Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXXIII.: WRITING FIRST PRINCIPLES. 1860—62. Æt. 40—42. - An Autobiography, vol. 2
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CHAPTER XXXIII.: WRITING FIRST PRINCIPLES. 1860—62. Æt. 40—42. - Herbert Spencer, An Autobiography, vol. 2 
An Autobiography by Herbert Spencer. Illustrated in Two Volumes. Vol. 2 (New York: D. Appleton and Company 1904).
Part of: An Autobiography
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WRITING FIRST PRINCIPLES.
Up to this date my life might fitly have been characterized as miscellaneous. Here it may not be amiss to pause a moment and ask whether there was any relation between this trait of it and the course subsequently pursued.
From the education ordinarily passed through, mine differed by its comparative variety; and while lacking most of the usual linguistic elements, it included a good deal of physical, chemical, and biological knowledge not commonly gained.
Throughout the years passed in civil engineering many phases of the profession occupied me. Beyond plan-drawing and making designs of various kinds, there came surveying and levelling, secretarial business, drafting of contracts, and over-seeing execution of them, testing of locomotives, preparations of plans and sections for Parliament, joined with superintendence of the required staff and followed by attendance on Parliamentary Committees. And along with these sundry forms of engineering activity, there went the occasional invention of appliances and devising of methods.
During a long unengaged interval, inventing and experimenting in many directions filled a large space. Some time was given to drawing and modelling. Geology and Botany had shares of attention. Several speculative scientific papers were published. The province of Government was thought about and written about. And a period of active political life was passed through.
After entrance upon a literary career there came, if not variety of occupations, yet variety of subjects treated. With journalism was joined the writing on Political Ethics; and political ethics presently led the way to Psychology. Essays at that time and afterwards written, ranged so widely that they look extremely incongruous when bracketed; as instance—“Over Legislation” and “Gracefulness”; “Population” and “Style”; “Manners” and “Development of Species”; “Geology” and “Laughter”; “Banking” and “Personal Beauty”; “Trade Morals” and “The Nebular Hypothesis”; “The Genesis of Science” and “Railway Policy”; “The Shapes of Organisms” and “Parliamentary Reform”; “The Law of Progress” and “Types of Architecture”; “The Test of Truth” and “The Origin of Music”; “Prison Discipline” and “The Use of Anthropomorphism,” &c., &c.
But now this miscellaneousness came to a close, and there commenced something like unity of occupation. I say something like; for though the topics to be successively dealt with in developing the Synthetic Philosophy were many in kind—showing perhaps in this way the influence of the preceding life—yet they derived coherence from the unity of conception and method pursued throughout; and to this extent the life became constant instead of changeable.
In one respect, indeed, the unsettledness continued; for, as before, so for some years after, my abode was variable. As I usually spent from two to three months of the autumn away from London, regard for economy made me give up whatever place I occupied, and on my return to town there was generally some reason why it seemed well to advertise afresh for accommodation: a course which sometimes, though not always, led to change of residence. After a short absence from town in the spring, one of these changes took me to 18 Torrington Square, Bloomsbury.
Here it was that on the 7th of May 1860, I began my undertaking; and here it was that I quickly furnished justification to any who exclaimed against my folly in attempting so great a task with my deranged health.
Already in April the extra work which, during the preceding months, had been entailed by the floating of my project, had brought on a relapse, and I had to leave town; first for a ramble in Surrey, whence, being companionless, I returned in two days, and then for a sojourn in Derby. And now having, as I hoped, got again into working order, and made a satisfactory commencement, I broke down before I had got through the first chapter. A letter home of the 21st of May is dated Brighton, where I had manifestly gone to recruit. “I am very much better,” says a note written from London on the 26th, and which continues—“I go to the Potters in about a week, and shall doubtless progress there still further. I do not think, however, that it will be prudent to work hard enough to get out my first part in July.” Letters written from Standish show that I spent about ten days there. On the 13th I departed for Llandudno, to join my friends the Lotts; and I continued with them up to the end of June. Meanwhile my father and mother, in company with a Derby friend, had betaken themselves to my father’s favourite spot, Tréport; and pressure, to which I eventually yielded, was put upon me to follow.
At Tréport I resumed work to a small extent. One sunny afternoon, on the grassy slope which runs up from the town to the cliffs, might have been seen two figures, one writing and the other reclining or lounging. They were my father and myself; and the explanation was that he had undertaken to play the part of amanuensis. Indoors and outdoors, some little progress was made in this way during the first week in July. But the place did not on this occasion suit me; for the reason, I believe, that whereas before I was high up above the sea, I was now close down upon it. The result was that on the 11th of July I returned to London.
Something like my ordinary state having been at last regained, I wrote, or rather dictated, at my usual rate; that is, for three hours daily. The MS. of No. 1 of my serial was completed, partly in London and partly in Derby, before the middle of September.
A letter of the 19th of September is from Achranich, where I had at that date been for a few days, and where I had now another delightful sojourn of nearly a month.
There were two other guests—Mr. Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet, and his wife, who was a niece of Mr. Octavius Smith. The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich had been lying about the house at Achranich during my previous visits. I had already seen a little of its author in London, and now I saw a good deal of him. Not, indeed, that our intercourse was to much purpose in the way of establishing an intimacy. He was a very reserved, undemonstrative man, who usually took little share in general conversation. His face had a weary expression which seemed to imply either chronic physical discomfort or chronic mental depression—an apparent depression which suggested the thought that he was oppressed by consciousness of the mystery of things. Of the ideas or sentiments he uttered no trace remains with me. One thing only which he said do I remember; and this was a story concerning an ancestor of his. While rambling in North Derbyshire, his father or grandfather—I forget which,—was struck by the picturesqueness of a gorge down which tumbled a small stream. Turning to a man who was at hand, he inquired its name. “Go it Clough” was the startling reply. The explanation of the apparent insult was that the stream was named “the Goit,” and that “clough” is the North Derbyshire word for a ravine.
A two days’ excursion of the whole party, family and guests, was the only incident which broke the usual routine of out-door sports and in-door pleasures. Some dozen miles or so of mountain road, traversed by vehicles and horses, brought us to Strontian on Loch Sunart. After a night spent there, a drive along the beautiful shores of the loch, and then over the intervening country till we came in sight of Loch Shiel, was followed by a return to the shore of Loch Sunart at Salen. A boat down the remainder of Loch Sunart and up Loch Teachus, brought us back nearly to the boundary of the estate: a scramble in the dusk over the intervening moor, a moonlight row along Loch Arienas, and a drive from Acharn, taking us home. The excursion was not so delightful as that of the preceding year, but it has left vivid memories.
Reference to this excursion reminds me that on my return I found waiting for me a packet of proofs; and this recalls a typographical error contained in one of them. Most authors occasionally have droll blunders made by printers, and one such occurred in these early proofs of First Principles. Where I had written—“the daily verification of scientific predictions,” the compositor had put—“the daily versification of scientific predictions.”
After some ten days spent at Derby on my way, I reached London again on the 22nd of October. Number 1 of my serial, greatly delayed by printing and postal delinquencies, was on the eve of issue—nearly three months after the date I had originally hoped.
Little work was done before I again left town. My uncle William, the youngest of the brotherhood, whom I had found unwell on my return from Scotland in October, became seriously ill in November. I was in consequence called down to Derby and remained there till his death, which occurred before the close of the month. We had always been on amicable terms from the early days when, to his prompt action, I owed the appointment with which my engineering life commenced; and though at issue on religious questions, there had been a good deal of sympathy between us in our conversations on general topics. But I was quite unprepared for the distribution he made of his property. Appointing me sole executor, his will, making small bequests to other relatives, left to me the remainder of what he possessed, subject to annuities to my father and to an old servant. I believe there were two motives for this course. An eminently friendly man—so much so that he was habitually appealed to by sundry of his intimates for advice and help in their affairs—he was by implication always solicitous for the welfare of relatives, and ever ready to aid. But in proportion to the warmth of this feeling appeared to be the warmth of his resentment when offended; and his resentment was persistent. Some year or two before his death there had arisen a family difference which had, I believe, much to do with the provisions made in his will. My father, however, was of opinion that another motive was dominant. He told me that his brother was solicitous for the credit of the family, and probably thought that the arrangement he made would be most conducive to it.
But whatever may have caused this distribution of his property, not many months elapsed before I became aware that it would have important effects on my career; for experience soon proved that I had miscalculated my resources. While my scheme was still only in contemplation, I was told by a competent judge that there would be great difficulty in getting in the subscriptions; and I quite counted upon suffering some loss from non-payment. I was not, and never had been, among those who labour under the delusion that intellectual culture produces moral elevation; and did not expect to find that those who took in my serial were more honest than uneducated people. The defaulters were, however, more numerous than I expected. I found that which I was told others had found:—a moiety pay promptly; others after the publishers send them reminders; not a few, being several subscriptions in arrear, require repeated notices from the publishers before they discharge their obligations; and a considerable class, deaf to all representations, never pay at all for the parts sent to them year after year, and have at last to be struck off the list. Having started with a number of subscribers which I concluded would suffice to pay costs of printing &c. and leave a moderate return (a number which, not counting Americans, eventually rose to 430), I was unprepared for the amount of loss suffered.
The extent of these defalcations was such that in the absence of other resources I should have had to stop before the completion of my first volume.
The end of 1860 and the beginning of 1861, passed without any incident calling for mention beyond an illness of my father. Being a nervous subject, he regarded this with greater alarm than it called for. I took him to Brighton, and stayed with him there a good deal during parts of February and March; and he afterwards passed some time with me in London, where he recovered.
Notwithstanding consequent hindrances to my work, it progressed satisfactorily; and, escaping nervous relapses, I managed to issue Parts II and III at the appointed times—intervals of three months. At the end of March, however, my head gave way again and I had to desist. Early in April ten days were spent at Standish, with pleasure and doubtless with benefit, after which I went home for a time. I was not wholly idle during these visits. I had decided to re-publish, in the form of a volume, the four articles on Education which had originally been contributed to the Westminster, the North British, and the British Quarterly Reviews. The revision of these articles, commenced before leaving town and finished while at Derby, was in considerable measure carried on out of doors. I rambled into the country; looked out every now and then for a sheltered or sunny bank on which to recline while correcting a few pages; eventually reached some village where a country inn furnished me with a meal; and then, after a rest, returned home.
In this way I got through a little easy work which otherwise would have been impracticable; and after I completed it, returned to London.
More than a month was passed there before I was able to resume the writing of First Principles; and then the resumption was under difficulties, as is shown by the following paragraph from a letter to my father dated London, 14 June, 1861.
“I am much better this week and am doing some work. I am doing it in a very odd way—uniting dictating and rowing. I take my amanuensis on the Regent’s Park water, row vigorously for 5 minutes and dictate for a quarter of an hour; then more rowing and more dictating alternately. It answers capitally.”
Soon afterwards I was led into another way of keeping off cerebral congestion. Mr. J. F. McLennan, at that time little known, but afterwards well known as the author of Primitive Marriage, &c., was a candidate for (I think) a professorship at Edinburgh, and wrote to me for a testimonial: directing my attention to a certain article of his in the Encyclopædia Britannica as affording me a means of estimating his competence. Remembering the disaster which had resulted when I read up with the view of writing a testimonial for Professor Fraser, I declined, after giving my reasons. Mr. McLennan took my refusal in good part; and, having himself suffered somewhat from an overworked brain, recommended to me racquets as an exercise. Accepting the suggestion, and discovering an open racquet-court at The Belvidere, Pentonville, I betook myself thither with my amanuensis every morning, and after a game or two adjourned to an adjacent room where I dictated awhile, and then, before head-symptoms set in, returned to the court for another game or two; and so on all the morning.
Though in this way I got through two or three paragraphs daily without making myself worse, I failed to get better; and it became manifest that I should be unable to issue my next part at the appointed date. It became manifest, too, that working against time would never do: the endeavour to keep to fixed intervals must be abandoned. Accordingly I issued a notice to the subscribers stating that the next number would not appear at the end of the three months; and stating, further, that for the future the successive numbers would be severally issued as soon as completed, without regard to dates.
A few lines to my mother, dated Oban, July 9, show that I was unexpectedly detained there by the delay in the arrival of my friends, who had again kindly invited me to visit them. Still below my ordinary state of health, and yet wishing not to let my time pass wholly without result, I sought out a youth of some eighteen or so, sufficiently educated to serve as amanuensis, and when the time came took him over with me to lodge at Loch Aline, whence he came to me daily. A letter dated 28 July, written to my father, then in France, says:—
“I have been at Ardtornish now rather more than a week. In consequence of the Smiths not having arrived, to my great dismay, I had to spend a fortnight in Oban and the neighbourhood. This did me harm, as solitude always does; and I have in consequence not been well. However I am better now than I have been; and the delightful life here will doubtless soon set me right. I have got a decent amanuensis (this being Sunday he is not available) and have done a little work. . . . The writing and boating answers very well, and is very pleasant.
Our weather here is very agreeable—above the average of Scotch weather; and the scenery is charming. All day long there is some beautiful effect on mountains or sea to look at; and the sun-sets are magnificent.
I have set up three aquaria, which give great interest; and the microscope [one which I had bought just before leaving town] also is a source of amusement. The dredge is now made, but we have not used it. The coast is very rich, and I expect to get many novelties. . . .
I went out fishing the evening I arrived, and caught a salmon the first thing. Since then the river has been too low.”
I give these extracts at length because they conveniently serve to introduce some explanations and comments. The first concerns the apparent change of name from Achranich to Ardtornish. At the time when Mr. Smith bought the estate of Achranich, the two estates, Acharn and Ardtornish, lying on either side of it, were owned by Mr. Sellar (father of the present Professor Sellar of Edinburgh, Mr. Alexander Craig Sellar, m.p., and other sons), who was desirous of purchasing Achranich and uniting the three estates. He hesitated too long, hoping to get a reduction of price, and Achranich was unawares bought over his head, to his great disgust. Some years afterwards his death brought the estates of Acharn and Ardtornish into the market; and after considerable delay they were, at the close of 1860, purchased by Mr. Smith: the three united estates being thereafter known as Ardtornish. As the Ardtornish house (part of which, as before described, is visible some distance behind the ruins of the castle) was more convenient than the old house at Achranich; and as the new house was still in course of erection; it was decided to occupy the Ardtornish house till the new house was complete.
It was to the views from the Ardtornish house that the expression “charming scenery,” used above, referred. Probably I was thinking of a certain bright morning in August. From the smoothly shorn lawn with its flower beds, I was looking over the carefully trimmed hedge, to the mountains on the other side of the Sound, and marking how the cultivated beauty of the one served as a foil to the wild beauty of the other, when there came to me through the open window the first movement from one of Beethoven’s finest sonatas: a favourite movement which has since never failed to recall the scene. But there is a still more vivid recollection dating back to one of the evenings of that year. The western part of the Sound of Mull trends a good deal towards the north; so that during the summer months the Sun sets over the hills at its further end. On the evening in question the gorgeous colours of clouds and sky, splendid enough even by themselves to be long remembered, were reflected from the surface of the Sound, at the same time that both of its sides, along with the mountains of Mull, were lighted up by the setting Sun; and, while I was leaning out of the window gazing at this scene, music from the piano behind me served as a commentary. The exaltation of feeling produced was unparalleled in my experience; and never since has pleasurable emotion risen in me to the same intensity.
Other words in the foregoing extract recall the fact that during my stay, what little writing I did was broken by exercise, now on the land and now on the water: sometimes rambling along the shore of Loch Aline and sitting down occasionally to dictate a few sentences, or along the Ardtornish cliffs, where the waterfalls suggested one of the illustrations used in the chapter I was writing on the “Direction of Motion”; and at other times boating—either paddling about in Ardtornish Bay or rowing from Achranich to the ferry, and dictating while I rowed.
Filled with many pleasures and with little work, the time thus passed till the end of August.
The dates of letters imply that, after spending something like a fortnight at home on my way south, I went to London. A letter written from 18 Torrington Square, on September 21, 1861, says:—
“I reached town safely on Wednesday, and you will be surprised to hear left it again next day. Happening to call on Lewes, I was induced by him to join him in a country ramble. We started forthwith for Reigate, and spent Friday and Saturday in walking through a charming country; both of us returning much the better for the excursion.
I had eighty-eight replies to my advertisement for an amanuensis. You see I have found one; and I shall commence work in earnest tomorrow.”
The country ramble in question was from Reigate to Dorking, where we slept; thence next day to Ockley, where we slept; and then back over Leith Hill. Though not the last of the excursions we made together, this was, I think, the last but two.
I had evidently not yet got back to the normal level of my abnormal state. In a letter of the 26th I read:—“I am much better, and doing my work (on the water) with comfort”: the result being that my next number was issued in November, after having been delayed some four or five months.
Mention of its issue recalls an incident affecting my finances, which should be named. In a preceding chapter I have stated that Chapman, with whom I had published Social Statics, had, after sinking a good deal of money, been finally compelled to give up his publishing business. It was eventually taken by a Mr. Manwaring—a young man quite inadequately prepared, as it turned out. The Principles of Psychology and a volume of Essays, &c., had been published for me by Messrs. Longman; but my business transactions with the firm had been such as rendered me undesirous of continuing them, and still more undesirous of extending them. Consequently I put the issue of my serial into the hands of Mr. Manwaring. It proved an unfortunate step, for there soon came a crash. A letter to my father written on 22nd January, 1862, says:—
“You will see by the enclosed that I have succeeded (though after some difficulty) in coming to an arrangement with Williams & Norgate. Everyone agrees that they are the best people I could have. I shall be very glad to get out of Manwaring’s hands; but I expect to lose by him considerably.”
This expectation was fulfilled. By Mr. Manwaring were of course received the amounts paid by subscribers, and of the sum accruing from them which was in his hands at the time of his failure (between forty and fifty pounds) I believe no part ever reached me. As I was already suffering loss from defaulting subscribers, it was hard that I should lose also a portion of the amount derived from those who paid. In the absence of other resources the result might have been serious.
The winter months and those of the early spring brought no events worthy of record. In a letter of 23rd January I speak of myself as “still improving” and “pretty nearly up to my average”: the effect being that now, after this relapse so long in being recovered from, my work was progressing with but little hindrance.
Certain additions to my social circle must here be named. For some years Mr. and Mrs. George Busk had been among my acquaintances, and before 1862 I had come to count them among my friends—friends with whom the intimacy grew gradually closer. Retiring in nature, and consequently much less known to the world at large than to the scientific world, Mr. Busk, not long afterwards elected President of the College of Surgeons, was one who devoted his leisure (for he had given up practice) to science and to the business of various scientific societies in which he took an active part. And Mrs. Busk, scientifically cultivated in a degree rare among ladies, united with her culture other mental attractions, which gave a never failing interest to her conversation. In after years many pleasant times, short and long, were spent with them and their four daughters.
On several occasions, at their house and elsewhere, I had met at dinner one whose name has since become familiar to most; and the result was the commencement of an intimacy, as witness the following passage in a letter to my father:—
“As you see by this note, I have made some new friends. The writer, well known in the world of science, is the eldest son of Sir John Lubbock, whose name you know very well as an astronomer. I spent a very pleasant two days with them and met Sir John Lubbock there at dinner. . . Last night I had a note from Mrs. Lubbock asking me to go down to them again on the 13th of April.”
At that time Mr. and Mrs. Lubbock lived at Lammas, Chislehurst. Many Saturday afternoons and Sundays were afterwards agreeably spent there; and when, a few years later, High Elms, the family seat, descended along with the title to Mr. Lubbock, visits of this kind were continued. Other guests, coming from the worlds of science, literature, and politics, while they made these occasions interesting, made them also somewhat too exciting: especially as all present were habitually drawn out by Lady Lubbock’s vivacity and Sir John’s versatility. Two unusually bad nights were commonly entailed on me; and consequently, as time went on, I had more and more to avoid these and other such Sunday visits into the country: a further reason for doing this being that on each occasion the Monday morning’s work was in large measure sacrificed.
Here the mention of Sir John Lubbock’s versatility, conspicuous enough even to readers of newspapers and still more conspicuous to those who know all his many activities, recalls an incident which illustrates his remarkable facility in carrying on many occupations. The incident occurred some four years or so later, at a time when I had been investigating the circulation in plants, and had made a number of preparations for the microscope. These I took with me one Saturday to High Elms, thinking they would prove of interest. On the Monday morning early, Sir John was out cub-hunting with his brothers (a frequent practice with them); on his return he made a diagram for a lecture he was about to give; then he examined under the microscope the preparations I had brought; and finally he came to breakfast. After breakfast there was the drive to the station; a rapid glance through the Times on the way up to town; some pages of a book which he had brought with him; and at length came the business of the day, itself sufficiently varied—banking, probably a board-meeting of some kind, political business, attendance at a scientific society: perhaps after a dinner party. And the remarkable peculiarity was that with all these many and varied occupations he never seemed in a hurry; but, by his habitual calm, gave the impression that he was quite at leisure.
On looking back to my social life at this time, I see that its excitements were becoming occasionally too much for me, as witness some sentences in a letter home dated 15th of April:—
“Dining out three days running is always more than I can stand with impunity; and I am hence somewhat below par this morning, but not so much so as I expected. In consequence of this accumulation of excitements I had to excuse myself from the Coopers’ invitation, which was for Friday. As I told Mrs. Cooper, I dare not accept. I shall call on them in the course of this week.”
Let me add, however, that I have often found dining out in moderation, beneficial rather than injurious—especially in a lively circle, as I think I have before remarked. My experiences to a considerable extent justify the advice which Sir Henry Holland told me he gave to his dyspeptic patients. He recommended them to go out to dinner and eat made dishes.
A few words about the Leweses should be added here. Charles, his father’s eldest son, had recently obtained—a post in the Post Office I was about to say, but the cacophony stopped me; and then I was about to say, an office in the Post Office, which is nearly as bad; let me say—a place in the Post Office. Chiefly, I believe, for his benefit, they removed from Wandsworth into town, and took a house in Blandford Square. From time to time I spent an evening with them there—always pleasantly, of course. Occasionally Lewes and I and another friend of theirs, amused ourselves by singing glees. George Eliot, however, never joined us: why, I do not know, for her voice would greatly have improved the harmony.
A change of residence was made towards the end of February. I removed to 29 Bloomsbury Square. The house was a good one, having large rooms and being in other ways desirable. Here I remained for the rest of the season; and here, before the end of June, I completed First Principles.
Am I about to write an imaginary review of the work, as of two preceding works? No: like reasons do not exist. The motive for giving, in the manner adopted, an account of Social Statics, was that the connexion between its ideas and the ideas which preceded and succeeded them, might be exhibited; and it seemed the more needful thus to exhibit them because, as I have for many years been deterred by consciousness of its defects from issuing new editions of the work, it is difficult of access. Similarly with The Principles of Psychology. Save in a few public libraries, no one can now find a copy of the first edition; and only, therefore, by the help of the outline I have given, can any one judge of its relation to antecedent and subsequent phases of thought, as well as of its divergence from contemporary opinion. But in First Principles, which from its date of publication has continued in successive editions to be readily accessible, there is exhibited, not a stage in the development of the doctrine, but the developed doctrine itself. Though an unlooked for evolution of considerable importance subsequently took place, as will hereafter be shown, yet the system had now so far approached its final shape that description of it as one of the stages passed through would be superfluous.
But, though I do not intend either to outline the contents of the book or to pass any criticisms upon it, I find occasion to make some comments: partly concerning the reception it met with and partly concerning my entirely erroneous anticipations.
Unlike a book of travels, or a gossiping biography, or a volume of Court scandal, or a fresh translation of some classical author, or the account of some bloody campaign, or a new speculation concerning the authorship of Junius, or a discussion of Queen Mary’s amours, it offered no temptation to the writer of reviews in literary journals; and hence, as might have been expected, it was comparatively little noticed. Passed over altogether by some critical organs, it got in some others the briefest recognition; as, for instance, in the Spectator, which gave to it one of those paragraphs of a score of lines in small type, in which it dismisses ephemeral books. While I was not much surprised at this, my surprise was considerable on finding that in most cases the important part of the book was ignored, and that such notice as was taken, was taken of the part which I regarded as relatively unimportant.
Years before, when there took possession of me the project of developing into a System of Philosophy the conception briefly and crudely set forth in the essay on “Progress: its Law and Cause,” I saw that it would be needful to preface the exposition by some chapters setting forth my beliefs on ultimate questions, metaphysical and theological; since, otherwise, I should be charged with propounding a purely materialistic interpretation of things. Hence resulted the first division—“The Unknowable.” My expectation was that having duly recognized this repudiation of materialism, joined with the assertion that any explanation which may be reached of the order of phenomena as manifested to us throughout the Universe, must leave the Ultimate Mystery unsolved, readers, and by implication critics, would go on to consider the explanation proposed. To me it seemed manifest that the essential part of the book—the doctrine of Evolution—may be held without affirming any metaphysical or theological beliefs; and though, to avoid the ascription of certain beliefs of these classes which I do not hold, I thought it prudent to exclude them, I presumed that others, after noting the exclusion of them by the first division of the work, would turn their thoughts chiefly to the second division. Nothing of the kind happened. Such attention as was given was in nearly all cases given to the agnostic view which I set forth as a preliminary. The general theory which the body of the book elaborates was passed over or but vaguely indicated. And during the five and twenty years which have since elapsed, I have nowhere seen a brief exposition of this general theory.
It might have been not unreasonably supposed that an alleged law of transformation, everywhere unceasingly displayed by existences of all orders, would have received the amount of consideration required for deciding on its probable truth or probable falsehood; seeing that if false its falsity ought to be shown, and if true it should enter as an important factor in men’s conceptions of the world around them. But it did not seem so to those who undertake to guide public opinion.