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´╗┐Title: Equality
Author: Warner, Charles Dudley, 1829-1900
Language: English
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By Charles Dudley Warner

In accordance with the advice of Diogenes of Apollonia in the beginning
of his treatise on Natural Philosophy--"It appears to me to be well for
every one who commences any sort of philosophical treatise to lay down
some undeniable principle to start with"--we offer this:

        All men are created unequal.

It would be a most interesting study to trace the growth in the world of
the doctrine of "equality." That is not the purpose of this essay, any
further than is necessary for definition. We use the term in its popular
sense, in the meaning, somewhat vague, it is true, which it has had since
the middle of the eighteenth century. In the popular apprehension it is
apt to be confounded with uniformity; and this not without reason, since
in many applications of the theory the tendency is to produce likeness or
uniformity. Nature, with equal laws, tends always to diversity; and
doubtless the just notion of equality in human affairs consists with
unlikeness. Our purpose is to note some of the tendencies of the dogma as
it is at present understood by a considerable portion of mankind.

We regard the formulated doctrine as modern. It would be too much to say
that some notion of the "equality of men" did not underlie the
socialistic and communistic ideas which prevailed from time to time in
the ancient world, and broke out with volcanic violence in the Grecian
and Roman communities. But those popular movements seem to us rather
blind struggles against physical evils, and to be distinguished from
those more intelligent actions based upon the theory which began to stir
Europe prior to the Reformation.

It is sufficient for our purpose to take the well-defined theory of
modern times. Whether the ideal republic of Plato was merely a convenient
form for philosophical speculation, or whether, as the greatest authority
on political economy in Germany, Dr. William Roscher, thinks, it "was no
mere fancy"; whether Plato's notion of the identity of man and the State
is compatible with the theory of equality, or whether it is, as many
communists say, indispensable to it, we need not here discuss. It is true
that in his Republic almost all the social theories which have been
deduced from the modern proclamation of equality are elaborated. There
was to be a community of property, and also a community of wives and
children. The equality of the sexes was insisted on to the extent of
living in common, identical education and pursuits, equal share in all
labors, in occupations, and in government. Between the sexes there was
allowed only one ultimate difference. The Greeks, as Professor Jowett
says, had noble conceptions of womanhood; but Plato's ideal for the sexes
had no counterpart in their actual life, nor could they have understood
the sort of equality upon which he insisted. The same is true of the
Romans throughout their history.

More than any other Oriental peoples the Egyptians of the Ancient Empire
entertained the idea of the equality of the sexes; but the equality of
man was not conceived by them. Still less did any notion of it exist in
the Jewish state. It was the fashion with the socialists of 1793, as it
has been with the international assemblages at Geneva in our own day, to
trace the genesis of their notions back to the first Christian age. The
far-reaching influence of the new gospel in the liberation of the human
mind and in promoting just and divinely-ordered relations among men is
admitted; its origination of the social and political dogma we are
considering is denied. We do not find that Christ himself anywhere
expressed it or acted on it. He associated with the lowly, the vile, the
outcast; he taught that all men, irrespective of rank or possessions, are
sinners, and in equal need of help. But he attempted no change in the
conditions of society. The "communism" of the early Christians was the
temporary relation of a persecuted and isolated sect, drawn together by
common necessities and dangers, and by the new enthusiasm of
self-surrender. ["The community of goods of the first Christians at
Jerusalem, so frequently cited and extolled, was only a community of use,
not of ownership (Acts iv. 32), and throughout a voluntary act of love,
not a duty (v. 4); least of all, a right which the poorer might assert.
Spite of all this, that community of goods produced a chronic state of
poverty in the church of Jerusalem." (Principles of Political Economy. By
William Roscher. Note to Section LXXXI. English translation. New York:
Henry Holt & Co. 1878.)]--Paul announced the universal brotherhood of
man, but he as clearly recognized the subordination of society, in the
duties of ruler and subject, master and slave, and in all the domestic
relations; and although his gospel may be interpreted to contain the
elements of revolution, it is not probable that he undertook to
inculcate, by the proclamation of "universal brotherhood," anything more
than the duty of universal sympathy between all peoples and classes as
society then existed.

If Christianity has been and is the force in promoting and shaping
civilization that we regard it, we may be sure that it is not as a
political agent, or an annuller of the inequalities of life, that we are
to expect aid from it. Its office, or rather one of its chief offices on
earth, is to diffuse through the world, regardless of condition or
possessions or talent or opportunity, sympathy and a recognition of the
value of manhood underlying every lot and every diversity--a value not
measured by earthly accidents, but by heavenly standards. This we
understand to be "Christian equality." Of course it consists with
inequalities of condition, with subordination, discipline, obedience; to
obey and serve is as honorable as to command and to be served.

If the religion of Christ should ever be acclimated on earth, the result
would not be the removal of hardships and suffering, or of the necessity
of self-sacrifice; but the bitterness and discontent at unequal
conditions would measurably disappear. At the bar of Christianity the
poor man is the equal of the rich, and the learned of the unlearned,
since intellectual acquisition is no guarantee of moral worth. The
content that Christianity would bring to our perturbed society would come
from the practical recognition of the truth that all conditions may be
equally honorable. The assertion of the dignity of man and of labor is,
we imagine, the sum and substance of the equality and communism of the
New Testament. But we are to remember that this is not merely a "gospel
for the poor."

Whatever the theories of the ancient world were, the development of
democratic ideas is sufficiently marked in the fifteenth century, and
even in the fourteenth, to rob the eighteenth of the credit of
originating the doctrine of equality. To mention only one of the early
writers,--[For copious references to authorities on the spread of
communistic and socialistic ideas and libertine community of goods and
women in four periods of the world's history--namely, at the time of the
decline of Greece, in the degeneration of the Roman republic, among the
moderns in the age of the Reformation, and again in our own day--see
Roscher's Political Economy, notes to Section LXXIX., et seq.]
--Marsilio, a physician of Padua, in 1324, said that the laws ought to be
made by all the citizens; and he based this sovereignty of the people
upon the greater likelihood of laws being better obeyed, and also being
good laws, when they were made by the whole body of the persons affected.

In 1750 and 1753, J. J. Rousseau published his two discourses on
questions proposed by the Academy of Dijon: "Has the Restoration of
Sciences Contributed to Purify or to Corrupt Manners?" and "What is the
Origin of Inequality among Men, and is it Authorized by Natural Law?"
These questions show the direction and the advance of thinking on social
topics in the middle of the eighteenth century. Rousseau's Contrat-Social
and the novel Emile were published in 1761.

But almost three-quarters of a century before, in 1690, John Locke
published his two treatises on government. Rousseau was familiar with
them. Mr. John Morley, in his admirable study of Rousseau, [Rousseau. By
John Morley. London: Chapman & Hall. 1873--I have used it freely in the
glance at this period.]--fully discusses the latter's obligation to
Locke; and the exposition leaves Rousseau little credit for originality,
but considerable for illogical misconception. He was, in fact, the most
illogical of great men, and the most inconsistent even of geniuses. The
Contrat-Social is a reaction in many things from the discourses, and
Emile is almost an entire reaction, especially in the theory of
education, from both.

His central doctrine of popular sovereignty was taken from Locke. The
English philosopher said, in his second treatise, "To understand
political power aright and derive it from its original, we must consider
what state all men are naturally in; and that is a state of perfect
freedom to order their actions and dispose of their persons and
possessions as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature,
without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man--a state
also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal,
no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident than
that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all
the advantages of nature and the use of the same faculties, should also
be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection, unless
the Lord and Master of them all should by any manifest declaration of His
will set one above another, and confer on him by an evident and clear
appointment an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty." But a state
of liberty is not a state of license. We cannot exceed our own rights
without assailing the rights of others. There is no such subordination as
authorizes us to destroy one another. As every one is bound to preserve
himself, so he is bound to preserve the rest of mankind, and except to do
justice upon an offender we may not impair the life, liberty, health, or
goods of another. Here Locke deduces the power that one man may have over
another; community could not exist if transgressors were not punished.
Every wrongdoer places himself in "a state of war." Here is the
difference between the state of nature and the state of war, which men,
says Locke, have confounded--alluding probably to Hobbes's notion of the
lawlessness of human society in the original condition.

The portion of Locke's treatise which was not accepted by the French
theorists was that relating to property. Property in lands or goods is
due wholly and only to the labor man has put into it. By labor he has
removed it from the common state in which nature has placed it, and
annexed something to it that excludes the common rights of other men.

Rousseau borrowed from Hobbes as well as from Locke in his conception of
popular sovereignty; but this was not his only lack of originality. His
discourse on primitive society, his unscientific and unhistoric notions
about the original condition of man, were those common in the middle of
the eighteenth century. All the thinkers and philosophers and fine ladies
and gentlemen assumed a certain state of nature, and built upon it, out
of words and phrases, an airy and easy reconstruction of society, without
a thought of investigating the past, or inquiring into the development of
mankind. Every one talked of "the state of nature" as if he knew all
about it. "The conditions of primitive man," says Mr. Morley, "were
discussed by very incompetent ladies and gentlemen at convivial
supper-parties, and settled with complete assurance." That was the age
when solitary Frenchmen plunged into the wilderness of North America,
confidently expecting to recover the golden age under the shelter of a
wigwam and in the society of a squaw.

The state of nature of Rousseau was a state in which inequality did not
exist, and with a fervid rhetoric he tried to persuade his readers that
it was the happier state. He recognized inequality, it is true, as a word
of two different meanings: first, physical inequality, difference of age,
strength, health, and of intelligence and character; second, moral and
political inequality, difference of privileges which some enjoy to the
detriment of others-such as riches, honor, power. The first difference is
established by nature, the second by man. So long, however, as the state
of nature endures, no disadvantages flow from the natural inequalities.

In Rousseau's account of the means by which equality was lost, the
incoming of the ideas of property is prominent. From property arose civil
society. With property came in inequality. His exposition of inequality
is confused, and it is not possible always to tell whether he means
inequality of possessions or of political rights. His contemporary,
Morelly, who published the Basileade in 1753, was troubled by no such
ambiguity. He accepts the doctrine that men are formed by laws, but holds
that they are by nature good, and that laws, by establishing a division
of the products of nature, broke up the sociability of men, and that all
political and moral evils are the result of private property. Political
inequality is an accident of inequality of possessions, and the
renovation of the latter lies in the abolition of the former.

The opening sentence of the Contrat-Social is, "Man is born free, and
everywhere he is a slave," a statement which it is difficult to reconcile
with the fact that every human being is born helpless, dependent, and
into conditions of subjection, conditions that we have no reason to
suppose were ever absent from the race. But Rousseau never said, "All men
are born equal." He recognized, as we have seen, natural inequality. What
he held was that the artificial differences springing from the social
union were disproportionate to the capacities springing from the original
constitution; and that society, as now organized, tends to make the gulf
wider between those who have privileges and those who have none.

The well-known theory upon which Rousseau's superstructure rests is that
society is the result of a compact, a partnership between men. They have
not made an agreement to submit their individual sovereignty to some
superior power, but they have made a covenant of brotherhood. It is a
contract of association. Men were, and ought to be, equal cooperators,
not only in politics, but in industries and all the affairs of life. All
the citizens are participants in the sovereign authority. Their
sovereignty is inalienable; power may be transmitted, but not will; if
the people promise to obey, it dissolves itself by the very act--if there
is a master, there is no longer a people. Sovereignty is also
indivisible; it cannot be split up into legislative, judiciary, and
executive power.

Society being the result of a compact made by men, it followed that the
partners could at any time remake it, their sovereignty being
inalienable. And this the French socialists, misled by a priori notions,
attempted to do, on the theory of the Contrat-Social, as if they had a
tabula rasa, without regarding the existing constituents of society, or
traditions, or historical growths.

Equality, as a phrase, having done duty as a dissolvent, was pressed into
service as a constructor. As this is not so much an essay on the nature
of equality is an attempt to indicate some of the modern tendencies to
carry out what is illusory in the dogma, perhaps enough has been said of
this period. Mr. Morley very well remarks that the doctrine of equality
as a demand for a fair chance in the world is unanswerable; but that it
is false when it puts him who uses his chance well on the same level with
him who uses it ill. There is no doubt that when Condorcet said, "Not
only equality of right, but equality of fact, is the goal of the social
art," he uttered the sentiments of the socialists of the Revolution.

The next authoritative announcement of equality, to which it is necessary
to refer, is in the American Declaration of Independence, in these words:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to
secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their
just power from the consent of the governed." And the Declaration goes
on, in temperate and guarded language, to assert the right of a people to
change their form of government when it becomes destructive of the ends

Although the genesis of these sentiments seems to be French rather than
English, and equality is not defined, and critics have differed as to
whether the equality clause is independent or qualified by what follows,
it is not necessary to suppose that Thomas Jefferson meant anything
inconsistent with the admitted facts of nature and of history. It is
important to bear in mind that the statesmen of our Revolution were
inaugurating a political and not a social revolution, and that the
gravamen of their protest was against the authority of a distant crown.
Nevertheless, these dogmas, independent of the circumstances in which
they were uttered, have exercised and do exercise a very powerful
influence upon the thinking of mankind on social and political topics,
and are being applied without limitations, and without recognition of the
fact that if they are true, in the sense meant by their originators, they
are not the whole truth. It is to be noticed that rights are mentioned,
but not duties, and that if political rights only are meant, political
duties are not inculcated as of equal moment. It is not announced that
political power is a function to be discharged for the good of the whole
body, and not a mere right to be enjoyed for the advantage of the
possessor; and it is to be noted also that this idea did not enter into
the conception of Rousseau.

The dogma that "government derives its just power from the consent of the
governed" is entirely consonant with the book theories of the eighteenth
century, and needs to be confronted, and practically is confronted, with
the equally good dogma that "governments derive their just power from
conformity with the principles of justice." We are not to imagine, for
instance, that the framers of the Declaration really contemplated the
exclusion from political organization of all higher law than that in the
"consent of the governed," or the application of the theory, let us say,
to a colony composed for the most part of outcasts, murderers, thieves,
and prostitutes, or to such states as today exist in the Orient. The
Declaration was framed for a highly intelligent and virtuous society.

Many writers, and some of them English, have expressed curiosity, if not
wonder, at the different fortunes which attended the doctrine of equality
in America and in France. The explanation is on the surface, and need not
be sought in the fact of a difference of social and political level in
the two countries at the start, nor even in the further fact that the
colonies were already accustomed to self-government.

The simple truth is that the dogmas of the Declaration were not put into
the fundamental law. The Constitution is the most practical state
document ever made. It announces no dogmas, proclaims no theories. It
accepted society as it was, with its habits and traditions; raising no
abstract questions whether men are born free or equal, or how society
ought to be organized. It is simply a working compact, made by "the
people," to promote union, establish justice, and secure the blessings of
liberty; and the equality is in the assumption of the right of "the
people of the United States" to do this. And yet, in a recent number of
Blackwood's Magazine, a writer makes the amusing statement, "I have never
met an American who could deny that, while firmly maintaining that the
theory was sound which, in the beautiful language of the Constitution,
proclaims that all men were born equal, he was," etc.

An enlightening commentary on the meaning of the Declaration, in the
minds of the American statesmen of the period, is furnished by the
opinions which some of them expressed upon the French Revolution while it
was in progress. Gouverneur Morris, minister to France in 1789, was a
conservative republican; Thomas Jefferson was a radical democrat. Both of
them had a warm sympathy with the French "people" in the Revolution; both
hoped for a republic; both recognized, we may reasonably infer, the
sufficient cause of the Revolution in the long-continued corruption of
court and nobility, and the intolerable sufferings of the lower orders;
and both, we have equal reason to believe, thought that a fair
accommodation, short of a dissolution of society, was defeated by the
imbecility of the king and the treachery and malignity of a considerable
portion of the nobility. The Revolution was not caused by theories,
however much it may have been excited or guided by them. But both Morris
and Jefferson saw the futility of the application of the abstract dogma
of equality and the theories of the Social Contract to the reconstruction
of government and the reorganization of society in France.

If the aristocracy were malignant--though numbers of them were far from
being so--there was also a malignant prejudice aroused against them, and
M. Taine is not far wrong when he says of this prejudice, "Its hard, dry
kernel consists of the abstract idea of equality."--[The French
Revolution. By H. A. Taine. Vol. i., bk. ii., chap. ii., sec. iii.
Translation. New York: Henry Holt & Co.]--Taine's French Revolution is
cynical, and, with all its accumulation of material, omits some facts
necessary to a philosophical history; but a passage following that quoted
is worth reproducing in this connection: "The treatment of the nobles of
the Assembly is the same as the treatment of the Protestants by Louis
XIV. . . . One hundred thousand Frenchmen driven out at the end of the
seventeenth century, and one hundred thousand driven out at the end of
the eighteenth! Mark how an intolerant democracy completes the work of an
intolerant monarchy! The moral aristocracy was mowed down in the name of
uniformity; the social aristocracy is mowed down in the name of equality.
For the second time an abstract principle, and with the same effect,
buries its blade in the heart of a living society."

Notwithstanding the world-wide advertisement of the French experiment, it
has taken almost a century for the dogma of equality, at least outside of
France, to filter down from the speculative thinkers into a general
popular acceptance, as an active principle to be used in the shaping of
affairs, and to become more potent in the popular mind than tradition or
habit. The attempt is made to apply it to society with a brutal logic;
and we might despair as to the result, if we did not know that the world
is not ruled by logic. Nothing is so fascinating in the hands of the
half-informed as a neat dogma; it seems the perfect key to all
difficulties. The formula is applied in contempt and ignorance of the
past, as if building up were as easy as pulling down, and as if society
were a machine to be moved by mechanical appliances, and not a living
organism composed of distinct and sensitive beings. Along with the spread
of a belief in the uniformity of natural law has unfortunately gone a
suggestion of parallelism of the moral law to it, and a notion that if we
can discover the right formula, human society and government can be
organized with a mathematical justice to all the parts. By many the dogma
of equality is held to be that formula, and relief from the greater evils
of the social state is expected from its logical extension.

Let us now consider some of the present movements and tendencies that are
related, more or less, to this belief:

I. Absolute equality is seen to depend upon absolute supremacy of the
state. Professor Henry Fawcett says, "Excessive dependence on the state
is the most prominent characteristic of modern socialism." "These
proposals to prohibit inheritance, to abolish private property, and to
make the state the owner of all the capital and the administrator of the
entire industry of the country are put forward as representing socialism
in its ultimate and highest development."--["Socialism in Germany and the
United States," Fortnightly Review, November, 1878.]

Society and government should be recast till they conform to the theory,
or, let us say, to its exaggerations. Men can unmake what they have made.
There is no higher authority anywhere than the will of the majority, no
matter what the majority is in intellect and morals. Fifty-one ignorant
men have a natural right to legislate for the one hundred, as against
forty-nine intelligent men.

All men being equal, one man is as fit to legislate and execute as
another. A recently elected Congressman from Maine vehemently repudiated
in a public address, as a slander, the accusation that he was educated.
The theory was that, uneducated, he was the proper representative of the
average ignorance of his district, and that ignorance ought to be
represented in the legislature in kind. The ignorant know better what
they want than the educated know for them. "Their education [that of
college men] destroys natural perception and judgment; so that cultivated
people are one-sided, and their judgment is often inferior to that of the
working people." "Cultured people have made up their minds, and are hard
to move." "No lawyer should be elected to a place in any legislative
body."--[Opinions of working-men, reported in "The Nationals, their
Origin and their Aims," The Atlantic Monthly, November, 1878.]

Experience is of no account, neither is history, nor tradition, nor the
accumulated wisdom of ages. On all questions of political economy,
finance, morals, the ignorant man stands on a par with the best informed
as a legislator. We might cite any number of the results of these
illusions. A member of a recent House of Representatives declared that we
"can repair the losses of the war by the issue of a sufficient amount of
paper money." An intelligent mechanic of our acquaintance, a leader among
the Nationals, urging the theory of his party, that banks should be
destroyed, and that the government should issue to the people as much
"paper money" as they need, denied the right of banks or of any
individuals to charge interest on money. Yet he would take rent for the
house he owns.

Laws must be the direct expression of the will of the majority, and be
altered solely on its will. It would be well, therefore, to have a
continuous election, so that, any day, the electors can change their
representative for a new man. "If my caprice be the source of law, then
my enjoyment may be the source of the division of the nation's
resources."--[Stahl's Rechtsphilosophie, quoted by Roscher.]

Property is the creator of inequality, and this factor in our artificial
state can be eliminated only by absorption. It is the duty of the
government to provide for all the people, and the sovereign people will
see to it that it does. The election franchise is a natural right--a
man's weapon to protect himself. It may be asked, If it is just this, and
not a sacred trust accorded to be exercised for the benefit of society,
why may not a man sell it, if it is for his interest to do so?

What is there illogical in these positions from the premise given?
"Communism," says Roscher, [Political Economy, bk. i., ch. v., 78.]--"is
the logically not inconsistent exaggeration of the principle of equality.
Men who hear themselves designated as the sovereign people, and their
welfare as the supreme law of the state, are more apt than others to feel
more keenly the distance which separates their own misery from the
superabundance of others. And, indeed, to what an extent our physical
wants are determined by our intellectual mold!"

The tendency of the exaggeration of man's will as the foundation of
government is distinctly materialistic; it is a self-sufficiency that
shuts out God and the higher law.--["And, indeed, if the will of man is
all-powerful, if states are to be distinguished from one another only by
their boundaries, if everything may be changed like the scenery in a play
by a flourish of the magic wand of a system, if man may arbitrarily make
the right, if nations can be put through evolutions like regiments of
troops, what a field would the world present for attempts at the
realizations of the wildest dreams, and what a temptation would be
offered to take possession, by main force, of the government of human
affairs, to destroy the rights of property and the rights of capital, to
gratify ardent longings without trouble, and to provide the much-coveted
means of enjoyment! The Titans have tried to scale the heavens, and have
fallen into the most degrading materialism. Purely speculative dogmatism
sinks into materialism." (M. Wolowski's Essay on the Historical Method,
prefixed to his translation of Roscher's Political Economy.)]--We need to
remember that the Creator of man, and not man himself, formed society and
instituted government; that God is always behind human society and
sustains it; that marriage and the family and all social relations are
divinely established; that man's duty, coinciding with his right, is, by
the light of history, by experience, by observation of men, and by the
aid of revelation, to find out and make operative, as well as he can, the
divine law in human affairs. And it may be added that the sovereignty of
the people, as a divine trust, may be as logically deduced from the
divine institution of government as the old divine right of kings.
Government, by whatever name it is called, is a matter of experience and
expediency. If we submit to the will of the majority, it is because it is
more convenient to do so; and if the republic or the democracy vindicate
itself, it is because it works best, on the whole, for a particular
people. But it needs no prophet to say that it will not work long if God
is shut out from it, and man, in a full-blown socialism, is considered
the ultimate authority.

II. Equality of education. In our American system there is, not only
theoretically but practically, an equality of opportunity in the public
schools, which are free to all children, and rise by gradations from the
primaries to the high-schools, in which the curriculum in most respects
equals, and in variety exceeds, that of many third-class "colleges." In
these schools nearly the whole round of learning, in languages, science,
and art, is touched. The system has seemed to be the best that could be
devised for a free society, where all take part in the government, and
where so much depends upon the intelligence of the electors. Certain
objections, however, have been made to it. As this essay is intended only
to be tentative, we shall state some of them, without indulging in
lengthy comments.

( 1. ) The first charge is superficiality--a necessary consequence of
attempting too much--and a want of adequate preparation for special
pursuits in life.

( 2. ) A uniformity in mediocrity is alleged from the use of the same
text-books and methods in all schools, for all grades and capacities.
This is one of the most common criticisms on our social state by a
certain class of writers in England, who take an unflagging interest in
our development. One answer to it is this: There is more reason to expect
variety of development and character in a generally educated than in an
ignorant community; there is no such uniformity as the dull level of

( 3. ) It is said that secular education--and the general schools open to
all in a community of mixed religions must be secular--is training the
rising generation to be materialists and socialists.

( 4. ) Perhaps a better-founded charge is that a system of equal
education, with its superficiality, creates discontent with the condition
in which a majority of men must be--that of labor--a distaste for trades
and for hand-work, an idea that what is called intellectual labor (let us
say, casting up accounts in a shop, or writing trashy stories for a
sensational newspaper) is more honorable than physical labor; and
encourages the false notion that "the elevation of the working classes"
implies the removal of men and women from those classes.

We should hesitate to draw adverse conclusions in regard to a system yet
so young that its results cannot be fairly estimated. Only after two or
three generations can its effects upon the character of a great people be
measured: Observations differ, and testimony is difficult to obtain. We
think it safe to say that those states are most prosperous which have the
best free schools. But if the philosopher inquires as to the general
effect upon the national character in respect to the objections named, he
must wait for a reply.

III. The pursuit of the chimera of social equality, from the belief that
it should logically follow political equality; resulting in extravagance,
misapplication of natural capacities, a notion that physical labor is
dishonorable, or that the state should compel all to labor alike, and in
efforts to remove inequalities of condition by legislation.

IV. The equality of the sexes. The stir in the middle of the eighteenth
century gave a great impetus to the emancipation of woman; though,
curiously enough, Rousseau, in unfolding his plan of education for
Sophie, in Emile, inculcates an almost Oriental subjection of woman--her
education simply that she may please man. The true enfranchisement of
woman--that is, the recognition (by herself as well as by man) of her
real place in the economy of the world, in the full development of her
capacities--is the greatest gain to civilization since the Christian era.
The movement has its excesses, and the gain has not been without loss.
"When we turn to modern literature," writes Mr. Money, "from the pages in
which Fenelon speaks of the education of girls, who does not feel that
the world has lost a sacred accent--that some ineffable essence has
passed out from our hearts?"

How far the expectation has been realized that women, in fiction, for
instance, would be more accurately described, better understood, and
appear as nobler and lovelier beings when women wrote the novels, this is
not the place to inquire. The movement has results which are unavoidable
in a period of transition, and probably only temporary. The education of
woman and the development of her powers hold the greatest promise for the
regeneration of society. But this development, yet in its infancy, and
pursued with much crudeness and misconception of the end, is not enough.
Woman would not only be equal with man, but would be like him; that is,
perform in society the functions he now performs. Here, again, the notion
of equality is pushed towards uniformity. The reformers admit structural
differences in the sexes, though these, they say, are greatly exaggerated
by subjection; but the functional differences are mainly to be
eliminated. Women ought to mingle in all the occupations of men, as if
the physical differences did not exist. The movement goes to obliterate,
as far as possible, the distinction between sexes. Nature is, no doubt,
amused at this attempt. A recent writer--["Biology and Woman's Rights,"
Quarterly Journal of Science, November, 1878.]--, says: "The 'femme
libre' [free woman] of the new social order may, indeed, escape the
charge of neglecting her family and her household by contending that it
is not her vocation to become a wife and a mother! Why, then, we ask, is
she constituted a woman at all? Merely that she may become a sort of
second-rate man?"

The truth is that this movement, based always upon a misconception of
equality, so far as it would change the duties of the sexes, is a
retrograde.--["It has been frequently observed that among declining
nations the social differences between the two sexes are first
obliterated, and afterwards even the intellectual differences. The more
masculine the women become, the more effeminate become the men. It is no
good symptom when there are almost as many female writers and female
rulers as there are male. Such was the case, for instance, in the
Hellenistic kingdoms, and in the age of the Caesars. What today is called
by many the emancipation of woman would ultimately end in the dissolution
of the family, and, if carried out, render poor service to the majority
of women. If man and woman were placed entirely on the same level, and if
in the competition between the two sexes nothing but an actual
superiority should decide, it is to be feared that woman would soon be
relegated to a condition as hard as that in which she is found among all
barbarous nations. It is precisely family life and higher civilization
that have emancipated woman. Those theorizers who, led astray by the dark
side of higher civilization, preach a community of goods, generally
contemplate in their simultaneous recommendation of the emancipation of
woman a more or less developed form of a community of wives. The grounds
of the two institutions are very similar." (Roscher's Political Economy,
p. 250.) Note also that difference in costumes of the sexes is least
apparent among lowly civilized peoples.]--One of the most striking
features in our progress from barbarism to civilization is the proper
adjustment of the work for men and women. One test of a civilization is
the difference of this work. This is a question not merely of division of
labor, but of differentiation with regard to sex. It not only takes into
account structural differences and physiological disadvantages, but it
recognizes the finer and higher use of woman in society.

The attainable, not to say the ideal, society requires an increase rather
than a decrease of the differences between the sexes. The differences may
be due to physical organization, but the structural divergence is but a
faint type of deeper separation in mental and spiritual constitution.
That which makes the charm and power of woman, that for which she is
created, is as distinctly feminine as that which makes the charm and
power of men is masculine. Progress requires constant differentiation,
and the line of this is the development of each sex in its special
functions, each being true to the highest ideal for itself, which is not
that the woman should be a man, or the man a woman. The enjoyment of
social life rests very largely upon the encounter and play of the subtle
peculiarities which mark the two sexes; and society, in the limited sense
of the word, not less than the whole structure of our civilization,
requires the development of these peculiarities. It is in diversity, and
not in an equality tending to uniformity, that we are to expect the best
results from the race.

V. Equality of races; or rather a removal of the inequalities, social and
political, arising in the contact of different races by intermarriage.

Perhaps equality is hardly the word to use here, since uniformity is the
thing aimed at; but the root of the proposal is in the dogma we are
considering. The tendency of the age is to uniformity. The facilities of
travel and communication, the new inventions and the use of machinery in
manufacturing, bring men into close and uniform relations, and induce the
disappearance of national characteristics and of race peculiarities. Men,
the world over, are getting to dress alike, eat alike, and disbelieve in
the same things: It is the sentimental complaint of the traveler that his
search for the picturesque is ever more difficult, that race distinctions
and habits are in a way to be improved off the face of the earth, and
that a most uninteresting monotony is supervening. The complaint is not
wholly sentimental, and has a deeper philosophical reason than the mere
pleasure in variety on this planet.

We find a striking illustration of the equalizing, not to say leveling,
tendency of the age in an able paper by Canon George Rawlinson, of the
University of Oxford, contributed recently to an American periodical of a
high class and conservative character.--["Duties of Higher towards Lower
Races." By George Rawlinson. Princeton Re-view. November, 1878. New
York.]--This paper proposes, as a remedy for the social and political
evils caused by the negro element in our population, the miscegenation of
the white and black races, to the end that the black race may be wholly
absorbed in the white--an absorption of four millions by thirty-six
millions, which he thinks might reasonably be expected in about a
century, when the lower type would disappear altogether.

Perhaps the pleasure of being absorbed is not equal to the pleasure of
absorbing, and we cannot say how this proposal will commend itself to the
victims of the euthanasia. The results of miscegenation on this
continent--black with red, and white with black--the results morally,
intellectually, and physically, are not such as to make it attractive to
the American people.

It is not, however, upon sentimental grounds that we oppose this
extension of the exaggerated dogma of equality. Our objection is deeper.
Race distinctions ought to be maintained for the sake of the best
development of the race, and for the continuance of that mutual reaction
and play of peculiar forces between races which promise the highest
development for the whole. It is not for nothing, we may suppose, that
differentiation has gone on in the world; and we doubt that either
benevolence or self-interest requires this age to attempt to restore an
assumed lost uniformity, and fuse the race traits in a tiresome

Life consists in an exchange of relations, and the more varied the
relations interchanged the higher the life. We want not only different
races, but different civilizations in different parts of the globe.

A much more philosophical view of the African problem and the proper
destiny of the negro race than that of Canon Rawlinson is given by a
recent colored writer,--["Africa and the Africans." By Edmund W. Blyden.
Eraser's Magazine, August, 1878.]--an official in the government of
Liberia. We are mistaken, says this excellent observer, in regarding
Africa as a land of a homogeneous population, and in confounding the
tribes in a promiscuous manner. There are negroes and negroes. "The
numerous tribes inhabiting the vast continent of Africa can no more be
regarded as in every respect equal than the numerous peoples of Asia or
Europe can be so regarded;" and we are not to expect the civilization of
Africa to be under one government, but in a great variety of States,
developed according to tribal and race affinities. A still greater
mistake is this:

"The mistake which Europeans often make in considering questions of negro
improvement and the future of Africa is in supposing that the negro is
the European in embryo, in the undeveloped stage, and that when,
by-and-by, he shall enjoy the advantages of civilization and culture, he
will become like the European; in other words, that the negro is on the
same line of progress, in the same groove, with the European, but
infinitely in the rear . . . . This view proceeds upon the assumption
that the two races are called to the same work, and are alike in
potentiality and ultimate development, the negro only needing the element
of time, under certain circumstances, to become European. But to our mind
it is not a question between the two races of inferiority or superiority.
There is no absolute or essential superiority on the one side, or
absolute or essential inferiority on the other side. It is a question of
difference of endowment and difference of destiny. No amount of training
or culture will make the negro a European. On the other hand, no lack of
training or deficiency of culture will make the European a negro. The two
races are not moving in the same groove, with an immeasurable distance
between them, but on parallel lines. They will never meet in the plane of
their activities so as to coincide in capacity or performance. They are
not identical, as some think, but unequal; they are distinct, but
equal--an idea that is in no way incompatible with the Scripture truth
that God hath made of one blood all nations of men."

The writer goes on, in a strain that is not mere fancy, but that involves
one of the truths of inequality, to say that each race is endowed with
peculiar talents; that the negro has aptitudes and capacities which the
world needs, and will lack until he is normally trained. In the grand
symphony of the universe, "there are several sounds not yet brought out,
and the feeblest of all is that hitherto produced by the negro; but he
alone can furnish it."--"When the African shall come forward with his
peculiar gifts, they will fill a place never before occupied." In short,
the African must be civilized in the line of his capacities. "The present
practice of the friends of Africa is to frame laws according to their own
notions for the government and improvement of this people, whereas God
has already enacted the laws for the government of their affairs, which
laws should be carefully ascertained, interpreted, and applied; for until
they are found out and conformed to, all labor will be ineffective and

We have thus passed in review some of the tendencies of the age. We have
only touched the edges of a vast subject, and shall be quite satisfied if
we have suggested thought in the direction indicated. But in this limited
view of our complex human problem it is time to ask if we have not pushed
the dogma of equality far enough. Is it not time to look the facts
squarely in the face, and conform to them in our efforts for social and
political amelioration?

Inequality appears to be the divine order; it always has existed;
undoubtedly it will continue; all our theories and 'a priori'
speculations will not change the nature of things. Even inequality of
condition is the basis of progress, the incentive to exertion.
Fortunately, if today we could make every man white, every woman as like
man as nature permits, give to every human being the same opportunity of
education, and divide equally among all the accumulated wealth of the
world, tomorrow differences, unequal possession, and differentiation
would begin again. We are attempting the regeneration of society with a
misleading phrase; we are wasting our time with a theory that does not
fit the facts.

There is an equality, but it is not of outward show; it is independent of
condition; it does not destroy property, nor ignore the difference of
sex, nor obliterate race traits. It is the equality of men before God, of
men before the law; it is the equal honor of all honorable labor. No more
pernicious notion ever obtained lodgment in society than the common one
that to "rise in the world" is necessarily to change the "condition." Let
there be content with condition; discontent with individual ignorance and
imperfection. "We want," says Emerson, "not a farmer, but a man on a
farm." What a mischievous idea is that which has grown, even in the
United States, that manual labor is discreditable! There is surely some
defect in the theory of equality in our society which makes domestic
service to be shunned as if it were a disgrace.

It must be observed, further, that the dogma of equality is not satisfied
by the usual admission that one is in favor of an equality of rights and
opportunities, but is against the sweeping application of the theory made
by the socialists and communists. The obvious reply is that equal rights
and a fair chance are not possible without equality of condition, and
that property and the whole artificial constitution of society
necessitate inequality of condition. The damage from the current
exaggeration of equality is that the attempt to realize the dogma in
fact--and the attempt is everywhere on foot--can lead only to mischief
and disappointment.

It would be considered a humorous suggestion to advocate inequality as a
theory or as a working dogma. Let us recognize it, however, as a fact,
and shape the efforts for the improvement of the race in accordance with
it, encouraging it in some directions, restraining it from injustice in
others. Working by this recognition, we shall save the race from many
failures and bitter disappointments, and spare the world the spectacle of
republics ending in despotism and experiments in government ending in

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