concurred to make the present epoch one of peculiar commercial and industrial unrest.
What is the lesson, then, we are to draw from Mr. Wells's pages, so far as the social problems of our own time are concerned? We learn from it that there is nothing radically unsound in our social system; and, further, that the total effect of all the changes of the last twenty-five or thirty years has been to improve materially the condition of the working classes. Hours of labor are not as long on the whole as they used to be; wages are higher; and the purchasing power of money is greater. What is the case, however, is that, in the rush of change which has marked recent years, there is a constant selection and reselection of the better men, and that the worse—the less competent, the less efficient in every way—find themselves relegated to poorer conditions of life. There is an upward current and there is a downward current: those who move up do not spend much time or energy in singing the beauties of the present system; but those who are moving down waste no small amount of the little energy they have in bewailing its defects, and, with the help of a few literary gentlemen of lively sympathies and facile speech, manage to create a widespread impression that a world in which they do not get all they would like must be a very badly governed world indeed. The whole social question seems to lie here, that some, through natural deficiencies of one kind or another, can not, in any satisfactory degree, adapt themselves to the world as it is. We should be sorry to profess, or to feel, indifference to the problem even as thus stated; but what are we going to do about it? The true methods of reform are of slow application; and immediate suffering it is impossible altogether to prevent. The path of social reform, we are strongly persuaded, lies mainly along these three lines:
1. Diminution of state interference with private liberty, including state restrictions on trade and state encouragement of trade.
2. Constant inculcation of the doctrine of individual responsibility, and constant effort to mold better individuals.
3. An honest, vigorous, and simple administration of justice.
These three conditions (to which many minor but still important ones might be added) are all intimately connected. For example, how can we preach the doctrine of individual responsibility with any success, if the individual is daily surrounded by a closer and closer network of arbitrary enactments, designed at once to abridge his liberty and to relieve him of the exercise of judgment and caution? And how can we have a really efficient administration of law, till law itself undergoes a pruning, and is brought down to its necessary elements?
To return, however, to Mr. Wells's book. We are glad to see its merits very frankly acknowledged in an article published in the March number of Macmillan's Magazine, the writer declaring that Mr. Wells deals with his subject "in a manner altogether superior to anything which this country (England) can show." We shall only say in conclusion that the book is an eminently useful one to-day and will remain so for many years to come. A careful perusal of its pages would clear infected brains of many sickly fancies.
It is a long time since an earnest thinker proclaimed that wisdom was the principal thing, and that with all a man's gettings he should strive to get understanding; but whether the world to-day—even those who regard the utterance as carrying with it more than human authority—can be said to pay due heed to the maxim is more than doubtful. Instead of wisdom, men exalt opinion,