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AMHERST COLLEGE AND EVOLUTION. has ceased to have much in that direction, Messrs. Editore.
chiefly because dominated by the influence AFTER the
publicatiote meoft President der the teacher se ti metstaenior class room nie spect to the teaching at Amherst College of a collection of bizarre doctrines, expressed regarding the law of evolution, feeling a
in words which have no corresponding graduate's interest in the matter, I made thoughts, wholly unscientific and without careful inquiry, and find that, at a meeting any philosophical substance or consistency. of the faculty held a few years ago, the Since President Seelye thinks he believes in present Professor of Geology was requested these doctrines, it is hardly to be expected by President Stearns to deliver a course of that he could apprehend the truth of statelectures on evolution, and the faculty, with ments which express laws of nature scien. out any audible dissent, seconded the re- tifically ascertained and verified. The only quest. At the time, this Professor was
way in which he could be made to see such known to believe in the evolution law. truth would be for him to follow the course Since then, evolution has been taught in found necessary by some of his graduates, the department of zoology, the Professor or namely, to unlearn everything taught at instructor giving such an exposition of the Amherst as philosophy, before attempting to facts favoring and seeming to militate take a step forward in the path of true phil. against the doctrine as would be suitable to osophical knowledge. students. By vote of the faculty, also, Da- Of course, to the world of scholars at na’s and Le Conte's text-books are used, both large, President Seelye’s strictures, if they of which accept evolution, the second very
were meant to have application broadly to positively. There is now established an in the doctrine of evolution, will not have the structorship in biology. Moreover, I learn slightest interest; but it ought not to be that every professor in the scientific de- pleasant for those who have any especial partments of study believes in the doctrine regard for the college to see its president in question. The following language, with putting forth, in an apparently ill-tempered which one of the professors is credited, fling, a statement characterizing unfairly a shows quite a different state of feeling in doctrine which a large portion of the scien. the institution from what President Seelye tific and philosophical world accepts as a natwould lead us to believe: “Taking all the ural law abundantly verified, and creating relations, as I judge them from my stand an impression, with respect to the college point, it must be concluded that the truth teaching, which does not seem to be true, lies somewhere within the lines of the evo- and which, if it were true, would only bring lution theories. Such unquestionably is the discredit upon the institution. teaching of real science in nearly all places
DANIEL G. THOMPSON. where it has both freedom and intelligence. NEW YORK CITY, February 10, 1880. As to its materialistic or atheistic tendencies, I regard it as having none whatever, except in the hollow brains of those would
A CONSIDERATION OF SUICIDE. be sages who talk most concerning that of which they know the least. The most im- Messrs. Editors. portant point is to find out the truth in na. The article under this heading, in your ture, and teach that, regardless of all bear- April number, is an ingenious discussion of ing it may have on any of our preconceived the subject, and one which also, considernotions."
ing the solemn matter of which it treats, we Upon this state of facts, certainly very must suppose to be ingenuous, although different from that which the ordinary reader through the entire argument runs the flaw would infer from President Seelye's state of an erroneous definition. “What is suiment (it is not entirely clear what he means), cide ?” asks the writer, and answers, “The it may be concluded that Amherst College is voluntary termination of one's own life.” working along abreast of the best thought Perhaps we should be content with calling of the time, notwithstanding the unfavora- this definition imperfect. It has certainly ble reflection cast upon it by its President's led the writer into error, and to a distinc. remarks. There was a period when Amherst tion between egoistic and altruistic suicide, College had a reputation for its achieve- which has no foundation either in ethics or ments in the field of science. Latterly, it in the definitions of criminal law. There is no such thing as altruistic suicide. Sui- | into consideration in imposing punishments cide is characterized by the intention to take upon wrong-doers. one's own life. A voluntary death charac- He says: “There appears to be someterized by the intention to save life is cer- thing of this sort in the custom that will tainly not suicide. To constitute suicide hold a man blameless if he shoot and kill there must be criminal motive, just as in the midnight robber who is merely trying to the case of any other crime. It must be effect an entrance into his house, but will felo de se;
in its simplest statement, self. not hold him guiltless if he take the same murder. This, in fact, is the definition of sort of vengeance on the robber after he has Blackstone: “The act of designedly de once entered the house and stolen the goods stroying one's own life committed by a per. and escaped with them.” son of years of discretion and of sound This law is based upon a principle as mind; self-murder.” It must be distin- far as possible from the idea of gratifying guished, that is, from simple voluntary death, the injured party's sense of revenge. as murder is distinguished from simple homi- When a man awakes in the night-time cide. There must be the intent to destroy and finds another man trying to get into his life from a selfish or malign motive. The house, he is not obliged to ask him if he unjustifiable motive in the case of the sui- intends to steal or murder. The man withcide is the selfish desire to terminate life, in may be timid; he may apprehend great and thus avoid some present or threatened personal danger; be may have the impresevil, without regard to the evil or unhappi- sion that an attempt is being made to mur. ness inflicted on survivors. In the strong der him. The law protects him in acting est case that can be put, that of an aged upon such apprehension. This is simply man who feels that he is a burden on his self-defense. There is no question of anger friends (or those who should be such), a or revenge about it. pure and unselfish motive would incline him Now, when the robber has made off with rather to inflict that burden on them than the goods, and all possible fear of personal the far heavier burden and disgrace of a violence has vanished, or can not possibly (to him) criminal and (to them) criminating arise, it then becomes a question, merely, of death,
the "prevention of crime." Society ignores For the rest-and to embrace under one all idea of carrying out the spirit of revenge head all Mr. Hopkins's illustrations of altru. that may fill the breast of the injured party istic suicides, viz., heroes, martyrs, and en--in fact punishes him, if he attempts to gineers—the man who dies defending or do so himself, as a criminal. Clearly, whatmaintaining a trust is in no sense a suicide. ever may have been the guiding principle of His death is made to him, by moral reasons, the ancient law-giver, our present legislators inevitable.
do not attempt to administer to personal
W. W. LORD. resentment. The object and reasons for the COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK, March 10, 1880. existence of government have been inquired
into, and a scientific basis is gradually build.
ing for the great modern structure to rest "ORIGIN OF CRIMINAL LAW."
upon. The passions are found to be the
most unsafe guides. Only a few rules of Messrs. Editors.
law, relating almost wholly to domestic relaCHARLES J. BUELL calls attention in your tions, rest upon them. The consequence is, April number to some statements in Mr. W. that these relations figure most disgustingly W. Billson's article, “The Origin of Crim. in the proceedings of courts. inal Law,” illustrating the way in which
Yours respectfully, early law-makers seem to have taken the
W.C. ALBRO, LL. B. revengeful feelings of the aggrieved parties POUGAKEEPSIE, NEW YORK, March 19, 1880.
MATTHEW ARNOLD ON COPYRIGH7. knows how to remedy, and which need
right, as we have maintained on working very much to our advantage. all occasions, is for the people of this Why, it is asked, should we pick a country a very serious one. It is com- quarrel with our own bread and butter, monly regarded that our present con- especially when the bread is buttered dition in respect to it is merely an im- so thickly on both sides? perfect state of things which nobody The reason why the matter is grave is that the bread and butter are both , that nobody's rights are violated, as stolen, and because theft is bad for there are no rights in the case. Mr. those who lose their property, and Arnold's point of view in regard to worse for those who get it. A nation copyright is quite his own. Here, as can not tolerate palpable dishonesty everywhere else, he is haunted by the without vital injury to itself. One in spirit of “ Philistinism.” The undesirajustice leads to another, and demor ble practice of appropriating an author's alization spreads. Selfish advantages works is a miserable piece of middleopenly override correct principles, and class indelicacy. “The spirit of the then, worst of all, come the mental American community and Government obliquity and confusion resulting from is the spirit, I suppose, of a middle-class attempts to palliate and excuse injus- society of our race, and this is not a tice. If a flagrant wrong is long and spirit of delicacy. One could not say widely practiced, there will always be that in their public acts they showed in plenty to rally for its defense—some general a spirit of delicacy; certainly dishonestly, from interested motives, they have not shown that spirit in dealand others with a senseless sincerity ing with authors." from innate crookedness, cloudiness, or Mr. Arnold pursues this thought eccentricity of mind. These crotchety, more fully. He says: “The interests whimsical, and erratic intellects are of English authors will never be safe in found both at home and abroad, and America until the community as a comthey often prove capable of doing con- munity gets the sense in a higher desiderable mischief.
gree than it has now for acting with Matthew Arnold affords the last ex- delicacy. It is the sense of delicacy ample of this mental freakishness, in which has to be appealed to, not the his article on the copyright question, sense of honesty. Englishmen are fond in the March "Fortnightly Review." of making the American appropriation The article has excited a good deal of of their books a question of honesty ; comment, and no little commendation, they call the appropriation stealing; if but it seems to us eminently unsatis- an English author drops his handkerfactory. We find no fault with the chief in Massachusetts they say the naconclusion at which he arrives, which tives may not go off with it, but if he was intimated years ago, when he drops his poem they may. This style joined fifty other English authors in of talking is exaggerated and false; recommending the scheme of inter- there is a breach of delicacy in reprintnational copyright, which originated in ing the foreigner's poom without his this country, and which there has been consent, there is no breach of honesty. much reason for thinking could be prac. But a finely touched nature, in men or tically carried out. But, while Mr. Ar- nations, will respect the sense of delinold's decision is sound, we think it cacy in itself, not less than the sense would have been wise if he had with- of honesty." held his reasons for it. They are not Now, there can not be the slightest such as will bring other men to the objection to this appeal to the sense of same result. They are such as will delicacy and honor in the effort to secarry other men to the opposite con- care legal protection to the property of clusion. So far as logic is concerned, authors. It may be that there are those Mr. Arnold takes substantially the same who would be moved by this consideraground as that taken by Mr. J. M. tion and no other; and if Mr. Arnold Stoddart, the Philadelphia publisher, had been content to devote his paper to who is engaged in pirating the “Ency- this view of the case, there would have clopædia Britannica." They both agree l been no reason to complain of him.
But, instead of strengthening the case, , like other people, seeks the pleasure he shifts its ground in such a way as and the profit of having at his own discompletely to surrender it. It was not posal what he produces. Literary proat all necessary to his argument from duction, wherever it is sound, is its “delicacy” that he should deny the own exceeding great reward; but that bearing of moral considerations upon does not destroy or diminish the authe question; but this he has done in a thor's desire and claim to be allowed way that, so far as it has any influence to have at his disposal, like other peoat all, will strengthen the hands of the ple, that which he produces, and to be inveterate enemies of copyright. He free to turn it to account." intensifies the discords upon a subject Mr. Arnold here discreditsas groundwhich many seem bent upon befogging less and illusory that whole order of and distracting by all the arts of in- ethical conceptions which we have been genious sophistry. He professes to be wont to regard as fundamental in relafriendly to copyright, and then reasons tion to human conduct. Whether he his way to the destruction of all copy. scouts all morality does not appear, but right by denying that there is any right he denies it at least in one class of huor wrong in the matter. This reason
man actions. Though dealing with ing is as follows: “Now, for me the transactions between man and man matter is simplified by my believing which involve the ideas of “possesthat men, if they go into their own sion," "appropriation of property, minds and deal quite freely with their “ robbery," " criminality," "penalty," own consciousness, will find that they etc., he never refers to such things as have not any natural rights at all. And “justice," " equity,” “duty,” “right," as it so happens with a difficult matter and "wrong,” or any principles of obof dispute, so it happens here: the dif- ligation. Though all men recognize ficulty, the embarrassment, the need for these conceptions, though the governdrawing subtile distinctions and for de- ment of society is founded upon them, vising subtile means of escape from them and though men are fined, imprisoned, when the right of property is under and strangled, accordingly as their acdiscussion, arise from one's having first tions fail to conform to these fundabuilt up the idea of natural right as a mental ideas, yet Mr. Arnold airily wall to run one's head against. An au- waives them all aside as irrelevant and thor has no natural right to a property impertinent in relation to the subject in his production. But then neither has he is discussing. The reader will nohe a natural right to anything whatever tice the wordy circuits by which he which he may produce or acquire. What avoids all the moral elements of the is true is, that a man has a strong in- inquiry. To get rid of any question of stinct making him seek to possess what rights in this matter, he plucks up by he has produced or acquired, to have it the roots and casts to the winds all at his disposal; that he finds pleasure natural rights. To him who claiṁs a in so having it, and finds profit. The in- right to life he virtually says: “Oh! stinct is natural and salutary, althongh no; you have an instinct to live, which it may be over-stimulated and indulged is natural and salutary. You find pleato excess. One of the first objects of sure in life, but it is its own exceeding men in combining themselves in society great reward, and society graciously has been to afford to the individual, in allows you to have it at your disposal ; his pursuit of this instinct, the sanction but you have no natural right in the and assistance of the laws so far as may matter.” He maintains that a man has be consistent with the general advan- no right of property in his productions, tage of the community. The author, except “so far as the law may choose to create one for him.” But is there no | Physical science is not to be put down right or wrong in the nature of things in this way. It is a great phase of by which the law itself is to be shaped, man's mental progress and is destined and to which it is the object of all law to increase in influence in an acceleratto give effect? A man creates a work ing ratio. There is no doubt, furtherof value into which he has put his time, more, that its growth is an invasion of exertion, substance, and his very blood. the domain illegitimately held by theHas he a right to the property he has ology in the past, and threatens the produced against those who covet it? ascendancy of theological systems and It shall be as the politicians vote, ar- ideas. It is hardly to be expected that gues Mr. Arnold: “If the ayes have professed theologians can view this it, he has; if the noes have it, he has change with complacency, but that afnot." This is not creditable. Mr. Ar- fords no excuse for getting into a pasnold should cultivate a more intimate sion with science, and striving to array communion with the power that religious prejudices against it. Our makes for righteousness.”
friends should not forget that the Much is made in this article of the “modern science" upon which they difficulty of securing property in books. expend their denunciations is a great Government is, of course, a very imper- body of accredited and impregnable fect agency, and only partially secures truth, and that it is a somewhat serious any of its objects. But all other diffi- matter to declare and reiterate the acculties are as mole-hills to mountains cusation that it is atheistic in its spirit compared with that which Mr. Arnold and influence. How far is this from lends his influence to increase and asserting that the demonstrative truth strengthen.
of nature is against the existence of God !-and it scientific men reply to the
theologian, “Very well, you know best," SCIENCE NOT ATHEISTIC.
where will rest the responsibility ? We recommend those thoughtless The Bishop of Carlisle sees that this theologians who think they are doing is a mistaken policy. He says, “It is God service by arraying modern physi- not desirable that the reproach of athecal science against him and charging ism should be thrown about rashly"; that it is atheistic, to read the article en- and, what is more important, he points titled “God and Nature," by the Lord out that as commonly done it is not Bishop of Carlisle. He utters a timely true. A very slight examination of the and much-needed rebuke to his careless conditions of thought in scientific purbrethren on this subject. We have suit forbids the current theological conbeen amazed at the fatuity of many clusions. He draws a valid distinction divines in the course they have pur- between the legitimate, proper, and sued upon this question. Their prede- logical attitude of the scientifio mind cessors have been more wise, and bave toward the conception of Deity and generally recognized that “the study the atheistic state of mind; and he of nature led up to nature's God"; strives to mark this distinction by the but now, on the contrary, we are as- introduction of a new term. He says: sured that the study of nature leads to “It seems to me that we want a new the denial of God. What on earth our word to express the fact that all physitheological friends are to gain by spread- cal science, properly so called, is coming the belief that physical science is pelled by its very nature to take no fundamentally irreligious by renouncing account of the being of God; as soon and subverting all conception of the as it does this it trenches upon theology Deity, we are at loss to understand. I and ceases to be physical science. If