Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/427

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413
EDITOR'S TABLE.

(who does not even know that fossil remains of man were ever found) does with all of us—tells us, if we want to be satisfied as to the age of the human species, to dismiss geology altogether, and betake ourselves to the guidance of a long-deceased chronologist! Probably the dean will never know what a lamentable exhibition he has made of himself—never know that, while denying the existence of fossil man, he gave in his own person an unequaled specimen of a fossilized human intellect. It seems to us not unlikely that, years hence, the dean's "Fortnightly" article will be quoted as one of the latest examples of an extreme type of clerical ignorance, on scientific subjects; just as we now indicate the period when the cave-bear and mammoth bade adieu to this terrestrial scene. It will be a happy thing, indeed, to have such ignorance safely packed away among the treasures of the past.

But now appears another phase in the controversy referred to. The Rev. W. Benham, who describes himself as a conservative, both in theology and in politics, undertakes to answer both Canon Fremantle, the Broadchurch-man, and his assailant Dean Burgon. Naturally, Mr. Benham does not go as far as Canon Fremantle; but he makes one very important statement, and that is, that the majority of the clergy, so far as his acquaintance extends, seem to assume the truth of the doctrine of evolution. If a man of conservative tendencies is able to say as much as this of the clerical brethren with whom he most consorts, and who, we may presume, are in the main conservatives also, it is evident that thought is moving fast in the Church of England.

 

 

THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY.

As most of our readers are aware, an association has lately been formed in this city under the title of the "Anti-Poverty Society." It proposes to extirpate poverty by throwing the whole burden of taxation upon land. One may be allowed to doubt how far the proposed remedy, if found to be applicable, would go toward accomplishing the result desired; but, that poverty is an evil, and that the best efforts of modern society should be devoted to removing it, admits of no doubt. If the Anti-Poverty Society accomplishes no other good object, we trust it will at least, during the term of its existence, help to render the community more deeply sensible of its duty in this matter. When we speak of the community, however, we mean its individual members in their several private capacities, rather than the community as a politically organized body. We are not of those who hold that in legislation is to be found the cure for all social ills. On the contrary, we should be disposed to class what we may call the "legislation-habit" with what has been called the "alcohol-habit" in this important respect, that each implies resort to an artificial stimulus as a remedy for constitutional weaknesses—in one case in the social organism, in the other in the individual human body. Both involve distrust of, or disregard for, hygienic measures and the discipline of Nature; and both stand in the way of Nature's restorative action. If poverty is to be cured, we believe it can only be through the more general application of those principles and methods by which it is already warded off from the larger portion of society. The problem that has to be faced is the serious one of rendering every individual in the community fit to earn a maintenance for himself. Such fitness implies freedom from habits that are a burden upon life, from a physical or from any other point of view. Let the advocates of drastic measures of legislative reform say what they will, the fact remains that, given a certain measure of well-directed faculty, and success in the struggle of life becomes a sure thing. Instances abound in every country, but nowhere so much as in our own, in which men have risen,