Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/590

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
570
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The maintenance of the individuality is thus demonstrably a duty. The assertion of personal claims is essential; both as a means to self-happiness, which is a unit in the general happiness, and as a means to furthering the general happiness altruistically. Resistance to aggression is not simply justifiable but imperative. Non-resistance is at variance with altruism and egoism alike. The extreme Christian theory, which no one acts upon, which no one really believes, but which most tacitly profess and a few avowedly profess, is as logically indefensible as it is impracticable.

The religion of amity, then, taken by itself, is incomplete—it needs supplementing. The doctrines it inculcates and the sentiments it fosters, arising by reactions against opposite doctrines and sentiments, run into extremes the other way.

Let us now turn to these opposite doctrines and sentiments, inculcated and fostered by the religion of enmity, and note the excesses to which they run.

 

Worthy of highest admiration is the "Tasmanian devil," which, fighting to the last gasp, snarls with its dying breath. Admirable, too, though less admirable, is our own bulldog—a creature said sometimes to retain its hold even when a limb is cut off. To be admired also for their "pluck," perhaps nearly in as great a degree, are some of the carnivora, as the lion and the tiger; since when driven to bay they fight against great odds. Nor should we forget the gamecock, supplying as it does a word of eulogy to the crowd who witness the hanging of a murderer, and who half condone his crime if he "dies game." Below these animals come mankind; some of whom, indeed, as the American Indians, bear tortures without groaning. And then, considerably lower, must be placed the civilized man; who, fighting up to a certain point, and bearing considerable injury, ordinarily yields when further fighting is useless.

Is the reader startled by this classification? Why should he be? It is but a literal application of that standard of worth tacitly assumed by most, and by some deliberately avowed. Obviously it is the standard of worth believed in by M. Gambetta, who, after bloodshed carried to the extent of prostrating France, lately reproached the French Assembly by saying, "You preferred peace to honor; you gave five milliards and two provinces." And there are not a few among ourselves who so thoroughly agree in M. Gambetta's feeling, that this utterance of his has gone far to redeem him in their estimation. If the reader needs encouragement to side with such, plenty more may be found for him. The Staffordshire collier, enjoying the fighting of doers when the fighting of men is not to be witnessed, would doubtless take the same view. In the slums of Whitechapel and St. Giles's, among leaders of "the fancy," it is an unhesitating belief that pluck and endurance are the highest of attributes; and probably most