Imágenes de páginas

those living in the light of a Christian civilization, should preserve themselves against the appalling evils which the sale and drinking of intoxicants will assuredly impose upon them; that legislatures should thus provide against this evil traffic as they would against that of any other article that was absolutely injurious to human morals, and comfort, and life; and that the people ought so to educate themselves as to demand and sustain such legislation on the part of their law-makers. Hence he contended that moral suasion should be the accompaniment of a prohibitory law, that it might be constantly encouraged and upheld by a healthy public sentiment. The saying so loosely uttered, "You cannot make men temperate by law," a saying self-evident, and too often heard as a slur on prohibitory laws, he as fully endorsed as any other person. The law is an instrument to carry out the will of those who cause it to be enacted, and who mean to sustain it. No sane advocate of prohibition ever pretended that temperance laws could make men temperate. If any have advocated or voted for such laws, supposing the enactment of them could do the greatest part of the work of temperance, they have simply acted without due enlightenment on the subject. In the temperance reform moral suasion and prohibition are "one and inseparable." And this, we are fully persuaded, will be more clearly seen in the further progress of the reform.

[ocr errors]

Another characteristic of Dr. Jewett, as an advocate of temperance, was his readiness to have the freest discussion on the part of all of every opinion, on this whole subject of temperance. No one was readier than he for such discussion, and no one evinced more readiness to meet it with the strongest logic and most effective persuasiveness. In all his encounters with those in opposition to his work, the cause of temperance never lost but always gained ground by his advocacy of it. So we are persuaded it would be, if those who now oppose it would but enter heartily and honestly into a free discussion of the whole bearing of the evil of intoxicants on individual character and happiness, on public purity, safety and peace, on national prosperity and strength, on commercial interests and

all that pertains to the highest welfare of mankind. Our Temperance conventions and assemblies have always been open to those who honestly desired to exchange opinions on the temperance question, and we doubt not they always will be.

While those engaged in the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, often meet by themselves for the promotion of their own business interests, would it not be well for them to meet their fellow-countrymen in this free debate as to the real merit of this whole great question? We believe in this free and thorough investigation. Let us have more of it in the future than we have had in the past. Truth and right are ready for it. Who objects?

We commend this volume of which we have written to the American public especially. It is a text-book on Temperance, of the highest order. It ought to be in every library in the land. The lawyer should read it, to find wholesome and unanswerable statements on temperance and law; the clergyman should have it as a valuable armory from which to draw most effective weapons to be used in the warfare against intemperance; parents should keep it in their homes as a family guide-book in the great reform which it advocates; opposers of temperance reform measures ought to read it, that they may the better understand the hard warfare which a Christian civilization is yet to wage against the threatening and fearful forces of the "Drink Demon." No one who would "keep up with the times" ought to live without a knowledge of the contents of this book. Whoever reads it will find that "the times" are talking strongly. We are thankful that the life of which this volume is a record has been given to the world.


Ethics and Evolution.

The Data of Ethics. By Herbert Spencer. D. Appleton & Co..

It has become the fashion for the scientific gentlemen who make the doctrine of evolution fundamental in their philosophy, to speak of Herbert Spencer, with a certain degree of brotherly complacency, as "our greatest philosopher"; and certainly if any man has attempted to render the cause of the evolutionists a mighty service that man is Herbert Spencer. Notwithstanding the somewhat plausible array of circumstantial evidence which has been set in order to advance and confirm the theory of development, it must be confessed by its advocates, that many things are lacking which are necessary to a perfect, or even a satisfactory, demonstration of the truth. There is not simply one "missing link," but there are many links for which there is an unconfessed and secret, but an anxious and excessive yearning. The buried boneyards of past ages fail to satisfy us in regard to the doctrine of the evolution of structures from inferior types of animals. There are no fossils showing a transition from one type or species to another. Leverrier reasoned á priori that there must be a heavenly body undiscovered which would account for certain astronomical discrepancies. At last, he brought the celestial missing link within the range of telescopic vision. But the "missing link" of the evolutionists is an obstinate vacuity. It refuses to be supplied. The only sign of its appearance is its absence. It is claimed, however, that it may possibly yet turn up. If it does not, there is the myth of a lost Atlantis or a sunken Lemuria to fall back upon. The transition from the inferior animal to the man may have taken place upon some great continent or island which has been submerged. Even then, it would be difficult to account for the absence of fossil remnants showing a transition from one low type to another. The lost Atlantis will not account for everything. But scientific speculation may devise a way out of the apparently serious difficulty.

The missing links of physical evolution, the various stages denoting a development of structures from one type to another, are not all that is wanting to a satisfactory demonstration of the doctrine of evolution. It is necessary to account, not only for the structure of the human species, but for the mental and moral faculties of man. It is not only necessary to show how he has developed an organism. It is necessary to show how he has evolved a moral sense, a conscience. There may not be such a portentous difference between the physical structure of the ape and that of man as to make it impossible that the circumstantial evidence of the evolutionists should have weight and plausibility. But between the moral sense of man and the utter lack of anything of the kind in the animal races below him, there is a difference which is destined, even in spite of " our greatest philosopher," to give his friends a considerable amount of trouble.

It is the connecting link between the intelligence of the highest order of brutes, and the moral sense of man that Spencer has undertaken to supply. It is a task the undertaking of which should call for lively gratitude on the part of evolu tionists. It is probably a profound sense of thankfulness which is inadequately expressed in the fond appellation of "our great philosopher." And truly if any man is competent to succeed in the task which he has undertaken, Herbert Spencer is the man to do it. He has a pleasing and adroit style of writing. He is plausible and alert. Nothing which can aid him in his vast endeavor, no fact of nature, nor truth of science which can shore up his hypothesis, or be made into a felicitous illustration of his theory, has escaped attention and prolonged thought on his part. He has made an exhaustive search for his materials. He has put them in their most convincing order. If he fails in the work which he has set himself to do it is through no lack of ingenuity, sincerity, or ability. We join to this extent in the tribute of his friends: He is their greatest philosopher. If he fails to make out his case, the fault is in the hypothesis itself. He has no lost Atlantis, no submerged Lemuria to retreat upon. The facts, if facts there

are to sustain his theory, must be accessible. The human mind itself has not been buried or submerged. It exists and is competent to bear testimony to the changes through which it has passed. If the cultivation of intelligence results in a moral faculty, we shall probably be able to understand how and why it does so.

In the Data of Ethics this is specially what the philosopher undertakes to show. He begins by defining conduct as the adaptation of means to ends, and then proceeds to consider the evolution of conduct. According to the definition he has given, therefore, the evolution of conduct is the cultivation of skill in adapting means to ends. But conduct is not all alike. Mr. Spencer proposes a particular end to be served and considers conduct which conduces to this end good, while conduct which is not a means to this end, but leads away, or aside from it, he calls bad. The end he proposes is the production of the greatest conceivable quantity of life. Conduct which is conducive to life he calls good, while conduct which tends to diminish life is bad. This doctrine, it is confessed, involves the assumption that life itself is a good thing. Without balancing the arguments of the pessimist against those of the optimist, it is assumed that there is one proposition in regard to which both pessimist and optimist are agreed: - namely, that life is to be considered a blessing, or a curse, according as its pleasures exceed, or are exceeded by its pains. The test of conduct is, therefore, this: Does it promote felicity? If it promotes happiness, it is good. If it promotes unhappiness it is bad. The attempt is made to show that all theories of morals involve this final test. And this attempt proceeds by showing that if the conditions be hypothetically reversed, if it be supposed that the actions now called good, instead of promoting felicity, tended to infelicity; if cuts and gashes caused agreeable sensations, if murder favored the general repose and happiness of society; if adultery tended to promote the peace and well-being of the community. then we should regard these acts with feelings wholly different from our present disposition toward them, in other words, according to Herbert Spencer, they would be right.

« AnteriorContinuar »