Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/33

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ON JUSTICE.

ively well or ill sustained according to their well-adapted activities or ill-adapted activities, it is displayed in the relations of parts of each organism to one another.

Every muscle, every viscus, every gland, receives blood in proportion to function. If it does little it is ill-fed and dwindles; if it does much it is well-fed and grows. By this balancing of expenditure in action and payment in nutriment, there is, at the same time, a balancing of the relative powers of the parts of the organism; so that the organism as a whole is fitted to its existence by having the proportions of its parts continuously adjusted to the requirements. And clearly this principle of self-adjustment within each individual is parallel to that principle of self-adjustment by which the species as a whole keeps itself fitted to its environment. For by the better nutrition and greater power of propagation which come to members of the species that have faculties and consequent activities best adapted to the needs, joined with the lower sustentation of self and offspring which accompany less adapted faculties and activities, there is caused such special growth of the species as most conduces to its survival in face of surrounding conditions.

This, then, is the law of sub-human justice, that each individual shall receive the benefits and the evils of its own nature and its consequent conduct.

 

But sub-human justice is extremely imperfect, alike in general and in detail.

In general, it is imperfect in the sense that there exist multitudinous species the sustentation of which depends on the wholesale destruction of other species; and this wholesale destruction implies that the species serving as prey have the relations between conduct and consequence so habitually broken that in but very few individuals are they long maintained. It is true that in such cases the premature loss of life suffered from enemies by nearly all members of the species, must be considered as resulting from their natures—their inability to contend with the destructive agencies they are exposed to. But we may fitly recognize the truth that this violent ending of the immense majority of its lives, implies that the species is one in which justice, as above conceived, is displayed in but small measure.

Sub-human justice is extremely imperfect in detail, in the sense that the relation between conduct and consequence is in such an immense proportion of cases broken by accidents—accidents of kinds which fall indiscriminately upon inferior and superior individuals. There are the multitudinous deaths caused by inclemencies of weather, which, in the great majority of cases, the best members of the species are liable to like the worst. There are