Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/791

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769
SCIENCE AND MORALITY.

ations of wrong which we find in such passages of Mr. Spencer's work as this:

Such a view (of the progress of altruism) will not he agreeable to those who lament the spreading disbelief in eternal damnation; nor to those who follow the apostle of brute force in thinking that because the rule of the strong hand was once good it is good for all time; nor to those whose reverence for one who told them to put up the sword is shown by using the sword to spread his doctrine among the heathens. The conception set forth would be received with contempt by that Fifeshire regiment of militia, of whom eight hundred, at the time of the Franco-German War, asked to be employed on foreign service, and left the Government to say on which side they should fight. From the ten thousand priests of the religion of love, who are silent when the nation is moved by the religion of hate, will come no sign of assent; nor from their bishops, who, far from urging the extreme precept of the master they pretend to follow, to turn the other cheek when one is smitten, vote for acting on the principle strike, lest ye be struck. Nor will any approval be felt by legislators, who, after praying to be forgiven their trespasses as they forgive the trespasses of others, forthwith decide to attack those who have not trespassed against them, and who, after a Queen's speech has "invoked the blessing of Almighty God" on their counsels, immediately provide means for committing political burglary.

This is enough to show that, whatever the writer's moral system may be, his own moral sentiment is strong. But, surely, it is a splendid inconsistency. The bishop and the Fifeshire militiamen were in certain stages of evolution, or, in other words, of progress from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, through the necessary differentiations and integrations. The Episcopal organism in its state of comparative homogeneity could no more help being fond of converting Afghans, by killing them and burning their cottages, than a tiger can help wanting to eat the bishop, or the Buddhist sage in Mr. Arnold's "Light of Asia" can help wanting, in the immensity of his benevolence, to be eaten by the tiger. Bishop and militiamen alike will surely give their censor the crushing answer that they could not possibly be more differentiated or nearer the perfection of moving equilibrium than they are, without breaking the Spencerian law.

Another strong point, which any organism indisposed to altruism might make, is the warrant apparently given to purely selfish action by the struggle for existence. "In large measure," says Mr. Spencer, "the adjustment of acts to ends which we have been considering are components of that 'struggle for existence,' carried on both between members of the same species and between members of a different species; and, very generally, a successful adjustment made by one creature involves an unsuccessful adjustment made by another creature, either of the same kind or of a different kind. That the carnivores may live, herbivores must die; and, that its young may be reared, the young of weaker creatures must be orphaned." Why, a Borgia or a Bonaparte will ask, is the law to be confined to the case of carnivores and herbivores? Do not I equally fulfill it by making a prey of the