to suspend labor entirely for varying intervals to recover his working condition. When he entered upon his philosophical undertaking in 1860—laying out twenty years of original work—his health was so insecure that many thought the project foolhardy, and that it would prove fatal to him. But, forced by painful experience to economize his energies, he has become an adept in the art of taking care of himself; so that, instead of breaking down, his condition has perhaps improved with the progress of his work. He would probably never have been able to write the volumes of his philosophy, but in 1859 he adopted the expedient of dictation to an amanuensis, and attributes his power of going on to the immense economy and advantages of this practice. He has latterly not been so well as usual, for, though turning off a large amount of work on "The Principles of Sociology," and also carrying along the "Descriptive Sociology," both of which works are well advanced, he has yet been interrupted by more prolonged intervals of inability to labor. He has, besides, had to spend a great deal-of his force in attention to business, which is not a very exhilarating occupation, as he has now sunk nearly $20,000 in the preparation and publication of his "Descriptive Sociology." He has, besides, had to maintain a burdensome correspondence, which growing at last intolerable, he has lately sought relief by lithographing the following form of a letter, which will explain itself:
Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/644
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
"Mr. Herbert Spencer regrets that he must take measures for diminishing the amount of his correspondence.
"Being prevented by his state of health from writing more than a short time daily, he makes but slow progress with the work he has undertaken, and this slow progress is made slower by the absorption of his time in answering those who write to him. Letters inviting him to join committees, to attend meetings, or otherwise to further some public object; letters requesting interviews and autographs; letters asking opinions and explanations—these, together with presentation copies of books that have to be acknowledged, entail hindrances which, small as they may be individually, are collectively very serious—very serious, at least, to one whose hours of work are so narrowly limited.
"As these hindrances increase, Mr. Spencer finds himself compelled to do something to prevent them. After long hesitation, he has reluctantly decided to confine himself absolutely to the task which he is endeavoring to accomplish—to cut himself off from all engagements that are likely to occupy any attention, however slight, and to decline all correspondence not involved by his immediate work.
"To explain the absence of a special reply to each communication, he has adopted the expedient of lithographing this general reply; and he hopes that the reason given will sufficiently excuse him for not answering, in a more direct way, the letter of Mr.——.
"37 Queen's Gardens, Bayswater, W."