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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/560

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

not increase sympathy with mankind at large without strengthening the sense of duty and prompting to deeds which—whether they take the form of promoting happiness or averting misery—will themselves be a source of blessedness to the doers. What is wanted is simply such a development of sympathy as will best subserve the interests of society; and Mr. Mallock's idea that a power of sympathy sufficient to prompt men to lead virtuous lives would also be sufficient to fill them with anguish at the thought of all the past sufferings of mankind, is altogether fanciful and hollow.

An assumption which vitiates much of Mr Mallock's reasoning on this whole subject is that right conduct is, in the human sphere, a kind of rare and frail exotic, requiring the services of a theological gardener and the warm, heavy-laden atmosphere of some ecclesiastical hot-house in order to live at all. But that is a view which we are under no obligation to accept, and which the facts of life are very far from suggesting. Why should the relations of man with man be, in their own nature, everlastingly wrong? Surely there is sunlight enough, and air enough, and earth enough, and water enough, for a good many of us to live together on this earth in peace and concord and mutual helpfulness! Surely men have need of one another, and it is difficult to imagine how they could long work together without the development in their minds of the conception of justice. In point of fact, the idea of justice is in the world and has been in it in one form or another for many ages. The task that is set before us to-day, with our widened experience and deepened reflection, is to realize that idea more and more perfectly in all social relations. Why should we wish to do it? Because we know that justice is good, and because our sympathies, aided by a certain diffused feeling of self-interest, prompt us to strive for the perfecting of society. But, apart from all voluntary or deliberate effort, the idea of justice acts as a powerful leaven in the society into which it enters, and we may hope that by and by it will leaven the whole lump. When Mr. Mallock says that "the problem is to construct a life of superlative happiness," he makes a complete misstatement so far as any problem contemplated by the thinkers he criticises is concerned. Theologians promise a life of superlative happiness in another world, but non-theological reformers are more moderate in their expectations. What the fortunes of the human race may be in the far-distant future they do not undertake to predict. They may sometimes, like the poet, dream their dream of good; but, if so, it is a good such as the conditions of human nature and its environment are capable of supplying. It is hard to understand how Mr. Mallock could bring himself to make such a statement as that just quoted. Admitting that theo-