Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

not been determined for him before he had his own he has, as he angrily declares, been acquired any power of choice or any of the compelled to live and suffer, it is surely the faculties which are essential to choice that he height of irrationality to assume that by any should live, is not so much as even conceiv. mere revolt of his own he can defeat the des. able. The pretension that we ought to have tiny he repudiates. It seems to us that even had, before we existed, a choice given us be the sceptic, if he were a true sceptic, would tween existence and non existence is a con not make the complaint that he has been comtradiction in terms. Nor is suicide-except pelled to exist in a condition which galls him, to the materialist, who, sceptic though he be, the ground of an inference that by a blind perfectly well knows that it is a leap in the and violent attempt to throw the fetters off dark, which may conduct him to very much in. him, he will escape them. The true inference tenser forms of existence, no less than to non seems to be tbat he cannot fairly count upon existence—in any sense a deliberate choice escaping now what it was so completely benot to exist. It is only a rejection of exist yond his own power to escape before. We ence under present conditions, and whether maintain that the true lesson of life to a thorthese conditions will be changed for the better oughgoing sceptic would be the wisdom of acor for the worse by this leap in the dark quiescence. He has come into the midst of neither the professed sceptic nor any one else conditions, which he finds painful, partly who has received no divine guidance as to the under the control of a Power of which he meaning and purpose of this life can possibly positively boasts that he knows nothing guess. What the suicide does know is only though with a little more patience and anxiety that by a Power over which he had-before to know something, he might bave learned a his existence began--no control, he has been good deal of its purposes--partly by his own brought to a condition of what he is pleased very defective use of the opportunities which to regard as intolerable suffering. Well, is that Power opened out to him. What can be that a reason for supposing that he will less reasonable than to infer that without any change his condition for the better by reject. assent of that Power, and by a sheer act of ing what that Power, together with his own blind revolt against it on his own part, he will use of the alternatives which life had opened better his condition? If the overruling Power to him, may have inflicted upon him ? If he be an infinite mind, then it is certain that its has been forced into suffering partly by what designs will have their way, and not be dehe had no choice about at all, partly by the de. feated by a mere mortal who kicks against the liberate uses he has since made of the power pricks. If it be not a mind, but a mere Fate, of choice that had been given him, where is still, what Fate has caused once it may cause the reason to suppose that he will be allowed again, and cause in either a worse or a better to escape from suffering by the fiat of the form, same Power co-operating with an exercise of No fatalist can be otherwise than a fool his own will which cannot but be described who does not see that one of the first lesas blind, ignorant, and impatient? It is some. sons he has to learn is- we will not say forti. times said that a man who has chosen wrongly tude, for that implies something much higher in relation to his career in life is not blamed --but at least endurance. He has become the but rather praised for renouncing that career sport of what he calls Fate, once, and he has in favor of one more adapted to his powers. found that the more impatient he is, the more No doubt. But in that case he chooses be. blindly he struggles with his fetters, the more tween careers of both of which he has the they gall him. Can any act be madder than power to judge-one of them by his own ex to go into open rebellion, and try to escape by perience, the other of them by all he can learn an act of his own will, what has bound him of it by observing the experience of others. in galling chains without any consent of his That is not so at all when he renounces life own will? Of course, if he is foolish enough itself, for he renounces it without having the to think that he really knows now how to es. least means of judging for what alternative he cape from a Power under the control of which renounces it. It is not, as we have already he fell without so much as a glimpse of any said, a deliberate choice at all ; it is a delib- chance of resisting it, he is hardly a rational erate rejection of that which has been chosen being at all. These material forces, if they for him, and which he has no reason at all to have produced an intolerable life once, are assume that he will be permitted to reject with just as likely as not to produce them again, out paying a penalty. If without choice of The true philosophy of fatalism is acquiescence

and self-adjustment to uncontrollable Power, the very conditions by which they were most and that, if not the germ of fortitude, is at sorely tried. Of course, it is true not only least a beginning of that attitude of mind of that men have no choice given them as to which fortitude is the most perfect flower, coming into existence, but that they can only The sceptic who chooses death rather than rise to their full strength by accepting those life, chooses he knows not what-chooses conditions into which they are born, with what even by his own admission may well something more than patience-with a ready prove to be a sort of life infinitely more and eager resolve to make the best of them, painful than that which he has so violently whatever they are. It is the faith in Provi. rejected.

dence, the faith in the high purposes of the But may we not go a good deal farther even on Power which fixes us here, that alone gives us the mere footing of the teaching of experience, the strength to make the beet of difficulties and say that human nature has learned noth- often very great, and sometimes appearing to ing which has added more to its general capac- be insuperable. But Christianity has raised ity and strength than the power of bearing this kind of fortitude into a sort of inspirapain calmly and well? Has anything great tion. It has taught that pain is one of the ever been done without it? It has been really greatest and most supernatural of all the inthe test, and not only the test but the discip- struments employed in the moulding of our line, of every kind of true and noble pur- nature, and that the apparent paradox of pose. It is not merely that without this prov. gratitude for suffering, is in truth a paradox ing by pain, we shonld not know the noble only to the natural and half-educated man. purpose from the ignoble, but that even noble. The very secret of fortitude is the belief in the purpose becomes all the nobler, all the purer, truth of our Lord's saying to his apostles :for the pain throngh which it passes. It gains “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen not simply in confidence that it is genuine, but you." The area of divine choice is infinite, in genuineness, by what it goes through, while that of human choice is in the strictest Cynics say that all motives are mixed, that degree limited. As Providence keeps the con. there is no such thing as absolutely unmixed sequences of death in its own hands, it is idle good or purity in human life. And they are to say that it gives us the right to reject con. more or less right. But what they fail to see ditions which we do understand, and to launch is that these mixed motives are rendered less ourselves into those of which we understand and less mixed, that these alloys are more and nothing. Christianity has always treated for. more purged away, by the discipline of pain titude as one of its very highest and most suffered in the cause of whatever high ele. characteristic virtues, and even the agnostic ment of devotedness these mixed motives con must admit that Christian fortitude-which is tain. Surely, that ought to teach us, if noth. utterly inconsistent with suicide-has had a ing else teaches us, that there is a purpose, much grander effect in developing human and a spiritual purpose, in all the suffering of character than any kind of irritable and im. human life, and not mere arbitrary will, still patient revolt. --- The Spectator. less mere chance at the bottom of it ; and, in short, that our endurance should be some THE “FORUM's" REDUCTION OF PRICE. The thing more than mere acquiescence and docile Forum, which its readers regard as the foreself adjustment to painful conditions, should most of our periodicals, has reduced its price be, indeed, true fortitude, in other words, from $5 to $3 a year, from 50 to 25 cents a copy. willing submission to that which, if accepted This is the most noteworthy reduction in periwith willing submission, purifies and ennobles odical literature that has taken place-perhaps man. Even the mere humanist can hardly that can take place. Magazines of fiction and question for a moment that those who have adventure, the illustrated monthlies, were lent most fascination and significance to hu- within everybody's reach even before the reman history, those who have raised the aspira- cent reduction in the price of some of them. tions, and often even seemed to be the inspira. Bat no periodical of the class of The Forum tion, of the greater races, would never have has ever been sold for 25 cents. It becomes attained to that position without passing the cheapest by half of all great reviews in the through fiery trials which both tested and world, and it remains the largest of all our purified their aims, nor that they effected this periodicals of its kind, and its character is in by accepting with humility and even gratitude no way changed.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

I do not suppose that those who first means, but must always be an end unto heard the parable of Dives and Lazarus himself. This view of human nature thought the position of the beggar mon- is fatal to slavery. And as it has prestrous or even abnormal. “Paucis hu- vailed, slavery has disappeared. But manum vivit genus," was the true ac- is the right to personal freedom the count of that antique world. lIow only aboriginal prerogative of man ? could it be otherwise in a social order The framers of the famous Declaration based upon slavery ? The well-nigh which announced to the world the two thousand years which have passed French Revolution as an accomplished away since the parable was spoken have fact thought not. “Security and rewitnessed the evolution of a new idea sistance to oppression,” they proof human personality, Its essential claimed, were also his natural and imdignity, its inalienable rights, have prescriptible rights. I do not propose been increasingly recognized as the cen here to discuss what value rightly atturies have rolled on. Aristotle's defi- taches to this formula, or to the proponition of the free man is : “ One who sition which precedes it, that men are belongs to himself, and not to another.” born and continue equal in rights. This It is now recognized by the foremost is certain : whatever the extravaganpeoples of the world, and the leaders of cies, the sophistries, the blunders, the the rest, that such freedom is man's ignorances and negligences, the crimes sacred birthright, and that in virtue of and atrocities of the Revolutionary legit he should never be used merely as a islators, they vindicated, as none before NEW SERIES.- VOL.'LIX., No. 2.

10

them had vindicated, the august verity tocracy to be overthrown—the aristocthat man, as man, has aboriginal rights. racy of the rich." The poor had the This was their message to the human same gospel preached unto them by race, and, as Mr. Mill has well observed, Tallien, who demanded “full and enit wrought a great change in man him- tire equality,” and insisted that “the self. It fell upon the ears of Lazarus, owners of property should be sent tu and set him thinking about his own the dungeons as public thieves”' ; by condition. Was it in accordance with Fouché, afterward Duke of Otranto his rights, he began to ask himself, and Police Minister to the First Napothat he should lie at the gate in rags leon, who maintained that “equality scantily covering his sores, vainly de- ought not to be a deceitful illusion ;'; siring even the crumbs which fell from that “all citizens ought to have a like the well.spread table of Dives?

right to the advantages of society" ; It was the beginning of the move and by Joseph Babeuf, who sought to ment called Socialism. No doubt we realize his doctrines by a conspiracy, may, in some sense, trace the move- and was executed for his pains by the ment, like the great Revolution itself, Directory, and who changed his Christo Rousseau ; his Discourse on the tian name to Caius Gracchus : “ PourOrigin of Inequality contains the germ quoi vouloir me forcer à conserver St. of it. But its first set exponent ap- Joseph pour mon patron ?” he expears to have been the Abbé Fauchet, plained." Je ne veux pas les vertus who in the early days of the Revolution de ce brave homme-là." But perhaps delivered orations at a club called the the most memorable of these Revolu“ Cercle Social," and edited a journal tionary Socialists was Brissot de Warentitled La Bouche de Fer. He insisted ville, for it is to him that we owe the " that all the world ought to live ; that famous formula about property and everybody should have something and theft which every one now knows. nobody too much," and denounced “La propriété exclusive c'est le vol," “the wretch who desires the continu- was the original text of the dictum ance of the present infernal régime, which for sixty years lay buried and where you may count outcasts by mill. forgotten in Brissot's not very meritoriions, and by dozens the upstarts (les ous work, Recherches Philosophiques insolents) who possess everything with- sur la Propriété et sur le Vol. Then out having done anything for it. The Prudhon discovered it and made it curguillotine cut short the Abbé's elo- rent coin in the shortened form, “ La quence in 1793—he appears to have propriété c'est le vol," appropriating been suspected of Girondism — but it, however, without acknowledgment; others carried on his work. Thus Ma- perhaps, M. Janet conjectures,* in virrat pleaded in the Ami du Peuple: tue of the natural right, alleged by “ Either stifle the work-people, or feed Brissot, of everybody to everything, them. But how find work for them ? This is the corner-stone, precious Find it any way you like. How pay elect, upon which all Socialism rests. them? With the salary of M. Bailly." Doubtless, as Professor Luigi Cossa obBailly, it will be remembered, was the serves, there is an ambiguity about the patriot mayor who floridly harangued word which is puzzling, since the poor Louis XVI. at the barrier of Passy, “party of Socialism, so called, includes congratulating the wretched monarch a rather heterogeneous number of upon being conquered by his people, groups, which are named according to and was himself put to death three the aims they have in view, the means years afterward by the same “ people,” they propose to use, and the manner in with circumstances of revolting cruelty. which they hold together." No doubt, Chaumette, too, praised by Mr. John too, the Professor is well warranted in Morley as showing the natural effect his complaint that “classification has a of abandoning belief in another life by hard road to travel when it enters the his energetic interest for improving the tangle of jarring socialistic sects.lot of men in this life," urged that, though" we have destroyed the nobles

* See his Les Origines du Socialisme Contemand the Capets, there is another aris- porain, which I have before me as I write.

The literature of the subject is im- mitted to refer those who would follow mense, and is rapidly growing every the subject further to what I have elseday. Herr Stamhammer, in his Bibli- where written concerning it.* ographie des Socialismus, enumerates But if we turn to property in the some five thousand works more or less concrete I fear the indictment against immediately dealing with it, and the Dives rests on only too good grounds. catalogue is by no means complete. Property in its original idea is the guarBut whatever diversities of operation antee to a man of the fruit of his own these volumes present, in all worketh labor and abstinence. A great deal of one and the self-same spirit. All bring it, as it exists, is due to the labor and the same charge, substantially, against abstinence of others, and has come into Dives-that he is a thief ; that is the the possession of those who own it by head and front of his offending ; their theft or by worse offences. A writer first count in the indictment against of high economic authority, not the him. Property is theft." Is this least of whose many merits is that he true ?

carefully weighs his words, tells 118, We must distinguish. It certainly is “As a fact, much of the wealth of the not true of private property in the ab- rich classes in modern Europe has been stract. The philosophical justification gathered together, and is kept together, of private property is that it is neces- by dreadful deeds of cruelty, extortion, sary for the explication of personality and fraud.” † To take this country in this work-a day world. A desire to only, how many noble houses derive appropriate things external to us, to their abundant possessions from the convert them into lasting instruments ruthless spoliation of the religious of our will, is one of the elements of foundations under Henry VIII. our nature. We cannot picture to our

foundations which were so many censelves a state of existence in which man tres of Christian charity throughout does not exclusively possess things need- the land, which were, in the strictest ful for self.preservation. The ultimate sense, the patrimony of the poor. “To ground of private property is necessity the rapacity of the aristocratic camaarising from the reason of things. Man rilla of adventurers, as Professor alone of all animals is a person, self- Rogers writes, surrounding the nonage conscious, self-determined, morally re of Edward VI., we owe the destruction sponsible. And the word person de- of the thirty thousand religious guilds notes the individual as capable of rights which had been the great institutions (rechtsfähig). We cannot, in strict- of thrift and self-help—“the benefit ness, predicate rights of the lower ani- societies of the Middle Ages,” the Promals, because they are not persons ; al- fessor calls them and the foundation though we may attribute to them quasi of English pauperism. Or, to come rights in proportion as they approxi. down to our own times, what a tale is mate to personality. They are not an written in the pages of William Cobend to themselves. Man is an end to bett, of Robert Owen, of the Reports himself. He has an indefeasible right of Royal Commissions, concerning the to live out his own life as a man ; he way in which colossal fortunes were achas an indefeasible right to all that is cumulated at the beginning of the cennecessary to enable him to do that. tury! Men, women, and little children Property is necessary. It belongs to offered up in hecatombs to Mamnion, the moral realm, the realm of rights, “the master idol of this realm.” Or, and springs from human personality, think of the “sweating” system as it the ethical idea and psychological being actually exists among us. I use the of man. But the person is found only word in its widest sense. I mean by it in society, which is man's natural state. not only what takes place in the dens And it is in the social organism that of Whitechapel where suits of clothes rights become valid. Only in civil so are made for half-a-crown and a gross ciety is the right to property, like all rights, realized. So much must suffice

* See On Right and Wrong, Chapter VIII,

and On Shibboleths, Chapter VII, here as to the right to property considered in the abstract. I may be per

Groundwork of Economics, by C. S. Dewas, sec. 261.

« ZurückWeiter »