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Notes of the Week.


Notes of the Week. The San Francisco Catastrophe.—Only that we are afraid some of our readers would think that we are not serious where seriousness is meet, we should say that the latest American catastrophe is worthy of the reputation of the country in which it occurred. Everything in America is always on a huge scale. The country itself is so big that phenomenon of ordinary dimensions would be hardly observable on such an immense canvas. Over there all the businesses of any value are colossal, all the millionaires are multi- millionaires, all the storms are tornadoes, and whenever a catastrophe occurs it staggers humanity. After making all deductions, there is no doubt but that the San Francisco calamity was of such a character as to make one deeply thankful not to be within its circle. Hundreds have met their death in the most terrible manner imaginable, some hundreds of thousands have been rendered homeless, and twenty-five miles of what was yesterday a busy mart is to-day blackened desolation. But this terrible occur- rence has made manifest how splendid the American nature is when brought face to face with great problems of distress. Already we read that the process of rebuilding the city has commenced, and the word has gone forth that no help is required from Europe for those in dis- tress, that American resources are amply suffi- cient to meet all needs. Some European nations would be panic-stricken for weeks, if not months, by such a visitation. But the buoyant energy of the great nation beyond the Atlantic is only made more conscious of its power to cope successfully with adversity. It is a characteristic that awakens the sincerest admiration in every true human heart. v Stirring up Racial Hatred.—Since the text of Mr. Birrell's Bill was issued we were afraid that the fury of its opponents would make an attempt to rob Wales of the boon which the Bill con- ferred upon her, by providing for the estab- lishment of a Welsh National Council of Educa- tion and we regret to say that those fears have already been verified. The ecclesiastical and sectarian forces have discovered that there is danger that the spirit of the Bill will be the governing spirit of the Council created by it also, and some at least of those who eulogised the movement and lauded the unanimity of the Cardiff Conference are now endeavouring to foster jealousy and distrust. In addition to this the old adversaries of Home Rule are busy at it calling out of the deep the spirit of race hatred. Lord Hugh Cecil, in a letter which appeared in the Times a few days ago, trots out once again the anti-Home Rule argument. J- his is what Lord Hugh says :—" One other proposal in the Bill I must mention. It is astonishing to find in an Education Bill a clause which seems to be an instalment of Home Rule Or Wales. It is amazing that those who are zealous for the sacred principles of public control should desire to hand over to a Council °f Wales all the authority of the Board of Edu- cation and other Departments, and with that authority all the control of the House of omnions over the expenditure of the tax- payers' money on education in Wales. No similar Council is proposed for England. Therefore, while English members must have nothing to say to the spending of the common taxes in Wales, Welsh members may interfere with English education as much as they please. But why complain ? Are not the Welsh mem- bers all Radicals and mostly Nonconformists ? We have such a high opinion of Lord Hugh's fairness and straightforwardness that we venture to suggest that he has not been correctly informed concerning the value of the demand of Wales for a National Educational Council. It is not a Radical and Nonconformist demand at all, but the demand of a whole nation, irrespective of creed or party, voiced at a con- ference convened by the Conservative and Anglican Lord Mayor of Cardiff, who presided over its deliberations, when Churchmen and Tories joined together on a broad national platform. The answer to the other argument is clearly this, that the proper way to arrange these matters is by giving- the people of England power to control their educational affairs without the interference of Ireland, Scotland, or Wales. We do not want to keep England under bond- age to the Celtic fringes, we want all the different nationalities that comprise the United Kingdom to have complete liberty in matters that pertain to themselves. Reading Habits.Mr. John Ballinger, the Cardiff Librarian, and possibly the highest authority in Wales upon everything connected with libraries and the use made of them, has given his opinion about modern public taste in reading, and his views are not over compli- mentary to present day readers. His words, at any rate, deserve careful consideration. I think," says Mr. Ballinger, "that the short articles which now appear so generally in the magazines and other current cheap literature have had the effect of turning the taste of readers away from the longer books. A desire for snippets has been created, and this has certainly had a prejudicial effect upon the public taste. While a very much larger number of people read, the percentage of those who sit down and go steadily through a course of read- ing is smaller than it was when I commenced my career in literary work, thirty-one years ago. The American style of journalism, which has invaded our country of late years, has had a most pernicious influence on the habits of the reading public. Of course," Mr. Ballinger added, a large number of people in the aggre- gate still read literature for the enjoyment they can get out of it—not only for sensation, but for the music and the charm and style of high thoughts beautifully expressed. The majority, however, read merely to be tickled, not neces- sarily with humour. In fact, the prevailing note of recent literature which hits the taste of this class is quite in the other direction, for it is morbid sensationalism, whether in the form of religious fiction or annals of mystery and crime." Mr. Ballinger is also of opinion that books nowadays are not bought to be read. In his judgment, when people want to read a book they borrow it, when they buy a book they do not read it. He does not think highly of the latest developments in the matter of printing and binding literature. The cheap little books are pretty to look at and nice to handle, but the reading of them is rather wearisome, there is something about them that is rather tiring.

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Am Gymry Llundain.