Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/44

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

enough, his estimate of the sexual passion fell a good deal below the truth.

The strong leanings toward some form of socialism, indicated in the "Autobiography," would have led us to believe that his opinions nearly coincided with those of the Socialists commonly so called. The recent publication of his first draft of a projected essay on the subject shows the wide gulf that still separated him and them. The obstacles to the realizing of socialistic schemes could not be more forcibly expressed. Above all, the great stress that he always put upon individuality would be almost impossible to reconcile with the constructions of Fourier, Owen, Louis Blanc, and the American communities. His socialism is thus to be the outcome of a remote future, when human beings shall have made a great stride in moral education, or, as Mr, Spencer would express it, have evolved a new and advanced phase of altruism.

The publication of the "Political Economy" was followed by another very serious break-down in his health. In the summer of 1848, an affection of the thigh (I am not sure whether it began in a hurt) was treated by his doctor with iodine; the consequence of which was a speedy impairment of his eyesight. I remember him in a state of despair from the double misery of lameness and blindness. His elasticity of constitution brought him through once more; but in the following year (1849) he was still in an invalid condition. I introduced to him that year Dr. Thomas Clark, of Marischal College, himself a permanent invalid from overwork, who spoke a good deal to him about regimen, and endeavored to induce him to try the water-treatment, then just started. He was, however, not to be moved from his accustomed routine. His view of the medical art (at the time I speak of) was, that it should restore a shattered frame by something like magic. In other respects, his intercourse with Clark gratified him much, and led to a permanent friendship.

 

His work, as a great originator, in my opinion, was now done. The two books now before the world were the great constructions that his accumulated stores had prepared him for; and I do not think that there lay in him the materials of a third at all approaching to these. It is very unlikely indeed that he was even physically capable of renewing the strain of the two winters—1842-'43 and 1846-'47. His subsequent years were marked by diminished labors on the whole; while the direction of these labors was toward application, exposition, and polemic rather than origination; and he was more and more absorbed in the outlook for social improvements. Not that his later writings are deficient in stamina or in value; as sources of public instruction and practical guidance in the greatest interests of society, they will long hold their place. But it was not within the compass of his energies to repeat the impression made by him in 1843 and again