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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/453

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the vision through the agency of which things previously grouped by certain external resemblances or by certain extrinsic circumstances come to be more truly grouped in conformity with their intrinsic structures or natures. Undeveloped intellectual vision is just as indiscriminating and erroneous in its classings as undeveloped physical vision. Instance the early arrangement of plants under the heads trees, shrubs, and herbs: size, the most conspicuous trait, being the ground of distinction, and the assemblages formed being such as united many plants extremely unlike in their natures, and separated others that are near akin. Or still better, take the popular classification which puts together under the same general name fish and shell-fish, and under the sub-name, shell-fish, puts together crustaceans and mollusks; nay, which goes further, and regards as fish the cetacean mammals. Partly because of the likeness in their modes of life as inhabiting the water, and partly because of some general resemblance in their tastes, creatures that are in their essential natures far more widely separated than a fish is from a bird, are grouped under the same class and under the same sub-class.

Now, the general truth thus exemplified holds throughout those higher ranges of intellectual vision concerned with things not presentable to the senses, and, among others, such things as political institutions and political measures. For among these, too, we shall find that the results of inadequate intellectual faculty, or inadequate culture of it, or both, are erroneous classings and consequent erroneous conclusions. Indeed, the liability to error is here much greater, since the things with which the intellect is concerned do not admit of examination in the same easy way. You can not touch or see a political institution: it can be known only by an effort of constructive imagination. Neither can you apprehend by physical perception a political measure: this still more requires a process of mental representation by which its elements are put together in thought, and the essential nature of the combination conceived. Here, therefore, still more than in the cases above named, defective intellectual vision is shown in grouping by external characters or extrinsic circumstances. How institutions are wrongly classed from this cause, we see in the common notion that the Roman Republic was a popular form of government. Look into the early ideas of the French revolutionists who aimed at an ideal state of freedom, and you find that the institutions and doings of the Romans were their models; and even now an historian might be named who instances the corruptions of the Roman Republic as showing us what popular government leads to. Yet the resemblance between the institutions of the Romans and free institutions properly so called was less than that between a shark and a porpoise—a resemblance of general external form accompanying widely different internal structures. For the Roman Government was that of a small oligarchy within a larger oligarchy, the members of each being unchecked autocrats. A