Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/839

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819
EDITOR'S TABLE.

the outcome of continual fighting among species of anthropoid animals involving the continual destruction of the weaker by the stronger and the constant selection of the fittest to survive. It is curious to note that it is not those most distantly below us in the scale that we are chiefly eager to destroy. It is generally those who more nearly approach to us in gradation and who consequently clash with us, that we destroy. Those whose complete inferiority prevents us from fearing them escape. At the present time, Nature is doing much more by human agency to destroy Red Indians and native Australians than to exterminate gorillas. No links have so great a tendency to disappear altogether as those which are nearest to ourselves in the chain. As man ascends the ladder he kicks off those who stand on the next step below him. This habit has in time created an immense gap between us and some of those through whose condition our race has once passed—a gap so wide as to make it almost impossible for any but studious men to realize that there is indeed any solidarity between us and the lowly forefathers ascribed to our species."

There is much truth, no doubt, in this view of the operations of Nature, but it is far from the whole truth as relates to the morality of war. It certainly will not do to excuse private violence and offer a defense of crime on the ground that Nature is also ruthless and violent. And if individuals may not plead the example of Nature to justify their injurious interference with others, neither may nations. That war was indispensable in the lower stages of society when brute force predominated, and became a means of enforcing those subordinations which led to social order, may be freely admitted. But if old practices are to go on for ever, what becomes of progress? The essence of evolution is transformation—the substitution of higher agencies for lower in the unfolding economy of the world. War is one of the things that must certainly be left behind if there is to be any advancing or upward movement. It is the old and deadly enemy of the pacific and constructive forces of society, which have nevertheless made way against it, and which may be expected in the future to gather a strength that will redeem society from the baneful influence of the military spirit.

 

 

AN HISTORIAN’S NOTION OF LINGUAL STUDY.

We referred last month to the revival of the old classical controversy consequent upon the proposal to drop compulsory Greek from the curriculum of the University of Cambridge, in England. The controversy grows warm in various quarters. Mr. Freeman, the historian, comes forward in the "Fortnightly Review" to discuss the question, "Shall we give up Greek?" and uses the occasion to go into the general subject. He regards the present spasm of controversy as not very serious, inasmuch as he has had experience of such things before, and thinks it is merely part of a system of curious intellectual cycles, the causes of which would perhaps form fit subject for the philosophical statistician. Mr. Freeman says there was a sharp brush over the question in 1871, in which he took a part, and that we are now engaged in merely reproducing the old arguments and the old answers.

But Mr. Freeman betrays, in his treatment of the subject, the consciousness that it is advancing, and that these rhythmic disputes are bringing about very serious changes of opinion. He pleads strongly for Greek, but seems to feel that it is doomed, and is decided in his conviction that, if but one of the classical tongues is to be retained, it must be Latin.

His general position in relation to the question is much the same as that so elaborately put forth by John Stuart