THE MADISON SQUARE CATASTROPHE.
The fearful explosion in Madison square, Manhattan, on Election night, though not accompanied with any destruction of property by fire, serves to illustrate that criminal carelessness which rules in this city, with respect to the handling and storage of explosives. It is by no means a solitary instance of the loss of life both here and elsewhere from a similar cause, and serves to accentuate the contention of the public press and others in this country, that too little regard for human life is shown by the authorities when the sale of fireworks or their display is concerned. Every Fourth of July is fraught with danger to life and property, owing to this cause, and on every occasion of public rejoicing, or the triumph of some political party, or, as in this case, the private glorification of some individual who has achieved greatness for himself, the public runs the risk of seein some of the community sacrificed in honor of the event, or some valuable piece of property destroyed by flames started by a misdirected skyrocket or a hall of fire from some badly aimed Roman candle. In every case, whether in this city or at some place of amusement outside, it may safely be said that neither the officials of the bureau of combustibles, nor the police, much less those of the district attorney’s or the mayor’s office, ever think of taking the least trouble to ascertain as to what class of pyrotechnics the display will belong, what precautions have been taken to protect adjacent property, or what course has been observed to prevent the premature discharge of all, or any of the fireworks. In the instance before us the grossest carelessness seems to have prevailed. From the confession of one of the men a preventable accident took place, apparently owing to one of the hombs (bombs in which nitro-glycerine or dynamite largely formed a constituent) tipping over and exploding amongst those in the row beneath. These in turn set fire to enough of explosive matter to devastate a small town, lying uncovered and unprotected in the very midst of a crowd made up of many thousands of people and surrounded by costly buildings, every one of which was used for residential, business, or religious purposes. It may well he asked what the authorities were about not to have intervened, at least to the extent of forbidding such deadly bombs to he exploded, and of seeing that the explosives themselves were safely stored away in securely closed, fireproof cases, from which they should not he taken out till the moment they were needed: that, when needed, they should he so placed as not to prove a source of danger and death to the bystanders; and that there should he enough of police or other guards on the spot to keen the people at a safe distance from the fireworks as they are being set off. Nothing of the sort was done in Madison square on Tuesday night, the result being a slaughter equal to a fierce and bloody battle, the guilt of which and its responsibility lie at the door of the city authorities.