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One of the greatest difficulties which the social philosopher has always had to encounter is, how is it possible to give freely to the poor without thereby offering a bounty on indolence; or, in a larger sense, how is it possible to effect a fair distribution of the aggregate wealth of society without thereby tending to diminish its production; or, in a still larger sense, how is it possible to increase the aggregate wealth of society without thereby, pari passu, increasing the population? And it has been a great reproach to Malthus, that, feeling himself unable so grapple with that great difficulty, and overestimating the importance of his controlling idea, as to the tendency of population to outrun subsistence, 10 which he attributed far too large a proportion of the pauperism of human society, he cast serious doubts upon the propriety of any efforts whatever, either by private or public charity, to relieve the sufferings of the poor. This was à lamentable error of Malthus, valuable as have been his contributions to the true philosophy of society. While it is true that all charity which operates as a bounty on indolence, or tends unduly to increase population, is generally to be deprecated, there is a vast deal of charity that may be safely dispensed without any such injurious result. The great practical question, then, is, how is the discrimination to be made between that poverty which should be relieved by charity and that which should not? It may be very safely asserted that public or State authority is very little qualified to make the discrimination, and that all public provision for the poor must operate in one or other of these two injurious modes; it must either, by its liberality, operate as a premium on indolence, and a quickener of population, or it must, by its stringency and repulsiveness, operate to deter many meritorious sufferers from applying for relief, and constrain them, in some cases, even to choose death by starvation, rather than be subjected to the bumiliation of seeking support from the rude and reluctant hand of public charity. It may be as safely asserted, on the other hand, that private charity is decidedly the very best practicable instrumentality for making the requisite discrimination-a charity not impelled or directed by laws of human enactment, but by those great higher laws, wbich operate directly on the human heart, and develop its deep religious inspirations and moral sentiments.
Each individual in every society has a certain circle of acquaintance, in which he is tolerably well informed as to the real condition of the persons comprising it, or may readily become so. Let each one, who is well conditioned in life, make it his business to become acquainted with all the meritorious poverty in this circle of his acquaintance, and to the extent of his ability, to the extent of one-tenth, or even one-fifth, of his revenue, according to his means, let him contribute to its relief. Let every human being thus seek to glorify his father who is in heaven, by dispensing good to his brother who is on earth. Let this principle be really and generally acted upon, and what incalculable benefits would it confer on society! Suppose, for example, that in the world's great inetropolis, London, with its nearly three millions of people, or probably five hundred thousand families, of whom, most probably, at least onefifth, or a hundred thousund, are, to a greater or less extent, proper subjects for charity, while at least one-tenth, or fifty thous ind, are in afluent circumstances-suppose that these fifty thousand affluent families, or heads of families, should organize themselves, say by parishes and precincts of parishes, into a noble POLICE OF CHARITY, to act as guardians
and protectors of the poor, to ascertain who are really proper subjects of relief, either temporary or permanent, and to partition among themselves the noble privilege of ministering to their wants, so that each affluent family, on the average, should bave the happiness of maintaining, either in whole or in part, two destitute families besides itself—then we should witness a practical realization of that charity which breathes indeed in every accent of “the meek and lowly Nazarene," and is openly proclaimed in almost every line of "the great Arabian prophet.” But, alas! it is much to be feared that this happy realization is never to be actualized. In order that it should be, it is necessary that the great majority of mankind should become, in reality, and not in name merely, good and true Christians, or, as some two hundred millions of the human family might prefer to say, good and true Moslems.
There is another principle of no inconsiderable value in social science that is to be gleaned from the Arabians--the principle that wealth ought to be distributed according to the WANTS of individuals, rather than according to their supposed merits OR RIGHTS. This valuable prinoiple, so difficult to reduce to general practice, the Caliph Omar, the second of the Caliphs, or “Successors ” of the Prophet, appears to have clearly recognized and forcibly set forth in his public administration. On this point, the words of Irving, in his “Life of Mahomet and his Successors," may be advantageously quoted. He says, in speaking of Omar, “Some of his ordinances do credit to his heart as well as bis head. He forbade that any female captive who had borne a child should be sold as a slave. In the weekly distributions of the surplus money of his treasury, he proportioned them to the wants, not to the merits, of the applicants. "God,' said he, ‘has bestowed the good things of this world to relieve our necessities, not to reward our virtues. Those will be rewarded in another
There does not, however, appear to be any practicable mode of introducing this principle generally into human society, except, as with many other principles, by gradually infusing it into the minds of men, and incorporating it into their general habits. As for the force pump operation, by which “ Fourierites,” “ Owenites," and the like, would vainly essay to infuse this principle, like other excellent ones, all at once, and upon a grand scale, into all the ramifications of society, it should be superfluous to remark, that, like most of their projects, it is utterly chimerical.
Perhaps the most feasible point for obtaining entrance for this principle into the general operations of society, is the voluntary distribution of estates, either by gift or devise, for in respect to the legal distribution of them, it is utterly impracticable to introduce them with any degree of
In England, it has been the custom of parents in devising their estates, or otherwise distributing them among their children, to follow the established law of descents in the country, by giving much the largest bulk of the property to the eldest son. In America, on the contrary, as in France since the revolution, the custom has almost universally prevailed of dividing it equally among all the children, male and female. But neither of these principles is altogether the most commendable or
* See Irving's Life of Mahomet and his Successors, vol. ii., chap. 35, p. 282, of Patnann's Edition
proper. It would be far better, both in respect to what is intrinsically most just, and to what is most conducive to the best condition of society, to adopt the principle laid down by the Caliph Omar, and to partition the property of families among the different members according to their respective wants--giving a larger share to the females than to the males, and, as among the males, the largest share to those who are least fitted for business, or taking care of themselves without the advantages of fortune.* How different, in this respect, are the ideas which generally prevail, even in the most enlightened communities !
While considering the ideas embodied in the Arabian or Mohammedan religion, which may be regarded as valuable principles in social science, we should not omit notice of one, which, though more strictly and peculiarly religious than those which we have already remarked upon, is of such extensively important bearings upon all the transactions of men, whether public or private, social or individual, that it is deserving of consideration here and admiration everywhere. It may be regarded as one of the noblest expressions, anywhere to be found in the compass of human language, of the religious principle, in its application to the actions of men, which, as we have already had occasion more than once to remark, is a highly important force in the organism of every human society.
A consultation being held, by the Caliph Omar, over the royal carpet, taken in Madyn, the Persian capital, whether it should be stored away in the public treasury, to be used by the Caliph on state occasions, or be included in the booty to be shared, and Oinar besitating how to decide, referred the matter io Ali, who is reported to have made this noble reply :-"Oh, prince of true believers, how can one of thy clear perception doubt in this matter? In his world 1 othing is thine own, but what thou expendest in well doing. What thou eatest will be consumed ; what thou wearest will be worn away; but what thou expendest in well doing is sent before thee to the other world.”!
This noble reply of the chivalrous and noble-hearted nephew and sonin-law of the prophet, may perhaps be regarded as a fair sample of the lofty religious enthusiasın which actuated many of the earlier Moslems. And not improbably Ali had obtained the sentiment from his noble and more gifted kinsman, the prophet himself; for we find nearly the same idea, though more sententiously expressed, in the second chapter of the Koran, where the prophet says :-“ Be constant in prayer, and give alms; and what good ye have sent before for your souls, ye shall find it with God."I Need we wonder that a people inspired by such noble religious sentiments should be distinguished by such generosity and magnanimity as the Arabians and Turks have repeatedly exbibited, or that the rude Christian warriors of Europe, during the protracted wars of the Crusades, should have been, in their then semi-barbarous condition, greatly improved and refined by contact with their Saracen foes ?
* Of course it should be obvious enough, that there may be conditions of society which would render the introduction of this principle highly inexpedient, and a departure froin it advisable. As every people are not fitted for the best government, even by the admission of Aristotle, as we have before had occasion to remark, so are overy people not fitted to receive those principles which are conducive to the very best or bighest state of society. It may be even that England is not yet propared for an abolition of the primogeniture law, perbaps she never may be.
+ See Irving's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii., chap. 28, p. 248. Putnam's Edition of 1850.
IV. The condition of the Arabians, and that of other nations who have adopted their religion, illustrates very clearly, and more so than that of any other nations, the importance of well organized government, and the real nature of the evils of bad government. That the actual condition of affairs in all the Mohammedan countries of the present day is deplorable, and presents a lamentable contrast with that of most Christian nations, and even with that of the Chinese and Japanese, is a fact too notorious to need any special veritication here. The question naturally and forcibly presents itself to our minds, what is the cause, or what are the causes, of this very inferior condition of the Mohammedan nations ? Why is it, that, with a religion nearly resembling that of Christianity, and in fact inculcating, even more forcibly than Christianity itself, many of its most beneficent principles of action, these Mohammedan nations are so far behind those of Christendom, and even behind the more advanced of those nations who possess religious systems much inferior to their own-why is it they are so far behind them-in wealth, in industrial resources, and in the general thrift and comfort of the population !
The correct and complete answer to this question, as to all similar ones, is only to be found in a searching analysis of a multitude of causes, immediate, intermediate, and remote. But, speaking in a general and summary way, it may be answered that, while this inferior condition of the Mohammedan nations is attributable partly, and primarily, to inferiority of race, partly, and secondarily, to the pernicious influence of polygamy, which, itself the outgrowth of the race, as are other national habits and institutions, reacts injuriously on the actual condition of the race, and partly, and also secondarily, to the pernicious influence of their religion, which inculcates the pernicious doctrine of absolute predestinarianism, or blind fatalism; it is tertiarily, more immediately, and therefore more prominently, attributable to a deplorable and wretchedly contrived political system.
And this brings us to remark that, while political causes, as we have had occasion repeatedly to observe before in the course of this review, are not, by any means, so important in their bearings on the social condition of a people as many have supposed, and as is commonly imagined, they are nevertheless of a highly important character. It would be a very great misapprehension of the scope of the ideas intended to be suggested in this review, and to be more extensively and systematically unfolded in the work to which it is designed as introductory, to suppose that it ignores the influence of political causes, when in fact it only subordinates them to causes more comprehensive and fundamental, and aims to assign to them their true place in the grand hierarchy of causes which regulate the destiny of human society. For while it is very little that the very best organized political government can do for the social condition of a people, let it be distinctly borne in mind that it is very little that can be done without such government. Such a government, though far from being, as many superficialists in Social Philosophy seem to have imagined, all sufficient, is nevertheless indispensably necessary to the social well being of a people. The political organism of society is to the real life-giving principle of that society, with some qualifications, what the body is to the soul. For nature nowhere, either in her primary or secondary creations, (of which latter human society is one,) develops a principle except through an organism, and that, too, an organism con
formable to the principle, and adapted to give expression to it. As, therefore, there can be no perfect inan without a perfect body for his psychological faculties, or the qualities of his soul, to act through, so there can be no perfect state of human society without a perfect government, nor a very bighly improved state of society without a highly improved form of government. Still it is not the outward form of a man, the beauty or strength of his person, by which we estimate his worth or real character, but rather his soul. “It is the mind that makes the man," as the old adage justly says, and to a very great extent it determines the shape and contiguration of the body. And so it is with the inherent and fundamental character of a people, which not only determines the general character of their conduct and destiny, but also the form of their government. Yet so intimately related are the organisin and the organic principle, the body and soul, in both cases, that if, from any cause or combination of causes, the organism or body be defective, it will not only impair the efficacy of the organic principle or soul, but react upon it with deleterious effect
Every principle, whether of social or individual life, must have its appropriate organism through which to act. The courage of the lion could never be manifested through the organism of the rabbit.
Nay, the brain of a Cæsar, upon the thorax of a mere gourmand or sorrowful hippocondriac, would be an abortion of nature.
We may find a somewhat striking practical illustration of the truth of these general remarks in the condition of the Mohammedan nations, and especially of the Turks and Persians. For while they derive from their religion, and practically exhibit in many of their dealings, some of the most commendable qualities of Christians, and such as, if generally acted upon and rendered practically operative, would insure them a greatly ameliorated social condition, they in point of fact exhibit a wretched state of society, and one that is, in a most extraordinary degree, subject to injustice and rapacity. Deriving from their religion, in short, many principles of action which should tend to diffuse through their society the amiability of the lamb, the actual character of their society much more resembles the ferocity of the tiger. The true explanation of this state of things is, with little doubt, this, that there is a sad lack of that political organism through which alone such principles as are inculcated by their religion could find their legitimate expression, and, on the contrary, such an organism as essentially tends to stitie all such principles, to develop, in their stead, those of injustice, rapacity, and tyranny, with all the ills which usually follow in their train.
This will undoubtedly strike the discerning social philosopher as the most prominent of the immediate causes of the great evils observable in the existing social condition of the Mohammedan nations; or, in other words, as the most prominent of those causes which lie more readily within the reach of remedial appliances. Their governments are of that highly objectionable class called absolute or unlimited monarchies, and much more nearly than any other human governments merit that designation. For in point of fact no human government is an absolute or absolutely unlimited monarchy, and those only are commonly so called which do not legally or avowedly recognize any other original source of authority in the State than the reigning prince, and which do not possess any well defined limitations on his power. But in reality all menarchies,