Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/275

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
263
EDITOR'S TABLE.
further exhibition of brotherly love had not survived with the foot-washing into this century, through such regions as Pennsylvania, to which the Dunkers had very early brought the Old World rites. Anciently in the Roman Catholic Church, when foot-washing was regularly performed on Maunday or Holy Thursday, the officiating priest kissed the feet that he had washed. Though in the Catholic countries where foot-washing is still observed, their kissing has perhaps generally ceased, it continued even among English Protestants until the time of Queen Elizabeth. An elaborate account of it in 1572 appears in Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. i, p. 145 et seq. (Bohn's edition), in which the kissing of the feet is twice mentioned. It is also specified in Cavendish's Life of Wolsey as practiced by the cardinal in 1530."

After preparing the above statement, Colonel Mallery received two further accounts of kissing in connection with feet-washing among the Dunkers; one was from Philadelphia by an eye-witness, who thoroughly bears out his own statement and recollection. He has also been told by a gentleman from St. Louis, who called upon him, that on the last Holy Thursday, March 26th, the kissing of feet in connection with the foot-washing ceremony was performed there by the Roman Catholic archbishop, and that there were full accounts of that kissing in the papers of the next day. It is really curious, Colonel Mallery adds—and more is in the matter than he at first thought—that in parts of the United States the ceremony goes on in 1891 as a histrionic presentment of traditions generally abandoned.

 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

LIBERTY AND CIVILIZATION:

IF argument can avail aught in the practical direction of events, the volume lately published under the title of A Plea for Liberty ought to exert a powerful influence upon the politics of our day in so far as they are occupied with questions of social reform. The book is packed with well-digested information and solid reasoning, and no one can fail to derive from its perusal a clearer and wider comprehension of the social problem in its various aspects. The great question which continually presents itself, whatever department of social work we turn to, is, Shall we attempt to hasten improvement by legislation, or shall we trust to the resources of freely acting individuals to modify things in their own interest and to their own advantage? Sometimes, no doubt, legislation, national or municipal, is our only recourse; but the teaching of the book before us is that this recourse has been had in a multitude of cases in which the problem would have been far better solved by individual initiative and action. Another point which is well brought out is that philanthropy in the great majority of cases misses its aim; it wishes to do good, and it does mischief, just reversing the procedure of that ancient prophet who tried to curse, but found himself blessing against his will.

The general issue before the world at the present moment is a very serious one. Mr. Spencer has well expressed it when he entitles his introductory essay From Freedom to Bondage. There is an undoubted danger lest, as he says, those structures in the body politic which make for regulation should gain such a development and such a preponderance as to leave but an insignificant measure of freedom to the social units, and thus, by cramping their activities, fatally impair their energies. We know what a torpor has crept over the Eastern nations through the stereotyping of customs and institutions multiplied beyond all reason. Some one will perhaps say: "Shall we not always remain a free people, with power to change our institutions if they become burdensome? And what does it matter who does social work so long as it is done?" Both questions deserve answer. An institu-