What
these arts are, and what is the general
quality of those who win by them, we
need not say. But it is notorious that
men of intelligence, integrity, and char-
acter are not successful partisans. It
is the intriguers, the wire-pullers, and
the crafty, unscrupulous managers in
caucus and convention that win, and
these men form the state. We do not
exaggerate: witness the last Legislat-
ure of our own State. Humiliating as
it may bo to our patriotic pride, every
candid person knows it to be a fact

VOL. XIX. — 15

that an election under our representa-
tive system, with its inevitable caucus
and convention machinery, is simply a
winnowing out of superior men and
the choice of the worst to take the of-
fices of state.

We need not dilate upon the conse-
quences; they are known and read of
all men, and the lesson they teach has
been freely drawn. If any worthy or
meritorious thing is to be done, the sig-
nificant exclamation is, *' In Heaven's
name keep it out of politics ! " Such,
indeed, is the growing disgust with po-
litical doings that it is now quixotical-
ly proposed to take even office-holding
out of politics. And, yet, there are
those who would intrust our politicians
— ignorant, self-seeking, unscrupulous,
and corrupt as the great mass of them
are — with the whole work of education
in society. Who is so senseless as to
look for educational progress in such a
condition of things? The system will
be turned to the purposes of demagog-
ism as surely as effect follows cause.
The management of institutions of
learning will become an art of getting
state appropriations. The educational
system will become rigid in proportion
to the extent and complexity of its gra-
dations, and will resist all improvement.
Teachers, inspectors, superintendents,
become office-holders and stipendiaries
under the Government, and all ani-
mated with the common purpose of
getting their salaries increased. Edu-
cation, as a function of the states, must
become a branch of mercenary politics.
And this system, by its vicious growth,
and its prestige of authority, and the
boundless means at its command, must
rival and overcome and extinguish all
that private and voluntary interest in
the work of education to which we are
indebted for the past achievements in
this important field of effort. Good
may come from state education, but it
will not bo unmixed good, and it is at
least an open question whether the
evils of the system, where it is fully



carried ont, will not be far greater in
the long-run than its benefits.

The many American friends of Mr.
Herbert Spencer will be pleased to
learn that he contemplates visiting this
country next year. He has long wished
to. do so, but has been deterred from
seriously thinking about it by the state
of his health, which forbade the vent-
ure of an Atlantic voyage. But he is
now so much better that this difficulty
is removed, and he hopes to come over
some time next summer.


The Bacteria. By Dr. Antoike Magnin,
Translated by George M. Sternberg,
M. D., Surgeon United States Army.
Boston : Little & Brown. Pp. 227.
Price, $2.50.

The readers of "The Popular Science
Monthly" have been from time to time
informed concerning the progress of inquiry
in relation to those lowest, minute, and cu-
rious organisms now known under the gen-
eral name of " Bacteria." The first observ-
er who perceived them was the father of
microscopy, the Dutchman Leeuwenhock,
as early as 1675. He was examining with
his magnifying-glasses a drop of putrid
water, when he remarked with profound
astonishment that it contained a multitude
of little globules which moved with agility.
In 1773 they were studied by 0. F. Midler,
and classified as a group of the Infusoria.
Tliey soon began to occupy a good deal of
the attention of microscopists, and there
was much conflict of opinion about their
nature, as was inevitable from the novelty
of the research and the imperfection of in-
struments. At one time they were consid-
ered as animals, and at another they were
taken for plants ; were now ranked as Algce^
and again as fungi. But it is only in the
present generation that our knowledge of
them has become so perfect as to lead to a
large amount of agreement among observ-
ers respecting their nature, varieties, and
clessification. It is now recognized that
they are the lowest organisms, standing

r upon the limit of the two kingdoms, ani-
mal and vegetable, and are thus defined by
the botanists who have most recently stud-
ied them: "Cells deprived of chlorophyl,
of globular, oblong, or cylindrical form,
sometimes sinuous and twisted, reproduc-
ing themselves exclusively by transverse
division, living isolated or in cellular fami-
lies, and having affinities which approach
them to the Algce, and especially to the Us-
cillatorice." There has been, as our read-
ers are aware, a long and intense struggle
over the question of their spontaneous gen-
eration, but the great preponderance of
opinion is now against that mode of origin.
They vary much in form and dimensions, but
are regarded as the smallest of all micro-
scopical beings. Some of them are motion-
less, but they are generally remarkable for
the movements they exhibit. These arc thus
described by the eminent observer Cohn :

I In certain conditions they are excessively mo-
I bile ; and, when they swarm in a drop of water,
they present au attractive spectacle, similar to
I that of a swarm of gnats, or an ant-hill. The
j bacteria advance, Bwimminp:, then retreat with-
i outturningabout, oreven describe circular lines.
! At one time they advance with the rapidity of
! an arrow, at another they turn upon themselves
1 like a top ; sometimes they remain motionless
I for a long time, and then dart off like a flash.
The long rod-bacteria twist their bodies in swim-
' ming, sometimes slowly, sometimes with address
j and agility, as if they tried to force for themselves
a passage through obstacles. It is thus that the
] fish seeks its way through aquatic plants. They
remain sometimes quiet, as if to repose an in-
stant: suddenly the little rod commences to os-
1 cillate, and then to swim briskly backward, to
again throw itself forward some instants after.
All of these movements are accompanied by a
second movement analogous to that of a screw
which moves in a nut. When the vibrios, in
the shape of a gimlet, turn rapidly round their
axis, they produce a singular illusion : one would
believe that they twisted like an eel, although
they are extremely rigid.

An order of beings so amazingly minute
that the various kinds of them are just barely
revealed by the utmost powers of the micro-
scope, might seem of little importance, at
least, practically, in this world's concerns.
But this is not so. The bacteria are at the
foundations of hfe, and it is now admitted
that they have a grand office in relation to
the general preservation and continuance of
! life. Exactly in what way is perhaps not
! yet determined ; but they are in some way



essential to the carrying on of vital organic 1
changes. Dr. Magnia says, in his introduc-
tion : " It is known that organic matter once
produced, and become solid, so to speak, can
not again enter into the general current un-
til it has undergone new transformations —
metamorphosis />rot/i<cerf according to some,
favored, according to others, but without
contradiction accompanied by the develop-
ment of bacteria. And without wishing to
attribute to these organisms a finality which
is repugnant to our monistic conception of
the universe, it may be said that it is, thanks
to them, that the continuance of life is pos-
sible on the surface of the globe."

But the interest of these organisms is
still more marked in practical directions.
Their germs are in the air ; they are dis-
tributed in the waters ; and they swarm and
propagate with astonishing profusion in or-
ganic liquids and infusions. They are in-
volved in the processes of fermentation and
putrefaction, and they have a role in the
operation of violent diseases, such as vario-
la, scarlatina, measles, diphtheria, typhoid
fever, etc. ; while their agency in connec-
tion with wounds gives them the highest
interest to the surgeon.

It was therefore a capital service to sci-
ence that was performed by Dr. Magnin in
the preparation of this careful and complete
book en the general subject at the present
time. His volume is an ample report on
the present state of what may be called bac-
terial knowledge. It is accompanied by
faithfully executed plates and photographs,
and contains, furthermore, an elaborate and
exhaustive bibliography of the subject.

As a further illustration of the practi-
cal interest of the investigation here digest-
ed, it may be stated that Dr. Sternberg was
led to translate it in consequence of its val-
ue in carrying on the work of the National
Board of Uealth, the phenomena being vi-
tally connected with various problems of
public hygiene. The work has claims upon
the scientific naturalist, the physician, and
the non-professional man of general culture.

Life of Voltaire. By James Parton. In

two volumes. Boston : Houghton, Mifilin

& Co. Pp. 1,292. Price, $6.00.

Mr. Parton has been for many years a

critical and deeply interested student of

Voltaire and his times, and he has now

given us the fruit of his studies in these two
most entertaining and instructive volumes.
Of Mr. Parton's large experience as a biog-
rapher, and his proficiency in the art, it is
unnecessary to speak. He has had a life-
long preparation in this branch of literature,
and now, in the maturity of his powers, he
has produced a comprehensive work, that
will enhance his reputation, and undoubted-
ly prove a valuable and prominent acquisi-
tion to our biographical literature. There
was greatly needed a good hfe of Voltaire,
both on account of the great historic inter-
est of his personality, his profound influ-
ence upon his age, and the mass of prejudice
and misrepresentation that has been piled
upon his memory during the last hundred
years. The task of clearing away the er-
rors, and arriving at such truth as the cir-
cumstances allow, has been performed con-
scientiously by Mr. Parton with unsparing
labor, and, so far as we can judge, with
eminent success. He has made exactly such
a book as we wanted ourselves, and we be-
lieve it will adequately meet an extensive
need among American readers.

We note that some exceptions have been
taken to the work by English critics, who
write about it in a somewhat disparaging
tone ; and, perhaps, some reference to their
treatment of it may be helpful in judging
of its real merits. But it is necessary to
bear in mind the nature and difficulties of
the task which Mr. Parton had before him,
and these can not be better stated than in
his own prefatorj' words. He says :

I attempt in these volumes to exhibit to the
American people the most extraordinary of
Frenchmen, and one of the most extraordinary
of human beinfje.

When first I ventured, many years ago, to
think of this task, I soon ceased to wonder why
a subject bo alluring had not been undertaken
before by any one employing the whole of the
existing material. Voltaire was then buried
under a monntaln of heterogeneous record. The
attempts of essayists, even those of the first
rank, to characicrize him truly, were in some
degree frustrated by an abundance of unsorted
information that defied all ordinary research.
Since that time the Voltairean material has con-
tinued to accumulate, and never so rapidly as
during the last three years.

At this moment, if 1 lift my eyes from the
desk on which I write, 1 see before me volumes
containing fifty thousand printed pages of his
composition, including more than two hundred
and sixty separate pablications. The published



correspondence of Voltaire now comprises more
than ten thousand letters. The works relating
to him and his doin^'S form a catalogue of four
hundred and twenty-eight entries, which will
probably be increased before these volumes see
the light. Scarcely a month passes without
some addition to the wonderful mass. At one
time it is a series of letters found in a giocer's
shop, or rendered accessible by the death of an
heir of one of his princely correspondejits ;
now, an enterprising editor gives his readers an
unpublished poem ; recently, Mr. Gallatin depos-
ited in the library of the New York Historicjtl
Society sixty-six pieces of paper and card con-
taining words written or dicuted by him ; and
in September, 18BC, came from Paris the an-
nouncement of '• Le Sottifiier de Voltfiire," from
one of the eighteen volumes of manuscript in
his library at Petersburg. No sooner is an edi-
tion of his works published, than it is made in-
complete by a new diecovery. Since the issue of
the ninety-geven-volume edition in 18-34, enough
matter has accumulated to fill six or seven vol-
umes more.

Still more strange, the mass of his writings,
and I may even say every page of them, has to
this hour a certain vitality and interest. If it
has not intrinsic excellence, it possesses the
interest of an obsolete kind of agreeable folly ;
if it is not truth, it is a record of error that in-
structs or amuses. He was mistaken in sup-
posing that no man could go to posterity laden
with so much baggage. lu some cases it is the
baggage that floats him, and many readers of to-
day find his prefaces, notes, and introductions
more entertaining than the woik hidden in the
midst of them. Nearly every 'page of this
printed matter conuins at least an atom of
biography, and I can fairly claim to have had
my eye upon it, indexed it, and given it con-

The reader is probably aware that every cir-
cumstance in the history of this man, from the
date of his birth to the resting-place of his bones,
is matter of controversy. If I bad paused to
state the various versions of each event and the
interpretations put upon each action, this work
would have been ten volumes instead of two.
It would have been, like many other biographies,
not a history of the man, but a history of the
struggles of the author in getting at the mac.
Generally, therefore. I have given only the ob-
vious or most probable truth, and have often
refrained from even mentioning anecdotes and
statements that I knew to be groundless. Why
prolong the life of a falsehood merely for the
sake of refuting it ?

The Voltaire of these volumes is the nearest
to the true one that I have been able to gather

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 88 of 110)