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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/865

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LITERARY NOTICES.

however, be "the pale cast of thought" that would "sickly o'er" the good resolutions of reformers, but simply stall-fed obstruction that would crowd them aside. That things will come to such a pass in this country we are not prepared at present to predict. It is by no means certain that the "reform" principle will gain any more victories. There is much impatience at present of the difficulties it interposes in the distribution of patronage. We have, however, with our present ideas of the functions of government, just the two evils to choose between—the Scylla of the spoils system and the Charybdis of bureaucracy. Of course, we may try to combine the two, so as to have some experience of the evils of both; but the probability is, that sooner or later one or other will decisively carry the day.

Now, Mr. Spencer says: The whole trouble arises from your having so many offices to dispose of, and that comes of your having crowded so many functions upon the Government. You have brought on a condition of things dangerous to the peace and stability of the state. Had you left to private initiative and responsibility a very large part of what you now place on the shoulders of the Government, the office-seeking nuisance could never have grown to its present dimensions, nor could bureaucracy ever have been the incubus it now is on the life and energies of many communities. The time has come to unload, to repeal laws rather than to enact new ones. The organic growth of society is checked when you resort to what may, by comparison, be called the mechanical methods of legislation and governmental control. It is under the régime of freedom, not under that of compulsion, that social bonds are knit. If you would have virtue to grow strong, you must let it have its full value as virtue in the world; you must not try to equalize all varieties of character by repressive laws. If, however, you are determined to abandon organic methods, and to operate exclusively by means of the policeman's truncheon, more or less politely concealed, prepare yourselves for great convulsions, for the condition you will induce will not and can not be one of stable equilibrium.

The warning has been uttered. It remains to be seen whether it will be as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, or whether it will prove the signal for anew awakening of political intelligence, and the formation of a new and higher conception of the social state.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The Rise of Intellectual Liberty, from Thales to Copernicus. By Frederick May Holland, author of the "Reign of the Stoics." New York: Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 458. Trice, $3.50.

The author of this book has chosen a magnificent subject, and, although it is formidable in extent and much of it involved in obscurity, and all of it complicated with great questions of history and human progress, he has yet been able to throw much new light upon that liberalization of thought which went very unsteadily forward during twenty-two hundred years, before the great modern movement of the development for intellectual liberty. The work is a delineation of tendencies, a series of sketches of the great minds who at different times and under varied circumstances, and with unequal effect, have struck for independence of thought, a presentation of the counter-forces that have antagonized intellectual liberty, and an account of the working of all those larger agencies which have in different degrees hindered or promoted freedom and independence of thought. Without having subjected the work to critical scrutiny, we are much impressed by the evidence it shows of extensive and conscientious labor, the freshness and interest of its chief subject-matter, the untrammeled treatment of the subject, and the vigor of the portrayal of that long and agonizing conflict with bigotry and intolerance, religious and political, public and private, which is the price of our modern liberty of thinking.