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PART IX.: 1867—1874. - Herbert Spencer, An Autobiography, vol. 2 
An Autobiography by Herbert Spencer. Illustrated in Two Volumes. Vol. 2 (New York: D. Appleton and Company 1904).
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RE-CASTING FIRST PRINCIPLES.
The house which, from the age of seven to the age of forty-seven, had been my home—practically at some times and nominally at all other times—was now my home no longer. There remained nothing to tie me to it beyond the associations which had clustered in and around it during forty years. And these, some of them pleasurable and some of them otherwise, were not such as to outweigh the motives for permanent residence in London.
To the town, though it was my birthplace, I did not feel any particular attachment. “Here I am again at dull Derby” was the internal exclamation I often made when arriving by train; and the country immediately around it had no such beauties as to compensate for its dulness. Only three families which I cared much about now lived in or near it; so that the social attractions were not great. And then the climate did not suit me: it is anything but invigorating. Thus other feelings than filial were not strong enough to make life at Derby desirable.
Soon after my mother’s death I therefore arranged to give up the house. Reserving valued relics and such few pieces of furniture as promised to be useful in London, and distributing the rest among my relations, I surrendered the key to the landlord. Thereafter Derby knew me no more, save in the character of an occasional visitor to friends.
Already in Chapter XXXVI, which tells how, when writing the Classification of the Sciences there resulted the discovery that First Principles had been organized wrongly, I named the design, thereupon formed, of reorganizing it at the first convenient opportunity. A letter shows that I had intended to do this as soon as Vol. I of the Biology was completed. When that time came, however, I found that there was still unsold a large portion of the original edition of First Principles. Had my means been considerable, I might have been extravagant enough to sacrifice this; but I could not afford to do so, and had to wait for its gradual disappearance by sale. At the close of March 1867, when the second volume of the Biology was finished, this remainder was, I presume, all or nearly all gone; and I eagerly commenced the long-suspended project.
I say eagerly, because during the intervening years there had continually recurred the consciousness that I had left outstanding a seriously imperfect piece of work—a consciousness which I was anxious to get rid of. Some vague dissatisfaction had, indeed, arisen when the book was originally written; and, when, in a chapter entitled “The Conditions Essential to Evolution,” there was recognized the fact that Evolution, as I then conceived it, was not universal, but that there were certain aggregates, such as crystals, which did not undergo it. It never occurred to me at that time to put the question—What is that universal process common to these aggregates which do not become more heterogeneous and those aggregates which do become more heterogeneous? Had I put this question I should have seen that the formation of an aggregate necessarily precedes any changes of structure which occur in the aggregate; and that therefore integration is the primary process and differentiation the secondary process.
The impatience I felt to make this rectification of statement, which gave a new aspect to the doctrine and freed it from a now-manifest error in the described order of the phenomena, caused me to lose no time. As soon as the closing number of the Biology was issued, I commenced the agreeable task; and such times as I could command throughout the ensuing spring, summer, and early autumn, were devoted to it.
Of incidents during the first part of the interval thus occupied, the following extracts from letters to Prof. Youmans indicate those of chief interest. On March 11, I wrote to him thus:—
“You were saying when over here, that you thought the time was coming when we might recommence the issue of the serial in the U.S. I doubt, however, whether it would be worth while. Our subscription list here has just been gone through for the purpose of giving a peremptory reminder to those in arrear. I find there is not far short of £200 due. Possibly the intimation that has been given, that no further numbers will be sent out to those whose last two subscriptions are unpaid, will have its effect. But I foresee that if things go on as they have been doing, it will be needful to give up the issue in parts by the time the Psychology is completed. The trouble and loss will no longer be compensated by the gain.”
Until this extract recalled it, the fact that the issue by subscription in America had been abandoned, had disappeared from my mind. The abandonment had, of course, been caused by the difficulty in obtaining payments of subscriptions. A letter of April 8, contains the passage:—
“This morning I am none the better for a large amount of metaphysical discussion last night with Mill and Grote. It had been specially arranged that Grote and myself were to dine at Mill’s together, and the result was a very interesting evening, though one which was a serious tax upon me, as you may suppose. . . .
Tomorrow I shall commence the revision of First Principles. I had intended to make one or two replies to criticisms on the first part, but have been dissuaded by the Leweses from doing so. There will only be one or two small verbal alterations.”
What I saw of Mr. and Mrs. Grote on this and other such occasions, reminded me of the saying ascribed to Rogers—“Ah! I like the Grotes very much: she is so gentlemanly and he is so ladylike.” The saying was unfair to Mr. Grote, however; for his extreme suavity did not prevent his manliness from being manifest. I liked him much, but I did not care about her; and I suppose this fact was displayed in my manner, for I have no power of disguising my feelings. She was a masculine woman, alike in size, aspect, character, and behaviour; and I greatly dislike masculine women. Moreover, she had been accustomed to a good deal of incense, and I, little given to administer it in any case, was in her case deterred by the tacit claim; for when there is assumption without adequate achievement to justify it, I always feel prompted to resent it. Hence, though the relation continued to be civil, and with Mr. Grote even cordial, the acquaintanceship did not grow into freindship.
Some passages written ten days later are worth quoting:—
“The inclosure contained in your letter was a considerable surprise to me. I had anticipated something very much less. What a wonderful steward you are. I never dreamt, a few years ago, of any such results arising; and had it not been for you it is clear that no such results would ever have arisen. . . .
Your remarks as to the use that is being made of Mill’s name, completely fulfil the prophecy I made to him. I told him that I regretted to see the weight of his authority given to a side that is already, to say the least, far too strong; and that the result would be that the Classicists would appropriate all he said in their favour and ignore all he said against them.”
The last of these two paragraphs refers to the inaugural address, then recently delivered by Mill as Lord Rector of St. Andrews, in which he urged the claims of Classics, with the apparent implication that they were in danger of being over-ridden by Science. Considering that Science was but just beginning to raise its head, and to obtain a grudging recognition in the high places of learning, it seemed to me that the note of alarm was scarcely called for.
I think I have already named the fact that the Russians took the initiative in translating my books. From the following paragraph written to my American friend on May 3, it appears that M. Nicholas Thieblin, who had undertaken the dangerous task of introducing them to his countrymen, nearly got into serious trouble in consequence.
“A few days ago I had a letter from my Russian translator, giving me the satisfactory intelligence that the prosecution has ended in smoke. It seems that the charge of the minister amounted to a charge of high treason; and this was so grave that the procureur of the court of justice refused to proceed with it; and, one charge having failed, another could not be made. So the poor fellow is out of danger; and we shall have no occasion to make a noise about it in America.”
A letter of June 7 contains a paragraph which it seems desirable here to reproduce.
“I have decided, within these few days, to use a specific title for the whole series of volumes that I am issuing. Originally, when drawing up the programme, I contemplated doing so; and was very nearly using the title Deductive Philosophy. But I was dissuaded, and finally fell back upon the indefinite title—‘A System of Philosophy.’ There are decided evils, however, in the absence of a distinctive name; and I have had these evils just now thrust before me afresh. . . . Another title, therefore, is evidently extremely desirable, and will, I think, in many respects yield positive as well as negative advantages. I have decided upon the title—Synthetic Philosophy, which, on the whole, seems the most descriptive. I am intending to make the issue of this second edition of First Principles the occasion for introducing it; and propose that each successive volume shall bear this general title on its back in addition to its special title.”
The following extract from a letter of June 26, I make more especially for the sake of its second paragraph.
“Mr. Silsbee dropped in upon me quite unexpectedly about ten days ago. He had come over it seems in pursuance of a resolve suddenly taken, intending to spend two or three weeks here before going to Paris. He is looking very well. Mrs. Youmans’ friend Dr. ——— (I forget his name) came to lunch on the day that Silsbee called; so that I had quite an American party.
We are about to give a public breakfast here to Garrison. Bright is to be in the chair, and the address is to be moved by the Duke of Argyll, and seconded by Earl Russell (probably) and also by John Mill. I am one of the Committee of arrangement.”
Had it not been for these records in letters, I should have been able to say nothing about the course of my life during this part of 1867.
And here, indeed, after the above illustration, I may fitly say a few words respecting the biographical materials to be hereafter used.
Unhappily there was no longer any home correspondence. There remained only the correspondence with friends. Of the letters to Lott, large numbers are missing; and hence the fact that in many preceding chapters there are no quotations from them. In 1867 the series of them recommences, and they here and there furnish passages of interest. The letters to my American friend, however, are those on which I have chiefly to depend for filling in the outlines of my life after this date. Besides recalling incidents I had forgotten, their statements give precision to incidents I remember; and they furnish a tolerably full account of everything concerning the writing and publication of my books.
In 1878 I commenced keeping a brief diary. This tells me where I was and what I was doing day by day; and enables me to give to the narrative during eight subsequent years, definiteness if not fulness. Were it compiled from recollections only, the account of these eight years would be bald if not vague; and the account of the preceding seven years would be both vague and bald.
I may add that as, in nine cases out of ten, the quotations made will be from letters to Prof. Youmans, it seems needless always to give his name. Where no name is mentioned it may be inferred that the passage quoted was written to him.
When summer was just passing into autumn I visited my friend Professor Masson, who had taken a house for the season in the Vale of Yarrow, and had asked me to spend a few days with him. They were days of sympathetic talk, carried on during walks and drives—talk which pleasantly and beneficially distracted my thoughts from recent domestic troubles. One of our excursions was to St. Mary’s Loch at the head of the vale, and to “Tibbie Shiels” tavern: a place associated with traditions of notabilities of the preceding generation, who gathered there for fishing. Our out-door converse was enlivened by Masson’s stories—now concerning the Border raids associated with the locality, of which I remember nothing save the name of some sanguinary ruffian, “Dickie of Dryhope”; and now concerning Dr. Chalmers, whom Masson had known personally and greatly admired. A certain emotional glow which he puts into his narratives, always gives them an interest beyond that which they otherwise have.
After “Yarrow visited” and never “re-visited,” I departed for the West, or rather, for the North-west. To fill an unoccupied gap in my holiday, I went as far North as Glenelg; and after a week there spent partly in fishing, partly in rambling, partly in examining the Pictish towers in Glen Beg, I made my way to Ardtornish to have another of those interludes in my life which have formed its chief enjoyment. Here I remained from August 20 to Sept. 10.
Beneficial as a visit to Ardtornish was always made by its out-door and in-door pleasures, a certain drawback resulted from its relaxing climate. To neutralize this I sometimes on my way South stopped for a time at a bracing place. On one occasion, though in what year I cannot remember, I thus utilized Llandudno; and this year I betook myself to Scarborough. Of incidents during my week’s stay I remember but one—a ramble along the coast to a bay some two miles or so to the South, which brought under my notice an extremely exceptional fact. In this bay there crops out on the beach a stratum of clay of medium plasticity; coherent enough for large lumps of it to hold together when tumbled about by the waves, and yet soft enough to be rounded by them. The bay also contains a deposit of shingle, over which the soft clay boulders had in some places been rolled. And here came the strange result. In each rounded mass of clay the pebbles had imbedded themselves, so that its surface was closely studded with them all over. Part of the beach was formed of sand; and it seemed quite possible that one of these clay boulders with its superficial layer of pebbles might be deposited by the waves on some quiet part of the sandy tract, there gradually covered over, and finally left as part of a new stratum. What an incomprehensible phenomenon would it in such case be for the geologist of the future! How incredible it would seem that such a formation should be other than artificial!
This reference to an anomalous process observed on the sea-shore, recalls another scarcely less anomalous, which I may fitly joint with it. Were anyone to assert that Nature gives mankind lessons in describing circles, and furnishes them with the model of an instrument for the purpose, all but a very few would say he was talking nonsense. Yet he would be stating a literal fact. Probably some may conclude that I refer to those arcs of circles occasionally scratched by loose branches of trees trained against walls, and which have been blown backwards and forwards by the wind; and he may say rightly that the curves thus formed—only parts of circles, and, indeed, only approximately circular—are formed under artificial conditions. But I have in mind a case on which no such criticisms can be passed. Where sand-hills are formed along a sea-shore, there grows in them, and serves to hold them together, a species of large grass, having blades that are very long, dry, and stiff. Roots of this occur, not in the sand-hills only, but here and there in the flat interspaces. Hard and wiry though its blades are, they sometimes get broken—perhaps by passing animals. Occasionally may be seen one of which the broken end, longer than the upright part to which it is still attached by some fibres, leans in an inclined position with its point touching the sand. This broken part when blown about by the wind describes part of a circle on the surface of the sand. When the wind changes it describes another part of the circle; and when the fibres by which it is held are few and lax, other changes of wind make it fill in the remaining arc. Eventually this natural pair of compasses may be seen standing in the middle of the circle which it has described.
These instances show how difficult it is to find in all cases a test by which to distinguish the improbable from the impossible.
From Scarborough I departed for Gloucestershire, and on my way stopped two days at Stourbridge. Why Stourbridge? will probably be asked by any reader who knows how uninviting are the place and its surroundings.
My purpose was to make a genealogical inquiry. As was said at the outset, my maternal grandmother was named Brettell (originally Breteuil); and there were two questions respecting her mother which I wished, if possible, to solve. When, as a boy of 14, I was in London with my parents, I accompanied them to dine with two old gentlemen named Shakespeare, who were cousins of my maternal grandmother. Miss Brettell, a cousin of my mother, had once told me that there was no blood relationship; by which, at the time, I understood her of course to mean no blood relationship of the kind which one might have a motive to establish, were it possible. But I now think she meant that the cousinship of these Shakespeares had arisen not from the marriage of a Mr. Brettell to a Miss Shakespeare, but from a marriage of a Mr. Shakespeare to a Miss Brettell. This was the point which I wanted to determine; and hence my expedition to Wordsley near Stourbridge, where this great-grandfather Brettell had lived. I could not make out anything, however. The name Shakespeare was not infrequent in the register, and, if I remember rightly, occurred on sundry grave-stones. But I could not discover the marriage I sought for.
Another question of this class interested me. As was indicated in a preliminary chapter, the Brettells, resident during a long past in the neighbourhood of Stourbridge, had intermarried with certain de Henezels (or Henzies, as they were eventually called in England)—a refugee family which came over from Lorraine at the time of the religious persecutions: having in earlier times migrated into Lorraine from Bohemia: possibly being Hussites. I gathered in the neighbourhood that there had been two branches of the Brettell family, a richer and a poorer; and I was curious to learn with which of these branches it was that the Henzies had mingled: whether with ours, which I believe was the poorer, or, as I think more probable, with the richer. I failed to learn, however. I knew only that my great-grandmother’s Christian name was Sarah; that her marriage with Mr. Brettell must have been about the middle of the last century; and that among the children there were a John, a Jeremiah, and a Jane. Whether it was that these data were insufficient, or whether it was that my search (limited to the registers of Wordsley and Old Swinford) was not wide enough, I cannot say.
The failure was of little moment, however. Were it proved that through this line of ancestry there has descended to me a trace of foreign blood distinguished by such pronounced nonconformity, the fact would have negative significance rather than positive significance. Save certain physical traits, I inherit, so far as I can perceive, scarcely anything from maternal ancestry. Every trait, alike intellectual and moral, which is at all distinctive, is clearly traceable to my father.
After the two days which I spent in this bootless investigation, I continued my journey to Standish; and, at the end of one of my pleasant sojourns with my friends there, returned to London.
The printing of the re-cast edition of First Principles had been going on pari passû with the revision, and was now nearly complete: the tolerably rapid progress made by the printers having been due to the circumstance that the greater part of the original stereotype plates had, with but trifling alterations, been made to serve afresh.
I name this fact as introductory to some remarks concerning the method of publication I had adopted and have since continued. The system of stereotyping has been objected to by some of my friends as entailing an obstacle to the making of corrections; and it doubtless does this to a serious degree if the corrections are numerous and diffused throughout the work. But it entails no considerable obstacle when the changes are limited to particular parts, or are in chief measure changes of arrangement. In this second edition of First Principles, probably for not more than one-third of the work had new plates been required; while the plates of the remaining two-thirds had needed only to be re-paged and to have the sections re-numbered.
Stereotyping of course involves extra loss if a book is unsuccessful; and its profitableness implies something more than temporary success. If an edition consists of but 500 copies or of 750 copies, the cost of setting up the type is the chief cost; and even when the number comprised in the edition is 1000, payment for setting up the type amounts to one-half the sum laid out. If the type has been distributed and a second edition is called for, composition has to be paid for a second time, with the effect of greatly diminishing the net profit. But if stereotype plates have been made, (or rather stereomoulds, for it is not requisite that the plates should be cast until they are actually wanted) there needs no second composition; and there has to be borne only the outlay for the stereotype plates. If there are many editions this cost of the stereotype plates practically disappears; and leaves nothing to be counted as cost beyond the paper and press-work.
When, some ten years since, I gave evidence before the Copyright Commission, I made a calculation respecting the returns brought by my books. I found that, after making deductions for the usual trade-allowances, the publishers’ commission, and the expenses of paper and printing, there remained to me between 30 and 40 per cent. of the advertised price. I say between 30 and 40 per cent. because, so long as the cost of composition and stereotyping entered into the estimate, the per-centage of profit was kept down to something like the lower of these two rates; but, when, after many editions, this element of the cost might be considered as having practically disappeared, the rate of profit approached the higher of the two. That is to say, an edition of 1000 copies of a book advertised at 20 shillings, brought to me nearly £400: an amount which the cost of advertising might reduce to something like £380. No such proportion as this is, I believe, ordinarily obtained by an author who either sells the copyright of an edition or who publishes on the system of half-profits—a system which, on the ordinary publisher’s method of estimating profits, is apt to leave the author with a very small sum; if it does not, indeed, vex him by a perpetually retreating mirage of profits—a promise that there will be profits on the next edition.
Of course publication by commission (i.e. paying the publisher 10 per cent. on the gross returns for doing the business) accompanied, as in my own case, by direct dealings with the printer, paper-maker, and binder, entails a certain amount of trouble. A friend of mine, who over-estimates this amount, thanks the publisher for undertaking it, and thinks he is not overpaid for going through it. That he is not overpaid when he takes the risk as well as the trouble, is true. The competition of trades keeps the trade of publishing down to the average level of profitableness; and there are bankrupt publishers as well as bankrupt traders of other kinds. But where the publisher does not run any risk—where the author’s position is such that his book is sure to more than pay his expenses; then the publisher is greatly overpaid for the work he does on either the half-profit system or the system of copyright purchase, if he gives only what is commonly given. Did he take the course I do, my friend would find that the few hours spent in the needful letter-writing and interviews were paid for by returns at a score times the rate that any hours otherwise spent were paid for: a consideration which may fitly be entertained; since, high as his aims may be, the author must live before he can work.
Of course the penniless author, or one who, though he gains much, is extravagant and lives from hand to mouth, cannot avail himself of this more remunerative mode of publishing. He cannot wait for the ultimate advantages. He has to accept such terms as the capitalist offers; and they are usually hard terms.
Returning from these digressive remarks suggested by the publication of this re-cast edition of First Principles, which took place in November, I may here say something concerning the work itself; or rather—concerning the general doctrine now finally embodied in it.
Early in the course of the foregoing narrative, when briefly describing various essays, I indicated the ways in which they severally displayed approaches to the conception eventually reached; and before giving, in its original crude form, the programme of the system in which it was proposed to elaborate this conception, I described the general course of thought by which, as seen in these steps, the conception had been arrived at. Here, while noting the further developments which took place subsequently, it will be well to set down succinctly all the successive steps with their respective dates. They run as follows:—
1850. Recognized the truth that low types of organisms and low types of societies, are alike in the trait that each consists of many like parts severally performing like functions; while high types of organisms and high types of societies, are alike in the trait that each consists of many unlike parts severally performing unlike functions (Social Statics pp. 451-3): the tacit implication being that in these cases progress is from the uniform to the multiform.
1851. Made acquaintance with the expression of Milne-Edwards, “the physiological division of labour,” as applied to organic life—an expression which, suggesting the thought that in animals as in societies the division of labour increases as organization advances, brought into clearer light the meaning of the “increasing subdivision of functions” on which I had commented in drawing the above parallel, and the meaning of the change from uniformity of structure to multiformity of structure.
1851-2. A disclosure to me, and reception by me, of von Baer’s formula;—every organism in the course of its development changes from homogeneity of structure to heterogeneity of structure.
1852. In treating of the development of style there were expressed simultaneously, as being equivalents, the ideas that progress is from a state in which there are many like parts simply aggregated, to a state in which there are many unlike parts mutually dependent, and that it is from homogeneity to heterogeneity.
1853. Alleged that in the course of social development progress is from unity of control to diversity of control—ceremonial, ecclesiastical, and political; and further, that within the ceremonial division itself, progress is similarly from simplicity to complexity.
1854. (Spring.) After enunciating the principle that Education must conform itself to the unfolding mind, it was asserted that mental development is from the simple to the complex and from the indefinite to the definite (a first recognition of the truth that increasing definiteness is a trait of evolution); and concerning scientific development, which is determined by mental development, it was asserted that Science displays an increasing integration, giving it greater coherence, at the same time that by increasing divergence and re-divergence it acquires higher complexity. Though in these cases there was recognized the fact that development is from uniformity to multiformity, or from homogeneity to heterogeneity, these phrases were not used.
1854. (Autumn.) Systematically dealt with as having arisen by evolution, Mind at large, animal and human, was now described as advancing from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, and from the indefinite to the definite, and as displaying an accompanying integration of its components.
1854-5. These successive extensions in various directions of the idea that progress is from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, now suddenly led to the perception that this is a universal trait of progress, inorganic, organic, and super-organic; and immediately, in answer to the inquiry how does this happen, there followed the conclusion that the multiplication of effects is everywhere the cause.
[Eighteen months of ill health here intervened.]
1857. Directly after setting forth this theory in the long-delayed essay—“Progress: its Law and Cause” came the perception that there is a further cause of this universal transformation, and, indeed, an antecedent cause—the instability of the homogeneous. At the same time it was pointed out that individual organisms and social organisms are alike in displaying the process of integration.
1857-8. During the last days of the one year or the first days of the other, came the thought that, since the continuous metamorphosis due to these causes is displayed by all orders of existences, it ought to be the guiding conception running through and connecting all the concrete sciences, which severally treat of the different orders of existences; and there was forthwith sketched out a series of volumes in which a presentation of them as thus dealt with should constitute a system of philosophy.
1858 (or else the latter part of 1857). There was now added the perception that increasing heterogeneity cannot go on without limit, but must end with the arrival at a state of equilibrium; and then, or soon after, came the further perception that since the state of equilibrium eventually reached cannot last for ever, there must afterwards come a process of dissolution; and that thus Dissolution is everywhere complementary to Evolution.
1858-9. Partly during the preceding intervals, extending back as far as 1854, and partly during the interval here dated, arose the recognitions of certain simpler facts of existence and action which must in all cases determine the transformations constituting Evolution and Dissolution—the indestructibility of matter, the continuity of motion, the rhythm of motion, and the law of the direction of motion. It became clear that all the changes to be interpreted are consequences of the ceaseless re-distribution of matter and motion everywhere going on; and must conform to those ultimate physical principles which regulate this re-distribution. Finally, it was concluded that the assigned proximate causes of Evolution, as well as these physical principles just named, are all to be affiliated upon the persistence of force; and that the interpretation is complete only when they are all deduced from the persistence of force.
1860-62. The conceptions which had thus been reached, in successive stages, and finally consolidated as just described, were now elaborated in their various applications, as set forth in First Principles.
1864. Incidentally, while dealing with the Classification of the Sciences, and asking for the most general form under which all orders of concrete changes may be expressed, there was suddenly disclosed the truth that integration is a primary process and differentiation a secondary process; and that thus, while the formation of a coherent aggregate is the universal trait of Evolution, the increase of heterogeneity, necessarily subsequent, is but an almost universal trait;—the one being unconditional and the other conditional.
1867. Lastly, it was perceived that to the statement of the mode in which the matter composing an evolving aggregate is re-distributed, should be joined a statement of the mode in which its motion is re-distributed; and the formula was made to include the fact that along with the transformation of the matter from a state of indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a state of definite, coherent heterogeneity, there goes a parallel transformation of the retained motion.
Thus from the time when there arose the initial thought that organisms and societies are alike in the trait that low types consist of like parts performing like functions, while high types consist of unlike parts performing unlike functions, to the time when there was reached this fully-developed conception of Evolution at large, inorganic, organic, and super-organic, there elapsed a period of 17 years. Of the successive changes which went on during this period, the earlier were incorporations of additional orders of phenomena, and thus exhibited progressive integration—the primary process of Evolution. Simultaneously, sundry of them displayed advance in heterogeneity; since they brought into a coherent whole more and more heterogeneous masses of facts—the secondary process of Evolution. Others, again, by raising the conception into more precise agreement with the reality, gave increased definiteness to it—a further trait of Evolution. And thus, as we saw when it had reached a less advanced stage, the changes passed through by the conception of Evolution themselves conformed to the law of Evolution.
I was about to add that the final phase of Evolution—equilibration—was now illustrated by the arrival at an equilibrium between the conception and the phenomena: a balance such that the order of the ideas was no longer to be disturbed by the order of the facts. But this is more than I dare to say; seeing that I had before more than once thought that the two were in complete correspondence when they were not.
AN IMPRUDENCE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
Up to this time I had not felt the need for any assistance beyond that yielded by an ordinary amanuensis. Such materials as were stored up in memory, joined with such further materials as were accessible without much labour, served me while writing First Principles.
Though for writing The Principles of Biology there was required a far larger amount of information than I possessed, the result proved that I did not miscalculate in believing that I should be able to furnish myself with such detailed facts as were requisite for the setting forth of general conceptions. Nor did The Principles of Psychology, partly executed and now to be completed, cause me to seek external aid. The data for the subjective part, which was dealt with after a manner unlike that commonly adopted, were lying ready internally; and the views taken of the objective part were so little akin to those of preceding psychologists, that no extensive study of their writings was necessary. But I had long been conscious that when I came to treat of Sociology, the case would be widely different. There would be required an immense accumulation of facts so classified and arranged as to facilitate generalization. I saw, too, that it would be impossible for me to get through the amount of reading demanded, and that it would be needful for me to read by proxy, and have the collected materials prepared for use. Not, indeed, that this was my first idea. I began by thinking that I must have a secretary who would read to me. I soon became aware, however, that the requirements could not be thus met; and that I must get some one to devote himself, under my superintendence, to the gathering and grouping of data.
There was no time to be lost. The elaboration and completion of the Psychology I expected would occupy me some two or three years; and unless, by the end of that time due preparation had been made, I foresaw that I should suddenly have before me the task of building without bricks—or, at any rate, building without any adequate supply of bricks. While staying with Professor Masson in the Vale of Yarrow, I named to him my need, and begged him to let me know if he heard of any one likely to serve my purpose. My friend’s aid soon proved to be efficient. Within a month, while still at Ardtornish, I received from him a letter recommending a young Scotchman, Mr. David Duncan, well known to him and to Professor Bain, under whom he had studied. Qualms of conscience had obliged him to relinquish a clerical career, for which he had been intended; and he was seeking something to do. He seemed too good for the place, and I said as much in the correspondence which ensued; but notwithstanding my somewhat dissuasive representations, he decided to accept, and joined me in Town not long after I returned.
Of course preliminary discipline was needed by any one who undertook the work I wanted done; for my conception of the required data was a wider one than he would be likely to frame for himself. Indications of the climate, contour, soil, and minerals, of the region inhabited by each society delineated, seemed to me needful. Some accounts of the Flora and Fauna, in so far as they affected human life, had to be given. And the characters of the surrounding tribes or nations were factors which could not be overlooked. The characters of the people, individually considered, had also to be described—their physical, moral, and intellectual traits. Then, besides the political, ecclesiastical, industrial, and other institutions of the society—besides the knowledge, beliefs, and sentiments, the language, habits, customs, and tastes of its members—there had to be noticed their clothing, food, arts of life &c. Hence it was necessary that Mr. Duncan and myself should go through some books of travel together, so that he might learn to recognize everything relevant to Sociology.
It resulted that beyond my morning’s work, continued, when I was well, from 10 till 1, during which interval Mr. Duncan acted as amanuensis, some work of so light a kind that it hardly seemed worthy the name, now filled an hour or two at the end of the day. Though reading had the same effect on me as dictating, and though half an hour over a book in the evening made my ordinarily bad night decidedly worse, yet I hoped that I might listen when read to without suffering from it. It was a foolish hope. Many experiences might have shown me that the effect would be mischievous.
My nervous affection had been from the beginning of such a nature that disturbance of the cerebral circulation was caused by whatever necessitated persistent mental action, no matter of what kind. Often when at a loss how to pass the time, I have been asked—“Why do you not read a novel?” But the effect of reading a novel is just the same as that of reading a grave book. When at my worst, half a column of a newspaper as surely brings on head-symptoms as do two or three pages of metaphysics. Whatever involves continued attention produces the effect. Dr. Ransom, who had suffered from a similar affection, told me that he brought on a relapse by too persistently watching, through the microscope, the early changes in the fertilised ova of fishes; and he further told me that disorders akin to his own and to mine, were common in Nottingham among the lace-menders—a class of women who, all day long, have the attention strained in looking for, and rectifying, small flaws which have been left by the lace-making machines. Hence I might have known that continuous attention to a reader would have nearly the same result as continuous reading. This presently proved to be the case. My restless nights were very soon made more restless. Without thinking what I was doing I nevertheless persevered; and by and bye found that I had brought about one of my serious relapses.
I have nothing to remind me of the date, but I imagine that this disaster occurred early in December.
In a previous chapter I named the fact that I had recourse to morphia when my nights became much worse than usual; and doubtless on this occasion I sought thus to bring on again the periodicity of sleep, which, once broken through for some time, had to be re-established by artificial means.
And here it occurs to me to describe, for the benefit of those who have not experienced them, some of the effects of morphia on dreams. In me it gives extreme coherence to the ideas evolved. Unlike the actions and events of an ordinary dream, which are linked on by accidental suggestions in such wise that they form a rambling series, the actions and events of a morphia-dream are almost like those of the waking state, in their rationality and orderly connexion. For a long time the thoughts which arise bear a logical relation to some primary thought, and the actions performed continue to be in pursuance of some original intention. Occasionally this trait was so stiking that I next morning recorded the dream illustrating it. Here is an account of one.
“Another peculiarity that has occasionally struck me is the continual occurrence of events or thoughts which, though coherent, are unexpected and do not seem accounted for by any simple process of association. Last night, for example, I happened just to awake at a moment when I was able to lay hold of a portion of a dream presenting these peculiarities. I imagined that I was reading the review of some book which the reviewer brought to a close by condemning the extremely strong language used by the writer, and then proceeded to give an example of it. The example commenced thus:—
‘Has this cur the slightest tender-heartedness—is he even hearted at all?’
Immediately on reading this I was startled by the oddity of the word ‘hearted’ thinking to myself—What made the man use such a word? I supposed he meant to write, ‘Has he any heart?’ This was a parenthetical thought, and I remember that the paragraph went on to a considerable length; and then that the reviewer wound up by two or three lines, in which he made a quite unexpected parallel, of which, though unexpected, I soon saw the meaning.
In these cases it seems as though there were going on, quite apart from the consciousness which seemed to constitute myself, some process of elaborating coherent thoughts—as though one part of myself was an independent originator over whose sayings and doings I had no control, and which were nevertheless in great measure consistent; while the other part of myself was a passive spectator or listener, quite unprepared for many of the things that the first part said, and which were nevertheless, though unexpected, not illogical.”
When thinking them over I have put different interpretations on these phenomena. At first I ascribed them to a double consciousness. But as in the word tenderheartedness there occurs the fragment “hearted;” and as in such instances as “wrongheadedness” the word “headed,” included as a component of the compound word, is also used by itself; it seemed possible that by association in a consciousness active enough to be influenced by it, but not active enough to perceive in time that the word suggested by analogy is not used, the word “hearted” might be evolved; and that then its unfamiliarity might suddenly arouse attention to its strangeness. Afterwards, however, I reverted to the hypothesis of a double consciousness arising from independent action of the two hemispheres of the brain—independent action due to a lack of that complete co-ordination which exists during the waking state.
In ordinary dreams, thoughts which seem valuable or witty, turn out on awaking to be nonsensical or inane; but in morphia-dreams there sometimes arise thoughts which would not discredit the waking state. I have made a memorandum of one which occurred in an imaginary circle of friends, one of whom, referring to a recently-published book, said—“Oh, have you seen the Rev. Mr. So-and-so’s story called ‘The Lily’: it is the most beautiful moral essay I ever read.” Whereupon, in my dream, I remarked—“Ah, I see: a sermon that ‘cometh up as a flower’.” This happened shortly after the publication of Miss Broughton’s first novel; and evidently the title of it partially determined the course which my dream took.
It is an interesting physiological inquiry, what peculiar state of the circulation it is which combines the implied activity of brain with closure of the senses to external impressions.
Various efforts were now made to restore my constitutional equilibrium. In the latter part of December I went to Malvern for some 10 days—not to undergo hydropathic treatment, though I went to a hydropathic establishment. No great advantage resulted. Then, dated London, 2nd January, 1868, a letter to Youmans says:—
“To-morrow I am going off into Glostershire, where, if the frost which has now set in, lasts, I hope to get some skating; and I count upon this for doing a great deal towards setting me right again.”
Shortly after I reverted to another form of exercise, previously found beneficial. In reply to an invitation from Lott written on January 25:—
“When I returned from Standish I was considerably better, and recommenced work; and, though I have since been worse again, still I do not think that Derby life, even though joined with the pleasant circle of No. 7, would have been quite the thing for me.
I have resorted to my old remedy of playing rackets, and have to-day derived considerable benefit. By continuing this, and doing a little work, I hope to restore again my easily disturbed balance.”
This expectation was disappointed, however. The state, brought on in December and continued through January, persisted till the end of February; and it then seemed needful to make a thorough change in my life. A letter to Youmans, dated 29 Feb., says:—
“After losing a great deal of time during the last two months, hoping to get into working order by using half-measures, I have been at length compelled to take a more decisive course. I start to-morrow morning for Italy, where I propose to spend some two months—expecting that by the end of April, by the combined effects of desisting from all excitements, intellectual and social, and getting the exhilaration due to so much novelty, I shall regain my ordinary state.”
An incident of moment to me, affecting greatly my daily life throughout future years, occurred just before I started. I was elected into the Athenæum Club by the Committee. There are two modes of election: the one by ballot, and the other under what is known to the members as Rule 2—a rule allowing the Committee to select from the list of candidates nine annually who have special claims: the purpose being to maintain the original character of the Club, which, at the outset, brought together the chief representatives of Science, Literature, and Art.
A TOUR IN ITALY.
Beyond the usual interests which attracted me to Italy as a country in which to pass an interval of relaxation, there was an unusual interest: Vesuvius was in eruption. This fact determined not only my choice of Italy as a recruiting ground, but also the route I chose. Already the emission of lava and vomiting of molten fragments had been going on for a month or more; and I feared the eruption might cease before I reached the place if I delayed on the journey. I therefore went to Marseilles and thence took steamer for Naples.
This was during the first days of March; and early in the morning of the 6th, I think it was, the passengers were, in response to a request made over night, called on deck to see the dull red glow of the long lava-stream, then visible at a distance of some 20 miles, amid the scarcely decreased darkness. The sight was impressive; and it was strange to remember it afterwards on observing that by day the lava-stream appeared to emit no light at all.
My first day at Naples, where we arrived before the bustle of the streets had commenced, was passed in an uninteresting way—lying on the bed in a state of exhaustion. I had been réndered fit for nothing, partly by the wear and tear of the journey, and partly by the bad feeding on board the vessel, belonging to the Messageries Impèriales, which brought us, a vessel which, not subject as others of its class are to competition with the Peninsula and Oriental line, had a very bad cuisine: making me, among other things, better acquainted with the large Mediterranean fish called tunny than I wished to be. Only in the evening did I feel sufficiently recruited to walk out, and then I caught a cold which remained with me during the whole of my stay in Italy.
How careless people are in their statements about climate. Thinking that I was going where mildness reigned, I had hesitated about taking my Inverness cape. It was fortunate that I did take it. During the five weeks I passed in Italy I needed it daily, sometimes with a spring overcoat underneath; and at Florence, during the first week in April, I saw many others similarly clad. But it was an exceptional winter, I was told. Yes, it seems always to be an exceptional winter. Friends with whom I afterwards compared notes had the same weather, and heard the same excuse. I may add that my experiences elsewhere in later years have been no less disappointing: so much so, indeed, that I have come to doubt whether a model climate exists anywhere.
Twice during my week in Naples I was led to endanger my life by that trait with which, as I have said at the outset, my father reproached me when a boy—the tendency to become for the moment possessed by a single idea, or, as he phrased it, to think of only one thing at a time.
The first of these occasions was on the day after my arrival. The Hôtel des Etrangers, at which I was staying, is at one angle of a triangular space to which the shore of the bay forms a rude hypothenuse. In the afternoon I was walking across this place to the hotel, unaware that anyone was near me, when my train of thought was broken by a sudden relief from a slight drag on my shoulder, caused by an opera-glass in my coat-pocket. I turned round and a young fellow, some two or three and twenty I should think, rushed away and dropped the opera-glass: probably thinking that I should pick it up and be content with having regained it. He was mistaken, however. I gave chase. Either he must have been a bad runner, or I must have still retained a good deal of that fleetness which distinguished me as a boy. Perceiving that his course would presently bring him to the Chiaja, where there were many persons about, he apparently lost his head, and I came up and seized him by the collar. He went on his knees, kissed my hand, and begged to be let off; and some working-class women who quickly came up interceded for him. But I disregarded what I suppose were entreaties; and when, the moment after, two young Leghornese gentlemen, who had witnessed the pursuit, appeared on the scene, and volunteered to accompany me to give evidence, we moved away into the city: my captive submitting unresistingly. Meeting after a time one of the police, I delivered him over, and, the crowd which accompanied us having dispersed, we went with the policeman and his charge to the station. There the man was recognized as an audacious thief who had been known to pick the pockets of the police! Speaking, as I did, no Italian, and but bad French, the taking down of my statement was a long business. When at length the deposition had been corrected and signed by me, I was both astonished and amused at being asked what punishment I should like inflicted. The reply of course was that I was concerned only to deliver over the culprit into their hands: leaving them to decide on the punishment. And thus the matter ended.
Next day, when I heard how frequently people were stabbed on the Chiaja, I became conscious of the risk I had been running. Most likely, had the young fellow had a knife about him, I should have suffered, perhaps fatally, for my imprudence. Had I not been so exclusively possessed by the thought of bringing him to justice, I should have been content with regaining my opera-glass.
The other incident to which I have referred as illustrating the trait named, or rather, perhaps, in this case the trait of rashness, which I begin to think is somewhat characteristic of me, occurred a few days later, when exploring the area of the eruption on Vesuvius.
For several days during which I was recruiting, I had been content to witness the doings of the mountain as visible from Naples; observing bursts of lava-spray, dark by day and bright by night, and collecting from my window-sill some of the smaller particles of this spray, about the size of coarse gunpowder.* During these days, conversation round the table-d’hôte had enlightened me respecting the impositions practised on all who ascended. I learnt that at the place where the road up to the Observatory diverges from the high road running round the base of the mountain—Resina I think it was—there stood guides and ponies, and that it was imperative to take one of each and pay a prescribed high price. I am intolerant of coercion in such matters, and am always prompted to defeat its aims, if possible. A clergyman, some ten years my senior, who had been a fellow-passenger from Marseilles, had the like feeling; and we consulted how to give effect to it. On examining the map, we found that by diverging to the left from the high road some mile or two short of Resina, we might cut into the road which leads up to the Observatory. Taking a vehicle as far as the bye-way selected, we pursued this for some distance until, to our dismay, it trended off towards the East. But a small gift to some people in a vineyard, purchased the permission to cross it, as well as directions how to proceed, and we presently found ourselves where we intended. Free from the noises of the usual cavalcades, we pursued our ascent; now pausing to contemplate the Bay of Naples below us, and now gathering flowers not seen before. Our arrival at the place where a branch lava-stream had, I suppose some weeks before, obstructed the path, caused, among the guides and others assembled there, much astonishment. How we came unattended was a mystery to them.
Our purpose was, of course, to reach the place at which the lava-stream emerged from the base of the cone, about half a mile off: the intervening space being covered with cooling portions of the stream, which had now taken this course and now that. The guides around proffered their services; but we declined them, and set out over the black rugged tract to be traversed. After some fifty or hundred yards, finding proof that the hardened lava was hotter than he anticipated, my companion turned back. I saw no danger, however, and as the air, though disagreeably warm, was not sulphurous, I went on alone; thinking it would be time to pause when some risk was before me. Half walking, half climbing, I slowly advanced; now passing easily along a tolerably solid and smooth surface, now with difficulty surmounting gnarled masses of lava contorted while moving and semi-solid, now scrambling over heaps of scoria, and now having to cross certain long strange-looking trenches, the sides of which consisted of loose fragments of vesicular lava torn into pieces, looking like a mineral “pulled-beard.” Meanwhile Vesuvius was thundering above me, sending high into the air at each explosion a cloud of fragments of all sizes; some of them falling back into the crater, while most fell on the sides of the cone—too far from me, however, to be a source of danger. Presently, as I diminished my distance from the source of the lava-stream, and the blurring effect of the hot and wavy air did not so much obscure distant objects, I discerned a solitary figure near the place towards which I was moving; and after a time he discerned me. As I approached he left his stand, at which, as I found, he had a supply of refreshments, and over the last thirty or forty yards showed me the way. While doing this he drew me aside and pointed out a place where, through a hole broken in the black smooth surface of a seemingly cold lava-stream, I looked down into a red-hot tunnel of some six or eight feet in diameter. Several times in the course of my scrambling walk the sound of my footsteps had suggested hollowness below; and now the cause was manifest. I had passed over some of these tunnels. Further, it was manifest that the trenches I had crossed had resulted from the subsidence of the scoria overlying some of them. Thirty or forty paces more now brought me to the object of my dangerous expedition. It was not, after all, particularly imposing. The stream of molten matter, issuing from a low cavern-mouth at the base of the cone, was, I should think, not more than ten feet wide, and moved at from one to two miles per hour: its surface being so covered with chilled fragments of lava, as in great measure to prevent the emission of light. The heat, however, was great—so great that approach was difficult. I wished to burn the end of my alpenstock in the lava-stream; but, finding that my eyes strongly resented the endeavour to go near enough, I got the man to burn it. This he did by crawling and crouching behind blocks of cooled lava till he was within reach.
And now there came an extremely absurd act. After paying the man for his trouble, and after duly contemplating the sights around, from time to time looking upwards to watch another burst from the cone, I commenced my return. The man proposed to guide me along the usual route, which traversed the chaotic tract I have described, higher up the valley. I declined his guidance, however, and went back by the way I came. That I should have done so is a matter of astonishment to me. Though I had previously passed safely over treacherous places, it by no means followed that on retracing my steps one of these hidden tunnels, crossed at a somewhat different point, would not give way. Had one done so, then, though no longer red-hot internally, it would, by its retained heat, have caused death after terrible torture. How to account for the judicial blindness thus displayed, I do not know; unless by regarding it as an extreme instance of the tendency which I perceive in myself to be enslaved by a plan once formed—a tendency, in this case co-operating with that above illustrated, to become for a time possessed by one thought to the exclusion of others.
My clerical friend had waited for me. We descended unharmed, and returned as the dusk came on: looking over our shoulders occasionally to watch the bursts of lava-spray, which, as the day-light decreased, became gradually more luminous.
To the things of interest in and around Naples I did but scant justice. Of course I saw the Museum, and I ascended to a monastery standing high up behind the city—I forget for what, unless it was for the view. After that came an excursion to Pompeii.
Nothing which I saw in Italy impressed me so much as this dead town. I take but little interest in what are called histories, but am interested only in Sociology, which stands related to these so-called histories much as a vast building stands related to the heaps of stones and bricks around it. Here, however, the life of two thousand years ago was so vividly expressed in the objects on all sides, and in the marks of their daily use visible on them, that they aroused sentiments such as no written record had ever done. The steps of the public buildings worn away by the passage of countless feet; the tracks of wheels deeply cut into the flag-stones with which the streets were paved; the shops with their fronts open from side to side like those still extant at Naples; and the household utensils of all kinds found everywhere; made one easily see in imagination the activities once carried on. While here and there traces of prevalent usages suggested the characters of those who once thronged the streets.
One of the things which interested me was the structure of the Roman house; and this for reasons deeper than the architectural and æsthetic. Its relations to primitive types of habitations and to modern types, serving to link the two, make it a good example of super-organic evolution. From the outset of social life, defence against enemies has been a predominant thought—may we not say the predominant thought? Hence when, passing over earlier stages, we come to the stage in which there is a clustering of habitations, or of separate huts forming one habitation, the general method is to arrange them round a small area, presenting their backs to the outer world while their doors open upon the inner space, which has but a single entrance. In a South African kraal the chambers of a chief’s wives, the store-houses, and so forth, are thus arranged; as are also the vehicles of a traveller or a migrating Boer. A more complex form of this arrangement was hit upon by the Pueblos of North Mexico, who thus shut out invading tribes less civilized than themselves. The prevalent house throughout the East down to our own day, similarly consults the safety of its inmates by having a blank, or almost blank, outer wall, and a court into which its component rooms open. And a like construction survived with modifications in the Pompeian house, after safety against enemies had ceased to be so imperative a consideration. Throughout times subsequent to the burial of Pompeii, this type persisted, with modifications dictated by the requirements. The feudal castle had its parts thus related. So, too, as we may see in both Italy and France, had the town-hotel of the great noble. The Inn of the middle ages displayed a like arrangement. The bed-rooms opened upon balconies running round the courtyard; and this arrangement survived until recently not only in the Tabard, of poetic fame, but at the Black Bull in Holborn, where, when a boy of fourteen, I once slept in one of such bedrooms. Large town-houses in old Paris, and still more in Italian cities, show us the transition from this type, in which the rooms of the same dwelling open into a central court, to a type in which these rooms have developed into separate dwellings—houses round the court built with their front doors opening into it. And we may readily see how the court as thus composed, is transformed into the narrow passage opening out of a main street, which now bears that name. One of these internal squares with its independent houses, needs but to have its sides brought close together at the same time that it is elongated, to produce one of the modern courts, so-called, such as Dr. Johnson’s Court and others opening out of Fleet Street. Evidently there is an interesting chapter of social evolution to be written about these progressive modifications.
Shortly after seeing Pompeii I left Naples. I did not visit Sorrento or Amalfi, nor did I go over to Capri; and, indeed, left unseen many objects and places of interest in the neighbourhood. But the “Eternal City” was in prospect and tempted me away.
A tedious railway-journey took me to Rome. Here the aspect of things, and chiefly of the City itself, impressed me very differently. Especially charming was the colouring, which seemed everywhere harmonious: each turn round a street-corner disclosing a combination of tints such as an artist might have devised. Father Secchi, an astronomer then of some note, to whom I had a letter of introduction, and through whose telescope I saw some star-spectra, ascribed this peculiarity in Rome to the brightness of the light; but as no such peculiarity struck me in Naples, and as I did not see how more light could give harmony to colours which were not otherwise harmonious, I could not accept the interpretation.
Something like a fortnight was spent in Rome with much interest; though probably not with so great an interest as that felt by most. For in me there were very few of the historical associations. What Roman history I had read in my boyhood had left but faint traces in my memory. Even had it left clear images I doubt whether my appreciation of the things seen would have been much enhanced. To me the attractiveness of ancient buildings is almost exclusively that resulting from the general impression of age which they yield, and from the picturesqueness of decay. When I go to see a ruined abbey or the remains of a castle, I do not care to learn when it was built, who lived or died there, or what catastrophes it witnessed. I never yet went to a battle-field, although often near to one: not having the slightest curiosity to see a place where many men were killed and a victory achieved. The gossip of a guide is to me a nuisance; so that, if need were, I would rather pay him for his silence than for his talk: much disliking, as I do, to be disturbed while experiencing the sentiments excited in me by the forms and colours of time-worn walls and arches. It is always the poetry rather than the history of a place that appeals to me. Such being the case, I, of course, looked with uninterested eyes on many things in Italy which are extremely interesting to those familiar with the incidents they are connected with.
I will not weary either the travelled or untravelled reader by detailing my seeings and doings while in Rome. One thing only am I prompted to do—to seize the occasion for venting my heresies concerning the old masters: probably to the satisfaction of a few and the anger of many. I have long wished to do this, and cannot now let pass so convenient an opportunity.
In Kugler’s Hand Book of Painting I read, in the account of Raphael’s death:—“Men regarded his works with religious veneration, as if God had revealed himself through Raphael as in former days through the prophets.” A feeling of this kind relative to Raphael, widely diffused I suppose, has co-operated with another feeling, also widely diffused, relative to the old masters at large. Just as the paper and print forming a Bible acquire, in most minds, such sacredness that it is an offence to use the volume for any trivial purpose, such as stopping out a draught; so a picture representing some Scriptural incident is, in most minds, placed above fault-finding by its subject. Average people cannot dissociate the execution from the thing represented; and condemnation of the one implies in their thought disrespect for the other. By these two feelings, criticism of ancient works of art has been profoundly vitiated. The judicial faculty has been mesmerised by the confused halo of piety which surrounds them.
Hence when, in Kugler, I find it remarked concerning Raphael’s “Transfiguration” that “it becomes us to offer any approach to criticism with all humility”—when I see the professed critic thus prostrating himself before a reputation; my scepticism respecting the worth of the current applause of the old masters is confirmed. And when those who have “taken exception” to “the twofold action contained in this picture” are called by Kugler “shallow critics,” I have not the slightest hesitation in classing myself with them; nor have I the slightest hesitation in rejecting the excuse that this fatal fault “is explained historically” by the circumstances of the depicted incident. As though a fundamental vice in a work of art can be got rid of by learning that it is involved in the scene represented! As though one’s eyes, gravitated now to one, now to the other, of the conflicting centres of interest, can be prevented from doing so by any such explanation!
Detailed criticisms cannot be made intelligible when the painting criticised is not before us; otherwise many might be passed on “the Transfiguration.” For the same reason it is difficult to deal in any but a general way with Michael Angelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Were they of recent date, we might marvel that the conception of the Creator is made so little to transcend the conception of the created as in the figures of God and Adam; and might say that the emergence of Eve out of Adam’s side is effected by a being more like a magician than a Deity. But when we find the contemporary Protestant Luther saying in his Table Talk that God “could be rich soon and easily if he would be more provident, and would deny us the use of his creatures,” and expressing his belief that “it costeth God yearly more to maintain only the sparrows than the yearly revenue of the French King amounteth unto”—when we find ideas so grossly anthropomorphic in a reformer of the faith, we cannot expect from Michael Angelo, holding the faith in its unreformed state, ideas that are other than grossly anthropomorphic. Passing over criticisms of this class, therefore, and admitting that there are many figures and groups finely drawn (though they exhibit too much his tendency to express mental superiority by supernatural bigness of muscles) let me say something concerning the decorations at large. Here the fault in art is of the same kind as that which is common in the reception-rooms of English houses, where the aim is to achieve two ends that are mutually exclusive—to make a fine whole and to include a crowd of fine parts. Continually one sees saloons so filled with paintings or engravings, statuettes, vases, objects of vertu etc., that they have become little else than picture galleries or cabinets of curiosities; and the general impression is lost in the impressions produced by the multitudinous pretty things. But if a room is to be made itself a work of art, as it should be, then the paintings, statuettes and minor ornaments, must be relatively few in number, must be so distributed that they fall into their places as component parts, and must none of them be obtrusive enough to distract attention from the ensemble. The like is true of every interior, no matter what its size or purpose, and, among others, of such an interior as the Sistine Chapel. If this be considered as a receptacle for works of art, then it is faulty because it displays them, or at any rate the greater part of them, in the worst possible ways. If it is considered as in itself a work of art, then it is bad because the effects of its decorative parts conflict too much with the effect of the whole. Its fault as a whole is like the fault of one of its chief components—the fresco of the Last Judgment; over which the eye wanders unable to combine its elements.
Were there anything like discrimination in the praises of pictures by the old masters—were they applauded only for certain merits at the same time that their demerits were recognized, I should have no objection to make. Or were each of them more or less approved as being good relatively to the mental culture of its age, which was characterized by crude ideas and sentiments and undisciplined perceptions, I should agree that many of them deserve praise. But the applause given is absolute instead of relative; and the grossest absurdities in them are habitually passed over without remark. Take, for example, Guido’s much admired fresco, “Phœbus and Aurora.” That it has beauty as a composition is undeniable. That the figures of the Hours are gracefully drawn and combined is beyond question. Some of its unobtrusive faults may fitly be forgiven. That the movements of the Hours are such as could not enable them to keep pace with the chariot, and that, being attached to figures which are exposed to “the wind of their own speed,” some of the draperies could not assume such forms as are given, are defects which may be passed over; since, when the subject is supernatural, there are traits, such as running on clouds, which are not to be tested by congruity with observable facts. But as utter divergence from the natural in the drawing of the figures, etc. would not have been excused by the supernaturalness of the subject; so, neither should utter divergence from the natural in respect of light and shade be thus excused. In the first place, the country over which the chariot is advancing, instead of being shown as dimly lighted by it, is shown as already in broad daylight—a daylight utterly unaccountable. Far more remarkable than this, however, is the next anomaly. The entire group,—the chariot and horses, the hours and their draperies, and even Phœbus himself,—are represented as illuminated from without: are made visible by some unknown source of light—some other sun! Stranger still is the next thing to be noted. The only source of light indicated in the composition—the torch carried by the flying boy—radiates no light whatever. Not even the face of its bearer, immediately behind, is illumined by it! Nay, this is not all. The crowning absurdity is that the non-luminous flames of this torch are themselves illuminated from elsewhere! The lights and shades by which the forms of the flames are shown, are apparently due to that unknown luminary which lights up the group as a whole, as well as the landscape! Thus we have absurdity piled upon absurdity. And further, we have them in place of the splendid effects which might have been produced had Nature not been gratuitously contradicted. If Phœbus himself had been represented as the faintly-outlined source whence radiated the light upon the horses, the hours, the draperies, the clouds, and the dimly-visible Earth, what a magnificent combination of lights and shades might have been produced: not taking away from, but emphasizing, the beauty of the forms!
“You must not criticize the old masters in this way,” I hear said by some. “You must consider the ideas and sentiments expressed by their works, and the skilful composition shown in them, and must overlook these technical defects.” Space permitting, I might here ask in how many cases the merits thus assumed exist. But without entering any such demurrer, I will limit myself to the defects classed as technical; and I reply that these are not to be overlooked. When it is proved to me that, on reading a poem, I should think only of the fineness of the idea it embodies, and should disregard bad grammar, halting versification, jarring rhymes, cacophonous phrases, mixed metaphors, and so on; then I will admit that in contemplating a picture I may properly ignore the fact that the light is shown to come in various directions or from nowhere in particular. After I have been persuaded that while listening to a piece of music I ought to ignore the false notes, the errors in time, the harshness of timbre, as well as the lack of distinction between piano and forte passages, and that I should think only of the feeling which the composer intended to convey; then I will agree that it is proper to pay no regard to the fact that the shades in a picture have been all so unnaturally strengthened as to make them everywhere alike in degree of darkness, (a defect which cannot be explained away as being due to the alleged darkening of the shadows by time). Quite admitting, or rather distinctly affirming, as I do, that truthful representation of the physical aspects of things is an element in pictorial art of inferior rank to the truthful representation of emotion, action, and dramatic combination; I nevertheless contend that the first must be achieved before the second can be duly appreciated. Only when the vehicle is good can that which is to be conveyed be fully brought home to the spectator’s consciousness. The first thing to be demanded of a picture is that it shall not shock the perceptions of natural appearances—the cultivated perceptions, I mean. If, as in many works of the old masters, a group of figures standing out of doors is represented with in-door lights and shades upon it; and if a spectator who has looked at Nature with such careless eyes that he is unconscious of this incongruity, does not have his attention distracted by it from the composition or the sentiment; this fact is nothing to the point. The standard of judgment must be that of the observant—not that of the unobservant. If we may fitly take the verdicts of those who cannot distinguish between truth and untruth in the physioscopy of a picture, we may fitly go further, and make our æthetic ideas conform to those of the cottager who puts on his mantel-shelf a gaudily painted cast of a parrot, and sticks against his wall a coloured print of the Prodigal Son in blue-coat and yellow breeches.*
In rejoinder to all this, there will doubtless come from many the question—“How about the experts? how happens it that they, who are the most competent judges, applaud these same works of which you speak so disrespectfully?”
My first reply is that, were the truth known, the question would be less unhesitatingly put; for by no means all experts think what they are supposed to think. As there is a religious orthodoxy so is there an æsthetic orthodoxy; and dissent from the last, like dissent from the first, brings on the dissenter the reprobation of the majority, which usually includes all who are in power. Hence it results that many artists—especially when young and afraid of offending the authorities—refrain from saying that which they secretly believe respecting traditional reputations. As I can testify, there are those among them who do not join in the chorus of applause commonly given to the painters of past times, but who know that their æsthetic heterodoxies, if uttered, would make enemies. When, however, they have reason to think that what they say will not bring on them the penalties of heresy, they express opinions quite unlike those they are assumed to hold.
My second reply is that, so long as the professed approval of artists is unaccompanied by adoption of the practices of those approved, it goes for little. Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery—or rather, it should be, not of flattery, but of admiration; and there are many traits of the old masters perfectly easy to imitate, which artists woud imitate if they really admired them. Let us again choose illustrations from light and shade. In the great majority of cases, ancient painters represented shadows by different gradations of black: making a tacit assumption like that made by every boy when he begins to draw. But modern painters do not follow this lead. Though the artist of our day may not have formed for himself the generalization that a place into which the direct light cannot fall, being one into which the indirect and usually diffused, light falls, must have the average colour of this diffused light (often qualified by the special lights reflected from particular objects near at hand), and that therefore a shadow may be of any colour according to circumstances; yet his empirical knowledge of this truth makes him studiously avoid the error which his predecessor commonly fell into. Take another case. An assumption quite naturally made at the outset, is that surfaces which retreat from the light must in retreating become more deeply shaded; and, in conformity with this assumption, we usually see in old paintings that while the outer parts of shadows are comparatively faint, the parts remote from their edges are made very dark—a contrast which must have existed originally, and cannot have resulted from age. But now-a-days only a tiro habitually does this. The instructed man knows that the interior part of a shadow, often no darker than its exterior part, is, under some conditions, even less dark than the part near its edge; and he rarely finds the conditions such as call upon him to represent the interior part of the shadow by an opaque black. Once more there is the kindred mistake, usual in old paintings, that curved surfaces, as of limbs, where they are shown as turning away from the general light, are habitually not shown as having the limiting parts of their retreating surfaces lighted up by radiations from objects behind; as they in most cases are. But in modern paintings these reflected lights are put in; and a true appearance of roundness is given.
Thus, as I say, in respect of some most conspicuous traits, easily imitated, the artist of our time carefully avoids doing as the ancient artist did; and such being the case, his eulogies, if he utters them, do not go for much. When we have to choose between the evidence derived from words and the evidence derived from deeds, we may fitly prefer the evidence derived from deeds.*
Concerning what I did and saw during the rest of my tour, I need say but little. Those who have not seen Italy have read about it. The subject has been so well worn by generations of travellers that it is threadbare.
My journey from Rome to Florence, like my journey from Naples to Rome, of course gave me impressions of Italian scenery. There was much to be admired, joined to something with which to be disappointed. While the colouring of the sky and clouds and the hills on the horizon was more brilliant than any I had before seen, the surfaces near at hand were generally unattractive: being nearly always so ill covered with vegetation that the soil was everywhere visible between the leaves of the plants and the blades of grass. I felt inclined to say of Italy, that it is a land of beautiful distances and ugly foregrounds.
Florence I saw very incompletely: staying there, as I did, only a week. From the collections of paintings I derived more pleasure than from those in Rome, which consists so largely of mere rubbish. I observed, however, when going through those of the Pitti Palace and the Uffizj, that some of the works I chiefly admired were by painters whose names were unfamiliar to me: another manifestation, I suppose, of my habitual nonconformity. But, as I say, I gave inadequate attention to the attractions of the place and its neighbourhood—did not even visit Fiesole. I was companionless and impatient. Going alone from church to gallery and from gallery to church, had become wearisome; and, disappointed as I was in the hoped-for benefits to health, I was anxious to get home.
Leaving Florence about the end of the first week in April, while it was still very cold, and spending half a day at Pisa, I went by night steamer from Spezzia to Genoa. Two days were agreeably spent there; for the city, like other Italian cities, has an individuality which gives it interest. Thence I proceeded to Turin, which was not attractive enough to detain me more than a day. A railway journey to the Mont Cenis, and a journey by night over the Pass, partly by diligence and partly by sledge (for the tunnel was not yet made), brought me in an exhausted state to Chambery, where I remained a day and a half to recruit. Ending the next day at Medoc and the day after that at Paris, I reached home without further stoppage; having been absent about six weeks.
What I thought and felt about this expedition and its results, may best be told by quoting a letter on the subject written to my American friend on May 3. It ran as follows:—
“I cannot say that my hopes that a journey through Italy would put me into working order were realized. I came back no better than I went: in fact in some respects not so well. I have, however, been improving very considerably during the last week; especially in sleeping, which is my great difficulty. Indeed I now feel pretty sanguine that with tolerable care I shall shortly get into my usual state.
Thanks for your reminder about my visit to America. I fear, however, there is no prospect of my soon responding to your wish. My recent experience has given me very conclusive proof that with my irritable nervous system, I am quite unfit for travelling. I was greatly exhausted by my journey to Marseilles, although I stopped a night at Paris and a night at Lyons. My voyage to Naples did me further damage. Sleep was quite out of the question. What little I got during these nights, I owed to morphia. And during the last three weeks of my stay abroad, a leading subject of thought with me was, how I should get home again with the least amount of injury—which was the shortest route, and how it might best be broken into short stages. After this experience you will see that it is out of the question for me to commit myself to a ten or twelve days voyage, or to such railway journeys as travelling through the U.S. would involve. If I should ever again get into a normal state, which does not seem very probable, I may decide differently; but while I remain as I am I must give up the idea of extensive journeys.
A further reason for thus deciding is that, quite apart from fatigue, I find the penalties of travelling greater than the pleasures. In early days I had a considerable appetite for sight-seeing; but now-a-days my appetite is soon satiated—especially as, not looking at things through the spectacles of authority, I often find but little to admire where the world admires, or professes to admire, a great deal. The chief pleasure I get in travelling I get from fine scenery; and of this there is plenty to be had without leaving Great Britain.”
It should be added, however, that in this case, as in many cases, a benefit not appreciable during the journey itself began to be appreciable after it was over. One may figuratively express the results of such experiences by saying that after being hardly used for a time, the system is put upon its good behaviour and goes on better.
DEVELOPING THE PSYCHOLOGY.
My daily efforts for some four months before the Italian tour just narrated, had been expended on the “Data of Psychology”—the first division of the treatise in its developed form. With this I struggled to make some progress notwithstanding my nervous relapse; and to that end, as already described, took Mr. Duncan with me to the racquet court, and alternated between dictation and games.
Some of my friends have expressed surprise that I should be able to carry on my work by dictation; and others have expressed surprise that I should be able to interrupt a course of thought, for the purpose of taking exercise, and then resume it. “I do not think properly until I take pen in hand,” said one of them; “and I am at a loss to understand how you can reel off your ideas to an amanuensis.” Another described himself as unable to bear interruption when once he got his thoughts bent to a subject.
The solution is much simpler than at first appears. In an early chapter of this volume I described the way in which my conceptions on this or that subject developed themselves. I said that my method was not that of sitting down to a problem, and puzzling over it till I came to some conclusion, but was that of letting my ideas about it slowly take shape. This process usually went on for years. As the time approached when the conception had to be set forth, it was of course more frequently dwelt upon. The divisions of it gradually made themselves clear; and presently a scheme of chapters was arranged. Then each chapter, as I came near to it, fell more or less completely into sections; and eventually, before writing a section, the ideas to be set down in it assumed tolerable distinctness. Thus the essential part of the work—the thinking—was done before-hand; and the process of writing or dictating became simply that of putting into words the thoughts already elaborated. It was therefore easy to take up the thread when broken, and to any idea that had been set down, join the idea already internally arranged to follow it. I felt no such difficulty as is doubtless felt by those who evolve their ideas while writing; and who, if interrupted, lose their hold on thoughts which are just rising into consciousness.
And here, while comparing these two modes of composition, I see that the contrast explains some traits of style respectively accompanying them. Setting forth ideas already reached is accompanied by but little emotion; whereas evolving ideas from moment to moment, while writing, inevitably causes exaltation of feeling. In the one case there is calmness; in the other there is fervour. But calmness is not favourable to strong and vivid forms of expression; whereas fervour prompts picturesque phrases, and vigorous metaphors. The telling expressions used by my friend who says he does not think to purpose until he gets pen in hand, have often raised my envy. It is doubtless true that for purposes of philosophy, clearness rather than strength is the desideratum. But for writing of a not strictly philosophical or scientific kind, one may fitly desire to use those modes of embodying thoughts which result from emotion and are calculated to excite emotion.
Resuming the thread of my narrative, I have to add that when, after partially recovering from the effects of my Italian tour, I recommenced work, I reverted to the alternation of exercise and dictation—substituting rowing for racquets. The part of the Serpentine above the bridge is within 10 minutes walk of Queen’s Gardens; and here, on fine mornings in May and June, and again in the Autumn, I passed two or three hours: the shrubbery overhanging the water on the west bank, affording convenient shelters under which to moor the boat while dictating.
My journey to the furthest point South I had hitherto reached, was followed, three months later, by a journey which carried me to the northernmost point of my various excursions. In July I went as far as Sutherlandshire in search of fishing, and stayed for a week at Inverann at the mouth of the Shin. But the long drought of that summer continued, and I came away disappointed.
On my way back I bethought me of Inveroran, a place between Tyndrum and Glencoe, where there was salmon fishing free to all staying at the hotel. Common sense had told me that free salmon fishing must be bad salmon fishing; but common sense had misled me. Common sense, which would reject as monstrously absurd the statement that a whale is more nearly akin to a man than to a shark, always proceeds upon the assumption that the insides of things are just what the outsides might lead you to expect; whereas, not uncommonly, realities are unlike appearances. So it proved at Inveroran; owing to circumstance which no longer exist. A letter to Lott, written thence on Aug. 13, must here be quoted—
“You were quite right in your opinion, given to G. Holme, about my standing for Derby. If they would pay my expenses and give me a salary into the bargain, I would not go into parliament. I could not do my present work and parliamentary work too; and my present work I hold to be by far the most important. Some day, if a constituency should ask me to become a candidate, I mean to give them (and the public) “a bit of my mind,” as to the relative values of those who represent public opinion in the House of Commons, and those who mould public opinion by books.
How about our excursion? What do you say to a fortnight in North Yorkshire? It would be new to both of us, and they say there is very fine scenery there. We could meet there conveniently on my way south, and might diverge into the Lake district if we did not like it. . .
As you did not come up to be my guest in London at Xmas or Easter, I propose that you make amends by coming to be my guest in Yorkshire, or wherever else we go.
I have had some capital fishing since the wet weather set in—far better than I looked for.”
Many years elapsed before there occurred an opportunity for carrying into effect the intention expressed in the first of the foregoing paragraphs. It did eventually occur, however, and I then fulfilled the intention. My apprehension was that general reprobation would fall on me in consequence; but, to my surprise, there came general approbation. I suspect that a chief cause for this was that the tone of the House of Commons was already undergoing that degradation which has since become so conspicuous.
The proposal made in the second paragraph was presently carried out. My friend and I met at Harrogate, and, taking rail to Ilkley, walked the first day thence to Bolton Abbey, where we lingered till the bats were flying about in the evening. Something more than a week was spent in our subsequent ramble: ascending the valley of the Wharfe to Kettlewell; from there over to Middleham; up Wensleydale to Hawes; down the valley of the Eden to Appleby; over the moors or fells to High Force on the Tees; down the course of that river to Darlington; and thence to York, where we parted for our respective homes.
I have not yet mentioned the fact that, for some years, the Leweses had been residing at The Priory, North Bank. The distance from Queen’s Gardens is but a mile; and this proximity conduced to more frequent intercourse. There arose a standing engagement to go and lunch with them whenever I found it convenient. The motive for the arrangement was in part that we might have opportunities for conversations, enjoyed on both sides, which were impracticable during their Sunday-afternoon assemblies.
I am led to name here this established usage because my return from Scotland this year must have been the occasion for one of those witticisms which George Eliot sometimes uttered. I had, as commonly happened after an interval of absence, been giving an account of my doings; and, among other things, had laughingly described the dismay caused in two fishermen at Inveroran by the success of my heterodox flies. This led to an inquiry concerning the nature of my heterodoxy. I explained that I did not believe in the supposed critical powers of salmon and sea-trout, but held that if one of them, being hungry, saw something it took for a fly, it would rise; and that consequently my aim was to make the best average representation of an insect buzzing on the surface of the water. “Yes,” she said, “you have such a passion for generalizing, you even fish with a generalization.”
This reference to her good things reminds me of one which Lewes told me she had uttered at the expense of Dr. A———, a friend of theirs who was remarkable for his tendency to dissent from whatever opinion another uttered. After a conversation in which he had repeatedly displayed this tendency, she said to him “Dr. A——— how is it that you always take your colour from your company?” “I take my colour from my company?” he exclaimed—“What do you mean?” “Yes,” she replied, “the opposite colour.”
Our talk, if not very often enlivened by witticisms, always contained a mixture of the gay with the grave: good stories and a little badinage breaking our discussions, which were generally quite harmonious; for there were but few points on which we disagreed. Then after luncheon came a walk, usually in Regent’s Park, in which I joined: another hour of interesting conversation being the accompaniment.
Though they were partial adherents of M. Comte my friends did not display much respect for the object which he would have us worship. Reverence for humanity in the abstract seemed, in them, to go along with irreverence for it in the concrete. Few of these occasions I have described, passed without comment from them on the unintelligence daily displayed by men—now in maintaining so absurd a curriculum of education (which they reprobated just as much as I did), now in the follies of legislation, which continually repeat, with but small differences, the follies of the past, now in the irrationalities of social habits.
I have myself often startled people by the paradox that mankind go right only when they have tried all possible ways of going wrong—intending it, of course, to be taken not quite literally. Of late, however, I have observed sundry cases in which, instead of going beyond the fact, it falls short of it—cases in which, having found the right, people deliberately desert it for the wrong. They do this even in simple household usages, where a small modicum of sense might have been expected to prevent them. A generation ago salt-cellars were made of convenient shapes—either ellipses or elongated parallelograms: the advantage being that the salt-spoon, placed lengthwise, remained in its place. But, for some time past, fashion has dictated circular salt-cellars, on the edges of which the salt-spoon will not remain without skilful balancing: it falls on the cloth. Table-implements afford another example. In my boyhood a jug was made of a form at once convenient and graceful. The body of the jug had a shape deviating but little from a sphere, and therefore had the advantage that however the jug was inclined the surface of the contained liquid had, for a considerable time, nearly the same area; so that, with increasing inclination, pouring out went on at a tolerably uniform rate. The spout, too, was sufficiently large; and of such shape that it would deliver either a small or a large quantity without waste. And then, within the limits of convenience, the outline of jug and handle admitted of numerous elegant combinations of curves. Now, however, the prevailing—indeed almost universal—form of jug in use, is a frustum of a cone, with a miniature spout. It combines all possible defects. When anything like full, it is impossible to pour out a small quantity without part of the liquid trickling down beneath the spout; and a larger quantity cannot be poured out without exceeding the limits of the spout and running over on each side of it. If the jug is half empty, the tilting must be continued for a long time before any liquid comes; and then, when it does come, it comes with a rush; because its surface has now become so large that a small inclination delivers a great deal. To all which add that the shape is as ugly a one as can well be hit upon. Still more extraordinary is the folly of a change made in another utensil of daily use. Till within these few years, an extinguisher had universally the form of a hollow cone. Nothing could be better. It would fit any candle; it went down upon it until it was arrested by the melted edge of the candle; and it then formed a chamber in which the smoke was shut up and the wick preserved from damage. Now, however, we meet with extinguishers made in the form of a hollow cylinder with a hemispherical end. When one is put on a candle (if it will go over it at all) it descends until the hemispherical end squashes the wick into the melted composition: the result being that when, next day, the extinguisher is taken off, the wick, imbedded in the solidified composition, cannot be lighted without difficulty. Here, then, are three of the commonest household appliances, good forms of which have been deliberately abandoned and bad forms adopted.
One reason why good things thus fail to hold their ground against bad ones, recently came to my knowledge. For twenty years I had used with great satisfaction a kind of inkstand which possesses every desirable trait. It is capacious, stable, checks evaporation, keeps out the dust, and allows the depth of the dip to be adjusted to a nicety. I recommended it to some friends, and tried to buy samples to send them. None of the stationers of whom I inquired knew anything about it. At length I went to the wholesale producer, Perry; and it was only because his people had some old stock remaining that I obtained it even there, for they had ceased to make it. I asked the manager why things which, when they came in, were recognized as eminently good, disappeared again—why the stationers did not keep them. “Oh! Sir,” he replied, “when our travellers go round, the stationers, after a short time, will not take them. ‘We had some of these last year,’ they say: ‘show us your novelties.’ Always the cry for something fresh.” If we go behind this, it is clear that the stationer wants the last new things, because his customers want them; and that they buy them without thinking whether they are better or worse than the old things. Thus articles in every way admirable are actually expelled from the market! And then the insane love of change shown in such cases, we find accompanied by an insane resistance to change in other cases! Where cogent reasons for giving up established usages are manifest to every one, people persist in them; and where there is every reason for adhering to what they have got, they are eager for something else!
But I am getting too discursive. Let me return to an account of my doings in the days which were now passing.
On preparing to do this I suddenly find that I am promising more than I can perform. Of incidents during the remaining part of this year and the early part of the next, my memory contains no traces; and on referring to letters I find scarcely anything to help me. One solitary fact of significance is named in a letter to Youmans dated 19 Sept.; and this is of more interest to me than to the reader—the fact, namely, that another of my books had been taken in hand by a French translator: making three that were simultaneously in progress. Nothing more worth mention occurs before the 15th of March 1869. Then comes a letter containing the following passage:—
“Certainly, the falling off in the American sales of my books last year is somewhat unexpected. The Biology, and the second edition of First Principles, cannot yet have returned to me the cost of the stereotype plates; so that thus far I am rather out of pocket by the American editions than a gainer by them. It seems odd, too, that with an increased number of volumes on sale, the return should be much less instead of much more. I suppose it must all be taken as proof that the public attention flags when, as you say, nothing has been done to excite it.
“It is, however, a consolatory fact for me that I have no longer any reason to complain that public appreciation here is so much less than it is in America. The relation between the two is now very decisively reversed. Last year my net profit from the sale of books (leaving out the subscriptions for the serial) was considerably more than double that which the account shows to have resulted from the American sales. So you must not in future make any comparisons between the American and English publics to the disadvantage of the latter.”
I should have said, however, that the two sums compared did not measure the numbers of books sold; since my profit per copy from sales in England is double that yielded by sales in America. Bearing in mind, too, that the retail price per copy in America is somewhat lower, it would seem that the numbers sold in the two countries respectively did not differ much.
Doubtless the increased sales in England were largely due to the energetic action taken by my friends Mill, Huxley, Tyndall, Lubbock, and Busk, in 1866; and to the consequent attention drawn to my books—an attention which was doubtless increased when statements about the American testimonial were made public here. Let me add that from this time forth I had no adverse circumstances to contend with. The remainder of my life-voyage was through smooth waters.
No memories were raised by coming upon the following sentence in a letter written on 14 April 1869:—“Though better, I am still not well, and am leaving town to-day for a short ramble in the country.” But for a letter written on June 25, I should have failed to identify the occasion as one on which I went first to Oxford (whence, before twenty-four hours had passed, I fled to escape invitations); then walked to Blenheim, where I rambled about the park, and slept at Woodstock; and on subsequent days went through Evesham to Tewkesbury, and into the country beyond. The passage which recalled these incidents was the following:—
“The most striking fact, perhaps, is that which came to my knowledge when at Oxford lately. To my amazement I found that First Principles and the Principles of Biology are being used as text-books there, and questions for examination papers taken from them. Dr. Rolleston stopped a student and asked him, in my presence, whether he had entered on my books yet. He replied that he was just about to commence them.”
This passage I quote not so much for its intrinsic interest as because it introduces the statement of an anomalous fact. University College, London, was founded for the purpose of giving an unsectarian education, free from the ecclesiastical influences which pervade Oxford and Cambridge; and, by implication, it was to be the home of a liberal theology: tinged even with rationalism, if the opinions of its leading spirits indicated anything. Hence there might have been expected a sympathetic reception to books of an advanced kind, embodying what may be called a naturalistic philosophy as distinguished from a super-naturalistic philosophy. But while, in the head-quarters of orthodoxy, my books were being used as textbooks, they were not used at the place which, by contrast, might almost be called the head-quarters of heterodoxy. More than this. While at Oxford the authorities put them before the students, at University College they were not even included in the Library. Nay more than this even. Requests made by the students that one of them might be put in the Library received no attention. Two years after the foregoing extract was written, Dr. Bastian shewed me, in the book kept for the purpose, two requisitions for First Principles; one of them dated December 1869 and signed by ten students, and the other dated March 1870, also signed by ten students, and marked “third time”: all three, as it seems, having been ignored by the Council; for the book was not in the Library in September 1871.
How many things there are contrary to common sense! I have already named one in this chapter, and here is another.
A letter received during this absence from London recalls an incident which must be here mentioned—the formation of the Metaphysical Society. The letter was from Sir John Lubbock, asking whether I would become a member.
The Society was to have, he said, a somewhat remarkable character; for its members were to be men of the most diverse opinions, from Roman Catholics like Cardinal Manning at the one extreme, to agnostics like Huxley and Tyndall at the other extreme, and everything was to be an open question, even to the existence of a deity: original intentions which were, I believe, fairly well carried out. I declined to join for the reason that too much nervous expenditure would have resulted. Every attendance would have entailed a sleepless night; and I did not think that any benefit to be derived would have been worth purchase by this penalty: involving loss of my small working power next day. After the body was constituted I was again requested to join, and to attend the first meeting; but though Mr. Knowles, the secretary, through whom the request came, named, as a special reason for assenting, the fact that the first paper to be read was one by Mr. Richard Hutton, attacking my theory of the genesis of the moral sentiments, I persisted in my resolution.
Beyond those named above, various distinguished men joined the Society—Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Tennyson (who, with Mr. Knowles, I believe, had started the idea), the Rev. James Martineau, Sir J. F. Stephen, Dean Stanley &c. &c. At each meeting a paper by some member, which had been printed and circulated, was discussed. Several years subsequently, during an after-dinner conversation in which the proceedings were described as remarkably harmonious, a renewed suggestion was made by Mr. Knowles that I should join. After referring to the statement made that many of the members had so little thought in common that they slid by one another without grappling, I remarked that Mr. Knowles had better not press me, since most likely were I one of them I should insist on grappling, and that possibly the proceedings would cease to be so harmonious. A dozen years or so brought the Society to an end. Most of the topics of chief interest had been discussed, and no results produced, save perhaps a certain liberalization in the estimates formed by the members of one another’s views. No further results being promised, and the excitement of novelty having ceased, the attendance flagged and the Society dissolved.
I now come upon an incident of which the interest is more than personal—an incident, indeed, of which the impersonal interest is great; since it concerns the correction of a grave error in recent History, and the rectification of international feeling. It may be most conveniently introduced by an extract from a letter three years earlier in date, which I have reserved for quotation here, as being relevant to the transaction which now took place. Writing to Youmans on March 2d 1866, I said:—
“I recently met Mr. [Moncure] Conway, whose papers in the Fortnightly have been doing good service here, and have impressed me in his favour much more than when I first saw him. I took the opportunity of suggesting to him to do what I have very much wanted to see done, towards correcting the impressions of Americans respecting the original feeling of the English when the war broke out, and which, as you have heard me say, was quite different from what is supposed in the United States. Mr. Conway’s residence in England had, I found, enlightened him on the matter. He was quite aware that the original feeling here was that which I have described to you; and that it was changed as I told you. He said that he had been thinking of publishing something in America, giving the result of his experience here, towards rectifying American impressions. But he agreed that instead of giving his own impressions, it would be best to take the course I named, namely to give, in the order of their dates, extracts from the leading English periodicals, showing what the feeling originally was and how it gradually changed, and what were the adverse influences that changed it. I hope he will persevere in the intention which he expressed, of issuing in America a pamphlet containing this evidence.”
Either Mr. Conway did not carry out his expressed intention, or he did it with but little success; for the ill feeling in the United States not only continued, but became exacerbated. During the early part of 1869, the utterances of the American press against England were violent; and I feared that something more than a war of words might ensue. Knowing that the belief current in America was entirely untrue, I thought it very desirable that some attempt should be made to rectify it; and after talking the matter over with the Leweses, who encouraged me to take the step I contemplated, I drew up a letter for publication in one of the New York papers, giving the indisputable facts. With it I sent the following private letters to Youmans, dated May 22.
“The accompanying long letter, though addressed to you personally, is of course intended for publication. When you have read it, I think you will agree with me that the facts it contains should not any longer remain unknown to your countrymen.
I must leave you to communicate it to such of the New York daily papers as may be the fittest medium. I find the Tribune referred to as the bitterest of them all against England; and I suppose that some difficulty might hence arise if you took it there. Or else, in other respects, the Tribune would seem the most desirable. I suppose simultaneous publication in more than one, would not be practicable.
I do not know what may be the result of the publication of this letter on my personal relations with the American public. But, if it should be injurious, I am content to bear the injury.”
In due time there came a reply explaining that the publication had been delayed until he had laid before me the reasons for withdrawing my letter. Among other things he said:—
“I read your letter intended for publication with some surprise and with an unhesitating conviction that it would be unwise to print it. But, as you seemed to think the case both clear and urgent, I at once complied with your request and took it to the Tribune. You were quite in error in anticipating difficulty there; when I named to them its subject and author they ordered it to be set up at once. By a singular coincidence, both Fiske and Roberts happened to be in town, and I met them in the evening at the Century Club with Vaux, Holt, and Prompelly—all friends and co-workers. I handed the proof to Fiske, who looked over it and exclaimed ‘What does this mean? Surely Mr. Spencer isn’t going to publish this!’ All the others read it and they were all of the same mind. As for the subject of the letter, they were indifferent and agreed, first, that if you had been here at any time when the question was agitating the American mind and had been disposed to enter into the subject, you would not have taken it up in that way; and second, if you were here now, you would not dream of touching it at all, as it is a dead subject with us. But their decided expressions of the unwisdom of the publication had reference to your position and influence, which would be damaged by it seriously; and, granting that you had a perfect right to sacrifice them if you thought it best, they were of opinion that you ought not to embarrass your friends in the way that the publication would embarrass them.”
Eventually, and with a good deal of reluctance, I assented to the withdrawal; as witness the following extract from a letter dated June 25.
“Taking into consideration all that you tell me, I conclude that it will be best not to publish the letter. It is somewhat vexing to have bestowed so much trouble to no purpose; and I cannot but regret that the facts which the letter contains should continue unknown to the American public. As, however, the occasion which prompted me to write the letter has passed by, and as, indeed, the expressions of your press seem to have misled us here respecting the state of American opinion, I yield to the representations you make. Of course I have no wish to damage my position with the American public, and I should be very sorry to embarrass my American friends. If you have no use for the proof of the letter, you may as well send it to me, as I should like to preserve it.”
Though not published at that time, the letter was published some years after, when more pacific sentiments prevailed. Even then, however, the statements contained in it, conclusive though they were, and impossible as it was to invalidate them, were treated with but small respect. How constantly one is misled by the assumption that incontestable proofs will change men’s opinions! Where there exists strong prepossessions, no amount of evidence produces any effect.
This letter, as eventually published in the New York Tribune, I reproduce in Appendix E; feeling that unless it obtains somewhere a permanent place, the history of our relations with America will be vitiated by a permanent error of a serious kind.
Shortly before the close of the London season, I wrote to John Mill on some matter which I forget, and, referring to my approaching departure for Scotland, suggested, more in jest than in earnest, that if he would join me, I would initiate him in salmon-fishing. The following passage from his reply refers to this offer.
“My murderous propensities are confined to the vegetable world. I take as great a delight in the pursuit of plants as you do in that of salmon, and find it an excellent incentive to exercise. Indeed I attribute the good health I am fortunate enough to have, very much to my great love for exercise, and for what I think the most healthy form of it, walking.”
Having in boyhood had little or no experience of the ordinary boyish sports, Mill had a somewhat erroneous conception of them. Hence the inappropriate use of the word “murderous”; as though the gratification were exclusively in killing. But I quite agree in the implied objection he makes to pursuits that inflict pain. Though so fond of fishing as a boy, my dislike to witnessing the struggles of dying fish, becoming stronger as I grew older, had the result that between 21 and 35 I never fished at all. It was only because, on being prompted to try the experiment at the latter age, I found fishing so admirable a sedative, serving so completely to prevent thinking that I took to it again, and afterwards deliberately pursued it with a view to health. Nothing else served so well to rest my brain and fit it for resumption of work.
Of my doings in Scotland during the Autumn, the following letter to Lott, dated Oban, Aug. 11th, says nearly as much as is needful:—
“If you had been at liberty a week or a fortnight ago it would have been all right, but as it happens it is all wrong—along with everything else since I left town.
I have been in Scotland a month last Saturday—chiefly at Inveroran, waiting for fishing which the dry weather would not let me have. I got only two salmon. Last Friday I left in disgust before I had intended; for I meant to stay there till I joined the Smiths, who had left me to fix my own time. They were to leave town at the beginning of this month; and I wrote from Inveroran saying I would be with them on the 11th (to-day). But since my arrival here I learn that they have not reached Ardtornish yet! So here I have to kick my heels again. However they will probably arrive to-day, and I may possibly join them before the end of the week.
After I leave them, sometime early in September, I have promised to join the Busks, who have taken a house at Taynuilt; so you see I am fixed. I am very sorry your holiday was not earlier.”
My fishing this year derived a special interest from the trial of a new fishing rod, or rather, a fishing rod with a new kind of joint. Of course it was not in my nature to rest content with that which I found in use, if it had any manifest defects; and both the forms of joint in use were seriously defective: the simple splice-joint entailed much trouble, and the socket-joint was heavy, and had sundry inconveniences. The form of joint which I devised in place of them proved satisfactory; and having borne the tests to which it was submitted, I eventually published an account of it in the Field some time in January 1871. The letter is reproduced in Appendix F.
Aird’s Bay House, taken by the Busks for the autumn, is on the shore of Loch Etive about a mile from Taynuilt and, leaving Ardtornish towards the middle of September, I there joined them.
Those who have seen Loch Etive only from the railway, or from the high road which skirts it, know little of its beauties. These lie in the part beyond Ben Cruachan, and with the exception of Loch Hourn, Scotland has nothing at once so grand and beautiful. Boating excursions on this secluded portion, with rambles and picnics on its shores, filled a pleasant ten days. An island beyond the ferry was at that time frequented by seals, which it was interesting to watch through an opera glass. Then on the sheltered and smooth water there were sometimes reflections more splendid than I ever saw elsewhere—whole sides of Ben Cruachan and his neighbours being vividly mirrored. An excursion made to Loch Awe is linked to my other memories by a natural-history observation made there. The waters were swarming with the Volvox globator, which I had never seen before and have never seen since.
After September 22, when I got back home, the first trace of any break in my daily routine occurs in a letter dated February 25, 1870; and this is but an insignificant trace. Describing myself as “a martyr to indigestion and consequent very bad sleeping,” I speak of a forthcoming remedial excursion for a few days with Lewes. We went round the south of the Isle of Wight. How often it happens that extremely small things dwell in one’s memory, when great ones disappear. Nothing remains with me of this excursion save two trivialities—the one that we played billiards at Ventnor, the other that, when sitting down to dinner at Freshwater, I made Lewes laugh by exclaiming—“Dear me these are very large chops for such a small island.” And here, with this remark about the survival of trivialities in one’s memory, I may join the remark that with me any tendency towards facetiousness is the result of temporary elation: either, as in this case, caused by pleasurable health-giving change, or, more commonly by meeting old friends. Habitually I observed that, on seeing the Lotts after a long interval, I was apt to give vent to some witticisms during the first hour or two, and then they became rare.
To Youmans, on March 9, I wrote a letter of which some paragraphs must be quoted:—
“Very unfortunately for me, though perhaps fortunately for himself, Mr. Duncan has been appointed Professor of Logic &c. at Madras; and leaves me for India some six weeks hence. It will be a very difficult thing for me to find anyone to undertake and carry on efficiently the work he has been doing in preparing classified and tabulated materials for the Principles of Sociology.
I remember you telling me that in America, there are plenty who would gladly undertake the post which Mr. Duncan fills; and that so far from having to pay a secretary, I might, if I pleased, put up the post to auction, and accept the highest bidder. Without entertaining any such droll notion, I am led to infer from this statement of yours, that I might perhaps be more likely to find with you, than over here, some competent man who would render me the required services in return for the very moderate salary I can afford. . . .
I had a pleasant surprise this morning. It came in the shape of an Essay on Longevity by E. Ray Lankester, one of the rising young biologists. It turned out to be an avowed corollary from the Principles of Biology, to which, as the author says, it might form an additional chapter. But the pleasant surprise is this, that the prize was offered, and adjudged to this essay of Mr. Lankester, by the University of Oxford. Fancy the Oxford authorities giving a public endorsement to the doctrine of Evolution!”
The loss of Mr. Duncan created great inconvenience. When he joined me, the understanding was that he would continue until the work undertaken by him was finished. But I could not, under the circumstances above indicated, hold him to his bargain. He was engaged; and some little time before this date, had intimated to me his intention of marrying, narrow as his means were. To have let him do so foolish a thing, while also giving up a promising career, was out of the question; and therefore, though he expressed his willingness to abide by our agreement, I released him. He promised to go on with the work in India as fast as his professional duties allowed; and he loyally fulfilled this promise—finishing the division he was engaged upon without further remuneration.
The next passage in the correspondence which seems worth quoting, is dated 26 April:—
“I regretted very much to hear of your having been so unwell. I have long feared that, like many others who are anxious to diffuse a knowledge of the laws of health, you would yourself have to suffer from continuously disregarding them. As I sometimes say jokingly to Huxley, a propos of his transgressions, we ought to erase the proverb—“Experience makes fools wise,” and write in place of it—“Experience does not even make wise men wise.” I hope, at any rate, that henceforth you will not so lavishly expend your energies for the benefit of others, taking no care of yourself. . . .
In the forthcoming number of The Fortnightly you will find an article of mine on “The Origin of Animal Worship.” You will at first perhaps wonder why I suspended my ordinary work to write it. I did so because it lies in the line of my future work, and because I saw that the matters with which it deals are now being so much studied, that if I waited until I got to the Sociology I should probably be forestalled by some one who had meanwhile reached the same conclusion. The article will interest you both as a further illustration of Evolution, and also as, by implication, another heavy blow to current beliefs.”
This article was dictated while I was boating on the Regent’s Park water; and my amanuensis was a youth whose name I cannot recall, but who, a few years ago, wrote me a letter from the East with the signature Baron ———; telling me how he had prospered, even to the attainment of a title (in what way he did not say), and then reminding me that he had written the above-named essay to my dictation.
Of my life between September 1869 and July 1870, there is nothing more to record than is contained in the above quotations and comments.
An old manor house called The Argoed, about four miles below Monmouth on the banks of the Wye, but high above the stream, had been for some years in the possession of my friend Potter; who had bought it, with the surrounding lands, as a sanatorium for his children: the climate of Standish being relaxing. Here, in July, 1870, I went with him and two of his daughters. During a pleasant ten days there occurred a droll incident. Tintern had to be seen; and one fine day boatmen from Monmouth took the young ladies and myself down the river. The moonlight effects on the ruins of the Abbey are said to be very fine; and, filling the intervening time by going on to the Wyndcliffe, we went to the Abbey in the evening. There we waited and waited, wondering how it was that the moon made no sign, and frequently glancing with impatience towards the grove through which we expected to see its light. Presently the mystery was explained. It rose above the trees in a state of eclipse! There was a laugh at my expense; for it was supposed that I, interested in all science, should of course have known that an eclipse was about to take place. I am reminded of a kindred supposition on the part of the head-waiter at the Athenæum, who sometimes, when the addition of the dinner bill was called in question, smiled at an error made by a mathematical friend of mine: being surprised that a distinguished mathematician should err in his figures. The truth is that wide grasp of the general is not necessarily connected with great aptitude for the special.
After a day at Monmouth, pleasantly varied by a visit to Raglan Castle, a Sunday at Hereford, some of which was passed in the enjoyment of Cathedral music, and days and parts of days at Ludlow, and Shrewsbury, I joined the Lotts at Llanfairfechan, on the north coast of Wales. A fortnight spent there has among its remembrances the rush down to the station every morning to get papers with the last news of the Franco-German war, which had just commenced—a war of which the issues were so immense that one could not but watch its stages with breathless interest. Sir William Gull and Sir James Paget (not at that time bearing the titles they now have) were staying at Penmaenmawr, near at hand; and one of my pleasant recollections is of a drive to the Penrhyn slate quarries, in which they kindly invited me to join them: a good deal of scientific talk being the accompaniment.
I had never seen Ireland; and when my friends left for Derby, I was prompted, partly by this consciousness and partly by the desire for the good salmon-fishing which I heard was to be had at Ballina, to take my departure for Holyhead and Dublin. But as a drought, which then persisted, extended over Ireland; and as the style of living, not very satisfactory even in Dublin, threatened to be unsatisfactory at Ballina; my resolution was abandoned. Taking train to Belfast and steamer to Glasgow, I presently found myself at Inveroran. Thence after a time I returned to London.
This did not end my Autumn holiday however; or rather, there followed it something which was half holiday and half a kind of excitement which tells on me as much as work. The British Association met at Liverpool in September, and Huxley was President. Of course I went there to do what little towards the success of the meeting, might be done by adding one to the assembly. On this, as on other occasions when a member of the X Club presided, the gathering had a concomitant pleasure resulting from the quasi-domestic arrangements made. All members of the X who came, usually bringing their wives, took a suite of rooms at the chief hotel and united their forces: the liveliness of the party being increased by extending hospitalities to distinguished members of the Association not belonging to the group.
Deviating from the ordinary course, which was to give a summary of scientific progress, the presidential address dealt with the subject of spontaneous generation, just then much discussed, and gave an account of the dissipation of the once-universal belief in it. There resulted a controversy which gave special animation to the Biological Section. Strangely enough there were some biologists who thought that their experiments verified the old belief; and further thought that the general doctrine of Evolution received support from them. But, had the alleged facts been established, evolutionists would have been perplexd by them. That microscopic forms as much differentiated in structure as those described, should have been spontaneously generated, would have been at variance with their doctrine; which implies that the earliest living things must have been, if not absolutely structureless, yet with no more structure than is implied by some scarcely appreciable difference between outside and inside. Moreover, it has all along been manifest to the philosophic biologist, that no experiments which, in the materials used, pre-suppose the existence of organic matter, can throw any light on the genesis of organic forms. While believing that such genesis originally took place naturally, under conditions which no longer exist, they find no evidence that it takes place now; and do not believe that it is likely to take place now. And here, let me add, we have an illustration of the truth that the veritably scientific man will not accept evidence which, though plausible, is open to doubt; even when it supports an hypothesis he accepts.
Before the meeting was over, Professor Tyndall and I departed for the lakes. Sunday morning found us rambling along the shore of Windermere on the way to Rydal Mount. Thence we proceeded to Grasmere; and then, after dining, took a boat to the base of Loughrigg. A climb took us to the top and we descended to Ambleside. But a day’s walking and talking with Tyndall, who gets me into discussion, proved too much. A wretched night, followed by the fear of more such days, prompted a flight black to Town.
And now the close of the year brought the completion of the first volume of the developed Psychology. Commenced at the end of 1867, this volume was published in December 1870. Ill health must, I suppose, be debited with a large part of the delay. Certainly the long time taken over the work could not have arisen from any distaste for it. Contrariwise, several feelings united in making me enjoy the resumption of this topic which I had dealt with in 1854-5.
At that date, as already pointed out, an evolutionary view of Mind was foreign to the ideas of the time, and voted absurd: the result of setting it forth being pecuniary loss and a good deal of reprobation. Naturally, therefore, after the publication of The Origin of Species had caused the current of public opinion to set the other way, a more sympathetic reception was to be counted upon for the doctrine of mental evolution in its elaborated form.
Chief, however, was the pleasure of elaborating it—giving completeness to the theory by building its outworks and filling up lacunæ. Here, as before, recognition of the fact that the Data and the Inductions had to be set forth before proceeding to the work of construction, led to interesting results. The general views contained in these first and second divisions would never have been reached had it not been for the inquiry—What are the main facts of structure and function which Biology hands on to Psychology; and what are the general truths which mental phenomena present, considered apart from any theory respecting their origin? Then at the close of the volume, in the division entitled “Physical Synthesis,” there had to be set forth the theory named in the preface to the first edition as being for several reasons withheld. This was an interesting piece of work; and though it has since been shown me that, under both its physical and its physiological aspects, the theory, in the form there given to it, cannot be sustained, yet, as I hope sometime to prove, the needful qualifications may be made without invalidating the cardinal principle.
I was about to say that the reception of the volume must have been tepid, since it has left no recollection whatever; but on looking through correspondence I find a still better cause for the absence of all recollection. A letter to my publisher, dated 19 December, says:—
“The policy of not issuing copies for review, which we adopted in the case of the second volume of the Biology, and the second edition of First Principles, answers so well that we will continue it. I find, on examining the accounts, that since the adoption of this policy the sale of my books has about doubled. I do not suppose that the absence of misleading criticisms has had much to do with this; though, as I have learnt from their own lips, some readers have been deterred for years from looking at my books by the erroneous impressions of them they had gathered from reviews. But this large increase of sale may, at any rate, be taken as evidence that the course adopted is not detrimental.
We will therefore establish it as a permanent rule. Do not send out copies of this first volume of the Principles of Psychology now published, to any of the periodicals—daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. And let whatever works I publish hereafter be similarly withheld.
Now, or in time to come, copies for review may occasionally be applied for. To meet such applications, please keep this letter; and let a copy of it be sent by way of answer. This will show that the refusal is not exceptional but general.”
Subsequent resumption of the ordinary habit was not due to any change of belief respecting the policy of this course, but was due to a cause which I cannot here indicate without forestalling matters. It will become apparent hereafter.
FINISHING THE PSYCHOLOGY.
With the ending of the first volume of the Psychology and the beginning of the second, a new kind of mental action was commenced. While the first volume, or, to speak strictly, the constructive part of it, is synthetic, the second volume is analytic. The process of taking to pieces our intellectual fabric and the products of its actions, until the ultimate components are reached, had now to be undertaken; and, among other things, it had to be shown that the structure of Mind, as ascertained in this way, corresponds with its structure as ascertained by tracing up its successive stages of development.
Was this change an agreeable one? I think I may say that it was. Not, indeed, intrinsically, but simply as involving another form of intellectual activity. And here, as being relevant to the question whether I liked best the synthetic or the analytic mode of thought, I may say something about my intellectual tendencies in relation to the two. A few years ago I saw it remarked that there appeared to be in me equal proclivities towards analysis and towards synthesis. Up to that time I had supposed myself to be alone in the recognition of this trait.
It is a trait which will, I think, be manifest to anyone who looks into the evidence furnished by my books. While, on the one hand, they betray a great liking for drawing deductions and building them up into a coherent whole; on the other hand, they betray a great liking for examining the premises on which a set of deductions is raised, for the purpose of seeing what assumptions are involved in them, and what are the deeper truths into which such assumptions are resolvable. There is shown an evident dissatisfaction with proximate principles, and a restlessness until ultimate principles have been reached; at the same time that there is shown a desire to see how the most complex phenomena are to be interpreted as workings out of these ultimate principles. It is, I think, to the balance of these two tendencies that the character of the work done is mainly ascribable.
Much scope for further exercise of the analytic faculty was not afforded by Part VI (Special Analysis). But with arrival at Part VII (General Analysis) there came the occasion for expanding and completing the conception first briefly and crudely set forth in the “Universal Postulate,” published in 1853, and further developed in the first edition of the Principles of Psychology in 1855. To this division, and the divisions succeeding it, my limited energies were chiefly devoted during the period covered by this chapter.
Already I have hinted that a great change in the routine of my life followed my election into the Athenæum Club; and what there is to say about it I may as well say here.
My place of abode was, in several ways, desirable in position. Its proximity to Kensington Gardens made more constant than it might else have been, a morning’s walk of half an hour before beginning work. Then when, something like an hour after luncheon, came the walk into Town, my route lay over grass and under trees nearly all the way: through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and the Green Park; so that I could reach the Club without more than a quarter of a mile upon pavement. Once at the Club, a miscellaneous process of killing time commenced. Having already glanced through The Times after breakfast, the news-room did not detain me; save on Saturdays when some of the weekly periodicals, not found in the other rooms, had to be looked at. Commonly some little time was spent in the drawing room in glancing through the contents of the Monthly Magazines and Quarterly Reviews: skipping most articles and dipping into a few. I rarely read one through. Then came the new books, of which the chief were obtained from Mudie for the convenience of members who wished, some to read them and others to see what they were about. I was usually one of the latter class. Biographies, Histories, and the like, I commonly passed over without opening them. Books of travel had an attraction for me; and I glanced through them with an eye to materials for my work. Passages telling me of the institutions, beliefs, characters, usages &c. of the uncivilized, I not unfrequently copied. Of course all works treating on this or the other branch of Science, as well as those which dealt with philosophical questions, special or general, including those on Theology, were looked into. To observe the current of opinion was one motive; and another motive was to make myself acquainted with the criticisms passed on my own views, which I not unfrequently found objects of attack. Novels were temptations to be resisted; for I dare not expend on them the needful amount of reading power. Once in a year, perhaps, I treated myself to one; and then I had to get through it in a dozen or more instalments.
There was a further occupation which filled a considerable space. Playing billiards became “my custom always of the afternoon.” I found it a very desirable way of passing the time: preventing thinking and excluding the temptation to read. Those who confess to billiard-playing commonly make some kind of excuse. Change of occupation is needful, they say; or it is alleged that the game entails a certain amount of beneficial exercise. It must not be supposed that the benefits I have just named are similarly meant as excuses. It suffices for me that I like billiards, and the attainment of the pleasure given I regard as a sufficient motive. I have for a long time deliberately set my face against that asceticism which makes it an offence to do a thing for the pleasure of doing it; and have habitually contended that, so long as no injury is inflicted on others, nor any ulterior injury on self, and so long as the various duties of life have been discharged, the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake is perfectly legitimate and requires no apology. The opposite view is nothing else than a remote sequence of the old devil-worship of the barbarian; who sought to please his god by inflicting pains on himself, and believed his god would be angry if he made himself happy.
Beyond these habitual occupations at the Club there were chattings with my old friends, most of whom were members, and less frequent conversations with friends newly made; for I am slow to make fresh friendships. And then as the evening was approaching there was the walk back to Queen’s Gardens, bringing me there in time for dinner at 7; which was followed by such miscellaneous ways of passing the time without excitement as were available. Thus passed my ordinary days.
The close of 1870, and the first four months of 1871, furnish no incidents calling for mention. Such quotable passages as occur in correspondence concern other persons in ways which make it undesirable to reproduce them: one only excepted, which will come more conveniently in a future chapter. The first letter from which I may here fitly extract, is one dated 11th May.
“It is also pleasant news to me that you are likely to come over shortly. What time in June are you likely to come? I shall probably be away for a fortnight during the latter half of June, but shall be in town during July. . .
About a week ago, I received the French translation of First Principles. It contains an introduction by Dr. Cazelles which is admirably done, and is perfectly fitted to give the uninitiated a general preliminary conception. It is just the thing of which I have long felt the need; and it could not have been better supplied than by a sympathetic Frenchman. A translation of it would be immensely serviceable; but I cannot well have it made here. I have ordered a copy from Paris and will forward it to you as soon as it comes.”
Of the two foregoing paragraphs the first introduces a matter of considerable general interest. At the time it was written I did not know that which I soon afterwards learned—the motive of my American friend in coming over. He was fertile in useful projects; and the project which now occupied his thoughts was one in pursuance of which English, American, French, German, and other authors, who undertook to write works of a certain class, should, by agreement among the publishers in their respective countries, have certain specified rates of profit secured to them in all these countries. I gladly did all that I was able in furtherance of his scheme. One step taken was to give him a letter of introduction which should serve to facilitate his negotiations with authors an publishers over here. This it will be not amiss to quote in full.
“4 July, 1871.
My dear Youmans,
I am desirous to do all that is possible to extend and establish the arrangements you are making with English authors—arrangements which practically amount to international copyright.
Having for the last ten years benefited so greatly by the arrangements you have made with the Appletons on my behalf, which have put me on a footing as good as that of the American author, I have the best possible reasons for thinking that the interests of English authors will be subserved in a very important degree by the success of the negociations which you have come over here to carry out. Various of my scientific friends, who have reaped pecuniary and other advantages from the contracts you have made for them, will, I am sure, coincide in this expression of opinion.
From the conversation I had with Mr. Appleton when he was here recently, it was manifest to me that he was anxious to carry out in his relations with other English authors, the same equitable system from which I, and some others, have gained. And now that he has given you full powers to make engagements in pursuance of this system, I think it very desirable that all should co-operate. Standing so high as the Appletons do, alike in respect to the character of the works they publish and in the extent of their business, it appears to me clear that this system which they are adopting needs only to be known and understood by English authors to be at once accepted by them.
Pray make use of this letter in any way that will further your negociations.
Ever yours sincerely,
The movement thus initiated was one which presently issued in “The International Scientific Series,” of which more anon.
I have said nothing of late concerning my social life in these days, and now that I recur to the topic, I find little to say.
I suppose it has been more from inclination than from principle that I have avoided acquaintanceships and cultivated only friendships. There is in me very little of the besoin de parler; and hence I do not care to talk with those in whom I feel no interest. Having neither professional interests to push, nor daughters to marry, and not caring to show Mrs. Grundy how many people I know, I have had no motive for multiplying social relations. I have thus avoided the weariness of “the social treadmill.” My circle, limited to those whose natures are more or less attractive to me, has ever yielded me pleasure, and brought to me quite as much intercourse as I desired—often too much, in fact.
Of special incidents belonging to social life which dwell in my memory two belong to this year. One of them was a water-party on the anniversary of the marriage of Mr. Leslie Stephen to the younger Miss Thackeray—a party including the elder Miss Thackeray (now Mrs. Ritchie) whose nature, answering to her father’s estimate, sometimes expressed its amiabilities in amusing “verbal fireworks,” as I once heard a lady call them. Some of the Huth family were of the party; and also a son and daughter of Sir William Grove. Thames Ditton was our picnicing place; and taking again to our boats, which carried us to Hampton Court, we there of course went the round of the galleries. Although I do not remember it, I doubtless seized the occasion for uttering heresies concerning Raphael’s cartoons.
As, in foregoing chapters, I have implied sundry tastes and pursuits incongruous with the popular conception of the philosopher, I shall not, I suppose, surprise the reader by indicating another. In October I went down for some pheasant shooting to Wykehurst—an estate in Sussex not long before purchased by Mr. Henry Huth, and on which a few years later he built the palatial mansion now existing there. Save once, at Ardtornish, when I utterly failed in black-cock shooting, I had not taken a gun in hand since I was 18; and now, though I was to my own extreme surprise, and to the surprise of others, very successful, the sport gave me scarcely any pleasure. I preferred hitting to missing, and that was about all. I suppose it was that the battue system, or whatever approaches to it, lacks the chief elements of the sportsman’s pleasure. Essentially this, like the pleasures accompanying many other activities, consists in justified self-estimation. Be it in a feat of strength, or a game of physical or mental skill, or a wit combat, the satisfaction of success is caused by proved adequacy to the occasion. Consciousness of efficiency is an accompaniment of every kind of achievement; and, accompanying life-subserving activities of every kind, has roots ramifying everywhere. Hence whatever implies efficiency becomes a source of pleasure: directly and simply if known to self only, and also indirectly and more complexly if known to others too. In such a sport as cover-shooting with beaters, the efficiency is simply that of hitting a moving mark—divested of all those efficiencies which go along with the successful pursuit of scattered birds in a wild state. Hence, except where there is a love of killing for its own sake, it yields but little pleasure.
In the early months of 1871, suddenly passed away my admired and valued friend Mr. Octavius Smith. Though of good age, he was constitutionally vigorous and might have lived many years but for the results of an accident. He exemplified the truth that where great physical vigour and mental resource yield daily experience of efficiency on all occasions there is apt to be generated an excessive degree of courage. Many years before he had suffered serious damage from incaution hence arising; and now, or rather a few years years previously, an accident to which the same trait led, left a slight invisible injury which obviously originated the malady that proved fatal. Among my friends of the preceding generation his death made a great gap—a gap impossible to be filled up.
The autumn of this year was passed in a miscellaneous way. First came a short salmon-fishing expedition to Inveroran. Thence, when the British Association met about its usual date, I migrated to its place of meeting—Edinburgh. This time the prompting motive was not that of being present during the presidency of one of my friends. The motive was that of aiding Prof. Youmans in his project mentioned above. Sundry steps were taken which conduced to its success. Profs. Huxley and Tyndall and myself were formed into a Committee to decide on books which should be admitted into the series; and whether, with this or that author, an engagement should be made to write one. Sundry members of the Association were canvassed with the view of obtaining promises from them to contribute volumes connected with their special subjects: the purpose being that each of such volumes should be one dealing with some part of a science capable of being cut out from the rest, and within the limits of which there had been recent developments of importance. The consultations and negotiations went on favourably, and by the time that the meeting closed the scheme had taken definite shape and organization.
A house at St. Andrews had been taken by the Huxleys for the Autumn, and this led me to go over to an hotel there for two or three days. Two things only I remember—the one that Huxley and I played together a game of golf, the only game I ever played; the other that, while sitting on the cliff watching some boys bathing, we marvelled over the fact, seeming especially strange when they are no longer disguised by clothes, that human beings should dominate over all other creatures and play the wonderful part they do on the Earth.
On leaving St. Andrews I met, in pursuance of an agreement made at Edinburgh, one whom I have not hitherto named—Dr. Hirst, a special friend of Prof. Tyndall since their early days. Originally engaged on the Ordnance Survey, they left it for the purpose of going together to the University of Marburg; whence, after taking their degrees, they went to Queenwood College as professors; and whence, afterwards, they migrated to London: Tyndall to the Royal Institution, as Faraday’s assistant and presently his successor, and Hirst to University College as Professor of Mathematics; which post he held until he became Deputy Registrar of the University of London, on the way to his ultimate position as the first Director of Studies at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.
Our tour into the West Highlands proved in all respects a success. Days were passed at Oban, at Ballachulish, and at Fort William: our stay at this last place being varied by an exploration of Glen Nevis up to its top, where it becomes Swiss-like in character. While at Bannavie a dog-cart took us to Glen Roy, up which we rambled to explore the parallel roads, and to discuss the speculations respecting their origin. On our return south, I remember only the sunny day which gave beauty to our walk along the shore of Loch Linnhe from Ballachulish to Appin. And then there came a junction with our common friends the Busks, who had again taken Aird’s Bay House on Loch Etive.
Two breaks in the routine of my ordinary work occurred soon after I resumed it. One of them was entailed by the scheme of my American friend, and the other by a controversy upon which I had to enter.
Arrangements for the proposed “International Scientific Series” had to be made in France; and I agreed to go with Youmans to Paris for the purpose of helping to establish them. He knew no French, and though my French was scrambling enough, it sufficed to give M. Baillière the needful explanations, and to make it manifest to him that it would be worth his while to become the French publisher for the Series. There was also formed a French Committee of judges, who should decide upon such works as Frenchmen might propose; and various other matters were put in train before he went on to Germany and I returned home.
While still in Paris I entered upon the piece of controversial writing which Fate had just then devolved on me: Youmans volunteering as amanuensis. The Fortnightly Review for November 1871 contained an article by Prof. Huxley entitled “Administrative Nihilism,” in which, criticising a view of mine respecting the limitation of State-functions, he put his objection in the form of a question. I could scarcely avoid giving an answer; for otherwise the implication would apparently have been that the question was unanswerable. Commenced, as above stated, in Paris, and completed after my return to London, my reply appeared in the December number of the Fortnightly, under the title of “Specialized Administration.”
This passage of arms was carried on in a perfectly amicable spirit, and left the relations between us undisturbed.
Before the close of the year came two occurrences of some interest, one of them leading to the other. The first is explained in the following letter to the Principal of St. Andrews.
“20th Novr. 1871.
Dear Dr. Tulloch,
Only on Friday night did I hear, and only on Saturday morning did I see [in the Times] that I had been nominated for the office of Rector of St. Andrews.
I regret that some intimation was not given to me before-hand that such a step was contemplated; because some trouble, and possibly some derangement of plans, might thus have been prevented.
To accept such a post, were I elected to it, would entail on me a loss of time which, though not serious to most, would be serious to me, with my very small amount of working power. My progress with my work, slow enough at the best, is interrupted much more frequently than I like; and I find myself compelled rigorously to negative such interruptions as are not unavoidable. Though, in the position which some of the St. Andrew’s students wish me to occupy, I might be of some little service, yet I think I can render better service by devoting the same amount of energy to executing the task before me.
In conveying to those who have put forward my name the request that they will withdraw it from the list, will you be kind enough also to say that I am much gratified by the sympathetic appreciation implied by the course they have taken.
Very truly yours,
|Composition, Correction, Stereotyping, Duplicate Plates and Printing One Thousand Copies||£351||15||10|
|Cost of authorship [i.e. payments to compiler]. .||296||7||2|
You will see at once that to reimburse myself for this large outlay (which would reach £700 were I to add loss of interest) will require either an extensive sale or a pretty high rate of profit on a small sale; and I see little chance of being able to go on with such returns from America as even your last letter seems to imply.” . . .
“I am quite content to give my labour for nothing. I am content even to lose something by unrepaid costs of authorship. But it is clear that I shall not be able to bear the loss that now appears likely. In addition to the sum of £648 named above, I have already spent on the first division of Duncan, “Uncivilized Races,” in printing and authorship, about £400; and on the second division about £280. So that you see I am more than £1300 out of pocket without getting a penny back. I must now, being in the middle of it, complete the first part of the “Extinct Civilized Races” and the first part of the “Savage Races,” by which time I shall have laid out more than £2000. It will then be time to stop; for, as I now infer, there is but little probability of getting a return that will approximately meet my outlay.”
At the close of the subsequent March, I find a passage implying further discouragement:—
“No. 2 of the Des. Soc. is out, and I have ordered a copy to be sent to you. It will be a very valuable instalment for all people sufficiently rational to appreciate it; of which, however, there are unfortunately but few. The third volume of Forster’s Life of Dickens sold 10,000 copies in ten days. The first part of Descriptive Sociology has been asked for by the public to the extent of not quite 200 copies in eight months.”
It was thus becoming clear that I had greatly overestimated the amount of desire which existed in the public mind for social facts of an instructive kind. They greatly preferred those of an uninstructive kind.
My American friend had, I suppose, been naming to some of those likely to be interested, these adverse results, and the consequent probability that I should shortly bring the undertaking to a close; for, early in the autumn, he transmitted to me a letter from Mr. Edwin W. Bryant, an actuary of St. Louis, showing something more than ordinary sympathy. This letter, dated 27 June, setting out with remarks of a complimentary kind concerning the importance of the undertaking, went on to say:—
“But, leaving to you all this argument, to amplify, supplement, or suppress, as you may think best, I propose this: that we try to get £1000 (or more if we can) to send to Mr. Spencer, to be used by him as he chooses, in aid of the work—to pay for assistance, printing or whatever else there may be to pay for. Of this amount, you may count on me for one half—five hundred pounds—any time at call, and without reference to what you may get or fail to get from any one else.”
This drew from me the following response in a letter dated 23 Sept. 1874:—
“Bryant’s proposal is a very noble one, and the more noble because he is not, I suppose, a man of very extensive means. I suspected that there was behind the question in your previous letter, some scheme of the kind; as I concluded that it was not likely to come from the Appletons.
While fully appreciating the feeling with which Mr. Bryant’s proposal is made, and that which has previously prompted others to offer to bear part of the expenses, I still cannot yield to such an arrangement as that proposed. There is, however, a plan which it occurs to me might possibly be practicable, and which would, I think, serve the several ends aimed at, in an unobjectionable way. Mr. Bryant and other Americans, while anxious to insure the continuance of the Descriptive Sociology, are also anxious that local institutions should have copies. Both ends would be subserved if they were to purchase from me, and were to distribute to these institutions; and this arrangement might be made in such a way as to divide the advantages. It would yield me an ample return were I to supply copies at half the retail price. Instead of absolutely giving copies to American libraries, schools, &c., my American friends might offer them to such buyers at, say, 1-3rd the retail price. In this case they would themselves have to lose on each copy only 1-6th of the retail price; and thus a moderate sum would go a long way. Even if they offered copies to these institutions at 1-4th the retail price, themselves paying the other 1-4th the distribution of, say, 300 copies, would go far towards covering the printing expenses, and would leave the English sales to do something towards returning cost of authorship [i.e. payments to compilers].”
Three weeks later, however, I wrote withdrawing this qualified assent, as follows:—
“After several times thinking over again the reply I made in my last to the generous proposal made by Mr. Bryant, I have decided to decline even that modified mode of aid which I described as one that might perhaps be adopted. On considering my accounts and probable resources, I conclude that the amount of loss entailed on me will not be greater than I can bear. Manifestly, the undertaking will become easier as it goes on; since, besides the proceeds of my books at large, which seem likely to go on increasing, I shall have the proceeds from the Descriptive Sociology itself, which, inadequate as they may be, will go some way towards defraying the cost of each succeeding number. As I have been able to meet the expenditure up to the present time (for I have now settled my printer’s account) I may fairly calculate upon being able to do so in future—especially as the parts are not likely to be issued so near together as the two in last half year. Concluding, thus, that I shall be able to do the work myself by devoting to it such part of my income as remains after defraying personal expenses, I prefer to do this. I have no motive for accumulating.”
Nothing further passed; and thus ended all plans for lightening the burden I had taken upon myself.
A foregoing extract, dated 27th Sept. 1873, intimates my intention of stopping as soon as I had printed and published the first part of the “Extinct Civilized Races” and the first part of the “Savage Races.” This intention, however, I abandoned for more reasons than one.
The understanding in pursuance of which the compilers were working, stood in the way of so prompt a cessation. To each of them I had given a double incentive beyond the direct payment for work done which he received. One was the publication of his name as compiler and abstracter, and consequent obtainment of credit for such skill and labour as were implied. The other was a promise that, as soon as the sales repaid me for printing expenses, I would give him half the net returns, without waiting to repay myself for the cost of compilation. This undertaking I felt bound to carry out in respect not only of those parts which were completed or far advanced, but also in respect of those which were commenced. Of the “Uncivilized Races,” compiled by Prof. Duncan, such parts as were not wholly or partially through the press were in manuscript. Dr. Scheppig had already made considerable progress with the “Hebrews and Phœnicians.” And Mr. Collier had been for some time at work on the “French.” To have stopped at the point above named would, of course, have been to break, if not wholly still in part, the engagement I had made; so that I was obliged to continue.
A further reason for continuing was that if I did not do so, a large amount of collected, classified, and digested information, extremely valuable to the sociological student, would be thrown away. That I was leaving in a useless state the products of years of labour, would have been a thought scarcely tolerable to me. I should have been restive under the consciousness of what would have seemed a serious loss to social science.
Thus I found myself committed to more than I at first foresaw. I accepted the situation; and, disastrous as was the undertaking pecuniarily considered, I persisted in it through the seven following years.
[* ]I use the phrase lava-spray advisedly. It is clear that in the lower part of the vast volume of molten matter filling the crater of a volcano, there is contained a large amount of matter which, at ordinary temperatures and pressures, would be gaseous: probably carbonic acid and water, which, notwithstanding the high temperature, are, by the immense superincumbent weight, kept either in the liquid state or at the “critical point.” As the lower portions of the column are thrust upwards, and the pressure these matters are subject to diminishes, they assume the gaseous state: forming small bubbles distributed through the molten mass. At each stage of the ascent these small bubbles expand and aggregate: by and bye making large ones, which increase in ascending power as in size. At length, on approaching the top of the molten column, there have resulted vast ones of many feet in diameter—chambers filled with gases which, though no longer of such high tension, are still of a tension like that of the gunpowder-gases in a cannon. And then at some point, perhaps 20 or 30 feet below the top of the molten column, each gigantic bubble as it bursts propels the superincumbent molten lava in portions of all sizes high into the air.
[* ]I venture the new word just used, because there exists no word expressive of all those traits in a picture which concerns the physical appearances of the objects represented. Under “physioscopy” I propose to include the rendering of the phenomena of linear perspective, of aeriel perspective, of light and shade, and of colour in so far as it is determined not by artistic choice, but by natural conditions—e.g. that of water as affected by the sky, the clouds, and the bottom. The conception, the sentiment, the composition, the expression, may some or all of them be good in a picture of which the physioscopy, in some or all of its elements, is bad; and vice versa. The characteristics included in the one group are entirely separate from those included in the other; and there needs a word by which the distinction may be conveyed without circumlocution.
[* ]The opinion of several experts to whom I have submitted in proof the foregoing expressions of dissent from current opinion, show that I am not without the sympathy of some who must be regarded as competent judges. An R. A. writes:—“Art amateurs often seem to me quite ‘daft’ in their worship of old art, simply because it is old, without any reference to its merit either of conception or execution. But this worship is so deeply rooted, and so much esteemed ‘the right thing’ that any reformation in our own time is almost hopeless. Is it not The Autocrat of the Breakfast table who says that ‘the mind of a bigoted person is like the pupil of the eye, the more light you throw into it, the more it contracts.’ ” An A.R.A., in whose opinion the works of the old masters should be judged in connexion with the sentiments, ideas, and perceptions, of their respective times, and not from our point of view, proceeds thus:—“Now I have said what I had to say in vindication of the old masters, but I believe that what you have said against them is calculated to do unmixed good, for no subject exists that has hitherto been set forth to the world by persons so ignorant, so affected, or so impotent as the scribbling critics of the last generation.” Another A. R. A., who says of certain ancient artists that “with all their faults we can see the hand of genius,” also says of what I have written above that he hopes it “will help to stop some of the nonsense promulgated by the Kuglers and others. As for your criticisms on fact I think all artists will agree.”
[While the foregoing note was standing in type there appeared in the Magazine of Art for July, 1888, a paper by Sir John Millais called “Thoughts on Our Art of to-day,” containing the following significant utterances:—“To say that the old alone is good betrays great lack of judgment and is an ingratitude to the living. Ability and talent are more abundant than ever; but in forming an opinion of them the critic falls into two great errors—the first, in forgetting that the form and demands of Art have changed and expanded with the advance of time; and the second, in failing—unconsciously, of course—to judge of the great works of the past, with which he compares those of the present, in a fair and proper manner. He makes no allowances for the charm of mutilation or the fascination of decay. . . . Time and varnish are two of the greatest of old masters, and their merits and virtues are too often attributed by critics—I do not of course allude to the professional art-critics—to the painters of the pictures they have toned and mellowed.”]