Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/575

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

judges, it is evident that the enactment of laws by women, to be executed by men, is government "by women alone." It was in this sense that I used that expression, and not as a question of arithmetic.

Government is in fact the government of men by men. It is men who do things, and, among other things, they are the most frequent law-breakers. It takes men to govern men, and what governs the greater force will control the lesser. It is not necessary to cut two holes in the gate, the one for the large, the other for the small cat. The small cat can go through the large hole.

E. D. Cope.
Philadelphia, December 26, 1888.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

ALTRUISM AND EGOISM.

THE question of the proper balance to be maintained between altruism and egoism is one of much practical importance. A certain view of the subject was presented in the paper by Mr. Charles W. Smiley, published in our November number, and a different, to some extent an antagonistic one, was maintained in the letter from Prof. Bulkier, of Washington, which appeared in our number for January. We have already expressed a general approval of Mr. Smiley's position; but, in view of the counter-arguments of our recent correspondent, we may perhaps be allowed a few additional words of explanation.

The question, as it seems to us, is not which is the higher principle of action—altruism or egoism—but the much more practical one as to the extent to which, and the circumstances under which, one human being should gratuitously supplement by his own industry or capacity the deficiencies in one or both these respects of another human being. The early Christians, we read, had all things in common: no one said anything was his own; all individual property was abolished, as completely as P. J. Proudhon himself could have wished. Somehow or other this state of things did not continue long; and Christians of the nineteenth century show no particular desire to revert to this feature of the early church. We may therefore claim that personal ownership of property is recognized to-day as a good thing. If, then, any one is called upon to part with a portion of his goods for the benefit of others, some adequate reason should be shown for his doing so. It is not enough to tell him that altruism is a virtue; for that argument, unchecked by other considerations, would lead to the reestablishment of the very system of communism upon which it has been decided not to re-enter. Before he parts with his money for alleged benevolent objects, a reasonable man will require to have it demonstrated to him that its application in the manner proposed will cure more evil than it will, either directly or indirectly, cause. In order to judge the matter rightly, we should take the case of a man who, possessing wealth, is employing it in a prudent and useful manner, and, so far, helping forward the prosperity of the community; not the case of one who is squandering large sums of money in idle ostentation or vicious pleasures. In the latter case the man is doing harm with his money already, and possibly more harm than would be done even by injudicious benevolence. The former case, therefore, is the only one that enables us to bring a proper criticism to bear upon a suggestion for an "altruistic" application of wealth. The money is now being usefully employed in the industry of the country; and, so far as applied to the personal expenditure of its owner, is being used in maintaining a type of living that simply inspires respect, challenging neither the stupid admiration of the vulgar nor the envious regards of the poorer classes. It is evident that nothing short of a very satisfactory