Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/456

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438
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was drawn up in 1859, and distributed in the March of the following year.

The history of the man from this time on is almost entirely merged in the history of his work; the dates of importance for the outside world being those marked by the publication of the various portions and volumes of the promised series. Of Mr. Spencer himself, through all this long period during which the rare qualities of his genius have been more and more fully recognized, and the power of his thought has shown a steady growth, the public at large has known less perhaps than of any of his notable contemporaries. He has lived, rather by necessity than by choice, a very quiet and secluded life, saving all his available strength for the task he had set himself to accomplish; while, hating as he does the nauseating personalities of modern journalism, he has not only never courted notoriety, but has firmly resisted attempts frequently made to thrust notoriety upon him. This does not mean, and must not be taken to imply, that there is anything in him of the ascetic or recluse. He is by nature what Johnson described as a thoroughly "clubable" man enjoying so far as health would permit the menus propos of the dinner table, and social intercourse with congenial spirits. Himself a delightful conversationist and capital storyteller, fond of his joke, and with a ready laugh for the good sayings of others, he certainly does not remind those who are privileged to know him well of the dry, abstracted, unemotional philosopher of vulgar tradition, though doubtless a stranger would pronounce him cold and reserved. Before his nervous trouble assumed its more serious form a few years since, he took much pleasure in fishing, quoits, and especially billiards, and was a regular habitué of the Athenæum Club. But for a long time past these and similar amusements have been out of the question, and, being a rather impatient reader of general literature, he has derived his greatest solace from music, of which he has always been passionately fond. Without intruding, as I have no wish to do, upon the sanctities of private life, I feel that I am justified in saying this much, and in adding that in my own familiar relations with Mr. Spencer there is nothing that has impressed me more strongly than his lofty idea of rectitude, his fine sense of justice, and the transparency and charming simplicity of his character. Kind and considerate to those about him, despite the strain of insomnia and constant ill health, if he makes large demands upon the rationality and integrity of others, as he undoubtedly does, he claims no more from them than for his own part he is always ready to give. His standard of individual conduct is an extremely high one, but, unlike many theorists, he applies it to his own life as severely as he does to the lives of other people.