Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/553

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be superseded by that of fathers and mothers, and, finally, by that of the whole family. It is in the air that the family, the home end of the social problem—the primary social settlement, if you please—is to have a renaissance, a new birth. Twenty-five years ago Charles Dudley Warner feared that with the going out of the hearthstone and the hearth fire, with its big aromatic back log of hickory, the family would go. It has not gone, but it has suffered neglect and decay to the extent that, like a smoldering fire, it needs new fuel and a big bellows to blow the embers into healthy life and warmth, to create a family atmosphere and make it contagious.

Because the disintegration of the family is threatened, because its decline is asserted, because family life in America has become a target for some foreigners to shoot unpleasant remarks at, there is no reason to take a pessimistic view, but rather to believe that family extremes have met, that the family pendulum has swung either way as far as it can, and will, according to the law of rhythm and reason, swing back to middle ground, to reorganization, resetting, reintegration.

It is incongruous in a country widely reputed for its homes that the house should be better than its inmates, the container of more account than the thing contained. To this end public opinion, that mighty factor in all forces, including social, needs to be aroused. The general thinking and reading public is not yet awake to the family idea. I know of no practical and pertinent subject that there is such a dearth of literature on as on family life, of more importance in the history of nations and in the history of the world than any other one thing. I know of but one entire book[1] on the subject, and that was published ten years ago, and discusses the family historically more than ethically and sociologically. There are, however, chapters in several books that treat of the family in a scientific way. Our government, in the interest of science, sends out expeditionists to discover the north pole. For the sake of humanity as well as sociology, which "is nothing but systematic knowledge of human beings, who have always been commonplace and at the same time mysterious," it has become necessary for expert observers to discover or rediscover the family, and for the family to discover itself as microscopic society, and especially as the prototype of the nation. The old-time classification of social institutions into family, church, and state, with the family as the unit of society, and society the aggregation of families, has been somewhat changed. The individual is now the unit of society, and in some quarters of Germany and this country there is added a fourth

  1. The Family. By Dr. Thwing.