Page images


The Increase of Railroad Disasters.-The railroads of America, with the ablest men that money can buy making up the personnel of their management, men who are giving their time and brains to solving the great problems of transportation, have, after years of study, experience, and theories applied to facts, put in operation a code of laws or rules governing the handling of their train service that is as near perfect as anything that comes from the hand of man.

They have expended millions in safety appliances and improvements, such as equipping freight engines and cars with automatic brakes, putting in interlocking switches and signals, and block systems, and making improvements in road bed, track, and bridges, and putting in passing tracks, etc. They have selected the best material that could be got, both physical and mental, to make up the personnel of their service the law of the survival of the fittest governing. This great army of men who have become specialists in their different spheres are unequaled by any other class of laborers in sobriety, intelligence, and physical endurance; and yet, after all of these precautions have been taken, the destruction of property by accident and the congestion of the business of the roads is steadily increasing. There must be a reason for this that, like all of the other problems that have been met and solved, can be remedied.

A criticism, to be worth anything, must be just; therefore we will concede that the volume of business has enormously increased, taxing the facilities of the roads to their utmost capacity; but there is something else wrong, and the men at the top are responsible. Each general manager who takes charge of a railroad is confronted with the figures of the gross and net earnings of the property under the management of his predecessor, and is expected to show an increase over those figures, while the operating expenses decrease. He finds that every field of economy has been exploited by the man he succeeded. There are only two avenues open to him—one to neglect the physical condition of the property under his management, the other to make the employees produce more for the money they get. He chooses what he considers the less of the two evils-that of making the employees produce more. This has resulted in a continual increase in the tonnage, in the use of larger engines with higher steam pressure, longer hours of service, and a congestion of the business.

Every railroad man understands the significance of the figures which follow, and are taken from the Bulletin of the United States Department of Labor for November. The figures for 1893 show, for freight service, the movement of 107,129 ton miles of traffic per employee, while those of 1900 show 139,143 ton miles per employee.

This means that the burden of exhausting labor was more than one-fifth heavier in 1900 than it was seven years before for this class of the world's workers. These men work by the mile or trip, and the continual increase in the amount of work performed in one trip has reduced their earning capacity about 30 per cent., while the cost of living has advanced about 35 per cent.; and while they are doing more work, they are getting less money than they did ten years ago. This, in a great many cases, causes them to try to work longer than they should.

The old proverb, "The harder the storm, the sooner it is over," is reversed on the railroad and means, "The harder the storm, the longer it lasts;" as the tonnage increases, the work becomes more intense, the hours of service longer and more exhausting; and the end is not yet. It is true the capacity of the machinery used is strained in a like or greater proportion.

But machinery can be replaced, and its shorter life is more than compensated by the greater results accomplished; but the man, even counting him as a part of the machinery, cannot be so easily replaced. He is being crowded to a point where tired nature will not be restored, and at a pace which, like that of the engine he drives, will

soon measure his days of usefulness. In our scheme of life he sees the scrap heap only a little way ahead of him. Coldly, mathematically are his capacities measured, and, like his engine, he is driven at the highest speed until he fails. A splendid army of trained men is under a constant forced march which is hurtful and demoralizing, bringing them down to a mere test of physical endurance. Shoulder to shoulder, under the whip of progress, these men are rushing forward-forever forward. Let one of them fail through sheer exhaustion, and the result is chronicled as another railroad disaster. Very few people not connected with railroads know the exacting conditions under which these men perform their duties—especially the engineer. Leaving a terminal, he must make himself familiar with all of the special instructions posted in the bulletin book, where he will find instructions that signals at different places are out of order, and he must be governed accordingly. He will receive orders to reduce speed on certain parts of the road over which he runs, each place requiring a different rate. If there are any new signals put up or interlocking plants put in, he must know where they are and how they work. He must watch the track in front of him for danger signals, see that all fixed signals are displayed properly and switches set right, blow road-crossing signals at grade, call the attention (with the whistle) of all trains he passes to the signals displayed on the front of the engine, and often have in his possession orders to be executed at five or six different points; watch for the markers on the rear of his train and see that it is all together; respond to signals from the conductor; teach the new firemen and brakemen who enter the service their duties. Besides these he must carry the water in the boiler at its proper level, work the engine in the most economical manner that will be consistent with the work it is required to do, and make the time and watch to see that he does not get ahead of his schedule time; and if the engine is leaking or running hot, or the injectors working badly, his duties are increased.

Can men who have been on duty for eighteen or twenty hours, often with but very little to eat during that time, perform successfully such duties as these? Are their eyes and brains as clear, or their judgment as good, as those of men not overtaxed and in full use of their faculties in normal condition?

And when his term of usefulness is over, with nerveless hands and a heart of old age in the breast that ought yet to be filled with youth, the victim realizes that such years as may yet be vouchsafed him will be filled with pain and penury. He is thrown into the scrap heap. The race loses in his loss, for he once represented its highest physical energy. Can the race for its own sake, or for humanity's sake, indorse this sort of economy? Will railway consolidation lessen rivalry and stay the whip of this sort of progress? Or is the spirit of a higher civilization going to enter into the management? Or will the saving common-sense of the general managers lead them to check this fatal progress ? Already the hands are growing unsteady and the brains beclouded. The year just closed has been a very carnival of railroad disasters. Shorter hours of service and less exhausting labor in one trip must come, or more and yet more appalling disasters await the railroads and the people.

Good business sense may govern in finding the remedy, but how much more pleasant life would be if the remedy were found in man's humanity to man! HUNTINGTON, W. Va.


Some New Educational Theses.-The address on "The American University" recently read by Professor J. McKeen Cattell, of Columbia University, before the Phi Beta Kappa of Johns Hopkins, has a combination of sense, audacity, and breeziness that amounts almost to a gale. For example, he says: "Ten years of age is early enough to begin to read, write, and calculate; primary education should be chiefly for the formation of motor habits; a child's head will not hold more miscellaneous facts than can be injected in a year or two; he can learn nearly as much of his present scholastic studies in two hours a day as in eight. If the required school attendance for each child were reduced to one-half or one-third, then, without additional expense, the fewer buildings and smaller equipment might be doubled or tripled in value, and the salaries of teachers might be doubled or tripled. The best-trained teachers, more men than women, should be in charge of the younger children. If society must develop a class similar to the neuter insects, it should not have charge of the education of children.

The boy should stay in the high school until he is eighteen, and then go to the university, or he should enter the college at sixteen and pass forward to the university in two years. The man should begin to take part in the real work of the world at twenty-one, but he should never regard his education as complete, and should for many years, if not always, continue to spend some time in work at the university.


"In my opinion, the university is or should be a group of professional schools, giving the best available preparation for each trade and profession. It is more feasible to give such training than to teach culture or research. These, like the building of character, are not the result of any particular kind of curriculum. Culture comes from daily and immediate association with the best that the world has; and this should be found at the university.


The chief difficulty in securing the right men for university chairs is the small field from which they must be drawn. When we have a hundred thousand men of university training teaching in the schools, there will be those deserving promotion. When we have more students doing research work at the universities, there will be more men of genius for the higher offices. We should, without delay, introduce the Privatdocent system of Germany." E. C. H.

[ocr errors]


The Definition of Sociology.-The opening article in the Popular Science Monthly for June reproduces a discussion before the Philosophical Society of Washington, on The Definition of Some Modern Sciences." There was an introduction by Professor W. H. Dall. Hon. Carroll D. Wright spoke on statistics, Professor Roland P. Falkener on political economy, Professor E. A. Pace on psychology, and Lester F. Ward on sociology.


Mr. Ward offers the proposition that "in the complex sciences the quality of exactness is only perceivable in their higher generalizations," or "scientific laws increase in generality as the sciences to which they apply increase in complexity." Accordingly, in sociology, the most complex of the sciences, the laws must be the most highly generalized. The wants and passions of men everywhere show resemblances, and are subject to a uniform law of psychic and social development in all corners of the earth. "There is nothing new in 'news' except a difference in the names. events are always the same." Society is a domain of law, and sociology is an abstract science in the sense that it does not attend to details except as aids in arriving at the law that underlies them all. There are many social or sociological laws, but they all may be grouped and generalized into one fundamental law, the law of parsimony. This has been regarded as merely an economic law, but it is much broader than this. It has its homologue in the natural sciences, and is the scientific corner-stone of that collective psychology which constitutes so nearly the whole of sociology. A sentient and rational being will always seek the greatest gain, or the maximum resultant of gain - his "marginal " advantage. This refers not alone to pecuniary gain, or temporary or immediate gain. It allows the effectiveness of worthy as well as of unworthy motives, and the "transcendental" interests. E. C. H.

Abolition of the Death-Penalty.-In the Archiv für Kriminal-Anthropologie und Kriminalistik, 9. Bd., 2. Heft, Ernst Lohsing has an article on “ Abschaffung der Todesstrafe." Professor Hans Gross, editor of this publication, in its seventh volume had maintained that to put to death anarchists who have attempted assassination is to help them in the direction of their desire to die in the glory of martyrdom, while taking along a mighty companion to the shades. He accordingly argued that, if not for all classes of criminals, at least for anarchistic assassins the death-penalty should be abolished.

Upon this proposition the present writer makes two comments: (1) The criminal has no right to punishment. Punishment is meant to be without the will or against the will of the criminal. Yet, as in the case of tramps who steal in order to be housed and fed in jail through the winter, crime may have punishment as its aim. (2) But if the above suggestion regarding anarchists were adopted, then any murderer who wished to escape the death-penalty would need only to make it appear that he was an anarchist aspiring to martyrdom. The writer nevertheless welcomes the reopening of the question of abolition of the death-penalty. There are cases in which the inno

cent are condemned. Indeed, as Goldfield remarks, "earthly justice must let fall her sword if she could condemn only in cases of absolute certainty, for witnesses may lie, documents be false, confessions untrue, circumstances misleading."

At the close of this article the editor reiterates his belief that the death-penalty is unjust, antiquated, and dangerous to public weal. E. C. H.

Land and Landscape in the North American Popular Spirit. - While it is impossible to adequately analyze the soul of a people, the task may be simplified by showing the unquestionable influence of the natural surroundings on the mind. The vast political and economical schemes of the American people were suggested to them by the wide area which opened free lands before the immigrant colonists. The imperialistic idea is not of recent origin, but has been working in the people from the begining. It was released from fetters by the War of Independence and was given a new sense of power by the successful struggle for national unity.

Out of the huge enterprises of a continental opportunity has arisen the maker of commercial combinations. To the American "business is art and science, and he devotes himself to it as we do to a scientific work, and he finds therein the poetry of discovery and of solutions of puzzles." The huge in finance is adored, and out of the 'golden calf" has grown the mastodon calf.

[ocr errors]

Individualism is trusted to the extreme limit, even where many weak ones are crushed. In Emerson the doctrine of self-reliance becomes a philosophy of life. Under all the rough and crude aspects of life a real scientific spirit is growing, and in Cooper, Whittier, and Emerson a delicate and spiritual appreciation of landscape which lends luster to the hard struggle of life in the New World. In the sense of humor also lies an evidence and a source of power. In all ways this young people has “ grown up with the country" and come to be conscious of its lofty destiny.-PROFESSOR FRIEDRICH RATZEL (Leipzig University), in Deutsche Monatschrift, July, 1902.

C. R. H.

The Value of Human Life.- In the Popular Science Monthly for June, Marshall O. Leighton concludes that courts of law have given such careful scrutiny to the value of the individual to his family, measured by economic productiveness, as to yield trustworthy results; that these results are corroborated by common observation and statistical reasoning; and that the pecuniary value of a life is subject to the same economic laws that apply to the more vulgar commodities. According to these principles the average life rises from an economic value of $1,000 soon after birth to a maximum of nearly $8,000 soon after the age of twenty-five, and thence declines to half the latter amount at the age of sixty. Such results have a curious interest, based as they are upon the decision of courts.

E. C. H.







PREVIOUS to the invention of the printing press there was no elementary school. The education of children was provided by other agencies, among which the family was most important. The elementary school, as a separate institution, originated in the democratic movement that swept over western Europe during the closing years of the Middle Ages and the centuries immediately following. Its function, at first, was not to take charge of those phases of education previously attended to by the family, but to supplement the work by supplying the child with tools made necessary by changed social conditions. The practical education supplied by the family was now found to be insufficient. A demand arose on the part of the people for the opportunity to learn how to read, write, and compute simple arithmetical processes. In response to this demand the elementary school arose, and the three R's long reigned supreme.

But times change. The needs of one age are not identical with those of another. As a consequence of this fact, the institutions organized to meet the demands of one age need constantly to adjust themselves to changing conditions in order to render to society the service that is due.

Stupendous changes have taken place in society since the organization of the elementary school. Revolutions in the

« PreviousContinue »