Popular Science Monthly/Volume 50/April 1897/Spencer and Darwin

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IT is a familiar observation with people who have reached middle age that their chronological conception of their own time is often far more defective than their chronological conception of written history in which they have not themselves participated. Men of our own generation may remember exactly the relative dates of Pharsalia and Philippi; they may be clearly aware of just how Raphael stood in time to Perugino or to Titian; they may know precisely how long Napoleon, Byron, and Talleyrand survived the Restoration. But about the events of their own lifetime they are always asking themselves, "In what year did Lord Beaconsfield die?" "How long did the Prince Imperial go on living after Sedan?" "Was Carlyle still among us when Mr. Gladstone was denouncing the Bulgarian atrocities?"—and so forth perpetually. Even the sequence of events in one's own life often similarly deceives one. We forget whether Tom went to Australia before or after Lucy's marriage; whether we had or had not made McFarlane's acquaintance at the time when Kingston was engaged in painting his first Academy picture. We remember events, but not their order. Daily facts of life, crowding in upon us too thickly for due note, defy all accurate chronological organization. We recall them disconnectedly; the occurrences impress themselves more or less upon our brains, but their infinite concatenation with all other circumstances escapes us. Hence we are often more surprised at learning a little later how events really stood to one another in our own time than at anything which comes to us from unremembered periods.

Especially is this the case with slow organic or psychological movements—movements which grow unseen, and gain but gradual recognition. Cataclysmal events—the Déchéance of the Second Empire, the Italians in Rome, the assassination of the Czar—often fix themselves by their very vividness and unexpectedness on the memory, with their date and relations ineffaceably attached. But where we have to deal with the growth of opinion, most people fall into serious mental errors of chronology. Either they believe a movement began when they themselves first happened to hear of it; or else they date it from the appearance of some startling and much-discussed publication.

Mr. Edward Clodd's new volume. Pioneers of Evolution, brings this truth into strong relief. In this interesting and careful work Mr. Clodd has been at the pains to investigate thoroughly the part borne in the evolutionary revolution, both by the early precursors—Buffon, Lamarck, Laplace, and others—and by the three chief actors in the final triumphal stage of the theory, Darwin, Spencer, and Huxley. His analysis is marked by a conspicuous desire for fairness all round: he has honestly endeavored to assign to each of these three great thinkers his own true share—no more, no less—in the genesis of the modern evolutionary concept. Yet, though the book contains, strictly speaking, little on this head that was not already implicitly within the reach of special students of the evolution of evolutionism, it will probably prove a great surprise to that large section of the reading public which habitually confines the idea of evolution to organic development alone, and which still believes that Darwin "invented" the theory of descent with modification. To all such people—and they include the mass of the averagely well-read—Mr. Clodd's revelation will come with all the charm of a sudden surprise. He has been enabled through the kindness of Mr. Herbert Spencer to give fuller and more authoritative details of the fundamental facts than have yet been published; and he shows more fully perhaps than any one else has hitherto done the central importance of Mr. Spencer's position in the evolutionary advance.

May I begin with a passage which I quoted from one of Mr. Spencer's own early works no less than eleven years since, in my little monograph on Charles Darwin? It occurs in an essay on The Development Hypothesis, in that long-defunct paper, the Leader. (The Italics are in the original.)

"Even could the supporters of the development hypothesis merely show that the origination of species by the process of modification is conceivable, they would be in a better position than their opponents. But they can do much more than this. They can show that the process of modification has effected, and is effecting, great changes in all organisms, subject to modifying influences. . . . They can show that any existing species—animal or vegetable—when placed under conditions different from its previous ones, immediately begins to undergo certain changes of structure fitting it for the new conditions. They can show that in successive generations these changes continue, until ultimately the new conditions become the natural ones. They can show that in cultivated plants, in domesticated animals, and in the several races of men, these changes have uniformly taken place. They can show that the degrees of difference, so produced, are often, as in dogs, greater than those on which distinctions of species are in other cases founded. They can show that it is a matter of dispute whether some of those modified forms are varieties or modified species. They can show too that the changes daily taking place in ourselves—the facility that attends long practice, and the loss of aptitude that begins when practice ceases—the development of every faculty, bodily, moral, or intellectual, according to the use made of it, are all explicable on this same principle. And thus they can show that throughout all organic Nature there is at work a modifying influence of the kind they assign as the cause of these specific differences, an influence which, though slow in its action, does, in time, if the circumstances demand it, produce marked changes; an influence which, to all appearance, would produce in the millions of years, and under the great varieties of conditions which geological records imply, any amount of change."

Now, by most readers at the present day, this passage would undoubtedly be at once set down as "Darwinian." But when was it written? "Would you be surprised to learn" that it was published by Herbert Spencer in the Leader newspaper no less than seven years before the appearance of The Origin of Species? The essay which contains it was first printed in 1853; The Origin of Species was published in 1859. As I have already remarked in my Charles Darwin, "This admirable passage . . . contains explicitly almost every idea that ordinary people, not specially biological in their interests, now associate with the name of Darwin. That is to say, it contains, in a very philosophical and abstract form, the theory of descent with modification, without the distinctive Darwinian adjunct of natural selection, or survival of the fittest." To put it briefly, most people at the present day, now that evolutionism has practically triumphed, now that the evolutionary method is being applied to almost every form of scientific subject-matter, go doubly wrong as to the origin of that method. In the first place, they attribute mainly or exclusively to Darwin ideas which were current long before Darwin wrote; in the second place, they also attribute to Darwin ideas which were promulgated, in some cases before, and in other cases after Darwin, by independent thinkers who accepted his theories as part only of their own systems. Mr. Spencer has been by far the greatest sufferer from this curious human habit of finding an ostensible figurehead for every great movement, and then attaching everything in the movement to that figurehead alone—Luther for the Protestant Reformation, Rousseau or Robespierre for the French Revolution, Pusey for the Anglo-Catholic revival, and so forth. I am glad that Mr. Clodd has undertaken definitely to combat this doubly erroneous view, and that his book has allowed me the opportunity of adding my mite to this question of ascription.

At the same time, I should like to premise that I write this article in a spirit of the profoundest loyalty to Darwin's memory and opinions. No man could have a deeper respect than I have for the character and the life work of that great man of science. But loyalty, as I understand the term, consists in giving your hero credit for what he really was and what he really did; it does not consist in attributing to him the work actually done by others, while suppressing the very facts which form his chief claim to the gratitude and consideration of posterity. Now there is one invaluable piece of work which Darwin really did do, and do effectively—he discovered and proved to the hilt the theory of natural selection, as a cause, and probably the chief cause, both of the diversity of species and of their adaptation to the environment. And there are two important pieces of work which Darwin did not do, but with which he is generally credited—he did not originate the idea of descent with modification in plants and animals; and he did not originate the general idea of evolution, as a cosmical process. These last two ideas come to us from elsewhere. That of descent with modification we derive from Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and others, following in the footsteps of still earlier vague guessers. That of evolution as a pervading cosmical process we derive from Herbert Spencer, and I venture to say from Herbert Spencer alone. Even the word is Mr. Spencer's; before his time, it was never used, I believe, in that particular sense; and after him, it was seldom employed by Darwin, who used it (when he used it at all) in reference to Mr. Spencer's general concepts. So, too, the phrases, "survival of the fittest," "adaptation to the environment," and others, due entirely to Mr. Spencer, are regarded as a rule by the averagely well-read man as purely "Darwinian." It seems to me, therefore, that to do justice to Mr. Spencer in this matter is also incidentally to do justice to Darwin. For in this place, Darwin, with his inflexible sense of equity, his perfect generosity, his admirable self-effacement, would have been the last man to put forward a claim to what belonged of right to others; and in the second place, with his cautious, experimental English mind, he would never have desired to have his name associated with many of Mr. Spencer's most brilliant and powerful a priori achievements.

Nevertheless, before the appearance of Mr. Clodd's book, there were, I believe, but two works extant which endeavored to put this question in its true light, and even there mainly as regarded the theory of natural selection. One of those two books was Mr. Samuel Butler's Evolution Old and New; the other, if I may venture to mention it, was my own small volume on Charles Darwin. But Mr. Butler, both in the work I have just named, and still more in Luck or Cunning, while doing full justice to the precursors and contemporaries of Darwin, has suffered himself to be carried away by a most singular preconception as to Charles Darwin himself, and has represented that most modest and self-effacing of savants as deliberately endeavoring to filch for himself the discoveries and achievements of biologists who went before him. Mr. Butler's books, therefore, though useful as antidotes in the hands of those who understood the facts, could only mislead and puzzle outsiders. Nevertheless, they did actually do this piece of good service: they brought out in strong relief the true nature of Charles Darwin's magnificent life work, as consisting entirely in the establishment of the principle of natural selection—a principle which made the previously discredited notion of descent with modification immediately commend itself to the whole biological world of his time, and more particularly to the younger generation. As to my own little book on Charles Darwin, if I dare to allude to it here, though it also insisted (from the opposite and sympathetic standpoint) upon this same cardinal fact, and likewise dwelt to a somewhat less degree upon the central importance of Mr. Spencer's position, it was published only in a popular series, and did not perhaps reach the eyes of those who mostly required to have these facts impressed upon them. I rejoice, therefore, that Mr. Clodd should have reopened this serious question, and especially that the discussion to which his work is likely to give rise may result in putting Mr. Spencer's true place in the evolutionary movement before the eyes of his contemporaries while he is still among us to be gratified by a recognition too long withheld him.

The needful rectification of public opinion on this subject, it seems to me, embraces two points. In the first place, as regards organic evolution, Darwin was not in any sense the orginator of the idea; he was anticipated by his own grandfather, by Lamarck, by Herbert Spencer (at least so far as priority of publication is concerned), and by several others. In the second place, as regards evolution in general, the idea was not Darwin's at all; it was entirely and solely Herbert Spencer's. Each of these two points I shall treat briefly but separately.

Everybody now knows that the idea of organic evolution—the conception that plants and animals were not miraculously created, but developed by natural causes from a common original—was far older than Charles or even than Erasmus Darwin. In a certain vague way it was anticipated by several early philosophers, and somewhat more definitely, though still nebulously, by Lucretius. In modern times, however, it first took a regularly scientific shape with Erasmus Darwin. Most people believed that the theory never progressed beyond that somewhat amorphous stage up to the time when Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species. This is a serious mistake. The concept, once set on foot, grew rapidly in definiteness and in fullness of scientific basis up to the moment of Charles Darwin's cardinal discovery. With Erasmus Darwin, it was little more than a brilliant though pregnant aperçu; with Lamarck, it became a powerfully supported scientific concept; in Herbert Spencer's hands, it grew to be a probable and rational theory, based upon a serious array of confirmatory facts, and fulfilling all the conditions of a sound working hypothesis. If the reader will turn once more to Mr. Spencer's pronouncement, published seven years before The Origin of Species, he will see that there Mr. Spencer has brought together almost all the chief arguments which still weigh in favor of the theory of descent and modification. Mr. Clodd has collected a large number of passages from Mr. Spencer's early works—especially passages from scattered articles prior to the first public hint of Darwin's idea—which amply prove Mr. Spencer's claim to rank as an entirely independent author of the doctrine of organic evolution. The fact is, before Darwin's book appeared, the argument from variation, the arguments from plants and animals under domestication, the argument from embryology, the argument from geographical distribution, the argument from distribution in geological time, had all of them been brought forward, and some of them had been treated with great skill and effect, by Mr. Spencer. Indeed, it was above all von Baer's law of embryological development which led Mr. Spencer both to his first clear conception of the method of biological evolution, and to his first incomplete conception of evolution in general as fundamentally a progress from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

Why, then, if so many minds had already grasped the doctrine of descent with modification, did Darwin's immortal treatise produce so immediate and noteworthy a mental revolution? Why did the world which turned a deaf ear to Lamarck, and even to Spencer, listen gladly to Charles Darwin? Clearly, because Darwin had something new and important to add to the concept; and that "something new" was the theory of natural selection. This was Darwin's real contribution to the world's thought. He arrived at it at first as a stray aperçu; he followed it up, with Darwinian patience, with astonishing wealth of knowledge and instance, with single-hearted devotion to the particular subject, through the whole of his life; and he left it at the end as nearly certain as such a thesis can ever be made by human intelligence. The weak point in the hypothesis of organic evolution, before Darwin, was the difficulty of understanding the nature and cause of adaptation to the environment. That weak point, when supplemented by theological preconception, made many or most biologists hesitate to accept the nascent theory, in Lamarck's and Spencer's presentment. It is true, minds like Lamarck's and Spencer's could never for a moment, on the other hand, have accepted the crude and unthinkable dogma of separate creation; but the mass of biologists, incapable of high philosophic reasoning, held their judgment suspended, and waited for some other explanation of tHe origin of species. Darwin's discovery converted them en bloc. It was easy to understand, by means of the clew he afforded, not merely that organisms had been naturally evolved from simple primitive forms, but also how and why they had been so evolved. Darwin's great work, then, consisted in this—that he made credible a theory which most people before him had thought incredible; that he discovered a tenable modus operandi for what had before been rather believed or surmised than definitely imagined.

I do not mean to say that Darwin did no more than this. He supplied the great key of natural selection; but he also added much in other ways to the doctrine, especially in the direction of piling up facts and meeting objections. His work had thus a double value. On the one hand, it is not probable that the general biological public would have been converted to evolutionism half so quickly if it had not been for the enormous mass of confirmatory evidence adduced by Darwin. In the second place, even those who, like Spencer, were already evolutionists—evolutionists in fiber, incapable of taking any supernaturalist view of the universe in which they lived—gladly availed themselves of Darwin's discovery of natural selection, as an explanation of one important set of features in organic evolution, thitherto most imperfectly and inadequately explained. Or, let us put it another way. From the point of view of contribution to thought, it is natural selection that forms Darwin's great glory. But from the point of view of mere effective persuasion, it is the weight of evidence he brought up in favor of the older principle of descent with modification that told and still tells with the average mind. Hence it has happened, and perhaps will always happen, that Darwin has received more credit for that part of his theory which was not of his own invention than for that part of which he can justly claim the almost exclusive glory. Almost, I say, because the modifying adverb is demanded by justice to Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, whose partial coincidence with Darwin in the discovery of natural selection now needs no advertisement.

As thinker, then, it is on natural selection as a vera causa of specialization and adaptation among plants and animals that Darwin most securely rests his claim to celebrity. As prophet and apostle, on the other hand, it must be frankly admitted that he ranks first as a preacher of organic—but only of organic—evolution. In this respect, his importance, in England especially, can hardly be overrated. For it is a peculiarity of the practical English mind that it is more moved by a vast array of evidence, a serried mass of cumulative instances, than by any possible cogency of logical reasoning. Darwin's own mind was in this way intensely English. He piled up fact after fact, added case to case, till men whom no power of abstract argument could convince were convinced by pure force of successive witnesses. They were borne down by numbers. Your ordinary Englishman, indeed, is never quite satisfied by Euclid's demonstration that in a right-angled triangle the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the two opposite sides; he honestly believes it when he sees it tried a hundred and twenty times by careful measurement, and still more when he finds that engineering works which take it for granted as a basis succeed in paying a satisfactory dividend. Proof that in the nature of triangles this truth is involved he does not regard; experimental verification, or what seems to be such, in a few concrete cases, amply satisfies him. Hence it came about that a world which would have listened coldly to Herbert Spencer's a priori reasonings or splendid generalizations was converted at once when Darwin brought up with inexhaustible patience and extraordinary keenness of insight his profound array of confirmatory facts about bees and cuckoos, about the fertilization of orchids and the movements of tendrils.

Nobody has better summarized than Mr. Clodd the exact point which evolutionary theory had reached as regards plants and animals before the publication of The Origin of Species. Whoever wishes to learn just how much was surmised by the predecessors of Darwin, and just how much Darwin added to their ideas, can not do better than consult his luminous exposition.

Once, indeed, no less than seven years before the publication of The Origin of Species, Mr. Spencer even trembled for a moment on the verge of the actual discovery of natural selection. This was in the essay on population in the Westminster Review in 1852. The passage at full is too long to extract; but I will quote the last words of it. "All mankind subject themselves more or less to the discipline described; they either may or may not advance under it; but in the nature of things only those who do advance under it eventually survive. For, necessarily, families and races whom this increasing difficulty of getting a living which excess of fertility entails does not stimulate to improvements in production . . . are on the high road to extinction; and must ultimately be supplanted by those whom the pressure does so stimulate. . . . And here, indeed, it will be seen that premature death, under all its forms, and from all its causes, can not fail to work in the same direction. For as those prematurely carried off must, in the average of cases, be those in whom the power of self-preservation is the least, it unavoidably follows that those left behind to continue the race must be those in whom the power of self-preservation is the greatest, must be the select of their generation." Now, this is the doctrine of natural selection, or, as Mr. Spencer himself afterward called it, survival of the fittest. Only, it is limited to the human race; and it is not recognized as an efficient cause of specific differentiation. As Mr. Spencer himself remarks, the passage "shows how near one may be to a great generalization without seeing it." Moreover, Mr. Spencer here overlooks the important factor of spontaneous variation, which forms the corner-stone of Darwin's discovery, and which was also clearly perceived by Mr. Wallace. In short, in Mr. Spencer's own words, the paragraph "contains merely a passing recognition of the selective process, and indicates no suspicion of the enormous range of its effects, or of the conditions under which a large part of its effects are produced."

It is thus obvious not only that Mr. Spencer was a believer in organic evolution long before the publication of Darwin's first utterance on the subject, but also that he almost succeeded, like Wallace, Wells, and Patrick Matthews, in anticipating the discovery of natural selection.

But, besides the misconception about Mr. Spencer's relation to Darwin as regards organic evolution, there remains the far deeper and more fatal misconception about his relation to Darwin as regards evolution in general, viewed as a cosmical process. Most people imagine, I gather, that Mr. Spencer is a philosopher who has put into a higher and more abstract form Darwin's discoveries and theories. In short, they regard him as a disciple of Darwin. And this brings me to the second of the two rectifications of public opinion which I promised above to attempt. Nothing could be more absurdly untrue than to regard Mr. Spencer as in any way or in either department a disciple of Darwin's. In the first place, as regards organic evolution, he was an avowed evolutionist long before the publication of Darwin's first hint on the subject. He continued an evolutionist, in the main on the same lines, after Darwin had brought out The Origin of Species and its ancillary volumes. He adopted, it is true, the theory of natural selection, as did every other evolutionist of his time (except Mr. Samuel Butler), but he adopted it merely as one among the factors of organic evolution, and, while valuing it highly, he never attributed to it the same almost exclusive importance as did Darwin himself—certainly not the same quite exclusive importance as has since been attached to it by the doctrinaire school of Neo-Darwinians, who employ it as the sole key which unlocks, in their opinion, all the problems of biology. On the contrary, he has always steadily maintained the existence and importance of other factors in organic evolution, and has combated with extraordinary vigor and acuteness the essentially Neo-Darwinian views of Weismann which make natural selection alone into the deus ex machina of organic development.

In the second place—and this is the more important point—as regards evolution at large, Mr. Spencer is not in the remotest degree beholden for the origin of his ideas to Darwin. So far as those ideas are not quite original with him—and no human idea is ever wholly original—they are derived from the direct line of Kant, Laplace, and the English geologists. For many years previous to Mr. Spencer's philosophic activity the progress of human thought had been gradually leading up to the point where a cosmic evolutionism such as Mr. Spencer's became almost of necessity the next forward step. But to say this is not to detract in any way from Mr. Spencer's greatness; rather the other way; for it needed a man of cosmic intellect and of cosmic learning to make the advance which had thus become inevitable. The moment had arrived, and waited for the thinker; Mr. Spencer was the thinker who came close upon the moment. The situation is this: Kant and Laplace had suggested that suns and stars might have grown and assumed their existing distribution and movements by the action of purely natural laws without the need for direct creative or systematizing effort from without. The geologists had suggested that the crust of the earth might have assumed its existing stratification and sculpture through the agency of causes at present in action. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck had suggested that plants and animals might have been developed and specialized from a common original by the direct action of the environment, aided in part by their own volition, where such existed. But all these thinkers, great and able in their day, had addressed themselves—as Charles Darwin later addressed himself—to one set of phenomena alone; had regarded the process which they pointed out, in isolation only. It remained for a man of commanding intellect and vast grasp of generalizing faculty to build up and unify these scattered evolutionary guesses into a single consistent concept of evolution. Herbert Spencer was that man. He gave us both the concept and the name by which we habitually know it. The words "theory of evolution" occur already, seven years before Darwin, in the Leader essay.

This point, again, Mr. Clodd has excellently elaborated. "Contact with many sorts and conditions of men," he says, "brings home the need of ceaselessly dinning into their ears the fact that Darwin's theory deals only with the evolution of plants and animals from a common ancestry. It is not concerned with the origin of life itself, nor with those conditions preceding life which are covered by the general term, inorganic evolution. Therefore it forms but a very small part of the general theory of the origin of the earth and other bodies, 'as the sand by the sea-shore innumerable,' that fill the infinite spaces." It is evolution in general, both the concept and the word, that we owe to Mr. Spencer; and Mr. Clodd's book brings into strong relief the actual relations existing in this respect between Herbert Spencer himself and his predecessors or contemporaries.

The genesis of the idea in his own mind Mr. Spencer has illustrated by a series of extracts from his original volume of Essays, published previously to The Origin of Species, and therefore necessarily independent of any Darwinian impulse. The series of extracts thus selected he has permitted Mr. Clodd to print entire, and with them the abstract supplied to Prof. Youmans. These summaries I will not still further summarize; it must suffice here to note, for the benefit of those who have never considered dates in this matter, that the chronology of the subject is roughly as follows: In 1859 (almost 1860, for it was in the end of November) Darwin brought out The Origin of Species. Before that period Mr. Spencer had published (among others) the following distinctly evolutionary works: In 1850, Social Statics, in which the idea of human evolution was clearly foreshadowed; in 1852, an article in the Leader on The Development Hypothesis (from which I have quoted a passage already), where the evolution of species of plants and animals was definitely set forth; in 1854, an article in the British Quarterly Review, on The Genesis of Science, where intellectual evolution was distinctly mapped out; in 1855, The Principles of Psychology (first form), where mental evolution is fully formulated, and the development of animals from a common origin implied at every step; in 1857, an article in the Westminster Review, on Progress, its Law and Cause, where the conception of evolution at large was finally attained (though not quite in the full form which it afterward assumed). From all of these, but especially the last, grew up the idea of the System of Synthetic Philosophy, the first programme of which was drawn up in January, 1858, nearly two years before the appearance of The Origin of Species. Thus so far is it from being true that Mr. Spencer is a disciple of Darwin that he had actually arrived at the idea of organic evolution and of evolution in general, including cosmic evolution, planetary evolution, geological evolution, organic evolution, human evolution, psychological evolution, sociological evolution, and linguistic evolution, before Darwin had published one word upon the subject.

To some people, in saying all this, I may seem to be trying to belittle Darwin. Not at all. You do not belittle a great man by giving him full credit for what he did, and none for what he did not do. You do not belittle Virgil by showing that he was not the powerful magician the middle ages thought him; nor do you belittle Bacon by proving that he did not write Othello and Hamlet. Nobody has a greater respect for Bacon, I believe, than Dr. Abbott; but Dr. Abbott does not think respect for Bacon compels him to father Macbeth and Julius Caesar upon the author of the Novum Organum. Nobody has a greater respect for Darwin than I have; but I do not think that that respect compels me to credit Darwin with having originated the ideas due to Lamarck and to Herbert Spencer. Nay, more; I have so deep a respect for the work Darwin actually performed that I consider it quite unnecessary to filch from others in order to enrich him. He can well do without such disloyal friends. Indeed, it is Mr. Samuel Butler's peculiar belief that Darwin did so attempt to filch on his own account. I can not agree with Mr. Butler that the honestest and most candid of our biological thinkers ever made any such endeavor himself; nor can I believe one honors him by making it for him.

If I were to sum up the positions of these two great thinkers, Darwin and Spencer, the experimentalist and the generalizer, the observer and the philosopher, in a single paragraph each, I should be tempted to do it in somewhat the following fashion:

Darwin came at a moment when human thought was trembling on the verge of a new flight toward undiscovered regions. Kant and Laplace and Murchison and Lyell had already applied the evolutionary idea to the genesis of suns and systems, of continents and mountains. Lamarck had already suggested the notton that similar conceptions might be equally applied to the genesis of plant and animal species. But, as I have put it elsewhere, what was needed was a solution of the difficulty of adaptation which should help the lame dog of Lamarckian evolutionism over the organic stile, so leaving the mind free to apply the evolutionary method to psychology, and to what Mr. Spencer has well called the supraorganic sciences. For that office Darwin presented himself at the exact right moment—a deeply learned and well-equipped biological scholar, a minute specialist as compared with Spencer, a broad generalist as compared with the botanists, entomologists, and ornithologists of his time. He filled the gap. As regards thinkers, he gave them a key which helped them to understand organic evolution; as regards the world at large, he supplied them with a codex which convinced them at once of its historical truth.

Herbert Spencer is a philosopher of a wider range. All knowledge is his province. A believer in organic evolution before Darwin published his epoch-making work, he accepted at once Darwin's useful idea, and incorporated it as a minor part in its fitting place in his own system. But that system itself, alike in its conception and its inception, was both independent of and anterior to Darwin's first pronouncement. It certainly covered a vast world of thought which Darwin never even attempted to enter. To Herbert Spencer, Darwin was even as Kant, Laplace, and Lyell —a laborer in the special field who produced results which fell at once into their proper order in his wider synthesis. As sculptors, they carved out shapely stones, from which he, as architect, built his majestic fabric. The total philosophic concept of evolution as a cosmical process—one and continuous, from nebula to man, from star to soul, from atom to society—we owe to Herbert Spencer himself, and to him alone, using as material the final results of innumerable preceding workers and thinkers.—Fortnightly Review.