Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/430

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intelligent and congenial performance. The adequate education of woman for the home sphere we have never had, and it is now resisted with all the power of traditional habit and all the influence of the old educational ideals and the organized systems of study. Men are educated by the newer colleges for their special work in life; women never! The prejudice against studying things domestic, although the problems opened are many and of the deepest intellectual interest, abides with a strange inveteracy. Dr. Blackwell recognizes no amelioration of the home through intelligent preparation for it. Though education is now the standard solvent of all the difficulties in our civilization, she concedes to it no potency in renovating and developing home-life. She asserts, indeed, that women must have technical training for the sphere of outside competition, but nothing is said of its need as a preparation for domestic activities. As long as the home endures, it is to continue the stronghold of servility and degradation. Progress is to do wonders, but the home must remain the asphyxiating Black-Hole of menial ignorance and stupidity as lasting as may be the vestige of the institution. There are perhaps not many who will go to this visionary extreme, but in so far as the "woman's movement" exemplifies the feeling it merits unsparing condemnation.




LITERARY NOTICES.

Conflict in Nature and Life: A Study of Antagonism in the Constitution of Things. For the Elucidation of the Problem of Good and Evil, and the Reconciliation of Optimism and Pessimism. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 488. Price, $2.

This anonymous work is in the most comprehensive sense an ethical essay upon human life in connection with the order of nature. It is a philosophical inquiry into the constitution of natural things, as it bears on the fundamental problems of good and evil, which, as the writer thinks, have

been prematurely resolved in the theological stages of thought, before science had furnished the conditioning data for dealing with the morality of nature and the ethical possibilities of mankind. With legendary ideals of golden ages and paradisiacal states, at the opening of man's career, and the hopes and prophecies of millennial felicity to be finally attained, and with numerous intervening revelations, evolutions, and reforms, as means of regaining the lost paradise and reaching a condition of ultimate perfection and supreme happiness—as exemplified by all this, the author thinks that we have been dominated by a chaotic and groundless philosophy, only to be escaped through a better understanding of the existing order of things, and the way it must operate until replaced with quite another order. Is the optimist justified in blessing the world? is the pessimist justified in cursing it? or is it a mixed affair, that must be systematically comprehended before it can be morally estimated?

It appears that, long ago, while the author was hoping for harmony and happiness on the basis of an optimistic constitution of nature, he began to perceive that, at every point gained in the direction of freedom and intelligence to secure greater harmony and perfection in life, some new element of discord and danger would arise to vitiate the result—such element being not incidental but necessary, and bound up with the scheme of things. Thus, in order to avoid the evils of ignorance, we must promote education, which increases the sensibilities for keener enjoyment, but which at the same time whets them equally for intenser suffering. Civilized people enjoy more than savages, but they also suffer more; and, while the higher classes enjoy more exquisitely than the lower, they have their own characteristic troubles to deal with. Further, personal sovereignty has a good side, but also an evil side; and there is no such thing as absolute or perfect freedom. Freedom is self-limiting, and hedged about by barriers which are necessarily impassable, except at the expense of freedom itself. Again, political centralization has advantages which no great people can afford to dispense with, but it must be carefully guarded or it will result in despot-