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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/35

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THE WONDERFUL CENTURY.

greater than our own inheritance from all the centuries that have gone before.

Some may regret that, while only one third of Wallace's book is devoted to the successes of the wonderful century, the author finds the remaining two thirds none too much for the enumeration of some of its most notable failures; but it is natural for one who has borne his own distinguished part in all this marvelous progress to ask where the century has fallen short of the enthusiastic hopes of its leaders, what that it might have done it has failed to do, and what lies ready at the hand of the workers who will begin the new century with this rich inheritance of new thoughts, new methods, and new resources.

The more we realize the vast possibilities of human welfare which science has given us the more, he says, must we recognize our total failure to make any adequate use of them.

Along with this continuous progress in science, in the arts, and in wealth-production, which has dazzled our imaginations to such an extent that we can hardly admit the possibility of any serious evils having accompanied or been caused by it, there has, he says, been many serious failures—intellectual, social, and moral. Some of our great thinkers, he says, have been so impressed by the terrible nature of these failures that they have doubted whether the final result of the work of the century has any balance of good over evil, of happiness over misery, for mankind at large.

Wallace is no pessimist, but one who believes that the first step in retrieving our failures is to perceive clearly where we have failed, for he says there can be no doubt of the magnitude of the evils that have grown up or persisted in the midst of all our triumphs over natural forces and our unprecedented growth in wealth and luxury, and he holds it not the least important part of his work to call attention to some of these failures.

With ample knowledge of the sources of health, we allow and even compel the bulk of our population to live and work under conditions which greatly shorten life. In our mad race for wealth we have made gold more sacred than human life; we have made life so hard for many that suicide and insanity and crime are alike increasing. The struggle for wealth has been accompanied by a reckless destruction of the stored-up products of Nature, which is even more deplorable because irretrievable, Not only have forest growths of many hundred years been cleared away, often with disastrous consequences, but the whole of the mineral treasures of the earth's surface, the slow productions of long-past eras of time and geological change, have been and are still being exhausted with reckless disregard of our duties to posterity and solely in the in-