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THE

NEW ENGLANDER.

No. CLXXIX.

MARCH, 1884.

ARTICLE I.-SCIENTIFIC ETHICS.

SYMPATHY for those who are vexed with the consciousness of possessing a sound mind, and are laboring under some of the disabilities which it imposes, as well as for those who are oppressed generally with a sense of the inability of human nature to regulate itself, has inclined us to view with favor any safe method that may be devised, promising a mitigation of their distresses.

It has long been a subject of complaint among those whose peculiarities of disposition and modes of life have brought them into disagreeable acquaintance with civil enactments, and caused them to experience the unpleasant consequences of an imperfect understanding with their fellows, that society was in the habit of dealing too harshly with their indiscretions, and that their proper measure of happiness was thus upwarrantably abridged. And it must be admitted that this implied censure upon our course of treatment of this class is not without foundation. It is on this account that many are now passing their time in unwilling retirement, withdrawn from the good light and air of heaven; while others are filled with unpleasing reflections, looking to the same result in the near future; and VOL. VII.

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a still greater number are painfully deterred from undertaking the accomplishment of long cherished plans lest a like priva tion should overtake them also.

This condition of affairs is without doubt a misfortune to some; and such wrongs shouid be amended. They are a vex: ation to the race. Every one feels it. We are losing the benefit of the best efforts of many of our citizens. Our race is on a decline, and we must be relieved. Some remedy must be found, so that any just cause for such complaints may be removed; and it should be so fixed that every individual, without distinction of class or of persons, may feel at liberty to give the fullest play to whatever instincts, faculties, or desires nature has thrust upon him, without feeling hampered or intimidated by any arbitrary exactions which government or society may have undertaken to prescribe.

It must be apparent, at a glance, that the greatest liberty to the greatest number of individuals affords the surest guaranty for the proper development of each, and the consequent advancement of the race, as a whole. Progress is the law of the Universe. Whatever opposes this must get out of the way. Hence it is that, until these discouragements complained of shall have been removed, and all invidious distinctions between the qualities of actions, which have been created by unnatural and senseless edicts which serve to promote the mischief shall have been done away, it can not be expected that each member of the race will step forward with conscious freedom and take his proper place and rank in the order to which he belongs. This is what we most need. The race will then advance.

It is therefore with no small degree of satisfaction, that we have to contemplate the advent of a new system of Ethics, which promises all that the case demands. It has its foundations in the principles of genuine Science, which never falters nor leads astray. The system therefore has the merit of permanence and stability. It treats with due consideration all lapses from the old established lines of conduct, fitly characterized as “abnormal actions." It takes proper cognizance of the rights of the refractory, and regards with befitting reverence all those de. monstrations of an impetuous nature which are conspicuous in the orders from which men are proud to have descended. It brings peace, and quiets all alarms lest ventures should miscarry. It lifts up the fallen; comforts the stricken; says to the bound, "go free," and gives to all alike the promise of a speedy and. complete deliverance from those inconveniences which have been wont to follow even the less grievous infractions of right. It thus engages to restore the long-lost equilibrium of society. To this we look to give freedom and redemption to the race.

Accordingly, after due and proper examination of the system, and becoming fully persuaded of its leading merits—in order that no delay might be suffered in bringing it into practice, and so commending it to the esteem and confidence of others—it seemed to me the fitting thing to first test its excellences by actual experiment; which I proceeded to do. A few instances will serve to show the simplicity and vigor of the system, and how readily and cheerfully it adapts itself to the varied relations and experiences of every day life.

Let me see; I guess it was yesterday, I killed my mother-inlaw. No matter about the circumstances. They were not peculiar. We had a bit of discussion, with the result stated. It was a case of Natural Selection, a Struggle for Existence, and the Survival of the Fittest, all aptly demonstrated in good shape. Nature prevailed. “Moral principles must conform to physical necessities." Yet when I administered the second blow, to finish up the job, she gave me such a look that it did seem as if I felt a twinge of pity at the method of so untimely a taking-off. But it was only for a moment, until I could adjust the system which was then fresh and new to me. I found that it worked all right. It was the triumph of science, and I was content.

I can see that there may be just enough room, right here, for suspecting that, in this particular instance, it might be hard to justify the act; and some explanation might be needed to make it altogether clear and satisfactory. Perhaps it may be so. But it is no fault of the system. It needs only to be rightly understood. The system is sound and will vindicate itself. It is the application that has not yet become familiar. How did I do it? Let us consider the matter briefly. The teachings of science are our guide, and we can not be mistaken.

Shall it be contended for a moment, that a Law of Nature as universal as the law of gravitation, inexorable as fate—a law so indispensable to the genesis and development of every other species of organized matter that has ever existed; a law which lies at the basis of all progress—that this law of Natural Selection shall be deemed to have expended its force, balted, and gone into retirement at the very point in the scale of progress in human affairs when it must be conceded tbat its beneficial influences are most needed? Where shall we look to find the warrant for this? Who says so? What has arrested the operation of such a law? What reason for it? Cessante ratione, cessat lex. What reasons availing before have ceased to prevail ? This is not science. Science unfolds no such reason. Has nature any other law that acts thus ? What has become of the Persistence of Force? When will gravitation cease? No such pretension is allowed for an instant. Nature's laws do not expire in this way. They are blind, indiscriminating, inflexible, eternal. So science says; and who shall gainsay it?

The truth may as well be admitted and have its full effect. This law has not ceased. There is no such thing. It still holds sway. There are altogether too many of the race now living here and there and all around, to allow of that steady advancement and onward progress toward perfection in the development of the species which the laws of nature governing such cases clearly intended. We are making no progress Something is wrong. The due course of Nature is interfered with, and has been turned awry. We can see distinctly how the thing is. We are overstocked ; and a beginning must be made somewhere in the process of thinning out. And it is not difficult to know where to commence the treatment. Numbers are found in every direction unfit to live; of no possible use to themselves or anybody else ; precious for no purpose; a burden to the earth and those who rightfully inhabit it; better off without life than with it. Many are standing in the way of others and impeding their progress, and have no business there.

These ought to be promptly disposed of and give place to their betters. Nor is there any good reason, in the nature of things, wby an ill-founded though time-honored prejudice against the taking of human life should be suffered

to stand in the way of progress. Is not this worth more than all else? Why should human life be thought any better or be deemed more sacred than any other? Let this great and beneficent law of Nature come into full play and perforin its work manfully, as it should, and we shall soon discover what the Survival of the Fittest will accomplish for the race.

And let the selection be natural, so that science be not balked. Nature will point the way. This will be a great happiness.

Here is another occasion, in the line of conduct, to show the system. This morning I withheld my car-fare from the conductor as he passed me unwittingly. A nickel, only. Under ordinary circumstances, without the sustaining power of the new system, I should have reckoned it a mean advantage an cursed myself. This saved me. No struggle at all. It was a plain case of Egoism versus Altruism. The greatest happiness principle was again duly demonstrated, and comfort flowed in.

Still another case. A while ago a man addressed me in terms more abrupt than polite, and informed me, in substance, that I had exalted my imagination above the fact, in some statement made respecting himself, and enforced his remark with an ungraceful and provokingly emphatic gesture.

I scorned the imputation and thought I felt doubly hurt, for the moment, especially at the unpleasing reflection upon my veracity. But in this I was mistaken ; for an instant's recurrence to the new system restored the mental equilibrium. Magnanimity took the place of hate as soon as I recognized in the offensive act a case of Altruism versus Egoism-another " adjustment of acts to ends ;” and the recovered sensation was as placid as would have been that of my remote cousin, the clam, under like circumstances.

Numerous other instances might be cited of like happy result, both from personal experience and observation, in token of the superior excellence of the system now advocated. But let these suffice. They are a fair sample of the whole. There are no exceptions. It works well. The outlook is in every way encouraging. There is nothing like science to sustain the spirit of a man under the pressure of the most adverse circumstances. Great are the consolations of science. This must be

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