Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/43

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33
SPENCER AND EVOLUTION.

In October of the same year, the essay on "Representative Government—what is it good for?" appeared in the Westminster Review. The law of progress is here applied to the interpretation of state functions, and it is stated that the specialization of offices, "as exhibited in the Evolution of living creatures, and as exhibited in the Evolution of societies," holds throughout; that "the governmental part of the body politic exemplifies this truth equally with its other parts." In January, 1858, the essay on "State Tamperings with Money and Banks" appeared in the same periodical. The general doctrine of the limitations of state functions is there reaffirmed, with further illustration of the mischiefs that arise from traversing the normal laws of life; and it is contended that "the ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools"—an indirect way of asserting the beneficial effects of the survival of the fittest.

In April, 1858, Mr. Spencer published an essay on "Moral Education," in the British Quarterly Review, and throughout the argument every thing is again regarded from the Evolution point of view. The general truth insisted upon is, that the natural rewards and restraints of conduct are those which are most appropriate and effectual in modifying character. The principle contended for is, that the moral education of every child should be regarded as an adaptation of its nature to the circumstances of life; and that to become adapted to these circumstances it must be allowed to come in contact with them; must be allowed to suffer the pains and obtain the pleasures which do in the order of Nature follow certain kinds of action. There is here, in fact, applied to actual life, the general conception of the nature of life, previously inculcated in the "Principles of Psychology"—a correspondence between the inner and the outer actions that becomes great in proportion as the converse with outer actions through experience becomes extended.

The essay on the "Nebular Hypothesis" was published in the Westminster Review for July, 1858. The opinion was then almost universally held that the nebular hypothesis had been exploded, and the obvious bearing of the question upon the theory of Evolution induced Mr. Spencer to take it up. The conclusions that had been drawn from observations with Lord Rosse's telescope, that the nebular hypothesis had been invalidated, were shown to be erroneous; and the position taken, that the nebulæ could not be (as they were then supposed to be) remote sidereal systems, has been since verified. Spectrum analysis has, in fact, proved what Mr. Spencer then maintained, that there are many nebulae composed of gaseous matter. To the various indications of the nebular origin of our own solar system commonly given, others were added which had not been previously recognized, while the view that Mr. Spencer took of the constitution of the solar atmosphere has since been also verified by spectrum analysis.