Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/539

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SCIENTIFIC PHILANTHROPY.

timnents, labor, the first and essential instruments of labor, to raise what is down, to bring up to the common light what is in darkness, to restore to life and health what on account of want was threatened with sickness or death, is to do real reparative justice, and at the same time to re-establish some equality among men in the great competition of life; it is by this very fact to suppress factitious inequalities in order to give free play to natural superiorities, in essence beneficent and no longer malign. It is, we see, the theory of natural selection itself coming to the support of the philanthropic sentiments against which it had furnished objections.

May not this preservation of the weak, which the partisans of Darwin condemn, while it may sometimes become dangerous to the physical health of the race, also save from death useful or even superior minds who, without the cares given by the family or the aid rendered by strangers, might not have been able to live and develop themselves? Do we have to lament that a Pascal and a Spinoza were rescued from the death with which their feeble constitutions threatened them from their youth? How many poor children have there been who, by means of the aid they have received, have afterward become great men of science or great artists! Here, then, is a second advantage of philanthropy. After correcting injurious inequalities, it favors useful superiorities. Furthermore, the preservation of organisms which want would otherwise have destroyed, induces, by virtue of the competition of life, an increasing elevation of intelligence which becomes continually more necessary: all those who can not count on the vigor of their limbs are obliged in the struggle for existence to appeal to their mental faculties. Other men have had to employ considerable intelligence to save them from death, and they are themselves obliged to employ it in their turn to preserve themselves, to support themselves, to secure for themselves a place in the light of the sun. Hence arises a progressive elevation of the intellectual level in the whole mass of the nation. This movement is, in many points, nothing but that of civilization itself, to which philanthropy is correlative.

We meet here a new objection: it is represented that talent, and still more genius, are advantages of individuals which are paid for at the expense of the race. We hear it repeated, with Plato, that a soul which is mistress of itself will knock in vain at the doors of poetry; with Aristotle, that there is no great genius without a mixture of folly; and with Seneca, that nothing great or superior to what is vulgar can be manifested without some trouble of mind; more than this, the objectors would extend to the race of the great man the trouble and the morbid germ which, working itself out in some form or another, will make the children pay dearly for the fame of their fathers. "Every man of genius or talent," says M. Renan, "is a capital accumulated from several generations." "This capital, accumulated