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time and labor. The value of the "pocket" is purely productive, that of the mine largely or purely prospective. Indeed it may be opened at a loss. But even a rich mine may be worked purely for its productive value; it may be "skinned."
Let us apply this thought to the development of a species; although what is true of the species will generally be true of the individual also, for the development of the two is, in the main, parallel. In the animal all functions are to a certain extent productive, and all directly or indirectly prospective. When we examine the sequence of functions we cannot but notice how largely their value is prospective. As long as a lower function is rising to supremacy in the animal, it appears to be retained purely for its productive value; thus digestion in hydra or gastræa. But after a time animals appeared which had some muscle and nerve. And, by the process of natural selection, those animals which used digestion as an end for its productive value became food for, and gave place to, those using it as a means of supporting muscle and nerve of greater prospective value. And similarly, those animals which used muscle, or even mind, productively gave place to others using these prospectively.
In other words, the functions and capacities of any animal, the extent of its conformity to environment, may be regarded as its capital. The animal may use this capital productively or prospectively. It may spend its income, and more too; it may increase its capital. Now social capital will always fall sooner or later to those communities whose members use it most prospectively, who are willing to forego, to quite an
extent, present enjoyment, and look for future return. The same is true of all development. Sessile forms and mollusks, and, in a less degree, crabs and reptiles, worked for immediate return. They are like extravagant heirs who draw on their capital and sooner or later come to poverty. The primitive vertebrate, the mammal, and the other ancestors of man used their capital prospectively, and it increased, as if at compound interest.
The spendthrift appears at first sight to have the greatest enjoyment in life, the rising business man works hard and foregoes much. I believe that the latter is really by far the happier of the two. But, if you can spend only a day or two in a city, and your examination is superficial, you may easily make the mistake of considering the spendthrift as the most successful man in the community. So, in our brief visit to the world in times past, we picked out the crab, the reptile, and the carnivore as its rising members.
Once more, capital can be spent very quickly; to use it prospectively requires time. This is a truism ; but it does no harm to call attention to truisms which have been neglected. Organs and powers of great prospective value are slow and difficult of development. If their increase is to be at all rapid, they must start early. If their development and culture is deferred, there will be little or no advance, but probably degeneration. Extravagance grows rapidly and soon becomes irresistible; habits of saving must be formed early. The same is true of the development of all other virtues.
There is in the child an orderly sequence of devel
opment of mental traits. While these powers are in their earlier, so to speak embryonic, stages of development, they can be fostered and increased or retarded. They are still plastic. Very early in a child's life acquisitiveness shows itself; he begins to say "I," and "mine," and desires things to be his "very own." And this can be fostered so that the child will
grow up a "covetous machine." Or he may be taught to share with others.
Not so much later, while the child is still in the lower grades of his school life, comes the period of moral development. If, during this period, these powers are fostered and cultivated, they may, and probably will, be dominant throughout his life. And herein lies the dignity and glory of the unappreciated, underpaid, and overworked teachers of our "lower" schools, that they have the opportunity to cultivate these moral powers of the child during these most critical years of his life. Repression or neglect here works life-long and irreparable harm. The young man goes out into the world. Here "practical" men continually instruct him by precept upon precept, line upon line, that he cannot afford to be generous until he has acquired wealth; that he must first win success for himself, and that he can then help others. And, unless his character is like pasture-grown oak, he follows and improves upon their teachings. He reverses the sequence of functions. He puts acquisitiveness first and right and sterling honesty and unselfishness second. For a score or more of years he labors. At first he honestly intends to build up a strong character and a generous nature just as soon as he can afford to; but for the present he
cannot afford it. If he is to succeed, he must do as others do and walk in the beaten track. He wins wealth and position, or learning and fame. He now has the ability and means to help others, but he no longer cares to do so. Loyalty to truth, sterling honesty-the genuine, not the conventional counterfeitunselfishness, in one word, character, these are plants of slow growth. They require cultivation by habit through long years. In his case they have become aborted and incapable of rejuvenescence. But his rudiment of a moral nature feels twinges of remorse. He ought not to have reversed the sequence of functions, and he knows it. But he cannot retrace his steps. He made the development of character impossible when he made wealth his first and chief aim. If he has a million dollars he tries to insure his soul by leaving in his will one-tenth to build a church, or, possibly, one-half for foreign missions. In the latter case he will be held up as a shining example to all the youth of the land, and the churches will ring with his praises. But what has been the effect of his life on the moral, social capital of the community? Is the world better or worse for his life? He has all his life been disseminating the germs of a soul-blight more infectious and deadly than any bodily disease.
If he has made learning or fame his chief aim, he probably has not the money to buy soul-insurance. He takes refuge in agnosticism, like an ostrich in a bush. His agnosticism is in his will; he does not wish to see. Or its cause is atrophy, through disuse, of moral vision. He cannot see. There are agnostics of quite another stamp, whom we must respect and honor for their sterling honesty and high character, though
we may have little respect for their philosophical tenets. But how much has our scholar advanced the morality of the community? He has probably done even more harm than the business man, who is a mere "covetous machine."
The "practical" man has reversed the sequence of functions. Character is, and must be, first; and wealth, learning, power, and fame are the materials, often exceedingly refractory, which it must subjugate to its growth and use. And this subjugation is anything but easy. The reversal of the sequence results in a moral degradation and poverty indefinitely more dangerous to the community than the slums of our great cities. For these may be controlled and cleansed; but the moral slum floods our legislatures and positions of honor and trust, and invades the churches. The mental and moral water-supply of the community is loaded with disease-germs.
The social wealth of a community is the sum total of the wealth of its individual members. And a community is truly wealthy only when this wealth is, to a certain extent, diffused. If there is any truth in our argument that the sequence of functions culminates in righteousness and unselfishness, the real social wealth of a community consists in its moral character, not in its money, or even in its intelligence. We may rest assured that character, resulting in industry and economy, will bring sufficient means of subsistence, so that all its members will be fed and housed and clothed. And art and culture, of the most ennobling and inspiring sort, will surely follow. And even if such literature failed as largely composes our present fin-de-siècle garbage-heap, we would not regret its ab