Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/57

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47
SPENCER AND EVOLUTION.

whole subject required to be more deeply grounded in the knowledge of Nature. Upon that deeper study of Nature he then entered, and, after twenty-four years of steady and systematic preparation, the problems of Social Statics are resumed in the "Principles of Sociology." If so prolonged and inflexible a course of original inquiry, yielding results which are felt in the highest spheres of thought, are suggestive of "a weakness," we should be glad to be furnished with the examples which embody Colonel Higginson's conception of strength in mental character. As to the declaration that it seems absurd to attribute to Mr. Spencer any vast enlargement or further generalization of the modern doctrine of Evolution, we leave its author to reconcile his opinion with the fact that the System of Psychology, which first extended the principle of Evolution to the sphere of mind, had been nine years before the world—the conception of universal Evolution had been formulated and promulgated four years, and "First Principles" had been for some time published, when this statement was made.

Mr. Emerson's criticism of Spencer is summary and decisive, as becomes a man who has gone to the bottom of a subject. Reticent and mystical no longer, he plumps out his opinion, when interviewed, with all the confidence of one who knows what he is talking about. Into the pantheon of immortals, arranged for the reporter of Frank Leslie's newspaper, none may enter but star-writers, and Mr. Spencer is only a "stock-writer." We may, however, presume that Mr. Emerson has here followed his transcendental lights, as there are many who will insist that he is not for a moment to be suspected of having ever read Mr. Spencer's books; though it will still remain a mystery how he has so skillfully contrived to make his statement as exactly wrong as it could be made. It will, probably, matter little to Mr. Spencer what Mr. Emerson thinks of his position, as it can matter nothing to Mr. Emerson what we think of his judgment; but it should matter a good deal to him that he do not lend the influence of his eminent name to the perpetration of injustice. Speaking in the light of the facts here sketched, we say that Mr. Emerson will search the annals of authorship in vain to find an instance in which his epithet would be more grossly misapplied. And we will do him the justice to say that in other days he has taught us a more generous lesson in regard to what is due from the manly and liberal-minded to the heroic endeavors of noble and unrecognized men. Many of his admirers will recall with pleasure the following admirable passage: "What is the scholar, what is the man for, but for hospitality to every new thought of his time? Have you leisure, power, property, friends? you shall be the asylum of every new thought, every unproved opinion, every untried project, which proceeds out of good-will and honest seeking. All the newspapers, all the tongues of to-day, will, of course, at first defame what is noble; but you, who hold not of to-day, not of the times, but