of various vicious arts, "the first presumption in regard to an office holder is, that he is unfit for the place. . . . These of course are not the men to appreciate the scientific elements and aspects of governmental affairs."
As I read all this, I could not help thinking how closely the writer's diagnosis of the conditions of modern political life resembled that given by Auguste Comte in the first chapter of the fourth volume of his "Philosophic Positive." But as Comte analyzes these conditions in greater detail, and treats the whole subject from the point of view of his own systematic philosophy, it occurred to me that something like a paraphrase of his views might not be unwelcome to the readers of the "Monthly," to whom the subject in its general bearings has been so well opened up in the article from which the above quotations are made.
The main motif of the "Positive Philosophy" is the importance, or rather the absolute necessity, if a stable and satisfactory condition of society is ever to be attained, of applying to social and political affairs those scientific principles and methods which have proved their efficacy in the physical domain. The circle of the sciences, he holds, can never be complete until there is a duly constituted science of society. So long as there exists a region, the phenomena of which are not recognized as subject to law, human thought can not assume a really integral character; while, in that outlying region, a more or less hurtful confusion must prevail. Theology has in the past assumed to rule human life, and has done so, according to a synthesis of its own. The feudal and ecclesiastical organization of society in the middle ages was the perfect exemplification of this rule. Now, however, the power of theology has been broken; it has its spokesmen still, who in its name issue mandates to the modern world; but the civilized nations have no mind to return to what would now be a house of bondage—though in its day it may have been, and in Comte's opinion was, a house of shelter. But, meantime, what are the civilized nations doing? What guidance, if any, are they now following? Comte recognizes, looking chiefly at the European nations, three doctrines, or schools, as striving for the mastery in our day—the reactionary, the revolutionary, and the stationary. The first, as its name imports, would fain bring modern society back under the theological régime, placing morality and government on a supernatural basis, and using the lures and terrors of another world as a means (supplemented, of course, by the hangman, in whom reactionists always have a fervent and affectionate belief) of repressing disorders in this. On this continent we have, perhaps, no school which openly avows these aims; and yet there are movements visible from time to time which show that Comte could at least find the rudiments of a reactionary party even in this land of liberty and light. Governor Benjamin F. Butler's recent Fast-day proclamation was a singularly impudent at-