Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/46

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38
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

class, supplied by other classes with, the means of living, becomes, by implication, a leisured class. Not called upon to work for subsistence, its members are able to devote time and energy to that intellectual labor and discipline which are required for professional occupations as distinguished from other occupations.

Carrying with us these general conceptions of the nature of professional institutions and of their origin, we are now prepared for recognizing the significance of those groups of facts which the historical development of the professions presents to us.


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KIDD ON "SOCIAL EVOLUTION."

By W. D. LE SUEUR.

TO want to say something and to have something to say are two very different things. Mr. Benjamin Kidd, when he took in hand to write a book on Social Evolution, wanted very badly to say something; but whether he really had anything to say is a question upon which we can hardly imagine his own mind, now that he has had time to think over it, is fully made up. Yet when the book first appeared many persons thought that it was freighted with some important message. There was something so impressive and oracular in the manner of the writer, such an evident conviction on his own part that, like the poet invoked by Clough, he had to come to reveal to "trembling thinkers on the brink (who) shiver and know not how to think" just what was and is the matter with them, that the reader had to be more than usually forearmed against illusion not to find himself taking Mr. Kidd very seriously indeed, and reading into his pages all the high significance that was meant to be there but was not. The book, we are free to confess, is not an everyday one. It has a certain baffling quality which bespeaks a peculiar order of mind in its author. It is interesting to read: the style is good; the language is strong; the thoughts seem to have some substance; the author gives one the impression that he is working steadily forward to some important, or what ought to be an important, conclusion; and yet, when we come to ask ourselves what the main purpose of the book is, and what proposition of any importance it has established, it is uncommonly difficult to pass from interrogation to affirmation. It gives one the impression of a system with a shifting center of gravity. The author at once champions science and disparages it, exalts religion and denies it any footing in common sense; makes progress depend upon the unchecked action of natural selection, and again declares that its most important factor is the "ultra-rational" sanction which religion supplies for