Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LII.: CEREMONIAL INSTITUTIONS. 1879. Æt. 59. - An Autobiography, vol. 2
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CHAPTER LII.: CEREMONIAL INSTITUTIONS. 1879. Æt. 59. - Herbert Spencer, An Autobiography, vol. 2 
An Autobiography by Herbert Spencer. Illustrated in Two Volumes. Vol. 2 (New York: D. Appleton and Company 1904).
Part of: An Autobiography
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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.