Beacon Lights of History, Volume XIV
John Lord

Part 2 out of 6

uncertain health. Later on, unhappily, he was caught in the toils of
another Scottish lass, for whom, it is related, he had written "The King
of the Golden River" (1841), and whose rare beauty had readily attracted
him. With her, in 1848, he made an ill-assorted marriage, only to find,
some years afterwards, his heart riven and a bitter ingredient dropped
into his life's chalice by a fatal defection on the wife's part, she
having become enamoured of the then rising young painter, Millais, whom
Ruskin had trustingly invited to his house to paint her portrait. The
sequel of the affair is a pitiful one, which Ruskin ever afterward hid
deep in his heart, though at the time, finding that the woman was unable
to live at the intellectual and spiritual altitude of her loyal husband,
the latter, with a magnanimity beyond parallel, pardoned both Millais
and the erring one, consented to a divorce, and actually stood by her at
the altar as the faithless one took upon herself new vows unto a new
husband. The estrangement and loss of a wife gave Ruskin afresh to
Art,--his true and fondly cherished bride.

At this period, as we know, English painting was at a low ebb, mediocre
and conventional, though with a show of artificial brilliance. Ruskin,
with his scorn of the artificial and scholastic, threw himself into the
work of overturning the established, complacent school of the time, and
with splendid enthusiasm and an unfailing belief in himself and his
ideas he undertook to reform what had been, and to raise current
conceptions of art to a more exalted and lofty plane. We have seen what
he had already achieved in his first dashing period of literary
activity, in the production of the early volumes of "Modern Painters,"
and in his "Seven Lamps" and "Stones of Venice." While he was at work on
the concluding volumes of the first and last of these great books there
arose in England the somewhat fantastic movement in art, launched by the
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which included such Ruskinites and other
devotees of early Christian and mediaeval painting as Rossetti, Millais,
Morris, Burne-Jones, and Holman Hunt. Towards this new school of
symbolists and affectationists Ruskin was not at first drawn, since it
seemed to him unduly idealistic, if not mystic, and smacked not a
little, as he thought, of popery. Later, however, he saw good in it, as
a breaking away from academic trammels; while he recognized the earnest
enthusiasm of the little band of artists and artist-poets, as well as
their technical dexterity and brilliance. With ready decision as well as
with his accustomed zeal for art, Ruskin ended by defending and
applauding the new innovators, particularly as their chief motive was
the one the master had always strenuously pled for,--adherence to the
simplicity of nature. Their scrupulous attention to detail,
characteristic of the Pre-Raphaelites, later on bore good results, even
after the Brotherhood fell apart, especially in William Morris's
application of their art-principles to household decoration and
furnishings. But for the time the movement was loudly mocked and
decried, and perhaps all the more because of Ruskin's espousal of the
fervid band, his letters of defence in the London "Times," and his
discussion in his booklet on "Pre-Raphaelitism." Heedless of the outcry,
Ruskin pursued his own self-confident course, and by the year 1860 he
had completed his "Modern Painters," and, in spite of objurgation and
detraction, had won a great name for himself as a critic and expounder,
while expanding himself over almost the whole world of art.

We have said that Pre-Raphaelitism, as a movement in art, was
contemporaneously jeered at; while to-day, among superficial or
inappreciative students of the period, seriously to mention it or any of
its cultured brotherhood is to provoke a smile. Nevertheless, there was
not a little high merit in the movement, which Ruskin was keen-eyed and
friendly enough to recognize, while much that is worthy afterwards came
out of it in the later work of the more notable of its members as well
as in that of their unenrolled associates and the admirers of the
Pre-Raphaelite method. What the movement owed to Ruskin is now frankly
conceded, in the lesson the brotherhood took to heart from his
counsellings,--to divest art of conventionality, and to work with
scrupulous fidelity and sincerity of purpose. Nor was contemporary art
alone the gainer by the movement; it also had its influence on poetry,
though this has been obscured--so far as any beneficial influence can be
traced at all--by the tendency manifested in some of the more amorous
poetic swains of the period, who professed to derive their inspiration
from the Brotherhood, to identify themselves with what has been styled
the "Fleshly School" of verse. Of the latter number, Swinburne, in his
early "Poems and Ballads," was perhaps the greatest sinner, though
atoned for in part by the lyrical art and ardor of his verse, and much
more by the higher qualities and scholarly characteristics of his later
dramatic Work. Nor is Dante Rossetti himself, in some of his poems, free
from the same taint, despite the fact of his interesting individuality
as the chief inspirer and laborer among the Brotherhood. Yet the
movement owed much to both his brush and his pen of other and nobler,
because reverential, work, as those will admit who know "The Blessed
Damozel," "Sister Helen," and his fine collection of sonnets, "The House
of Life," as well as his famous paintings, "The Girlhood of Mary
Virgin," and his Annunciation picture, "Ecce Ancilla Domini." Of the
product of other Pre-Raphaelites of note,--such as Ford Madox Brown,
Millais, Morris, Woolner the sculptor, Coventry Patmore, and Holman
Hunt,--much that is commendable as well as finely imaginative came from
their hands, and justified Ruskin in his gallant advocacy of the
movement, its founders, and their work.

By this time, of which we have been writing, Ruskin had reached the
early meridian of his powers, and, as we have hinted, had wrested from
the unwilling many a juster recognition of his amazing industry and
genius. To his fond and indulgent parents this was a great source of
pride and satisfaction, and the practical evidence of it was the throng
of visitors to the family seats of Herne Hill and Denmark Hill, in the
then London suburbs, where Ruskin long had his home, and by the
attentions and honor paid to their son by universities, academies, and
public bodies, as well as by many eminent personages and the
intellectual _elite_ of the nation. Among those with whom the young
celebrity was then ultimate and reckoned among his admiring
correspondents were, besides Turner (who died in 1851) and the chief
artists of the time, the Carlyles and the Brownings, Mary Russell
Mitford, Charlotte Bronte, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Monckton Milnes (Lord
Houghton), Charles Eliot Norton, Lady Trevelyan (Macaulay's sister),
Whewell, Maurice, Kingsley, Dr. John Brown (author of "Rab and his
Friends"), Tennyson, and Dean Milman. To these might be added many
notable foreigners whom he either met with in his continental travels or
who were attracted to him by a lively interest in his writings. In his
home, thanks to a wealthy and indulgent father, he was surrounded with
every comfort, short of luxury, if we except under the latter the large
sums expended on the purchase of "Turners" and many famous foreign
pictures, and a vast and increasing collection of favorite books and
other treasures and curios.

Of the author's home-life we get many delightful reminiscences in
"Praeterita," with entertaining talks of his childhood days, his
youthful companions, his toys and animate pets, his early playful
adventures in authorship, and other garrulities with which, late in life
when the work, as it remains, was incompletely put together, he beguiled
the weariness and feebleness of old age. But we are anticipating, for we
are writing of Ruskin when his hand was yet on the plough, and the
plough was still in the furrow, and half a long life's arduous work was
yet before him. At this era, no brain could well have been more active
or fuller of philanthropies than his, for we approach the second period
of his life's grand activities,--the era of a new departure in the
interests that occupied him and the herculean tasks he set himself
to do.

Before recording some of the achievements of this time and glancing at
the inciting causes of the transition which marks the era we have now
reached, let us note the demands made upon Mr. Ruskin's thought and
labor by universities and public institutions, whose audiences desired
to have him appear before them in person and address them upon topics in
which he and they were interested. These appearances on the lecture
platform were now numerous, since many throughout the kingdom were eager
to see and know the man whose art criticisms, principles that govern the
beautiful, and stimulating thought on all subjects, had made so deep an
impression on the reflecting minds of the age. His earliest appearance
on the rostrum was at Edinburgh, where he delivered four lectures
before the Philosophical Institution, chiefly on landscape-painters and
on Christian art, with a plea for the use of Gothic in domestic
architecture. Subsequent appearances were at Manchester, where he spoke
on the Political Economy of Art and the relation of art to manufactures;
at the South Kensington Museum, London, which had just been opened; and
later at Oxford, where further on in his career he became Slade
Professor of Art in his own University. From the accounts of these
public lectures we get opinions as to the personal appearance of Ruskin
at the period which add to our knowledge of him from paintings,
drawings, and photographs, though not a few of these accounts vary from
those given us in books, chiefly sketched by his lady friends and
correspondents. The more trusty of the contemporary pictures speak of
him as having "light, sand-colored hair; his face more red than pale;
the mouth well cut, with a good deal of decision in its curve, though
somewhat wanting in sustained dignity and strength; an aquiline nose;
his forehead by no means broad or massive, but the brows full and well
bound together; the eye [says the observer from whom we are quoting] we
could not see, in consequence of the shadows that fell upon his
[Ruskin's] countenance from the lights overhead, but we are sure that
the poetry and passion we looked for almost in vain in other features
must be concentrated here." Miss Mitford speaks of him at this time as
"eloquent and distinguished-looking, fair and slender, with a gentle
playfulness, and a sort of pretty waywardness that was quite charming."
Another, a visitor at his London home, characterizes him as "emotional
and nervous, with a soft, genial eye, a mouth thin and severe, and a
voice that, though rich and sweet, yet had a tendency to sink into a
plaintive and hopeless tone." Later on in years we have this verbal
portrait from a disciple of the great art-teacher, occurring in an
inaugural address delivered before the Ruskin Society of Glasgow: "That
spare, stooping figure, the rough-hewn, kindly face, with its mobile,
sensitive mouth, and clear deep eyes, so sweet and honest in repose, so
keen and earnest and eloquent in debate!"

When the fifth and last volume of "Modern Painters" was finally off his
hands, Mr. Ruskin not only engaged, as we have seen, in occasional
lecturing, but began (1861) to add a prolific series of
_brochures_--many of them with quaint but significant titles--to his
already stupendous mass of writing. Their subjects were not alone
aesthetics, but now treated of ethical, social, and political questions,
the prophetic declarations and earnest appeals of a man of wide and
varied culture, deep thought, and large experience. The attempted
alliance of political economy with art was a novel undertaking in that
sixth lustrum of the past century, even by a man of Mr. Ruskin's
eminence and fame in the world of letters. But Mr. Ruskin was a bold and
earnest man, as well as a genius; and he had too much to tell his
heedless, _laissez-faire_ age to keep silent on themes, remote as they
were from those he had hitherto taught, and of which he desired to
deliver his soul, whatever ridicule it might provoke and however adverse
the criticism levelled against him. His humanity and moral sense were
outraged by the manner in which the mass of his countrymen lived, and
trenchant was his castigation of this and eager as well as righteous his
desire to amend their condition and elevate and inspire their minds. As
an economist, it is true, there was not a little that was false as well
as eccentric in what he preached; moreover, much of his counsel was
directly socialistic in its trend, repugnant in large degree to his
English readers and hearers; but all this was atoned for by the honesty
and philanthropy of his motives, by his phenomenal fervor and eloquence,
and by the literary beauty and charm of every page he wrote.
Nevertheless, as in Carlyle--for in these depreciations the style of the
seer of Chelsea was deeply upon him--the note of calamity and the wail
of despair are too much in evidence in Ruskin's writings at this period,
while, like Carlyle also, he was equally precipitate and impulsive in
his attacks on things as they were. Yet in the economic condition just
then of England, and in the circumstances environing the labor world,
there was, possibly, justification for the rebukes and objurgations of
onlookers of the type of both of these men, and very humanitarian as
well as practically helpful were Ruskin's counsel and aid to labor and
to all who sought to raise and expand their outlook and better their
condition in life. Towards politics Ruskin was never drawn, but had he
been more prosaic and less given to anathematizing, most valuable would
have been his aid in legislation at this era of political and moral
reform. But if political science, or science in any other of its
branches or departments, did not come within his purview, great was the
revolution he wrought in the working-man's surroundings, and immense the
illumination he shed upon industry and on the spirit in which the
laborer should think and work.

Referring to Ruskin at this period of his career, and to his influence
as a social and moral exhorter, Frederic Harrison, from whom we have
already quoted, has an admirable passage on "Ruskin as Prophet," [2]
which, as it is presumably too little known, we take pleasure in
embodying in these pages.

[Footnote 2: "Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill, and other Literary Estimates," by
Frederic Harrison; London and New York: Macmillan & Co. 1900.]

"The influence of Ruskin," says Mr. Harrison, "has been part of the
great romantic, historical, catholic, and poetic revival of which
Scott, Carlyle, Coleridge, Freeman, Newman, and Tennyson in our own
country have been leading spirits within the last two generations in
England. There is no need to compare him with any one of these as a
source of original intellectual force. He owns Scott and Carlyle as his
masters, and he might vehemently repudiate certain of the others
altogether. His work has been to put this romantic, historical, and
genuine sympathy inspired by Scott, Wordsworth, and Carlyle into a new
understanding of the arts of form. The philosophic impulse assuredly was
not his own. It is a compound of Scott, Carlyle, Dante, and the Bible.
The compound is strange, for it makes him talk sometimes like a Puritan
father, and sometimes like a Cistercian monk. At times he talks as Flora
MacIvor talked to young Waverley; at other times like Thomas Carlyle
inditing a Latter-day Pamphlet. But to transfuse into this modern
generation of Englishmen this romantic, catholic, historical, and social
sympathy as applied to the arts of form, needed gifts that neither
Scott, nor Carlyle, nor Newman, nor Tennyson possessed--the eye, if not
the hand, of a consummate landscape painter, a torrent of ready
eloquence on every imaginable topic, a fierce and desperate courage that
feared neither man nor devil, neither failure nor ridicule, and above
all things an exquisite tenderness that is akin to St. Francis or St.
Vincent de Paul....

"Here is a man who, laboring for fifty years, has scattered broadcast a
thousand fine ideas to all who practise the arts, and all who care for
art. He has roused in the cultured world an interest in things of art
such as a legion of painters and ten royal academies could never have
done. He has poured out a torrent of words, some right, some wrong, but
such as have raised the level of art into a new world, which have
adorned English literature for centuries, and have inspired the English
race for generations; he has cast his bread upon the waste and muddy
waters with a lavish hand, and has not waited to find it again, though
it has been the seed of abundant harvest to others."

Again, speaking of what Ruskin sought to accomplish in the regeneration
of modern society, and the reformation of our social ideals, and of that
"heroic piece of Quixotism" he founded, "the Guild of St. George," Mr.
Harrison remarks:--

"The first life of John Ruskin was the life of a consummate teacher of
art and master of style; the second life was the life of priest and
evangelist.... Here is the greatest living master [the passage was
written while Mr. Ruskin was yet alive] of the English tongue, one of
the most splendid lights of our noble literature, one to whom a dozen
paths of ambition and power lay open, who had everything that could be
offered by genius, fame, wealth, social popularity, and intense
sensitiveness to all lovely things--and this man, after thirty years of
untiring labor, devotes himself to train, teach, delight, and inspire a
band of young men, girls, workmen, children,--all who choose to come
around him. He lavishes the whole of his fortune on them; he brings to
their door his treasures of art, science, literature, and poetry; he
founds and endows museums; he offers these costly and precious
collections to the people; he wears out his life in teaching them the
elements of art, the elements of manufacture, the elements of science;
he shows workmen how to work, girls how to draw, to sing, to play; he
gives up to them his wealth, his genius, his peace, his whole life. He
is not content with writing books in his study, with enjoying art at
home or abroad; he must carry his message into the streets. He gives
himself up--not to write beautiful thoughts: he seeks to build up a
beautiful world.... When I see this author of 'Modern Painters' and the
'Stones of Venice,' the man who has exhausted almost all that Europe
contains of the beautiful, who has thought and spoken of almost every
phase of human life, and has entered so deeply into the highest
mysteries of the greatest poets--when I see him surrounding himself in
his old age with lads and lasses, schoolgirls and workmen, teaching them
the elements of science and art, reading to them poems and tales,
arranging for them games and holidays, ornaments and dresses, lavishing
on these young people his genius and his wealth, his fame and his
future--I confess my memory goes back instinctively to a fresco I saw in
Italy years ago--was it Luini's?--wherein the Master sat in a crowd of
children and forbade them to be removed, saying that 'of such is the
kingdom of heaven.'"

With this generous tribute to and appreciation of Ruskin, despite the
economic vagaries into which the great critic and teacher of his time
fell, we may more confidently approach the busy era of his later and
self-sacrificing labors, and with less apology take space to deal--as
compactly and intelligently as we can--with some of the more notable of
the many books and _brochures_ of the period. Difficult as would be the
task, fortunately there is little need to epitomize these works, as many
of them are better known, and perhaps more attentively read, than his
earlier, bulkier, and more ambitious writings. A few of them lie outside
the economic gospel of their apostolic author, and these we will first
and briefly deal with. A number of them are instructive and inspiring
lay sermons on the mystical union between nature and art, beauty and
utility, and their reflex in the reverential homage for the beautiful
and the worthy in the mind and character of the English-speaking race.
The whole form a great body of fine and thoughtful work, which is as
enchaining as its meaning is often profound. The best-known of these lay
sermons is: "The Queen of the Air" (1869), a splendid blending of his
fancy with the Greek nature-myths of cloud and storm, represented by
Athena, goddess of the heavens, of the earth, and of the heart. The
parable drawn is that "the air is given us for our life, the rain for
our thirst and baptism, the fire for our warmth, the sun for our light,
and the earth for our meat and rest." Related to the work is "Ethics of
the Dust" (1865), lectures to little housewives on mineralogy and
crystallography, nature's work in crystallization being the text for a
diatribe against sordid living. "Sesame and Lilies," which belongs also
to this period of the writer's work, consists of three addresses,
delivered at Manchester and at Dublin, designed specially for young
girls, and treating in the main of good and improving literature. The
first of them, "Of Kings' Treasuries," deals with the treasures hidden
in books, the writings of the world's great men; its sequel, "Of Queens'
Gardens," deals with the function and sphere of woman, and, by way of
application, with the how and the what to read; the third lecture, on
"The Mystery of Life and its Arts," is a discursive but inspiring
consideration of what life is and how most successfully to battle with
it in the way of our work and of our appointed duty. All three lectures,
observes a commentator, "tell men and women of the ideals they should
set before them; how to read and to build character under the
inspiration of the nobility of the past, fitting one's self for such
great society; how to develop noble womanhood; how to bear one's self
toward the wonder of life, toward one's work in the world, and toward
one's duty to others."

Other lectures and _brochures_ of or about this period are "Hortus
Inclusus" (The Enclosed Garden), being "Messages from the Wood to the
Garden sent in happy days to two sister ladies," residing at Coniston,
and collected in 1887; "Arrows of the Chace," letters on various
subjects to newspapers, gathered and edited in 1880; "The Two Paths,"
lectures on art and its application to Decoration and Manufacture
(1859); "Ariadne Florentina" (1873), a monograph on Italian wood and
metal engraving; "Aratra Pentelici" (1872), on the elements and
principles of sculpture; and "The Eagle's Nest" (1872), on the relation
of natural science to art. Still pursuing his delightful methods of
interpreting nature and teaching the world instructive lessons, even
from the common things of mother earth, we have a series of three
eloquent discourses, entitled (1) "Proserpina," studies of Alpine and
other wayside flowers, dwelling on the mystery of growth in plants and
the tender beauty of their form; (2) "Deucalion," a sort of glorified
geological text-book, treating of stones and their life-history, and
showing the wearing effect upon them of waves and the action of water;
and (3) "Love's Meinie" (1873), a rapture about birds and their
feathered plumage, delivered at Eton and at Oxford. This trilogy,
dealing with botany, geology, and ornithology, was presented to his
audiences with illustrative drawings, representing the flora met with in
his travels or found in the neighborhood of his new home in the
Lancashire lakes, with sketches of regions, including the
characteristics of the soil, in which he had been reared, and talks of
the note and habit of all birds that were wont to warble over him their
morning song. "The Pleasures of England," the "Harbours of England," and
the "Art of England" further treat of his loved native land, the first
of these being talks on the pleasures of learning, of faith, and of
deed, illustrated by examples drawn from early English history, and the
last treating of representative modern English artists, chiefly of the
Pre-Raphaelite school. "The Laws of Fesole" (1878) deals with the
principles of Florentine draughtsmanship; "St. Mark's Rest," with the
art and architecture of Venice; and "Val d'Arno," with early Tuscan art,
interspersed with the author's accustomed ethical reflections. "Mornings
in Florence," intended for the use of visitors to the art galleries of
the beautiful city on the Arno, deals in the true artist-spirit with its
famous examples of Christian art, giving prominence here also to the
ethical side of the city's history. "In Montibus Sanctis," and "Coeli
Enarrant," the one comprising studies of mountain form, and the other of
cloud form and their visible causes, though separately published, are
only reprints of the author's larger and nobler embodiment of his views
on art, in "Modern Painters." "The King of the Golden River," of which
we have previously spoken, is a fairy tale of much beauty, which he
wrote for the "Fair Maid of Perth" whom he married, and who separated
herself from him on the plea of "incompatibility." Playful as is the
style of the story, it is not without a moral, on what constitutes true
wealth and happiness. "The Crown of Wild Olive" (1866) consists of
lectures on work, traffic, and war; the latter lecture, delivered at the
Royal Artillery Institution at Woolwich, was also separately published
under the title of "The Future of England." The two former, being
addressed to working-men, laborers, and traders, discuss economic
problems, and set forth tentatively their author's antagonized political
ethics, with which, in drawing this essay to a close, we now venture
to deal.

After the magnificent work done by Ruskin in art up to his fortieth
year, that he should turn, for practically the remainder of his life, to
the seemingly vain and profitless task of a social reformer and
regenerator of modern society, has to most men been a riddle too elusive
and enigmatic to solve. And yet, in his earlier career, had he not
himself prepared us for just such a departure as he took in the sixties,
for in art was he not equally revolutionary and iconoclastic, as well as
personally self-willed, passionate, and impulsive? Moreover, had not
Mother Nature endowed him with the gifts of a seer and made him
chivalrous as well as intensely sympathetic, while his early training
inclined him to be serious, and even ascetic? Nor were the rebuffs he
met with throughout his career calculated at this stage to make him
court the applause of his fellow-men or be mindful of the world's
censure or approval. Nor can one well quarrel with what he had now to
say on many a subject, visionary and enthusiast as he always was, and
given over to mediaeval views and preachments, and to abounding moral
and ethical exhortation. Like Carlyle's, his voice was that of one
crying in the wilderness, and yet in the industrial and social condition
of Britain at the era there was need of just such appeals for
regeneration and reform as Ruskin strenuously uttered, accompanied by
indignant rebukes of grossness, vulgarity, and meanness, as manifested
in masses of the people. If in his strivings after amelioration he was
too denunciatory as well as too radical, we must remember the temper and
manner of the man, and recognize how difficult it was in him, or in any
iconoclast who scorned modern science as Ruskin scorned it, to reconcile
the age of steam and industrial machinery, which he spurned and would
have none of, with the views he held of Christianity, morals, and faith.
His views on political economy, which he treated neither as an art nor a
science, might be perverse and wrong-headed, and his method of adapting
prophetic and apostolic principles to the practice of every-day life
utterly impracticable; but the virtues he counselled the nation to
manifest, and the graces he enjoined of truthfulness, justice,
temperance, bravery, and obedience, were qualities needed to be
cultivated in his time, with a fuller recognition of and firmer trust in
God and His right of sway in the world He had created.

What Ruskin's economic views were, and what his relations to the
industrial and social problems of his time, most readers of our author
know, are mainly to be found in "Fors Clavigera," a series of letters to
working-men, covering the years 1871-84, and in his early essays on
political economy, "Unto this Last" (1860), and "Munera Pulveris"
(1863). "Unto this Last" appeared in its original form in the pages of
the "Cornhill Magazine," then edited by Thackeray, and our author speaks
confidently of it as embodying his maturest and worthiest thoughts on
social science. The work, which will be found the key to Ruskin's
economic gospel, embraces four essays, treating successively of the
responsibilities and duties of those called to fill all offices of
national trust and service; of the true sources of a nation's riches; of
the right distribution of such riches; and of what is meant by the
economic terms,--value, wealth, price, and produce. Under these several
heads, Ruskin expresses his conviction that co-operation and government
are in all things the law of life, while the deadly things are
competition and anarchy. Whatever errors the book[3] contains--and the
author's unconscious arrogance and dogmatism made him blind to them--his
views were set forth with his accustomed vigor and eloquence, and in
the honest belief that he was more than fundamentally right. It was for
such helpful work as this, and what he accomplished in the kindred
volume, "Munera Pulveris," which first appeared in "Fraser's Magazine,"
that Ruskin for the time dropped his revelations in art to let a new
world of thought into the "dismal science" of political economy,
confound its old-time instructors, and gird at the evils of the
age,--the greed, selfishness, and petty bargaining spirit of industrial
and commercial life. Nor in conducting such a crusade as this was Ruskin
abandoning his old and less controverted gospel of art. He was but
carrying into new and barren fields the high ideals he had hitherto
counselled his age to emulate and heed, and in his sympathy with labor
seeking to bring into its world the comeliness of beauty and the cheer
of prosperity, comfort, and happiness. In "Time and Tide" (1867), and
more at length in "Fors Clavigera," Ruskin reiterates his message to
labor, to get rid of ever-environing misery by realizing what are the
true sources of happiness,--pleasure in sincere and honest work,
inspired by intelligence, culture, religion, and right living. What he
desires for the working-man he desires also for his family, and
consequently he urges parents to train their sons and daughters to see
and love the beautiful, to cultivate their higher instincts, and call
forth and feed their souls. In all this there is much helpful, tonic
thought, which the church or the nation, roused to zeal and earnest
activity, might fittingly teach, and so advance the material weal of the
people, extend the area of public enlightenment and morality, and herald
the dawn of a new and higher civilization.

[Footnote 3: Alluding to the quaint title under which these "Cornhill"
essays afterwards appeared,--a title that hints at the gist of the
work,--Mr. Ruskin's biographer tells us that the motto was taken from
Christ's parable of the husbandman and the laborers: "Friend, I do thee
no wrong. Didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is,
and go thy way. I will give UNTO THIS LAST even as unto
thee."--Matt. xx. 14.]

Other aspects of Mr. Ruskin's economic gospel are, unfortunately, not so
sane and beneficent. His altruism knows no bounds, as his philanthropy
and zeal have but few restraints. After the fashion of his mentor,
Carlyle, he is carried away by his humanitarianism and his unreserved
acceptance of the doctrine of the equality and brotherhood of man. Hence
come his economic heresies in regard to rent and interest, and capital
and usury, his denunciations of the division of labor, his Tolstoian
impoverishment of himself for the benefit of his fellow-man, and his
dictum that the wealth of the nation should be its own, and not accrue
to the individual. Hence, also, the wholly ideal state of society he
attempted to realize in his communal Guild of St. George, with its rigid
government and restraints upon the personal liberty of its members.
Ideally beautiful, admittedly, was the plan and scheme of the little
state, with its disciplinings, exactions, and devout selective creed.
But the age is a practical, unimaginative one, and whatever compacts men
make, even for their highest welfare, there are, it is to be feared,
few so loyal, tractable, and docile as to place themselves for long
under such tutoring and one-patterned, fashioning forms of co-operative
living. Into whatever millennial state Ruskin sought to usher his little
band of English followers and disciples, one must speak appreciatively
of his motives in projecting the scheme, and of the money and labor he
personally lavished upon the Utopian project. Reverently also must one
speak of the catholic creed to which its members were asked to
subscribe: namely, to trust in God, recognize the nobleness of human
nature, labor faithfully with one's might, be loyal to one's common
country, its laws, and its monarch's or ruler's orders, so far as they
are consistent with the higher law of God; while exacting obedience, and
a pledge that one will not deceive, either for gain or other motive;
will not rob; will not hurt any living creature nor destroy any
beautiful thing; and will honor one's own body by proper care for it,
for the joy and peace of life. All this is very exemplary and beautiful,
and not over-hard to live up to, though the working-men of Sheffield in
time wearied of the organization, and the Guild and its noble ideals is
now, we believe, but a memory, if we except the art museum and library
of the Order taken over and still maintained by the town.

More practical, may we not say, than this imitation of the Florentine
_arti_ of the Middle Ages was the Working Men's College, founded in
London in the fifties by that other earnest Christian Socialist, F.D.
Maurice, in which Ruskin lectured gratuitously, took charge of the
drawing classes, and hied off to the country with its members to sketch
from nature and otherwise instruct and entertain them. Yet good in many
respects came of the Guild of St. George, in the impulse it gave to the
revival of the then dormant industries, such as the hand-spinning of
linen, hand-weaving of carpets and woollen fabrics, lace-making,
wood-carving, and metal-working, besides the stimulus it gave, with the
infusion of higher ideals of workmanship, to the decorative arts, and
the improvement in the sightliness of factories, and in the homes and
surroundings of labor. Here Ruskin's philanthropy and reform zeal showed
themselves most worthily in the financial aid he gave in the pulling
down, in crowded districts of the British metropolis, of poor tenements,
and the building up in their place of clean, attractive, and wholesome
habitations. In such benevolences and well-doings, and in this life of
renunciation and self-sacrifice, Ruskin spent himself, and made serious
inroads into his bodily health and strength, as well as scattered the
fortune--about a million dollars--left him by his now deceased father.
But this was the manner and character of Ruskin, and this the mode of
expressing his love for his fellow-man, which in myriad ways showed
itself throughout a long and strenuous career of devotion to high
ideals, and of practical, tender help in all good works. In all his
philanthropies he was true to his own preachings and counsellings,
spending and being spent in the spirit of his Divine Master, his whole
soul aglow with reverence and adoration and tender with a profound moral
emotion. Besides his rare endowments as a lover of the beautiful, he had
that other precious gift, of golden speech, which threw a mantle of
loveliness over every book he wrote and perpetual lustre over the domain
of letters.

Ruskin's declining years, while hallowed by suffering, were cheered by
many tender attentions and unexpected kindnesses, and by the
recognition, by many notable public bodies and eminent contemporaries,
of his long life of great service and devotion to his kind. In our
modern age, from which, in his loved Coniston home, he passed from life
Jan. 20, 1900, no one more reverently than he has looked deeper into the
mystery of life, thought more concernedly of its problems, shed more
passionately and eloquently about him love for the beautiful, or
practically and helpfully done more--layman only though he was--for
religion and humanity. At his death the nation paid honor to his memory
by offering his remains a resting-place in the great fane of England's
illustrious dead, Westminster Abbey; but Ruskin had himself otherwise
ordered the disposal of his body. "Bury me," he said, "at Coniston."
And there, on the fifth day after his falling softly asleep, amid a
concourse of loving friends, the earthly tenement of the great art
critic and lover of righteousness was laid to rest, his grave strewn
with myriad wreaths, garlands, and crosses of beautiful, bright flowers.

Here, after his long, strenuous, militant career, do we leave this
inspiring teacher and "consecrated priest of the Ideal," his gentle soul
finding rest and peace after the myriad troubles and tumults of life.
Still now is the once active, fertile, stimulating mind of the man who
so effectively roused his generation from its complacent smugness and
indifference in its appreciation of the beautiful, and with ardent
boldness challenged established beliefs in art and defied the
conventionality and authority of his time. His has been a powerful force
in innumerable departments of human thought, and epoch-making the
influence he has exerted in giving to the world new ideals of the
beautiful and in shaping modern opinion and taste in art. How great is
the work he has done, and what a library of stimulating, inspiring books
he has left us, comparatively few realize, as they little realize what
the age owes to him for his noble activities in well-doing and his many
and impressive lessons and influence. In a commonplace, commercial time,
how stimulating as well as ardent have been his appeals for
sensitiveness of perception in regard to art, and of the tone and
spirit in which it ought to be viewed and valued! And with what tender,
reverent feeling has he not opened our hearts to compassion and to
consideration for the welfare of our fellow-man, and how potent have
been his counsellings pointing to the true and abiding sources of
pleasure in life! Long must his formative opinions and influence extend,
and in the minds of all who think and reflect abiding must be the charm
as well as the power of his imaginative, glowing thought. That he met
with opposition and hostility in his day was but the price to be paid
for the disturbing, correcting, disciplining, yet inspiring part he
played in the work he so impulsively set himself to do. One smiles now
at the epithets of scorn and contumely once hurled at him, at the man
who, little understood as he has been, has done so much to uplift and
purify the thought of his time and do battle with the forces opposed to
reform and arrayed against those of light and truth. And how great were
the weapons with which he was armed, and how varied as well as
marvellous the talents he brought into play in the onslaught upon
shallowness, convention, and ignorance! Truly, he has done much for his
time, and great has been the gain Modern Art has won from his inspiring
lessons and thought. The coming of such a man, and at the time that was
his, one cannot help reflecting, was one of the providences of an
overruling Power, and adequately to estimate his influence and work,
and the tone and temper in which he wrought, we have but to consider
what the age would have been, in countless departments of thought and
activity, had the century now passed possessed no John Ruskin.


Collingwood, W. G. Life of Ruskin.

Harrison, Frederic. Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill, and other Estimates.

Mather, Marshall. John Ruskin, his Life and Teaching.

Bayne, Peter. Lessons from my Masters--Carlyle, Tennyson, and Ruskin.

Japp, Alex. H. Carlyle, Tennyson, and Ruskin.

Spielmann, M.H. John Ruskin.

Waldstein, Charles. Work of John Ruskin.

Ward, May Alden. Prophets of the Nineteenth Century: Carlyle, Ruskin,
and Tolstoi.

Bates, Herbert. Annotated edition, with Introduction, of Ruskin's
"Sesame and Lilies" and "The King of the Golden River."

Ruskin's "Praeterita": An Autobiography.





Herbert Spencer occupies a unique place in the history of human thought,
because he has been the first to attempt the construction of a
philosophical system in harmony with the theory of Evolution and with
the results of modern science. To his contemporaries he is known almost
exclusively as the author of the colossal work which he has chosen to
call the "Synthetic Philosophy." Concerning his personality very little
information has been published, and it is doubtful whether he will deem
it worth while to leave behind him the materials for a detailed
biography. About his private life we know even less than we know about
that of Kant. The very few facts obtainable may be summed up in a score
of sentences.


Herbert Spencer was born on April 27, 1820, at Derby, in England, and
was an only surviving child. His father was a schoolmaster in the town
named, and secretary of a philosophical society. From him the son seems
to have imbibed the love of natural science and the faculty of
observation conspicuous in his work. The father was particularly
interested in entomology, and Spencer himself used to collect, describe,
and draw insects when a boy. At the age of thirteen he was sent to study
with an uncle, Rev. Thomas Spencer, a liberal clergyman and a scholar,
with whom he remained three years, carrying on the study of natural
history, which he had begun in childhood. He now devoted himself to
mathematics, evincing a singular capacity for working out original
problems. At this time, too, he became familiar with physical and
chemical investigations, and already exhibited a strong tendency to
experimental inquiry and original research. His aversion to linguistic
studies put a university career out of the question. At the age of
seventeen he entered the office of Sir Charles Fox and began work as a
civil engineer, but about eight years afterward he gave up this
profession, and devoted the whole of his time to scientific experiments
and studies, and to contributions on philosophical questions to various
periodicals. As early as 1842, in a series of letters to the
Nonconformist newspaper on "The Proper Sphere of Government," he
propounded a belief in human progress based on the modifiability of
human nature through adaptation to its social surroundings, and he
asserted the tendency of these social arrangements to assume of
themselves a condition of stable equilibrium. From 1848 to 1853 he was
sub-editor of the Economist newspaper, and in his first important work,
"Social Statics," published in 1850, he developed the ethical and
sociological ideas which had been set forth in his published letters.
The truth that all organic development is a change from a state of
homogeneity to a state of heterogeneity is regarded by Spencer as the
organizing principle of his subsequent beliefs. It was gradually
expounded and applied by him in a series of articles contributed to the
"North British," the "British Quarterly," the "Westminster," and other
reviews. In these essays, and especially in the volume of "Principles of
Psychology," published in 1855, the doctrine of Evolution began to take
definite form, and to be applied to various departments of inquiry. It
was not until four years later--a fact to be carefully borne in mind by
those who would estimate correctly the relation of Spencer to
Darwin--that the publication of the latter's "Origin of Species"
afforded a wide basis of scientific truth for what had hitherto been
matter of speculation, and demonstrated the important part played by
natural selection in the development of organisms. As early as March,
1860, Spencer issued a prospectus, in which he set forth the general aim
and scope of a series of works which were to be issued in periodical
parts, and would, collectively, constitute a system of philosophy. In
1862 appeared the "First Principles," and in 1867 the "Principles of
Biology." In 1872 the "Principles of Psychology" was published; the
first part of the "Principles of Ethics" in 1879; and his "Principles of
Sociology" in three volumes, begun in 1876, was completed in 1896. In
the preface to the third volume of the last-named work the author
explains that the fourth volume originally contemplated, which was to
deal with the linguistic, intellectual, moral, and aesthetic phenomena,
would have to remain unwritten by reason of the author's age and
infirmities. The astounding extent of Herbert Spencer's labors becomes,
indeed, the more marvellous when one considers that impaired health has
for many years incapacitated him for persistent application. Owing
partly to his ill health, and partly to the absorbing nature of his
occupation, his life has been a retired one, and in the ordinary sense
of the term, uneventful. He has never married, and, although the high
opinion of his writings formed by contemporaries has led to many
academic honors being pressed upon him at home and abroad, these have
all been declined. It only remains to mention that in 1882 he visited
the United States, where the importance of his speculations had been
early recognized, and that his home is now in Brighton, England.


In Mr. Spencer's latest book, "Facts and Comments," a little light is
thrown on the author's habits, opinions, and predilections. Referring to
the athleticism to which so much attention is paid just now in English
and American universities, he points out how erroneous it is to identify
muscular strength with constitutional strength. Not only is there error
in assuming that increase of muscular power and increase of general
vigor necessarily go together, but there is error in assuming that the
reverse connection cannot hold. As a matter of fact, the abnormal powers
acquired by gymnasts may be at the cost of constitutional deterioration.
In a paper on "Party Government" the author maintains that what we boast
of as political freedom consists in the ability to choose a despot, or a
group of oligarchs, and, after long misbehavior has produced
dissatisfaction, to choose another despot or group of oligarchs: having
meanwhile been made subject to laws, some of which are repugnant.
Abolish the existing conventional usages, with respect to party
fealty,--let each member of parliament feel that he may express by his
vote his adverse belief respecting a government measure, without
endangering the government's stability,--and the whole vicious system of
party government would disappear. In a paper on "Patriotism," Mr.
Spencer says that to him the cry "Our country, right or wrong," seems
detestable. The love of country, he adds, is not fostered in him by
remembering that when, after England's Prime Minister had declared that
Englishmen were bound in honor to the Khedive to reconquer the Soudan,
they, after the reconquest, forthwith began to administer it in the name
of the Queen and the Khedive, thereby practically annexing it; and when,
after promising through the mouths of two colonial Ministers not to
interfere in the internal affairs of the Transvaal, the British
Government proceeded to insist on certain electoral arrangements, and
made resistance the excuse for a desolating war. As to the transparent
pretence that the Boers commenced the war, Mr. Spencer reminds us that
in the far West of the United States, where every man carries his life
in his hands and the usages of fighting are well understood, it is held
that he is the real aggressor who first moves his hand toward his
weapon. The application to the South African contest is obvious. In an
essay on "Style," Mr. Spencer tells us that his own diction has been,
from the beginning, unpremeditated. It has never occurred to him to take
any author as a model. Neither has he at any time examined the writing
of this or that author with a view of observing its peculiarities. The
thought of style, considered as an end in itself, has rarely, if ever,
been present with him, his sole purpose being to express ideas as
clearly as possible, and, when the occasion called for it, with as much
force as might be. He has observed, however, he says, that some
difference has been made in his style by the practice of dictation. Up
to 1860 his books and review articles were written with his own hand.
Since then they have all been dictated. He thinks that there is
foundation for the prevailing belief that dictation is apt to cause
diffuseness. The remark was once made to him, it seems, by two good
judges--George Henry Lewes and George Eliot--that the style of "Social
Statics" is better than the style of his later volumes; Mr. Spencer
would ascribe the contrast to the deteriorating effect of dictation. A
recent experience has strengthened him in this conclusion. When lately
revising "First Principles," which originally was dictated, the cutting
out of superfluous words, clauses, sentences, and sometimes paragraphs,
had the effect of abridging the work by about one-tenth. Touching the
style of other writers, Mr. Spencer points out the defects in some
passages quoted from Matthew Arnold and Froude. He says that he is
repelled by the ponderous, involved structure of Milton's prose, and he
dissents from the applause of Ruskin's style on the ground that it is
too self-conscious, and implies too much thought of effect. On the other
hand, he has always been attracted by the finished naturalness of

A word should here be said about the misconception of Mr. Spencer's
position with reference to the fundamental postulate of religions,--a
misconception which used to be more current than it is now. He cannot
fairly be described as a materialist. He is no more a materialist than
he is a theist. He is, in the strictest sense of the word, an agnostic.
He was the most conspicuous example of the _thing_ before Huxley
invented the _word_. The misconception was shared by no less a man than
the late Benjamin Jowett, the well-known master of Balliol College,
Oxford, who, in one of his published "Letters," says: "I sometimes think
that we platonists and idealists are not half so industrious as those
repulsive people who only 'believe what they can hold in their hand,'
Bain, H. Spencer, etc., who are the very Tuppers of philosophy." It is
hard to see how the law of evolution and other generalizations of an
abstract kind with which Mr. Spencer's name is associated can be held in
anybody's hands. Letting that pass, however, Mr. Spencer has himself
suggested that, since the system of synthetic philosophy begins with a
division entitled the "Unknowable," having for its purpose to show that
all material phenomena are manifestations of a Power which transcends
our knowledge,--that "force as we know it can be regarded only as a
Conditioned effect of the Unconditioned Cause"--there has been thereby
afforded sufficiently decided proof of belief in something which cannot
be held in the hands. It is, indeed, absurd to apply the epithet
"materialist" to a man who has written in "The Principles of
Psychology": "Hence, though of the two it seems easier to translate
so-called matter into so-called spirit than to translate so-called
spirit into so-called matter (which latter is, indeed, wholly
impossible), yet no translation can carry us beyond our symbols."


Any exposition of the "Synthetic Philosophy" must, of course, begin with
the volume entitled "First Principles." In the first part of this
preliminary work the author carries a step further the doctrine of the
Unknowable put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel. He points out the
various directions in which science leads to the same conclusion, and
shows that in their united belief in an Absolute that transcends not
only human knowledge but human conception lies the only possible
reconciliation of science and religion. In the second part of the same
book Mr. Spencer undertakes to formulate the laws of the Knowable. That
is to say, he essays to state the ultimate principles discernible
throughout all manifestations of the Absolute,--those highest
generalizations now being disclosed by science, such, for example, as
"the Conservation of Force," which are severally true, not of one class
of phenomena, but of _all_ classes of phenomena, and which are thus the
keys to all classes of phenomena.

The conclusions reached in "First Principles" may be thus summed up:
over and over again in the five hundred pages devoted to their
formulation, it is shown in various ways that the deepest truths we can
reach are simply statements of the widest uniformities in our
experiences of the relations of Matter, Motion, and Force; and that
Matter, Motion, and Force are but symbols of the Unknown reality. A
Power of which the nature remains forever inconceivable, and to which no
limits in Time and Space can be imagined, works in us certain effects.
These effects have certain likenesses of kind, the most general of which
we class together under the names of Matter, Motion, and Force; and
between these effects there are likenesses of connection, the most
constant of which we class as laws of the highest certainty. Analysis
reduces these several kinds of effects to one kind of effect; and these
several kinds of uniformity to one kind of uniformity. The highest
achievement of Science is the interpretation of all orders of phenomena
as differently conditioned manifestations of this one kind of effect,
under differently conditioned modes of this one kind of uniformity. When
science has done this, however, it has done nothing more than
systematize our experiences, and has in no degree extended the limits of
our experiences. We can say no more than before whether the
uniformities are as absolutely necessary as they have become to our
thought relatively necessary. The utmost possibility for us is an
interpretation of the process of things, as it presents itself to our
limited consciousness; but how this process is related to the actual
process we are unable to conceive, much less to know.

Similarly we are admonished to remember that, while the connection
between the phenomenal order and the ontological order is forever
inscrutable, so is the connection between the conditioned forms of being
and the unconditioned form of being forever inscrutable. The
interpretation of all phenomena in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force is
nothing more than the reduction of our complex symbols of thought to the
simplest symbols; and when the equation has been brought to its lowest
terms, the symbols remain symbols still. Hence the reasonings contained
in "First Principles" afford no support to either of the antagonist
hypotheses respecting the ultimate nature of things. Their implications
are no more materialistic than they are spiritualistic, and no more
spiritualistic than they are materialistic. The establishment of
correlation and equivalence between the forces of the outer and the
inner worlds serves to assimilate either to the other, according as we
set out with one or the other. He who rightly interprets the doctrine
propounded in "First Principles" will see that neither the forces of
the outer, nor the forces of the inner, world can be taken as ultimate.
He will see that, though the relation of subject and object renders
necessary to us the antithetical conceptions of Spirit and Matter, the
one is no less than the other to be regarded as but a sign of the
Unknown Reality which underlies both.

In logical order the formulation of "First Principles" should have been
followed by the application of them to Inorganic Nature. This great
division of Mr. Spencer's subject is passed over, however; partly
because, even without it, the scheme is too extensive to be carried out
in the lifetime of one man; and partly because the interpretation of
Organic Nature, after the proposed method, is of more immediate
importance. Before noting how Mr. Spencer applies his fundamental
principles to the interpretation of the phenomena of life, it may be
well to put before the reader's eye the "formula of evolution" in the
author's own language: "Evolution is an integration of matter and
concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from
an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent
heterogeneity; and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel
transformation." This law of evolution is equally applicable to all
orders of phenomena,--"astronomic, geologic, biologic, psychologic,
sociologic, etc.,"--since these are all component parts of one cosmos,
though disguised from one another by conventional groupings. It is
obvious that, so long as evolution is merely established by induction,
it belongs, not to philosophy, but to science. To belong to philosophy
it must be deduced from the persistence of force. Mr. Spencer holds that
this can be done. For any finite aggregate, being unequally exposed to
surrounding forces, will become more diverse in structure, every
differentiated part will become the parent of further differences; at
the same time, dissimilar units in the aggregate tend to separate, and
those which are similar, to cluster together ("segregation"); and this
subdivision and dissipation of forces, so long as there are any forces
unbalanced by opposite forces, must end at last in rest; the penultimate
stage of this process "in which the extremest multiformity and most
complex moving equilibrium are established," being the highest
conceivable state. The various derivative laws of phenomenal changes are
thus deducible from the persistence of force. It remains to apply them
to inorganic, organic, and superorganic existences. The detailed
treatment of inorganic evolution is omitted, as we have said, from
Spencer's plan, and he proceeds to interpret "the phenomena of life,
mind, and society in terms of Matter, Motion, and Force."


The first volume of the "Principles of Biology" consists of three parts,
the first of which sets forth the data of biology, including those
general truths of physics and chemistry with which rational biology must
start. The second part is allotted to the inductions of biology, or, in
other words, to a statement of the leading generalizations which
naturalists, physiologists, and comparative anatomists have established.
The third and final part of the first volume of the "Principles of
Biology" deals with the speculation commonly known as "the development
hypothesis," and considers its _a priori_ and _a posteriori_ evidences.

The inductive evidences for the evolutionary hypothesis, as
contra-distinguished from the special-creation hypothesis, are dealt
with in four chapters. The "Arguments from Classification" are these:
Organisms fall into groups within groups; and this is the arrangement
which we see results from evolution where it is known to take place. Of
these groups within groups, the great or primary ones are the most
unlike, the sub-groups are less unlike, the sub-sub-group still less
unlike, and so on; and this, too, is a characteristic of groups
demonstrably produced by evolution. Moreover, indefiniteness of
equivalence among the groups is common to those which we know have been
evolved, and to those supposed in the volume before us to have been
evolved. There is the further significant fact that divergent groups are
allied through their lowest rather than their highest members. Of the
"Arguments from Embryology," the first is that, when developing embryos
are traced from their common starting-point, and their divergencies and
re-divergencies are symbolized by a genealogical tree, there is manifest
a general parallelism between the arrangement of its primary, secondary,
and tertiary branches, and the arrangement of the divisions and
subdivisions of Mr. Spencer's classifications. Nor do the minor
deviations from this general parallelism, which look like difficulties,
fail on closer observation to furnish additional evidence; since those
traits of a common ancestry which embryology reveals are, if
modifications have resulted from changed conditions, liable to be
disguised in different ways and degrees, in different lines of
descendants. Mr. Spencer next considers the "Arguments from Morphology."
Apart from those kinships among organisms disclosed by their
developmental changes, the kinships which their adult forms show are
profoundly significant. The unities of type found under such different
externals are inexplicable, except as results of community of descent,
with non-community of modification. Again, each organism analyzed apart
shows, in the likenesses obscured by unlikenesses of its component
parts, a peculiarity which can be ascribed only to the formation of a
more heterogeneous organism out of a more homogeneous one. And, once
more, the existence of rudimentary organs, homologous with organs that
are developed in allied animals or plants, while it admits of no other
rational interpretation, is satisfactorily interpreted by the hypothesis
of evolution. Last of the inductive evidences are the "Arguments from
Distribution." While the facts of distribution in space are
unaccountable as results of designed adaptation of organisms to their
habitats, they are accountable as results of the competition of species,
and the spread of the more fit into the habitats of the less fit,
followed by the changes which new conditions induce. Though the facts of
distribution in time are so fragmentary that no positive conclusion can
be drawn, yet all of them are reconcilable with the hypothesis of
evolution, and some of them yield strong support,--especially the near
relationship existing between the living and extinct types in each great
geographical area. Thus of these four categories of evidence, each
furnishes several arguments which point to the same conclusion. This
coincidence would give to the induction a very high degree of
probability, even were it not enforced by deduction. As a matter of
fact, the conclusion deductively reached is in harmony with the
inductive conclusion. Mr. Spencer has deductively shown that, by its
lineage and its kindred, the evolution-hypothesis is as closely allied
with the proved truths of modern science as is the antagonist
hypothesis, that of special creation, with the proved errors of ancient
ignorance. He has shown that, instead of being a mere pseud-idea, it
admits of elaboration into a definite conception, so showing its
legitimacy as an hypothesis. Instead of positing a purely fictitious
process, the process which it alleges proves to be one actually going on
around us. To which may be added that the evolution-hypothesis presents
no radical incongruities from a moral point of view. On the other hand,
the special-creation hypothesis is shown to be not even a thinkable
hypothesis, and, while thus intellectually illusive, to have moral
implications irreconcilable with the professed beliefs of those who
hold it.

Passing from the evidence that Evolution has taken place to the
question--How has it taken place?--Mr. Spencer finds in known agencies
and known processes adequate causes of its phenomena. In astronomic,
geologic, and meteorologic changes, ever in progress, ever combining in
new and more involved ways, we have a set of inorganic factors to which
all organisms are exposed; and in the varying and complicated actions of
organisms on one another we have a set of organic factors that alter
with increasing rapidity. Thus, speaking generally, all members of the
Earth's flora and fauna experience perpetual rearrangements of external
forces. Each organic aggregate, whether considered individually or as a
continuously existing species, is modified afresh by each fresh
distribution of external forces. To its pre-existing differentiations
new differentiations are added; and thus that lapse to a more
heterogeneous state, which would have a fixed limit were the
circumstances fixed, has its limits perpetually removed by the perpetual
change of the circumstances. These modifications upon modifications,
which result in evolution, structurally considered, are the
accompaniments of those functional alterations continually required to
re-equilibrate inner with outer actions. That moving equilibrium of
inner actions corresponding with outer actions, which constitutes the
life of an organism, must either be overthrown by a change in the outer
actions or must undergo perturbations that cannot end until there is a
readjusted balance of functions and correlative adaptation of
structures. But where the external changes are either such as are fatal
when experienced by the individuals, or such as act on the individuals
in ways that do not affect the equilibrium of their functions, then the
readjustment results through the effects produced on the species as a
whole: there is indirect equilibration. By the preservation in
successive generations of those whose moving equilibria are less at
variance with the requirements, there is produced a changed equilibrium
completely in harmony with the requirements.

Even were this the whole of the evidence assignable for the belief that
organisms have been gradually evolved, Mr. Spencer holds that the belief
would have a warrant higher than is possessed by many beliefs which are
regarded as established. As a matter of fact, however, the evidence is
far from exhausted. At the outset of the first volume of "Principles of
Biology," it was remarked by the author that the phenomena presented by
the organic world as a whole cannot be properly dealt with apart from
the phenomena presented by each organism in the course of its growth,
development, and decay. The interpretation of either class of phenomena
implies interpretation of the other, since the two are in reality parts
of one process. Hence the validity of any hypothesis respecting the one
class of phenomena may be tested by its congruity with phenomena of the
other class. In the second volume of "The Principles of Biology," Mr.
Spencer passes to the more special phenomena of development, as
displayed in the structures and functions of individual organisms. If
the hypothesis that plants and animals have been progressively evolved
be true, it must furnish us with keys to these special phenomena. Mr.
Spencer finds that the hypothesis does this, and by doing it gives
numberless additional vouchers for its truth. It is impossible for us
here to review, even in outline, the extensive field traversed in the
second volume of "Principles of Biology." We would not omit, however,
to direct attention to the interesting conclusion reached by Mr. Spencer
toward the close of the volume with regard to the future of the human
race considered from the viewpoint of the possible pressure of
population upon subsistence. He points out that in man all the
equilibrations between constitution and conditions, between the
structure of society and the nature of its members, between fertility
and mortality, advance simultaneously towards a common climax. In
approaching an equilibrium between his nature and the ever-varying
circumstances of his inorganic environment, and in approaching an
equilibrium between his nature and all the requirements of the social
state, man is at the same time approaching that lowest limit of
fertility at which the equilibrium of population is maintained by the
addition of as many infants as there are subtractions by death.


Next in logical order and in order of publication come the two volumes
collectively entitled "The Principles of Psychology." In these volumes
an attempt is made to trace objectively the evolution of mind from
reflex action through instinct to reason, memory, feeling, and will,
from the interaction of the nervous system with its environment.
Subjectively, mental states are analyzed, and it is contended that all
of them--including those primary scientific ideas, the perceptions of
matter, motion, space, and time, assumed in the "First Principles"--can
be analyzed into a primitive element of consciousness, something which
can be defined only as analogous to a nervous shock. These perceptions
have now become innate in the individual. They may be called--as Kant
called space and time--forms of intuition; but they have been acquired
empirically by the race, through the persistence of the corresponding
phenomena in the environment, and from the accumulated experiences of
each individual being transmitted in the form of modified structure to
his descendants. This principle of heredity is one of the laws by which
individuals are connected with one another into an organic whole; and we
thus pass to what Spencer calls superorganic evolution, implying the
co-ordinated actions of many individuals, and giving rise to the science
of sociology.

It is this science which Mr. Spencer undertakes to expound in the three
volumes entitled the "Principles of Sociology." The first of these
volumes presents a statement of the several sets of factors entering
into social phenomena. These factors are, first, human ideas and
feelings considered in their necessary order of evolution; secondly,
surrounding natural conditions; and, thirdly, those ever-complicating
conditions to which society itself gives origin. Under the caption "The
Inductions of Sociology," are set forth the general facts, structural
and functional, gathered from a survey of societies and their changes;
in other words, the empirical generalizations that are arrived at by
comparing different societies, or successive stages of the same
societies. The author then examines the evolution of governments,
general and local, as this is determined by natural causes; their
several types and metamorphosis; their increasing complexity and
specialization, and the progressive limitation of their functions. From
political the author turns to ecclesiastical organization. He traces the
differentiation of religious government from secular; its successive
complications and the multiplication of sects; the growth and continued
modification of religious ideas, as caused by advancing knowledge and
changing moral character; and the gradual reconciliation of these ideas
with the truths of abstract science. A good deal of space is devoted to
what the author calls ceremonial organization, by which he means that
third kind of government which, having a common root with the others,
and slowly becoming separate from and supplementary to them, serves to
regulate the minor actions of life. Finally, Mr. Spencer discusses
industrial organization; that is to say, the development of productive
and distributive agencies, considered in its necessary causes,
comprehending not only the progressive division of labor and the
increasing complexity of each industrial agency, but also the
successive forms of industrial government as passing through like phases
with political government.

Many pages would be requisite adequately to describe the result of the
inquiries prosecuted by Mr. Spencer during some twenty years, and
embodied in the three volumes entitled "Principles of Sociology." The
ultimate conclusions reached, however, may be summed up in a few
paragraphs. It is the author's final conviction that, if the process of
evolution, which, unceasing throughout past time, has brought life to
its present height, continues throughout the future, as we cannot but
anticipate, then, amid all the rhythmical changes in each society, amid
all the lives and deaths of nations, amid all the supplantings of race
by race, there will go on that adaptation of human nature to the social
state which began when savages first gathered together into hordes for
mutual defence,--an adaptation finally complete. Mr. Spencer foresees
that many will think this a wild imagination. Though everywhere around
them are creatures with structures and instincts which have been
gradually so moulded as to subserve their own welfares and the welfares
of their species, yet the immense majority ignore the implication that
human beings, too, have been undergoing in the past, and will undergo in
the future, progressive adjustments to the lives imposed on them by
circumstances. There are a few, nevertheless, who think it rational to
conclude that what has happened with all lower forms must happen with
the highest forms,--a few who infer that among types of men those most
fitted for making a well-working society will hereafter, as heretofore,
from time to time, emerge and spread at the expense of types less
fitted, until a fully fitted type has arisen.

It is, at the same time, conceded that the view thus suggested cannot be
accepted without qualification. If we carry our thoughts as far forward
as palaeolithic implements carry them back, we are introduced, not to an
absolute optimism, but to a relative optimism. The cosmic process brings
about retrogression, as well as progression, where the conditions favor
it. Only amid an infinity of modifications, adjusted to an infinity of
changes of circumstances, do there now and then occur some which
constitute an advance: other changes, meanwhile, caused in other
organisms, usually not constituting forward steps in organization, and
often constituting steps backward. Evolution does not imply a latent
tendency to improve everywhere in operation. There is no uniform ascent
from lower to higher, but only an occasional production of a form,
which, in virtue of greater fitness for more complex conditions, becomes
capable of a longer life of a more varied kind. And, while such higher
type begins to dominate over lower types, and to spread at their
expense, the lower types survive in habitats or modes of life that are
not usurped, or are thrust into inferior habitats or modes of life in
which they retrogress.

Mr. Spencer's examination of "The Principles of Sociology" has led him
to the belief that what holds with organic types must hold also with
types of society. Social evolution throughout the future, like social
evolution throughout the past, must, while producing, step after step,
higher societies, leave outstanding many lower. Varieties of men adapted
here to inclement regions, there to regions that are barren, and
elsewhere to regions unfitted, by ruggedness of surface or insalubrity,
for supporting large populations, will, in all probability, continue to
form small communities of simple structures. Moreover, during future
competitions among the higher races, there will probably be left, in the
less desirable regions, minor nations formed of men inferior to the
highest; at the same time that the highest overspread all the great
areas which are desirable in climate and fertility. But while the entire
assemblage of societies thus fulfils the law of evolution by increase of
heterogeneity,--while within each of them contrasts of structure, caused
by differences of environments and entailed occupations, cause
unlikenesses implying further heterogeneity, we may infer that the
primary process of evolution--integration--which, up to the present
time, has been displayed in the formation of larger and larger nations,
will eventually reach a still higher stage, and bring yet greater
benefits. As when small tribes were welded into great tribes, the head
chief stopped inter-tribal warfare; as, when small feudal governments
became subject to a king, feudal wars were prevented by him,--so, in
time to come, a federation of the highest nations, exercising supreme
authority (already foreshadowed by occasional agreements among "the
Powers"), may, by forbidding wars between any of its constituent
nations, put an end to the re-barbarization which is continually undoing

When, eventually, this peace-maintaining federation has been formed, Mr.
Spencer looks for effectual progress towards that equilibrium between
constitution and conditions,--between inner faculties and outer
requirements,--implied by the final stage of human evolution. Adaptation
to the social state, now perpetually hindered by anti-social conflict,
may then go on unhindered; and all the great societies, in other
respects differing, may become similar in those cardinal traits which
result from complete self-ownership of the unit, and from exercise over
him of nothing more than passive influence by the aggregate. On the one
hand, by continual repression of aggressive instincts and by continual
exercise of feelings which prompt ministration to public welfare, and,
on the other hand, by the lapse of restraints gradually becoming less
necessary, there will be produced, in Mr. Spencer's forecast, a kind of
man so constituted that, while fulfilling his own desires, he will
fulfil also the social needs. Already, small groups of men, shielded by
circumstances from external antagonisms, have been moulded into forms of
moral nature so superior to our own that the account of their goodness
almost savors of romance; and it is reasonable to infer that what has
even now happened on a small scale may, under kindred conditions,
ultimately happen on a large scale. Prolonged studies, showing among
other things the need for certain qualifications above indicated, but
also revealing facts like that just named, have not caused our author to
recede from the belief expressed nearly fifty years ago that "the
ultimate man will be one whose private requirements coincide with public
ones. He will be that manner of man who, in spontaneously fulfilling his
own nature, incidentally performs the functions of a social unit; and
yet is only enabled so to fulfil his own nature by all others doing
the like."

Before taking leave of the "Principles of Sociology," we should caution
the reader against a misconception that might seem, at first sight, to
find some warrant in the following remark of a sympathetic reviewer:
"Like Aristotle, he [Mr. Spencer] has had to delegate large portions of
his work to be done for him by others." As our author has himself
pointed out in "Facts and Comments," the reviewer's reference will be
rightly interpreted by those who know that the work delegated by
Aristotle to others was simply the _collection_ of materials for his
Natural History, not the classification of those materials, much less
the drawing of inductions from them. As not one reader in ten knows
this, however, wrong impressions are likely to be made by the reviewer's
remark. Mr. Spencer's name being especially associated with the
"Synthetic Philosophy," the sentence quoted will suggest to many the
thought that large portions of that work were written by deputy. This,
of course, the reviewer did not mean to say. The work to which he
referred is entitled "Descriptive Sociology, or groups of sociological
facts, classified and arranged by Herbert Spencer, compiled and
abstracted by David Duncan, Richard Scheppig and James Collier," eight
parts of which have thus far appeared. Knowing that he should be unable
to read all the works of travel and history containing the facts he
should need when dealing with the science of society, Mr. Spencer
engaged these gentlemen--first one, then two, then three--to read up for
him and arrange the extracts they made in a manner prescribed. With much
material he had himself accumulated in the course of many years, our
author incorporated a much larger amount of material derived from the
compilations just mentioned when writing the "Principles of Sociology."


It is the two volumes entitled the "Principles of Ethics" to which we
shall lastly invite attention. The six parts of which this work is
composed were published in an irregular manner. Part I., presenting the
data of ethics, was issued in 1879; Part IV., a treatise on "Justice,"
in 1891; Parts II. and III., which set forth respectively the inductions
of ethics and the ethics of individual life, and which, along with Part
I., form the first volume, were issued in 1892; Parts V. and VI., which
treat respectively of negative beneficence and positive beneficence,
were issued in 1893, and, along with Part IV., constitute the second
volume. With regard to the "Principles of Ethics," considered as a
whole, it should be noted that the author was prompted to prepare the
work, notwithstanding the ill health by which he was incessantly
interrupted, by the conviction that the establishment of rules of
conduct on a scientific basis is a pressing need. Now that moral
injunctions are losing the authority given by their supposed sacred
origin, the secularization of morals is becoming imperative. Those who
reject the current creed appear to assume that the controlling agency
conferred by it may safely be thrown aside. On the other hand, those
who defend the current creed allege that, in the absence of the guidance
it yields, no guidance can exist, divine commandments being, in their
opinion, the only possible guides. Dissenting from both of these
beliefs, Mr. Spencer has had for his primary purpose in the two volumes
under review to show that, apart from any supposed supernatural basis,
the principles of ethics have a natural basis. In these two volumes this
natural basis is set forth, and its corollaries are elaborated. If the
conclusions to which the general law of evolution introduces us are not
in all cases as definite as might be wished, yet our author submits that
they are more definite than those to which we are introduced by the
current creed. Complete definiteness is not, of course, to be expected.
Right regulation of the actions of so complex a being as man, living
under conditions so complex as those presented by a society, evidently
forms a subject-matter unlikely to admit of specific statements
throughout its entire range.

The principal inductions drawn from the data collected in the first of
these volumes may be set forth in a few sentences. Multitudinous proofs
are brought forward of the fact that the ethical sentiment prevailing in
different societies, and in the same society under different conditions,
are sometimes diametrically opposed. In Europe and in the United States
to have committed a murder disgraces for all time a man's memory, and
disgraces for generations all who are related to him. By the Pathans,
however, a contrary sentiment is displayed. One who had killed a Mellah
(priest) and failed to find refuge from the avengers, said at length: "I
can but be a martyr; I will go and kill a Sahib." He was hanged after
shooting a sergeant, perfectly satisfied "at having expiated his
offence." The prevailing ethical sentiment in England is such that a man
who should allow himself to be taken possession of and made an
unresisting slave would be regarded with scorn; but the people of
Drekete, a slave-district of Fiji, "said it was their duty to become
food and sacrifices for the chiefs," and that "they were honored by
being considered adequate to such a noble task." Less extreme, though
akin in nature, is the contrast between the feelings which the history
of Englishmen has recorded within a few centuries. In Elizabeth's time,
Sir John Hawkins initiated the slave-trade, and, in commemoration of the
achievement, was allowed to put in his coat-of-arms: "a demi-moor
proper, bound with a cord,"--the honorableness of his action being thus
assumed by himself, and recognized by Queen and public. At the present
day, on the other hand, the making slaves of men, called by Wesley "the
sum of all villanies," is regarded in England with detestation; and for
many years the British government maintained a fleet to suppress the
slave-trade. Again, peoples who have emerged from the primitive
family-and-clan organization, hold that one who is guilty of a crime
must himself bear the punishment, and it is thought extreme injustice
that the punishment should fall upon any one else. The remote ancestors
of the English people thought and felt differently, as do still the
Australians, whose "first great principle with regard to punishment is
that all the relatives of a culprit, in the event of his not being
found, are implicated in his guilt: the brothers of the criminal
conceive themselves to be quite as guilty as he is." Then, too, among
civilized peoples the individualities of women are so far recognized
that the life and liberty of a wife are not supposed to be bound up with
those of her husband; and she now, having obtained a right to exclusive
possession of property, contends for complete independence, domestic and
political. It is, or was, otherwise in Fiji. The wives of the Fijian
chiefs consider it a sacred duty to suffer strangulation on the deaths
of their husbands. A woman who had been rescued by an Englishman
"escaped during the night, and, swimming across the river, and
presenting herself to her own people, insisted upon the completion of
the sacrifice which she had in a moment of weakness reluctantly
consented to forego." Another foreign observer tells of a Fijian woman
who loaded her rescuer "with abuse, and ever afterwards manifested the
most deadly hatred towards him." In England and on the Continent the
religious prohibition of theft and the legal punishment of it are joined
with a strong social reprobation, so that the offence of a thief is
never condoned. In Beloochistan, on the other hand, quite contrary ideas
and feelings are current. There "a favorite couplet is to the effect
that the Biloch who steals and murders, secures Heaven to seven
generations of ancestors." In England and the United States reprobation
of untruthfulness is strongly expressed, alike by the gentleman and the
laborer. In many parts of the world it is not so. In Blantyre, for
example, according to MacDonald, "to be called a liar is rather a
compliment." Once more: English sentiment is such that the mere
suspicion of incontinence on the part of a woman is enough to blight her
life; but there are peoples whose sentiments entail no such effect, and,
in some cases, a reverse effect is produced: "Unchastity is, with the
Wetyaks, a virtue." It seems, then, that in respect of all the leading
divisions of human conduct, different races of men, and the same races
at different stages, entertain opposite beliefs, and display
opposite feelings.

In Mr. Spencer's opinion, the evidence here brought to a focus ought to
dissipate once for all the belief in a moral sense, as commonly
entertained. A long experience of mankind, however, prevents him from
indulging in such an expectation. Among men at large, lifelong
convictions are not to be destroyed either by conclusive arguments or
multitudinous facts. Only to those who are not by creed or cherished
theory committed to the hypothesis of a supernaturally created human
species will the evidence above summed up prove that the human mind has
no originally implanted conscience. Mr. Spencer himself at one time
espoused the doctrine of the intuitive moralists, but it has gradually
become clear to him that the qualifications required practically
obliterate the doctrine as enunciated by them. It has become clear to
him, in other words, that if among civilized folk the current belief is
that a man who robs and does not repent will be eternally damned, while
an accepted proverb among the Bilochs is, that "God will not favor a man
who does not steal and rob," it is impossible to hold that men have in
common an innate perception of right and wrong.

At the same time, while the inductions drawn by Mr. Spencer from the
data of ethics show that the moral-sense doctrine in its original form
is not true, they also show that it adumbrates a truth, and a much
higher truth. For the facts cited, chapter after chapter, unite in
proving that the sentiments and ideas current in each society become
adjusted to the kinds of activity predominating in it. A life of
constant external enmity generates a code in which aggression, conquest,
revenge, are inculcated, while peaceful occupations are reprobated.
Conversely, a life of settled internal amity generates a code
inculcating the virtues conducing to harmonious co-operation,--justice,
honesty, veracity, regard for others' claims. The implication is that,
if the life of internal amity continues unbroken from generation to
generation, there must result not only the appropriate code, but the
appropriate emotional nature,--a moral sense adapted to the moral
requirements. Men so conditioned will acquire to the degree needful for
complete guidance that innate conscience which the intuitive moralists
erroneously supposed to be possessed by mankind at large. There needs
but a continuance of absolute peace externally and a rigorous insistence
on non-aggression internally, to insure the moulding of men into a form
naturally characterized by all the virtues. This general induction is
re-enforced by especial induction. Now as displaying this high trait of
nature, now as displaying that, Mr. Spencer has instanced various
uncivilized peoples who, inferior to us in other respects, are morally
superior to us. He has also pointed out that such peoples are, one and
all, free from inter-tribal antagonisms. The peoples showing this
connection between external and internal peacefulness on the one hand,
and superior morality on the other, are of various races. In the Indian
Hills are found some who are by origin Mongolian, Kelarian, Dravidian;
in the forests of Malacca, Burma, and in secluded parts of China exist
such tribes of yet other bloods; in the East Indian archipelago are
some belonging to the Papuan stock; in Japan there are the amiable
Ainos, who have no traditions of internecine strife; and in North Mexico
exists yet another such people unrelated to the rest, the Pueblos. Our
author holds that no more conclusive proof could be wished than that
supplied by these isolated groups of men, who, widely remote in locality
and differing in race, are alike in the two respects that circumstances
have long exempted them from war, and that they are now organically
good. May we not reasonably infer, asks Mr. Spencer, in conclusion, that
the state reached by these small, uncultured tribes may be reached by
the great cultured nations, when the life of internal amity shall be
unqualified by the life of external enmity?

We bring to an end our review of the "Synthetic Philosophy" by pointing
out that the ethical doctrine constituting the culmination of the system
which is set forth in the "Principles of Ethics" is fundamentally a
corrected and elaborated version of the doctrine propounded in "Social
Statics" issued as long ago as 1850. The correspondence between the two
works is shown not only by the coincidence of their constructive
divisions, but also by the agreement of their cardinal ideas. As in the
one, so in the other, Man, in common with lower creatures, is held to be
capable of indefinite change by adaptation to conditions. In both he is
regarded as undergoing transformation from a nature appropriate to his
aboriginal wild life, to a nature appropriate to a settled civilized
life; and in both this transformation is described as a moulding into a
form fitted for harmonious co-operation. In both works, too, this
moulding is said to be effected by the repression of certain primitive
traits no longer needed, and the development of needful traits. As in
the first work, so in this last, the great factor in the progressive
modification is shown to be sympathy. It was contended in "Social
Statics," as it is contended in the "Principles of Ethics," that
harmonious social co-operation implies that limitation of individual
freedom which results from sympathetic regard for the freedoms of
others; and that the law of equal freedom is the law in conformity to
which equitable individual conduct and equitable social arrangements
co-exist. Mr. Spencer's theory in 1850 was, as his theory still is, that
the mental products of Sympathy which constitute what is called "the
moral sense," arise as fast as men are disciplined into social life; and
that along with them arise intellectual perceptions of right human
relations, which become clearer as the form of social life becomes
better. Further, in the earlier work it was inferred, as it is inferred
in the latest, that there is being effected a conciliation of individual
natures with social requirements; so that there will eventually be
achieved the greatest individuation, along with the greatest mutual
dependence,--an equilibrium of such kind that each, in fulfilling the
wants of his own life, will aid in fulfilling the wants of all other
lives. We observe, finally, that, in the first work, there were drawn
essentially the same corollaries respecting the rights of individuals
and their relations to the State that are drawn in the "Principles
of Ethics."

A word may be said in conclusion about the difference between the
relation of Mr. Spencer on the one hand and Darwin on the other to the
thought of the Nineteenth Century. The fact is not to be lost sight of
that the principles of the Evolutionary, or, as Mr. Spencer prefers to
term it, the Synthetic, philosophy were formulated before the
publication of the "Origin of Species." What the ultimately general
acceptance of the theory propounded in Darwin's work did for Mr. Spencer
was precisely this: it greatly strengthened the biological evidence for
the evolutionary hypothesis. That hypothesis was upheld, however, by
evidence drawn not merely from biology, but from many other sources.
Moreover, while the Darwinian theory of natural selection, supplemented
as it was by the adoption of the Lamarkian factors,--the effect of use
and disuse and the assumed transmissibility of acquired
character,--merely attempted to explain the mode in which the changes in
organic life have taken place upon the earth, the evolutionary
hypothesis put forth by Mr. Spencer professed to be applicable to the
whole sphere of the knowable. It is further to be borne in mind that Mr.
Spencer has devoted a large part of his life to tracing in detail the
applications of his fundamental principles to social, political,
religious, and ethical phenomena. Darwin, on the other hand, strictly
confined himself to the biological field, and left to disciples the task
of indicating the bearing of the Darwinian theory upon sociology,
theology, and morals.


The Complete Works of Herbert Spencer (The Synthetic Philosophy).

Also, "Facts and Comments," by Herbert Spencer (Appleton's).

John Fiske's "Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy."

F.H. Collins's "Epitome of the Synthetic Philosophy."

A.D. White's "Herbert Spencer: The Completion of the Synthetic





There is no doubt that, by the judgment of a large majority of
scientists, the place of pre-eminence in the history of science during
the nineteenth century should be assigned to Charles Robert Darwin. The
theory associated with his name deserves to be called epoch-making. The
Darwinian hypothesis, indeed, should not be confounded with the cosmic
theory of Evolution which was formulated earlier and independently by
Herbert Spencer, and supported by many arguments drawn from sources
outside the field of natural history. The specific merit of the
Darwinian hypothesis is that it furnishes a rational and almost
universally accepted explanation of the mode in which changes have taken
place in the development of organic life upon the earth. With the
possible cosmical applications of his theory Darwin did not concern
himself, though the bearing of his hypothesis upon wider problems was at
once discerned, and has been set forth by Spencer and others. Before
stating, however, the conclusions at which Darwin arrived in his "Origin
of Species," the "Descent of Man," and other writings, and before
indicating the extent to which these conclusions have been adopted, we
should say a word about his interesting, amiable, and exemplary
personality. Concerning his private life, there is no lack of
information. He himself wrote an autobiographical sketch which has been
amplified by his son Francis Darwin, and supplemented with numerous
extracts from his correspondence.


Charles Robert Darwin was born at Shrewsbury, Feb. 12, 1809. His mother
was a daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, the well-known Staffordshire potter,
and his father, Dr. Robert Waring Darwin, was a son of Erasmus Darwin,
celebrated in the eighteenth century as a physician, a naturalist, and a
poet. It is a curious fact that in some of his speculations Erasmus
Darwin anticipated the views touching the evolution of organic life
subsequently announced by Lamarck, and ultimately incorporated by
Charles Darwin in the theory that bears his name. The only taste kindred
to natural history which Dr. Darwin possessed in common with his father
and his son was a love of plants. The garden of his house in Shrewsbury,
where Charles Darwin spent his boyhood, was filled with ornamental
trees and shrubs, as well as fruit-trees.

When Charles Darwin was about eight years old, he was sent to a
day-school, and it seems that even at this time his taste for natural
history, and especially for collecting shells and minerals, was well
developed. In the summer of 1818 he entered Dr. Butler's great school in
Shrewsbury, well known to the amateur makers of Latin verse by the
volume entitled "Sabrinae Corolla." He expressed the opinion in later
life that nothing could have been worse for the development of his mind
than this school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being
taught except a little ancient biography and history. During his whole
life he was singularly incapable of mastering any language. With respect
to science, he continued collecting minerals with much zeal, and after
reading White's "Selborne" he took much pleasure in watching the habits
of birds. Towards the close of his school life he became deeply
interested in chemistry, and was allowed to assist his elder brother in
some laboratory experiments. In October, 1825, he proceeded to Edinburgh
University, where he stayed for two years. He found the lectures
intolerably dull, with the exception of those on chemistry. Curiously
enough, while walking one day with a fellow-undergraduate, the latter
burst forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution. So
far as Darwin could afterwards judge, no impression was made upon his
own mind. He had previously read his grandfather's "Zooenomia," in which
similar views had been propounded, but no discernible effect had been
produced upon him. Nevertheless, it is probable enough that the hearing
rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favored
his upholding them under a different form in the "Origin of Species."

While at Edinburgh, Darwin was a member of the Plinian Society, and read
a couple of papers on some observations in natural history. After two
sessions had been spent at Edinburgh, Darwin's father perceived that the
young man did not like the thought of being a physician, and proposed
that he should become a clergyman. In pursuance of this proposal, he
went to the University of Cambridge in 1828, and three years later took
a B.A. degree. In his autobiography the opinion is expressed that at
Cambridge his time was wasted. It was there, however, that he became
intimately acquainted with Professor Henslow, a man of remarkable
acquirements in botany, entomology, chemistry, mineralogy, and geology.
During his last year at Cambridge Darwin read with care and interest
Humboldt's "Personal Narrative," and Sir John Herschel's "Introduction
to the Study of Natural Philosophy." These books influenced him
profoundly, arousing in him a burning desire to make even the most
humble contribution to the structure of natural science. At Henslow's
suggestion he began the study of biology, and in 1831 accompanied
Professor Sedgwick in the latter's investigations amongst the older
rocks in North Wales.

It was Professor Henslow who secured for young Darwin the appointment of
naturalist to the voyage of the "Beagle." This voyage lasted from Dec.
27, 1831, to Oct. 2, 1836. The incidents of this voyage will be found
set forth in Darwin's "Public Journeys." The observations made by him in
geology, natural history, and botany gave him a place of considerable
distinction among scientific men. In 1844 he published a series of
observations on the volcanic islands visited during the voyage of the
"Beagle," and two years later "Geological Observations on South
America." These two books, together with a volume entitled "Coral
Reefs," required four and a half years' steady work. In October, 1846,
he began the studies embodied in "Cirripedia" (barnacles). The outcome
of these studies was published in two thick volumes. The time came when
Darwin doubted whether the work was worth the consumption of the time
employed, but probably it proved of use to him when he had to discuss in
the "Origin of Species" the principles of a natural classification. From
September, 1854, and during the four ensuing years, Darwin devoted
himself to observing and experimenting in relation to the transmutation
of species, and in arranging a huge pile of notes upon the subject. As
early as October, 1838, it had occurred to him as probable, or at least
possible, that amid the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on
in the animal world, favorable variations would tend to be preserved,
and unfavorable ones to be destroyed. The result would be the formation
of new species.

It was not until June, 1842, however, that Darwin allowed himself the
satisfaction of writing a very brief abstract of his theory in
thirty-five pages. This was enlarged two years later into one of 230
pages. Early in 1856, Sir Charles Lyell, the well-known geologist,
advised him to write out his views upon the subject fully, and Darwin
began to do so on a scale three or four times as extensive as that which
was afterwards followed in his "Origin of Species." He got through about
half the work on this scale. His plans were overthrown, owing to the
curious circumstance that, in the summer of 1858, Mr. Alfred E. Wallace,
who was then in the Malay archipelago, sent him an essay "On the
Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type." It
turned out upon perusal that this essay contained exactly the same
theory as that which Darwin was engaged in elaborating. Mr. Wallace
expressed the wish that, if Darwin thought well of the essay, he should
send it to Lyell. It was Sir Charles Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker who
insisted that Darwin should allow an abstract from his manuscript,
together with a letter to Prof. Asa Gray, dated Sept. 5, 1857, to be
published at the same time with Wallace's essay. Darwin was unwilling to
take this course, being then unacquainted with Mr. Wallace's generous
disposition. As a matter of fact, the joint productions excited very
little attention, and the only published notice of them asserted that
what was new in them was false, and that what was true was old. From the
indifference evinced to the papers which first propounded the theory of
natural selection, Darwin drew the inference that it is necessary for
any new view to be explained at considerable length in order to obtain
the public ear.

In September, 1858, Darwin, at the earnest advice of Lyell and Hooker,
set to work to prepare a volume on the transmutation of species. The
book cost him more than thirteen months' hard labor. It was published in
November, 1859, under the title of "Origin of Species." This, which
Darwin justly regarded as the chief work of his life, was from the first
highly successful. The first edition was sold on the day of publication,
and the book was presently translated into almost every European tongue.
Darwin himself attributed the success of the "Origin" in large part to
his having previously written two condensed sketches, and to his having
finally made an abstract of a much larger manuscript, which itself was
an abstract. By this winnowing process he had been enabled to select the
more striking facts and conclusions. As to the current assertion that
the "Origin" succeeded because the subject was in the air, or because
men's minds were prepared for it, Darwin was disposed to doubt whether
this was strictly true. In previous years he had occasionally sounded
not a few naturalists, and had never come across a single one who seemed
to doubt about the permanence of species. Probably men's minds were
prepared in this sense, that innumerable well-verified facts were stored
away in the memories of naturalists, ready to take their proper places
as soon as any theory which would account for them should be strongly
supported. Darwin himself thought that he gained much by a delay in
publishing, from about 1839, when the "Darwinian" theory was clearly
conceived, to 1859; and that he lost nothing, because he cared very
little whether men attributed most originality to him or to Wallace.

Darwin's "Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication" was begun
in 1860, but was not published till 1868. The book was a big one, and
cost him four years and two months' hard labor. It gives in the first
volume all his personal observations, and an immense number of facts,
collected from various sources, about domestic productions, animal and
vegetable. In the second volume the causes and laws of variation,
inheritance, etc., are discussed. Towards the end of the work is
propounded the hypothesis of Pangenesis, which has been generally
rejected, and which the author himself looked upon as unverified,
although by it a remarkable number of isolated facts could be connected
together and rendered intelligible.

The "Descent of Man" was published in February, 1871. Touching this
work, Darwin has told us that, as soon as he had become (in 1837 or
1838) convinced that species were mutable productions, he could not
avoid the belief that man must come under the same law. Accordingly, he
collected notes on the subject for his own satisfaction, and not for a
long time with any intention of publishing. In the "Origin of Species,"
the derivation of any particular species is never discussed; but in
order that no honorable man should accuse him of concealing his views,
Darwin had thought it best to add that by that work, "light would be
thrown on the origin of man and his history." It would have impeded the
acceptance of the theory of natural selection if Darwin had paraded,
without giving any evidence, his conviction with respect to man's
origin. When he found, however, that many naturalists accepted his
doctrine of the evolution of species, it seemed to him advisable to work
up such notes as he possessed, and to publish a special treatise on the
origin of man. He was the more glad to do so, as it gave him an
opportunity of discussing at length sexual selection, a subject which
had always interested him.

Darwin's book on the "Expression of Emotion in Men and Animals" was
published in the autumn of 1872. This had been intended to form a
chapter on the subject in the "Descent of Man," but as soon as Darwin
began to put his notes together he saw that it would require a separate
treatise. In July, 1875, appeared the book on "Insectivorous Plants."
The fact that a plant should secrete, when properly excited, a fluid
containing an acid and ferment closely analogous to the digestive fluid
of an animal, was certainly a remarkable discovery. In the autumn of
1876 appeared "The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilization," a work in
which are described the endless and wonderful contrivances for the
transportation of pollen from one plant to another of the same species.
About the same time was brought out an enlarged edition of the
"Fertilization of Orchids," originally published in 1862. Among the
minor works issued during the later years of Darwin's life may be
mentioned particularly the little book on "The Formation of Vegetable
Mould through the Action of Worms." This was the outgrowth of a short
paper read before the Geological Society more than fourteen
years before.

In order to appreciate the enormous amount of research accomplished by
Charles Darwin, it is needful to keep in mind the conditions of
ill-health under which almost continually he worked. For nearly forty
years he never knew one day of the health of ordinary men. His life was
one long struggle against the weariness and drain of sickness. During
his last ten years there were signs of amendment in several particulars,
but a loss of physical vigor was apparent. Writing to a friend in 1881,
he complained that he no longer had the heart or strength to begin any
prolonged investigations. In February and March, 1882, he frequently
experienced attacks of pain in the region of the heart, attended with
irregularity of the pulse. On April 18 he fainted, and was brought back
to consciousness with great difficulty. He seemed to recognize the
approach of death, and said, "I am not the least afraid to die." On the
afternoon of Wednesday, April 19, he passed away. On April 26 he was
interred in Westminster Abbey. The funeral was attended by
representatives of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia, and by
delegates of the universities and learned societies of which he had been
a member. Among the pall-bearers were Sir John Lubbock, Sir Joseph
Hooker, Professor Huxley, Mr. A.R. Wallace, Mr. James Russell Lowell,
the Duke of Argyll, and the Duke of Devonshire. The grave is
appropriately placed in the north aisle of the nave, only a few feet
from the last resting-place of Sir Isaac Newton.


An outline of Darwin's personality would not be complete without a
glance at some of his mental characteristics, and at his attitude toward
religion. Of his intellectual powers, he himself speaks with
extraordinary modesty in his autobiography. He points out that he always
experienced much difficulty in expressing himself clearly and concisely,
but he opines that this very difficulty may have had the compensating
advantage of forcing him to think long and intently about every
sentence, and thus enabling him to detect errors in reasoning and in his
own observations, or in those of others. He disclaimed the possession of
any great quickness of apprehension or wit, such as distinguished
Huxley. He protested, also, that his power to follow a long and purely
abstract train of thought was very limited, for which reason he felt
certain that he never could have succeeded with metaphysics or
mathematics. His memory, too, he described as extensive, but hazy. So
poor in one sense was it that he never could remember for more than a
few days a single date or a line of poetry. On the other hand, he did
not accept as well founded the charge made by some of his critics that,
while he was a good observer, he had no power of reasoning. This, he
thought, could not be true, because the "Origin of Species" is one long
argument from the beginning to the end, and has convinced many able
men. No one, he submits, could have written it without possessing some
power of reasoning. He was willing to assert that "I have a fair share
of invention, and of common sense or judgment, such as every fairly
successful lawyer or doctor must have, but not, I believe, in any higher
degree." He adds humbly that perhaps he was "superior to the common run
of men in noticing things which easily escape attention, and in
observing them carefully."

Writing in the last year of his life, he expressed the opinion that in
two or three respects his mind had changed during the preceding twenty
or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty or beyond it poetry of many
kinds gave him great pleasure. Formerly, too, pictures had given him
considerable, and music very great, delight. In 1881, however, he said:
"Now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry; I have
tried lately to read Shakspeare, and found it so intolerably dull that
it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music.
Music generally sets me thinking too energetically of what I have been
at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine
scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it
formerly did." Darwin was convinced that the loss of these tastes was
not only a loss of happiness, but might possibly be injurious to the
intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the
emotional side of one's nature. So far as he could judge, his mind had
become in his later years a kind of machine for grinding general laws
out of large collections of facts, and that atrophy had taken place in
that part of the brain on which the higher aesthetic tastes depend.
Curiously enough, however, he retained his relish for novels, and for
books on history, biography, and travels.

It is well known that Darwin was extremely reticent with regard to his
religious views. He believed that a man's religion was essentially a
private matter. Repeated attempts were made to draw him out upon the
subject, and some of these were partially successful. Writing to a Dutch
student in 1873, he said: "I may say that the impossibility of
conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious
selves, arose through chance seems to me the chief argument for the
existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value I have
never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a First Cause,
the mind still craves to know whence it came and how it arose. Nor can I
overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the
world. I am also induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of
the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see
how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me that
the whole subject is beyond the scope of man's intellect; but man can do
his duty." To questions put by a German student in 1879, he replied:
"Science has nothing to do with Christ, except in so far as the habit of
scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For
myself I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation. As for
a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting
vague probabilities." In the same year he told another correspondent:
"In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the
sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and
more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would
be the more correct description of my state of mind." His latest view is
indicated in a letter dated July 3, 1881. Here he expressed the "inward
conviction that the universe is not the result of chance." He adds,
however: "But, then, with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the
convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the
lower animals, are of any value, or at all trustworthy. Would any one
trust the convictions in a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions
in such a mind?" The Duke of Argyll has recorded the few words on the
subject spoken by Darwin in the last year of his life. The Duke said
that it was impossible to look at the wonderful contrivances for
certain purposes in nature, and fail to recognize that they were the
effect and the expression of mind. Darwin looked at the Duke very hard,
and said, "Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but
at other times"--here he shook his head vaguely--"it seems to go away."


We pass to a consideration of Darwin's masterworks, the "Origin of
Species," the "Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication," and
the "Descent of Man." Before indicating the conclusions reached in the
first of these works, we should point out to what extent Darwin had been
preceded by dissenters from the belief once almost universally
entertained by biologists that species were independently created, and,
once created, were immutable. Lamarck was the first naturalist whose
divergent views upon the subject excited much attention. In writings
published at various dates from 1801 to 1815, he upheld the doctrine
that all species, including man, are descended from other species. He
pronounced it probable that all changes in the organic, as well as in
the inorganic world, were the result of law, and not of miraculous
interposition. He seems to have been led to his opinion that the change
of species had been gradual by the difficulty experienced in
distinguishing species from varieties by the almost perfect gradation of
forms in certain groups, and by the analogy of domestic productions.
With respect to the means of modification, he attributed something to
the direct action of the physical conditions of life, something to the
crossing of already existing forms, and much to use and disuse, or, in
other words, to the effect of habit. Finally, he held that characters
acquired by an existing individual might be transmitted to its

In 1813 Dr. W.C. Wells read before the Royal Society "An Account of a
White Female, Part of whose Skin resembles that of a Negro." In this
paper the author distinctly recognized the principle of natural
selection, but applied it only to the races of man, and in man only to
certain characters. After remarking that negroes and mulattoes enjoy an
immunity from certain tropical diseases, he observed, first, that all
animals tend to vary in some degree, and, secondly, that
agriculturalists improve their domesticated animals by selection. He
added that what is done in the latter case by art seems to be done with
equal efficacy, though more slowly, by nature in the formation of
varieties of mankind fitted for the countries which they inhabit. Again
in 1831 Mr. Patrick Matthew published a work on "Naval Timber and
Arboriculture," in which he put forth precisely the same view
concerning the origin of species as that propounded by Mr. Wallace and
by Darwin. Unfortunately for himself, the view was cursorily suggested
in scattered passages of an appendix to a work on a different subject,
so that it remained unnoticed until Mr. Matthew himself drew attention
to it in 1860, after the publication of the "Origin of Species." We
observe finally that Mr. Herbert Spencer, in an essay published in 1852,
and republished six years later, contrasted the theories of the creation
and the development of organic beings. He argued from the analogy of
domestic productions, from the changes which the embryos of many species
undergo, from the difficulty of distinguishing species and varieties,
and from the principle of general gradation, that species have been
modified; and he attributed the modification to the change of

The two volumes comprising the "Origin of Species" constitute, as the
author said, one long argument. It is, of course, impossible in the
space at our command to recapitulate in detail even the leading facts
and inferences which are brought forward to prove that species have been
modified during a long course of descent. We must confine ourselves to a
succinct statement of the author's general conclusions. What he
undertakes to prove is that the modification of species during a long
course of descent has been effected chiefly through the natural
selection of numerous successive slight favorable variations, aided in
an important manner by the inherited effects of the use and disuse of
parts; and in an unimportant manner,--that is, in relation to adaptive
structures, whether past or present, by the direct action of external
conditions, and by variations which seem to us, in our ignorance, to
arise spontaneously. It should be observed that Darwin does not
attribute the modification exclusively to natural selection. What he
asserts is: "I am convinced that natural selection has been the main,
but not the exclusive, means of modification." He submits that a false
theory would hardly explain in so satisfactory a manner as does the
theory of natural selection the several large classes of facts
marshalled in the two volumes now under review. If it be objected that
this is an unsafe method of arguing, Darwin rejoins that it is a method
usual in judging of the common events of life, and has often been used
by the greatest natural philosophers. The undulatory theory of light,
for instance, has thus been arrived at; and the belief in the revolution
of the earth on its own axis was, until lately, supported by scarcely
any direct evidence. It is no valid objection to the Darwinian theory of
the origin of species that science as yet throws no light on the far
higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Neither has any one
explained what is the essence of the attraction of gravity, though
nobody now objects to following out the results consequent on this
unknown element of attraction.

Why, it may be asked, did nearly all the most eminent naturalists and
geologists until recently decline to believe in the mutability of
species? Darwin replies that the belief that species were immutable
productions was almost unavoidable as long as the history of the world
was thought to be of short duration. Even now that we have acquired some
idea of the lapse of time, men are too apt to assume without proof that
the geological record is so perfect that it would have afforded plain
evidence of the mutation of species if they had really undergone
mutation. The chief cause, however, of the once-prevalent unwillingness
to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species
is the fact that men are slow to admit great changes of which they do
not see the steps. The difficulty is the same which was experienced by
many geologists when Lyell first insisted that long lines of inland
cliffs had been formed and great valleys excavated, not by catastrophes,
but by the slow-moving agencies which we see still at work. The human
mind cannot grasp the full meaning of the term of even a million years;
cannot add up and perceive the full effects of many slight variations
accumulated during an almost infinite number of generations.

When the first edition of the "Origin of Species" was published in 1859,
Darwin wrote that he by no means expected to convince experienced
naturalists whose minds were stocked with a multitude of facts, all
regarded during a long course of years from a point of view directly
opposite to his. He looked forward with confidence, however, to the
future, to young and rising naturalists, who would be able to view both
sides of the question with impartiality. He predicted that, when the
conclusions reached by him and by Mr. Wallace concerning the origin of
species should be generally accepted, there would be a considerable
revolution in natural history. Naturalists, for instance, would be
forced to acknowledge that the only distinction between species and
well-marked varieties is that the latter are known or believed to be
connected at the present day by intermediate gradations, whereas species
were formerly, though they are not now, thus connected. It might thus
come to pass that forms generally acknowledged in 1859 to be merely
varieties, would thereafter be thought worthy of specific names; in
which case scientific and common language would come into accordance. In
short, Darwin looked forward to the time when species would have to be
treated in the same manner as genera are treated by those naturalists
who admit that genera are merely artificial combinations made for

Darwin also foresaw that when his theory of the origin of species should
be adopted, other and more general departments of natural history would
rise greatly in interest. The terms used by naturalists--such terms as
affinity, relationship, community of type, paternity, morphology,
adaptive characters, rudimentary and abortive organs, etc.--would cease
to be metaphorical, and would have a plain signification. "When," he
wrote, "we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a
ship, as something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every
production of nature as one which has had a long history; when we
contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of
many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, in the same way as any
great mechanical invention is the summing up of the labor, the
experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when
we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting--I speak from
experience--does the study of natural history become." Once more: "When
we can feel assured that all the individuals of the same species, and
all the closely allied species of most genera, have within a not very
remote period descended from one parent, and have migrated from some one
birthplace; and when we better know the many means of migration, then,
by the light which geology now throws, and will continue to throw, on
former changes of climate and of the level of the land, we shall surely
be enabled to trace in an admirable manner the former migrations of the
inhabitants of the whole world."

When Darwin published the "Origin of Species," he was aware that
theologians and philosophers seemed to be fully satisfied with the view
that each species had been independently created, and was immutable. To
his own mind, however, it accorded better with what was known of the
laws impressed on matter by the Creator that the production and
extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have
been due to secondary causes like those determining the birth and death
of the individual. "When I view," he said, "all beings not as special


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