Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/131

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MR. WILLIAM HURRELL MALLOCK, having settled to his own eminent satisfaction the little preliminary question, "Is Life worth Living?" has now taken another step in his intellectual career. And this new step is, if possible, more ambitious than the preceding, for he informs us that he is the discoverer of a new science. He has lately issued a little book entitled "Social Equality; a Short Study in a Missing Science,"[1] in which he professes to have come upon the main-spring of human progress, and to have found the very tap-root of all civilization. These are simply the desire for inequality, which Mr. Mallock declares to be an essential and universal element of human nature. This is, no doubt, a considerable thing to have accomplished, but it is not Mr. Mallock's special discovery: what he claims is to have discovered the "Science of Human Character," while his philosophy of inequality is but a deduction from it. The "New York Evening Post," discussing Mr. Mallock's book in a prominent article, makes light of his pretensions, and closes by saying, "The whole argument is really a juggle with words, and his discovery of the science of human character a monstrous mare's nest." We are inclined very much to agree with this verdict, and to regard Mr. Mallock's book, considered as a contribution to thought, as not worth reading.

But it will be asked, Why, then, notice it? The reply is, that a man, though he may be of little account as a philosopher, may yet have significance as a phenomenon; and that a book, though essentially worthless, may still be influential and mischievous. Mr. Mallock discourses freely, boldly, and ingeniously on social science, and the public to which he appeals is but very imperfectly instructed upon that subject. And not only so, but it happens that just now there is no little ferment in regard to social questions, while so much that is crude, shallow, and ridiculous is passed off under the name, that doctrines, no matter how absurd, if emanating from a prominent author, are sure to get attention and find acceptance. Mr. Mallock is, moreover, a lively and agreeable writer, and this is so great a merit as, with many, to excuse any amount of speculative nonsense. That a jaunty and garish litterateur should announce himself as a great revealer of new scientific truth would seem on the face of it to be an excellent joke, but nothing facetious is here intended. We do not propose to analyze Mr. Mallock's book, nor to answer his arguments, but only to characterize the performance, and extract from it its unintended lesson.

Of the author's claim to have discovered a new science, we have simply to say that its impudence is only equaled by its stupidity. Mr. Mallock evidently neither knows what science is, nor has he the faintest idea of the conditions of its origin and development. There can be little doubt that he is profoundly ignorant of even its rudiments, and has probably never made a solitary original observation, if even attempt at observation, in any of the sciences, although encompassed by their phenomena from childhood, ne certainly can know nothing of the difficulty of scientific research, the amount of labor it involves, or the mental discipline demanded for its successful pursuit, even in the elementary stages of its investigation. He seems to be ob-

  1. G. P. Putnam's Sons. Pp. 212. Price, $1.25.