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If now the genial editor,-whom I represent to myself as the gifted interrogator at the minstrels, if he feels an inordinate and irresistible desire to explode with laughter, he may indeed do so, but not at my expense.
I protest that I am ready to answer his question as soon as he shall have made me understand what capital is, so that I may proceed to satisfy myself whether any has been lent in his imaginary transaction. In asking him to make me understand, I may have given him a task objectively difficult, impossible, perhaps; but at any rate I must wait to see how lightly the burden of understanding will bear on his shoulders, that, perchance, the ease with which he walks under it may inspire me to a like endeavor with sufficient, albeit unequal, success.
In other words, the children of every poor widow, of every man made penniless by fraud, by accident, by disease, should be discouraged from long life and
It is true that the illustration is misleading
no doubt unintentionally-in one respect; for the implication is that the rule of leaving the unfit to go the way of nature as quickly as possible is intended to apply to personal conduct, and thus act as a check to voluntary charity. How one should act himself, and how he should try to persuade others to act, with regard to the unfortunate or unsuccessful fellow humans whom we have always with us, seems to me a so much more difficult and delicate question that I have felt obliged to leave the discussion of it to others, haply with clearer insight into the matter. Speaking for myself, I have never heard any good reason for distrusting the value of the Christian precept of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. Any harm that may result from following this rule in lending help to the weak and unfortunate is, I feel convinced, fully offset by the encouragement such conduct gives, in our own breasts, and as an example to others, to those sympathetic feelings which make up the difference between barbarity and humanity. If the precept had contained anything about forcing others to do unto their neighbors as one would do himself, or as one would be done by, there would be much reason for doubting its validity. But even here, the view one takes will be largely determined by his willingness, or unwillingness, to draw a distinction between actions accordingly as they are just or charitable. This is the distinction which has seemed to me (following Mr. Spencer) of superlative
killed off as quickly as possible, lest they produce importance in considering the functions of
others like themselves; while the children of those who have grown rich, no matter how, may be educated at the parents' expense, and kept alive. Looking at it from the point of view of heredity alone, the children of the swindler and business despot are to be sedulously preserved; while the children of the man who has perhaps impoverished himself for the good of others are regarded as unfit for long life, and should be left to go the way of nature as quickly as possible, lest they produce others like themselves.
This is a very fair statement of the most obvious rejoinder to the position of To-DAY.
government, which is really the point at issue. I think it is right to act justly and equally, to act charitably. I think the government can advantageously enforce justice, but not charity. When help is extended to the unfortunate or to the unfit (surely it is well not to confound these two kinds of persons), when help is extended to them personally, the act may well be Isaid to be one that blesses both him who gives and him who receives. Not the least
of the benefits conferred by charity on the unfit, especially on the morally unfit, is spiritual, and consists in the stimulation of the good feeling of gratitude, whose fosterchild is emulation. Whom shall the recipient of the State's charity, from the hands of "overseer of the poor," perchance a gross, unfeeling man, emulate? Government bread will never produce any feeling but of repletion. In this way taxationcharity lacks the redeeming virtue which personal charity will always have, however unworthy its beneficiary may have been.
Mr. Higginson suggests an injurious estimate of the doctrine of To-DAY with regard to government charity by putting in contrast to each other the unworthy successful and the worthy unsuccessful. There is nothing in the pages of TO-DAY to imply that material success is regarded by us as a satisfactory test of fitness. Still less can any such suggestion be found in the works of Spencer. In my humble opinion, Mr. Higginson carries inuendo to the very verge of what is permissible, if not beyond, when he seeks to impress the mind of his reader by covert intimation that the unsuccessful are all worthy persons, and the successful all unworthy. He puts on one side the "poor widow," "the man made penniless by fraud, by accident," etc., "the man who has impoverished himself for the good of others," and on the other side he mentions the "swindler" and the "business despot." If I were disposed to use the same license in representing an opponent's views, I might say somewhat as follows:
from the gutter in which their inhuman parents begot and left them, sent to a school where their intelligence will be cultivated so as to give them a longer lease of life in which to work out the vicious tendencies with which they were afflicted by being the offspring of their parents, and which they will as surely pass on to their children. So, when a generation or two of this scum of the earth has been bred by the State, helped on to the material success necessary to the support of life, these immoral, dissolute creatures, born with a tendency to beget children recklessly, bred with the expectation of seeing them cared for by the State, will have their opportunities for evil increased, and their capacity for evil increased. Their material success will be greater than that of their more scrupulous neighbors, who persist in caring for their own children in spite of the incubus of caring for the children of these others. So the descendants of the poor and honest workman, of the struggling seamstress, of the scrupulous and provident, remain still poor and struggling. They, all the while, in addition to educating their own children and the children of the dissolute, have been spending a third part of their small savings in voluntary, spontaneous charity toward the feeble and unfortunate with whom their daily lives have brought them in contact; all of which charges the immoral and improvident have escaped. They, indeed, have been impoverished for the good of others. And how is the favor returned? These very creatures, whom their hardearned savings have for a generation or two saved from a merciful ending, are now the "business despots," who let out shirts to them at two cents apiece, the advertising" swindlers," who fill newspapers with offers of "easy work at home," the defaulting cashiers, who escape with what is left of the starvation wages, the sneak thieves, who carry off the one or two remaining family treasures, the highway robbers, whose capture, trial, retrial, and imprisonment are, one and all, so many additions to taxation,
so many subtractions from the livelihood and liberty of the industrious and provident.
No, Mr. Higginson; think twice, sir, before you arraign us on the indictment of barbarism, — a charge made no more justifiable by being prefaced with the adjective "scientific."
If I should reply to Mr. Higginson thus, every word would be strictly and literally true, and every implication would be true. The only addition necessary to complete, not to take from, the force of that picture is the consideration that only the extremes are there expressly contrasted, and that the like implications hold true when the contrast is drawn not between the extremely virtuous and the extremely vicious but between individuals of more common stamp, · those of moderate and mixed virtues and vices. It is not so much the preservation of the intellectually as of the morally unfit which condemns the system of State education. In both cases, however, the contention is that justice and charity are qualities of action which must be distinguished one from the other; that justice, when it is enforced, does no harm; that charity, when it is enforced, does much harm, and that the harm quite overbalances the good. But for Mr. Higginson to represent the position of To-DAY as based on objections to the preservation of the unfortunate denotes either ignorance or disingenuousness. That he should make himself familiar with the pages of this paper before criticising it was not to be expected, taking into account how uninteresting the task would have been for him. But I feel impelled to ask him by what right he undertakes to describe this paper as the "ablest American exponent of Mr. Spencer's views," when he is as unfamiliar with these views as with their pretended exponent?
If compulsory education confers a benefit on those who otherwise would have lacked it, thereby increasing their chances of long life, so much the better for the State, which needs to avail itself not merely of its more favored classes, but of all its
classes, as the sources of its future strength. "The interest of history," wrote Emerson, not without personal experience, "lies in the fortunes of the poor."
But suppose that compulsory education, by conferring an unearned benefit and thus preserving the unfit, produces a class that is neither rich nor poor, but simply vicious: then, evidently, this argument falls to the ground. Here, then, is the point at issue: What is the effect of educating the children of parents who are not fit to be parents? The issue cannot be shifted from this ground by talking of the "barbarism" of those who disagree with you. In this aspect, therefore, the question is whether Mr. Higginson is right in speaking of the class on whom the benefits of State education are conferred as the "honest poor." It is a fact that the class on whom these benefits are conferred is more properly described as the vicious and idle poor; while the class handicappped for the purpose of conferring whose energies and virtues are taxed and
these benefits is the honest and industrious poor. The incidence of taxation cannot be circumscribed. Persons who never heard of the assessor, nor ever saw the collector, pay taxes in the form of raised rent and increased cost of commodities.
Mr. Higginson says further:
All experience shows that even hereditary vice may be so controlled by a good environment that in time it becomes good and useful citizenship. .
Well, what is there in the environment of the common school that tends to 66 control" vice and turn it into good citizenship? The simple truth is, as every one may know by searching his own heart, that conduct is dependent in an immeasurably greater degree on feelings and emotions than on ideas. There is really no evidence whatever that intellectual culture, even when it is genuine culture, will make men moral; and as to ordinary schooling, it may be said to have literally no influence on conduct or morality. The only culture that will "control" vice is moral culture; and there is no school of moral culture but the world. Men must live and move and
have their being, for better or for worse; and when their life has been for the worse, as when it ends in ill-begotten children, it is crassitude to favor its preservation.
It would be comparatively easy to produce facts tending to show that such education as the schools afford is a positive encouragement to crime, insanity, and vice; while, I say with confidence, it is not possible to produce contrary facts. Taking seventeen per cent as the average illiteracy of the United States in 1880, the last census year, the ratio of insanity, crime, and vice to illiteracy may be displayed in the following manner: —
CRIME, VICE, EDUCATION.
BENJAMIN REECE, Pop. Sc. Mon., Jan., 1890.
And the report of the superintendent of the New York State prisons for 1886 shows that the prisons of Auburn and Sing Sing contained 2,616 convicts; 1,801 of these are recorded as having a commonschool education, and only 238 as having no education. Well may we say with Mr. Reece:
When it is remembered that the detected illiter
ate generally finds his way to prison, while the highly educated or well-to-do are frequently saved by friends, who compound the felony to escape exposure and consequent family disgrace, that many are saved from conviction by the ability of counsel whose services are far beyond the means of the illiterate poor, while still many others escape into voluntary exile to avoid imprisonment, it will be seen that even the figures given inadequately portray the extent of crime which, in strict justice, is properly chargeable to the educated classes.
Yet we who maintain that the failure of justice, in letting the guilty rich and wellto-do escape, while the poor, and often the
unfortunate, are treated with indiscriminate harshness and severity for delinquencies prompted, more often than not, by the sharp spur of daily want, we who maintain that this abortion of government is an evil which threatens, in conjunction with the absolute impossibility of the poor man's getting civil justice, to turn back the march of industrial progress and submerge, perhaps, what is called civilization itself, we are taunted with barbarism and "merciless cruelty"; while every maudlin and shortsighted sentimentalist who proposes to substitute a base generosity for sterling justice is welcomed as the prophet of the millenium. But Nature will not take false coin. Charity, though the most unselfish and excellent, cannot be made to take the place of justice. That that pre-eminently is the currency demanded by the conditions which are imposed on social progress; all else will be rejected as counterfeit. The attempted substitution may happen, but with its success is bound the failure of civilization.
... Slavery and absolutism at least aimed to keep the children of the lower classes alive that they might serve their superiors.
Here Mr. Higginson tries to place us in the position of foes of what he calls the "lower classes." I have already spoken of his improper classification, which here becomes painfully inapt. With what propriety a journal which devotes the greater part of its space to emphasizing and seeking redress for the injury that is inflicted on the materially unsuccessful by the extrajudicial action of government can be described as a foe of the lower classes and as aiming to kill these off for the benefit of any body or thing, I leave Mr. Higginson to determine. It is precisely the worthy members of what Mr. Higginson, not I, has called the lower classes" who are injured by State education. Every crust of bread munched in despondent solitude by the " poor widow" is made smaller and harder in order that the children of an idle drunkard may be taught to spell. The
poor family with three children is taxed for the schooling of the poor family with a dozen children. Instead of reaping the just rewards of moral restraints, exercised in order to educate three children well, instead of six badly or a dozen not at all, the provident and ambitious poor are forced to share the expense of a family begotten in indolence and bred in indifference to the welfare of the offspring. Placing a handicap on virtue and thrift for the benefit of vice and indolence is not barbarism indeed, for barbarians were hardly so blind, but it is something less than barbarism, which I will hesitate to name. I cannot leave Mr. Higginson without asking him to explain what he means by the following sentences:
Thus the great principle of evolution, which in Darwin's hands had no hard or merciless side, since no man better recognized the rights of the more backward races of mankind, has become in the hands of his followers, and especially, I regret to say, among the adherents of Herbert Spencer, a doctrine of merciless cruelty.
The state of mind here betrayed might seem to a less sanguine person than myself too hopelessly confused for comment. But I will merely request that Mr. Higginson, as a matter of justice to those whom he describes as adherents of Herbert Spencer, exhibit his authority for representing us as indifferent, much less hostile, to the "rights of the more backward races." Sir, if I am not very much mistaken, it is among the adherents of Herbert Spencer that are to-day to be found almost the only opponents of the perpetual encroachments of our race- a so-called higher- on the rights of the more backward races. From adherents of Spencer, more than from any other source, come the warnings, which will pass unheeded, against the invasion of the territory of the African, now the most helpless of the races exposed to the relentless tyranny of the white man. But this dominant race is borne forward on the crest of a great wave of success, it is possessed with a frenzy of conquest and aggrandizement, it is blind with the blindness of materialism. It reckons its greatness in millions, and
measures its fortune in dollars. Whom the gods will destroy, they first make mad. Not the least significant symptom of this madness is the fearful eagerness with which the invasion of Africa is urged forward by mistaken philanthropists, just as, at home, the same men, equally mistaken, urge forward State education and other steps toward socialism. In the case of Africa, success will attend their efforts, and all chance of normal and independent development will be cut off from the inhabitants of that unhappy land In the case of State education, should socialism go no further, no permanent harm to the race will be consummated; because, do what you will, the unworthy cannot be made to survive so long as more worthy are born to take their place.
Without wishing to trouble Mr. Higginson beyond measure, I should also be gratified to hear some defence for his statement that the Man versus the State" is a "favorite catchword" of Spencer's. This will be an easy statement to defend, by simply pointing out the passages in his works in which the "catchword " occurs; a task which will no doubt be trivial for one so conversant with the writings of that philosopher. He can take the same occasion for showing us in what respects Mr. Spencer and his adherents are followers of Darwin.
DISREGARD OF THE CONSTITUTION.
The habit, so common in England, of measuring the efficiency of a government by the quantity of statutes it has produced, has extended to this country. Probably never before has there been here so great a demand for the removal of restraints upon legislation as has been heard this past winter. It is seen that the House of Representatives might be more efficient as a legislative body if it had responsible leaders, and forthwith a cry goes up that members of the Cabinet be given seats in the House and permitted to propose legislation. The Senate, partly from its plan of composition and partly from the mode of electing Senators, is a check upon the will