Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/133

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121
EDITOR'S TABLE.

have more or less fulfilled the same rôle.

The two principal questions which to-day confront society relate to the future relations of men and women and the education of the rising generation. The allegation is freely made in many quarters that marriage is a failure; and no doubt frequently it is. None the less, however, is it the case that no scheme that has ever been proposed as a substitute for marriage merits a moment's consideration. It is easy to provide theoretically for the gratification of passion and impulse, but not so easy by any means to show how by any union less solemn and abiding than marriage the higher natures of men and women can be duly developed and their lower propensities kept in check. We do not look to any new woman for light on this question; but we do look to the best women of to-day, those who to purity and soundness of instinct add a trained capacity for independent and intelligent judgment, to join with the best men in indicating the higher path which the generations of the future may tread. We may be sure of this, that the path is one not of less but of greater self-control, and that redemption from the miseries which attach, in too many cases, to marriage as it is will be found in an elevation and purification of the whole idea of marriage. Not that the idea has not been held in its highest purity by many in different ages; not that the world has ever lacked examples of ideal marriage, but that there has never been a sufficiently wide recognition of its true nature and possibilities. There is a gospel on the subject which has to be preached and, so far as individual action can do it, enforced—the gospel that the true happiness of a man and woman united in marriage bonds consists in learning, as years go on, to love and respect one another more and more, and in aiding and stimulating one another more and more to right and noble action, each gaining strength through the other, each finding in the other the means of achieving a true individual completeness. The true gospel is that there is more in marriage than for the most part poets have sung or romancers dreamed, and that the failures of which we hear so much haye been, in the main, failures to grasp the true conception of it and to make a right preparation for the duties which it involves.

Does not all this mean, it may be asked, that many are unfit through defect of character, and others through ignorance and general inferiority of thought and sentiment, to make the best of marriage? It certainly does, and here the no less important problem of education comes in. In these days we look too much to the state to solve our problems for us. There are some problems which the state can not solve, and one, we do not hesitate to say, is the problem of a true education. The state can levy taxes and employ agents and make regulations; but it can not speak with the voice of father or mother; it can not speak confidentially to the young of their deepest interests. It can enjoin rules of conduct, but it can not guide aspiration; it can not meet what, in a broad sense, we may speak of as spiritual needs. If the rising generation is to be adequately educated, the best men and women of the day must come together and consider how it is to be done—how the work, of the state is to be supplemented by individual endeavor, so that growth in character may keep pace with growth in knowledge and intelligence. There are two main ways in which, at first sight, it seems possible this might be done, or at least more or less hopefully attempt-