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PART V.: 1848—1853 - Herbert Spencer, An Autobiography, vol. 1 
An Autobiography by Herbert Spencer. Illustrated in Two Volumes. Vol. I (New York: D. Appleton and Company 1904).
Part of: An Autobiography
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The above title is a somewhat misleading one. A journalist is usually understood to be one among whose functions is that of influencing public opinion by articles and comments. I had no such function. Replying early in 1849 to a letter from my uncle Thomas, I said—
“You inquire respecting the particular department of the paper with which I have to do. I cannot better answer than by saying—with all parts except the Leading Articles, Agriculture, Literature, and the summaries that appear under the heads of “Bank returns and Money Market” and “Commercial Epitome.” All other matters I have to superintend. I have the offer to write leading articles if I wish to do so; but I refrain from this from the desire to devote all my spare time to my own private writing, which I consider of more importance than the extra remuneration I should obtain by writing for the paper.”
This mode of describing my duties makes them appear more onerous than they really were. Their comparative lightness will be seen from the following paragraph contained in a letter to Lott, written at the end of April.
“I am happy to say that I can answer your inquiries as to my position with tolerable satisfaction. The place suits me on the whole remarkably well, and now that I have got pretty completely acclimatized I have nothing important to complain of and much to approve. In the first place I am almost wholly my own master; scarcely coming in contact with Mr. Wilson more than once a month, and this, with my rebellious tendencies, is a great blessing. Then again my work is decidedly light. Even I, with my invincible idleness, am obliged to admit this. On Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, I have nothing to do but to read through the Times and Daily News [and less attentively the Morning Chronicle, then in its old age], extract what may be needful, and put it aside for subsequent use. On Wednesday and Thursday my work occupies me from ten until four. Friday is my only hard day, when I have to continue at it until 12½ or 1 at night. This, however, is a very small payment to make for having so much time at my own disposal; permitting me as it does to go where I please, and when I please, during the early part of the week.”
The last advantage I from time to time utilized by making excursions out of town, and at longer intervals paying visits.
Of course under the conditions above described, I was able to adjust my daily routine very much as my own convenience dictated. After breakfast at half-past eight, came a walk in St. James’s Park or the Green Park. On my return I did such work as had to be done in the way of reading and abstracting materials, joined with such administrative duties as devolved on me. Then at 1 o’clock there was an adjournment to dinner; for I adhered to the older usage, both on grounds of convenience and on grounds of health.
A few years earlier had been established the Whittington Club, occupying the premises previously known as the Crown and Anchor Hotel—a place famed, in days of active agitation, for political meetings held in its great room. Being but five minutes off, it served as a convenient place for dining; and I joined it chiefly for that reason. It had, however, further advantages. When writing home I said of it:—“there is access to all the British and Foreign literature of the day”; and this, or the contents of the library, often detained me for an hour in the afternoon. So far as I can remember, the afternoon was otherwise usually spent in some miscellaneous way.
My private work was done in the evenings, and, as it would seem, by necessity; though I do not now understand the origin of the necessity. A letter to my mother in February says—“I expect that if I am to make anything worth calling progress with my book, I shall have to do it by writing at night. In fact what I have done has been done at that time.” Probably a part cause was that earlier in the day I could not insure the requisite quietude.
Though The Economist rarely gave any space to accounts of entertainments or criticisms on exhibitions, yet there were given to it, not however in full measure, the usual free admissions; and of these I made considerable use. Press “orders” are always for two persons; and of course the ability to take a friend added to the temptation held out by anything to be seen or heard. The letter above quoted, after describing the lightness of my duties, goes on to say:—
“To these advantages may be added the facility of access to sundry amusements in the shape of exhibitions and theatres. I do not profit much by this, however, having been, as far as I can recollect, only twice to the Opera, twice to Drury Lane, and some four times to the Haymarket, since I have been here [nearly five months]. The fact is that I am rather chary of my evenings; seeing that what writing I do (and it is, I am sorry to say, very little) I generally do between 7 and 12 at night. However, though I make little use of the theatre orders myself, I have the privilege of giving a few away to my friends, which is worth something.”
On the acting of serious drama I am critical, and easily repelled by defects, of which there are usually many. But being then, as now, ever ready to laugh, comedies and farces, if tolerable, habitually proved attractive. Provided they were not characterized by mere buffoonery, I was content to ignore their faults, numerous though these might be. Still, I was less easily pleased than the majority. Often I was made melancholy on witnessing the applause given by well-dressed audiences to “breakdown” dances which aimed at drollery and missed it, and to so-called comic songs containing neither wit nor humour.
To the Opera in the Haymarket I had but occasional access; but to the Royal Italian Opera in Covent Garden, I had access whenever the orders were not appropriated by Mrs. Wilson, who, as wife of the proprietor and editor, had of course the first claim. Most of the performances did not greatly attract me. I cared but little for operatic representations of personal passion only, however graceful the music. Even Don Giovanni failed to please me much. A string of pretty airs and duets, even when supported by fine orchestration, did not fulfil my conception of an Opera. It seemed to me that there is required in all cases a basis of popular passion. The feelings excited during revolutions and religious enthusiasms, spontaneously vent themselves in songs, alike of individuals and of crowds. Hence something like dramatic propriety is given to an Opera which has for its leading theme the incidents of a social convulsion; and, while under the excitement produced by adequate musical rendering of popular passions, one can overlook minor incongruities. The following passage in a letter to Lott, expressed the conception I then had, and still have.
“Above all other operatic composers Meyerbeer is dramatic. He really knows what an opera ought be. He subordinates everything to the characters, the emotion, and the sentiment, and does not intersperse his music with pretty little songs and duets that have no relation to the action. Massiveness, too, is one of his great characteristics. An opera of his does not give you the idea of a good thing drawn out thin, as most of them do—and then he is highly original. Altogether I may say that I never was satisfied with an opera till I heard The Huguenots.”
Friends with whom I have been constantly at issue on this point, have insisted upon judging of operatic composers by the standard of their music, considered simply as music; but I have always contended that the first thing to be achieved is dramatic truth, and that the promptings of melodic inspiration must be subordinated to it. This, I believe, is the doctrine of Wagner. But so far as I have heard, his practice does not conform to his theory: he sacrifices the melodic without achieving the dramatic.
At Midsummer 1849, a new element was added to my life by the migration of my uncle Thomas to London. After some two years in Bath, he decided that his labours for public welfare would be more effective here than elsewhere, and he eventually took a house in St. James’s Square, Notting Hill.
His was one of those natures which are improved by misfortune. The loss of a large part of his property in the way already described, had beneficially changed some of his opinions and feelings. Throughout life, up to the time of this great disaster, he had been a successful man; and had owed his success to his own efforts and to his prudence. The result was an almost unqualified belief that energy and rectitude will insure prosperity to everyone. He was now undeceived. Clear proof was given to him that there are other causes for good or ill fortune than good or ill conduct. A marked change of attitude was the consequence—a great increase of fellow-feeling; and a striking effect was produced on his preaching. In earlier days his sermons might have been well characterized by the words which the old Scotchwoman applied to ethical sermons in general—they were distinguished by “cauld morality.” But though in these later days his sermons, I doubt not (for I never then heard him), continued to be moral rather than theological, their morality was warmed by sympathy. The consequence was that he became a very effective preacher. While at Hinton, he rarely drew any auditors from adjacent parishes; but now when, as frequently happened, he supplied for a time the places of absent provincial clergymen, his preaching quickly gathered immense congregations from many miles around.
Our relation had for many years been cordial, and now became still more cordial; as did also my relation with my aunt. Having had so much to do with my education, and having no children of his own, my uncle had, I think, acquired a semi-paternal feeling for me; and my liking for him had gradually increased during years in which my relative position had been one of independence and not one of subordination. His migration to London consequently led to constant intercourse. It became an established habit for me to spend Sunday evenings with them—at first every other Sunday, and afterwards every Sunday; and the meetings were looked forward to with pleaure on both sides.
The topics we discussed were not numerous. The arts and most of the sciences had no attractions for my uncle; but on subjects interesting to both—ethics, politics, education, and social affairs generally—there was a general agreement between us. The Spencer character came out in prompting kindred views. Even where we different, our differences were amicable. Never having been narrow, he became in his later life increasingly broad-minded and tolerant. This was strikingly shown when, on three successive Sunday evenings, we continued a debate concerning the validity of the belief in a personal God. The position I took is well expressed in a letter to my father written shortly afterwards, an extract from which runs as follows:—
“Mr. Mason states correctly the substance of our conversation. And I still hold that the question is one about which no positive conclusion can be come to. I hold that we are as utterly incompetent to understand the ultimate nature of things, or origin of them, as the deaf man is to understand sounds or the blind man light. My position is simply that I know nothing about it, and never can know anything about it, and must be content in my ignorance. I deny nothing and I affirm nothing, and to any one who says that the current theory is not true I say just as I say to those who assert its truth—you have no evidence. Either alternative leaves us in inextricable difficulties. An uncaused Deity is just as inconceivable as an uncaused Universe. If the existence of matter from all eternity is incomprehensible, the creation of matter out of nothing is equally incomprehensible. Thus finding that either attempt to conceive the origin of things is futile, I am content to leave the question unsettled as the insoluble mystery . . . I have lately had several conversations on this matter with my uncle, and have been pleased with his liberality of treatment.”
As I had not seen Mr. Mason (a dissenting minister of Derby) since 1848, it follows that at the age of 28 I had reached a quite definite form of that conviction set forth twelve years later in First Principles.
My enjoyment of these Sunday evenings at Notting Hill, was in part due to the circumstance that my social circle still continued to be small. It naturally did so; for I took no steps to extend it. I dare say my pride would have stood in the way had it occurred to me to take any such steps; and even had I taken them, there would, I suspect, have been but small success. Being critical, and having but little reticence, my natural tendency is towards the expression of disagreement rather than towards the expression of agreement. And of course the habitual display of this tendency is apt to leave an unfavourable impression.
Save when with old engineering friends, and on evenings now and then spent with my coadjutor Mr. Hodgskin, who wrote the reviews and a good part of the leading articles for The Economist, my only opportunities of meeting strangers occurred at the house of Mr. Chapman (afterwards Dr. Chapman) to whose evening parties I had already been once or twice while he lived at Clapton; and who had now transferred his publishing business from Newgate Street to a large establishment in the Strand, nearly opposite The Economist office. Here he gave weekly soirées, which I from time to time attended. Among many not known to fame, there were some who had made reputations which proved but temporary and some who have made more permanent reputations. Of ladies may be named Miss Anna Swanwick, Miss Bessie Parkes, then known as the author of a volume of poems, Miss Eliza Lynn, now Mrs. Lynn-Linton, and I think occasionally Madame Bodichon, at that time Miss Leigh Smith. Then among the gentlemen was Mr. John Oxenford, well known in those days as theatrical critic to the Times, writer or adapter of light dramas, and reader of German philosophy. It was at one of these gatherings I first met Mr. Froude, who had recently published with Chapman his Nemesis of Faith, and then bore on his melancholy face the impress of that book. Another notability was Mr. Francis W. Newman, who a little later published his Phases of Faith. His very gentle manner suggested an angelic sweetness of nature; but if conversation passed into discussion, it soon appeared that he could become peppery enough. Beyond these and others I do not recall, there were not unfrequently Americans of mark; for Chapman had to utilize his vast house by taking in boarders, and had formed an American connexion. Emerson took up his abode there during one of his visits to England, but I did not then see him. There came, too, Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, at that time a man of much influence.
It was here that, in the spring of 1850, I first met Mr. G. H. Lewes. We happened to leave the house at the same time; and, discovering that we were going in the same direction, we walked together, and talked—I doubt not in an animated way enough. One of our topics was the development hypothesis; and I remember surprising Mr. Lewes by rejecting the interpretation set forth in the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation: he having supposed that that was the only interpretation. From this walk dated an acquaintance which a year later was renewed, and presently became an intimacy.
Under the arrangement made with Mr. Wilson, I had the option of occupying rooms at The Economist office, 340 Strand; and during the earlier part of my journalistic life, I did occupy them. Of course the habitat was trying to me—accustomed as I had been to a quiet house and tolerably good air. I see from letters that notwithstanding double sashes to the windows, it took me a week to become so far inured to the eternal rattle of the Strand as to be able to sleep; and I see, too, that for some time I suffered in general health from noise and other causes. Though in the subsequent April I described myself as having become tolerably well acclimatized, yet the insalubrity evidently told upon me. Hence a change in the spring of 1850. A letter to my father dated 18 April says:—
“Since I wrote last I have made a revolution in my domestic arrangements. I have been for some time past finding that I was beginning to suffer considerably in health from living in the close atmosphere of the office; more especially since that atmosphere had become much more offensive than hitherto, in consequence of the drains having got out of order. Having at length caught cold three times within two months, I thought it was time to make some change.”
The change referred to was the taking of rooms near Westbourne Grove—a place that then corresponded to its name: an avenue of trees, on each side of which stood detached cottages in gardens. Clusters of flower-beds before the doors characterized the terrace in which I lodged; and now this has budded-out the ground-floors of its houses into shops. The letter goes on to name a further revolution in habits.
“You will perhaps be surprised to hear that I have at the same time turned vegetarian. Following the example of Loch (who has been a vegetarian for these five months) Jackson has been trying the system for this month past, and finds himself greatly improved in health . . . . I feel quite well with it, and, as I have said, improved. But of course much of the improvement is due to the change of air.” To which cause I should have added the daily walks into town and out again. Describing the effects of the new regimen, a letter to my mother, dated May 6, says:—
“As I have felt no inconvenience during these first few weeks, I do not suppose I shall now do so. I think I have felt the cold more keenly than I should otherwise have done, and I find others who are trying the experiment make the same complaint. I believe, however, that this result is merely temporary. Meantime I am in all respects well and strong.”
From the phrasing of these statements it is clear that I was willing to persist in vegetarianism, had I been encouraged to do so by further results. My scepticism was first aroused, however, by the fact that after six months’ abstinence from animal food, our friend Loch gave evidence of a lowered condition. His voice had become extremely mild and feeble, and he had partially lost power over one of his feet in walking. Writing, as it seems from my father’s dating, towards the close of May (for I had not dated the letter myself), I said—“I have about decided to give up the vegetarianism, at any rate for the present. I think this relaxation under the eyes is due to it.” The clearest evidence, however, that I had been suffering, was disclosed afterwards. I found that I had to re-write what I had written during the time I was a vegetarian, because it was so wanting in vigour.
Here, as I shall not have a fitter opportunity for naming it, I may add, concerning place of residence, that after returning some months later to the Strand, and spending the rest of the year there, I went for a short time to St. George’s Place, Kentish Town, and thence migrated to No. 20 Clifton Road, St. John’s Wood, which continued to be my abode during the remainder of my engagement with The Economist.
What was the tenor of my intellectual life in those days? Did I trust to memory only, I should reply that I read nothing but newspapers and periodicals—not even reading novels, much less any serious books. Reference to correspondence, however, has undeceived me. One letter to Lott names The Caxtons and Strathmore as having been read; and another, commenting on Pendennis, ranks it above Vanity Fair because “there is less satire and more sympathy in it.” A subsequent paragraph praises a novel then recently published by Mrs. Gaskell.
“And now whilst I think of it let me ask whether you have read “Mary Barton.” If you have not, do by all means. It affords some very good discipline. I cannot say that it is at all an agreeable book to read. It is on the contrary a very painful one. In fact at one part of it I got quite angry with the authoress (for authoress I hear it is) for torturing my feelings so needlessly. However it is a very instructive book and one that everyone should read.”
As my memory has failed me in respect to light literature, it very possibly, or even probably, has done so in respect to graver literature; and I may have given attention to some serious books in 1849 and 50, though I do not remember it. One only which I looked into, left an impression. This was Coleridge’s Idea of Life; the substance of which he was said to have borrowed from Schelling. The doctrine of individuation struck me; and, as was presently shown, entered as a factor into my thinking.
How it happened that I read so little I scarcely know. It may have been that my leisure was mainly occupied with thinking; for I had a good deal to think about, and thinking was always with me more pleasurable than either reading or doing. Or it may have been in part that few beyond ephemeral books came in my way; for I did not then subscribe to Mudie’s library or any other.
It is true that there came to The Economist, books for review (not many, however, for The Economist had but small space for literary criticisms); and into these I occasionally dipped before they went to Mr. Hodgskin. Of one only have I any remembrance; and that because of the adverse impression it produced. When, some years before, there had appeared Modern Painters by Mr. Ruskin, I was delighted to find in him one who dared express unfavourable opinions about some of Raphael’s works; for I had all my life stood alone in insisting on the various faults of these, as of most other paintings by the old masters. Naturally, therefore, when there came to The Economist his just-issued Stones of Venice, I opened it with raised expectations. On looking at the illustrations, however, and reading the adjacent text, I presently found myself called upon to admire a piece of work which seemed to me sheer barbarism. My faith in Mr. Ruskin’s judgment was at once destroyed; and thereafter I paid no further attention to his writings than was implied by reading portions quoted in reviews or elsewhere. These, joined with current statements about his sayings and doings, sufficiently justified the opinion I had formed. Doubtless he has a fine style, writes passages of great eloquence, and here and there expresses truths; but that one who has written and uttered such multitudinous absurdities should have acquired so great an influence, is to me both surprising and disheartening.
If, as this reference to Mr. Ruskin suggests, the æsthetic should be here joined with the intellectual, I may fitly quote a passage from a letter bearing upon it.
“Mentioning Loch’s name reminds me that we have had several very pleasant botanizing excursions lately. Loch commenced the study in the spring, and during our occasional walks when I called upon him, I found that all my interest in it had died away. By and bye, however, it began to revive; and of late I have enjoyed it as much as he has. We have generally chosen Sundays for our trips into the country, and have returned much better for them in all respects. One fact in connexion with this matter has pleased me much. You may probably have remarked that I have been seemingly deficient in the admiration for flowers which most have; and, indeed, I think I have confessed in your presence that they do not yield to me that amount of pleasure which, considering my perceptions of beauty in colour and form are pretty active, they ought to do. Well, whether it be this botanizing or not I do not know, but I have, within this month or two, remarked a very marked increase in my appreciation of floral beauty; so that to-day as I walked along the flower-walk in Kensington Gardens, I found myself perpetually tempted to linger by the admiration of beauties and graces that had never excited me before to anything like the same extent.”
About the interpretation here suggested I am very doubtful; for, certainly, intellectual analysis is at variance with æsthetic appreciation. This was clearly proved to me in the case of flowers at the time when I was studying them in relation to the laws of organic form.
The several sections of this chapter, though some of them referring to particular times, must be understood as generally referring to the period over which my journalistic life extended. In them I have aimed to represent my daily routine, and the average incidents which the months and years brought me. They must be regarded as constituting the background to more special doings and occurrences.
To such more special doings and occurrences the four chapters which follow are devoted.
MY FIRST BOOK.
The offspring of the mind, like the offspring of the body, are apt to become objects of engrossing interest to which all other objects are subordinated. A striking illustration of this was furnished by me early in 1849, as I was taking my morning walk in St. James’s Park. The weather was frosty; and, having a bad cold, I was coughing violently. Abrasion of a small superficial bloodvessel produced some appearances which I, little the better it seems for such medical knowledge as I possessed, absurdly interpreted into spitting of blood, and at once inferred that I was doomed. As I walked on in saddened mood, my first thought was—“It will be a pity if I can’t finish my book first.”
After writing the above paragraph, and after remembering that the book, commenced early in the autumn of 1848, was not finished till Midsummer 1850, I was about to remark that, considering the degree of interest I felt in the undertaking, it is strange that I should have been so dilatory in executing it. Reference to correspondence, however, proves that my lack of energy was not so great as I supposed. A letter sent home early in 1849 says:—
“I cannot say that I make satisfactory progress with my book. From one cause or another I meet with so many interruptions that I do not spend half the time at it that I wished and intended to do. One cause of this is that I feel it necessary to take what out-door relaxation I can get during my leisure days, lest my health should break down.”
A letter to my father in December, shows that in pursuance of a wish to issue the book during the next publishing season I was working hard.
“They tell me I am looking very well—much better than I was some months ago. So that, considering that I am at work until 12 o’clock every night and on Fridays till about 2, I think I may rather brag.”
Having for more than thirty years been unable to work late in the day without losing the whole of such rest as a night brings me, I have become so accustomed to associate the two as cause and effect, that it seems strange to me that anyone should be able to write at night and sleep afterwards; and it seems to me almost incredible that I could at one time do so myself. Even then, however, an injurious effect resulted after a time.
“I have already commenced revising, which I am doing after dinner and in the evening, in consequence of finding that much writing at night was making me sleepless. And I have been getting up early (sometimes at 5) to do the new writing; but I do not know how long it will last.”
Thus it appears that, especially when getting within sight of the goal, I did not consult my ease quite so much as I thought.
In some measure the slowness of my progress was due to the labour I spent over the composition. Somewhere I had met with the saying that a book is saved by its style; and had taken the saying to heart. Probably it would have influenced me but little had I not been constitutionally fastidious. But having in most things a high ideal, and being by nature prone to look for faults, alike in the performances of others and in my own, I was commonly not satisfied by the first expressions which suggested themselves; and never rested so long as I thought that a sentence might be made clearer or more forcible.
Moreover I had some years before been led to make style a subject of study, and had embodied the general conclusions reached in an essay on Force of Expression; so that both by mental proclivity and by preparation I was prompted to be critical. Of every later book the original manuscript, sprinkled with erasures and interlineations, has been sent to the press; but the original manuscript of this first book, after revising it with care, I copied, and then, when the time for publication was approaching, revised the copy: making, as a letter says, “some ten or a dozen erasures per page,” “even in the first parts which I wrote so very carefully.” And here, for the sake of a remark it suggests, let me quote a sentence from a letter written while the latter part of the volume was in progress.
“I have lately been less particular than heretofore; and I have adopted this course in consequence of finding that the imperfections that it costs much thought and trouble to rectify at the time of writing, become visible enough and easily amended after the lapse of some time.”
This, which is a familiar experience from ancient days down to ours, implies a curious analogy between the workings of the intellect and the workings of the emotions. That during emotional excitement it is difficult to see where the right lies, while, after an interval, it becomes comparatively easy, and after the lapse of years we feel surprised at having failed to recognize an obvious fault of conduct, is a fact observed by most. And here it is observable that in like manner, the flaws in our intellectual processes as embodied in words, are difficult to perceive during the heat of production, but become conspicuous when the currents of thought have for a long time left them.
Let me add another remark concerning erroneous estimates, now too favourable, now too unfavourable, of our mental products, as of other things with which we are identified. The diversities of judgment consequent on permanent diversities of physical constitution, as well as those consequent on temporary diversities of bodily state, are not sufficiently recognized; or not recognized to sufficient purpose. I was told by a friend that during a long period of ill-health, accompanied by depression so great that he felt strongly inclined to commit suicide, he was fully aware that his gloomy thoughts and forebodings of disaster were results of physical derangement; and yet this knowledge did not enable him to expel them: his judgments were perverted in spite of himself. Perversions less extreme are common, and, indeed, occur in all people: here being habitual and there occasional. In some matters of perception, each man’s “personal equation,” once ascertained, makes it easy to correct the errors of his observations; but, unfortunately, we have no means of establishing personal equations for the correction of judgments. These reflections are suggested by remembrance of the varying opinions I formed of my work during its progress. Now I took up a chapter written sometime before, and, after reading it, said to myself—“Good: that will do very well;” and then, in another mood, I re-read the same chapter, and laid it down discontentedly with the thought that the argument was not well put, or that the expression lacked vigour.
On the whole, however, I was tolerably well satisfied; and sometimes looked forward to the day of issue with raised expectations.
Early in the Spring of 1850, when completion of the work was within sight, there arose the question,—How to get it published? At that time I was, and have since remained, one of those classed by Dr. Johnson as fools—one whose motive in writing books was not, and never has been, that of making money. The thought that I might profit pecuniarily, never even occurred to me—still less served as a prompting thought. To get the work printed and circulated without loss, was as much as I hoped; but how to do this?
The difficulties were great; and as indication of them may be instructive to literary aspirants, and especially to those whose ambitions lie in the direction of serious literature, I here give some relevant extracts from letters to my father. They were written in the latter part of March.
“I have made an appointment with Chapman for Saturday morning, when I am to read him part of the manuscript. Judging from the attitude he takes, I expect there will be considerable difficulty in getting the book published. He speaks of his position as being such that he dare not speculate; and that the question would turn more upon the degree of dependence he could place upon my ability to meet the cost, supposing the book should not pay. He says, moreover, that from his past experience of philosophical books, it is probable that the more highly he thought of it the less hopeful he should be of its success.”
The following is from a letter sent a few days later.
“I had a long talk with Chapman this morning and on the whole a favourable one. It has been all along understood that the publication was to be on my own responsibility: the only question with Chapman being to what extent it would be safe to give me credit. He says that he is himself so short of capital, that were he the only party concerned he should be obliged to decline; seeing that he dare not run the risk of having to lie out of his capital that length of time that it might take me to pay the deficiency, if the work should not succeed. He says, however, that his friend Woodfall (with whom I think I told you he was in the habit of making such arrangements) would agree, if Chapman thought I might be trusted, to give me two years’ credit. And Chapman, seeing the probability of my railway claims being settled before the expiration of that term, and seeing, further, that I should be able to lay by some considerable sum out of my salary between this time and that, seems inclined to recommend him to do this.”
The Mr. Woodfall referred to in this extract (a descendant of the Woodfall of political celebrity) took an interest in Chapman’s business as a channel for liberal thought. Doing, as he did, much of Chapman’s printing, he sometimes entered into joint responsibilities; and he willingly listened to the suggested arrangement. The railway-claims referred to, enabled me to give him something like a guarantee. Since 1845, one of the companies by which I had been then employed had owed me £80; and I took Mr. Woodfall to the office of the official liquidator under the winding-up act, for the purpose of verifying my statement that such a sum was due. The agreement was then made and the printing proceeded.
The moral of these facts is that in the absence of a sympathetic printer, and a sympathetic publisher (for Chapman was anxious to bring out the book), and in the absence of this partial security I was enabled to give, the book would not have been issued at all; or, at any rate, would have remained unissued for years, waiting until I had accumulated a sufficient sum to meet the cost.
I am greatly indebted to my father for preserving everything written; even where no probable use for it could be assigned. Much correspondence which might reasonably have been regarded as valueless, has proved useful; and some letters from me to him at this time, serve a purpose which neither he nor I could have imagined when they were sent and received. They concern the title of the book, which was being discussed while the negotiations about printing were going on. The following extracts I give for a reason which will presently be manifest.
Let me premise that anyone who glances at its contents will see that the aims of the work are primarily ethical. Its introduction discusses the doctrines of different schools of moralists; its first part seeks to deduce men’s rights from a fundamental law of equity; and its remaining parts draw corollaries concerning equitable political arrangements: enforcing the ethical deductions by considerations of expediency. My own conception of it was expressed by the following sentence contained in a letter written in March.
“The Title is to be—‘A System of Social and Political Morality.’ ”
In a letter of mine which my father has dated May (he frequently added dates when I had omitted them) there occur these paragraphs:—
“I am rather undecided as to the title of my book. Peppé, whom I think I have mentioned to you, says that a friend of his to whom he happened to mention the title, quite agreed with him in thinking it was not one that would attract attention; but that people would rather feel inclined to pass it over as suggesting a threadbare subject. He quite approved of the term Demostatics, which I told him I had used in the introduction, but had felt fearful of using for a title lest it should be thought pedantic. My uncle, with whom I was talking over the matter last night, seems also to like the word, and advises me to take the opinions of as many as I can place confidence in. The word is perfectly appropriate as describing the special nature of the book; and is also suggestive of its strictly scientific character. The only objection is, that it might give a handle to ill-natured criticisms.
“I have also thought of the expression—Social Statics; but my uncle objects to this that it would be taken by many people for social statistics. Of course to either of these I should append the title I have already chosen, by way of explanation.”
And then on August 7, after the printing had made considerable progress, I wrote to my father—
“Neither Chapman or Mr. Hodgskin approves of Demostatics as a title. They both think that more would be prejudiced against the book by it than would be impressed in its favour.
“Mr. Hodgskin quite approves of Social Statics, which he thinks would be a very good title. I am going to consult with Chapman about it. What is your objection to it? As I am now thinking of it the title would stand—
Social Statics: a System of Equity Synthetically Developed.”
Three things are, I think, thus made manifest. First, that the work was conceived by me, and had continued up to the time of its completion to be regarded by me, as “A System of Social and Political Morality.” Second, that the word Demostatics, already used in the introduction (erased before printing) was the word to which I leaned as a leading title, when the original title was objected to: my intention being to suggest what I considered the subject-matter of the book—how an aggregate of citizens may stand without tendency to conflict and disruption—how men’s relations may be kept in a balanced state: my belief being that the conforming of social arrangements to the law of equal freedom, or to the system of equity deducible from it, insured the maintenance of equilibrium. And third, that the title Social Statics, thought of as an alternative suggesting the same general idea, was used by me only because I was dissuaded from using the title Demostatics, as I had previously been dissuaded from using the original title.
It was unfortunate that I then knew nothing more of Auguste Comte, than that he was a French philosopher—did not even know that he had promulgated a system having a distinctive title, still less that one of its divisions was called “Social Statics.” Had I known this, and had I in consequence adhered to my original title, it would never have entered any one’s head to suppose a relation between M. Comte and myself: so utterly different in nature is that which I called “A System of Social and Political Morality” from that which M. Comte called “Social Statics”; and so profoundly opposed are our avowed or implied ideals of human life and human progress.
I cannot now recall the feelings with which I glanced through the papers in search of a review. Impatience, I dare say, was the dominant feeling; for the notice of a grave work by an unknown author, was certain to be long delayed. Nor can I remember whether, when reviews at length came, I was disappointed by their superficial character. No analytical account of the book appeared; and, as usual with books of the kind, readers were left to find out its nature for themselves. In the absence of one, let me here sketch out such a review as might have been written by a competent critic who had read Social Statics through, and given due thought to its arguments.
Nothing in this volume implies that its author accepts the current creed; and though a chapter entitled “The Divine Idea” implies that he is a theist, yet, for anything that appears to the contrary, his theism is nominal only. Immediate divine interposition nowhere enters as a factor into his conception of things; but, contrariwise, things, human as well as other, are conceived as conforming everywhere and always to immutable law. Such being the case, it seems to us that merely putting at the back of immutable law a divine idea, practically amounts to nothing: the immutable law might stand just as well by itself.
Social Statics, or, to quote its sub-title, The Conditions essential to Human Happiness specified, and the first of them developed, might fitly be characterized as a kind of Natural-History ethics. Its sub-title shows that, assuming happiness as the end to be achieved, it regards achievement of it as dependent on fulfilment of conditions; conformity to which constitutes morality. It considers Man as an organized being subject to the laws of life at large, and considers him as forced by increase of numbers into a social state which necessitates certain limitations to the actions by which he carries on his life; and a cardinal doctrine, much emphasized by Mr. Spencer, is that Man has been, and is, undergoing modifications of nature which fit him for the social state, by making conformity to these conditions spontaneous. In a chapter entitled “The Evanescence of Evil,” he exemplifies the truth that increased use of any power, bodily or mental, is followed by increased strength of it; and conversely. He argues that the implied adaptation of constitution to requirements goes on without limit; and that therefore, in course of time, the adaptation of human nature to the social state will become complete—man will become perfect. Here is one illustration among many of Mr. Spencer’s too-little-qualified conclusions. We will not enlarge on the fact which he should have recognized, that as fast as adaptation approaches completeness, it becomes slower and slower—that the forces which produce change become less as the need for change diminishes; so that adaptation must ever remain incomplete. Merely noting this, we go on to point out that, for adaptation to become complete, the conditions must remain constant; which they do not. Astronomic and geologic changes must cause in the future, as they have caused in the past, unceasing alterations in the climatic and other characters of men’s habitats; entailing slow migrations of races from regions which have become unfit to fitter regions. Along with such migrations must go modified habits of life, and of industrial arrangements. So that before adaptation to any one set of conditions has been approached, some other set of conditions will have to be met.
Passing now to the ethical part of his theory, we find Mr. Spencer’s first proposition to be that every man is free to do whatsoever he wills provided he does not infringe the equal freedom of any other man—free to do it, that is, in the sense that within this limit, other men have no right to restrain him. This is said to be the primary condition to which men’s actions must conform before social life can be harmonious. But Mr. Spencer does not say what he means by men—How about children? If the law is not applicable to them, are they to be regarded in old Roman fashion, as property over which the parent has life-and-death power? If, contrariwise, the law is applicable to them, must they be considered as having the same claims to freedom as their fathers, including political freedom? Clearly Mr. Spencer should at least have limited his doctrine to adults.
After making this needful qualification, we may accept the conclusion that men’s claims to life, to personal liberty, to property, to free speech, &c., &c., are corollaries from this first principle: all forms of equity, or equalness, being implied in it. Passing over some chapters in which these corollaries are drawn, we come upon one which again shows our author’s way of pushing his doctrines to extremes, without regarding the limitations necessitated by social conditions. We refer to the chapter on “The Rights of Women.” Setting out with the assertion that “equity knows no difference of sex,” he argues that the rights previously deduced must be as fully recognized in women as in men; and presently coming face to face with the question of political rights, he boldly claims these as much for the one as for the other. Now as a matter of equity simply, this claim might be valid were the social positions of men and women alike in every other respect. But they are not. Just noting that certain privileges which men accord to women constitute a kind of social priority, it will suffice to emphasize the fact that along with their citizenship, men have the obligation of defending the country, while women have no such obligation. To give women the same political power as men without joining to it his onerous political duty, would be to give them not equality but supremacy. Only if, while receiving votes, they undertook to furnish to the Army and Navy contingents equal to those which men furnish, could they be said to be politically equal.
In Part III. of his work, Mr. Spencer treats at length of those political applications of his first principle incidentally touched upon in the last paragraph; and here we shortly come upon the strangest and most indefensible doctrine in the book. Unquestionably Mr. Spencer has “the courage of his opinions;” for, in a chapter entitled “The Right to Ignore the State,” he actually contends that the citizen may properly refuse to pay taxes, if at the same time he surrenders the advantages which State-aid and State-protection yield him! But how can he surrender them? In whatever way he maintains himself, he must make use of sundry appliances which are indirectly due to governmental organization; and he cannot avoid benefiting by the social order which government maintains. Even if he lives on a moor and makes shoes, he cannot sell his goods or buy the things he wants, without using the road to the neighbouring town, and profiting by the paving and perhaps the lighting when he gets there. And though he may say he does not want police-guardianship, yet, in keeping down footpads and burglars, the police necessarily protect him whether he asks them or not. Surely it is manifest—as indeed Mr. Spencer himself elsewhere implies—that the citizen is so entangled in the organization of his society, that he can neither escape the evils nor relinquish the benefits which come to him from it.
Concerning the succeeding chapter on “The Constitution of the State,” little needs be said. In these days of extended franchise and agitations for wider extension of it, Mr. Spencer will find general agreement in his argument deducing the constitution of the State from the law of equal freedom. Nor need the chapter on “The Duty of the State” detain us, further than to remark that we wish we could see some sign that the State will presently give to each citizen that complete protection against civil, as well as criminal, injuries, which payment of taxes entitles him to. But the next chapter—“The Limit of State Duty”—introduces another of Mr. Spencer’s peculiar views, which most readers will promptly reject. In it he contends that beyond its function of protector against external and internal enemies, the State has no function; and that when it assumes any other function it becomes an aggressor instead of a protector—partly by unduly restricting men’s spheres of action, and partly by taking away their money to support its additional staffs of officials. The remainder of Part III. is devoted to discussing the various forms of legislative aggression, in chapters on “The Regulation of Commerce,” “Religious Establishments,” “Poor Laws,” “National Education,” “Government Colonization,” “Sanitary Supervision,” &c., &c. Each of these chapters begins by deducing from the law of equal freedom, the inequity of the particular kind of State-action treated of; and then proceeds to show the impolicy of such kind of State-action. The conclusion set forth in the first two of these chapters, are conclusions already drawn by many people. Those set forth in the others will be variously regarded—mostly with repugnance. For ourselves we may confess to feeling some sympathy with Mr. Spencer in his portests against the multitudinous mischiefs done by legislation; and think that politicians would do well to inquire more carefully and sceptically than they do, before proposing new regulations. In defending some of his theses, however, Mr. Spencer enunciates doctrines which will horrify many soft-hearted people. Describing (on p. 322) the ways in which among animals the destroying agencies at work, continually “weed out the sickly, the malformed, and the least fleet or powerful,” and saying that by this and kindred processes “all vitiation of the race through the multiplication of its inferior samples is prevented,” Mr. Spencer goes on to argue that mankind are, and should be, subjected to this “same beneficent, though severe discipline”; and he holds that when a Government tries to prevent the misery necessitated by the stress of competition and the consequent “struggle for life or death,” it eventually creates far more misery by fostering the incapables: saying of the “spurious philanthropists” that “these sigh-wise and groan-foolish people bequeath to posterity a continually increasing curse.” So, again, on pp. 378-81, he asserts that “inconvenience, suffering, and death, are the penalties attached by nature to ignorance, as well as to incompetence;” and contends that the State does mischief when it wards off such penalties. Verily this teaching is not meat for babes but for men; and men of strong digestions, too. However, it is needful to add that Mr. Spencer protests only against interference by the State with the normal connexion between suffering and inferiority: saying, of the natural expurgation of society ever going on, that, “in so far as the severity of this process is mitigated by the spontaneous sympathy of men for each other, it is proper that it should be mitigated.”
Part IV. we must pass over; though the chapter entitled “General Considerations” contains matter for comment—mostly approving but partly dissentient. Already points of dissent have been sufficiently emphasized—perhaps obscuring too much sundry points of agreement of greater importance. We do not deny that, for harmonious social co-operation, there must be recognized the liberty of each limited only by the like liberty of all: the further limitations which morality dictates, not being properly imposed by public agency. That those various claims which we distinguish as “rights” are corollaries from this fundamental requirement, seems also to be a well-grounded proposition. Moreover, the arrangements implied by political justice are deduced by Mr. Spencer from the first principle he lays down, by arguments which seem to us mostly valid. Nor are we concerned to dispute the inference, that when the State undertakes to regulate and aid men in the carrying on of their lives, it inevitably diminishes their liberties, by controlling either their actions or their purses; while, unquestionably in many cases, it does evil rather than good by its officious meddlings. Though, as pointed out, the absolutely optimistic belief in the perfect adaptation of men to the social state, is untenable, yet there is reason for thinking that an approximate adaptation is being slowly effected. And there may be warrant for the doctrine set forth in a curious section of the “General Considerations,” where, saying that we often “speak of the body politic” and “compare a nation to a living organism” (being led, by this collocation of ideas, to use the strange phrase “the social organism”), Mr. Spencer argues that there is going on a conciliation between the structure of society and the structures of its units—an action and reaction by which the two are being ever moulded and re-moulded into congruity; so that eventually man will acquire a nature such that he will tend to do spontaneously that which the welfare of society demands.
It is a pity that Mr. Spencer did not devote some years more of thought to his work before publishing it. He might then have set forth the truths it contains freed from the crude ideas with which they are now mingled, and undisfigured by illegitimate corollaries.
Little to be expected, a criticism of this kind, serving really to enlighten readers concerning the nature of the work, nowhere appeared. The usual purposes of a reviewer are—first, to get his guineas with the least expenditure of labour; second, to show what a clever fellow he is—how much more he knows about the matter than the author; third, to write an amusing article; fourth, to give some account of the book: which last purpose, often practically unattempted, is rarely fulfilled. It may, indeed, be said in the critic’s defence that, did he bestow on each book as much time and thought as would be requisite for giving a satisfactory delineation and estimate, he could not get bread and cheese at the work.
It must not be supposed, however, that I had any reason to be dissatisfied with the reception given to Social Statics: judging the reception by the ordinary standards. On the contrary, the book gained more attention than was to be expected. The following extract from a letter shows that I was quite content with the treatment accorded to me.
“With the exception of the Daily News wet blanket, I have so far had nothing but sunshine. Indeed I am somewhat surprised at meeting with so little rough usage. I expected that some of the expediency-school would have pitched into me savagely. But probably I may still come in for a taste of abuse.”
Let me add, as being noteworthy, that Social Statics was more extensively, as well as more favourably, noticed, than any one of my later books: a fact well illustrating the worth of a current criticism.
Naturally some social effect resulted from this measure of success—an effect, however, which, with my habitual want of tact, I took but little advantage of. One incident connected with the social effect is described in a letter to Lott. Here is the passage:—
“I doubt not you would have greatly enjoyed being a party to the badinage that has been carried on at my expense by Chapman and Miss Evans (the translatress of Strauss) for these two months past. They have taken upon themselves to choose me a wife; and the various arrangements and delays in effecting an introduction have, as you may suppose, afforded subject-matter for much mirth. The affair was put into their heads by the inquiry the young lady made as to the authorship of “Social Statics”—whether Herbert Spencer was a real or an assumed name, &c., &c. So on the strength of the lady’s admiration for the book, and all other circumstances seeming as they thought suitable, I was startled by the information that they had found a wife for me. Some fortnight or three weeks ago the introduction took place. I cannot say that my inclinations at all indorsed their theory. My objection—at least the chief one—is a somewhat unusual one. The young lady is in my opinion too highly intellectual; or I should rather say—morbidly intellectual. A small brain in a state of intense activity, is the best description. Moreover she seems pretty nearly as combative as I am; and has, I fancy, almost as much self-esteem. Moreover, she did not seem as if she could laugh. So that though she is sufficiently good-looking, young, extremely open, a poetess and an heiress, I do not think that the spirit will move me.”
As I learned afterwards, the lady, too, was not favourably impressed. Probably she came with high anticipations and was disappointed: looking for intellectual coruscations and meeting with nothing but commonplace remarks. Most people frame very untrue, and often very absurd, conceptions of those who write books. They expect to find them differ from average persons in conspicuous ways. One may say that as a rule no man is equal to his book, though there are, I believe, exceptions. All the best products of his mental activity he puts into his book; where they are separated from the mass of inferior products with which they are mingled in his daily talk. And yet the usual supposition is that the unselected thoughts will be as good as the selected thoughts. It would be about as reasonable to suppose that the fermented wort of the distiller will be found of like quality with the spirit distilled from it.
Nor is it only in respect of intellectual manifestations that too much is looked for from authors. There are also looked for, especially from authors of philosophical books, traits of character greatly transcending ordinary ones. The common anticipation is that they are likely to display contempt for things which please the majority of people. This remark is suggested, not by anything which occurred in 1851 or thereabout, but by incidents of some thirty years later, of which I am reminded by the incident narrated above. These, though out of place in respect of date, I may perhaps better set down here than elsewhere. One concerns a Frenchman who, anxious to see me, came to the Athenæum Club, and was brought by a member to the billiard room as the place where, in the afternoon, I was most likely to be found. Here he saw me engaged in a game; and, as I heard afterwards, lifted up his hands with an exclamation to the effect that had he not seen it he would not have believed it. The other concerns the American millionaire, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, who in August, 1882, returning to America by the Scrvia in which I was going, brought a letter of introduction to me; and who afterwards told me how greatly astonished he was during our first meal on board to hear me say—“Waiter, I did not ask for Cheshire; I asked for Cheddar.” To think that a philosopher should be so fastidious about his cheese!
The identification of philosophy with stoicism still prevails very generally, and continually crops up in unexpected ways and places.
AN IDLE YEAR.
Sometime in the spring of 1851, when dining in company with him at Mr. Wilson’s, I was congratulated by Mr. W. R. Greg on the success of Social Statics; and thereupon greatly surprised him by the remark that after all, the result achieved seemed scarcely worth the trouble of achieving it. Had there been reason for dissatisfaction with the reception given to the book, such a feeling would not have been unnatural; but under the actual circumstances it seems strange that it should have arisen.
Did a pessimistic view of life cause it? Was it that I had contemplated men’s various ambitions, the struggles they prompt, and the disappointments which usually follow, even when they succeed? I think not. Though one who was inclined to take gloomy views of things, and who contended that few ends we strive for are worth the labour expended in attaining them, might reasonably have included the writing of a successful book among these; yet I do not think that my experiences prompted any such view. I cannot assign any cause; but merely recognize this mood of mind as probably having had something to do with my comparative inactivity during the year.
Of anything to be called work, beyond that which my official duties entailed, I can recall little more than the revision of Social Statics. The book was going off well; and there was expectation that a second edition might be called for. Though I had spent a great deal of labour on the manuscript and the proofs; yet while there remained a possibility of improving the expression, I was not content to let the book be reproduced without correcting it afresh. I obtained a set of unbound sheets, and in the course of the spring and summer went through them. Often putting one in my pocket and sallying out into the country, I broke my walk every now and then by lying down in some sheltered or shady place and castigating a few pages. Among my papers I believe there still exists the set of sheets thus revised. Inspection makes it manifest that the great aim was condensation—abridgment being here and there made by the omission even of a syllable.
Of serious occupation, if it may so be called, I am reminded of one further example by a letter to Lott, from which the following is an extract:—
“I have taken to the study of bones. Which being interpreted means that I am attending a course of Professor Owen’s lectures on Comparative Osteology. I am much interested. I mean to make physiology [morphology, I should have said] my special study; bearing so much, as it does, on several subjects with which I propose to deal.”
It seems not unlikely that the motive for wishing to hear these lectures arose from the fact that their title was suggestive of information bearing on the development hypothesis, in which I was already deeply interested.
One small addition to work done during the spring, was entailed by a question which came to me from the Congregational Board of Education. The question was whether I would permit the republication of the chapter on State-education in Social Statics: Mr. Samuel Morley (well known in later years as member of parliament for Bristol) being prepared to defray the expense. I willingly assented; and took the occasion to add a postscript of a few pages enforcing the argument. The republished chapter bore the paradoxical title—“State-Education self-defeating.” The interpretation of the paradox was that any intellectual improvement gained is more than counter-balanced by the moral deterioration caused by absolving parents from a part of their responsibilities.
I see, too, by references, that there was some reading at the British Museum. Had not the proof come before me, I should have denied that I ever in those days read there; and I was at first at a loss to know what was my motive. A letter to my father of February 15, 1851, enlightened me by the following sentences:—“I enclose you some memoranda I have been putting down at random in connexion with my theory of population. They accord with the conclusion I had previously arrived at on other grounds.” Subsequent references show that this was the subject to which I was then chiefly devoting my attention.
The first two paragraphs of this chapter, descriptive of my state of mind early in 1851, were written at a time when my letters of that period were not accessible. On consulting them I find that in large measure they bear out the supposition which my remembrances suggested. Indeed a quite specific statement of my views about life, is contained in the following passage from a letter to my friend, written on April 15.
“Talking of marrying reminds me that here I am a bachelor still. I shall be 31 in the course of a few days and so far as appearances go, I am as far from being “settled in life,” as the phrase is, as I was 10 years ago. Can’t you give me a little advice? You as a man of experience in such matters ought surely to have something to communicate. However I do not know that I should take your advice if you gave it. As for marrying under existing circumstances, that is out of the question; and as for twisting circumstances into better shape, I think it is too much trouble. As I think you have heard me say—I don’t mean to get on. I don’t think getting on is worth the bother. On the whole I am quite decided not to be a drudge; and as I see no probability of being able to marry without being a drudge, why I have pretty well given up the idea.
“After all it does not much matter. If as somebody said (Socrates, was it not?)—marrying is a thing which whether you do it or do it not you will repent, it is pretty clear that you may as well decide by a toss up. It’s a choice of evils, and the two sides are pretty nearly balanced. Come now, confess—is it not true that in respect of happiness the difference between married and unmarried life is not so great? As far as my observation goes, I cannot say that the Benedicks look a bit better in the face than the bachelors.”
In a succeeding paragraph, however, it is remarked that this view might very possibly be changed if due cause arose.
That I by no means undervalued the married state, but, contrariwise, looked forward to it as one to be achieved, was, indeed, shown in a very odd way: the evidence being of an extremely exceptional kind, if not, indeed, unique.
For sometime before, and for sometime after, the date at which I undertook my sub-editorial duties, there had been entertained by myself and sundry friends—Jackson, Loch, Lott, and another residing in Derby—the project of emigrating to New Zealand. Prospects here were not very brilliant for any of us; and we discussed the matter seriously. Books were read; and the reasons for and against duly weighed from time to time. Averse to unmethodic ways of judging, it occurred to me that aid might be had by making a rough numerical valuation of the several ends in life which might be respectively better achieved, these by staying at home and those by emigrating; and that by adding up the numbers on each side, totals would be obtained which would yield more trustworthy ideas of the relative advantages than mere unaided contemplation. Among my papers I find I have preserved the estimates then made. Here they are.
The implication is decided enough. The relative values assigned make it clear that a state of celibacy was far from being my ideal.
I may add that the scheme was gradually and silently abandoned by all except Jackson, who, unfortunately, carried it out. A passage in the above-quoted letter to Lott says that “Jackson has finally decided to go to New Zealand in the autumn.” Thinking that farming held out better prospects than engineering, he took steps to fit himself for it, and went into the country to get some lessons.
“He left for Wokingham in Berks about a week since, and is now, I suppose, deeply absorbed in The Muck-Manual, probably relieving his severer studies by getting a few wrinkles in the farm-yard respecting the weaning of calves and the killing of pigs, interspersed by stray hints from the dairymaid. New Plymouth is the settlement he thinks of going to. He is to marry before he goes. In fact it is his wish to bring his long-standing engagement to a close that has determined him to emigate.”
I have said above that the fulfilment of the scheme by him was unfortunate. Not long after his arrival in New Zealand, and while still undecided respecting his career, he went with others on a boating excursion out to sea. The boat capsized, and he was drowned. His death made the first gap in my group of friends—took from me one associated in my memory with many happy days; and, as may be supposed, was the more felt. It was felt, too, by all who knew his worth. Though the world did not lose in him a bright intellect, yet it lost a fine nature.
I do not remember for what reason I myself gave up the thought of emigration. I had originally proposed that my father and mother should go also; but they were too far advanced in life. Probably a chief deterrent from the scheme, was the consciousness that for an only child to go to the Antipodes and leave parents alone in their declining years, would be cruel.
After a changeful history, The Westminster Review had, about this time, by the losses it entailed on its immediate supporters, tired them out. During its earlier days it had been kept afloat by subsidies from Sir William Molesworth and Mr. J. S. Mill; the last of whom, himself a large contributor to its pages as well as to its funds, for a long time played the part if not of nominal editor yet of actual editor. The last editor under the superintendence of Mr. Mill was Mr. Robertson. At a later period the Review was bought by Mr. Hickson; and an endeavour was made by lower rates of payment to contributors, as well as, probably, by gratis articles, to make it meet its expenses. Though still owned by Mr. Hickson, it was at the beginning of 1851, edited by Mr. Slack.
In the spring of that year negotiations were opened for sale of it to Mr. Chapman; and by the middle of May, the negotiations were so far advanced that Mr. Chapman was making his arrangements, and casting about for contributors. In a letter to my father dated May 21, a passage concerning this matter runs as follows:
“Chapman (I tell you this in confidence) is about to have the Westminster Review. It will come into his hands at the end of the year. Chapman has twice proposed to me to write an article for the January number. The first time he proposed the population question on which he knows my views. But I declined on the ground that I wished to make it the subject of a book. His second proposal, made to-day, I have thrown cold water on by telling him that agreeing to get an article ready for the 1st Jany would interfere with the population book, which I intend to begin as soon as I have revised Social Statics. Mr. Greg in a letter which Chapman showed me about the management of the Westminster in its new hands, quite counts upon me as a constant contributor; but I do not feel inclined to sacrifice my existing projects.”
I find the sentence in a subsequent letter—
“He (Chapman) has been wanting me to write him an article on the suffrage for the Jan. No, but I tell him I do not think I am fitted to produce the kind of article he wants, viz. a so-called practical one.”
Respecting the population question referred to above, I may add that subsequent letters show that my preparations for a book on it had advanced further than memory led me to suppose. There is mention of a programme which I was drawing up; and the answer to one of my father’s questions, written late in the autumn, is—“I shall finish the skeleton before sending it [to you]: There will be some 20 odd chapters.”
The year 1851 was the year of the Great Exhibition; and the first of May brought the opening by the Queen. In my journalistic capacity I had free admission, but made no use of it on that day: neither then nor at any time caring to be a spectator of State-ceremonies or royal pageants. Next day, however, I promptly availed myself of my entrance ticket; and thereafter many days and half days were passed with pleasure and profit in studying the arts and industries of the various European peoples. Exhibitions, more or less extensive, have now become common things; but at that date nothing of the kind had been seen. Of course the interest excited far exceeded any interest excited at present. As the season advanced, a good deal of time was spent in playing the guide to country relatives and friends.
Here I am reminded of the divergent opinions which were entertained concerning this industrial show and its consequences. At the one extreme were many oversanguine people who expected it to inaugurate a universal peace. At the other extreme came Mr. Carlyle, uttering fierce denunciations with all that power of language characteristic of him. And with these aberrant judgments I may join one published in Blackwood’s Magazine; where a writer describing the impressions supposed to be produced by the Exhibition on the Ghost of Voltaire, makes him express the belief that the only improvement worthy of note since his day was the lucifer match!
One other incidental fact may be added. When the Exhibition was about to be closed, it was suggested that the iron and glass building used for it should be retained as a winter-garden. Londoners at large would have derived great advantage had it been made permanent; for not only as a winter-garden would it have been available, but also as a charming promenade in wet weather at all parts of the year. The owners and occupiers of houses in Prince’s Gate and the immediate neighbourhood, however, gave a determined opposition to the proposal. Though it could not be said that the building was an eyesore, yet it was clear that were a winter-garden made of it, the traffic along the Kensington road would be, on Sundays and holidays, greatly increased. Notwithstanding the comparatively small number of those whose interests were thus adverse to the project, they prevailed. The building was pulled down; and millions of people were deprived of refining pleasure.
The fact furnishes another illustration of the truth, often illustrated, that a small body of men deeply interested and able easily to co-operate, is more than a match for a vast body of men less deeply interested and unfavourably circumstanced for co-operation.
When, in the last chapter, I remarked that I failed to take advantage of such opportunities as occurred of widening my social relations, I forgot an all-important exception. There resulted one intimacy which had marked effects on my life.
A generation earlier, a conspicuous part had been played in public life by Mr. William Smith, for many years member of parliament for Norwich. His were the times during which immense sums were lost over contested elections; and he is said to have spent three fortunes in this way: not for the gratification of personal ambition, but prompted by patriotic motives. For, himself a Unitarian, he was the leading representative of the much-oppressed dissenters; and it was he who, by untiring efforts, finally succeeded in obtaining the abolition of the Test and Corporation Acts. Various of his descendants have been conspicuous for their public spirit, philanthropic feeling, and cultivated tastes. From the eldest son, his father’s successor in Parliament, descended Mr. Benjamin Leigh Smith, whose achievements as an Arctic explorer are well known, and Madame Bodichon, of note as an amateur artist, and active in good works. One of the daughters became Mrs. Nightingale of Lea Hurst; and from her, besides Lady Verney, came Miss Florence Nightingale.
Among the younger sons was Mr. Octavius Smith, who might be instanced in proof of the truth—very general but not without exception—that originality is antagonistic to receptivity. For having in early life been somewhat recalcitrant under the ordinary educational drill, he was in later life distinguished not only by independence of thought, but by marked inventiveness—a trait which stood him in good stead in the competition which, as the proprietor of the largest distillery in England, he carried on with certain Scotch rivals. Energetic in a high degree, and having the courage and sanguineness which come from continued success, he was full of enterprizes: sundry of them for public benefit. Partly because of the personal experiences he had in various directions of the obstacles which Governmental interferences put in the way of improvement, and partly as a consequence of the fact that being a man of vigour and resource he was not prone to look for that aid from State-agencies which is naturally invoked by incapables, he was averse to the meddling policy; much in favour then, and still more in favour now. One leading purpose of Social Statics being that of setting forth both the inequity and the mischief of this policy, a lady who knew Mr. Octavius Smith’s views, planned an introduction; and this having been made, there was initiated an acquaintanceship which afterwards grew into something more.
I have been very fortunate in my friendships; and not the least so in that with Mr. Octavius Smith. In later years I owed to him the larger part of my chief pleasures in life.
Already I have named the fact that in the Spring of 1850, I met Mr. G. H. Lewes; and that in the course of our walk home from a soirée, a conversation between us produced mutual interest. When Social Statics came out he spoke highly of it, both privately and in public as literary editor of The Leader; and naturally when we met again, a further step was taken towards intimacy. As we had many tastes and opinions in common, the intimacy grew rapidly.
When the summer came there resulted country excursions together—the early ones being long Sunday rambles in Wimbledon Park, Richmond Park, etc.: a companion on the first occasion being Mr. E. S. Pigott, now Licenser of Plays, and at that time interested in The Leader as one who subscribed part of the capital. Later in the season our excursions took a wider range. The longest of them was up the valley of the Thames:—by railway to Slough and thence on foot to Cookham, where we slept; next day we went along the Thames-bank by Marlow and on to Henley, where our day’s walk ended; leaving there on the Monday, we reached by the help of a coach drive, Pangbourne, and eventually Goring, where we stopped for the night; and next day we walked as far as Abingdon, whence we returned by railway. The expedition was a memorable one for both of us; not only because of its enjoyments, which were great, but also because of its mental results. It was to the impulse he received from the conversations during these four days, that Lewes more particularly ascribed that awakened interest in scientific inquiries which is referred to in an extract from his diary published in George Eliot’s Life. And in me, observation on the forms of leaves set going a train of thought which ended in my writing an essay on “The Laws of Organic Form”; an extended exposition of which occupies some space in The Principles of Biology. Later in the autumn, Kent was the scene of another ramble: Gravesend, Maidstone and Cobham being among the places on our route. Lewes remarked at its close, that the ramble had not been so rich in suggestions as the preceding one; but he had brought with him a volume by Milne-Edwards, and in it for the first time I met with the expression—“the physiological division of labour.” Though the conception was not new to me, as is shown towards the end of Social Statics, yet the mode of formulating it was; and the phrase thereafter played a part in my course of thought.
As a companion Lewes was extremely attractive. Interested in, and well informed upon, a variety of subjects; full of various anecdote; and an admirable mimic; it was impossible to be dull in his company. Now-a-days he is chiefly known by the contributions to philosophy in his Problems of Life and Mind; but his reputation was then mainly that of an extremely versatile man—a critic and writer on general literature, a novelist, a dramatist, an actor, an expositor of philosophy. This last combination recalls a droll incident in his career. He delivered a series of lectures on philosophy in the provinces; and, among other places, in Edinburgh. There, after his last lecture had been given, the play-bills announced The Merchant of Venice, with Mr. Lewes in the part of Shylock. The dramatic element in the performance was, I doubt not, good; and I dare say his dramatic faculty justified the thought which he at one time entertained of going upon the stage. But his figure was not sufficiently impressive for many parts; and his voice was not effective.
I knew nothing in those days of his domestic life, or, indeed, of anything concerning him beyond that which our conversations disclosed. But alike then and afterwards, I was impressed by his forgiving temper and his generosity. Whatever else may be thought, it is undeniable that he discharged the responsibilities which devolved upon him with great conscientiousness, and at much cost in self-sacrifice, notwithstanding circumstances which many men would have made a plea for repudiating them.
One result of my friendship with Lewes was that I read some of his books. His first novel, Ranthorpe, he spoke of disparagingly; but of his second, Rose, Blanche, and Violet, he entertained a better opinion. This I read. So far as I remember it did not make upon me any decided impression one way or the other. A more important result, however, was that I read his Biographical History of Philosophy, then existing in its original four-volumed form, in the series of shilling volumes published by Knight, who was one of the pioneers of cheap literature.
Up to that time questions in philosophy had not attracted my attention. On my father’s shelves during the years of my youth and early manhood, there had been a copy of Locke’s Essay which I had never looked into; and as I had not utilized a book constantly at hand, it may naturally be inferred that I had not troubled myself to obtain other books dealing with the same and kindred topics. It is true that, as named in my narrative of that period, I had in 1844 got hold of a copy of Kant’s Critique, then, I believe, recently translated, and had read its first pages: rejecting the doctrine in which, I went no further. It is also true that though, so far as I can remember, I had read no books on either philosophy or psychology, I had gathered in conversations or by references, some conceptions of the general questions at issue. And it is no less true that I had myself, to some extent, speculated upon psychological problems,—chiefly in connexion with phrenology. The fact, already named, that I had in 1844 arrived at the conclusion long before set forth by Adam Smith, that from the sympathetic excitement of pleasurable and painful feelings in ourselves, there originate the actions commonly grouped as benevolent, shows that I was somewhat given to the study of our states of consciousness; and Social Statics, in which the sentiment of justice is interpreted after the same general manner as that of benevolence, and in which a good deal is said concerning the development of the moral nature, shows that the tendency to mental analysis had become pronounced. Still, I had not, up to 1851, made the phenomena of mind a subject of deliberate study.
I doubt not that the reading of Lewes’s book, while it made me acquainted with the general course of philosophical thought, and with the doctrines which throughout the ages have been the subjects of dispute, gave me an increased interest in psychology, and an interest, not before manifest, in philosophy at large; at the same time that it served, probably, to give more coherence to my own thoughts, previously but loose. No more definite effect, however, at that time resulted, because there had not occurred to me any thought serving as a principle of organization. Generally, if not always, it happened that a subject became interesting to me only when there had arisen some original conception in connexion with it. So long as it came before me as a collection of other men’s conclusions which I was simply to accept, there was usually comparative indifference. But when once I had got some new idea, or idea which I supposed to be new, relating to the subject, an appetite for its facts arose in me as furnishing materials for a coherent theory. The ideas which were to play this part in psychology, and eventually in philosophy, had not yet arisen.
One sequence of my intimacy with Lewes was that I made the acquaintance of Carlyle; to whose house Lewes took me towards the close of October. Here, in an extract from one of my letters to Lott, is conveyed my impression of him.
“I spent an evening at Carlyle’s some fortnight since. He is a queer creature; and I should soon be terribly bored with him were I long in his company. His talk is little else than a continued tirade against the “horrible, abominable state of things.” (The undulating line is meant to indicate his up and down Scotch emphasis.) He was very bitter against the Exhibition, amongst other things, and was very wrath at the exposure to the public of such disgusting brutes as the monkeys at the Zoological Gardens. He talks much as he writes, piling epithet upon epithet, and always the strongest he can find. You would hardly recognize him by the likeness you have. He has much colour in his cheeks while your portrait suggests pallor. He is evidently fond of a laugh; and laughs heartily. But his perpetual grumbling at everything and everybody is so provoking, and it is so useless to reason with him, that I do not want to see much of him. I shall probably call to look at him two or three times a year. His wife is intelligent but quite warped by him. And for your wife’s information I may state that there are no ‘little Carlyles.”’
The anticipation that my intercourse with him would be but small, was verified. My visits numbered three, or at the outside four, always in company with Lewes; and then I ceased to go. I found that I must either listen to his absurd dogmas in silence, which it was not in my nature to do, or get into fierce argument with him, which ended in our glaring at one another. As the one alternative was impracticable and the other disagreeable, it resulted that I dropped the acquaintanceship. My course was, I suppose, in this as in many other things, somewhat exceptional; for his talk was so attractive from its originality and vigour of expression, that many sought the gratification given by these, and for the sake of the manner disregarded the matter.
Lewes used to say of him that he was a poet without music; and to some, his denunciations have suggested the comparison of him to an old Hebrew prophet. For both of these characterizations much may be said. By others he has, strange to say, been classed as a philosopher! Considering that he either could not or would not think coherently—never set out from premises and reasoned his way to conclusions, but habitually dealt in intuitions and dogmatic assertions, he lacked the trait which, perhaps more than any other, distinguishes the philosopher properly so called. He lacked also a further trait. Instead of thinking calmly, as the philosopher above all others does, he thought in a passion. It would take much seeking to find one whose intellect was perturbed by emotion in the same degree. No less when tested by various of his distinctive dicta and characteristic opinions, does the claim made for him to the name of philosopher seem utterly inadmissible. One whose implied belief was that the rule of the strong hand, having during early ages and under certain social conditions, proved beneficial, is therefore good for all time, proved by it how little he had got beyond that dogma which children take in along with their creed, that human nature is everywhere the same and will remain the same for ever. One who sneered at political economy as the “dismal science,” implying either that the desires of men working together under social conditions do not originate any general laws of industrial action and commercial movement; or else that it is of no consequence whether we recognize such laws or not; or else that because the study of such laws is uninteresting they may as well be ignored; betrayed neither the temper nor the insight which befit the philosopher. One who grew blindly furious* over John Mill’s work On Liberty—one who scornfully called utilitarianism “pig-philosophy,” and thereby identified the pursuit of utility with the egoistic pursuit of material gratifications, spite of the proofs before him that it comprehends the pursuit of others’ welfare and the exercise of the highest sentiments, displayed an inability to think discreditable to an ordinary cultivated intelligence, much more to one ranked as a thinker. No one to whom the name philosopher is applicable, could have acquired that insensate dislike of science which he betrayed; and which, for example, prompted him in pursuance of his school-boy habit of nicknaming, to speak continually of “Earth-flattener Maupertuis”; as though to have discovered the oblateness of the Earth’s figure was something discreditable. At the same time that he was continually insisting upon the laws of this Universe and the necessity for respecting them, he went on venting his scorn against those who devote their lives to learning what these laws are. Some of his dogmas, indeed, are such as would, if uttered by a person of no authority, be inevitably considered incredibly stupid; as instance his assertion that genius “means transcendent capacity of taking trouble first of all:” the truth being that genius may be rightly defined quite oppositely, as an ability to do with little trouble that which cannot be done by the ordinary man with any amount of trouble.
Morally he was characterized by a large amount of what he himself somewhere calls “the old Norse ferocity”: one of the results being a combativeness so great that, as I can myself testify, he would oppose his own doctrines if they came back to him through the mouth of another. Lewes told me that one afternoon, having called and found him walking up and down the garden with Arthur Helps, he heard, as he approached them from behind, praises of George Sand uttered by Carlyle; and thereupon, as he joined them, exclaimed—“I am glad to hear you say that, Carlyle;” upon which Carlyle immediately began to revile her as much as he had before praised her. Of course he was perpetually led into such inconsistencies and perversities by his love of forcible speech. The passion for making points was so great that he could not bear to put the needful qualification to any strong utterance, because the effect would be partially lost; and hence, notwithstanding all his talk about “the veracities,” his writing was extremely unveracious. Exaggeration is unveracity; and one who perpetually uses the strongest epithets, which in the nature of things are but occasionally applicable, necessarily distorts his representations of things.
Naturally, with his constitutional tendency to antagonism, his delight in strong words, and his unmeasured assumption of superiority, he was ever finding occasion to scorn and condemn and denounce. By use, a morbid desire had been fostered in him to find badness everywhere, unqualified by any goodness. He had a daily secretion of curses which he had to vent on somebody or something.
Of course I do not mean to say that these traits of character were not joined with admirable traits. Various of those who knew him intimately, unite in representing him as having had a great amount of generosity and even a great depth of tenderness, in his nature; and his treatment of his relatives makes his constant self-sacrifice for others’ benefit undeniable. He illustrates a truth which we do not sufficiently recognize, that in human beings, as in lower creatures, tendencies of apparently the most opposite kinds may co-exist. A dog, the moment after displaying the greatest affection for his master, will with no adequate cause fly at a stranger, or furiously attack another dog inoffensively trotting by; and in a child the whole gamut of emotions is not unfrequently run through in a few minutes. Similarly with the more impulsive men, the manifestations of the destructive and sympathetic feelings are sometimes strangely intermingled. Carlyle’s nature was one which lacked coordination, alike intellectually and morally. Under both aspects he was, in a great measure, chaotic. His ideas of the world and mankind were never reduced to anything like rational order; and his strong emotions, fretted into intensity by his own violent language, rose into gusts of passion carrying him now this way and now that: little if any effort at self-control being made, but rather the rein being deliberately given to whatever feeling was for the time uppermost.
Doubtless his extreme irascibility and his utterance of bitter and contemptuous speeches about almost everybody, were in part due to his chronic dyspepsia. But it is made clear by his own account of himself in early life, and by his mother’s characterization of him, that he was innately despotic and arrogant in extreme degrees. For this reason his opinions on men and things would have to be largely discounted, even were there not the reason that one so markedly characterized by un-coordinated thoughts and feelings, was unfitted for guiding his fellow men.
The title of this chapter was chosen at a time when I had nothing at hand to aid my memory; and though reading the correspondence shows that I was doing more than I supposed, the title is, on the whole, appropriate. With but moderate diligence I might, in the course of the year, have written the small book on the population question which I contemplated, instead of merely collecting materials and arranging the argument. To the trivial pieces of work named at the outset, has to be added only a piece, no less trivial, done at the close of the year; which I name not as in itself worth naming, but because it introduces an incident of moment.
In preparation for the first number of The Westminster issued under his auspices, Chapman asked me to write, for his quarterly review of contemporary literature, a notice of a recently-issued edition of Carpenter’s Principles of Physiology, General and Comparative. This I agreed to do. In the course of such perusal as was needed to give an account of its contents, I came across von Baer’s formula expressing the course of development through which every plant and animal passes—the change from homogeneity to heterogeneity. Though at the close of Social Statics there is a recognition of the truth that low types of society in common with low types of organisms, are composed of many like parts performing like functions, whereas high types of society in common with high types of organisms, are composed of many unlike parts performing unlike functions, implying that advance from the one to the other is from uniformity of composition to multiformity of composition; yet this phrase of von Baer expressing the law of individual development, awakened my attention to the fact that the law which holds of the ascending stages of each individual organism is also the law which holds of the ascending grades of organisms of all kinds. And it had the further advantage that it presented in brief form, a more graphic image of the transformation, and thus facilitated further thought. Important consequences eventually ensued.
Returning to the year’s activities or rather inactivities, I perhaps ought to say that though I did but little visible work, there appears to have been done a good deal of invisible work. A letter to my father dated September 1, recalls a scheme, suggested I fancy by my excursions with Lewes, which is described as follows:—
“I have lately been jotting down ideas on all kinds of topics which have been accumulating with me for years past, and which, as being too unimportant for separate essays, I mean some day to embody in a series of magazine articles under the head of “Travel and Talk.” The idea being to develop them in a natural kind of way in the course of conversation between some friends on a walking tour.”
And in a letter of September 3, I find the following further passage referring to the project:—
“My proposed series of papers to be called T. and T. I have projected mainly with the view of pecuniary profit, if I should find that the demand for my literary aid should become such as to enable me to relinquish my present position, as I think it will by and by do. The prevalent notion that literary men are not able to make a decent living, I find to be an erroneous one. I find that 5 and 6 hundred a year are common incomes obtained by the pens of men of no great original talent. And if so, I do not think it unreasonable to expect that I might certainly make as much as I have now, with no greater expenditure of time than I now give to the Econ. and with the satisfaction of getting quit of part of the overwhelming accumulation of thoughts which now bother me.”
Again on September 22, along with an account of the excursion made with Lewes up the valley of the Thames, and evidently referring to something said during the excursion, occurs the sentence—“They want me to write some papers for the ‘Portfolio’ of the Leader at a guinea a column. What do you say?” [The Leader was like in size to The Spectator.] Elsewhere, replying to a question, I tell my father that I have declined to add my name to papers written for The Leader, because I decline to be identified with the socialistic views promulgated in it. Concerning these contributions, which it was therefore arranged should be anonymous, a subsequent letter says:—
“Lewes and I have decided against the dialogue form for these papers in the Leader. As they will be very miscellaneous there has been some hesitation about the title; and it has been decided to choose one which means nothing, but will draw attention. It is to be—“The Haythorne Papers.”
The course of my life during 1851 closed pleasantly. By arrangement with Mr. Hodgskin to do some of his work if he would do some of mine, I got a greater length of absence than four days; and utilized it by passing a week at home and going thence to spend Christmas with the Potters at Hempstead near Gloucester, to which place they had removed from Gayton Hall.
A MORE ACTIVE YEAR.
Of things done this year the first worthy of naming was an essay, insignificant in length but significant in matter, on “The Development Hypothesis,” published in The Leader in March. For a long time entertained, and becoming gradually more confirmed, my belief in this was now avowed.
To the allegation that no cases are proved of a new species arising by progressive modifications, was opposed the fact that the rise of a species by special creation is absolutely unknown: the special-creation hypothesis simply formulates ignorance into a semblance of knowledge. Moreover, while the assumed process of special creation is not only unknown but cannot in the last resort be rationally conceived, the process of development by successive modifications is one the nature of which is everywhere exemplified in the visible changes produced in organisms by changed conditions. It was pointed out that other groups of phenomena, as those which geometry presents, show us how, by a succession of infinitesimally small changes, there is effected a transmutation of forms so great that the extreme terms seem to have no conceivable relation to one another; and it was inferred that, similarly, it is perfectly credible that organisms the most apparently unlike, may be connected by insensible gradations. Finally it was argued that during the growth of a seed into a plant, or an ovum into an adult animal, there takes place a metamorphosis no less complicated and no less marvellous than the metamorphoses which the development hypothesis supposes to have taken place in successive generations of organisms during millions of years; and that therefore there is nothing unreasonable in the belief that there have occurred in the second case, transformations similar in their successions and degrees to those which we see occur in the first.
In this essay there took a definite shape the germ out of which originated the general system of thought elaborated in subsequent years.
In the last chapter it was said that I declined to write for the first number of The Westminster Review, an article setting forth the conclusions at which I had arrived concerning the law of population, because I wished to reserve the subject for larger treatment in a book. Late in the year, however, this decision was changed. A letter to my father on December 9, contains the passage:—
“I have agreed to give Chapman an outline of my theory of Population for the Westminster. I must set to at it shortly to get it ready for the April number. I have thought it safer to do this, as I can then proceed with the development of it at leisure, and need be under no fear of being forestalled.”
The general idea elaborated in this essay, which was published under the title—“A Theory of Population deduced from the General Law of Animal Fertility,” had been entertained by me since 1847 at the latest, when I remember propounding it to a friend: how long before, I cannot tell. I had, as already indicated, been collecting materials for it early in 1851; and writing it occupied me during January, February, and part of March, 1852. Its argument well exemplified several intellectual characteristics. There was the tacit belief that the degrees of fertility of organisms, from the lowest to the highest, are naturally determined and not supernaturally designed; that is, are physically caused. There was the implication that a certain law of multiplication holds throughout:—the law being that the degree of fertility is inversely proportionate to the grade of development; as measured here by bulk, there by structure, there by activity, and commonly by all of these. There was the conclusion, drawn without hesitation, that in virtue of this law, holding no less of man than of organic beings at large, higher degrees of evolution must be accompanied by lower rates of multiplication. And a further characteristic trait was the tacit faith in a tendency towards self-adjustment—the movement of things towards equilibrium: in this case towards a balance between rate of mortality and rate of reproduction. Obviously these are all aspects of that developmental view which had grown so dominant with me.
From the following passages it will be seen that towards the close of the article, I came near to a doctrine which eight years later initiated a transformation in the conceptions of naturalists:—
“From the beginning, pressure of population has been the proximate cause of progress.” (p. 501).
“And here it must be remarked, that the effect of pressure of population, in increasing the ability to maintain life, and decreasing the ability to multiply, is not a uniform effect, but an average one. . . . All mankind in turn subject themselves more or less to the discipline described; they either may or may not advance under it; but, in the nature of things, only those who do advance under it eventually survive. . . . For as those prematurely carried off must, in the average of cases, be those in whom the power of self-preservation is the least, it unavoidably follows that those left behind to continue the race, are those in whom the power of self-preservation is the greatest—are the select of their generation.” (pp. 499-500).
It seems strange that, having long entertained a belief in the development of species through the operation of natural causes, I should have failed to see that the truth indicated in the above-quoted passages, must hold, not of mankind only, but of all animals; and must everywhere be working changes among them. If when human beings are subjected by pressure of population to a competition for the means of subsistence, it results that on the average the tendency is for the select of their generation to survive, so, little by little, producing a better-adapted type; then the like must happen with every other kind of living thing similarly subjected to the “struggle for existence.” And if so, this must be in all cases a cause of modification. Yet I completely overlooked this obvious corollary—was blind to the fact that here was a universally-operative factor in the development of species. There were, I think, two causes for this oversight.
One was my espousal of the belief that the inheritance of functionally-produced modifications suffices to explain the facts. Recognizing this as a sufficient cause for many orders of changes in organisms, I concluded that it was a sufficient cause for all orders of changes. There are, it is true, various phenomena which did not seem reconcilable with this conclusion; but I lived in the faith that some way of accounting for them would eventually be found. Had I looked more carefully into the evidence, and observed how multitudinous these inexplicable facts are—had I not slurred over the difficulties, but deliberately contemplated them; I might perhaps have seen that here was the additional factor wanted.
A further cause was that I knew little or nothing about the phenomena of variation. Though aware that deviations of structure, in most cases scarcely appreciable but occasionally constituting monstrosities, occur among all organisms; yet I had never been led to think about them. Hence there lacked an indispensable idea. Even had I become distinctly conscious that the principle of the survival of the select must hold of all species, and tend continually to modify them; yet, not recognizing the universal tendency to vary in structure, I should have failed to recognize a chief reason why divergence and re-divergence must everywhere go on—why there must arise multitudinous differences of species otherwise inexplicable.
When recalling the doings of past years, I have sometimes been at a loss to decide how it was, and when it was, that I first entertained the thought of writing upon Psychology. Had I been forced to say, I should have said that the beginning of 1854 was the time, and that the composition of an essay on “The Genesis of Science” was the cause. I should have been quite wrong, however. To my surprise, correspondence proves that the design dates back to the beginning of 1852; and that I had then reached some, at any rate, of the leading ideas eventually set forth. A letter written to my father on the 12th of March, 1852, contains the paragraph:—
“I shall shortly begin to read up in preparation for my ‘Introduction to Psychology.’ Probably it will be the close of next year before I have it ready for the press. I intend it to be preliminary to a large work on Psychology, probably extending to more than one volume. This introduction will contain the general principles, and will foreshadow the character of the book itself.”
The first sentence implies that the intention had arisen some time before this date; for I speak of the work to my father as though he had already been told of it. Probably it was during my stay at Derby, at the close of the preceding December, that I named the intention to him. It is further manifest that there must already have been reached the general conceptions eventually set forth; since, otherwise, there would have been no thought of “a large work on psychology probably extending to more than one volume.” A fortnight later, namely on the 25th, I wrote home—
“I am just beginning to read Mill’s Logic. This is my first step towards preparing for my ‘Introduction to Psychology’ which I mean to begin vigorously by and by.”
No further reference to the subject appears in the correspondence until a letter of October 1, in which I find the paragraph—
“I am busy with the Psychology, and have drawn up an outline of the section on the ‘Universal Postulate.’ ”
Thus it appears that the general interest in mental phenomena indicated in the last chapter as having been shown in sundry ways, and which I there inferred was increased by reading Lewes’s Biographical History of Philosophy in the autumn of 1851, quickly, under that stimulus, began to have results. It was there remarked, that some original conception in relation to the subject was needed to give me the requisite spur; and this requirement was, it seems, fulfilled much sooner than I supposed.
A matter of very different nature comes next to be named—something thoroughly practical following someing quite theoretical. The long-standing arrangements for the distribution of books, not inappropriate to a time when the demand for them was small and the means of communication undeveloped, had quite lost their fitness in railways days and days of cheap literature. Dissatisfaction had, I presume, been growing; and about this time began to take shape. Under the title—“The Commerce of Literature,” Mr. Chapman published an article upon the subject in The Westminster Review, in which he described the trade-organization, and the coercive regulations by which it maintained the retailers’ rates of profit. The following sentences set forth the essential points:—
“A volume, the published price of which is 12s, is sold to the trade in single copies at 9s. . . . But should the purchaser take 25 copies at once, he is only charged for 24, at 8s 6d each, thus making a total discount allowed to the trade of 33 per cent., which is therefore the amount paid by the publisher for distribution, exclusive of the additional 10 per cent. retained by himself as his remuneration, when he is employed by an author. . . . It appears, then, that when the nominal price of a book is 12s, the publisher really gets for it about 8s, leaving 4s to remunerate the agents who place the book in the hands of the public.”
There resulted a movement among authors, in which I took an active part—indeed, as correspondence shows, a more active part than I remembered. The following is an extract from a letter to my father written in May:—
“I have been very busy these two weeks past on this bookselling question. Never let it be said that one man can do but little. The meeting held at Chapman’s on Tuesday, and of which I enclose a report, originated with my urging it upon him, and going with him to call on the leading men. I have marked some passages in his statement which I wrote for him as also two resolutions. I declined taking any part in the proceedings. The meeting will probably be fatal to the Bookselling Association.”
It was fatal—to the system at least. Whether the Booksellers’ Association continued to exist, I do not know. Dickens occupied the chair; and sundry men of note took part in the proceedings. One of them was Prof. Owen, who, I remember, made the statement that when he wanted to publish a new book, the question with him always was whether he could afford the entailed loss. One incident of the occasion, perhaps worth naming, is that before the meeting, a number of copies of resolutions being required, Miss Evans and I undertook the task of making them. I remember being struck with her great rapidity in writing—far exceeding my own. She wrote at that time a very much larger and more masculine hand than that given as a sample in Mr. Cross’s life of her: a hand of something like double the size and more sweeping in character.
What were the immediate effects of the meeting I cannot recollect; but the ultimate effect was that the question between the authors and the booksellers was referred to Lord Campbell as arbitrator. He gave a decision against the booksellers; and there were consequently abolished such of the trade-regulations as interdicted the sales of books at lower rates of retail profit than those authorized.
The free system worked in a way not altogether satisfactory. One would have thought that when it was agreed by the trade, no longer to insist on the high percentages above named, custom would have established lower percentages. This, however, was not done in a direct way. The old scale was continued; and the only change made was that the retailer who sold at a lower rate of profit, was no longer regarded as a black sheep, and no longer obliged to get his supplies of books, when he got them at all, in underhand ways. There consequently arose the now-established system of making large discounts from the nominal prices. I speak of this arrangement as unsatisfactory, because many persons are misled by the nominal prices. If one who is not much in the habit of buying books, sees a book advertised at twelve shillings, he is apt to be deterred by what he thinks too high a price for his purse: either not knowing, or not remembering at the moment, that he can obtain it for nine shillings—a price he would not have hesitated to give had it been the price named.
At the close of the last chapter, and again in the foregoing section, there has occurred the name of Miss Evans—then little known but now of world-wide fame.
My acquaintance with her dated back to midsummer 1851. She was then visiting Chapman; and, while partly occupied in seeing the Great Exhibition, was, I suppose, partly occupied in discussing the arrangements for the conduct of The Westminster Review, in which it was proposed she should take part. In the autumn, when preparations for the first number of the new series of the Review were beginning, she came up to reside permanently in Chapman’s house; and I then, and afterwards, saw her from time to time at his weekly soirées. As is implied by the reference to her at the close of Chapter XXI., our relations had become friendly before the end of 1851; and by the time at which the above-named meeting took place, there had arisen the intimacy described in her correspondence with her Conventry friends. A letter to Lott on the 23rd April speaks of:—
“Miss Evans whom you have heard me mention as the translatress of Strauss and as the most admirable woman, mentally, I ever met. We have been for some time past on very intimate terms. I am very frequently at Chapman’s and the greatness of her intellect conjoined with her womanly qualities and manner, generally keep me by her side most of the evening.”
For some time before the date of this letter, the occasions of meeting had been multiplied by the opportunities I had for taking her to places of amusement. My free admissions for two, to the theatres and to the Royal Italian Opera, were, during these early months of 1852, much more used than they would otherwise have been, because I had frequently—indeed nearly always—the pleasure of her companionship in addition to the pleasure afforded by the performance.
In presence of so much that is familiar concerning her powers and her character, as displayed in her works and delineated in biographies, it seems scarcely needful for me to say anything. Still, an account of her as she appeared during early days, when she was as yet unaffected by the incidents of her later life, may be of value as contributing to a complete estimate.
In physique there was, perhaps, a trace of that masculinity characterizing her intellect; for though of but the ordinary feminine height she was strongly built. The head, too, was larger than is usual in women. It had, moreover, a peculiarity distinguishing it from most heads, whether feminine or masculine; namely that its contour was very regular. Usually, heads have here and there either flat places or slight hollows; but her head was everywhere convex. Striking by its power when in repose, her face was remarkably transfigured by a smile. The smiles of many are signs of nothing more than amusement; but with her smile there was habitually mingled an expression of sympathy, either for the person smiled at or the person smiled with. Her voice was a contralto of rather low pitch and I believe naturally strong. On this last point I ought to have a more definite impression, for in those days we occasionally sang together; but the habit of subduing her voice was so constant, that I suspect its real power was rarely if ever heard. Its tones were always gentle, and, like the smile, sympathetic.
These traits of manner resulted from large measures of both the factors which prompt altruistic feeling—the general sympathies and the domestic affections. The activity of these last largely conduced to the leading incidents of her subsequent life. That from her general sympathies resulted a great deal of the enthusiasm of humanity, scarcely needs saying. They also caused a desire to feel at one with society around. The throwing off of her early beliefs left her mind in an attitude of antagonism which lasted for some years; but this was only a temporary feeling: her natural feeling was a longing to agree as far as possible. Her self-control, leading to evenness of temper was marked. Only once did I see irritation, not unjustified, a little too much manifested. Conscientious and just in all relations and consequently indignant against wrong, she was nevertheless so tolerant of human weaknesses as to be quickly forgiving; and, indeed, was prone to deprecate harsh judgments. This last trait was I doubt not in part caused by constant study of her own defects. She complained of being troubled by double consciousness—a current of self-criticism being an habitual accompaniment of anything she was saying or doing; and this naturally tended towards self-depreciation and self-distrust.*
Probably it was this last trait which prevented her from displaying her powers and her knowledge. The discovery of these had to be made gradually and incidentally. How great both were there is now no occasion to tell anyone. An extraordinarily good memory and great quickness of apprehension made acquisition of every kind easy; and along with this facility of acquisition there went an ability to organize that which she acquired, though not so great an ability. For her constructive imagination, remarkably displayed though it was in the creation of characters and the representation of mental states, did not serve her so well in other directions. She did not devise satisfactory plots; and her speculative faculty was critical and analytic rather than synthetic. Even as it was, however, her philosophical powers were remarkable. I have known but few men with whom I could discuss a question in philosophy with more satisfaction. Capacity for abstract thinking is rarely found along with capacity for concrete representation, even in men; and among women, such a union of the two as existed in her, has, I should think, never been paralleled.
In early days she was, I believe, sometimes vivacious; but she was not so when I first knew her, nor afterwards. Probably this was the reason why the wit and the humour which from time to time gave signs of their presence, were not frequently displayed. Calmness was an habitual trait. There was never any indication of mental excitement, still less of mental strain; but the impression constantly produced was that of latent power—the ideas which came from her being manifestly the products of a large intelligence working easily. And yet this large intelligence working easily, of which she must have been conscious, was not accompanied by any marked self-confidence. Difference of opinion she frequently expressed in a half apologetic manner.
It was, I presume, her lack of self-confidence which led her, in those days, to resist my suggestion that she should write novels. I thought I saw in her many, if not all, of the needful qualifications in high degrees—quick observation, great power of analysis, unusual and rapid intuition into others’ states of mind, deep and broad sympathies, wit and humour, and wide culture. But she would not listen to my advice. She did not believe she had the required powers.
In the course of the spring the name of Comte came up in conversation. She had a copy of the Philosophie Positive, and at her instigation I read the introductory chapters or “Exposition.” As may be inferred from what has been said in past chapters, the task was not an easy one. Such knowledge of French as I had gained by scrambling through half-a-dozen easy novels, content to gather the drift, and skipping what I failed to understand, was of course very inadequate. What I thought about the doctrine of the three stages—theological, metaphysical, and positive—I do not clearly remember. I had never considered the matter and was not prepared either to deny or to admit. I believe I remained neutral. But concerning Comte’s classification of the sciences I at once expressed a definite opinion. Here I had sufficient knowledge of the facts; and this prompted a pronounced dissent. She was greatly surprised: having, as she said, supposed the classification to be perfect. She was but little given to argument; and finding my attitude thus antagonistic, she forthwith dropped the subject of Comte’s philosophy, and I read no further.
As the season advanced, our conversations were no longer always indoors or at places of amusement. Our most frequent out-door conversations occurred during walks along a quiet promenade near at hand. In those days, before the Thames Embankment was made, the southern basement of Somerset House rose directly out of the water; and the only noises on that side came from the passing steam-boats. From end to end, this basement is surmounted by a balustrade, and behind the balustrade runs a long terrace: at that time as little invaded by visitors as by sounds. The terrace is shut off by a gate from one of the courts of Somerset House. Chapman had obtained a key of this gate; whether by favour or by some claim attaching to his house, the back of which abutted on Somerset House, I do not know. Frequently on fine afternoons in May, June and July, she obtained the key; and we made our way on to the terrace, where we paced backwards and forwards for an hour or so, discussing many things.
Of course, as we were frequently seen together, people drew their inferences. Very slight evidence usually suffices the world for positive conclusions; and here the evidence seemed strong. Naturally, therefore, quite definite statements became current. There were reports that I was in love with her, and that we were about to be married. But neither of these reports was true.
Here, à propos of a remark she made about me during the Spring, I may, more fitly perhaps than elsewhere, comment on a certain habit of thought which I described in consequence of her remark. Social Statics having, I presume, been referred to, she said that, considering how much thinking I must have done, she was surprised to see no lines on my forehead. “I suppose it is because I am never puzzled,” I said. This called forth the exclamation—“O! that’s the most arrogant thing I ever heard uttered.” To which I rejoined—“Not at all, when you know what I mean.” And I then proceeded to explain that my mode of thinking did not involve that concentrated effort which is commonly accompanied by wrinkling of the brows.
It has never been my way to set before myself a problem and puzzle out an answer. The conclusions at which I have from time to time arrived, have not been arrived at as solutions of questions raised; but have been arrived at unawares—each as the ultimate outcome of a body of thoughts which slowly grew from a germ. Some direct observation, or some fact met with in reading, would dwell with me: apparently because I had a sense of its significance. It was not that there arose a distinct consciousness of its general meaning; but rather that there was a kind of instinctive interest in those facts which have general meanings. For example, the detailed structure of this or that species of mammal, though I might willingly read about it, would leave little impression; but when I met with the statement that, almost without exception, mammals, even as unlike as the whale and the giraffe, have seven cervical vertebræ, this would strike me and be remembered as suggestive. Apt as I thus was to lay hold of cardinal truths, it would happen occasionally that one, most likely brought to mind by an illustration, and gaining from the illustration fresh distinctiveness, would be contemplated by me for a while, and its bearings observed. A week afterwards, possibly, the matter would be remembered; and with further thought about it, might occur a recognition of some wider application than I had before perceived: new instances being aggregated with those already noted. Again after an interval, perhaps of a month perhaps of half a year, something would remind me of that which I had before remarked; and mentally running over the facts might be followed by some further extension of the idea. When accumulation of instances had given body to a generalization, reflexion would reduce the vague conception at first framed to a more definite conception; and perhaps difficulties or anomalies passed over for a while, but eventually forcing themselves on attention, might cause a needful qualification and a truer shaping of the thought. Eventually the growing generalization, thus far inductive, might take a deductive form: being all at once recognized as a necessary consequence of some physical principle—some established law. And thus, little by little, in unobtrusive ways, without conscious intention or appreciable effort, there would grow up a coherent and organized theory. Habitually the process was one of slow unforced development, often extending over years; and it was, I believe, because the thinking done went on in this gradual, almost spontaneous, way, without strain, that there was an absence of those lines of thought which Miss Evans remarked—an absence almost as complete thirty years later, notwithstanding the amount of thinking done in the interval.
I name her remark, and give this explanation, partly to introduce the opinion that a solution reached in the way described, is more likely to be true than one reached in pursuance of a determined effort to find a solution. The determined effort causes perversion of thought. When endeavouring to recollect some name or thing which has been forgotten, it frequently happens that the name or thing sought will not arise in consciousness; but when attention is relaxed, the missing name or thing often suggests itself. While thought continues to be forced down certain wrong turnings which had originally been taken, the search is vain; but with the cessation of strain the true association of ideas has an opportunity of asserting itself. And, similarly, it may be that while an effort to arrive forthwith at some answer to a problem, acts as a distorting factor in consciousness and causes error, a quiet contemplation of the problem from time to time, allows those proclivities of thought which have probably been caused unawares by experiences, to make themselves felt, and to guide the mind to the right conclusion.
It is with the multitudinous incidents of daily life as it is with the multitudinous seeds of a plant: almost all of them end without progeny. But, occasionally, an incident differing in no conspicuous way from the barren ones, becomes the parent of some important series of events. Already the preceding two years had furnished sundry examples; and now came another.
When agreeing to publish the “Theory of Population” in The Westminster Review, I stipulated with Chapman that a small edition should be struck off from the type, and that two months after the first appearance of the article, I should be allowed to republish it as a pamphlet with my name. This was done; and in June, when it was thus republished, I distributed a number of copies to leading men: acknowledgments being, of course, the only apparent results. With a copy sent out later, however, the result was different. Among those who attended the meeting of the British Association in 1852, was a biologist then known to but few, Mr. T. H. Huxley. One of the medical staff at Haslar, his scientific proclivities had caused his appointment to the post of assistant surgeon on board the Rattlesnake, when its officers were commissioned to make a survey of the “inner passage” on the Eastern coast of Australia. The Rattlesnake had recently returned; and Mr. Huxley was then waiting until there came the needful grant, enabling him to publish the results of his researches. Among the papers read at the meeting of the Association, was one by him concerning certain of the oceanic Hydrozoa; and some of the facts stated in it, appeared to support the arguments contained in the “Theory of Population,” &c. I was consequently prompted to send him a copy of the pamphlet; accompanied, I presume, by a letter. The result was that he called on me at The Economist office, and that I returned his call at his lodgings in St. John’s Wood. There thus commenced an acquaintanceship, growing presently into a friendship, which became an important factor in my life.
Professor Huxley is so well and widely known through the various official functions he has discharged, by his lectures and addresses, by his scientific papers, and by his books and essays on various subjects, that it would be absurd for me to say anything about him in his public capacity. I will remark only that he furnishes a disproof of that belief, held by the great majority of people, that a man can be good only in some one department of thought or action adopted as a speciality. He, contrariwise, lends some colour to the dictum—quite untenable, however—that genius is a unit, and, where it exists, can manifest itself equally in all directions. While so omnivorous as a reader that nothing comes amiss to him from a fairy tale to a Biblical criticism or a metaphysical discussion, he is no less versatile as a thinker: receptivity and originality being in him associated, though very frequently divorced.
To those who know him simply as a scientific lecturer and writer, he presents only the graver side of his character; though reports of his after-dinner speeches might show even these that he has a fund of humour. To his friends, however, he is known as a sayer of good things—some of them things which, though forgotten by himself, are remembered by others. A witticism of his at my expense has remained with me these twenty years. He was one of a circle in which tragedy was the topic, when my name came up in connexion with some opinion or other; whereupon he remarked—“Oh! you know, Spencer’s idea of a tragedy is a deduction killed by a fact.” On another occasion Lewes gave him an opportunity. I had invited some half dozen leading men to meet an American friend at dinner. In the course of the evening a conversation arose about habits of composition: some describing the difficulty they had in getting into the swing of it, and others saying they found it easy at the outset. Lewes, one of the last, said—“I never hesitate. I get up the steam at once. In short, I boil at low temperatures.” “Well, but,” remarked Huxley, “that implies a vacuum in the upper regions.”
There are two faults he has which I ought to set down, however. One is that he is too yielding. I do not mean that he is what Emerson somewhere calls “a mush of concession”: far from it. He is about the last man I should think of as likely to give up the point in argument, or be persuaded to abandon a course he had decided upon. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which he is, as I say, too yielding. For if he is asked to undertake anything, either for the benefit of an individual or with a view to public benefit, he has difficulty in saying no. The temptation to assent is commonly too much for him.
The other fault, naturally a sequence of the first, is that he habitually works too hard; for of course each of these concessions from time to time made, brings an addition to the burden of engagements. I have sometimes described him as one who is continually taking two irons out of the fire and putting three in; and necessarily, along with the external congestion entailed, there is apt to come internal congestion. A heavy adverse balance accumulates in Nature’s ledger, which has to be settled sometime and somehow; for Nature is a strict accountant.
But how can I comment on this undue yieldingness and undue devotion to work which follows it; having myself often sinned by betraying him into them? Many a time he has been occupied in giving me the benefit of his criticisms, when there needed, instead, some relaxation or amusement.
In the last chapter but one, I have referred to an essay on “Force of Expression” which had been written, I think, about the beginning of 1844, and had been declined by the editor of a periodical to which I sent it—Tait’s Magazine, I believe, now long since deceased. I cannot remember what it was which first turned my attention to the subject of style; but it is probable that some hypothesis suggested to me by a few instances, prompted that reading of books on composition which I entered upon, and found nothing satisfactory—nothing but dogmas and empirical rules, which of course did not content one who in all cases looked for principles. There resulted from the study which followed, an attempt to explain the general cause of force in expression.
This essay, or rather a revised and developed version of it, I proposed for The Westminster Review; and, occupying part of the early autumn in re-writing it, published it in October; after re-naming it “The Philosophy of Style.” The change was not of my desiring, but resulted from the editorial wish to have something more taking than “Force of Expression.” As I had been thus prompted to use too comprehensive a title, it was half amusing half annoying to hear from the editor after its publication, the criticism that the essay contained only the backbone of the subject. It was only the backbone of the subject with which I professed to deal, and which the original title covered.
Few would expect to find such a subject as style dealt with on physical principles. The first of the two theses set forth and variously illustrated, was that nervous energy is used up in the interpretation of every one of the symbols by which an idea is conveyed; and that there is greater or less expenditure of such energy according to the number of the symbols, their characters, and their order: the corollary being that in proportion as there is less energy absorbed in interpreting the symbols, there is more left for representing the idea, and, consequently, greater vividness of the idea. Otherwise stated, this thesis was that the most successful form of sentence is one which guides the thought of the hearer or reader along the line of least resistance: every resistance met with in the progress from the antecedent idea to the consequent idea, entailing a deduction from the force with which the consequent idea arises in consciousness. The second thesis was that since every element in the nervous system, like every other active element in the organism, is wasted by action, it follows that each idea suggested, each conception framed, entails some exhaustion—now momentary, now more prolonged—of the nervous elements employed; and that they are consequently for a shorter or longer time partially incapacitated for action—rendered less able than before to produce in consciousness a feeling or idea like that which they have just produced. And the corollary drawn was that to achieve the greatest effect, the successive impressions must be so arranged that the earlier ones shall not, by greatly taxing them, have so diminished the sensibility of the structures brought into play, as to render them partially insensible to those later impressions which are more especially to be appreciated.
As is at once manifest, these theses are congruous with sundry of the maxims which writers on style enunciate. That which the essay did was to reduce these maxims from the empirical form to the rational form, and to point out further applications of the principle involved.
Let me add that in its closing paragraphs occurred the first sign that von Baer’s formula, expressing the transformation passed through during the development of every organism, was in course of extension to other things. The essay ends with the statement that a perfect composition will “answer to the description of all highly-organized products, both of man and of nature: it will be, not a series of like parts simply placed in juxtaposition, but one whole made up of unlike parts that are mutually dependent”—(the conception of progress set forth in Social Statics, pp. 451-55). And on the adjoining page there is the partially-equivalent statement that progress in style “must produce increasing heterogeneity in our modes of expression.”
Of minor things written during the year, I may here mention sundry of the Haythorne Papers—“Use and Beauty,” “The Development Hypothesis,” already named, “The Origin of Architectural Types,” “A Theory of Tears and Laughter,” “Gracefulness.”
To complete the account of the year I must add some of the secondary incidents which gave the seasoning to my daily life.
Two of my weekly vacations were spent at the sea side; and, later on in the season, I had a few pleasant days with Miss Evans’s friends, the Brays, at Coventry; who, as well as Miss Hennell, thereafter became friends of mine. There were, too, some more summer rambles with Lewes—one of them being in Windsor Park and its neighbourhood, where we spent two days in sauntering and talking: a result being a brief essay by Lewes in the “Portfolio” of The Leader, under the title—“Amid the Ferns.”
Beyond those already given in one or other connexion, I find in letters a few passages of sufficiently impersonal interest to admit of quotation.
“I called on Leigh Hunt on Tuesday. I like him much. I am to go and take tea with him shortly. He has read S. S. twice.” (12th March.)
I may join with this the fact that he asked me to read the MS. of his Religion of the Heart—a work with the aims of which I felt much sympathy.
“I was at the ceremony of raising the first column of the New Crystal Palace yesterday. It was a grand affair. I saw and talked with a good many people I knew; and spent a pleasant time. The new palace will be magnificent—far transcending the other.” (August 6.)
Since the season of 1851 I had known Mr. F. O. Ward, one of the active sanitary agitators of that day, who wrote the sanitary leaders in The Times. I had attended some of his literary breakfasts and met there sundry notabilities. He had a scheme for supplying London with water from certain gathering grounds near Farnham, and, in furtherance of his scheme, twice collected there groups of scientific men and others. I was at one of his parties: Louis Blanc, I remember, being among those present. Here is an account of another of them:—
“I met Kingsley the other day—the author of “Alton Koche,” “Yeast,” the “Saint’s Tragedy,” &c. He is a capital fellow; I might with propriety say a jolly fellow. We met at a pic-nic. No one would suspect him of being a clergyman. We had a great deal of talk together . . . He is evidently a man of immense energy. He seems to have so much steam that he can scarcely sit still. He said that if he could be doing something whilst asleep it would be a great gratification. He stammers in conversation, but not, they say, in preaching. I do not know what to think of his opinions, nor does anyone else. He said amongst other things that he believed that man, as we know him, is by no means the highest creature that will be evolved. I took this as an admission of the development hypothesis; but am not sure that he meant it as such.” (September 10.)
“I have had an anonymous Christmas-box in the shape of a six-guinea microscope. It came on Christmas eve. I have been to the opticians but can only make out that it was paid for and ordered to be sent to my address by a gentleman of 40 or 50, and that he requested that no answer should be given to any questions that might be asked. I am puzzled. It must evidently have been some one who knew either directly or indirectly that I was wishing for a microscope.” (December 30.)
I found good reason to conclude that the gentleman of 40 or 50 was an intermediary: the donor knowing that I should object to receive a present had it come in a direct or avowed way.
This incident did not go far, however, towards mitigating certain saddening influences under which the year closed for me. The nature of them will appear in the course of the next chapter.
LEAVE THE ECONOMIST.
Why did I continue so long to hold a subordinate place? Letters written shortly after accepting it, imply that I originally regarded it as a place which very well served “present purposes;” and one of them dated April 1849, said I “shall probably retain my post until the completion and publication of my book.” Two years had now elapsed since its publication, and yet I still remained where I then was.
During the autumn of the preceding year, however, the propriety of taking a step in advance became manifest: the success of Social Statics, and of articles published in The Westminster Review, being the warrant. In a letter home dated 20 October 1852, there occurs the passage:—
“I am thinking of preparing an article for the Edinburgh Review and getting Mr. Greg, who is one of their chief contributors, to present it. The subject I think of choosing is “Method in Education.” It is considered by several of my friends that I am throwing away my time in my present position, and that I might with less exertion make more money by original contributions; and at the same time have as much leisure for larger works. . . . This article for the Edinburgh will be a kind of experimental test of the safety of the move.”
And then a letter of the 27th, replying to one which expressed disapproval of the step, contains the passage—.
“I have entertained the wish for the last year or more, and have done nothing towards realizing it yet, because I did not see my way. When I have tried the experiment with the Edinburgh and the other quarterlies, I shall be in a position to decide.”
My experiences as a rolling stone had, I doubt not, rendered me less ready to detach myself from a fixed position, and run the consequent risks, than I might otherwise have been. Consciousness that my official duties were light in comparison with the drudgery which I might be committed to did I enter upon an uncertain career, was perhaps also a deterrent. The motive which, I believe, chiefly prompted the wish to change, was not that of “getting on,” in the ordinary sense, but that of obtaining the “leisure for larger works” referred to above—leisure which seemed unobtainable while I remained sub-editor of The Economist. One of my letters names the estimate that three days a week spent in review-article writing, would suffice to give me a sufficient income for my modest needs: leaving the rest of the week for writing the books I contemplated. For a time, however, my caution overruled my ambition. 1852 ended, and a considerable portion of 1853 elapsed, without witnessing any overt step in furtherance of my remoter aims; and I do not know how long such a step might have been postponed, in the absence of an event which introduced a new factor into my calculations.
When will education include lessons on the conduct of life? It is true that religious teachings and moral injunctions cover a part of the subject. It is true that many things which men like to do are peremptorily interdicted—some of them rightly, some without due reason. It is also true that men are exhorted to do many things which they dislike—now properly, now improperly. But these forbiddings and commandings leave unnoticed a great variety of actions. There is much in the conduct of life which turns simply upon considerations of policy; and has to be settled by estimations of costs and values.
I knew a gentleman—a man of great energy, full of resource, and with high ideals—who built himself a country house. Liking to have everything done in the best way, which was often a new way, he would not permit the work to go on in his absence; and he was able to be present only four or five months in the year. The result was that the house took ten years to complete. He, his wife, and adult family, were kept waiting for it some eight years longer than they need have been; and he, being of good age at the time, had but some ten years’ enjoyment of it before he died, instead of nearly twenty. Here, then, is an example of what I mean by error in the conduct of life.
“Is the game worth the candle?” is a question which should be often raised and well-considered. Multitudinous schemes are entered upon by men without counting the costs in time, in trouble, in worry; and without asking whether what may be gained will duly compensate for what must be paid—whether the amount of life absorbed in attention, thought, and effort, will bring adequate reward in the achieved exaltation of life for self and others; and whether some other expenditure of spare energy would not bring much greater returns of happiness, egoistic or altruistic, or both. If means and ends were duly weighed against each other beforehand, many a one, for example, would decline to spend weary years of toil and anxiety in accumulating a fortune, with the view of achieving social success. If he rightly estimated the value of the success when achieved—if he learned, as he might, how comparatively small are the pleasures it brings, and how many are the vexations and disappointments of those who labour on the social treadmill, he would decide not to make the required sacrifices.
But by far the most serious, as well as the most general, error which results from not deliberately asking which are means and which are ends, and contemplating their respective worths, we see in the current ideas about the relation between life and work. Here, so profound is the confusion of thought which has, by a combination of causes, been produced, that the means is mistaken for the end, and the end is mistaken for the means. Nay, so firmly established has become the inversion of ideas, that that which, looked at apart from the distorting medium of custom, is seen to be a self-evident error, is, by nearly all, taken for a self-evident truth. In this case their sacred and secular beliefs unite in misleading men. “Work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh when no man can work,” is a Scriptural injunction which, in the most unmistakable way, implies that work is the end and life the means. And daily conversations show that the industrialism of modern life has so strongly associated the ideas of duty and labour, that a man has come to be regarded as the more praiseworthy the harder he toils; and if he relaxes greatly in his activities, it is tacitly assumed that some apology or explanation is needed. But the whole thing is a superstition. Life is not for work, but work is for life; and very often work, when it is carried to the extent of undermining life, or unduly absorbing life, is not praiseworthy but blameworthy. If we contemplate life at large in its ascending forms, we see that in the lowest creatures the energies are wholly absorbed in self-sustentation and sustentation of the race. Each improvement in organization, achieving some economy or other, makes the maintenance of life easier; so that the energies evolved from a given quantity of food, more than suffice to provide for the individual and for progeny: some unused energy is left. As we rise to the higher types of creatures having more developed structures, we see that this surplus of energy becomes greater and greater; and the highest show us long intervals of cessation from the pursuit of food, during which there is not an infrequent spontaneous expenditure of unused energy in that pleasurable activity of the faculties we call play. This general truth has to be recognized as holding of life in its culminating forms—of human life as of all other life. The progress of mankind is, under one aspect, a means of liberating more and more life from mere toil and leaving more and more life available for relaxation—for pleasurable culture, for æsthetic gratification, for travels, for games. So little, however, is this truth recognized, that the assertion of it will seem to most a paradox. The path of duty is identified in their minds with devotion to work, quite beyond the amount which is needed for maintaining themselves and those dependent on them and discharging their shares of social obligations. So much is this the case, that you may often see a busy man already half invalided by ceaseless toil, persisting spite of the expostulations of his family and advice of his friends, in daily making himself worse by over-application. Reduced to a definite form, the conception current among such may be briefly expressed in the formula—Business must be attended to: Life is of secondary importance.
Why do I introduce here these seemingly irrelevant remarks? I do it because they are relevant to the case of my uncle Thomas, who illustrated the fatal results of this wrong theory of life.
In early days his constitution had been considerably shaken by hard work at Cambridge. Letters which I have recently re-read between him and my father, comparing their symptoms, remind me that excess of study in obtaining his wranglership and his fellowship, had established a state of ill-health like that which had been established in my father by excess of teaching, though not so extreme. And his nervous collapse, like nervous collapses in general, was never wholly recovered from; though he regained tolerable health.
And now, when between fifty and sixty, his system, unduly strained in preaching, lecturing and writing, began to yield in serious ways. Already in the autumn of 1849, a severe bronchial affection rendered chronic by his debility, had sent him to the hydropathic establishment at Umberslade, then kept by Dr. Edward Johnson (a sensible physician who had written a popular work entitled Life, Health, and Disease), who brought him round. No due heed was taken of this broad hint, however. Writing to my father on 24th January, 1852, my aunt says:—
“He has been overtaxing his brain by writing, and public meetings, so as hardly to allow himself proper time for his meals.”
Resulting head symptoms took him again to Umberslade, where the causes of mischief were duly set before him, and he was warned that rest was required to bring him round. He was deaf to the advice, however. A letter of mine of February 18th says:—
“Since his return from Umberslade he has been continuing his work in spite of his evident unfitness, and on Friday last he was seized with a partial paralysis of one side of the face.”
And this was accompanied by acute cerebral symptoms which Dr. Bright, a distinguished physician of that day whom I summoned, feared would end in apoplexy. He struggled through, however, and in a letter of 7th March there are the words—“My uncle is slowly improving. It is now merely a matter of time.”
I see that when writing home while this attack was impending I have remarked that—
“My uncle with his writing is just as bad as a drunkard with his liquor. It is the only gratification he has, and he cannot keep from it. It seems of no use talking to him.”
Not only, as thus said, were expostulations useless; but experience also seemed to be of no avail. On recovering from this attack which endangered his life, he partially resumed his previous habits; and, relapsing again in the course of the autumn, was seized in December with a complication of diseases which ended fatally before the close of January, 1853.
Thus prematurely ended a career which, but for these errors in the conduct of life, might have lasted for another twenty years; with benefit to society and happiness to himself in the furthering of it. But my uncle was one of those in whom religious belief, current opinion, and personal habit, united to confirm the tacitly accepted notion that life is for work. Carrying to an extreme the expenditure of energy in labours of one or other kind, he had, as often happens in such cases, lost all taste for other modes of occupying time and attention; so that when there came the need for relaxation, relaxation was impracticable. Due participation in the miscellaneous pleasures of life, would have made his existence of greater value, alike to himself and to others.
He was taken to Hinton to be buried; and the profound respect in which he was held there, was shown by the fact that the parishioners spontaneously organized a public funeral.
Under my uncle’s will, I was left co-executor with my aunt. Of course the business of carrying out its provisions devolved almost wholly upon me, and much time early in the year was occupied by it.
By another clause my uncle bequeathed me £500. As I was also named as one of three residuary legatees—my aunt, my father, and myself—there eventually came to me in this capacity a small addition.
Being thus placed pecuniarily in a different position, the step I had been contemplating no longer appeared so questionable a one. With a considerable sum in hand, there was manifestly much less risk in resigning the sub-editorship of The Economist; and, consequently, in April, I intimated to Mr. Wilson that I should not continue to hold the post beyond the beginning of July.
Meanwhile I took steps to extend my literary connexions. Through the good offices of Mr. Lewes and Mr. David Masson—now Professor at Edinburgh but then resident in London—I established relations with The British Quarterly Review and The North British Review: the latter a since-deceased quarterly organ of the Free Church.
As indicated in a previous chapter, the title of one division of the work on Psychology which I contemplated was “The Universal Postulate.” The subject-matter to be dealt with under this title, was the ultimate test withstood by those propositions which we hold to be unquestionably true. Early in the year I agreed to prepare an article for The Westminster Review on the subject.
It was when reading the System of Logic of Mr. J. S. Mill, that I was led to take, partly in opposition to him, the view I proposed to set forth. In passages controverting the doctrine enunciated by Dr. Whewell, he had, as it seemed to me, ignored that criterion of belief to which we all appeal in the last resort; and further, he had not recognized the need for any criterion.
This essay may be instanced as an early illustration of that tendency towards analysis, which, in me, accompanied the more predominant tendency towards synthesis. Social Statics had exemplified this. Its general aim was to disentangle and set forth that ultimate truth concerning social relations from which all special forms of equitable arrangements may be deduced: there was a process of analysis that there might be a more satisfactory synthesis. So was it, too, with the “Theory of Population, &c.,” as set forth in the article already named. Not by deliberate search, but incidentally, I was led to recognize the fact which may be asserted in common of the rates of multiplication of living things. The general law which analysis disclosed was that individuation and reproduction are antagonistic. And this being the law analytically reached, there were reached, synthetically, certain conclusions respecting human population. Nor was it otherwise with the essay on the “Philosophy of Style.” Various empirical statements and maxims about composition were current:—Metaphor is better than simile; the inverted form of sentence is more effective than others; words native to our tongue produce impressions exceeding in vividness those produced by words of Latin origin; the poetical form is more forcible than the prosaic; and so forth. Is there not a common cause? was the question. And, as lately said, analysis made it manifest that those are the most effective modes of expression which absorb the smallest amount of the recipient’s attention in interpreting the symbols of thought: leaving the greatest amount for the thought itself.
That this way of proceeding had been habitual with me, is a fact of which I have only now become distinctly conscious, on being prompted by observing that it is exemplified in “The Universal Postulate,” to go back upon previous writings to see whether it was exemplified in them. Again, as I say, not with conscious intention but from unconscious bias, there occurs this search for an ultimate element which gives community of character to things superficially different. A weight falls on my toe, and that I am pained is a truth of the highest certainty. If I left three books on the table, and find but two on my return, there results in me a conviction, which I cannot change, that one has been in some way or other abstracted. While my eyes are suffering from the glare of an electric light, no effort enables me to think that I am then and there looking into darkness. A straight road is made between two villages which before were united only by a crooked lane, and I find myself compelled to believe that the new way is shorter than the old. I accept the statement that action and re-action are equal and opposite, because no alternative is open to me. Here, then, are beliefs in most respects of widely unlike kinds—beliefs concerning a pain, a numerical implication, a visual sensation, a geometrical truth, a mechanical axiom—which are nevertheless alike in their absoluteness. What constitutes this absoluteness? What makes me ascribe to them a certainty which is not to be exceeded? I can give no warrant for any one of them except that it cannot be changed. The test by which, in the last resort, I determine whether a belief is one I must perforce accept, is that of trying whether it is possible to reject it—whether it is possible to conceive its negation. In other words, the inconceivability of its negation is my ultimate criterion of a certainty. And that it is impossible by any process of reasoning to get below this, is manifest on remembering that for acceptance of every step in a process of reasoning, the warrant is that negation of it is inconceivable.
I may remark as a curious fact that though, since the time when this essay was written, various objections have been made to the criterion of certainty set forth in it, no other criterion has been proposed. Those who have demurred to the test have none of them contended for any other test: the apparent implication being that they think no test is required. One might have supposed that as a needful preliminary to a systematic discussion—especially a discussion concerning the nature of things—the disputants would agree on some method of distinguishing propositions which must be accepted from propositions which it is possible to deny. May not one fairly say that those who decline to accept a test proposed, and also decline to furnish a test of their own, do so because they are half conscious that their opinions will not bear testing?
About this time a rising man of science, then known only to the select but now widely known, had produced a sensation by a lecture at the Royal Institution—a lecture in which, in presence of Faraday who had denied the existence of dia-magnetic polarity, he proved that dia-magnetic polarity exists—I mean Mr. Tyndall, soon afterwards made Professor Tyndall. In the course of the Spring we were introduced by one who presently became Professor Huxley.
It is said of Keats that on one occasion after dinner, he proposed some such sentiment, as “Confusion to Newton.” I say some such sentiment, because he was not likely to wish confusion to a deceased man. But these words indicate the feeling he displayed. The reason he gave was that Newton had shown the rainbow to be caused by the refraction of light through rain drops, and had thus destroyed the wonder of it. Keats did but give a more than usually definite expression to the current belief that science and poetry are antagonistic. Doubtless it is true that while consciousness is occupied in the scientific interpretation of a thing, which is now and again “a thing of beauty,” it is not occupied in the æsthetic appreciation of it. But it is no less true that the same consciousness may at another time be so wholly possessed by the æsthetic appreciation as to exclude all thought of the scientific interpretation. The inability of a man of science to take the poetic view simply shows his mental limitation; as the mental limitation of a poet is shown by his inability to take the scientific view. The broader mind can take both. Those who allege this antagonism forget that Goethe, predominantly a poet, was also a scientific inquirer. Nor are converse cases wanting. Prof. Tyndall is chiefly distinguished as a scientific inquirer; but among those who are classed as poets because they write verses, there are probably few who have an equally great love of beauty. Every year dwelling as long as the weather allows in his châlet on the Bel Alp, having the peaks of the Oberland ever before him, and then migrating to his English retreat on Hind Head, with its wide sweep of landscape, he displays a passion for Nature quite Wordsworthian in its intensity.
Another trait, not perhaps wholly unallied with this, is to be noted. The ordinary scientific specialist, deeply interested in his speciality, and often displaying comparatively little interest in other departments of science, is rarely much interested in the relations between Science at large and the great questions which lie beyond Science. With Prof. Tyndall, however,—and it is equally so with Prof. Huxley—one of the chief interests in Science is its bearings on these great questions: the light it throws on our own nature and the nature of the Universe; and the humility it teaches by everywhere leaving us in presence of the inscrutable. The dull world outside thinks of Science as nothing but a matter of chemical analyses, calculations of distances and times, labelings of species, physiological experiments, and the like; but among the initiated, those of higher type, while seeking scientific knowledge for its proximate value, have an ever-increasing consciousness of its ultimate value as a transfiguration of things, which, marvellous enough within the limits of the knowable, suggests a profounder marvel that cannot be known. Various lectures and addresses of Prof. Tyndall have shown how much this conception of Science influences him.
Though that performance of feats in Alpine climbing, which has familiarized his name to many who know nothing of his scientific work, is by some ascribed to the feeling which would—
“Pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,”
yet those who know him intimately see in it two other traits:—one of them being a certain fascination which climbing in general has for him; and the other being a deep-seated resolve to keep the lower nature with all its desires and fears, subject to the commands of a determined will. Joined with his Irish warmth, this may be an element in his chivalrous tendency to take up the cause of any one he thinks ill-used. The disregarded priority of M. Rendu, the Swiss bishop, in the interpretation of glacier-motion, found in him an expositor. He set forth the claims of the German physician, Mayer, to an early publication of the doctrine of equivalence among the physical forces. The great discoveries of Young, discredited during his life by one whom people foolishly regarded as an authority—Lord Brougham—have been more than once eloquently set forth by him. And at great personal cost, he energetically fought the cause of an inventor unfairly treated by officials—Mr. Wigham. In one case only, not among these, did I differ from him as to the worthiness of the object of his sympathies, similarly enlisted.
Do I mean myself? Well no; though my name should be included among the names of those who have benefited by his desire to see justice done, yet it is scarcely in the nature of things that I should in this case disagree with him as to the propriety of his efforts.
In its early days, while directed by Mill and aided by Molesworth, The Westminster Review had been an organ of genuine Liberalism—the Liberalism which seeks to extend men’s liberties; not the modern perversion of it which, while giving them nominal liberties in the shape of votes (which are but a means to an end) is busily decreasing their liberties, both by the multiplication of restraints and commands, and by taking away larger parts of their incomes to be spent not as they individually like, but as public officials like. In pursuance of its genuine Liberalism, The Westminster Review had reprobated the excesses of Government-meddling; and this traditional policy Chapman willingly continued. Knowing my views on this matter, he asked me to write an article setting them forth; and I gladly assented.
Why say anything about this article, considering how familiar these views of mine are? Well, there are several reasons. First, that it is well to note the earlier phases of these views; second, that inattention has to be overcome by iteration and re-iteration; and third, that with some, a succinct statement of theses tells more than a full exposition crowded with illustrations.
The incidents of our private lives often prove to us the fallibility of our judgments—our “best laid schemes . . . gang aft agley.” How then can we be so very confident about our schemes for public welfare, in respect of which our judgments, because of complicated data, are so much more liable to err. And should not our hesitation be immensely increased on contemplating the blunderings of our ancestors, seen in the almost countless statutes which century after century have been passed and repealed after severally doing mischief. Again, why should we hope so much from State-agency in new fields, when in the old fields it has bungled so miserably? Why, if the organizations for national defence and administration of justice work so ill that loud complaints are daily made, should we be anxious for other organizations of kindred type? And conversely, why, considering that private enterprise has subdued the land, built the towns, made our means of communication, and developed our civilized appliances at large, should we be reluctant to trust private enterprise in further matters? Why slight the good and faithful servant and promote the unprofitable one from one talent to ten? Human desires are the motive forces from which come all social activities. These desires may use for their satisfactions direct agencies, as when men individually work to achieve their ends, or voluntarily combine in groups to do it; or they may use for their satisfactions indirect agencies, as when electors choose representatives, who authorize a ministry, who form a department, which appoints chief officials, who select subordinates, who superintend those who do the work. Among mechanicians it is a recognized truth that the multiplication of levers, wheels, cranks, &c., in an apparatus, involves loss of power, and increases the chances of going wrong. Is it not so with governmental machinery, as compared with the simpler machinery men frame in its absence? Moreover, men’s desires when left to achieve their own satisfactions, follow the order of decreasing intensity and importance: the essential ones being satisfied first. But when, instead of aggregates of desires spontaneously working for their ends, we get the judgments of governments, there is no guarantee that the order of relative importance will be followed, and there is abundant proof that it is not followed. Adaptation to one function presupposes more or less unfitness for other functions; and pre-occupation with many functions is unfavourable to the complete discharge of any one. Beyond the function of national defence the essential function to be discharged by a government is that of seeing that citizens in seeking satisfactions for their own desires, individually or in groups, shall not injure one another; and its failure to perform this function is great in proportion as its other functions are numerous. The daily scandals of our judicial system, which often brings ruin instead of restitution and frightens away multitudes who need protection, result in large measure from the pre-occupation of statesmen and politicians with non-essential things, while the all-essential thing passes almost unheeded.
Such were some of the leading propositions set forth in the article on “Over-legislation.” I am reminded by a letter that Mr. Samuel Morley, widely known in later times as one who spent his money freely for public objects, asked permission to re-publish the article in a separate form. Chapman demurred for the reason that republication would be injurious to the Review. Not long afterwards, however, with my assent, he issued it in a separate form himself, in his “Library for the People:” Mr. Morley agreeing to take part of the edition.
The close of my engagement at the beginning of July, came, as it appears, not inopportunely; for letters show that my health had been a good deal shaken by the extra work of the half year. An executorship, even when a will is not complicated, entails many transactions and a good deal of correspondence. With this necessitated business had been joined the writing of the two above-described articles—the last of them under some pressure as to time. Added to my routine official work, these had proved a little too much for me, and relaxation had become needful.
Remembrances of these years of my journalistic life, are agreeable. Light work and freedom from anxiety made my daily existence a not undesirable one; and some kinds of pleasures were accessible in ample amounts. The period was one in which there was going on an active development of thought. There then germinated various ideas which unfolded in after years; and of course the rise of these ideas, and in some cases the partial elaboration of them, had their concomitant gratifications of a sustained kind. Moreover, during this interval my existence became much enriched in another way. To the friendships of previous years were now added five others, which gradually entered as threads into the fabric of my life; and some of which affected its texture and pattern in marked ways. In short, I think I may say that the character of my later career was mainly determined by the conceptions which were initiated, and the friendships which were formed, between the times at which my connexion with The Economist began and ended.
[*]“Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle: a ten years’ reminiscence,” by H. Larkin. British Quarterly Review, July 1881, p. 73.
[*]Most active minds have, I presume, more or less frequent experiences of double consciousness—one consciousness seeming to take note of what the other is about, and to applaud or blame. Of late years various evidences have made me lean more and more to the belief in what has been called “the duality of the mind:” implying the ability of the two hemispheres of the brain to act more or less independently. Dreams have several times presented me with phenomena which, on any other hypothesis, seem inexplicable; and some few years ago a seemingly-conclusive experience occurred to me. Awaking one morning sufficiently to be conscious that I was awake, I nevertheless continued to dream, and for a few moments my waking consciousness watched my dreaming consciousness. Sundry analogies support the suspicion that the functions of the two hemispheres are specialized. A limited specialization has been clearly proved to exist, and it seems to me likely that there is a wider specialization: one hemisphere perhaps taking the more complex co-ordinations of ideas and the other the simpler co-ordinations, and the two co-operating. May there not possibly be a bi-cerebral thinking, as there is a binocular vision?