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PART X.: 1874—1879. - 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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A RETROSPECTIVE GLANCE.
Before saying anything about my next book, or rather about my life during the time it was in hand, it will be well to look back from this advanced stage of my undertaking to the earlier stages. This retrospective glance discloses a certain trait not hitherto named.
For now I had come round a second time to the topic with which I commenced my career as a writer; after having made, first a narrower, and then a wider, circuit of exploration. In 1842, while but two and twenty, the predominant interest I displayed, apart from interests in subjects bearing on civil engineering, was an interest in the politico-ethical question—“What are the duties of the State, and what are not its duties”. There resulted the letters, and subsequently the pamphlet, on The Proper Sphere of Government. In the interval between 1842 and 1848, a consciousness that the conceptions set forth in this pamphlet were crude and incomplete, prompted me to enter on new fields of thought and inquiry. Various readings in politics and ethics, joined with some excursions into biology and psychology, gave to these conceptions more developed forms and more satisfactory foundations. A desire to set forth the ethical principles reached, and the derived conclusions respecting the right limits of governmental action, led, in 1848, to the commencement of Social Statics. At the close of 1850 the results of this widened range of inquiry, as embodied in that work, were published: the completion of the first circuit having brought me round, in the latter chapters, to my original topic.
In the subsequent seven years, less from intention than from unconscious proclivity, this process was repeated. Not only subjects nearly allied to the politico-ethical, but also subjects remotely allied to it, occupied my attention and were dealt with in various essays. This extension of the range of inquiry, leading to more general conclusions, ended in those most general conclusions set forth in the programme of the Synthetic Philosophy, written out in the first days of 1858. In this the doctrines concerning social organization, and after them the ethical doctrines, were, by their positions in the series of volumes described, represented as the outcome of the doctrines included in the volumes on Biology and Psychology, as well as of those included in First Principles. That is to say, the politico-ethical conclusions held, had come to form the terminal part of a system the earlier parts of which prepared the way for it. From that date, 1858, down to the time now arrived at, the years had been spent in writing the volumes in which the simpler sciences, forming the true bases of the most complex sciences, were dealt with. At length, in 1874, the second circuit, immensely wider than the first, had been traversed; and I had come round once more, not immediately to the topic with which I set out, but to the science of Sociology at large, which eventually rises to this topic.
Beyond this long and elaborate preparation, which, at first pursued without conscious reference to an end, was, during the preceding 16 years, consciously pursued with such reference, there had been a preparation not contemplated. The Descriptive Sociology had been for seven years in progress; making me gradually acquainted with more numerous and varied groups of social phenomena, disclosing truths of unexpected kinds, and occasionally obliging me to abandon some of my pre-conceptions. And then, lastly, I had been incidentally led into writing a book which, ostensibly for the instruction of others, served at the same time for self-instruction—The Study of Sociology. In setting forth the difficulties to be encountered and the varieties of bias to be guarded against, I became myself better disciplined for the task I was about to undertake.
This second recommencement, forming a new departure in my work, seems to call for some definite division in the narrative; and I have therefore thought it well here to commence Part X.
VOL. I. OF THE SOCIOLOGY.
With the entry on this new division of my work, the marshalling of evidence became a much more extensive and complicated business than it had hitherto been. The facts, so multitudinous in their numbers, so different in their kinds, so varied in their sources, formed a heterogeneous aggregate difficult to bring into the clear and effective order required for carrying on an argument; so that I felt much as might a general of division who had become commander-in-chief; or rather, as one who had to undertake this highest function in addition to the lower functions of all his subordinates of the first, second and third grades. Only by deliberate method persistently followed, was it possible to avoid confusion. A few words may fitly be said here concerning my materials, and the ways in which I dealt with them.
During the five and twenty preceding years there had been in course of accumulation, extracts and memoranda from time to time made. My reading, though not extensive, and though chiefly devoted to the subjects which occupied me during this long interval, frequently brought under my eyes noteworthy facts bearing on this or that division of Sociology. These, along with the suggested ideas, were jotted down and put away. The resulting mass of manuscript materials remained for years unclassified; but every now and then I took out the contents of the drawer which received these miscellaneous contributions and put them in some degree of order—grouping together the ecclesiastical, the political, the industrial &c.; so that, by the time I began to build, there had been formed several considerable heaps of undressed stones and bricks.
But now I had to utilize the relatively large masses of materials gathered together in the Descriptive Sociology. For economization of labour, it was needful still further to classify these; and to save time, as well as to avoid errors in re-transcription, my habit was, with such parts of the work as were printed, to cut up two copies. Suppose the general topic to be dealt with was “Primitive Ideas.” Then the process was that of reading through all the groups of extracts concerning the uncivilized and semi-civilized races under the head of “Superstitions,” as well as those under other heads that were likely to contain allied evidence—“Knowledge”, “Ecclesiastical” &c. As I read I marked each statement that had any significant bearing; and these marked statements were cut out by my secretary after he had supplied any references which excision would destroy. The large heap resulting was joined with the kindred heap of materials previously accumulated; and there now came the business of re-classifying them all in preparation for writing. During a considerable preceding period the subdivisions of the topic of “Primitive Ideas” had been thought about; and various heads of chapters had been settled—“Ideas of Sleep and Dreams,” “Ideas of Death and Resurrection,” “Ideas of Another Life,” “Ideas of Another World” &c. &c. Taking a number of sheets of double foolscap, severally fitted to contain between their two leaves numerous memoranda, I placed these in a semi-circle on the floor round my chair: having indorsed each with the title of a chapter, and having arranged them in something like proper sequence. Then, putting before me the heap of extracts and memoranda, I assigned each as I read it to its appropriate chapter. Occasionally I came upon a fact which indicated to me the need for a chapter I had not thought of. An additional sheet for this was introduced, and other kindred facts were from time to time placed with this initial one. Several sittings were usually required to thus sort the entire heap. Mostly, too, as this process was gone through some time in advance of need, there came a repetition, or several repetitions, before the series of chapters had assumed its final order, and the materials had all been distributed.
When about to begin a chapter, I made a further rough classification. On a small table before me I had a large rude desk—a hinged board, covered with green baize, which was capable of being inclined at different angles by a moveable prop behind. Here I grouped the collected materials appropriated to the successive sections of the chapter; and those which were to be contained in each section were put into the most convenient sequence. Then, as I dictated, I from time to time handed to my secretary an extract to be incorporated.
Concerning the start made with this division of my work, the only information I have is contained in the following extract dated 5 March 1874:—
“But for various minor bothers, and chiefly these replies to criticisms, I should have been by this time pretty far advanced with the first number of the Principles of Sociology. As it is, about 50 pp. of MS. are ready; and I shall give the first two chapters to the printer immediately. . .
I received this morning from the Prof. of Philosophy at Messina, a proposal to translate my books into Italian in conjunction with his brother. He seems a fit translator, and I have assented. . .
I suppose I shall hear of the Appletons soon after their arrival. I must ask them to meet Huxley, Tyndall and King at dinner. To night I expect to meet President Eliot of Harvard, who is coming to dine at the X.”
Respecting the second of the foregoing paragraphs, I may remark that the proposal to translate into Italian did not then take effect, because the translators were unable to find a publisher who would run the risk.
On turning over my papers I find that in 1874 I made an abortive attempt to keep a diary. I say abortive, because the entries, irregular while they continued, ceased altogether in March. The diary sets out with mention of the usual New Year’s Day dinner at Huxley’s: the joining in which, commenced in 1856, still continued. On Jan. 24 occurs the entry:—
“Went to the Burrs at Aldermaston. Met there Reeve of the Edinburgh Rev., Lord Aberdare, Lord A. Russell, Miss Thackeray &c.”
This was not the first, but the second or third, of my visits to Aldermaston Court, the seat of Mr. Higford Burr—or rather, one might almost say, of Mrs. Higford Burr; who took the lead and who habitually gathered together on such occasions circles of agreeable people. The place has attractive surroundings: notably the “Chase,” which is said to date back to the time of Doomsday Book. On two occasions when I was there, visits were paid to Silchester, an adjacent old Roman town of which the remains are very striking. It must have been nearly as large as Pompeii: the surrounding walls, which are still almost if not quite complete, showing its dimensions. After contemplating the uncovered basements of public buildings, baths &c., and seeing the entrance-steps deeply worn by passing feet, and noting, too, the remains of an amphitheatre, I conceived far more vividly than before the hold which Roman civilization had obtained in England.
While mentioning these visits into the country, I am reminded that Spottiswoode (one of our X Club) had, before this time, purchased Coombe Bank near Sevenoaks. Here I occasionally spent the time from Saturday to Monday: usually in company with others of our common friends. After his mathematics, Spottiswoode especially devoted himself to researches in electricity; and, as a natural consequence, he early made domestic use of electric lighting. I believe he was the first to have his dinner table lighted by the Swan-lamps.
I may here add the fact, recalled by letters of this date, that I avoided social gatherings of a public kind. The last public dinner I attended was in 1865; and several motives then prompted a resolution never to attend another. In pursuance of this resolve I invariably declined not only such dinners as those given in the City but more select dinners; even including those of the Royal Academy, which are, with good reason I believe, regarded as particularly enjoyable. Though not from deliberate resolution, I also fell into the habit of neglecting invitations to public soirées. Those of the Royal Academy were the only ones which I went to a few times during more than twenty years. Even when I decided to go, which occasionally happened, my intention melted away when the hour for dressing came.
In May of this year I was elected a member of the Committee of the Athenæum, and for a long subsequent period continued to take an active part in the administration of the Club. I say an active part, because I attended the committee-meetings with regularity. Save when I was away from town, I believe I missed only one, and then forgetfulness was the cause.
Certain traits of nature, made manifest to me by experiences of myself as a committee-man, I may here set down. The most conspicuous is want of tact. This is an inherited deficiency. The Spencers of the preceding generation were all characterized by lack of reticence. Things thought were habitually said; and there was little prudence in the expression of them. My mother was distinguished by extreme simple-mindedness: so much so that, unlike women in general, she was without the thought of policy in her dealings with other persons. In me these traits were united. I tended habitually to undisguised utterance of ideas and feelings: the results being that while I often excited opposition from not remembering what others were likely to feel, I, at the same time, disclosed my own intentions in cases where concealment of them was needful as a means to success.
On one occasion my attention was irresistibly drawn to this trait and its effects. Some proposal—I do not remember what—which I had made in committee, I had urged with my usual bluntness; with the result that those whose prejudices I had not duly respected, voted against me and the proposal was lost. A week or so afterwards, the late Sir Frederick Elliot, a man whose official life had disciplined him in cautiousness of expression, and who, judged by his manner, was also diplomatic by nature, brought forward substantially the same proposal; and, taking care not to tread upon anybody’s toes, he carried it without difficulty. But though I recognized the lesson, it wrought, I fancy, little or no alteration. We say that experience teaches; but experience is practically powerless to change by its teaching any marked organic tendencies. Let me add that, though I sometimes failed in my aims from want of tact, I frequently succeeded by persistence.
The term of service on the committee is three years, and a rule provides that one who has served is not again eligible until after the lapse of a year. During the year which intervened between my two terms of service, I was one of a special committee appointed at the annual general meeting to investigate a matter respecting which the committee and the Club at large differed. Hence resulted the anomaly that I was concerned with Club-business for seven consecutive years.
While speaking of committees I may name the fact that I had been, for some time before this date, and for long afterwards continued to be, a member of the London Library committee. At this my attendances were far less regular: I suppose, in part, because the administrative business, neither so extensive nor so complex, attracted me less.
This autumn I made an observation that interested me much, as demonstrating a physical truth which is difficult to believe.
While I was at the Dell of Abernethy we had a picnic on the shore of Loch Garten, some four or five miles off. This loch is from half a mile to a mile long, and perhaps a quarter of a mile broad. A breeze of moderate strength was blowing; so that, on the sandy beach next to us, there broke small waves, say of eighteen inches wide and three inches high. After our picnic we rowed towards the other end of the loch. As we approached it the waves diminished in size, gradually becoming ripples; and finally we came to still water. On arriving at this glassy surface I saw, to my great surprise, feeble undulations, discernible only by the aid of reflections, moving in a direction opposite to the wind. No other origin for these could be assigned than the recoil-waves from the sandy beach at the opposite end, which had persisted through all the intervening rough water, and finally made their reappearance in this remote smooth water. Many must have occasionally observed how, when a breaker bursts against a sea-wall, the recoil-wave rushes out seawards; and some have learned that this wave continues its progress out to sea, invisibly modifying the forms of the incoming waves, until at a great distance it is dissipated by fluid friction. Though theoretically accepted by me, this truth had been but vaguely conceived. Now it was brought home very clearly.
My stay at Ardtornish this year was abridged to little more than a fortnight; for I was due at Belfast on the 19th of August. The British Association met there. Tyndall was president; and I felt bound to be present. As on the occasion of the meeting at Liverpool, the members of the X Club, with their wives, made a family party at the chief hotel; and this of course gave an enjoyable character to our sojourn. Many will remember that Prof. Tyndall’s address, dealing with those aspects of Science which bring it into relation with Theology, was a very bold one, and produced a strong sensation followed by a good deal of controversy. My remembrance of the address is further strengthened by a personal interest it had for me. Some passages in it referred to the evolutionary character of the Principles of Psychology, and aimed at correcting current misapprehensions respecting the origin of the evolutionary doctrine, in so far as it applies to Mind. I have before exemplified Prof. Tyndall’s chivalrous desire to see justice done where he thinks it is not done, and it was here manifested on my behalf. Not much effect was produced, however. The public mind, difficult to impress, having once taken an impression, retains it right or wrong, and resents any effort to change it.
The pleasures of my stay at Belfast were increased by the presence of my friend Lott. At its close he and I had a further week or ten days of companionship at Llandudno on our way south. Departing thence, I sojourned for a while at Standish before returning to London.
Neither correspondence nor memory furnishes me with anything to set down until the close of the year. A letter of 8. December says:—
“I am dreadfully bothered with an increasing business-correspondence, and with increasing private correspondence, and with presentation copies of books. I am now deciding to do the replying and acknowledging by deputy, whenever it can possibly be done. One-third to one-half of my morning has been of late cut off by these distractions.
Otherwise things are going on remarkably well. The second volume of the French translation of the Psychology is out; and I have also recently got the German translation of the Education, and am expecting shortly to have their translation of First Principles.”
Winter passed and the early spring passed without incident. Here is a passage written to Youmans on April 10, 1875:—
“Thanks for your untiring advocacy, and for your defence in the last number of the Monthly. It is droll to find myself described by some as not being inductive, while by others I am blamed for overburdening my arguments with illustrative facts.”
And here is another from a letter dated April 14:—
“Though I wrote to you a few days ago, I write again on receiving your letter of the 3rd, to say how glad I shall be to see you. Irrespective of other ends, I doubt not you will derive physical and mental benefits from the change of scene and from the enforced rest of the voyage. I shall be in town till towards the end of July; after which date I shall probably be away for some six weeks, so that if you come in May there will be some six weeks during which we may be together (for of course I shall expect you to come and stay at Queen’s Gardens as my guest) and there will be a further interval after my return to town.”
This programme was partially carried out: he arrived on July 14, and joined me as proposed.
Very little more has to be said concerning the incidents of the season. There were the usual perturbations of health, and short absences of a week or so to obtain, partly by fresh air and partly by quiet, better nights and restored power of working. Letters show that during two such absences in February and May I was at Brighton; and at Easter I was at Clifton, where I was joined by Lott.
But the fact perhaps most worth mentioning is that in May I commenced dictating the rough draft of this autobiography. How came I to take such a step at so relatively early a period? may be asked. The cause was this. Not long before, a friend referred to a not unimportant scheme I had several years previously suggested to him, for furthering a public movement then in progress. By the help of his reminder I recalled the incident; but it was clear to me that, had it not been for his reminder, it would have disappeared absolutely from my memory. There afterwards resulted the reflection that if a biography was to be written, either by myself or any one else, the materials for it should be collected at once; otherwise there would probably be serious omissions.
“But why a biography at all?” will perhaps be asked. The question is reasonable enough, considering how often I have uttered unfavourable opinions concerning biography at large. The reply is that in these days of active book-manufacture, when there are so many men each of whom, having completed and sold one work, forthwith casts about for the subject-matter of another, no one whose name has been much before the public can escape having his life written: if he does not do it himself some one else will do it for him. This induction from current experience brought with it the conclusion that in either case it was desirble that a connected narrative of events, such as I alone could furnish with anything like completeness, should be written; and that the verifying and illustrative materials should be put in order along with it.
How to execute this task remained for some time a problem. I could not think of suspending my ordinary work for the purpose—sacrificing the important for the relatively unimportant. And yet, if I postponed setting down these biographical memoranda until after the completion of the Synthetic Philosophy, it was pretty clear that they would never be set down at all. At length I hit upon a compromise. Each successive week I prepared myself by looking through the correspondence and documents referring to the period to be dealt with, and then, for an hour on Saturday afternoon, I dictated to a shorthand writer: narrating in brief form the chief events, with my comments upon them, without regard to literary form or even correctness of expression. The transcribed notes, which the shorthand writer handed to me the next week in the shape of a large-sized copy book of twenty or thirty pages, I took from him, and inserted between the leaves in their respective places all the relevant letters and other papers. How long this process continued I cannot remember: for something like a year I think. Eventually the narrative was brought up to date and the process ceased.
This rough draft, with its incorporated materials, remained for many years in the same state; changed only by an occasional addition, and in a few places by redictating portions in somewhat more complete forms. It would have remained in this state to the present time had it not been for the utter breakdown of health which made it impossible to do any but the lightest work, and limited me to extremely little even of that.
In the middle of July, as already indicated, arrived my friend Youmans with his sister and nephew; and a week afterwards, leaving them in possession, I departed for the North.
Little needs be said concerning my month at Ardtornish. I may set down, however, an interesting elucidation of a truth in optics I noted while there.
Along the shore of Loch Aline, between the new house and the ferry, there is a tract of shelving beach on which grows a zone of bladder-weed, covered at high tide, dry at low tide, and at mid-tide partially floating, in such wise that the upper fronds of each plant lie on the surface. As we drove by one day, when a fresh breeze was blowing from the other side of the loch, producing waves of moderate size, the surfaces of which were of course covered by wavelets and ripples, my attention was drawn to the fact that all the wavelets and ripples were stopped by this belt formed of the patches of partially-floating bladder-weed, while the larger undulations passed through this belt, and, traversing the smooth water inside of it, reached the beach. This struck me as illustrating that which is said to happen with luminiferous undulations. Passing through air containing impurities—dust, smoke or thick vapour—the shorter among these are stopped, while the longer pass through. The result is that under such circumstances the Sun appears red: the red rays being those formed of the longer undulations. Doubtless the waves are of utterly different natures, so that nothing more than analogy may be alleged; but it is an interesting analogy.
The transition from the scientific to the comic is a violent one; but I am led to make it here by remembering that during my stay I verified a rather amusing story which dated back some dozen years or more. The head gamekeeper’s son, a young man of twenty, was quizzed by me one day when we were out fishing, concerning this story of his boyhood; and, as he looked sheepish and did not deny it, I presume it was true. At the time in question Lord Kirkcaldy—a very unimposing sample of humanity, which added somewhat to the point of the incident—was staying at Ardtornish for a little salmon-fishing. One day during his stay this gamekeeper’s son, then perhaps some six or seven years of age, ran in to his mother exclaiming—“O mither, mither, I’ve seen the Lord, and he’s just like a man!”
Leaving Ardtornish towards the close of August I broke my journey south by a week at Llandudno and reached London early in September. When I add that the latter part of October and beginning of November were spent at Standish, I have sufficiently indicated my autumn doings.
Late in the autumn my friend Youmans, after returning to America, sent me a discouraging account of himself. Already extracts from my letters have from time to time shown that I expostulated with him for his disregard alike of health and of personal interests while pursuing his aims—aims largely directed to the propagation of Evolution-doctrines and diffusion of my works. He had now illustrated afresh this tendency to undue self-sacrifice, and I wrote to him strongly on the subject. My letter, dated 18. Dec., while it may serve as a general lesson, I quote here partly because it illustrates this trait of his nature, and partly because it illustrates a trait of my nature—a somewhat too candid expression of opinions.
“Turning to your letter, let me say first that I have regretted greatly to have an account of your state that is so unsatisfactory, alike by what it says and by what it implies. To think that you should have come over here mainly to recruit, and now that you should be apparently no better than when you left; and all because you would go on working and worrying instead of resting! Your intention to be careful now amounts to nothing—you have all along been intending that and doing the contrary. That you will either cut short your life, or incapacitate yourself, is an inference one cannot avoid drawing; seeing that in your case, as in a host of other cases, experience seems to have not the slightest effect. It is a kind of work-drunkenness; and you seem to be no more able to resist the temptation than the dypsomaniac resists alcohol. Excuse my strong expressions. I use them in the hope that they may do some good, though it is a very faint hope. The only course which could give me any confidence that you will not bring your career of usefulness to a premature close, would be to learn that you had put yourself under the despotic control of your sister; and even if you did this, I suspect you would quickly break the agreement under the pressure of some fancied necessity. As though fulfilment of some passing purpose was necessary and maintenance of life unnecessary! What is the use of all this propagation of knowledge, if it is to end in such results?”
Unhappily the opinion above expressed that he would bring his life to a premature close was verified. Though he reached the age of sixty-six, yet that his death at that age was premature is shown by the fact that both his parents were then alive.
In a letter to him written ten days later, I find the following passage about another matter:—
“Since I wrote I received some news from Russia which will interest you. A professor at Kiev proposes, in conjunction with his colleagues and pupils, to translate the Descriptive Sociology. He tells me, to my surprise, that all my books have now been translated into Russian with the exception of the Descriptive Sociology, which will thus soon be added to the list. Further, he tells me that he has proposed to the Historical Society of Kiev to make a like classification and tabulation of Russian history. The name of this Russian is Soutchitzici (?)”.
Whether this project was carried out I could not at first remember, but I have since found proof that it was.
While I am quoting from letters I may as well add a passage from one to my friend Lott dated a week after, namely Jan. 5, 1876. This I give chiefly for the sake of its second paragraph:—
“I am sorry to hear your plans are interfered with. However, next week will suit me just as well. If Mr. Earp is sufficiently recovered you might come on Saturday. You would not, indeed, find me at home in the evening; for we shall be celebrating our hundredth meeting of the X club; but Miss Shickle will take care of you until my return.
I am glad you like No. 40. It is surprising what an effect is produced on one by this tracing out the natural history of beliefs. I feel, even myself, more completely out of the wood now that the whole thing is accounted for: not having been conscious that I remained at all in the shade of the wood, until now that I have got into broad daylight.”
The process here described as at length ended had been a long one, for it commenced when I was in my teens.
The first volume of the Principles of Sociology might have been issued before Midsummer 1876, had it not been for the discovery of a serious lacuna in my original scheme. Up to this time the programme of the Synthetic Philosophy, issued in 1860, had been in all respects adhered to; but now it became clear that an addition must be made. I had, as most do, approached the subject of Sociology on its political side; and though, when its divisions were set down, there was a clear recognition of sundry other sides—the Ecclesiastical, the Industrial, and so forth,—yet all of these were what may be distinguished as the public sides of the subject. Sociology in fact, as we ordinarily conceive it, is concerned exclusively with the phenomena resulting from the co-operation of citizens. But now, when about to deal with institutions of this or that kind, I suddenly became aware that domestic institutions had to be dealt with. It was not that I accepted in full the views of Sir Henry Maine; for my studies of primitive societies had familiarized me with the truths that the patriarchal form of family is not the earliest, and that the relations of parents to one another and to children have sundry more archaic forms. But I became conscious that these more archaic forms, as well as the more developed form supposed by him to be universal, influence deeply the type of social organization assumed. Further, reflection made it clear that intrinsically as well as extrinsically, the traits of its family-life form an important group in the traits presented by each society; and that a great omission had been made in ignoring them.
The result was that in the spring of 1876 I began to prepare myself for treating this topic; and a further result was that I delayed the publication of Vol. 1 of the Sociology for the purpose of adding to it the new division required: a course which I have since regretted; for it is now manifest to me that the first volume ought to have included the Data and the Inductions only.
Neither letters nor documents recall anything worthy of record during the season of 1876; and I pass at once to the latter part of July, when I left for the North.
I had been told of good fishing in the Morar, and while staying with my friends at the Dell of Abernethy this information had its effect. I opened negotiations with the factor of Lord Lovat, to whom the north bank of the river belonged, and eventually agreed to take the fishing. Ten days later I started for the west. The drive from Banavie to Arisaig was new to me; and though I internally grumbled at having to post all the way (more than forty miles I think), yet I felt before the day was over that I was amply repaid by the scenery. A letter describes the drive as “the most beautiful drive in the kingdom so far as I have seen.” As I approached Arisaig I heard that Lord Lovat was in advance of me; and, on my arrival, found the hotel occupied by him and his suite. The factor, coming afterwards, explained that Lord Lovat, somewhat taken aback that his fishing had been let, suggested that I might like to try the river for a few days before finally agreeing to rent it, and that meanwhile he would take a cast himself. Of course I assented; and next day, not wishing to interfere with the owner’s amusement, I postponed going over to the Morar, which is some miles off, till the evening after his return. Here I found myself a good deal deceived—not by the untruth of statements made but by the omission of something equally true. Success quickly proved the presence of numerous sea-trout; and then, just below the falls, which could not be leapt by fish for want of water, I had remarkable ocular proof of the presence of salmon. There, in a smooth back water, were lying, unconcealed and unalarmed, half a dozen salmon and a score of sea-trout. While sitting on an overhanging rock with feet dangling above the water, one could see these large and small fish quietly sailing about so close that even the opening and shutting of their gills was visible. The place was a kind of natural aquarium, the like of which I have neither seen nor heard of elsewhere. But now the per contra facts were that the fishable part of the river, extending from the falls to the sea, was less than two hundred yards in length, and that out of some four salmon-casts in that distance there was but one at which there seemed a fair chance of landing a fish when hooked. Joining these facts with the fact that after three days’ stay there came no rain, nor at the end of that time any sign of rain, I decided to relinquish the agreement and leave Lord Lovat uninterfered with.
But how to get away? I discovered that next day a steamer coming south would touch at Armadale in Skye—a place on the other side of the Sleat Sound about a dozen miles higher up. Here was an escape. Next morning a fishing boat which I hired took me, partly sailing and partly rowing, to Armadale bay in good time. Here occurred an instructive incident which must be my excuse for the foregoing details. “Shall we land, sir?” asked the boatmen. “No,” I replied. “See, there is the steamer coming; she will be here in less than half an hour.” So the men rested on their oars in the midst of the bay. As the steamer approached they rowed me out to meet her, and my ascent up her side was watched by two friends who saluted me as I stepped on deck—a daughter of Prof. Sellar and an uncle of hers.
Suppose there had arisen some question the decision of which turned on my presence in or absence from Skye that year. My oath or affirmation that I had not been in Skye might have been met by two witnesses who swore that they saw me come out of Armadale bay in Skye and get on board the steamer: the visible fact testified to by them being identified with the inference that I had come from the shore. In face of their testimony the explanation given by me would have been taken by all as an audacious fiction.
Three days later I was at Laidlawstiel, the residence, or rather one of the residences, on the estate of Mrs. Mitchell (now Lady Reay)—a lady whose scientific proclivities were shown by the establishment of a laboratory, and for whom Prof. Piazzi Smyth had set up a reflecting telescope. The place stands high above the Tweed nearly opposite Ashestiel, the residence of Scott at one time. Here, in a pleasant circle, a week passed away, partly filled with some lawn-tennis playing and a great deal of talking—far too much indeed for my welfare.
Before I returned to town a few days were spent at Derby with my friend George Holme, who, as narrated in an early chapter, saved me from drowning when I was a boy. Other few days were spent with Lott at Quorndon, or Quorn as it is commonly called,—a place about four miles off, which serves as a sanatorium for Derby, and where my friend had now taken a house, in which he continued to reside during the rest of his life. Home was reached early in September.
Immediately after my return I made a change in working arrangements; consequent, partly, on the desire to relieve Mr. Collier from a daily task too mechanical to be properly assigned to him. As explained in a preceding chapter, I had, in earlier years, employed a youth as amanuensis; and then, after 1867, when Mr. Duncan came to me as secretary, he was occupied every morning in writing to my dictation from 10 till 1, and devoted the rest of the day to the Descriptive Sociology. This routine had continued: Mr. Collier fulfilling the same divided functions. For some time he had been occupied with the French Civilization; and it now seemed to me undesirable, alike on his own account and on mine, that he should any longer be prevented from spending all his energies on the work for which his powers and culture fitted him. Having become able to pay for more help, I therefore decided to emancipate him from his morning’s clerk-like duties, and to employ some one else to discharge them.
The experience I had recently had while dictating to a shorthand-writer the rough draft of the autobiography, opened my eyes to the fact that I might effect some further economy of brain-power by having an amanuensis who could write shorthand. On trial I found that my anticipations were fulfilled; and thereafter continued to benefit by the discovery. For letter-writing the advantages proved great. Choice of the best expressions not being of moment, a marked saving of time and effort was achieved. For book-writing the advantage was by no means so great, but still appreciable. Forms of sentences having to be as carefully weighed as before, the required pauses remained unabridged; and I habitually kept my shorthand-writer waiting, sometimes for long intervals, while I decided on the way in which a thought should be framed. But, though thus far there was no gain of time or of effort, there was a gain in the rapidity with which a sentence, or part of a sentence, once fixed upon, could be disposed of. With a longhand-writer as amanuensis, a few words only could be uttered at a time; and if a whole sentence, or large part of a sentence, had been mentally prepared, it had to be kept before the mind while the successive instalments forming it were written down. When, however, the amanuensis was a shorthand-writer, the whole sentence, or such part of the sentence as was ready, could be uttered right off, and the attention forthwith occupied with the next. A little time was thus saved and a great deal of attention economized.
Hereafter, if the employment of shorthand-writers increases, this proceeding will seem an ordinary one. At the time of which I speak it was quite exceptional for an author, though not for a lawyer or merchant.
During the subsequent two months at home, considerable progress was made with “Domestic Institutions,” by the completion of which I hoped shortly to end the volume. But either because of my unsatisfactory autumn-holiday in the course of which an injury to my foot negatived the usual amount of walking, or because I applied myself too strenuously to work, there came, before the middle of November, a collapse, and I had to desist. My friends at Standish had recently invited me, and I had postponed acceptance. Now, however, I revoked my decision and went: not with a beneficial result, as is shown by the following extract:—
“Unfortunately it happened that my friends in the country had their house full of guests, and that there were large and elaborate dinner parties nearly every night of my stay; so that, so far from leading a quiet life as I had anticipated, I did the reverse, and ended by making myself worse than when I went. The climax of the mischief was brought about by the Bishop of Gloucester, who would get me into metaphysical controversy.”
To this last sentence there hangs a tale, or rather there hang two tales, not altogether unamusing. On my arrival I found that some of the family and guests had taken tickets for an amateur concert, about to be given at the Bishop’s Palace at Gloucester. I willingly followed their example (by doing which, however, I afterwards found that I had subscribed half-a-guinea to the funds of a Church School!) When, on the appointed day, we had taken our seats, and were glancing through the programme, I was alike pleased and amused to find among the pieces “Mynheer van Dunck”—pleased because the music is fine, amused because of the incongruity suggested by the words of the glee, which I here give for the benefit of those who do not know them. If I recollect rightly, they run thus:—
“Mynheer van Dunck, tho’ he never was drunk, sipped brandy-and-water gaily; and he quenched his thirst with two quarts of the first, to a pint of the latter daily; singing ‘Oh that a Dutchman’s draught might be, as deep as the rolling Zuyder Zee.’ ”
It struck me that it would be droll to hear these words amid the ecclesiastical surroundings, sung by a Cathedral Choir aided by the Bishop’s wife, who was one of the performers. I was disappointed, however. When the time came there was a good deal of hesitation and moving about on the platform, and another glee was sung instead. A few days later, the Bishop and Mrs. Ellicott were among the guests at one of the county dinner-parties at Standish; and, being seated next to Mrs. Ellicott at dinner, I took occasion to express my regret at the substitution: saying that I supposed their courage had failed them at the last moment. “Oh, not at all” she replied. “It was simply that we had lost the music.” I suspect, however, that the loss was not accidental; but that the Bishop, having seen the programme at the last moment, had “put his foot down,” as the Americans say, and caused the abstraction of the music.
The other incident concerned the Bishop himself. Being fond of walking, he had, on the day of the dinner-party, come to Standish on foot in the course of the afternoon. During a conversation in the billiard-room, reference was made to the fact that I had come down from London to recruit: finding myself unable to work. “Ah,” remarked the Bishop to our host, “perhaps it’s quite as well; because otherwise he would have been promulgating some mischievous doctrine or other.” I replied that, as the Bishop supposed the doctrine I was setting forth was mischievous, he would, of course, be prepared to defend the opposite doctrine. His assent to this I followed up by saying that, as I was then engaged in writing a chapter showing the great superiority of monogamy, he was bound to take up the defence of polygamy. Finding himself thus fixed, the Bishop jestingly accepted the situation, and pointed out that at any rate he would be able to cite the example of the partriarchs in justification.
The close of the year was reached without much improvement in health, and Christmas week, spent with my friend Lott at Quorn, did not much aid recovery. Throughout the early spring, too, I struggled with my work to small purpose. In March, matters were made considerably worse by an imprudence. I unwisely yielded to a suggestion to give evidence before the Copyright Commission, then sitting. Partly by the trouble taken in preparing my evidence, and partly by the excitement attendant on giving it (which I did in great fear of the consequences, and rushed down to Brighton by the next train), my nervous symptoms were exacerbated; and, as may be supposed, they were not much improved by attending a second time to give further evidence. At Easter another sojourn at Quorn did but little towards setting me right. A more drastic measure was now taken. My friend’s partner, a keen fisherman, usually paid one or two visits to Killin every spring for the purpose of salmon-trolling on Loch Tay. I was pressed to accompany him. Being unable to work, and hoping for benefit, I agreed. But the weather was unpropitious. Even my companion, enthusiast though he was, declined to sit out in a boat in the midst of bitter East winds with occasional snow-showers. Three days of this weather sent me south in disgust; and, as the following letter to Lott, dated 16th April, shows, I had no reason to regret that I was thus driven away:—
“Thanks to Quorn, thanks possibly in some degree to the few days in Scotland, and thanks to some unknown causes which I cannot understand, I am considerably better since my return to town. From time to time one gets rather shaken in one’s determination to be careful in diet &c., by finding the benefits of carelessness. I continued to be troubled by indigestion while in Scotland, and even on my way back to town. Next day was the X. dinner; and, contrary to my habit for a month or six weeks previously, I took a substantial miscellaneous late meal, with several kinds of wine. I had no indigestion after it, and have been exceptionally well since. This is one of the many illustrations of the great effect of mental exhilaration. I know no other cause for this odd change.
It was well I was driven back to town by the weather when I was; for, quite contrary to my anticipation, the committee-meeting for selecting new committee-men was fixed before instead of after the Rule II election, namely yesterday; and, had I stayed in Scotland as long as I intended, my plans would have been thwarted. As it was, they have answered pretty well. We carried eight good men: none of them being of the public-service class, and four of them being among those I had fixed upon;—the others equally good.
There was a still further reason why I was glad that I returned when I did; for, on going to the Athenæum on Thursday, I found lying there a note from Mr. Gladstone, asking me to meet Dr. Schliemann at dinner on Saturday. As you may suppose, I should not have liked to miss it. The party was a pleasant one. Beyond the guest of the evening there were present, Lowe, Lubbock, Forsyth (the member for Marylebone), the Duke of Argyll, Hayward &c.”
The second of the above paragraphs refers to measures for reinforcing the representatives of Science, Literature, and Art on the committee, with a view of preventing the Rule II. elections from going so largely in favour of those whose merit was “distinguished public service”—a merit which had come to be chiefly found among retired Anglo-Indian officials. Persisted in for several years, the course taken completely succeeded, and the original purpose of the elections under Rule II. was, for a time at least, fulfilled.
The only further incident of the season to which I may refer, was my attendance at some of the Wagner concerts, given in illustration of his musical dramas, at the Albert Hall. One of my attendances was in company with some friends who had a box; and, as we came down stairs, the lady of the party was accosted by an acquaintance with the question—“Well, how did you like it?” to which her reply was—“Oh, I bore it pretty well”—a reply which went far to express my own feeling.
Now-a-days it is the fashion to admire Wagner, and those who care to be in the fashion dare not, I suppose, say anything in disparagement of him. As the reader must have pretty clearly seen, it is my habit to say what I think, though I may so show myself one of a very small minority, or even a minority of one. In this case, however, the dissentients from the fashion are tolerably numerous. I discussed the question with the Leweses, who had been to these same performances; and though George Eliot, herself a good musician and a cultivated judge, said that the music pleased her, yet she confessed it was lacking in that dramatic character which it especially aims at—did not give musical form to the feelings which the words expressed. I remember observing of two songs, quite different in the sentiments verbally embodied, that the melodies might just as well have been exchanged. Moreover, I observed that the musical phrases were very generally of kinds to be anticipated. They were not like those of true musical inspiration, which suddenly discloses beautiful combinations one would never have conceived, but they were of familiar types.
On this occasion, as on previous occasions when I listened to Wagner’s music, I came to the conclusion that he was a great artist but not a great musician: a great artist in the respect that he understood better than other composers how to marshal his effects. To make a fine work of art it is requisite that its components shall be arranged in such ways as to yield adequate contrasts of all orders: large for the great divisions and smaller for the sub-divisions and sub-sub-divisions; and that there shall be contrast not of one kind only but of many kinds. Wagner, I think, saw this more clearly than his predecessors. Complex music as ordinarily written is not sufficiently differentiated. Composers for the orchestra habitually use in combination instruments of all kinds, having tones with timbres quite unlike in their characters, and tones which are not sufficiently congruous to make good harmonies. Further, by constantly employing them together, they produce a monotony of general effect, which would be avoided if there was a more distinct predominance now of tones having this quality, now of tones having that. Wagner—certainly in some cases, but in how many I cannot say—specialized the uses of his instruments more than most; and so gave more marked kinds of effects, each having its distinctive character, and all of them together constituting a more heterogeneous whole. I hope that his example will be followed and bettered.
And now, to my great satisfaction, there came, at the end of May and beginning of June, the completion and publication of the first volume of The Principles of Sociology. It had been more than three years in hand: its progress having been hindered in large measure by ill-health, and in some measure by digressions. There had, indeed, been a first issue of the volume early in December 1873; but the final chapters, which formed a somewhat independent portion, were not contained in it. What prompted the premature issue I cannot now remember.
This long incubation was in part due to the fact that the volume was much larger than any of its predecessors. It extended to nearly eight hundred pages, and contained an immense accumulation of facts, the incorporation of which had been a laborious business. Mr. Tedder, librarian of the Athenæum Club, who, when the third edition was in preparation, verified for me all the quotations with their references, found that in this first edition “there were 2192 references to the 379 works quoted” (in the new edition there were “about 2500 references to 455 works”). And here I may note, in passing, the great aid rendered me by the Descriptive Sociology. Evidently, had it not been for that compilation, the gathering together of so great a mass of evidence would have been impracticable.
With the ending of this volume came a decision to change my mode of publication. Forty-four numbers of the serial had now been issued; making, with certain occasional extra portions which were included, about three thousand six hundred pages thus covered: a longer continuance than might have been anticipated. But the motive for this mode of publication had now become relatively weak. It is true that, by giving up the distribution to subscribers, I sacrificed perhaps some fifty pounds a year. This sacrifice was, however, of less moment to me than was the economy of time and attention. Each number of the serial had entailed a set of transactions with printer, binder, and publisher; and there were other small worries attendant on the frequently recurring issues. To avoid all these evils I willingly submitted to some pecuniary loss. With No. 44 was therefore sent round a notice of discontinuance.
As intimated in a preceding chapter, I eventually resumed the practice of distributing copies of books to the press, and did this with the first volume of The Principles of Sociology. The reasons, which I could not then give without forestalling the narrative, I am able to give now. The first was that The Study of Sociology, of which a qualified copyright was in the hands of the publishers, was of course sent out by them after their ordinary habit. The second was that the successive numbers of the Descriptive Sociology had also to be sent out; since the interests of the compilers apparently dictated a pursuance of the usual course. To have withheld volumes belonging to my series while these other volumes were subjected to criticism, would inevitably have caused misinterpretations. Hence I was in a manner compelled again to do as others do.
A SERIES OF ARTICLES.
While words are necessary aids to all thoughts save very simple ones, they are impediments to correct thinking. Every word carries with it a cluster of associations determined by its most familiar uses, and these associations, often inappropriate to the particular case in which the word is being used, distort more or less the image it calls up. An instance of this is furnished to me by an incident which occurred when about to commence my next volume.
Government, conceived apart from any particular species of it, is a form of control. But, when we think of government, we instantly think of a ministry, a legislature, laws, and police—we think of that particular kind of government made dominant in consciousness by the reading of newspapers and by conversation over dinner-tables. If, on occasion, we extend the conception of government so as to include the control exercised over men by clergy, creeds, and religious observances, it is rather by deliberate analysis than by spontaneous association that we are led to do this. And neither spontaneously nor after consideration do we habitually include in our conception of government the regulative influence of usages, manners, ceremonies; though, as measured by its effects on men’s conduct from hour to hour, this kind of government is more powerful than any other. While I was not so swayed by current ideas as to ignore the governmental nature of ceremonies, I was swayed to the extent of under-estimating its relative importance. Hence, in the programme of the Synthetic Philosophy, the divisions III, IV, and V, of the Principles of Sociology, stood in the order Political, Ecclesiastical, Ceremonial; and in this order I was about to write them.
But the process of reading and arranging my memoranda brought with it a revelation. There dawned upon me the truth that political government is neither the earliest nor the most general; but that, in order of evolution, and in order of generality, ceremonial government precedes it. There are small social groups without any kind of political control; but there are none without that control which is exercised by established modes of behaviour between man and man. Even among the rudest savages there are peremptory rules of intercourse—rules more peremptory, indeed, than those existing among the civilized. Thus it became manifest to me that Ceremonial Institutions stand first; and there was a resulting change in the order of my work.
In what manner to publish was a question which now arose. No longer tied to a serial issue, but proposing to issue the remaining divisions of the Synthetic Philosophy in volumes, I still had to choose between certain alternatives. I might continue writing, and make no sign until the second volume was completed; or I might publish instalments of it in the shape of magazine-articles.
This last course was one which I should probably not have thought of, had not a preceding experience suggested it. The Study of Sociology made its first appearance as a series of articles in the Contemporary Review. Why should I not in like manner bring out Ceremonial Institutions chapter by chapter? In a letter to Youmans, dated May 26, 1877, I find the following passage referring to the matter:—
“I think of beginning with the division treating of Ceremonial Institutions, and, in connexion with this, am entertaining the thought of preliminary publication in chapters. The subjects will be popular and novel, as well as instructive, and will bear detachment in the shape of magazine-articles, under the titles of “Mutilations,” “Presents,” “Obeisances,” “Salutations,” “Titles,” “Badges,” “Dresses” &c. I shall probably propose them to Morley for the Fortnightly, and they would probably suit you also.”
Before anything was settled there presented itself the further question—Why should the serial publication be limited to England and America? Why not publish at the same time in periodicals on the Continent? Translations of my books had made my name known abroad; and it occurred to me as possible that editors would like to have early proofs of the articles sent them in time for translation, so that they might be issued in their respective magazines when they were issued here. My anticipation proved not ill-founded; and arrangements were accordingly made such that, as the successive chapters were published in England and America, they were simultaneously published in France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Russia.
None of these chapters were, however, as yet written; and it was only after the lapse of some six months, occupied in preparing them, that the publication thus described commenced.
During this summer, as during the preceding summer, several picnic water-parties had been given by my friends the Potters on the Thames above Taplow—chiefly in the grounds of the Duke of Sutherland, where a picturesque cottage by the water-side has been provided for those who, on such occasions, obtain permission to use it. Picnics are about the most enjoyable of social gatherings, and these had been very pleasant.
Why should not I give a picnic? was a question that resulted. Entertainments of friends had, up to this time, been limited, first of all to occasional dinners given at an hotel; afterwards to dinners given at the Athenæum, which were necessarily restricted to members; and only in more recent years, when I had come to have adequate facilities, at Queen’s Gardens. Of course, among the friends who came to these parties, there were no ladies. But to a picnic ladies in due proportion might be invited. This consideration furnished a motive enforcing others that arose; and a picnic was decided upon.
St. George’s Hill, Weybridge, was the place I fixed upon; and, having obtained permission from Admiral Egerton to do so, I there, in July, assembled a number of friends—between a dozen and twenty I think. The experiment was a success, but it created considerable surprise. One of the ladies, I remember, could not refrain from expressing her astonishment—“A philosopher, and give a picnic!” She exhibited afresh what I have before remarked on: she identified philosophy with disregard of pains and contempt for pleasures.
Picnics generally drag a little towards the close; and to avoid the dragging I adopted the device of changing the scene. The carriages were ordered to fetch us between five and six, and in them we drove to the Oatlands-Park Hotel. After an hour or so spent by some in playing a game of one or other kind, and by some in rambling about the grounds, we went indoors for a “high tea”. The animation was thus kept up to the last. A like routine was followed on subsequent occasions, which recurred annually until my bad health compelled desistance.
A few weeks earlier than this first picnic, I had passed by Weybridge on my way to Godalming and Witley, where the Leweses had just bought a country house. They presently derived much benefit in health from it: not wholly from the fresh air, but partly from taking to an outdoor game. Often when at the Priory, I had urged them not to spend their evenings in reading aloud, but to find some indoor amusement; and I suggested a billiard-table as a resource. They were deaf to my arguments. Soon after they bought the house at Witley, however, a letter from Lewes told me that they had been following, if not the letter, yet the spirit of my advice, and had taken to lawn-tennis, with the effect of improving their physical state. It is a great mistake for adults, and especially for adults who work their brains much, to give up sports and games. The maxim on which I have acted, and the maxim which I have often commended to my friends is—Be a boy as long as you can.
This mention of a letter from Lewes calls to mind an earlier one in which he gave me a fact that bears upon a question recently discussed—the question whether writers of fiction feel much sympathy with their characters: the consensus of opinion appearing to be that they do. Certainly George Eliot did. Clear proof was given to me by a passage in the letter I have referred to, which ran:—“Marian is in the next room crying over the distresses of her young people.”
Two or three incidents of interest dating in the autumn of this year, sufficiently justify an account of my doings during it.
Rheumatism, which had been troublesome for some time, prompted me to visit Buxton on my way North. In the train which took me there about the middle of July, were Prof. Goldwin Smith and his wife, who were bound for the same place with a view to benefiting Mrs. Smith’s health. It happened that we went to the same hotel. The result was that I saw a good deal of them, and had many pleasant talks during my ten days’ stay. I have never been able to understand him: the manifestations of nature on different occasions having been so widely unlike. When, in 1861, a relapse obliged me to issue a notice that the next number of my serial must be postponed, and that subsequent numbers would appear at irregular intervals, Prof. Goldwin Smith wrote me a letter of condolence. From him alone, out of 450 subscribers, there came this mark of sympathy—a mark of sympathy the more surprising, because we were but slightly acquainted and he was theologically an antagonist. On the other hand, when, after the Data of Ethics was published, he commented upon it in the Contemporary Review, he made misrepresentations so grave, and, it seemed to me, so inexcusable, that I had to expose them in a subsequent number of that periodical. How to reconcile the two traits of character thus implied has always been a puzzle to me. I can only suppose that he does not perceive the gravity of the statements he makes.
From Buxton I betook myself to Whitby: being prompted by the prospect of companionship with the Huxleys, who were about to spend their autumn there. Unfortunately the greater part of my stay passed before they arrived; and the search for ammonites, for which the place is famed, did not much console me. One incident has remained in my memory, and is worth recording. Seating himself at the same table at the hotel one day, a clergyman of advanced years entered into conversation with me over our dinner. It turned out that he had, when young, resided in or near Derby, and had known my father. This disclosure led to friendly talk, in the course of which he remarked on the great change which had taken place in the general state of men’s minds during his life. He said that, whereas in his early days indifference was the rule, nowadays everybody is in earnest about something or other. The contrast struck me as one of great significance.
An excursion-steamer by-and-by took me to Scarborough; whence, after a time, I departed for the North: staying a day at Edinburgh to see Masson, and then, after a short pause at Innellan, proceeding to Ardtornish, where the record shows I arrived on August 15.
Have I, or have I not, named the fact that yachting had become one of the recreations at Ardtornish. Mr. Valentine Smith, to whom the estates had descended on his father’s death, had built himself a fine steam-yacht of 450 tons burthen, the “Dobhran” (pronounced Doran, the Gaelic name for a sea-otter); and excursions in this varied the routine of fishing, grouse-shooting, and deer-stalking. Two extensive ones were made this season, the last of which ended in a catastrophe. Taking our course up the Sleat Sound, we had coasted the western side of Skye as far as Dunvegan; and, anchoring in the loch for the night, had visited the ancient castle, where the honours were done by Miss McLeod—a polished old lady whose presence in so wild and remote a region seemed anomalous. Next day we steamed along the northern coast of the island, and onwards to Gairloch; and then, taking to a wagonette provided by our host, we drove along the shore of Loch Maree and through Glen Torridon: going on board the yacht in Loch Torridon, where it had been sent round to meet us. The following morning saw us going South between the island of Raasay and the mainland; and now came the disaster. Mr. Smith and the captain had gone below to consult the charts before entering Loch Carron: leaving the vessel in the charge of the mate, with directions respecting his course. But the mate, thinking he could make a short cut, quickly put an end to our cruise. The following letter to Lott, dated 9 Sept. 1877, tells what happened:—
“In the papers of about a week ago, you might have seen the brief account of the wreck of the steam-yacht Dobhran on a sunken rock near the shore of Applecross. This was the yacht of my friend here, Valentine Smith. There were eight of us, besides a crew of 21. We had been cruising about Skye, Dunvegan, Gairloch, Torridon, and were coming south to Loch Carron, when the mate brought us to grief. The vessel struck and heeled over to about 45° forthwith, and her stern began to sink. We all got into the boats safely in about five minutes. She is still on the rocks, and the insurers are trying to raise her and will probably succeed. She cost about £20,000 and is insured for £15,000.”
Having all got safely into the boats, we hung around for some time to see what would happen: some of the sailors fearing that the vessel, which was continuing to blow off steam, would explode (but with what reason I could not understand), and others fearing that she would slip off the rock and go down. Spite of all protests, Mr. Smith, with the daring characteristic of the family, insisted on going on board again to get the ship’s papers and other valuables; and presently returned, bringing, among other things, a quantity of wraps for the ladies. After a time we were taken on to Strome Ferry by another yacht, and, our host and his cousin remaining behind to look after the wrecked vessel, the rest of us made the best of our way back to Ardtornish. Eventually the insurers succeeding in getting off the “Dobhran”. She was duly repaired and has since led an active life every season.
The record kept at Ardtornish shows that I left that place on Sept. 13, and, I suppose, returned straight to town.
During the remainder of the year little occurred calling for mention. My daily routine was broken by a short stay at Wykehurst, and a longer one at Standish, and there also occurred a visit from my friend Youmans. A letter to him written on Dec. 17, after his return to America, contains a quotable passage:—
“About ten days ago I received from Russia a copy of a Russian translation of No. I. of the Descriptive Sociology—“English”. I was at first puzzled to make out what it was—whether it was the Descriptive Sociology for Russia which they proposed to undertake, or whether it was a translation; but comparison of dates, divisions and names, finally made it clear that it was a translation. What a go-a-head people they are!”
This was the translation referred to in an extract some time since given, which indicated that the professors of the University of Kiev were about to undertake it. Commenting on the mental inertness of most people here, a Russian once told me that in his country the young men starve themselves to buy books: a fact which seems related to that great receptivity which these professors exemplified. Certainly their proceeding implies a strange contrast between the appreciation of the Descriptive Sociology in Russia and its non-appreciation in Britain.
Whether it was during this autumn, or whether it was at an earlier period, that I decided to have a set of my books permanently bound, I cannot now remember; but the incident resulting from the decision remains the same in either case. “Why should I not treat myself to copies in handsome bindings?” I asked. So I went to the binders to consult and order. Various samples of leather were shown to me. Some I objected to as unfit in colour—too gay perhaps, or too sombre; while this was too dark, and that too light. At length the manager, seeing the kind of thing I wanted, put his mouth to the speaking tube and called—“Mr. Jones, send me some light divinity calf”. The sample brought down proved to be just the thing I wanted; and, accordingly, in “light divinity calf” my books were bound.
The year 1878 opened for me with a serious illness. A letter dated Feb. 16, concerning it, I quote chiefly because it serves to explain the step I took the winter after:—
“Perhaps I am the more apt to put this construction on the matter [inferring Youmans’ illness from his silence] because I have myself been seriously unwell since I wrote last. More than a month ago, I got one chill upon another, and, mismanaging things, got into a state of pyrexia—pulse high, temperature over 100—and passed eleven days indoors: the most miserable eleven days I remember; for, upon the whole, my life thus far has been tolerably free from illnesses that have kept me within doors. . . .
As I was saying to the doctor, who has just now left me, I begin to find more and more difficulty in reconciling the physical, intellectual, and moral requirements of my life. More and more each winter there is forced upon me the experience that five months of bad weather,—cold, wet, gloomy, relaxing, by turns—is trying to my system, and that I profit greatly by getting away to some sunnier and drier region on the South Coast of England, and perhaps should do the like still better on the South Coast of Europe. But the difficulty of meeting the mental requirements is insuperable. I cannot take my friends with me; and in the absence of ability to pass the time in reading to any extent, I get dreadfully bored; so that when I go away for a week, and have profited by the better sleeping and other physical advantages, I always rejoice greatly when the last days come, enabling me to return to town from my wearisome banishment. I really cannot see how I am to manage matters; having to choose, on the one hand, between the physical mischiefs of a winter in London, and, on the other hand, the delay of work and moral depression resulting from a winter spent elsewhere, in the absence of friends about me I care for, and in the absence of those occupations which enable me to kill time.”
The sequence of this illness was a ten-days stay at Brighton to recruit. Entries in my diary show that a fortnight after my return came another week indoors, implying that my state was still unsatisfactory.
Two extracts from letters dated respectively May 10 and May 15, may fitly be given here. The first shows the commencement of a task which was slowly completed in the course of some years:—
“Talking of occupying greater space, I took up a while since the first volume of the Sociology, and, on beginning to re-read the earlier part, found that there was much that could be condensed; not by omitting anything, but by cutting out superfluous qualifications and clauses that were entirely unimportant. I have gone through several chapters, and on averaging them I conclude that I can economize to something like the extent of three lines a page; and this will, I think, effect an abridgment of some 60 or 70 pages on the whole volume. I feel alike pleased and disgusted with this result—pleased that there is so much room for improvement, and disgusted that the improvement is called for.”
The second extract concerns a matter of more interest: to me at least, if not to others:—
“I think you take in the Revue Scientifique. Just look at No. 45, for 11 May, 1878, which I have just received. You will find in it an Essay by M. Paulhan, entitled “Le Progres, d’apres M. Herbert Spencer”, which is a review based upon the translation of the Essay by M. Burdeau. It has for me, and possibly will have for you, a certain interest as pointing out what I had forgotten—the extent to which the general theory of Evolution, as set forth in First Principles, is indicated in “Progress its Law and Cause”, in other directions beyond the transformation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous: how segregation and integration and coherence are incidentally and vaguely implied; and how also what he calls the metaphysical defect is similarly implied. I had not been conscious, until thus pointed out by this French critic, that the rudiments of the other parts of this theory of Evolution were lying there in germ; and the fact is interesting to note.”
Certainly it seems strange I should have needed a critic to reveal to me the extent to which, in 1857, I had expressed ideas which I thought were reached in subsequent years.
Of occurrences during the season, only one calls for notice—a visit to Paris, extending from May 18 to May 27, in company with my friend Lott, to see the International Exhibition, then just opened.
Paris was unseen by him save through such glances as he got during a few hours when on his way to join me in Switzerland in 1853; and it was pleasant to play the guide and participate in his interest. Of course, joining the chief sights with the contents of the Exhibition, and with the display in the Salon, which opened while we were there, gave us so much to look at that our time was overfilled.
I see by my diary that I did not, during our stay, desist entirely from such work as might be done in the shape of revising. Being able to do so little each day, I was always reluctant to sacrifice wholly the working power which each day gave me. I remember correcting some MS. when seated in the garden of the Trocadero, while Lott pursued his researches in the annexed Exhibition Building.
The chief incident which this visit brought forth, may be conveniently described in the words of a letter dated May 30:—
“I am just back from Paris not the better, but rather the worse for my excursion. Too much sight-seeing and too many excitements of one kind or other, have rather knocked me over, so that I am by no means in working order. I am, however, better this morning and hope to be able to do something to-morrow. I send you by this same post a French paper, Le Temps, from which you will see that I did not escape, as I had intended to do, from seeing some of my Parisian friends. Anxious to avoid all social excitements, I postponed calling on Baillière until I had been in Paris for a week, and only two days before starting back: thinking that I should so render impossible the making of any engagements. However, I was deluded. Within twenty-four hours he got up the dinner you see noticed, and I had no escape from it.”
Failure of the reporter to understand my English speech, made in response to the compliment paid me, led three French papers to represent me as having proposed “Fraternity” as a toast. The statement was repeated in the English papers; and, being at once ludicrous and annoying, I had to publish a letter correcting it.
I regretted that the non-intimation of my presence in Paris prevented me from seeing Dr. Cazelles—my first and chief French translator—who had been drawn from his home in the South by the International Exhibition; and to whom I should have liked to express personally my thanks for his conscientious labours.
The successive articles agreed on as above described, had been coming out in the Fortnightly Review and other periodicals during the half-year: the first having appeared in January, and the last in July. Not, indeed, that the series of chapters proposed to be thus issued was so concluded; for there were others which remained. But no more had a periodical publication.
The reason for the cessation was that the articles had not proved as attractive as I expected. I thought that the genesis of ceremonies of all kinds would be found not uninteresting, and that, as the illustrations were many of them curious, and many of them piquant, people would be led to give attention. To judge from the Press-notices, however, this was not so. There was, indeed, along with the facts cited, now strange and now amusing, a doctrine set forth—a theory which served to link them together. I suppose this element proved repugnant. It seemed as if the mass of readers preferred to have their amusement unadulterated by thought. The result is shown in the following letter, dated May 15, 1878; which, after describing this lack of interest displayed, continues—
“Thinking that Morley might be led to regret that he had undertaken to publish the whole series of chapters, I wrote to him the other day saying that I thought, from what I saw, that the series was not successful in respect of popularity; and that I did not wish that he should feel himself bound to fulfil our engagement by occupying his pages with matter that turned out not to be advantageous; and that consequently we would, if he pleased, publish no more. Though himself apparently surprised at the result, he recognizes the fact to which I drew his attention; and, thanking me for making the proposal, which he says he hardly likes to entertain, yet yields to it if I wish: suggesting, however, the desirability of publishing the next instalment in his June number—that is, the chapter on ‘Forms of Address’.”
Five chapters were in consequence of this decision withheld: some of them already written, and the closing ones unwritten. The entries in my diary appear to imply that I completed them before doing anything else; or, at any rate, before devoting myself entirely to the task I proposed next to undertake.
THE DATA OF ETHICS.
An unusual amount of ill-health experienced during the winter months of 1877—78, had, even before the illness described in the last chapter, led to serious thoughts respecting my future; and these had prompted a precautionary step. On the 9th January, while lying in bed with a bad cold, I sent for my secretary, and, after disposing of a small matter, began dictating memoranda for the Data of Ethics. My reasons for doing this are given in a letter dated Feb. 16, 1878, as follows:—
“When I have got through the chapters on Ceremonial Government, and have also got through those on Ecclesiastical Government, which I propose to deal with next (not, however, publishing them in the same way), I have some idea of writing, and publishing as I am now doing in the Fortnightly, the first division of the Principles of Morality: showing how morality is to be dealt with from the Evolution point of view, as the outcome of all preceding investigations. I begin to feel that it is quite a possible thing that I may never get through both the other volumes of the Principles of Sociology, and that, if I go on writing them, and not doing anything towards the Principles of Morality till they are done, it may result in this last subject remaining untreated altogether; and since the whole system was at the outset, and has ever continued to be, a basis for a right rule of life, individual and social, it would be a great misfortune if this, which is the outcome of it all, should remain undone. So that I think of putting together some ten chapters under the title of the “Data of Morality”, in which the evolutionary conception of the subject will be so far clearly set forth, that the development may safely be left to others, if I cannot achieve it myself.”
Of course this dictating of memoranda for The Data of Ethics I was able to carry on only at intervals; for as I had committed myself to the series of articles described in the last chapter, my time was chiefly occupied in writing them. But the ideas to be set forth were gradually being arranged and developed, as is implied by the following extract dated March 13:—
“I have quite decided upon the course I named with regard to the first division of the Principles of Morality, and, indeed, am getting a little anxious to undertake it; for now that I have for some time been thinking it over, and putting the ideas into shape, it is taking so satisfactory a form, and so much more complete a development than I anticipated, that I shall be glad to set it forth: even apart from the precaution of avoiding any possible ultimate failure in publication of it. It will, however, as I think I indicated, be postponed for some time; inasmuch as I have committed myself to writing the Ecclesiastical division as soon as I have done the Ceremonial. But when that is done I shall take up the Ethical forthwith.”
Continued during the remainder of the spring, this elaboration of ideas had the result that when, towards the close of June, the chapters on Ceremonial Institutions were completed, I was ready to begin putting into shape this new division of my undertaking: the intention of previously executing the Ecclesiastical division, having been abandoned.
The latter part of June 1878 was extremely hot: making one long for a shady place out of doors. Kensington Gardens, only three minutes walk off, fulfilled the desideratum; and thither I betook myself with my shorthand secretary. Hiring two chairs, we seated ourselves under the trees, and I dictated for half an hour. Then we walked about awhile; after doing which came more dictating; and so on alternately throughout the morning. In the course of a week the rough drafts of sundry chapters were thus prepared.
I say “rough drafts”; for I had been led into a mode of composition unlike that hitherto pursued by me. Usually my first MS. was also the last, and went to the printers with my erasures and inter-lineations upon it. But having in this case commenced by jotting down memoranda, and having from time to time during the spring continued this process, I now persisted in it under a modified form: the memoranda taking a coherent shape, so as to become a full presentation of the argument. Hence resulted the practice of devoting a “copy-book” to each chapter, and putting it aside with the intention of using it as a basis for the final dictation.
I name this fact because of a certain accidental sequence worth mentioning. One of the “copy-books” was mislaid; and when I came to the chapter sketched out in it, I had to re-dictate this without reference to what I had before said. Some time after the book was published, I found this missing rough draft. A perusal showed that, besides a different presentation of the argument, it contained some illustrations which the chapter in its finished form did not contain; and the perusal also showed that, though the ideas had been given forth in an off-hand way, the expression of them was sufficiently good to make the chapter readable. When preparing the second edition, I therefore decided to append this rough-draft chapter just as it stood: merely punctuating it, and substituting the right words in some few places where the shorthand writer had put wrong ones by mistake. It serves to exemplify my mode of expression when unstudied and unrevised.
Of late years, since the need for economy of time and labour has become so manifest, there has sometimes occurred to me the question—Why not do the rest of my books in this easy and rapid way; so as to get the ideas set forth in some shape, if not in the best shape? More than once I have tried to dictate permanent work after the suggested manner, but have completely failed. The rough drafts above described were dictated in the belief that they were rough drafts—were not to be printed; and the facility resulted from this belief. As soon as I begin to dictate in the same manner with the consciousness that what I am doing is to be final, I am hindered by self-criticism. Flowingly as I may commence, I quickly find the current of my composition checked by pausing to weigh this sentence or that expression, until presently I drop down to my ordinary rate. It is a provoking difficulty, which I see no way of surmounting.
Neither anecdote, nor adventure, nor scientific observation, affords a reason for giving much space to details of my life in the North this autumn.
Leaving town on the 25th July, I passed a few days at Liverpool with the Holts. My chief recollection of the visit is that I spent the mornings in wandering about Sefton Park (on the border of which Mr. Holt’s house stands), carrying Bain’s Mental and Moral Science under my arm, and occasionally sitting down to read portions of it. The motive for this is implied in the following extract from a letter written on July 5:—
“At intervals during the Spring, and more especially of late, I have been sketching out in the rough the division which I named to you—the Data of Ethics, which I am, as I said, intending to write and publish before I go further with the Sociology. This rough outline is now mainly done: being complete in chapters and sections of chapters, each of which is sketched out. I shall finish it before leaving Town, and then, taking it with me, along with sundry books to be consulted, I shall devote myself while away to the re-elaboration of it before proceeding finally to write”.
From Liverpool I departed for Inveroran, where three weeks were spent with but moderate success in catching salmon, and considerable success, I suppose, in reading and revising, if I may judge by the time devoted to it; for my diary shows that there was but little fishing weather. Why I left for the South on the 19th I do not understand, for an entry on the 17th tells me that I hooked and lost four salmon in succession; proving that there was no lack of fish in the river. Nor do I understand what prompted me to make a detour into the Island of Arran on my way South. Two days were spent at Brodick; and, that time having sufficed me, I returned to London, which I reached on the 23rd August. Perhaps a desire to get to work again chiefly moved me thus to abridge my absence to less than a month.
But it seems I was not satisfied with this half-holiday. There shortly came a supplementary one, as shown by the following extract dated Sept. 27:—
“Your letter of Sept. 3 reached me at Lyme Regis, where I have been spending the last ten days with the Busks. I had, as you suppose, returned to Town, and indeed had been three weeks here before going away again; so that I was able to take away a sufficiency of MS. to occupy me in revision. I arrived back last night and am now setting to work again.”
One of the incidents of my stay at Lyme Regis was a visit to the remarkable landslip, about six miles to the west, where a tract some quarter of a mile long and many acres in area, bearing a house, slid bodily forward over the shore into the water; leaving inland a vast chasm of perhaps fifty yards wide and thirty or forty feet deep.
As my beliefs are at variance with those expressed in burial-services, I do not like attending funerals, and giving a kind of tacit adhesion to all that is said. But I am compelled to make exceptions, and made one towards the close of this year; partly because my absence would have been generally misinterpreted, and partly because it might have given pain to one whose feelings I should have been very reluctant to hurt, though probably she would have understood my motive. The funeral I refer to was that of my friend Lewes, which occurred on the 4th of December.
His death ended a domestic union of nearly twenty-five years’ duration. One might have expected that the expressions used in the dedications of George Eliot’s MSS. to him, would have sufficed as proofs of his devotedness. But there are not a few who, in such cases, gladly find occasion for unfavourable comment, or assume occasion if they cannot find it; and most people have no scruples in circulating adverse statements without asking for evidence. So far as I saw (and I had many opportunities of seeing) they exceeded any married pair I have known in the constancy of their companionship; and his studious care of her was manifest. I remember that on one occasion when, perhaps during a temporary mood, I had been saying that though possessed of so many advantages I valued life but little, save for the purpose of finishing my work, they both of them ascribed my state of feeling to lack of the domestic affections, and simultaneously exclaimed that their great sorrow was that the time would soon come when death would part them.
In the brief characterization of Lewes which I gave in an early chapter of this volume, I omitted two allied traits which ought to be mentioned. One of them was that he was studiously fair in his criticisms, alike of friends and of foes. Bias in another’s favour did not prevent him from indicating such faults as he recognized; and antagonism did not prevent him from according praise for merit, where it existed. The other was that in controversy he was exceptionally open-minded. Of all those with whom I have had discussions, I cannot remember one who, when he saw that a position was untenable, would with such entire candour avowedly surrender it. Though he had plenty of amour propre, it did not prevent him from yielding to a conclusive argument—did not induce him to go on fighting, as most men do, after they are conscious that they are wrong.
Later in December came the preparations for a change foreshadowed in the last chapter. Already to a letter I have quoted concerning my health, there came from Youmans a response the nature of which is implied in the rejoinder I made on March 13:—
“I wish I could follow out your advice with regard to wintering in Algiers, but I do not find it practicable to get a friend about whom I care anything to join me; and it is quite out of the question to go alone. That you should propose to make a sacrifice of the kind you so generously indicate, is quite in harmony with your nature, and your interest in the end to be achieved; but you must not suppose that there are many others who have like feelings, and would be ready to do like things. However I shall make an effort next year, if I can manage to conform such an arrangement with the progress of my work, to carry out this scheme.”
On July 5, in a letter partially quoted already, I wrote:—
“I have pretty well decided to spend my next winter in the South of Europe. My experiences year after year, and especially this year, have impressed me more and more with the fact that our winter is very injurious to me; and is injurious because my powers of making vital heat, naturally not high, have fallen so much below par. One of the evidences of how much I fail in maintaining my vital heat, which has long struck me, has been that, far from finding a hot bath enervating, as many people do, it always gives me a better appetite: showing that the exaltation of the functions due to a gratis supply of heat, enables me to carry on my physiological business better. Quite recently I have had still clearer evidence of this; for a fit of hot weather which we had lately, did me very great good—increased my appetite and improved my digestion, and in all respects made me better. So that I see that my health and power of working for the future, will depend very much on avoiding the evils which the winter’s cold entails upon me.”
A passage from a letter dated Sept. 27, shows what was about to happen:—
“I was delighted to find that my suggested intention of going to the South of Europe to spend some of the winter months, raised in you the thought of accompanying me; and I strongly urge you to carry out that thought.”
Accordingly, on Dec. 17, my American friend arrived in London. Starting on the 20th for Paris; spending two days there to arrange for the translation of The Data of Ethics; and halting for a day at Lyons to rest; we reached Hyères on Christmas eve.
After leaving the gloom and inclemency of a London December, it was delightful, on Christmas morning, to saunter about the garden of the Hôtel des Iles d’Or, and hear the buzzing of the flies in the sunshine—a sound so strongly associated with the glow of a summer’s day. It was pleasant, too, to pass from trees black and bare, to trees and plants in full leaf, native and introduced—the eucalyptus, the palms, the aloes, which are becoming so abundant along the Riviera as greatly to mask the indigenous vegetation.
Speaking of aloes reminds me that I observed one which, having lately sent up its vast flower-stalk, had drooping and shrunken leaves; and this suggested a good question that might be put to those who are studying plant-life after a rational manner: the question, namely—What are the conditions which make it profitable to the aloe-species to postpone flowering so long? Young people should always have in their minds problems to be solved concerning the phenomena of the surrounding world, and of human life. A boy or girl rising in the teens, might with advantage be asked—How happens it that in hilly counties, such as Devonshire, the lanes are deep down below the surfaces of the adjacent fields; whereas in flat countries the surfaces of the lanes and of the fields are on the same level? What is the definite and unmistakable distinction between running and walking? Why do horses and cows drink as human beings do, by sucking in the water; whereas dogs and cats drink by lapping? What is that adjustment of the parts of the eye which gives the infantine stare, as contrasted with that adjustment which gives the calm gaze of the adult? What advantage does a plant get from having a hollow stem or stem filled with pith? and why is this advantage, which many short-lived plants avail themselves of, unavailable by trees, save when young and afterwards in their shoots? Why, in a river, is the water next a convex shore usually shallow, and the bottom often sandy?
A teacher who understood his business would be continually devising questions of these and countless other kinds, to which no answers could be found in books, and would persistently refuse to give the answers: leaving the questions to be puzzled over for years if need were. The mental exercise which solving one such question implies, is of more value than that implied by a dozen rote-learnt lessons.
Details of our seven-weeks’ sojourn on the Riviera are not called for. I had left a quantity of MS. with the printer, and had taken a further quantity with me to revise. My mornings up to the time of the dejeuner I devoted to correcting MS. and proofs; while the afternoons were spent, weather permitting, in saunterings and explorations.
On New Year’s day we left Hyères for Cannes; and, after a pleasant week there we passed on to Nice, or rather to Cimiez—a little place on the high ground some three miles inland. A post-card to Lott written thence on Jan 15, says something about our experiences:—
“This is the region of extremes—winter and summer mixed. Now sitting crouching over the fire with great coat and cap on, and piling rugs on the bed at night, and now walking in bright warm sunshine, seeing butterflies about and peas six feet high in blossom, and being obliged to use mosquito cutrains!
We have been at Hyères and Cannes for a week each, and on Friday shall go on to Mentone, to which place I went yesterday “prospecting” and was delighted with it.”
On the 17th a charming drive along that beautiful part of the Corniche road lying East of Nice, took us to Mentone; and there we settled: both of us preferring the place to any of the others, chiefly because of its surprizing number of picturesque walks. Of course we made expeditions. There was a trip to Monaco and Monte Carlo to see the gambling-tables, where the faces of the players were less repulsive than I had expected. A day was spent at Ventimiglia. During an absence of two days we visited Bordighera and San Remo. And there were smaller excursions to places near at hand—Roquebrune and Eza.
Concerning this last place, to which I went alone (for Youmans was not equal to much exertion), something may be said. Already from the Corniche road we had looked down upon its truncated peak of rock, and cluster of habitations on the top; and now I climbed up to it from the railway-station near the sea-side. The climb occupied me more than an hour; for I sat down occasionally to rest and do a little revising. But the sight of its curious interior well repaid me for the climb. With its irregular dwellings huddled together chaotically around narrow streets and passages and archways like tunnels, it may be compared to the oldest part of one of our oldest provincial towns, in course of being changed into a magnified rabbit-warren. At the highest part there is a ruined stronghold, in which I sat down. After contemplating awhile the magnificent panoramic view, I took out a portion of The Data of Ethics, and spent half an hour upon it; and, remembering what the place had witnessed during the times when it was a refuge for the people of the district, and during other times when it was held by the invading Saracens, I was struck by the odd contrast between the purposes to which it was then put, and the purpose to which I was putting it.
By the middle of February my friend and I found reasons for returning: I, because I had got through all the MS. I had brought with me, and he, because he longed for home. We reached London on the 17th; and, after remaining with me a fortnight he departed for America. Writing on Feb. 19 to Lott I said:—
“The excursion was a success as being an escape from the terrible winter you have had here, though not so satisfactory absolutely. One-third rainy days, one-third dull days, one-third bright days, describes the weather approximately. Still, the change was beneficial in some respects and enjoyable; and as I did my full stint of work or rather more, and have come back perhaps a little better than I went, I am content.” This description of the unsatisfactory weather is, I find, an over-statement. My diary shows that the fine days were slightly in excess of the rest.
Save a week’s visit to Quorn at Easter, nothing occurred to vary the even tenor of my life until the beginning of June; on the 7th of which month I find the entry “Finished the Data of Ethics”. The printers had been at my heels all through the Spring; so that now, when I put the final portion of MS. into their hands, there remained only to pass the last sheets through the press.
This small task was not, however, completed in London, but near Salisbury; where I had been invited to spend a few days at Wilton House, with the kind intention of benefiting my health. Had I thought of it, I might have corrected the closing pages of The Data of Ethics in the groves where Sir Philip Sidney is said to have composed his Arcadia; but attractive though the grounds are, it did not then occur to me to take my work out of doors. A little time only being occupied in looking through proofs, the rest was spent partly in drives and walks accompanied by somewhat too much conversation for my welfare, and partly amidst an agreeable circle of Whitsuntide guests. I have often regretted that the health of our host has not allowed him to take a more prominent part in public life; where the philanthropic nature he inherits, joined with a clear intelligence, might have done conspicuous service.
Shortly after my return to town The Data of Ethics was issued, and met with a more favourable reception than I had been accustomed to. More endeavour was made than usual to give some idea of the contents of the work; and especially in one instance, a clear and succinct account of its argument was set forth. A curious commentary on current criticism is supplied by the fact that I was, after nearly thirty years experience of it, surprized to meet with a case in which the reviewer did that which every reviewer ought to do.
As the articles named in the last chapter but one were all nearly completed, though not all published, before The Data of Ethics was seriously commenced, why was not the volume on Ceremonial Institutions, constituted by these articles, published first? Was I so anxious to write The Data of Ethics that I could not even delay to pass Ceremonial Institutions through the press? These questions at first puzzled me; and it was only after some consideration that I saw what had happened.
At the time when I made the resolve to write The Data of Ethics forthwith, lest it should never be written at all, my intention was to publish the second volume of The Principles of Sociology as a whole, according to programme. As the chapters dealing with Ceremonial Institutions formed but the first division of it, they were consequently laid aside until the other divisions should be written. On returning to the subject, however, I reflected that as the volume was to contain five divisions, treating respectively of Ceremonial, Political, Ecclesiastical, Professional, and Industrial Institutions, it would be very bulky, and would be a long time in hand—certainly several years. Hence there arose the thought—Why not publish each division separately? Though organically connected with the rest, each division has a sufficient degree of independence to admit of separate treatment; each division will form a volume of sufficient size; and, further, each division will have more chance of being bought and read than did it form a part of one large expensive volume. Moreover, if the paging was made to run consecutively through these successive divisions, they could be bound into one volume when all were issued.
Once entertained, the thought of making this change of plan quickly ended in action; and, soon after The Data of Ethics was through the press, I took the requisite steps.
The season, verging towards its close when this happened, brought no further incident worthy of mention. A letter, however, dated 26 June, names a fact which, I suppose, ought not to be omitted:—
“You will, I daresay, be somewhat surprised so soon again to have a letter from me; but I have just received a piece of news of a satisfactory kind which you will be glad to have. . . . It is contained in a letter just received from Ribot.
‘I have the pleasure of informing you that, by official resolution of the Minister of Public Instruction, your principal works (First Principles, Principles of Biology, &c.) are henceforth to be placed at the disposal of the pupils of the Lyceums, and may be given to them as prizes. This resolution is the result of efforts to this end which I have long made in company with some friends (MM. Marion, Maspero, &c.) who are, like me, members of the Ministerial Commission which selects books. There were animated discussions over each of your works. We have nevertheless had a majority (the Commission is composed of about forty members), excepting the work on Education, which has been excluded “as being likely to make the students conceive a dislike for classical studies”. At the same time it has been decided that this book may be given to students who are about to leave the Lyceum. These resolutions apply to the whole of France.’ ”
I feel that the quoting of this passage is in somewhat questionable taste; and yet to say nothing about the endorsement it describes would be to leave out an occurrence of some significance.
A biographer, or autobiographer, is obliged to omit from his narrative the common-places of daily life, and to limit himself almost exclusively to salient events, actions, and traits. The writing and reading of the bulky volumes otherwise required, would be alike impossible. But by leaving out the humdrum part of the life, forming that immensely larger part which it had in common with other lives, and by setting forth only the striking things, he produces the impression that it differed from other lives more than it really did. This defect is inevitable.
Consciousness of it, and the desire to diminish it, have helped to make me persist in noting my various absences from town, and in many cases giving accounts of their doings; since, being parts of the life which might as well have belonged to other lives, they tend to assimilate it to other lives. Not, indeed, that I have done this exhaustively. Partly by intention, and partly because there was no diary to bring them before me, nor references in correspondence to remind me of them, I have left out many of the least important of my relaxations—short sojourns at Brighton, and others at Eastbourne, Hastings, Folkestone, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks; as well as various short visits to High Elms, Coombe Bank, Wykehurst, Aldermaston, and longer ones to Standish and Quorn. But if the reader will conceive that the breaks in my London routine, already shown to be frequent, were still more frequent, it will suffice.
Instead of indicating in the same way as heretofore my doings in the autumn of this year, I may copy verbatim my diary during the period, or, at any rate, during the greater part of it: so giving the reader a clearer idea how my holidays were spent than any description would do.
“July 30th. Left Euston Station by the 8.50 limited mail for Stirling. 31st. Stirling at 7.50. Inveroran about 3. Aug. 1st. Began fishing at 11, ended at 5. Got 3 salmon—one 17 lb., one of 15 lb. and one 10 lb.—all in the Island-pool. 2nd. Revising Ceremonial Government in morning. Afternoon fishing; river gone down; no sport. 3rd. Revising Ceremonial Government most of the day—foot blistered and could not walk much. 4th. Revising Ceremonial Government; short walks. 5th. Revising and short walks. 6th. Revising; some rain; river higher; fished from 12 to 5—one salmon 16 lb. 7th. River low—reading, revising, and walking. 8th. Reading, revising, and walking. 9th. Reading, revising, and walking. 10th. Reading, revising, and walking. 11th. Left at 10½; Tyndrum at 12½; left at 1; got to Oban at 6½—Craigard Hotel; met Lingards. 12th. Left at 7 by Skye-boat; Loch Aline at 8½; and Ardtornish at 9½; afternoon, netting in Loch Arienas and picnic with the ladies there. 13th. Revising, walking, and drive to old Ardtornish in afternoon. 14th. In the yacht Dobhran up Loch Sunart to Strontian; back by 9 o’clock. 15th. Started at 8 in the Dobhran to Staffa; fine day; explored cave; back by 6½. 16th. Walking, and revising, and reading. 17th. Walking, revising, and reading. 18th. Started in Dobhran up Loch Linnhe; saw two stags stalked and shot by V. Smith; on to Loch Corrie and Loch Leven; back at 8. 19th. Fishing on Loch Arienas; 14 sea-trout and 12 loch-trout in 5 hours. 20th. Revising, reading, and walking. 21st. Fishing on Loch Arienas; no sport. 22nd. Revising, walking, and playing lawn-tennis. 23rd. Excursion in the Dobhran to Loch-na-Kiel, in Mull. In the sound saw a whale about 50 ft. long [which accompanied us for a mile or more]. 24th. Revising, billiards, and walking; went to Old Ardtornish in afternoon. 25th. Fishing from 11 to 5 in river; 6 sea trout—one 5 lb. one 2 lbs.; missed 4 salmon. 26th. Fishing in river 11 to 5; got 2 salmon—one 7 lb., one 6 lb.; and lost a third. 27th. Revising and walking. 28th. Fishing from 11 to 3; 3 sea-trout—one of 2 lbs. 29th. Revising and walking; afternoon to Acharn with the ladies. 30th. Revising and walking. 31st. Revising and walking to Old Ardtornish in afternoon. Sept. 1st. Revising, very wet; in all day. 2nd. Ditto. 3rd. Ditto; packing up. 4th. Left for Oban by the Plover at 2; Oban at 4; met E. Lott and Phy at the Craigard; evening with them. 5th. At 8 left by Chevalier; reached Glasgow 7.40. 6th. At 10.20 left for Edinburgh; there at 11.50; left at 2.30; Galashiels at 3.30; Laidlawstiel at 4.30.”
Here follows a week’s record; chiefly of walks and drives with host or hostess. Then there is a journey to Rusland near Windermere, to join the Potters; where another week was spent—now in some unsuccessful fishing in the Leven, now in excursions to Barrow and Carpmel, and now in climbing hills and rambling over moors. After which, on the 20th September, comes the journey home.
Perhaps I should explain that there had been no permanent migration from Standish. The timber-importing firm, of which my friend was the leading partner, in addition to their place of business at Gloucester, had established branches at Great Grimsby and Barrow; and finding it needful to be near Barrow for some months in the autumn, he had taken Rusland Hall furnished.
The foregoing extracts from my diary imply that a good deal had been done during my vacation; and the following passage from a letter dated Laidlawstiel shows the result:—
“I have been revising the chaps. on Ceremonial Institutions, and shall go to press as soon as I get back. Probably I shall publish by the end of November.”
Some extracts from letters written shortly after, which have interests of several kinds, may be added. The first is dated October 1.
“I heard yesterday from John Evans some lines [of his own] which have become current, summing up the moral of Allman’s address at the Association. They are as follows:
It rarely happens that a pun has the peculiarity that it is not only true either way, but has the same kind of truth both ways. The next extract is from a letter written on Oct. 8.
“Mrs. Lewes, in writing to me about the Data of Ethics, expressed her anxiety that I should forthwith finish the Ethics, rather than return to the Sociology; but, though it would be important to do this, I feel that there is still greater importance in forthwith dealing with Social Evolution under its political aspect, even if under no other.”
In a letter two days later in date there is a passage of which the significance will appear hereafter.
“While away in the country this time, I have been so frequently thinking of the question of Militancy v. Industrialism, and the profound antagonism between the two which comes out more and more at every step in my Sociological inquiries, and I have been so strongly impressed with the rebarbarization that is going on in consequence of the return to militant activities, that I have come to the conclusion that it is worth while to try and do something towards organizing an antagonistic agitation. We have, lying diffused throughout English society, various bodies and classes very decidedly opposed to it, which I think merely want bringing together to produce a powerful agency, which may do eventually a good deal in a civilizing direction. The Nonconformist body as a whole, through its ministers, has been manifesting anti-war feelings very strongly; the leading working-men, as was shown at the late Sheffield Congress, are quite alive to the mischief; the Secularists as a body will go in the same direction; so will the Comtists; so will a considerable number of rationalists; so will a considerable sprinkling of Liberal politicians; and so will even a certain proportion of the advanced Churchmen, such as Hughes, and of the clerical body. I have talked to several about the matter—Rathbone, member for Liverpool, Harrison, Morley and others—and I am about to take further steps. There is a decided sympathy felt by all I have named; and I think that it is important to move.”
Probably, if I had duly borne in mind the general principle of the specialization of functions, I should have seen that my function was to think rather than to act, and should have never entertained the intention here indicated.
During the short period covered by the title of this chapter, nothing further occurred calling for mention.
In respect of punctuality, printers are not more praiseworthy than other men of business. Delay in the receipt of proofs is a standing grievance with authors, as delay in the receipt of coats and boots is a standing grievance with men at large. In this case, however, the printers proved unusually virtuous; and my anticipation above expressed, that Ceremonial Institutions would be ready for publication by the end of November, was more than fulfilled; for the book was nearly through the press before many days in November had passed.
But now, while the last sheets were passing under my eyes, came an event which changed the course of my life for the next three months. So marked a break may fitly be signalized by the commencement of a new division.