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brought up were slowly losing their hold upon him without any sense of mental crisis, obviously because they had never been held with any emotional tenacity, had never, indeed, satisfied in his case any personal need. The creed of Christendom, he says in a passage which, by the shallowness of its analysis, sufficiently exemplifies his own defective endowment, was evidently alien to my nature, both emotional and intellectual. To many, and apparently to most, religious worship yields a species of pleasure. To me it never did so; unless, indeed, I count as such the emotion produced by sacred music. . . . But the expressions of adoration of a personal being, the utterance of laudations and the humble professions of obedience never found in me any echoes.'

At the age of twenty-one he gave up his engineering appointment in order to devote himself to working out the idea of an electro-magnetic engine which his father had conceived. But within a month it became apparent that the idea could not be practically applied. The next seven years of his life were of an unsettled and desultory character. More than once he was glad to accept temporary engineering engagements; but, with the exception of about eighteen months thus occupied, the time was passed in ‘speculating and experimenting, leading to no practical results. The idea underlying his restless intellectual activity was the hope of making some discovery or perfecting some mechanical device which might yield a commercial return. But, though some of the ideas looked promising enough, and one contrivance was actually patented, the labour was in vain so far as its immediate purpose was concerned. The range of these speculations and experiments, however, gives a vivid impression of the mental discursiveness' on which Spencer dwells with some complacency as a characteristic trait. In addition to these scientific interests there also persisted in the young man the family bias towards social and political reflection ; and his first appearance as an author in 1842 was in the department of political ethics. A visit to Hinton in that year, and a renewal of political conversations with his uncle, suggested a series of letters to *The Nonconformist' newspaper embodying their common views. His uncle gave him a letter of introduction to

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Mr Edward Miall, under whose editorship the paper had recently been established as an organ of the advanced dissenters; and a series of twelve Letters on the Proper Sphere of Government' appeared in the same year.

These · Letters,' republished as a pamphlet in 1843, are not to be taken, perhaps, as expressing more than what he calls . the mental attitude of the Spencers. The principles expounded were those which he drew in with the air he breathed ; in the language of his own philosophy, they might almost be styled connate. The Letters' elaborate the definition of the State which he had volunteered to a friend the year before—'a national institution for preventing one man from infringing upon the rights of another'; and they apply the theory of individualism with the rigour and vigour of two-and-twenty. Even war is excluded from the sphere of government interference, and is to be conducted as a private enterprise on joint-stock principles. Spencer is fain to confess, in the light of later reflection, that here he has gone too far, though, as he characteristically adds, he might have cited in support of his argument the case of the Iroquois league.' But, although modified in particulars, the · Letters 'give us in their first form ideas which controlled the whole course of Spencer's political philosophy; and to the writing of them he traces himself, in a natural development, the successive stages of his subsequent authorship

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Had they never been written, “Social Statics," which originated from them, would not even have been thought of. Had there been no “Social Statics,” those lines of inquiry which

' led to the “Principles of Psychology" would have remained unexplored. And without that study of life in general, initiated by the writing of these works, leading, presently, to the study of the relations between its phenomena and those of the inorganic world, there would have been no "System of Synthetic Philosophy"' (i, 212).

The train of thought initiated in the Letters' was followed out at intervals during the years that followed, and latterly became Spencer's chief intellectual interest. Thus in 1843 he writes: 'I have been reading Bentham's works, and mean to attack his principles shortly'-a purpose executed in 1850 in the opening pages of Social

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Statics. As he explains the matter himself, he had become dissatisfied with the ‘Letters';

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not so much with the conclusions set forth as with the foundations on which they stood. The analytical tendency had begun to show itself. What was the common principle involved in these conclusions ? Whence was derived their ultimate justification ? Answers to these questions had become clear to me; and it was the desire to publish them which moved me to write' (i, 305).

Accordingly, in the early months of 1846, we find him beginning a course of reading with a view to his projected book. Characteristically, however, he paid little attention to what had been written either upon ethics or politics. The books I did read were those which promised to furnish illustrative material.' By April 1847 he had collected a large mass of matter for his Moral Philosophy,' and it was 'beginning to ferment violently.' By September of the same year he was able to send thirty written pages of the introduction to his father; and during 1848, while his future hung in suspense, he was thinking out other chapters as he rambled through the fields round Derby, his thinking being done then, as always, he tells us, mainly while walking. So uncertain did the future seem in the beginning of 1848 that there was talk of emigration to New Zealand. Another scheme ventilated was that he should join his father in starting a school to be conducted on enlightened educational principles. But before the end of the year his appointment as sub-editor of the • Economist’ relieved him from the necessity of considering such alternatives. The record of his life henceforth is one of steady progress towards a goal which gradually took definite shape in the ten years which followed his settling in London. The first step towards it was taken by the publication of Social Statics. Many of his evenings were devoted to it during his first year in London. Great pains were taken with the style ; and it was the end of 1850 before the book saw the light.

Before considering its contents more carefully it will be well, at the point now reached, to ask what the seven years just reviewed may be regarded as having added to Spencer's mental equipment and outlook, and what general

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characteristics of the man may be gleaned from his narrative. It is clear that his multifarious activities had given him a considerable knowledge of men and business affairs, while his studies and experiments had increased his acquaintance with physical science and natural history. Besides novels, he also read some of the books which were impressing his.contemporaries, such as "Sartor Resartus,' Emerson's Essays,' and Ruskin's Modern Painters. The last-mentioned he seems to have valued chiefly because it gratified his spirit of dissent by daring to express unfavourable opinions about some of Raphael's works. There are several references of an antagonistic nature to Carlyle's doctrine of hero-worship in Social Statics'; and Carlyle appears from time to time in the Autobiography' as the incorporation of retrogressive ideals. In one passage 'some months in a dark dungeon on bread and water' are suggested as a cure for his anti-utilitarianism and his ridiculous notion that happiness is of no consequence.' But, though unaffected by alien ideas, Spencer was not insensible to vigour and charm of style ; and his reading at this time extended to the poets. Shelley's Prometheus Unbound' he pronounces, in a letter of 1845, to be the most beautiful thing I ever read by far'; and he rates Shelley about that time as 'by far the finest poet of his era.' The mature philosopher is rather at a loss to explain this early enthusiasm, and can only surmise that the poem satisfied one of his organic needs, variety. He finds the same trait in connexion with food. Monotony of diet is not simply repugnant; it very soon produces indigestion. The reader will probably conclude more justly that the Spencer of the forties was more of a human being than the dyspeptic analyst of the · Autobiography.' A letter to his intimate friend, Lott, in 1844, describing a journey through South Wales, reveals a vivacity of unsophisticated feeling which goes much farther to explain the phenomenon than the laboured hypothesis referred to.

As regards his philosophical equipment, it is to be remarked that there continues the same singular absence of the metaphysical, and even of the psychological interest. • All through my life,' he says, 'Locke's “Essay" had been before me on my father's shelves, but I had never taken it down; or at any rate I have no recollection of having

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read a page of it.' Mill's Logic' he glanced at when it came out, but did not carry the study far. When he came across a translation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason' in a friend's house, he stumbled at the outset over the doctrine that time and space are subjective forms, and went no further.

'It has always been out of the question,' he explains, 'for me to go on reading a book the fundamental principles of which I entirely dissent from. Tacitly giving an author credit for consistency, I, without thinking much about the matter, take it for granted that if the fundamental principles are wrong, the rest cannot be right, and thereupon cease reading--being, I suspect, rather glad of an excuse for doing so.' Acting on this highly dangerous principle, he tells us that whenever, in later years, he took up the “Critique,' he similarly stopped short after rejecting its primary proposition. Spencer's interests during the period under review continued, in fact, to be those of physical science on the one hand and of socio-political theory on the other. But although he had no traffic with the philosophers, a certain amount of reflection on what may be called natural theology was inevitable as his belief in historical Christianity dropped from him. The older natural theology summed itself up in the doctrine that the world had its origin in the creative act of a personal God. A letter to his father in 1848 shows that Spencer had considered this theory and definitely set it aside as incapable of proof, taking up for himself a purely agnostic position. • As regards “the ultimate nature of things or origin of them,” my position is simply that I know nothing about it, and never can know anything about it, and must be content in iny ignorance. I deny nothing and I affirm nothing, and to any one who says that the current theory is not true, I say just as I say to those who assert its truth-you have no evidence' (i, 346).

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The turn given to the argument and the phraseology in which it is expressed anticipate very closely, as he claims, the doctrine set forth in First Principles' twelve years later. In truth, beyond the new name given to it by its baptist Huxley, there is nothing recondite in this easy method of shelving the question, It is the daily practice

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