23 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 2

The Social Science Association opened its twenty-fifth annual session on

Wednesday at Nottingham, and the speech of its president, Mr. Hastings, was not unnaturally tinged with optimism. He pointed to the Settled Estates Act, and the Married Women's Property Act, and the operation of the Education Act, as strong evidence of progress, dwelling also on the growth of political sense, as shown in the frequent subordination of economical science to practical political ends. He maintained firmly that legislation could effect much for society and its welfare, quoting, as an instance, .the depend- ence alike of agriculture which feeds the people and of architecture which houses them upon the Character of the legal tenure of real property. It was a good, though not origi- nal speech, full of matter, though full, also, of the usual social reformer's defect,—an over-trust in the value of machinery. He told a characteristic story. In 1872, when in Boston, at the Office of Education, " I asked the secretary if he could tell me how many children were on that day absent from school. After referring to his books, he told me. In all that wide and populous city, with its varied occupations, its ship- ping, and its trade, there had been on the previous day, after allowing for absences from illness or other unavoidable causes, away from school without excuse, just two children I" What is the value of that perfection of mechanism, if the education is not good ?