Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/276

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of domestic service is raised, it mostly happens that its bearings are considered wholly in reference to those social arrangements which exist around us; only a few proceed on the supposition that these arrangements are probably but transitory. It is so throughout. Be the subjects industrial organization, or class-relations, or rule by fashion, the belief which practically, moulds the conclusions, if not the belief theoretically professed, is, that, whatever changes they may undergo, our institutions will not cease to be recognizably the same. Even those who have, as they think, deliberately freed themselves from this perverting tendency—even M. Comte and his disciples, believing in an entire transformation of society, nevertheless betray an incomplete emancipation; for the ideal society believed in by them, is one under regulation by a hierarchy essentially akin to hierarchies such as man-kind have known. So that everywhere, more or less, sociological thinking is impeded by the difficulty of constantly bearing in mind that the social states toward which mankind are being carried are probably as little conceivable by us as our present state was conceivable by a Norse pirate and his followers.

Note, now, the contrary difficulty, which appears to be surmountable by scarcely any of our parties, political and philanthropic, from the highest to the lowest—the difficulty of understanding that human nature, though indefinitely modifiable, can be modified but very slowly; and that all laws and institutions and appliances, which count on getting from it within a short time much better results than present ones, will inevitably fail. If we glance over the programmes of societies, and sects, and schools of all kinds, from Rousseau's disciples in the French Convention down to the members of the United Kingdom Alliance, from the adherents of the Ultramontane propaganda down to the enthusiastic advocates of an education exclusively secular, we find in them one common trait. They are all pervaded by the conviction, now definitely expressed and now taken as a self-evident truth, that there needs but this kind of instruction or that kind of discipline, this mode of repression or that system of culture, to bring society into a very much better state. Here we read that "it is necessary completely to refashion the people whom one wishes to make free:" the implication being that a refashioning is practicable. There it is taken as self-evident that, when you have taught children what they ought to do to be good citizens, they will become good citizens. Elsewhere it is held to be a truth beyond question that, if by law temptations to drink are removed from men, they will not only cease to drink, but thereafter cease to commit crimes. And yet the delusiveness of all such hopes is obvious enough to any one not blinded by an hypothesis, or carried away by an enthusiasm. The fact, often pointed out to Temperance-fanatics, that some of the soberest nations in Europe yield a proportion of crime higher than our own, might suffice to show them that England would not be suddenly