Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/725

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

education by various legislative measures. Now the man who is going to be made good by an act of the legislature does not in general like the prospect, and he is very apt to harden his heart against the operation. That is why the more truly moral the law is, the more it is apt to fail of its object. As to capital, the possession of it by an individual is a great responsibility, and one that for the most part is not as fully recognized as it ought to be; but we should much prefer to trust to a growing moralization of public opinion in the matter than rashly to transfer all capital to the state, and rely for its fructification and wise distribution on the disinterested statesmanship of our representative bodies.

 

 

LIVING AND DYING NATIONS.

Close inspection of Lord Salisbury's deliverance before the Primrose League on living and dying nations discloses a want of scientific precision. Describing the living nations, he said: "You have great countries of enormous power, growing in power every year, growing in wealth, growing in dominion, growing in the perfection of their organization. Railways have given them the power to concentrate upon any one point the whole military force of their population, and to assemble armies of a magnitude and power never dreamed of in the generations that have gone by. Science has placed in the hands of those armies weapons ever growing in the efficiency of their destruction, and therefore adding to the power, fearfully to the power, of those who have the opportunity of using them." Referring to the dying nations, he said: "In these states disorganization and decay are advancing almost as fast as concentration and increasing power are advancing in the living nations that stand beside them. Decade after decade they are weaker, poorer, and less provided with leading men or institutions in which they can trust. The society—and official society, the administration—is a mass of corruption, so that there is no firm ground on which any hope of reform or restoration could be based, and in their various degrees they are presenting a terrible picture to the more enlightened portion of the world." The British premier himself did not cite any examples in illustration of this classification. His commentators, however, exercised no such restraint. They were sure that among the dying nations we should place Turkey, China, and Spain, and among the living, that is, the growing—Russia, Germany, France, England, and the United States. But, like the classification of Lord Salisbury, such a list confounds the growth of military power with the growth of industrial and moral power. It attributes to dying nations traits characteristic of living nations, and, vice versa, traits attributed to living nations belong to dying nations.

But before more trustworthy tests can be applied it is needful to ascertain what constitutes growth and what constitutes death. Happily, the law of evolution offers an easy solution of this question. Without being too precise, growth, according to that law, signifies, first, an increase of mass; and, second, such a rearrangement of matter and motion as to effect a more perfect adjustment of means to ends. But the attainment of this object involves a change of the mass from a homogeneous condition to a heterogeneous one and from an indefiniteness and incoherency of parts to definiteness and coherency. Decay, on the other hand, means a loss of mass, and such a rearrange-