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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/716

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honest, unjust, disgusting, and of ill report. The contrast is indeed flagrant, and possibly the apostle, if he could be revived and given a week's reading of some very widely circulated daily papers, might be disposed to wonder that a community which openly and systematically violated an ethical precept so authoritative in its very simplicity as that which he had laid down, should still be very jealous for the name and character of Christian. Then, if he were regaled with a course of pink-tinted police literature, and had spread out before him the numerous illustrated purveyors of vileness that may be seen on most news-stands, he would be too profoundly discouraged, we fear, even to think of inditing a stinging epistle to the Church in these lands.

We do not need, however, to resurrect an apostle in order to arrive at a moral judgment on this matter. By every rule, both of psychology and of common sense, a certain kind of journalism is morbific in its tendency. It brings and is known to bring a plague in its train, perverting the thoughts of youth, and relaxing moral sanctions that are none too strong even in old age. The question then is. How long will it be before the better portion of the community rises in revolt against so great and unnecessary an evil? The ever-ready resort of some, when a reform is to be accomplished, is to legislation: that idea we wholly repudiate; legislation can not touch this particular evil. What is required is that intelligent and well-disposed people should discriminate between papers that treat acts of crime or moral disorder with brevity and reserve and those that seek to make capital out of them, bestowing as far as possible their support on the former and withholding it from the latter. This is a very simple remedy, but it would be wonderfully efficacious if tried on a large scale. But no one need wait for others in this matter. It is a thing which concerns the home, and no one should wait to see whether others are going to protect their homes before taking steps to protect his.

One other word before we leave this subject. When we get down to the root of the matter we find that all this morbid interest in what is evil and trivial arises from a lack of individuality. "You have no soul—that makes you weigh so light," says an old dramatist. It is those who have no deep personal interests of their own, no cultivated tastes, no definite opinions, nothing special to fix and characterize them as individuals, who are insatiable for gossip, and whose love for gossip naturally passes into a love for scandal and whatever else is morally miserable. Multiply individuals in the true sense, and scandal mongering will just proportionately decline, while the scum-gathering which now forms so large a part of what is called "journalistic enterprise" will become a neglected and dishonored art. How large a part the teaching of science might play in the development of individuality we can not now attempt to indicate: we can merely say that here we see a field of infinite promise which has yielded but little as yet, simply because workers of the right stamp have been few.




The novelists will not leave "the young moon" or "the crescent moon" alone, and three times out of four they contrive to get it into the wrong place. How to explain the conviction which haunts the minds of so many of them, that the crescent moon may be seen almost any fine evening rising gracefully in the east, is altogether beyond us. The point seems to be one for psychologists. Hero is a thing that never was seen since the world began; and yet a number of otherwise sane gentlemen are firmly persuaded that it is a regularly recurring natural phenomenon. Surely the philosophy of this hallucination deserves investigation. The last