THE true professional spirit is essentially modest, and among the highest type of profession al men the good of the cause ranks higher than the gain of the individual. Pride of place and a laudable ambition to excel go side by side with a .settled dislike of limelight exploitation and any form of newspaper notoriety. The ethical distinction between the trades and professions, which was so strongly accentuated in earlier days, and survives in ,certain parts of the world even to-day, was based originally upon the fact that the professional man was supposed to take up his life work primarily because he. loved both his profession and the people whom it might benefit. The personal gain which it brought was a secondary consideration. In this respect he was distinguished from the man of commerce, who bought and sold first and last for pecuniary gain. This ethical distinction or dividing line between the trades and professions has largely disappeared; and we are sufficiently optimistic to believe that it has been due to a filtration of thc professional spirit into the commercial world. A case it point occurred on the steamship Car-mania when she recently put into Halifax for coal, and took advantage of the opportunity to make some minor repairs to her low-pressure turbine. A small leakage pipe, leading from the turbine to the condenser, had developed signs of weakness, and it became necessary to close certain gates which were inaccessible from the exterior of the engine. Ordinarily the turbines would have been allowed to cool down for repairs of this character, but in order to save from six to eight hours time, which would be necessary for cooling off, the engineers decided to take of the manholes and send one of their number in to close the gates. This was done, and although the internal temperature was about 175 degrees, the task was successfully accomplished. Upon the arrival of the ship in New York the event was seized upon by the daily press reporter, and a repair job which was designated by the engineers themselves a mere matter of routine duty, was magnified into a story of stupendous heroism and magnificent devotion to duty which, although it's may have provided an interesting quarter of an hour for the average citizen over his morning cup of coffee, served only to provoke mingled ebnsternation and ridicule allong the engine room's staff of the ship itself. Although a temperature of 175 degrees” is searcely that in which the average individual would ehoose to take even moderate exercise, it is a fact that in some engine rooms, especially in the tropics, temperatures have been known to run up not so very far from that given. On certain warships, when the hatches are battened down for battle practice, engine-room temperatures have bcen known to run up as high as 165 degrees. A Safety Throttle for Locomotives. P ROMPTED by the too frequent instan ces of thc disablem cnt of locom otive en gineers , either by accident, sickn css or sudden death, a correspondent suggests that all locomotives should be equipped with some form of automatic “safety throttle,” similar in its action to the control levers m the motors of the “cw York and Boston subways, “,hieh automatically cut of the power the instant that the pressure of the drivcr's hand is removed. Some vcar, ago, the editor rode in the cab of one of the then newly-instituted 18-hour trains to Chicago, when he covered some 1,500 miles of the round trip in the joeomotiy( cab. He noticcd that generally, and particularly at night, the engineer would keep one hand upon the throttle, thc other upon thc air brakc lever. An emcrgency stop was made by the instant operation of these two levers. It would, of course, be Jossible by means of some source of power, such as a pncur{tically-controlled piston, to shut off the steam and apply the brakes at the instant that the engineer's hand dropped from the throttle, either through accident or death. The objection to such an arrangement would be that there are times when he must rcmove his hand from the throttle, as for instance when it is necessary to sand the rails or open the cylindcr drain cocks. On the other hand, the safety stop might be so arranged that it could be temporarily locked in position at the will of the engineer. In thcse days of huge boilers and large fire boxes, it bccomes increasingly difficult for the fireman to supplement the watchfulness of the engineer. Locomotive engineers as a body would welcome, we believe, any practicable safeguard of this character, and it would materially add to the safety of railroad travel. A German Criticism of the Panama Canal THERE recently appeared in Prometheus a review of conditions and prospects at the Isthmus of Panama, which ray probably be taken as representing the averagc German view of our stupendous task of cutting a watcrway from the Atlantic to thc Pacifc at that point. It takes but a cursory reading of the article, which will be found in full in the current issue of the Supplement, to convey the impression that the writer is strongly pessimistic, both as to the completion of the canal in 1915, and as to its commercial utility after it has been thrown open for traffic. American reports of rapid progress are eonsidered to be “very optimistic"; “extraordinary obstaclcs have yet to be overcome” ; and “the officials responsible for the canal are beset by worries and fears." Of the five kinds of difficulties: sanitary, financial, technieal, geological, and commercial, enumerated by Prometheus, it is admittcd that the Americans, who havc proved themselves masters of the art of sanitation, have surmounted the hygienic and climatic obstacles which all but prevented the construction of the Panama Railway half a ecntury ago. Seeing that the Gnited States regards it as a matter of national honor. to carry the work through, the financial basis of the enterprise is eonsidered to be secure. It is easy for any one who is familiar with the eanal problem to predict the line of criticism which will be followed by any one who approaches the unusual geological and technical difficulties which the construction of the canal has opcned up. In the present case, the security of the Gatun Dam and the permanence of the slopes of the Culebra Cut arc called in question; but in neither case is any new light shed upon the subject, nor are any possibilities of failure suggested which have not becn made the subject of eareful study and practical experiment by the engineers in eharge of the work. An experimental dam has demonstrated that the materials used in the hydraulically built-up Gatun Dam will be proof against seepage; and there is no evidence that any continuous and out-cropping strata of pervious material is to be found in either of thc two underlying geological gorges, which will form part of the foundation upon which the dam will rest. Compacted by the grcat weight of the overlying dar, 120 feet in height, the underlying material, as revealed by hundreds of borings, is such that there is every reason to believe that the sub-surface, thoroughly compacted by the cnormous weight of the ' overlying dam, will prove to be as water-tight as the dam itsclf. It is true, as Prometheus states, that “this cJ)struction has been much discussed and severel' m'iticised in America"; but it should be noted that this criticism was made before the extensive borings and the carefully carried out tests had'demonstratcd to the satisfaction of our engineers that the structure will be stable and secure against seepa!(; Rcgarding the unquestionably serious slides in the Culebra Cut, to which much attention is given, it is sufcient to say that thesc slides were expected and provided for in the estimate of fnal eost. The unstable character of the Culebra Mountain had been suggested by the expcrience of the French when they commenced the cutting, and further established by the borings made by the American engineers. An estimate of six million dollars was made by Col. Goethals to cover the probable cxtra cost of removing thc slides. The latest advices from the Isthmus are to the cfcct that Oil the 11lore important of the "lides, the movement appears to ha\T ceased, and that present indieations show that the appropriation will be sufficient to covcr any further movements of this character. Certainly it is not true that the “heavy rains and floods sometimes make the most carefu1 and elaborate calculations utterly useless.'· Careful records of climatic conditions for many years past have made it possible for the cnginfers, by basing their calculations upon the maximum rain-, fall ,d maximum flood discharge, to make alllpl(· provision for every possible contingency. Finally and inevitably, thc writer in Prometheus brings to the front the old bugaboo of damage by possible earthquakes, although it is distinctly to his eredit that, unlike some Ameriean critics, he impartially points to the fact that the Panama region is comparativcly free from such violent earthquakes as frequently occur in Central Amcrica. The last earthquake of a violent character took place in 1621, nearly three hundred years ago, and since then the Isthmus of Panama has exptrienced only very slight shocks, the most notable of vhich occurred in 1882. It is our own belief that slight disturbances of this character ,ould have no material cffect either upon the earthen dams or the concrete locks. Furthermore, we believe that because of thcir great mass. not merely thc dams, but the locks themselves, would pass through all earthquake of somc severity without either fracture or displacement. We are free to admit, however, that, when our critic comes to the question of the commercial future of thc canal, he is much morc to the point. He eonsiders it doubtful if the Panama Canal is destincd to become the “important artery of commerce and thc worthy rival of the Suez Canal that it is designed to be,” believing that it makes its appearance too late to render to civilization the service that it might have rendered at an earlier date in tht' history of the commercicl world. Had the canal always existed, thc history of developmcnt might have been very differcnt; the northeastern part of the Pacific Ocean would not have remained almost unknown until the middle of the nineteenth century. and thc route of traffic between Europe and Australia and eastern Asia would have been via Panama, and would have become so establi"hed that it could searcely have bcen diverted by thc construction of the Sucz Canal. But the devel0Plllent of the present trade routes has been bas cd on the absence of a Panama Canal, and thc great question is, how far can the opening of this waterway serve as a diversion? The wrikr believes that the existence of the eleven trans-continental roads in Canada and the United States, and the reecnt ojlening of similar routes across South America, to say nothing of the excellent Tehuantepec Railway, have largely removed the tradc ncccssities which, in former years. called so loudly for the construction of the Panama waterway. Very significant is his comparison of tht' values in millions of dollars of merchandise whieh was shipped from American ports to both Amcrican and foreign ports, via Panama and Tehuantepec, in successivc years from 1907 to 1!no. In 1906-7 the value for Panama was $9,600,000; in 1909-10 this had risen to $12,800,000. The valuc for the Tchuantepee Railway for five and one-third months in 1906-7 (thc year of openinc, was :1 1,1.50,000, and in 1909 to 1910 this had risen for the twelve months to the astonishing total of $69,600,000. How far the forecast of this German review will pI'JVC to be correct, time alone can tell. It is our opinion that the advantages of shipment frolll port to port, without breaking bulk, will prove to be too grcat for succcssful competition either by onr own trans-continental railroads, or thosc of Mexico and Central and South America. The appearance of this ably-written article, however, is another proof of the eareful study which foreign nations are making of the commercial aspects of the canal. It is quite a question whether our own commercial bodies and the federal government are giving this subject the early attcntion which it requires. I f the general commerce of the United States and the interests of its merchant marine are to reap the legitimate fruits of this great national undertaking, we should take early steps to safeguard our interests by suitable legislation. It would be perfectly propCl' t6 pas' a law extending to all COllmerce between United States ports on the Atlantic and Pacifc by way of the canal, thosc benefts which are seeured by our present coast-wise trafc-in other words. Congress should recognize such trafc betweell American ports via the Canal as forming part of our coast-wise trafc by excluding all foreign ships from participation therein. The passage of a law to this cffect would unquestionably prove to lw a most effective means for promoting the upbuilding of the American merchant marine.