16 OCTOBER 1880, Page 3

The Social-Science Congress at Edinburgh broke up on Thursday. It

has been the dullest, the least instructive, and above all, the worst reported, of such assemblies for many years. Mr. Hastings, the Secretary, affirms that the discussion on juvenile delinquents will assist the Home Secretary, and that may be true ; but too many subjects have been discussed, in too fragmentary a manner. It is, of course, difficult for the managers to exclude bores and incompetent speakers, particu- larly when they are Peers ; but the papers originating discus- sion might at least be taken as read, and their subjects debated only by those who had studied them beforehand. Is it hope- less, moreover, to choose some governing topic, or series of topics, for each Congress, which shall be generally discussed? At present, everybody says what he or she likes upon the subject which interests him or her, and the benefit of the opinion of the collective mind of the Congress is almost entirely lost. The Congress is not even a debating society, but a congeries of minute clubs, in each of which there is a good deal of talk, more or less improving. We do not profess to see the precise remedy, but the debates are apt to lack meaning, and the pursuit of social science degenerates into social gossip.