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February 28, 1885
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 Broadway, IST. 'ST.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JEBRUARY 28, 1885.
And why not an extra session? What a commentary it ii4 ui)oa
the kind of legislators we liave been electing for years, that tliey
are looked upon as such nuisances that wlien the time approaches for
their assembling everyone fears some calamity to the country.
Why not bring tliese legislators nearer to the people by forcing
theiii to meet soon after election ? The House of Representatives
ihoseu in the tirst week of November, l-SSl, will not come together,
unless tliere is an extra session, until the tirst week in December,
1S.S5, thirteen mouths after they are elected. Events move quickly
in this age of electricity and steam, and a Congressman elected
to-day may not represent either his constituency or his party a year
afterwards. Public opinion is focalized on an Englisli Parliament
far more eflfectively than on tbe American (."ongress. The Britisli
legislators coins ttigether itnmediately upon the close ot a general
election. Under tbe workings of the British system there are elec¬
tions every few weeks for seats in different parts of the kingdom,
and these always indicate how public sentiment is drifting.
The President chosen in November ought to take his seat on the
succeeding 1st of January, and a meeting of Congress should not be
delayed further than tlie February 1st succeeding. The country
ought to know at once what to expect of a new administration.
The uncertainty wliich now prevails over a year after a general
election is hurtful to business and creates needless doubt and agita-
t ion. As, however, these changes are impossible, under our very
imperfect and practically tinalterable constitution, the next best
thing would be the calUng together of the new Congress early in
March. The new administration could then outline its policy and
business could at once adjust itself to the new conditions.
So the silver coinage bill will not be repealed for a year t« come
at any rate. There is no danger, therefore, of any disturbance in
our monetary system. Had there been a suspension ot the silver
coinage the support given to prices by the white metal the world
over would have been withdrawn, silver would have apparently
declined from 10 to 30 per cent, in value, or, to lie more accurate,
gold would have incieasetl in purchasing power to that amount,
which would show itself in a violent depreciation in the prices of
everything the value of which gold measures. The blow dealt at
the business of tbe world would have been a terrific one. Indeed,
the main argument in favor of a stoppage of the silver coinage was
that the distress which would follow would bring Great Britain and
Oermany and the other gold luono-metallic countrieis to their
Renses; but, after all, is it worth while to do evU that good may
come, or to bite off one's nose to spite his face ?
Congress of short-sighted, chattering lawyers refuses to accept
the only invention which may save our principal ports from
destruction in the event of an unexpected war.
The Senate Committee of Investigation into tbe workings ot the
gas monopoly is bringing to light many interesting facts; but, after
all, what good will result ? We are bound hand ami foot, and their
is no visible way to escape from the exactions of this great consoli¬
dated gas corporation. When the exploding steam pipes blew up
our streets, a bill was passed by the Legislature, with the warm
approval of the press, prohibiting any new company from tearing
up the pavement to lay new pipes. This was really the cunning
work of the present gas monopoly, and Governor Cleveland approv¬
ed, although he was told tbe real object of the bill. He also signed
the enactment permitting the gas comp.tnies to consolidate. The
only way out of the scrape would be for the city to supply gas as it
does water. The politicians, of course, would profit by the patron¬
age and there would be the usual number of scandalous jobs, but
the whole history of our local and general government shows that
where the politician pockets one dollar corruptly the corporations
and contractors take one thousand. The go-betweens who do the
public work, not only plunder tbe community but debauch legis¬
lators and executives. Our Croton A((ueduct Department is any¬
thing but iierfect, but it is purity itself compared with our
machinery for making city improvements by contract. Rut the
attention of the public is always directed to tbe shortcomings ot
the politicians and private enterprise, so-called, that is, irresponsible
plundering, goes on unchecked.
Although our harbor is absolutely defenceless Congress refuses to
do anything to ensure the safety of this great port in the event of a
foreign war. The naked Arabs in northeastern Africa are fighting
the English forces under Lord Wolesley with Krupp guns, but we
have not a piece of artillery in the country that would be of the
slightest use in a foreign naval war, and it would take two years to
provide the plant for casting one. There is, however, a submarine
machine invented by John Erickson now laying useless in the
navy yard. It is offered to the government for $112,000. and
Mr. Erickson has the bills to show that it cost him and his backers
at least $150,000. Admiral Porter and other experts are unani¬
mously of the opinion that this Destroyer is the most perfect tor¬
pedo vessel in the world, anl thit it would destroy any war
ship attempting to enter a harbor. A bill to make it the prop¬
erty of the United States has been before Congress for some time,
but there is no money in it for the lobby and hence there
is no chance ot its being purchased. The English government
is willing to pay liberally for this gun and the patents which cover
it, but tbe inventor has so much iuterest in his adopted country
that he refuses to let this great invention pass into the hands of a
foreign government. Captan Erickson has never been adequately
cx)ropensated for his other great contribution to the navy of the
United States. He saved our seacoast from the Merriipac and
revolutionized the type of armored war vessels ; but.thft American
people seem to bgye forgotten the services he rendered tfi?m, aii4 a
The recent debate between President Elliott, of Harvard Univer¬
sity, and President McC^osli, of Princeton College, as to the way in
wliich the higher institutions of learning should be managed is
naturally exciting a good deal of attention among all who are
interested in collegiate education. So far as immediate effect was
concerned the representative of Princeton, in defending the old
curriculum against the new, had tbe best of the argument; but the
facts, after all, seem to be on tbe side of the new departure in Har¬
vard. Our great Eastern university but follows in the footsteps of
the German universities, where there is a free choice of studies and
opportunity to learn specialties thoroughly, and no pretence is made
of controlling the morals or the conduct of the students. The
scholarship of the German universities and of such of the English
institutions of learning as follow their example is far aliead of
that attained under the collegiate system heretofore in vogue in this
A change in our educational system was inevitable when modem
conditions came into play. The higlier education of the past was
intended to train clergymen, lawyers and the sons of wealthy
people ; but of late years science, art and industrial pursuits demand
as much, if not more, attention than did mere literary culture half
a century back. Our university training now aims not only to
make men scholars and orators, but scientists, artists and business
men of the highest order. It is admitted that all one's life is too
sliort to acquire an encyclopajdic knowledge in every department
of modern investigation : but as real culture in any department
requires thoroughness, opixirtunity should be given for specialists in
the different fields of study.
Dr. McCosh pointed out one apparently fatal objection to a high
proficiency in elective and voluntary studies in this country. In
Germany the government appoints the examining boards and con¬
fers the degrees. The examination is pitiless, and the students who
pass it are honestly entitled to the honors they receive. A university
degree in Germany means a great deal. Without it, it is impossible
to become a clergyman, a lawyer, a physician or a public official.
Hence the stimulus given to university education in Germany.
The whole future life of the student depends ui)on his proficiency
in bis studies. There is really, therefore, no need of any machinery
to force the youth in Germany to attend to their lessons and
recitations. But in this country we have no government super¬
vision ; the colleges themselves give the degi-ees, and if they were
exacting in their demands they would become unpopular and lose
patronage. It follows that there are really no liigh tests for college
education in this country. A college degree does not mean any¬
thing, and diplomas without number are given to so-called lawyers
and physicians who are both ignorant and stupid. There is no
high standard of proficiency for entrance to any of our so-called
learned professions, and there never will be until the state and the
nation sees to it that honorary degrees and diplomas are not given
to the ineflScient and unworthy.
Another point worthy of consideration was brought up in this
debate. The old time colleges were planted in country towns for
obvious reasons, but the modem university flourishes only in or
near a great city. The technical, medical and legal schools of the
■world flourish in the great centres of population, and there only.
As vet. New Vork'i? behind London, Paris, Berlin anl even goston