Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/316

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the duty of the state toward those who are born and its duty in respect to those who may hereafter be born. There is at this moment upon the earth enough, and more than is needed, to support the men who are now living; but the time may come when there will not be enough to support all those who may have been called to life, and it is only at that time that the Malthusian law of population will become incontestable. The moralist should, then, place himself in succession at both these points of view—points between which neither the Malthusians nor the Darwinians have sufficiently distinguished.

To get a better comprehension of the question, let us begin by examining the simplest cases, after which we will consider the more complex reality. To revive an ancient and classical example, from which we may draw new consequences, let us suppose a man settled by himself on an island, on which there is not only all that he needs, but a superfluity, and that a shipwrecked man is afterward cast upon the island. Undoubtedly the first occupant is not obliged to give up that which is indispensable for his own life, but he owes the new-comer a part of his superfluity. If the island affords sufficient to support two men, the first one has no right to monopolize the whole of it. He ought, then, to surrender to the companion, whom chance has sent him, a part of the soil. By doing this he will perform not only one of the acts of benevolence discredited by the Malthusians and Darwinians, but the act will be one of strict justice. Now, let other men come upon the island; let the soil be wholly occupied, appropriated, covered with houses, and inclosed in fences; and then suppose a new shipwrecked man lands upon it. The island either can or can not support and maintain another man. In the first case, the inhabitants, unless they desire to regard the new-comer as in a state of natural war as to them and their property, must allot him a portion of ground; or, if the ground is already entirely appropriated and divided out among the inhabitants, they owe him such employment as will furnish him the means of subsistence. The obligation is incumbent not upon a particular individual among the inhabitants of the island, but upon all the individuals collectively, and it is the duty of each one to contribute according to his resources to the common obligation. Assistance is thus a guarantee and defense of property, a treaty of peace succeeding the state of war. It ceases to be an act of justice, and begins to be an act of pure charity only when the portion of the new-comers can no longer be afforded them except by depriving the first occupants of something they need. In this case it becomes necessary, in effect, to sacrifice one man to save another.

Suppose now that, instead of being brought to the island by the casualty of a storm, the new-comers have been introduced upon it by the voluntary action of particular persons; the right of these newcomers to assistance will subsist for the present, but it is clear that the mass of the inhabitants will have a right to watch over such intro-