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MORALS OF LUXURY.

ence of public instruction. Should the glaciers once more descend from the north and sweep before them all that makes us a great people, leaving no vestige of civilization behind, would America be known to future generations and handed down in history as the land of the most expensive school system on the globe, or would it be known as the birthplace of our Franklins, our Greeleys, our Lincolns, whose school-days might be counted on the fingers?

I would not, however, be misunderstood. I do not wish to see the whole system of state instruction destroyed at one fell swoop. Revolutions, in educational as well as in political and religious systems, should be gradual, lest the destruction of an institution so interwoven with the various interests of men should prove too great a shock for the ever-frail structure of society. Even at best we shall be compelled to educate a portion of the community at public expense, so must we also feed and clothe them. This, however, is no reason why all the children of the land should be reduced to the same mental diet.

I believe that the only way in which we. can hope to carry forward our civilization, or even keep it from retrograding, is jealously to guard the integrity of the individual, and to make the temple of the mind so sacred that neither law nor custom shall be able to enter and enslave. It is therefore high time to cry a halt in this rapid encroachment of the state upon the domain of the individual. It now becomes the imperative duty of every friend of America to strive to limit the state to its true function, and thus avert, if possible, those evils which have buried historic nations beneath their classic ruins. For the conclusion, however unpalatable it may be, is forced upon us, that the perfection of our system of state education implies the destruction of individuality, and that the destruction of individuality means social, political, intellectual stagnation, the last symptom of that fatal disease to which China long ago fell a victim, which is even now gnawing at the vitals of France and Germany, and of whose insidious approach America may well beware.

 

MORALS OF LUXURY.[1]
By ÉMILE DE LAVELEYE.

THE real question to be considered in discussing the ethics of luxury is, Is it useful? This question has a bearing on living issues, for it touches the foundation of the contentions which threaten civilized societies. It is well considered in the "History of Luxury"[2] of M. Baudrillart, who has brought to his work the result of twenty years of

  1. Translated and adapted from the "Revue des Deux Mondes" by W. H. Larrabee.
  2. "Histoire du Luxe, privé et public." Par M. H. Baudrillart, de l'Institut. 4 vol Paris, 1878, 1880.