Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/38

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28
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in Literature," it offers the only scientific exposition of the problem of style that we have. The general theory set forth is, that effectiveness of style depends on a choice of words and forms of sentence offering the least resistance to thought in the mind of the reader or hearer—a foreshadowing of the general law of the "line of least resistance" as applied to the interpretation of psychological phenomena, as well as phenomena in general. Moreover, at the close of the essay, there is a reference to the law of Evolution in its application to speech—there is a recognition of the fact that "increasing heterogeneity" has been the characteristic of advance in this as in other things, and that a highly-evolved style will "answer to the description of all highly-organized products, both of man and of Nature; it will be, not a series of like parts simply placed in juxtaposition, but one whole made up of unlike parts that are mutually dependent." Here, as early as 1852, there are recognized in one of the highest spheres both the process of differentiation and the process of integration—the two radical conceptions of Evolution.

In July of the next year (1853), Mr. Spencer's continued interest in the question of the functions of the state led him to write the essay on "Over-Legislation" in the Westminster Review; and here, as in "Social Statics," the conception of society as a growth, under the operation of natural laws, is predominant.

The critical perusal of Mr. Spencer's works shows that this was a very important period in the development of his views. The reading of Mr. Mill's "Logic," along with some other philosophical works, had led him to the elaboration of certain opinions at variance with those of Mr. Mill on the question of our ultimate beliefs, and those he published in the Westminster Review, under the title of "The Universal Postulate" (1853). The inquiries thus commenced, together with those respecting the nature of the moral feelings, and those concerning life and development, bodily and mental, into which he had been led, both by "Social Statics" and the "Theory of Population," prepared the way for the "Principles of Psychology." Some of the fundamental conceptions contained in this remarkable work now began to take shape in his mind. Other ideas connected with the subject began also to form in his mind, an example of which is furnished by the essay on "Manners and Fashion," published in the Westminster Review (April, 1854). Various traits of the general doctrine of Evolution are here clearly marked out in their relations to social progress. It is shown that the various forms of restraint exercised over men in society—political, ecclesiastical, and ceremonial—are all divergent unfoldings of one original form, and that the development of social structure, in these as in other directions, takes place by gradual and continuous differentiations, "in conformity with the laws of Evolution of all organized bodies."

Mr. Spencer was at the same time engaged in working out his