Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/152

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was in the north that the abolition sentiment was so strong there in the fifties. It was largely because in the eyes of New England Congregationalism the black man had a soul, as, in the same sense and degree, he could not have to the eyes of the presbyterianism and the episcopalianism that were dominant in the south.

The growth of individualism as a part of the political activities originating at the close of the eighteenth century is so obvious and so familiar as to come well within the common knowledge of every one, but the contribution of science to this movement of thought in the nineteenth century is not so easily apparent. The first significance of the doctrine of evolution, the great contribution of biology to science in the nineteenth century, was doubtless that of a lessening of the dignity of man. The importance given to man in the expansion of protestant theology, in which he was more and more pushed forward to the honor of co-heir with Christ, was at once denied by implication in the thinking of the followers of Darwin, A creature that had risen out of the brute was very doubtfully filled with that divine essence that made him rightfully a ruler of the universe equally with all other men as being in the same degree with them one of the sons of God. Science here, therefore, gave individualism no promise upon which it could establish itself in the essential nature of man. On the other hand, the Darwinian presentation of evolution as a process did furnish such a premise in the process itself. It was through the struggle for existence that man had come to be man. In this struggle it was some quality or qualities of the individual that raised him above the mass and kept the evolutionary process going forward. That understanding of the nature of the forces that shape life for us transformed the conceptions of the last century and put a new emphasis upon social efficiency in the individual as the first element of progress. In the United States all of these influences, the freedom of extreme protestantism in religion, the general doctrine of political and human equality, and the acceptance of the principle of evolution, have been more free than elsewhere to combine in producing an extreme form of individualism. Of these several influences, however, the spirit of an advanced protestantism seems to have been the most distinctive and the most peculiarly active.

It is as an ultimate product of the most liberal and progressive religious thinking of the new world that Emerson is an individualist. It is also, to be sure, as a philosopher working out in his own way a transcendentalism that goes back to Kant, but the philosophy is so deeply interpenetrated with religious feeling and is so largely turned aside to religious uses that we may call it religion. Everywhere, however, it is the religion of the individual soul, a religion that finds its support in an unfaltering faith in the worth of the individual. In "Self-Reliance" he says: