Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/287

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF HERBERT SPENCER

Spencer's "Autobiography," stereotyped during his lifetime and published in two large volumes shortly after his death in December, 1903, is now followed by two further volumes, a "Life and Letters," prepared by Dr. David Duncan in accordance with a clause in Spencer's will which read as follows: "I request that the said David Duncan will write a Biography in one volume of moderate size, in which shall be incorporated such biographical materials as I have thought it best not to use myself, together with such selected correspondence and such unpublished papers as may seem of value, and shall include the frontispiece portrait and the profile portraits, and shall add to it a brief account of the part of my life which has passed since the date at which the Autobiography concludes."

Dr. Duncan, who was Spencer's secretary and assistant for two years in the late sixties and was subsequently in India as professor of logic at Madras, had a task made extremely difficult by the preexisting autobiography. This, like all Spencer's works, makes a different appeal to different minds; some find it tedious, while to others it is of absorbing interest. In any case it is a work of genius written by a man of genius. It is so full and complete that most of the material of real interest had been used, except for the last years when Spencer was a confirmed invalid and found his own life wearisome.

Spencer says: "It is a provoking necessity that an autobiography should be egotistic." As a matter of fact the autobiography emphasizes the egotistic, the priggish and the petty sides of his character much less than does the biography, while the true largeness, sincerity and kindliness of the man emerge

 
PSM V73 D287 Herbert spencer at the ages of nineteen and forty six.png
Herbert Spencer when nineteen Herbert Spencer when forty-six