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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/831

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ing hatred felt by the Everlasting Growl school for the doctrine that conduct should be directed to the increase of happiness. One day, his healthy young appetite made him enjoy very heartily the brose or porridge of the family breakfast. Unluckily, he was tempted to say aloud how good he found his food. His father at once ordered a pint of cold water to be thrown in, to spoil the taste of it! Possibly he meant to inculcate what he regarded as a high moral habit; but rather more probably Mr. Walter Scott, Sen., objected to his son's enjoying what he had no taste for himself. Much of the sourness of the Growl Philosophy may be thus interpreted.


We teach our children, the preacher tells his flock, but few follow the precept—Care more for others than for self. It sounds a harsh doctrine to say, instead—Each must care for himself before others. Yet it is not only true teaching, it is a self-evident truth. It would not be even worth saying, so obviously true is it, were it not that in putting aside the doctrine because of its seeming harshness men overlook, or try to overlook, the important consequences which follow from it.

If a man's whole soul—nay, let me speak for a moment in my proper person—if my whole soul were filled with the thought that my one chief business in life is to make those around me, as far as I can make my influence felt, as happy as possible, to increase in every possible way the stock of human (nay, also of animal) happiness, I must still begin by taking care of myself. For if, through want of care, I myself should cease to exist, I can no longer, in any way, serve others; nay, it is even conceivable that my immature disappearance from the scene of my proposed exertions for others' benefit might cause some diminution of the totality of happiness.

If the very thought of care for self should suggest that there can be no real love or care for others where self-care comes first (self-evident though the proposition be that care of self must come first), let us replace the case rejected as imaginary by a concrete and familiar illustration.

None can question the unselfishness of the love which a mother feels for her infant babe. None can doubt that, if question arose between the babe's life and hers, her own life would be willingly sacrificed. Of course there are exceptions, perhaps many, but no one can doubt, and multitudes of cases have proved, that the rule holds generally. Now, the nursing mother not only has, in her very love for her babe, to take care of herself, but to care for herself first, and to take more care of herself than, but for her pure, unselfish love for her child, she would have troubled herself to take.

Let this case suffice to show that care of self before others (not, therefore, necessarily more than others), besides being a self-evident