Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/69

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THE DIFFERENCES OF THINGS.

orchestra, from the low thunder of the big Boston organ to the shrillest wail of the Cremona fiddle. Nor do you want the major chords alone, you must have the minor tones, and discords, even. Can you spare the lowest octave from the big organ? If so, you bring the extremes an octave nearer, and so far restrict the range of the instrument, and by repeating the removal of the lowest notes you would at last find it impossible to play even the thinnest of tunes. So with human society. As you bring the extremes together, you take from life that which makes life worth having. The extremes in deep-water oyster society are very near each other, but each member of that society is only an oyster.

But how about the reformers? If things are all right as they are, why try to change them? My dear, short-sighted brother, the reformer can do no harm. He is a benefactor. He is only helping Nature out. He may cut off now and then a low note, but by adding two high ones he widens the range of the instrument. Society as a whole advances, but its extremes are probably farther apart than ever before. Moreover, if we take the world as a whole, we can still better understand the value of the reformer. Compare unreformed Africa, with its cannibalism and slow travel, with America, the land of the Grahamite and the home of the telegraph, and see if the various reformers have not made it a glorious thing to be a Caucasian! Every step in the moral world secured by the reformers makes greater the distance from the top to the bottom of the moral ladder. The day of the Inquisition and witch-burning has gone by; but the history of them still remains. We have only to read the old records, to find out what nice folks we are at the present day. I admit the conceit of some of these troublesome people, who believe they have a mission; but they are a necessary and important variety of the race. It is very plain that this world is the proper stamping-ground of the reformer.

Hence, variety is a necessity of life. The man that lives upon one kind of food only must deteriorate in body; the student who gives all his thought to one idea, will become crotchety; while the devotee to a single phase of religion will in time be a bigot, which is but another name for monomaniac. Sameness is the border-land of insanity. Have you ever been "possessed" by a whimsical idea, or a bit of poetry that would give you no let-up? If so, you can form some notion of the lunatic who was haunted with the idea that he carried in his stomach the twelve Apostles! There is many a man living a life of excessive toil or of idleness, of so fixed a routine that he is partially insane. It should be the aim of every man to so arrange his life as to bring into it a good degree of variety if he would secure physical, mental, and moral health. In this particular, division of labor often works mischief to the individual, however advantageous it may be to the community. Imagine the stupidity that must creep over