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pass by the well-known suggestion that excessive bitterness and virulence of a the Cabinet should have seats in Con- presidential campaign is due to this fact, gress, and take up some other ideas. - to the intensely personal character of Why not elect a Speaker of the House the real issue. But politicians, while by popular vote, in the same way that electing a President, raise a great clamwe choose the Vice-President, who pre- or about the South, about free trade, sides over the Senate ? There are ob- or about any of the possible issues that vious objections to such a course : the can affect the country, and a flood of House itself could take away the power rhetoric on these questions swamps the of appointing committees from its presid- press and all political speaking, to the ing officer (as in the case of the Senate), exclusion of the real question involved and the Speaker would then have no in- in the election. These discussions on fluence on legislation. The difficulty matters of moment - discussions which would still remain of holding the chair- might be of use if we were choosing men of the committees accountable. congressmen to legislate upon them Practical sagacity, however, might sug- only befog the popular mind, and settle gest the wisdom of utilizing existing nothing, while they conceal from the political conditions. As we have seen, public the actual truth that, under the there now exists a popular delusion that smoke of the bitter fight on issues, the the settlement of important issues is politicians are really aiming at getting directly connected with the election of possession of the appointing power by the President. Then, why not make it selecting their candidate for the presiobligatory for the President and Cabinet dency. Without doubt, if the appointto appoint from elected members the ments should be used by a scheming congressional committees ? If that plan President, opposed to the merit system, were adopted, the idea now fixed in the they would be instruments of very conpolitical habits of the people, that our siderable efficiency in influencing Conquadrennial contests settle questions of gress ; but it is difficult to understand legislation, would be actually realized. how an Executive who appoints to office It would place the responsibility for leg. solely on grounds of merit, without exislation where it does not now belong, acting a consideration from the ap but where the voters think it belongs. pointee, could much affect legislation in It would be like putting a live enemy Congress. The real cause of intense in front of a marksman's rifle, in place feeling in presidential elections is the of a wooden target; the bullet would hope of securing the offices ; and with a then produce important effects, instead proper extension of civil service reform of merely furnishing amusement. At this ought to disappear. present, we practice firing at a dummy, It is a familiar fact to every one that under the delusion that it is a living be the platforms of our nominating coning; yet no surprise is exhibited that ventions are absolutely useless, so far as the dummy does not come down when an effect on party action is concerned, it receives what we believe to be a fatal after the election has passed by. Why shot.
is it? Because they form a part of our Some such adjustment of means to political delusion. These platforms are an end is imperatively demanded. As nominally made for Presidents to stand matters now stand, the election of a upon; but every idea, every crotchet, President, in truth, determines little which may captivate a voter, is included more than whether one or the other of in them. The President is expected the principal candidates shall control to express his adherence to the platform the appointments to office. Indeed, the in a letter of acceptance. But such forms are all absurdly illogical. It is To ask for bread, in this way, and of precious little importance what the get only a stone is not satisfying to a President thinks of questions which must healthy political life. Is it not possible go to Congress, for enactment into law. to make things a little clearer to every After he is elected, does the President voter, that a ballot for a President lie awake nights, with the platform of touches questions such as methods of his party in his hands, studying how he appointments, but that, if he wishes to may please the voters by making de- have an influence on legislation, he can crees or proclamations about the decla- have it in no other way than by his rations in the party resolutions ? Or choice of members of Congress ? Let is he not rather barring his doors, in a the election of congressmen be signalfutile attempt to keep the herd of tram- ized by proper platforms discussing napling office-seekers out of his very din- tional questions; for they are the men ing-room, or his bed-chamber? If we who chiefly settle them, - not the Presiare worked up into a white heat every dent. The zeal about public questions four years, because A has assented to should, at present, be turned directly one set of views, and B to another al- upon Congress. The platforms of namost exactly like them, only to find out tional conventions are only decoys. They that it means nothing at all as regards mean nothing more than the orders to any final results, we naturally become a sham fight, when the real battle is disgusted with politics, and agree that it going on elsewhere. It is not conceivis of no use to discuss any political ques- able that the Americans are so dull tions, because we can have no influence a people as long to remain under this in settling them.
J. Laurence Laughlin.
THE FORESTS AND THE CENSUS.
The federal government has included not changed, a time must soon come in the census an exhaustive report on when the nation will have cause to rethe forests of the country. If this had pent its reckless improvidence. been done at the beginning of the cen- Nothing, therefore, could be wiser or tury, the forestry department of the more timely than the introduction of present census would show a singular this new feature into the national accontrast to the rest of that prodigious count of stock. It is now five years or work; for, while we should find every more since the heavy task of gathering where else the record of an amazing and arranging the forest statistics of the growth, this part of the report would United States was placed in the hands reveal an equally amazing decrease of Professor Charles Sprague Sargent, This decrease has gone on with acceler Director of the Arnold Arboretum of ating speed, and probably it was never Harvard University. The results of so rapid as at this moment. Our forests his work and that of his assistants has are still of immense value for their mar- lately appeared in a quarto volume ketable products, for the good effects of six hundred and twelve pages, illusthey produce, and for the evils they trated by maps, and accompanied by an avert ; but it is clear that if the present atlas of sixteen additional maps on a wasteful ways of dealing with them are larger scale. The book opens with a general description of the character and certain, In the Northern and Middle distribution of North American trees. States that valuable tree, the white pine, Each part of the country has its charac- which once seemed inexbaustible, has teristic forest growth. There is the for- already been consumed so far as conest of the North and the forest of the cerns the heavy timber of the original South, the forest of the Atlantic Slope growth, and the pines of the Northwest and that of the Pacific; affording, as a must soon share the same fate. A young whole, an unrivaled abundance and va- growth is springing up in many places, riety. Professor Sargent next gives a and, under prudent regulation, this may complete catalogue of American trees be made to supply, in some imperfect north of the Mexican line, including no measure, the place of its predecessors. less than four hundred and twelve spe- The immeuse open pine forests of the cies and varieties. This enumeration, Southern States produce a timber of do along with the synonyms and descrip- less value than that of the North, though tions, covers two hundred pages, and is of another species and widely differa work of admirable industry and care. ont qualities ; and, by good manageSpecimens of the wood of all these trees, ment, these may still be preserved from excepting seven rare and unimportant destruction and made a permanent species, were subjected to a conrse of source of wealth, though under present experiments, in order to test their value conditions they are fast wasting away. as fuel and as material for construction. The slopes of the Alleghanies in West These experiments were conducted by Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Mr. S. P. Sharples at the arsenal at Tennessee still bear a superb growth of Watertown, by means of apparatus be- bard-wood trees; and it remains to be longing to the government, and the re- seen which alternative will be adopted, sults are given in a series of tables that of squandering the capital or living which form Part Second of the report. on the income. One course is as practiFrom these may be learned, approxi- cable as the other, but the latter requires mately at least, the practical value, both forecast, self-control, and good sense, relative and absolute, of all the species and the former does not. The same is in the United States, with the trilling true of the great hard-wood forests of exception just mentioned. Part Third, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, as entitled The Forests of the United well as of less important tracts of woodStates in their Economic Aspects, shows land scattered throughout the Atlanthe distribution, character, and present tic Slope and the valley of the Missiscondition of the forests in every State sippi. and Territory of the Union.
Unluckily, the American people are The report reveals an enormous na
heirs of a tradition which, though pertional wealth, which man did nothing haps inevitable under the circumstances, to create, but which he is doing his best has become a source of serious mischief. to destroy. Professor Sargent thinks The early settler regarded the forest as that complete returns of the forest prod- an enemy to be overcome by any means, ucts of all kinds for the census year fair or foul, as the first condition of bis would show a value rather above than prosperity and safety; and his descendbelow seven hundred million dollars, ants do not yet comprehend how comhand he believes that, even with the pres- pletely the conditions are changed. The ent wasteful management, this rate of old enemy bas become an indispensable production may still be maintained for friend and ally. The settler of the pressome years longer; but unless a wiser ent day, who has passed the forest tracts policy is pursued the consequence is of the East and made his home on the bare plains of the West, is learning per- of cattle and sheep. These destroy the force a lesson opposite to that which was young seedlings, and when the old trees too familiar to his precursor on this side fall or are cut away none are left to take of the Mississippi. He discovers that their places. trees are necessary to him, and instead An attempt was made by Professor of hacking and burning he begins to Sargent to learn approximately the loss plant and cherish them. But when he to the United States by forest fires durmakes another move westward, crosses ing the census year, and to this end more the Rocky Mountains, and builds his than thirty thousand circulars were sent cabin in the magnificent forests of the to different parts of the country. The Pacific Slope, among the matchless result showed a loss to New York, Minwoods of Oregon and Washington, the nesota, Montana, and Utah of more than old instinct springs up again with re
a million dollars each ; to Pennsylvania doubled force. A selfish love of gain, and Wyoming of more than three milthe personal interest of the hour, over- lion each; and to Tennessee of more than bears every consideration of ulterior five million, — the total destruction of good, and he attacks the great redwood forest property in all the States and Terforests of the coast with a rapacious ritories amounting to something more vigor that has already robbed them of than twenty-five million. About eleven half their value, and threatens as it ex- hundred fires were traced to the heedless tends its scope to deprive posterity of burning of brush-wood and felled trees an inestimable possession.
by farmers in clearing the land, about But the axe is not the worst enemy
six hundred to the carelessness of hunof the forest. Nature is strong in her ters, and about five hundred to sparks resources. Give her but the opportunityfrom locomotives ; while two hundred and in a soil and climate like those of and sixty-two were reported to have the greater part of this continent she been kindled maliciously. will renew, and create with unbounded It is evident that nothing but the infecundity. There are forces, however, tervention of the state and federal govtoo strong for her. The most formida- ernments can arrest the waste of forests, ble of these is fire. The forests that and save us from the evils that must recover the tops and sides of mountains sult from their rapid decline. Will such generally draw their sustenance from measures answer the end? There is no a thin soil formed chiefly of vegetable doubt that along with a roused sense mould, resulting from many centuries of of its necessity on the part of the peodecay, first of mosses, then of plants and ple a well-considered legislation could low shrubs, and lastly of trees, each gen- be made effectual. In one State of the eration contributing something to the Union, and in one only, the public mind support of the next, till the barren ridge, has learned to recognize the need of where once nothing but a lichen could guarding and preserving the forests. cling, is able at length to nourish an oak. This is the State of Maine, whose prosBut when the forest thus slowly and perity, depending mainly on the lumber painfully prepared is swept away by fire, trade, had greatly declined from the the mould burns out like peat, and the reckless manner in which the chief work of a thousand years is undone in source of its wealth had been abused. an hour. In deep soils, on level ground, A sensible and economical management the mischief is much less ; yet even here has followed the old wasteful methods. a growth equal in value or similar in Young trees are spared, and such precharacter to the last is rarely reproduced. cautions are used against fire that losses Another source of evil is the browsing from that source have greatly diminished, amounting in the census year to only a supply swell into freshets at one season hundred and twenty-three thousand dol- and shrink into insignificance at anlars. “Fires,” says Professor Sargent, other. “ do not consume forests upon which “ The production of lumber," says whole communities are depevdent for Professor Sargent, “is not the only support, and methods for securing the function of forests. They perform othcontinuance of such forests are soon er aud more important services in profound and readily put into execution. tecting the surface of the ground and in The forests of Maine, once considered regulating and maintaining the flow of practically exhausted, still yield largely rivers. In mountainous regions they and continuously, and the public senti- are essential to prevent destructive torment which has made possible their pro- rents, and mountains cannot be stripped tection is the one hopeful symptom in of their forest covering without entailthe whole country that a change of feel- ing serious dangers upon the whole coming in regard to forest property is grad- munity. Such mountain forests exist in ually taking place." Let us hope that the United States. In Northern Ver this solitary example of forecast and mont and New Hampshire they guard good sense may prove contagious. the upper waters of the Connecticut and
There are reasons entirely indepen- the Merrimac; in New York they insure dent of economic value which make the the constant flow of the Hudson. Such preservation of our forests a matter of forests still cover the upper slopes of the prime importance, and would make their Alleghany Mountains, and diminish the ruin a national calamity. It is not that danger of destructive floods in the valthey have much influence on the rain- leys of the Susquehanna and the Ohio. fall. Those who hold that they do so Forests still cover the upper watersheds mistake effect for cause. The rain pro- of the Missouri and the Columbia, the duces the forest, and not the forest the Platte and the Rio Grande, and prerain. A forest growth may not of ne- serve the California valleys from burial cessity follow an adequate supply of under the débris of the Sierras. The moisture, but the supply of moisture is great mountain forests of the country an indispensable condition of it. The still exist, often almost in their original utility of forests, aside from their mar- condition. Their inaccessibility has preketable value, lies in their power not to served them. It cannot preserve them, cause the rainfall, but to regulate its however, much longer. Inroads have distribution. In this they are of incal- already been made into these forests ; culable benefit. When they cover the the axe, fire, and the destructive agency ground about the sources of great rivers of browsing animals are now everywhere and their tributaries, the porous soil, invading them. Their destruction does with its mosses and its accumulations not mean a loss of material alone, which of fallen leaves, acts as a vast sponge sooner or later can be replaced from other to retain and slowly deliver the water parts of the country; it means the ruin that falls from the clouds in the form of great rivers for navigation and irriof rain or snow. When the sheltering gation, the destruction of cities located trees are destroyed and the ground is along their banks, and the spoliation of laid bare, all the water runs off at once: broad areas of the richest agricultural the brooks that had before flowed con- land. These mountain forests once detinuously and with comparative regu- stroyed can only be renewed slowly and larity become roaring torrents in spring at enormous cost, and the dangers, actual and dry channels in summer, while the and prospective, which threaten them rivers that depend on these sources of now offer the only real cause for gen