Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/277

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moralized if they carried their proposed restrictions into effect. The superstition that good behavior is to be forthwith produced by lessons learned out of school-books, which was long ago statistically disproved,[1] would, but for preconceptions, be utterly dissipated by observing to what a slight extent knowledge affects conduct—by observing that the dishonesty implied in the adulterations of tradesmen and manufacturers, in fraudulent bankruptcies, in bubble-companies, in "cooking" of railway accounts and financial prospectuses, differs only in form, and not in amount, from the dishonesty of the uneducated—on observing how amazingly little the teachings given to medical students affect their lives, and how even the most experienced medical men have their prudence scarcely at all increased by their information. Similarly, the Utopian ideas which come out afresh along with every new political scheme, from the "paper-constitutions" of the Abbe Sieyès down to the just-published programme of M. Louis Blanc, and from agitations for vote-by-ballot up to those who have a republic for their aim, might, but for this tacit belief we are contemplating, be extinguished by the facts perpetually and startlingly thrust on our attention. Again and again for three generations has France been showing to the world how impossible it is essentially to change the type of a social structure by any rearrangement wrought out through a revolution. However great the transformation may for a time seem, the original thing reappears in disguise. Out of the nominally-free government set up, a new despotism arises, different from the old by having a new shibboleth and new men to utter it; but identical with the old in the determination to put down opposition, and in the means used to this end. Liberty, when obtained, is forthwith surrendered to an avowed autocrat; or, as we have seen within this year, it is allowed to lapse into the hands of one who claims the reality of autocracy without its title. Nay, the change is, in fact, even less; for the regulative organization which ramifies throughout French society continues unaltered by these changes at the governmental centre. The bureaucratic system persists equally under Imperialist, Constitutional, and Republican arrangements. As the Due d'Audriffret-Pasquier pointed out, "Empires fall, Ministers pass away, but Bureaux remain." The aggregate of forces and tendencies embodied, not only in the structural arrangements holding the nation together, but in the ideas and sentiments of its units, is so powerful that the excision of a part, even though it be the governmental centre, is quickly followed by the substitution of a like part. It needs but to recall the truth exemplified some chapters back, that the properties of the aggregate are determined by the properties of the units, to see at once that, so long as the characters of citizens remain substantially unchanged, there can be no substantial change in the political organization which has slowly been evolved by them.

  1. "Summary of the Moral Statistics of England and Wales." By Joseph Fletcher, Esq., one of her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools.