Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/214

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law which of itself finds entry into the breast, and wins for itself unwilling reverence, if not always obedience; before which all desires are dumb, even should they work against it in secret. What origin is worthy of thee, and where shall I seek the roots of thy noble descent, which proudly spurns all kinship with the desires?"

But, if we accept the system of Herbert Spencer, the rigoristic conception of Kant appears superfluous and even injurious. The doctrine of natural development affords a glimpse of the promised land, of a future wherein virtue and happiness will mean the same thing, wherein no antagonism will be conceivable between duty and inclination. No ethics can cheer us to unresting strife by a nobler goal, none can hold out a sublimer prospect. A beautiful faith is that in the upward movement of humanity. It renders easy the battles, the dangers, the countless sacrifices, which lie in the way.

But, notwithstanding the merits of the work under consideration, in certain principal utterances, and in its distinguished contributions to relative ethics, the fundamental principle of absolute ethics, the ethical criterion of action, appears to belong as yet to the number of those problems most needing solution. The last word is not yet spoken; but the results placed in our possession so far, justify the assumption that the evolutionary system of Herbert Spencer will materially assist the thorough reform of ethics, by its critical and positive preparatory work.


NOTHING so forcibly strikes the attentive observer of natural phenomena as the prodigal expenditure of force and matter—the immense over-supply of seed; the enormous waste of sun-force in irrigation; the incalculable power, never to be utilized, represented in tidal action, and in atmospheric, oceanic, and river currents. If we extend our observation to the solar system and the inconceivable spaces intervening between that and the neighboring systems, the imagination fails to grasp the relation between the force that is utilized and that which is wasted. A million carried to the tenth power as a multiple, would fail to represent the waste of natural forces, as compared with the rudest Newcomen pumping-engine of the earliest type. This is familiar science, yet the expansion of the idea may present some points of novelty.

It is obvious that the whole system of planets, representing so many minute points in space, receive only an almost infinitesimally small proportion of the light and heat evolved by the sun. Some physicists are fond of giving the exact figures, but this is presenting