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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/135

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

ing to the removal, by force of charity, of this or that form of social misery. Every now and then some agent of this charitable work makes a confession as to its very general inutility; indeed, parodoxical as it may seem, none know so well how little charity in any form can do for the poor as those who are foremost in charitable efforts, or most immediately concerned with the actual distribution of help. It is undeniable that, just in proportion as the liberality of the charitably disposed increases, the demands upon it increase, and that, conversely, with the cessation of alms-giving, the need for it seems to vanish. There are facts to illustrate both points. We have seen it stated lately in the Boston papers that the abounding charities of that city have drawn to it people who consider themselves objects of charity from all the surrounding country; and, if so, we can judge what the effect has been in the city itself in promoting mendicancy. Only last Christmas one of the Boston papers was calling attention, with evident satisfaction, to the vast increase within a few years in the number of Christmas turkeys distributed gratis to the poor; as if such an evidence of the progressive pauperization of the community was not more to be deplored than the increasing liberality of a few to be rejoiced over. On the other hand, Mr. Smiley, in the address to which we have referred, states that the discontinuance of out-door relief in Brooklyn, Cleveland, and Cincinnati has been followed by an almost complete disappearance of any visible necessity for the administration of such relief.

The morality of the future, we may therefore safely say, will be based less upon self-sacrifice than upon individual culture and self-restraint, and will exhibit more and more the beneficent workings of what Mr. Spencer calls the law of equal liberty. This, indeed, is the only moral régime befitting the industrial and democratic stage of society.

In ages of great social inequality, when the great tyrannize and the weak cringe in submission, there is urgent need for the intervention of generous spirits to do and to dare what the victims of oppression can neither do nor dare for themselves; but with the removal of all unjust privileges the need for such action largely disappears. If unduly prolonged its effect is to make the weak weaker, the helpless more helpless. The time, we hold, has come now when, broadly speaking, the best thing any man can do is to hold himself erect, to practice a high-minded justice in his relations with his fellow-men, and to eschew all modes of action calculated to encourage others to expect that they may reap where they have not sown. Speaking broadly again, our present modes of charity tend to no good. A truer charity by far would be to vigorously protect society from the vicious and criminal class; and, in regard to the limited class of non-vicious paupers, to let them understand that what they earn they shall eat and no more. This is the course we shall follow if we want a perfected society. If, on the other hand, we are prepared to make all sacrifices, alike of principle and of expediency, for the sake of emotional gratification, we shall proceed in the practice of an ever extending sentimental charity; and the poor and degraded we shall ever have with us, and yet more abundantly.

 

 

THE VALUE OF THE NEXT-TO-NOTHING."

Sir Frederick Bramwell, President of the British Association, chose as the subject of his inaugural address the singular reading, "The Value of the Next-to-Nothing; and the Civil Engineer, and the Value to Science of his Works." His purpose was to show how the civil engineer, applying results already worked out by science, enlarging resources and facilities and increasing economy, had aided and stimulated science to new researches to be utilized