Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/722

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social miseries and weaknesses is beyond oar present purpose. So much, indeed, do people in general think of charity as a social remedy, and so little do they think of justice in that light, that it would not be surprising, were a change of policy from charity to justice decided on, if there should be a marked unreadiness and inaptitude for the practice of the new virtue. It might be found, moreover, to involve a great deal more than charity had ever appeared to involve. When a man is bestowing charity he may give little or much; as it is all a free gift, there is virtue, there is merit, there is room for self-commendation, however little he gives; but when he is dealing out justice the case is different: he must go to a certain line or he fails in justice and is open to condemnation. No wonder charity is the favorite virtue; but the more we compare the two the more we see that justice is the better for the soul. It does not flatter self-love, and it is more favorable to respect for our fellows.

Justice, we have said, is the word of science, and herein we see where science may powerfully help to strengthen the social fabric. On the one hand, science tends to produce social ferment by continually introducing new ideas and continually unsettling commercial arrangements in the various ways which Mr. D. A. Wells has so well pointed out. On the other hand, if science can be made to ever inculcate and reinculcate the idea of justice, it will do vastly more by that means to knit, than it possibly can in any other way to loosen, the bonds of society. Let us have science, then, in our schools; but let it not be a mere matter of experimenting with gases and acids, with air-pumps and electric machines, but let it be brought home as Nature's message to the hearts as well as to the minds of the young. Let it teach them justice; let it impress upon them that there is a right, that there is a true, that there are moral balances as well as chemical ones, that there are conditions of moral stability and instability just as of chemical or mechanical or electrical. The teacher who can not extract moral instruction ar.d inspiration out of physical science ought to leave it alone—whether he is fit to teach anything is a question. There are countless useful analogies to be drawn between the laws of matter and those of mind and of society. To mention but one that occurs to us at this moment, the law of the expansion of gases with diminishing pressure is an apt illustration of the expansion of human desires with enlarging scope, or, in other words, as external pressure diminishes. As in tho one case with every added volume tho elasticity becomes less, so too often in human life, the more desires are gratified, the less there is of that elasticity of spirits which made life seem worth living.

The law of natural selection, again, might be made to teach many most useful lessons. It shows in the first place that, as the world is constituted, it is a great privilege to live. Then, if life is to be maintained on a satisfactory footing, it must be by the exercise of prudence, of industry, and whatever other virtues make for individual success. The thought that so many lives are abortive, far from cultivating pride or selfishness, should add a certain tinge of solemnity to all one's thoughts of life. "In me," each of us may think, "that spark which struggled vainly to maintain itself in so many others has become a living flame. How shall I use the powers so mysteriously bestowed and on which in many ways such vast issues depend? Shall I make life, as I ought, a sacred thing, or shall I pass my days in idle frivolity or yet more idle gloom? Seeing that I possess the gift of life, shall I not strive to raise it to its highest value and its best expression?" If life is a struggle, it is a struggle not so much against living competitors—that is a view of which quite too much is made—as against antagonist