Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/131

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

such a relaxation of the moral fiber of individuals as would lead them to forego their just claims, in presence of violent demands unsupported by reason, there would be great cause to fear that the society as a whole would also abnegate its just authority and thus leave the way open for lawless, ambitious, and anarchic forces. If not the greatest, the surest service, therefore, which any individual can render to the community in which he lives is to stand on his rights, not in his own interest or for his own sake merely, but in the interest and for the sake of all his fellow-citizens; for in this way others will be encouraged to stand on their rights, unjust pretensions will be discouraged, and the whole fabric of society strengthened. We say this is the surest service an individual can render; because there is no doubt whatever as to the beneficial results of such a line of conduct, whereas all purely altruistic measures are of more or less uncertain tendency. This is shown by the frequent failure of benefactions to accomplish the purposes for which they were intended, or, we may even say, their frequent perversion to purposes entirely opposed to the objects in view. It requires a vast amount of wisdom to be generous without doing more harm than good; but, in practicing and insisting on justice, no risk whatever of doing harm is incurred.

If there is any one thing in the way of positive effort which the doctrine of evolution seems clearly to prescribe as advantageous, it is the exposition of the doctrine itself to all who are capable of understanding it, so that there may be a general comprehension of the true goal of society and of the conditions necessary for unimpeded social progress. How few persons, comparatively speaking, understand that justice is the one vital principle, the one essential condition of social welfare! How few persons are prepared to make allowances for the necessary imperfections of human society, or to see in what is commonly regarded as evil a preparation for higher good! How few have the balance of mind that enables them to place a true value on the nostrums of would-be reformers, who undertake to make you a new society if you will only allow them to pass a law or two! How few have a true and reasoned faith in the possibilities of social progress! In regard to all these matters there would be a great increase of public intelligence if the doctrine of evolution, with all that it implies, were as earnestly and industriously taught as certain other views of life, which appeal more to emotion than to reason. The doctrine of evolution stands to-day for the scientific view of life, and, the more that view can be brought home to the masses, the surer will be the foundations of the state, and the more rapidly and happily will the stages that yet separate us from a condition of perfect social health be accomplished.




The great Fair at Chicago marks the utmost achievement of the kind that the world has beheld, and probably the last effort which America will see on the plan of universal inclusion. Science and art in these latter days have become so broad in development, so minute in specialization, that from sheer unwieldiness it would be scarcely possible to repeat the programme of Chicago, expanded as it inevitably would be in the flight of time. In Great Britain the universal exhibition has been differenced into a series of expositions of fisheries, inventions, "healtheries," and so on, a sensible plan which America is likely to copy. In displays so vast as those of Jackson Park the ordinary visitor can bestow no more than a passing glance on rows upon rows of cases, often filled with objects of beauty and high interest. Those who have been instructed by the Fair are those who went to study a particular feature of it, or the