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but would they approve of the next great result gained by some student of natural knowledge in even the near future should this seem to them to conflict with the teaching of the Church ? If they found that it did conflict, would not they also then join in denouncing it ? He had no doubt but what they would. He was convinced that the antagonism was a fundamental one. It was one moreover which he seemed to meet with everywhere,
I had set out [says he] on a journey with no other purpose than that of exploring a certain province of natural knowledge ; I strayed no hair's breadth from the course which it was my right and my duty to pursue; and yet I found that, whatever route I took, before long I came to a tall and formidablelooking fence. ... The only alternatives were either to give up my journeywhich I was not minded to do-or to break the fence down and go through it.* And especially during the latter years of his life he set himself vigorously to the task of breaking down fences.
The Church, he said to himself, whenever it sees fit, opposes natural knowledge ; in the service of my sovereign lord, natural knowledge, it is my duty to oppose the Church. I am not going out of my way in doing this ; it lies straight before me in my path. He went on the way which he had set before him, well knowing that in so doing he gave great offence. To many a quiet Christian heart he brought much pain, handling, as he did, themes which to them were indissolubly joined to their inmost feelings of reverence, with the free manner of a fighter who flashes in his sword wherever he sees an opening to do his opponent harm. To those who blame him for this the reply may be given that the greater the reverence resting on what he was convinced was a false foundation, the more pressing seemed to him the duty to show the falseness of the foundation in the clearest, most direct way, such as could be understood by all. Moreover, the manner in which he used his weapons in this matter was in no wise different from his usual manner on other occasions. He was by temperament “ever a fighter”; in his combats within the realms of natural knowledge, and these were not a few, he hit quick and he hit hard, for such was his way of fighting.
Many of his friends, who, like him, put their trust in natural knowledge, reproached him with spending his strength in warfare of such a kind. The surest way to make natural knowledge prevail, they said, is to extend its boundaries; as it advances other things must give way before it. Was it not a misdirection of energy that he who in past years had shown such power and done so much to drive farther and farther off
* Collected Essays, V., Pref. vii,
the line which parts the known from the unknown, should spend time and labour in controversies which in themselves brought no clear advancement of natural knowledge, and in conducting which he could make little use of that wealth of natural knowledge which he already possessed, and had, with tireless labour, to seek the arguments which he used in unaccustomed antiquarian and linguistic studies ?
He thought otherwise. He was convinced, and increasingly convinced as years went on, that natural knowledge could not go on to that fuller development which was needed to make it accepted as the true guide in the whole conduct of life, so long as men in general still believed that as regards parts of that conduct the only true guide was to be found in the teachings of the Church and in these alone. He had no doubt whatever that for the adequate progress of natural knowledge some one must be bold enough to stand up against the Church whenever it said to natural knowledge, “thus far but no farther," bold enough to show the world that the Church's claim to dictate to natural knowledge broke down when it was tried without fear and without prejudice. Seeing none other bold enough, he took the task upon himself. Whether he was right or wrong, the world must judge.
He is gone; but the conflict, in which so much of his life was spent, still remains with us. Among the followers of natural knowledge, both the workers and they who only know its ways, there are and always will be they who hold that natural knowledge is not merely a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, a provider of physical health and material benefits, but beyond that the only sure guide to moral health and spiritual well-being, who hold that man can only safely direct his steps by frank obedience to the known laws of nature, the more safely the better and the more fully these laws are known. Such are well aware that the always increasing, but ever limited known is wrapped round on all sides with a boundless unknown. Peering from time to time into that dark unknown they may people its depths with fancies ; but they leave those fancies there when they turn back to their daily task in the clear light of the known. Yet the feelings of wonder and awe with which that vast unknown must always fill them will abide with them, chastening and humbling them, ennobling their daily task and fitting them the better to perform it. Borne up by such feelings Huxley lived and worked.
WASHINGTON, April 12, 1904. ONCE again the Supreme Court of the United States by a majority of one has made both law and history. A few months ago I called attention to the unlimited power of the Supreme Court of the United States, a power which, with all due deference to Mr. Bryce, who was so profoundly impressed with the greatness of that court, has become so enormous as to be almost dangerous. Whenever Congress makes a law no one knows whether that law is a thing to command respect, a thing of substance, something that is the expression of the people as voiced through its political majority, or whether it is merely a legislative scarecrow, a bogey, a marionette, that may terrify or amuse so long as Congress stands behind it, but becomes merely a bundle of rags or wires the moment the Supreme Court begins to dissect it. Congress may pass a law, because it is the province of Congress to do anything that is wise or foolish, but only the Supreme Court can say whether the law is really a law, whether it keeps within the narrow limits of the Constitution or oversteps it, and ceases to be the instant the blighting touch of the Supreme Court is laid
In England there is frequent cause of complaint against “judgemade law," and the construction put upon Acts of Parliament by judges often nullifies the intent of Parliament. But Parliament always has the remedy in its own hands. If judicial interpretation destroys the purpose of Parliament, Parliament can quickly make a later enactment, and the Courts will be governed accordingly. The will of the majority is the voice of Parliament, a political voice always, as it necessarily and properly must be, but the voice of politics is stilled when the bench is approached.
In the United States there is no finality of legislation until it has been passed upon by the Supreme Court. Any law may be declared unconstitutional, and, therefore, ipso jure, null and void. Nine judges constitute the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, of whom from a third to a majority are of opposing political faiths, and this means more than would appear on the surface to the casual investigator. In England the politics of a judge are either unknown or quickly forgotten as soon as he dons the ermine; in the United States it is almost impossible to forget the political convictions of a judge, as his reading of the Constitution is to a great extent influenced by political teachings, the Constitution is a political instrument and has always rested upon political construction, and in any great case coming before the Supreme Court, speculation as to the decision of the Court will be based upon the political composition of the Court. And this of course is quite natural when it is remembered that the justices are, as a rule, men who before their elevation to the bench have taken not merely an indifferent interest in politics, but have been active and pronounced politicians. When a man has been for many years before his appointment to the bench a Democratic Senator or a Republican Member of Congress or a Republican Secretary of State, when he has defended the democratic or republican interpretation of the Constitution, as the case may be, and the difference is fundamental, it is not likely that the translation from Congress to the Court will entirely change his views or his temperament, or his habits of thought, or that the construction which he places upon an admittedly political instrument will not be influenced by his political creed.
This were unfortunate enough, and yet it would be robbed of many of its objectionable features if the decisions of the Supreme Court were unanimous, or at least recorded the substantial unanimity of the nine justices, as the public would be convinced that neither political nor other considerations influenced the learned judges. Unfortunately of recent years, especially of the last few years, when some of the most momentous decisions have been rendered, this has not been the practice. Not only has the court not been unanimous, not only has the decision not been rendered with only one or two justices dissenting from the conclusions of the majority, but every decision of the last few years involving the highest political considerations has come from a divided bench of five to four. In other words, a single justice has held the balance of power ; that one justice has had it in his power to change the course of American history.
This is no exaggeration of statement; it is merely the transcript of the record. The United States is to-day a colonial power, it
is to-day an Asiatic power, because after four justices of the Supreme Court had read the Constitution and found that it permitted the American people to hold colonies, and four justices of the Supreme Court from their reading of the Constitution found that there was no warrant for colonies in the American system of government, the ninth member of the court decided with his four associates who maintained the affirmative of the proposition. What that means to the future of American history only time will tell, but when we see an American Secretary of State proposing to safeguard the interests of China and all the rest of the world following his lead, its importance cannot be under-estimated. By the same vote-five to four-the Court held that an income-tax could not be levied ; by the same vote-five to four-it decided the Transmissouri freight case, the first of the series of decisions involving the right of Congress to regulate commerce under the Constitution, which has led up to the latest decision, also by a vote of five to four, declaring the Northern Securities Company an illegal corporation, and thereby upholding the constitutionality and validity of the Sherman anti-trust law.
That is the significance of the sustaining by the Court of the suit brought by the government, which has attracted almost as much attention in England as in America. It does not perhaps finally settle a question that has for so long been a matter of doubt, but it quiets it, it is a long step toward that settlement, and is conclusive announcement that the power of Congress to control monopoly and regulate trade is so far-reaching that there is no longer any excuse left to Congress not to exercise that power with wisdom and moderation. For it is to be observed that the decisions of the Supreme Court are as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. The composition of the court may change, but the tables on which its decrees are written are never effaced or altered ; at least in the 125 years of the existence of the Court it has never happened that a decision pronounced by one bench has been upset by its successor.
In the infancy of the Republic, when the Court was called upon to construe the powers of Congress; in the years immediately preceding and following the civil war, when the great questions of slavery and the new conditions arising out of the abolition of slavery were matters of judicial and constitutional determination ; in more recent times, when international relations and the regulation of finance and commerce have come before the Court, it has consistently shown that narrow as are the limitations of the Constitution the Court has always been able to adjust those limitations to