tendom the attempt to cure any serious disease on that plan would be followed by a prompt indictment for quackery.
The possibility of diabolical apparitions is implied in a countless number of passages which our traditional creed requires us to accept as infallible truth. Devils by scores and legions range the land of faith, tempting the virtuous, afflicting men and animals with strange diseases, or even taking permanent possession of a human body still tenanted by a conscious soul. The report of a five minutes' interview with the smallest of those imps would now expose the narrator to the risk of a lunacy inquest.
The worthlessness of earthly life is inculcated with a distinctness which seems intended as an encouragement to the indirect suicide of monastic asceticism; yet the same moralists who bewail this earth as a vale of tears take the liveliest interest in the prolongation of human life, and court popularity by indorsing every measure tending to promote the progress of sanitary reform.
The inevitable result of such inconsistencies is a moral confusion resembling the bewilderment of the guests invited to the banquet of Rueckert's Hakim Baba, who urged his visitors to indulge in wine, but thrashed them fearfully if they showed any signs of intoxication.
From the chaos of conflicting theoretical and practical lessons our children, by the aid of experience, somehow manage to evolve a moral compromise code of their own; but what a waste of time could be saved, how many hours of doubt, perplexity, and repentance could be obviated by a system of ethics inculcating precepts in harmony with the laws of nature and the facts of actual life!
Yet the injury caused by the theoretical survival of obsolete dogmas is far surpassed by the baneful results of the attempt to reestablish their authority by the aid of legal enforcements. Moral confusion in that case takes the more serious form of a moral revolt which strikes at the very root of social order by making injustice a synonym of law and order. The statesmen who constantly warn us against the danger of attempting social reforms by an appeal to "paternal legislation" have as yet failed to explain by what right they continue to employ that method for the perpetuation of social abuses. They decline to meddle with the affairs of their brother, for fear of sheltering him against "the natural penalties of his shiftlessness"; but they risk that interference by enforcing laws to deprive him of the natural rewards of his labor, especially if their own position enables them to evade the inconveniences of such laws. In other words, they denounce meddlesome help but connive at meddlesome injury. Their tender conscience shrinks from the injustice of confessing an arbitrary, unearned blessing, but consents to the injustice of inflicting an arbitrary, undeserved curse.