Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/315

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cer, De Candolle, Ribot, Galton, and Jacoby, include the study of the effects of natural selection and physiological or moral heredity in human society. Philanthropy ought not to content itself with reasons of sentiment; it should become scientific. Few questions are better adapted than that of public relief to demonstrate the necessity of this progress and the extreme complexity of social problems, in which the most various rights are involved and the laws of natural history add their force to those of political economy. What, in the Darwinian point of view, becomes of the public duty of relief? First, what is its moral foundation, misconceived by certain partisans of Malthus and Darwin, and what are its necessary limits? Secondly, are there not biological laws that intervene in a question at first sight entirely moral; and can the legislator neglect the social consequences of these natural laws? In short, has philanthropy regulated by science a salutary or an injurious influence on the movement of population, and does it produce in the race a useful or a harmful selection, progress or decay? These are the principal problems deserving a long study, to which we will at least call the attention of readers. If we only show clearly their difficulties, and vaguely forecast the solutions of them, we shall not have wasted time or trouble.

The partisans of Darwin generally adopt in social science the law of Malthus, from which Darwin himself has drawn most important consequences in natural history. Now, Malthus has conceived that by this law he could condemn absolutely that philanthropy which is practiced under the form of public benevolence. He not only denies all duty of relief on the part of the state, but also declares private charity dangerous and irreligious. Leave to Nature, he says, severely, the office of punishing the improvidence of the father who calls to life more children than he can support; Nature will not fail to perform her task, and it is a providential one. Since Nature is charged with governing and punishing, it would be a very foolish and misplaced ambition to pretend to put ourselves in her place, and take upon ourselves all the odium of execution. Then give up that guilty man to the penalty imposed by Nature. The aid and assistance of parishes should be closed against him, and, if private charity extends any help to him, the interest of humanity imperiously requires that that help shall not be too abundant. He must be made to learn that the laws of Nature, that is, the laws of God, have condemned him to a life of pain for having violated them, and that he has no kind of a right as against society to obtain from it the slightest portion of support. Can this summary condemnation of public charity, pronounced by the Malthusians and the radical Darwinians, be accepted from the point of view of morals and right, and must we inevitably maintain it from the point of view of natural history, or even of the laws laid down by Darwin?

Regarding the question of right, it seems to us that a capital distinction should be made between the present and the future, between