Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/860

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working and successful man is kept low by weak and very often idle relatives." The system, to quote Mr. Barnett again, "checks enterprise and tends to make a dead level of poverty in which there are no richer people to act as barriers against the flood of famine or bad times." One is sometimes touched, he confesses, by the way in which the strong hold on to the weak, but it is impossible not to notice that idlers abound. Nowhere is there so little individuality, nowhere such feebleness in prospect or in presence of calamity.

While family feeling is strong in India, the general feeling of humanity is weak. The reason, our author says, is "partly because the people think too much of their gods. . . . The chief duty of man seems to be to please his god; and when, by a gift, he has delivered himself of this duty, he thinks no more of his brother at the gate." Among such people the task of a government seeking to effect reforms becomes extremely difficult. "All measures," Mr. Barnett well observes, "must be ineffectual so long as the people themselves are deficient in life-preserving qualities, such as confidence, enterprise, and self-control." Here we have the gist of the whole matter. There are certain qualities, moral, intellectual, physical, which are life-preserving. They may be said to qualify for life; and when they are absent, nothing but a constant strain upon better qualified individuals will enable the defective ones to survive. By "confidence," Mr. Barnett means in this place confidence in others, and he illustrates his remark by stating that, for want of confidence, any savings the poor can make in India "are not invested or even intrusted to a bank; they are turned into jewelry to burden the women's fingers, toes, noses, and ears, and at last sold to provide a marriage feast." He cites the fact that there are in India four hundred-thousand jewelers and only three hundred-thousand smiths. As a life-preserving quality, however, confidence in self is at least as important as confidence in others; and confidence in self, or, in other words, self-reliance, is just the quality at which so much of the charity of our day strikes. Charity is flowing in an ever-broadening stream; but it does not qualify for life those whom it enables to live; on the contrary, it saps what little energy they have, and so hands on a magnified problem to be dealt with by the charity of the future. The inhabitants of India are said to be the most docile people in the world, but on that very account they are more difficult to govern, because their weakness makes them look to the Government for everything. As Mr. Barnett forcibly remarks, "It is perhaps more difficult to keep a weak man on his feet than to prevent a strong man from rising." If you have the strong man down you have gravitation in your favor; but in trying to keep the weak man up you have gravitation against you, and gravitation is apt to win in the long run. The Government of India, Mr. Barnett testifies, is doing a great deal of useful work in the promotion of industries, the improvement of the soil by irrigation, and the enforcement, as far as possible with such a population, of sanitary measures. But all this costs money, and as one thing leads to another, one abuse corrected revealing a dozen others that need correction, the expense of government and the burdens which the people have to bear in the way of taxation are constantly increasing. "Government," as Mr. Barnett puts it, "does much to relieve the people, but the conclusion of the whole matter leaves one doubtful if it would not be more helpful if it did less for them and took less from them." And he pithily adds, "A system undoubtedly good may be so costly as to be bad." Surely there is much in all this that we may reflect on with advantage here. The advantage of such a comparative study as Mr. Barnett is making is that it shows various evils in their fuller development, and puts com-