Popular Science Monthly/Volume 25/August 1884/Scientific Philanthropy

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THE nature and purpose of our modern philanthropy—indeed, the inquiry whether or not utilitarian or altruistic considerations should inspire and control our actions—constitute an important and most instructive study in sociology. In the article on "Scientific Philanthropy," translated from the "Revue des Deux Mondes," and published in the "Monthly," 1883, this view of the question in its ethical aspect was almost entirely overlooked. The writer, M. Fouillée, has, with much ability, controverted the arguments early advanced by Malthus, but latterly by Darwin, Spencer, and others, who have approached the problem from a purely scientific stand-point. The author invites criticism by stating some conclusions, the validity of which sociologists high in repute are quick to question. And treating of Philanthropy as scientific, he has proposed a subject world-wide in its application and interest; and it is proper that the incorrectness of his conclusions be pointed out in the same Monthly that published them for American readers.

Philanthropy is founded in sentiment, and in the desire on the part of the strong, the favored, and the fortunate, to assure the comfort of the weak, unfavored, and unfortunate. It becomes scientific when those severe and exact logical methods of procedure—the indispensable prerequisites to a thorough knowledge of the preparatory studies of biology and psychology—are used in determining the effects of the laws of physical and moral heredity with natural selection on the increase and movement of population. First, we have to deal with those moral foundations which, as M. Fouillée declares, are of such moment, though so greatly "misconceived" by Mr. Darwin and his partisans. Long before Darwin, Mr. Spencer, in his "Social Statics," inquired: "For what faculty is it, whose work a poor-law so officiously undertakes? Sympathy." Darwin labored under the same misconception, for in the "Descent of Man" he says that the aid we feel impelled to give to the helpless and incompetent is mainly the result of sympathy, originally acquired as part of the social instincts, and subsequently rendered more widely diffused. Thus, the necessary datum of ethics lies in the principle, that each man must recognize and respect the rights and claims of another, equally with his own. It follows, then, that benevolence and justice spring from the same moral sentiment which is the foundation of every form of philanthropy. If the question was one of pure ethics, it would be legitimate to inquire, Ought philanthropy to preserve those who, from a mental and physical point of view, are not fit to be preserved? Is it right that the scanty means of subsistence should be at the command of individuals who, by their own conduct, have no claim for relief? In reply, it may be confessed a delicate task to draw the line of demarkation sharply. The warfare waged in ethics has been at last transferred into the domain of sociology. The two widely different systems of social science—the one treating the topic by utilitarian methods, the other by the way of altruism—is the logical outcome of the rival claims of utility and intuition to be considered the rightful premises in all moral differences. To the one it is objected that self-interest is developed entirely at the expense of natural sympathy; against the latter it is urged that the feelings of sentiment are allowed to control in shaping the policy of public relief, instead of using the slower and more cautious methods of reason. The principle upon which the sentimental school is founded is co-operation, whereby the weak in body or in mind, without struggle, share alike with the more vigorous and prudent. The scientific sociologist starts with the competitive theory of life, whereby in an advancing society, with the agglomeration of population in great centers, it is everywhere seen that industrial virtues are more and more the high rewards of mental and physical vigor, while poverty and pain are the attendant penalties attached to weakness, idleness, and imprudence.

Scientific Philanthropy is based on the intimate scientific connection between biology and sociology, first enunciated by M. Comte; is an attempt on the part of science to control the struggle, not only of man with Nature, but of man with man. Its conscious aim is, therefore, to overcome the harsh and rigorous effects of certain known biological laws. With successive differentiations of individual functions and pursuits there comes an increasing specialization of each differentiated member of society, and hence industrial virtues or vices which the parent fixes for the child by heredity leads to the existence of two very different classes in the community—the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the rulers and the ruled. As population becomes denser and denser, the contrast between the classes becomes still more marked, and we find in the cities poverty, hardship, and suffering, face to face with wealth, luxury, and ease. This is, in truth, the social problem. The sympathetic party, who regard this state of things in society as unjust and wrong, because unequal, invoke the assistance of Government, in State education, in public institutions, and in State Boards of Charities. The question may be stated thus: Does scientific philanthropy render the vital competition between man and man more unequal? Or, as a question for the legist, it becomes: What public duty of relief does the State owe to its citizens? It seems to us that these questions constitute the problem of philanthropy in its widest significance, and no apology is needed for treating them in detail.

M. Fouillée has fallen into the common error of supposing Malthus a determined enemy of all charity, quite overlooking the fact that he has devoted a most appreciative chapter to "the direction" of our benevolence (Bk. IV, chapter ix). As currently reported, the Malthusian theory would exclude all notion of public relief. Pushed to the extreme, it asserts that when the improvident bring into the world human beings for whom there is no subsistence, then we should leave to Nature, and not to man, the duty of dealing with the surplus of individuals. The Government should not step in and provide for the foolish improvidence of the father. To do so would only act as an encouragement to the lower classes to multiply at a faster rate than the better members of society. Moreover, it is quite irreligious to suppose a good Creator would in this way increase the miseries and privations of life. It is His justice to cut off those who have not "the slightest right to any share in the existing store of the necessaries of life."

Malthus aptly illustrates that all men are Nature's guests; but some are entitled to partake of the viands, while others stand uninvited, no covers being laid for them "at the great banquet of Nature." Here Philanthropy interposes and asks what right have the first guests at free banquet, after they are filled, to keep others from coming for their share? In the struggle for seats at Nature's banquet, shall the strong and vigorous turn back the chairs, and refuse to let the weak partake? Philanthropy insists that there is plenty of room at Nature's table, and that all men shall participate in a feast where priority gives no one any exclusive right. Vita sedat, uti conviva satur.

These arguments seem at first glance unpitying, especially to tender-hearted people, who deplore the harsh manner in which Nature punishes ignorance and incompetency as rigorously as froward disobedience. M. Fouillée is indignant over the effort of Malthus to show us the justice of Nature's discipline, whereby in the poverty of the incapable, in the suffering of the imprudent, and in the early death of the intemperate and unhealthy, there is a far-sighted benevolence. He declares that, in order to escape the objections of moralists, and to solve the question of public relief, Malthus had "recourse to Nature, which knows neither pity nor justice; he should have appealed to the reason and freedom of man." While the accusation is not an eminently just one, yet it showed a profound misapprehension of the real nature and purpose of our modern philanthropy. The conscious aim of scientific Philanthropy is, in the first place, to deal with the struggle of man with Nature—is to help men to help themselves; secondly, its aim is to regulate the struggle of man with man—is to help men to understand and adapt themselves to the conditions of existence. It is commonly noticed that the individual who succeeds in his struggle with Nature is apt to be successful in the good-natured struggle with his fellow-men. As Darwin proves, the intemperate suffer from a high rate of mortality, and the extremely profligate leave few offspring. There is economy in this process of elimination, whereby the transmission of the industrial vices is restricted, and, in the competition of life, the degraded members of society, unable to adapt themselves to the conditions imposed by physical and social environment, succumb before the rest of the population. The scientific idea of benevolence involves, first, the preparation of man to receive intelligently Nature's stern discipline—that is, to help him avoid all the evils coming from disobedience of physical agencies, and also to aid him in grasping those great rewards, which, as Huxley says. Nature scatters with as lavish a hand as her penalties. The philanthropist will show us that the hereditary vices which the parent establishes for his children and his children's children meet in the long run with certain punishment. If we could believe in the certainty of punishment, says Sir J. Lubbock, temptation, which is at the root of crime, would be cut away and mankind would become more innocent. The penalties attached to the consumptive, scrofulous, or syphylitic, in contracting marriage, are sharp and sure—ofttimes swift and merciless. Men sin from a mistaken idea of what constitutes to-day's pleasure and to-morrow's pain; and it is not pleasant to be reminded that a great deal of our suffering is due more to ancestral errors than to our own.

There is no possibility of a right understanding of the nature and purpose of Philanthropy without considering the three forces which, by their intricate interaction, combine to make the individual man what he is, natural selection, environment, and heredity. The process of elimination is nothing more nor less than the slow but steady selection of those who give evidence of their better adaptation to those external conditions into which they are born. No matter whether individuals survive, either for their mental or for their physical vigor, these qualities, for which they are selected, once gained and afterward enhanced by increased selection and heredity, become the varied faculties of the men and women of to-day. It is to be observed, in this connection, that any character which helps in any way its possessor is liable to be seized upon, and in terms of sexual selection it may be stated that variations which appear first in either sex early in life are transmitted to both sexes; but variations which appear in either—late in life are transmitted to one sex only. A disease may be sexually limited—as gout, when caused by intemperance during manhood, is developed in the sons in a more striking way than in the daughters. The principle of selection with the survival of the fittest encourages the multiplication of those persons best fitted for the conditions of life, by carrying off the weak and sickly who are least fitted for those conditions; and, if left to work without check, it would result in the slow and steady improvement of the individual faculties and race characteristics, by purifying the blood, invigorating the energies, and strengthening the social instincts. But we civilized men, says Mr. Darwin, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our physicians exert their utmost skill to save the life of every patient to the last moment. The effect of the survival of all those who would be eliminated by the principle of selection, together with the rapid rate of increase of the reckless and degraded over the stronger and better members, is to increase the pressure of population on the means of subsistence. This it is which gives rise to the so-called "social problem." Scientific philanthropy is, therefore, the most modern attempt to deal with this problem, which began in primeval times, because of man's rapid multiplication, and which will continue as long as civilization continues.

Mr. Spencer has laid down two propositions which form the basis of M. Fouilleé's article, and also of his attack. They are: "The quality of a society is physically lowered by the artificial preservation of its feeblest members; the quality of society is lowered morally and intellectually by the artificial preservation of those who are least able to take care of themselves." To the first proposition it is objected that Mr. Darwin and his "partisans" exaggerate the harm caused by philanthropy in prolonging the propagation of the weak and helpless; that it applies "only to the infirm properly so called to whom philanthropy is accustomed to give assistance"; that it proves, moreover, too much. In regard to the influence which philanthropy exercises upon the environment, Mr. Darwin's argument may be turned back upon him, says M. Fouillée, and he proposes his theorem—i.e., "the normal conditions most favorable to mankind are to assume the development and selection of a majority of the strong, while saving only a minority of the weak." Such, in their strongest terms, are the arguments brought forward against a truly scientific philanthropy.

Let us examine the exaggerations which the Darwinians are wont to indulge in. If the feeblest members of society are artificially preserved, can they hope to compete on equal terms with the strongest members, who would alone have survived? Is it true that the strong and competent are called upon to help the feeble and incompetent, who, by the marriages of the imprudent, would succumb either to competition, or to the action of the environment?

The melancholy Burton said: "A husbandman will sow none but the choicest seed; he will not rear a bull or a horse except he be right shapen in all his parts, or permit him to cover a mare except he be well assured of his breed." He inquires: "Quanto id diligentius in procreandis liberis observandum? And how careful, then, should we be in the begetting of our children!" Says Mr. Darwin, man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses and cattle before he matches them, but, when he comes to his own marriage, he rarely, or never, takes any such care. By giving the feeble a better chance to propagate their kind, philanthropy is only filling the world with the "infirm so called, to whom philanthropy is accustomed to give assistance," as well as keeping out the vigorous, who, it is assumed, will give assistance to the feeble members.[1] The harsh result springing from a misguided benevolence is seen in another way. If we take care of the feeble and helpless, the diseases that appear in their race must be met by new remedies; and new causes of death have arisen from our philanthropic anxiety to suppress former causes of mortality in the feeble. To save and keep alive the weak to-day from injurious influences is to save and keep alive their descendants from totally different influences to-morrow. We suffer from diseases which were quite unknown to our ancestors, of the last century even. The inflammatory and febrile disorders from which they suffered have given place to disorders distinctly American. The neuroses, or nervous diseases, are doubtless intensified by the restless activity which characterizes the social, political, and industrial pursuits of our people; and cerebral difficulties of many forms which appear as types of nervous diathesis developed by our climate and institutions have now become functional.[2]

It is difficult, therefore, to exaggerate the harm caused by the artificial preservation of the feeblest upon the physical status of future generations. The great harm consists in still further separating classes, and thus creating great inequalities of condition in every society. The artificial preservation of the feeblest is the artificial widening of those lines which Nature draws between one person and another; it gives rise to those natural differences among men which, as Mr. Galton has shown, are greater than many ever suspect. From Rousseau's discourse on the Origin and Grounds of Inequality among Men, down to the writings of Henry George, this condition in society is looked upon as the root of all our social evils. The philosophy of common socialism aims at equality in all things, but fails of realization because men are born unequal in everything. To make out a case against Mr. Darwin and his "partisans," M. Fouillée claims they insist that no deformed or weakly child deserves to survive, but they say, "Woe to the weak!" and "the Spartan method of disposing of feeble children will be that of the perfect sociology." Such an accusation and its utter absurdity deserve hardly passing reproof. Mr. Darwin expressly argues that, if it were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. What Mr. Spencer claims, and what is claimed in behalf of scientific philanthropy, is simply to regulate, by healthy and moral modes, the increase of the improvident on the means of subsistence; and this the true philanthropist will do by teaching the laws of health, by right physical education, and by wise sanitary measures. So insalutary are the conditions of the environment of the poor in the cities, that only by fitting themselves to unfavorable conditions is life worth living. This civic population suffer from zymotic diseases due to overcrowding; their drinking-waters, laden with the germs of parasites and fevers, if they do not beget febrile disorders, generate diseases of the liver and spleen; while goitre and thyroid from limestone waters, and pellagra and ophthalmia show themselves at the first favorable opportunity. Poverty always tends to be sickly, because it is continually exposed to the attacks of unhealthy influences. The surroundings during confinement exercise a potent influence upon fœtal nutrition. The Greeks were solicitous in having the female surrounded by symmetrical works of art, but in the upper rooms of the tenement there is no place for the Lares and Penates.

Philanthropy does not have to deal alone with poverty and improvidence and its attendant evils. To be born rich and feeble is as bad a fate as to be born poor and capable. There is a kind of material success which, when it destroys men's finer moral and intellectual faculties, is a greater curse than the worst kind of hardship. "The chief advantage of poverty as a sanitary or hygienic force," says Dr. Beard, "is that in some natures it inspires the wish and supplies the capacity to escape from it, and in the long struggle we acquire the power and the ambition for something higher and nobler than wealth; the impulse of the rebound sends us farther than we had dreamed." Baron Niebuhr was the first to observe that the wealthy Roman families were short-lived, and perished from the effects of luxury and ease; and the same has been done by Mr. Freeman in English history. The Cæsars, the Valois, the Bourbons, and the English lords, either from vice, idleness, or impotence, were doomed to family extinction. The trials and dangers of childbirth, sterility, incapacity, and nervous disorders, are the coming events which cast their shadows "in the depths of folly and degeneracy." Mr. Galton regrets that he is unable to decide how far men and women who are prodigies of genius are infertile. It would seem, in answer, that where parents have undermined their vitality and their health, by mental or physical overwork, where their activities and powers have been attained at the expense of their physical system, like the most highly cultivated types of vegetable growths, they will beget no germinating seed.

The arguments brought by M. Fouillée against the second part of Mr. Spencer's proposition are of two kinds—the one proposing an altruistic test for benevolent action, the other holding that the law of mental and moral heredity is much "more vague and loose than the law of physical heredity." Let us examine, briefly, the first objection and see what it is worth. Suppose, for example, a man commits a crime, or violates any established law of society; he is punished, either lightly or severely, according to the nature of his act. Conversely, when the intemperate are well aware that hard drinking will cause suffering, and the blasé wight knows that his profligacy will produce sickness and disorders, these trangressions are treated with excessive leniency. Paradoxical, then, is the doctrine, held overtly, that the individual who hurts others shall be treated rigorously, but that the individual who hurts himself shall be treated forbearingly. Hence the best specific for vice and crime is the sharp suffering which flows inevitably from vice and crime. Take, also, that distribution of money, "prompted," says Mr. Spencer, "by misinterpretation of the saying that charity covers a multitude of sins." The ignoble action of Evagrius, a Pagan, when he gave his three hundred pieces of gold to the bishop, must be condemned, for he demanded and received a promissory note to be paid in the other world. Take, again, those ostentatious donations by which the donor invites not only present approbation, but bids for posthumous fame and honor; and it is not strange that many eleemosynary institutions intended to perpetuate the bounty of their founders are admired as monuments to personal pride. The elaborate study of Mr. Bain has shown that the love of applause, the feeling of praise, the desire to win the respect of our fellows, even the fear to merit their condemnation, spring from the instinct of sympathy. Indeed, sympathy itself is founded upon the instinct of self-preservation; seen alike in that feeling which impels the members of a community to band together for protection, or in that altruism which prompts the strong to help the weak in their burdens. At an early day clover and stramonium were scattered in the fields; and our modern knowledge of poisons, even the invention of dynamite, is due primarily to the instinct of sympathy, though often strangely distorted by fear, malice, or love.

The second part of M. Fouillée's objection is directed toward refuting the theorem that the artificial preservation of those least able to take care of themselves will result in mental and moral deterioration by the operation of heredity. He claims that these biological laws are pushed too far; that Mr. Spencer's conclusions are still more inadmissible than those of his relative to physical deterioration of society. "If any one denies," Mr. Spencer urges, "that children bear likenesses to their progenitors in character and capacity, if he holds that men, whose parents and grand-parents were habitual criminals, have tendencies as good as those of men whose parents and grand-parents were industrious and upright, he may consistently hold that it matters not from what families in a society the successive generations descend. He may think it just as well if the most active and capable and prudent and conscientious people die without issue, while many children are left by the reckless and dishonest." M. Fouillée does not attempt to refute this conclusion, but denies that it bears against philanthropy itself. Mr. Darwin has brought facts forward to prove that our moral qualities are directly due to our ancestors; that, for instance, kleptomania or a propensity to lie seemed to run in noble families for several generations, and so could hardly be imputed to any coincidence. The same is equally true of the inheritance of that moral quality called character, which, says M. Ribot, "whether individual or national, is the very complex result of physiological and psychological laws." The bold and vigorous traits of Puritan character were transmitted to their descendants; they began with this advantage over the other races that emigrated here; hence the fineness and purity of their mental and moral fiber evolved, of necessity, more swiftly leaders in peace and in war.[3]

On the other hand, it is argued by M. Fouillée that "the two elements which Mr. Spencer and Mr. Darwin have overlooked—education and just legislation—must be reinstated in the problem. He contends that education abrogates the law of heredity; that good character will result from good education. It has never been satisfactorily explained why education should be the only cure for crime, poverty, and misery. Huxley says, "If I am a knave or a fool, teaching me to read and write will not make me less of either one or the other, unless somebody shows me how to put my reading and writing to good purposes."[4] The zealous educationist is too apt to forget that the weak and vicious man is fighting single-handed for the mastery over perhaps a score of evil-minded ancestors. "We can make education compulsory, but we can not compel the conscience. To suppose that education will supply those inherited faculties of moral intuition that are missing—"certain emotions responding to right and wrong"—is parallel with the supposition that the individual may be born again by a kind of mental baptism. The true effect of intellectual training is to clothe heredity with renewed power, giving the children a moral vantage over the parent, and enabling them to leave to their descendants a much further development of the faculties thus fostered, and a still higher power in producing beneficial variations which are a blessing to the race.

It now becomes necessary to inquire. What is the public duty of relief? It will not be disputed that the function of government is to maintain the equal rights of all its citizens; it owes them in the first place justice. When the state undertakes to appropriate annually from the tax-payers millions of dollars for the support of the incapables, it is taking money from the former in no wise for the maintenance of their rights. The more the state does for the improvident the less it does for the provident. It is conceded that the right of government to educate the illiterate and to check the vicious is a just one; because it is a duty society owes to itself. The State is under no moral duty to take care of the least of its citizens; but somehow our doctrine of political equality has evolved the socialistic idea of economic equality. Stuart Mill put state aid in this way: The laborer out of work says it is the duty of society to find work for him; but surely it is his duty as a member of that society to find work for every other unemployed man.[5] As an organized business, with paid executive officers, numerous employés, and bureaus of distribution, modern philanthropy has become a thriving profession. Asylums have been built to keep pace with the increase of the insane; hospitals are founded to meet the constant wants of imbeciles; and almshouses are being erected to accommodate the number of paupers. In this State twenty-five years ago there was one pauper to every one hundred and thirty people, now there is one to every thirty! The charities of the city of New York are something enormous, whether we consider the money spent or the two hundred and fifty charitable organizations. The poor in New York can be born in a public hospital, educated in a public school, clothed and fed in a public reformatory, and doctored in a public dispensary; if they die, it is at public expense they are buried. In a single phrase, metropolitan charity has fully provided for every want from the cradle to the grave.

In the report of the State Board of Charities,[6] the committee say:

The pauper, the insane, the deaf-mute, and the blind, appeal to charity; but these juvenile offenders excite both pity for their own condition, and solicitude for their potential influence for evil in society. Some of them show evidence of congenital deformities and defects....It is from the ranks of these that the Communists and Nihilists of the future may be recruited. Whatever may be the theory of punishment for persons of mature years, there can be but one opinion with reference to the duty of the State to these, its wards and weaker members.[7]

The Department of Charities and Corrections in New York city is controlled by three commissioners, who have under their charge some six hundred employés and about twelve thousand dependents. As is justly complained of in the above official report (see pp. 289-291), the appointment of the commissioners is part and parcel of municipal patronage, and it is declared that the whole tendency of the system is to encourage the increase of pauperism and crime. It is estimated that over seven millions of money are spent annually by public and private organized charity in New York city alone; yet improvidence and dependence remain exactly as the year before. The report of the public charities of that city is a startling document; it shows how much misery is due to a lavish, unsystematic, and misapplied benevolence. In speaking of the money expended by out-door relief societies, to the number of sixty-six, the report says:

Thus we have an aggregate of $546,832 spent in this kind of charity in New York city during the year 1880; $157,610 of this sum being public money, while about 525,155 cases are reported as having received one form or another of charitable relief...The foregoing figures, whether we regard them from a financial or humanitarian view, are sufficient to convince us that so important a business as the administration of charity in New York city requires to be carried on on business principles, if the great evils of wasted funds and corrupted and pauperized citizens are to be avoided. Some system is required to enable these various societies to work in harmony... That there is not some such system in New York is a matter of regret...to most thoughtful persons who have practical experience, especially as almost all other large cities in this country and in England have proved the value of associated work in diminishing pauperism and poverty in their midst.[8]

In the interesting report for 1884, the Committee on Out-door Relief say of Kings County, New York, as follows:

Until 1879 public out-door relief was given by the county to the amount of $100,000, or more yearly; it was then cutoff in the middle of winter, without warning, without any substitute being provided, and the result was—nothing. In fact, except for the saving of money, and the stopping of political corruption carried on by means of relief, and the cessation of the spectacle of hundreds of people with baskets of provisions furnished by the public, it would have been impossible to discover that relief had been stopped. (See pages 8 and 9 of report for 1884.)

The Poor-Law Commission of 1834[9] demonstrated beyond controversy the pernicious effects of out-door relief, and it has never been satisfactorily ascertained why the system that was half a century ago condemned and abandoned in England should work with beneficial results in this country. It was with the express purpose of correcting these well-known abuses that the Charity Organization Society was established last year in New York city. Its purpose is, as set forth in the official circular, to enlist the co-operation of the charitable societies of the city in establishing a central exchange; to aid the deserving poor in securing employment; and to relieve actual want. Secondly, it will disburse the funds of the giver in a systematic manner so as to prevent imposture. In the past, fraudulent begging was as well organized as the relief sought, and it was often found that the same person was getting aid from half a dozen different societies at one time.[10]

From the statements already mentioned, it follows that modern Philanthropy has been a great waste of money, effort, and sympathy—has been the means of diffusing habits of improvidence, idleness, and servility in the poorer classes. To aid the good-for-nothings to multiply, says Mr. Spencer, is the same as maliciously providing for our descendants a multitude of enemies. There is, however, a peculiar tendency among certain sociologists to exaggerate the present evils of society, either overlooking or neglecting those of the past and future. The novelist, the littérateur, and the doctrinaire find plenty of facts at hand to prove the enormous increase of human wretchedness. When social evils are prominently before the people, these persons either rush off to the Legislature to have a new law passed, or they get together a score of individuals and form a new charitable Association. There is a blind and unthinking faith in the paternal functions of the State; as if the social structure was founded upon the régime of status, instead of contract, express or implied. All modern relief has proceeded upon the ground that it is the duty of those who have supported themselves to support others, and the good citizen is obliged to shoulder the burdens of the good-for-nothing in addition to his own. If Quashie is idle or incapable of work, the State may say, on the basis of status, "I will feed and clothe you until you find work." Still better it would be to give him employment instead of taking care of him. All modern philanthropic legislation has relied upon palliatives; it has undoubtedly ameliorated the near effects of poverty, but unquestionably it has failed to remove its remote causes. We must believe that these social evils of pauperism and crime are incurable, or that the treatment of them is wrong and pernicious.


The latter conclusion leads us all the more to the firm belief that Philanthropy should be established upon a definite and exact scientific basis. In his address before the Academy, in 1880, Victor Sardou said that sympathy impelled men to apply a remedy before they ascertained the cause of the disease—to trust in the efficacy of panaceas, rather than in the vis medicatrix. This he called sentimental Philanthropy. The conflict between the sentimental and scientific methods in social science has come from the intrusion of what may be called the sympathetic Bias—that is, the former class allow their emotions to predominate over their judgments, while the latter subordinate their feelings of sympathy to their faculty of reason. The sentimentalist employs in sociology the empiric method; in ethics he builds upon intuition; in political economy he favors the principle of co-operation. The innumerable Reforms, Leagues, and Associations are evidences of the unscientific nature of the remedy administered for deep-seated evils. Therefore, all measures of public relief must depend for their success on the correctness and certainty with which the laws of mental and biological science are applied; and the legist must likewise depend, not on short-lived and hastily-contrived plans for relief, but on the logical precision with which he draws his conclusions from these scientific studies to shape the course of his present and future policy. M. Fouillée declares that the aim of philanthropy will be to establish among the social classes solidarité—union between the rich and the poor. In the terms of evolution, our modern Philanthropy will produce a state of social equilibrium—"a state of human nature and social organization such that the individual has no desires but those which may be satisfied without exceeding his proper sphere of action, while society maintains no restraints but those which the individual voluntarily respects."[11] Unhappiness will be the result of imperfect adjustment of faculties to their functions and conditions, while happiness will consist in the due exercise of all the faculties consistent with the similar exercise of the like faculties of others. Without one word of displeasure to those tender-hearted philanthropists who have committed grievous errors by short-sighted plans, let us speak with pleasure of the labors of Arkwright, Stephenson, Whitney, Bessemer, Siemens, and others—scientific philanthropists, who have been all the time "weaving the web of concord among nations." The spirit that animated Faust to dig and drain vast territories has led these practical men to cautiously work out the application of the inventions and discoveries in science to art and industry. The difference between the Humanitarian, who is looking at things as they should be, and the sociologist, who deals with things as they are, represents accurately the distance between the Ideal and the Real. The true philanthropist will take that golden mean,—a man who, while maintaining the just equipoise between the emotional, non-discursive side, and his intellectual and analytic nature, will give wide range to his finer sympathies, "so uniting philanthropic energy with philosophic calm."

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  1. "Descent of Man," 1880, p. 617; vide p. 138.
  2. Compendium Tenth Census, part ii, p. 1665: "The tendency to insanity among the foreign...may be accounted for, etc., by the change of climate and of habits of life; by increased anxiety and effort to advance in social respectability, by home-sickness, and in general by removal of props which sustain a man who does not emigrate." Even the same tendency is noticed with native-born who move, "especially from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast."
  3. Vide "Data of Ethics," 1883, pp. 191, 192; also Mr. Spencer's "American Address."
  4. That rough moralist, Jack Cade, when he learned that the clerk of Chatham had been setting boys copies, said, "Here's a villain!" Also vide "Study of Sociology," chapter xv.
  5. See further, "Political Economy," vol. ii, pp. 690, 691.
  6. The Fifteenth Report of the State Board of Charities, p. 167.
  7. The proletaires, though short-lived, intemperate, improvident, and decimated by fever and disease, nevertheless remain the same, continually receiving scores of their own children as recruits to their ranks. It is among the children of this class that the Children's Aid Society has accomplished its work in New York; and according to the report of Mr. Brace, the secretary, for 1883, among the many thousand children sent to the West, with few exceptions, they have grown up to have an honorable standing in the community. It goes to show that hereditary taints may be in part ameliorated by the softening influences of a congenial environment.
  8. The Fifteenth Report of the State Board of Charities, 1882-'83, p. 322. "Compendium Tenth Census," p. 1665, stated only thirteen out-door poor returns for Boston—a very comfortable income for each for amount of money spent.
  9. Poor-Law Commissioners' Report, p. 280.
  10. Reference is here made to the circular lately issued. The society intends to study the advisability of a system of loans, a bureau of legal relief, the formation of wood-yards to encourage the able-bodied, the labor markets of the United States, and the cost of transportation. The regret expressed on page 322, State Charities Report, is now, in a measure, met.
  11. "First Principles," p. 612.