Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/401

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
387
EDITOR'S TABLE.

gets internal aggression—that assaults upon the rights of others abroad leads to assaults upon the rights of others at home. "As it is incredible," he says, "that men should be courageous in the face of foes and cowardly in the face of friends, so it is incredible that other feelings fostered by perpetual conflicts abroad should not come into play at home. We have just seen," he adds, alluding to the proofs of this truth that he has given, "that with the pursuit of vengeance outside the society there goes the pursuit of vengeance inside the society, and whatever other habits of thought and action constant war necessitates must show their effects on social life at large." The facts in support of Mr. Spencer's generalization are to be found in the history of every militant people. He mentions himself the Fijian's sacrifice of their own people at their cannibal festivals, and the prevalence of assassination among the Turks from the earliest times down to the present. He mentions also the hideous acts of cruelty that are to be found in the records of Greek and Roman civilization. To these examples may be added the atrocities committed by Italians upon Italians during the last days of the mediæval republics, and those committed by Frenchmen upon Frenchmen during the French Revolution. "The victories of the Plantagenets in France," said Goldwin Smith, pointing out not long ago the futility of war as a cure for national factiousness, "were followed by insurrections and civil wars at home, largely owing to the spirit of violence that the raids in France excited. The victories of Chatham were followed by disgraceful scenes of cabal and faction, as well as corruption, terminating in the prostration of patriotism and the domination of George III and North."

It is impossible to hope that the United States can be an exception to the social law thus established. However pure the motive that may lie at the bottom of a war of aggression, it can not annul the law. The shedding of blood and the seizure of territory produce a callousness of feeling and a perverted view of the rights of others that are certain to turn the hands striking a foreign foe to the work of domestic strife. Already we have seen with what bitterness such men as Prof. Charles Eliot Norton and Mr. Edward Atkinson have been assailed. We have seen, too, how attempts have been made to discredit the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and to show that the Constitution must not be permitted to stand in the way of what has been politely called the fulfillment of the destiny of the United States. We have seen, finally, how proposals for the disfranchisement of American citizens have been listened to in all parts of the country with a toleration that must cause the old abolitionists to turn in their graves. But the spirit thus manifested has not, we may be sure, failed to contribute to the perpetration of the outrages that have shocked every right-minded observer of current events. It is not a difference of kind but only one of degree that separates the slaughter of Spaniards in Cuba and Tagals in Luzon from the slaughter of negroes in the South and the explosion of dynamite under street cars in the North. The inhuman instincts that impel to the one impel to the other.