Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/510

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
488
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"SCIENTIFIC CHARITY."
By A. G. WARNER, Ph.D.

IN 1844 C. C. Greville made this entry in his journal: "We are now overrun with philanthropy, and God only knows where it will stop, or whither it will lead us!" When he wrote these words he was appalled lest the malign influence of philanthropy should avail to secure additional legislation for the protection of women and children in the mines and factories of England.

During the first half of the present century the English philanthropists and the English economists joined issue squarely upon two great questions, and the victor in one case was vanquished in the other: the economists won in the fight for the reform of the poor-laws, the philanthropists in the fight for factory legislation. Of course, no sharp line of distinction can be drawn between the two classes thus labeled, but in the main it is true that the apostles of self-sacrifice were on one side and the apostles of self-interest on the other. Especially in the struggle for factory legislation were the two classes distinct, and distinctly antagonistic. Cobden doubted the sincerity of Shaftesbury, and Shaftesbury rejected the reasoning of Cobden. Results have indicated that

"Each was partly in the right,
And both were in the wrong."

While political economy was getting itself called the "dismal science," it was actually fighting the battles of the poor as well as the rich; and while philanthropy was being charged with a mischievous meddlesomeness, hurtful to the poor and fatal to the industrial supremacy of England, it was, in truth, cutting the tap-root of the Chartist agitation and re-establishing the foundations of British industry. From these dual experiences of success and failure in the attempted solution of social problems the obvious conclusion has been that neither class of thinkers can be regarded as infallible, while at the same time the conclusions of neither can be considered valueless.

The conclusion is commonplace enough, but the unusual feature of the case is that both parties seem to have accepted it entire. All are pretty well agreed that both sense and sentiment are necessary to guide us properly along the devious paths of politico-economic investigation. He who approaches a social question from the side exclusively of the reason, or exclusively of the emotions, is apt, like the blind man feeling of an elephant, to mistake a part for the whole, and to err accordingly. In consequence of a fuller appreciation of the necessity for the many-sided