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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/663

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If the political meddler could be induced to contemplate the essential meaning of his plan, he would be paralyzed by the sense of his own temerity. He proposes to suspend, in some way or degree, that process by which all life has been evolved—to divorce conduct from consequence. While the law of life at large is to be partially broken by him, he would more especially break that form of it which results from the associated state. Traversing by his interference that principle of justice common to all living things, he would traverse more especially the principle of human justice, which requires that each shall enjoy the benefits achieved within the needful limits of action: he would redistribute the benefits. Those results of accumulated experiences in each civilized society which, registered in laws, have, age after age, established men's rights with increasing clearness, he proposes here or there to ignore, and to trespass on the rights. And, whereas in the course of centuries, the ruling powers of societies, while maintaining men's rights against one another more effectually, have also themselves receded from aggressions on those rights, the legislative schemer would invert this course, and decrease that freedom of action which has been increasing. Thus his policy, setting at naught the first principle of life at large and the first principle of social life in particular, ignores also the generalized results of observations and experiments gathered during thousands of years. And all with what warrant? All for certain reasons of apparent policy, every one of which we have found to be untrustworthy.

But why needs there any detailed refutation? What can be a more extreme absurdity than that of proposing to improve social life by breaking the fundamental law of social life?



IF we ask a person who has not thought about the matter to represent with a pencil, from memory, a stream or fall of water, in nine cases out of ten he will return the paper after having timidly ventured upon a few parallel scratches, looking as much as anything else like the ruts in a road or the hairs of a horse's tail. Yet we see liquids every day flowing along the gutter, and from bottles or pitchers; and we have all played near brooks and cascades. The persons who trace the parallel lines we have spoken of suppose they are representing the path traveled by the particles of water—that is, a movement, an immaterial thing which by its very nature defies all graphic representation. It is true that a luminous point in very rapid motion leaves on the retina the impression of a line. We are thus authorized to