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degree we find them here. Given the writer's point of view, and they make, perhaps, the most essential condition of the purely intellectual portion of his task.*
Assuming as a postulate the existing universe, the three questions of human philosophy are, What, Why, and How, — the fact, and the final or efficient cause. Mr. Spencer's system, following that of Comte, assumes the first to be the only legitimate inquiry; and briefly disposes of all that can be said as to the other two, by setting them apart in a separate section of “ The Unknowable.” Now, we have no sympathy with the mood of mind which refuses to admit any evidence of so-called spiritual facts; with the intellectual fastidiousness which hesitates to say that the eye was meant to see, or the ear to hear; or with the reticence that will not commit itself to any declaration that the source of being is an intelligent Will. Still, we do not admit the force of the criticism which is sometimes made on this class of writers, as if they pretended to account for the facts of existence, or held their own formularies of thought to have (as it were) a vital and creative energy; as if, in other words, they taught or implied that the universe was made by logic.f It seems to us, on the contrary, that they do hold faithfully by the first order of inquiry, nainely, What are the facts ? and the marvellous richness and beauty, often, of their exposition seems to us the indispensable preliminary to any right interpretation of the facts. The true, that is, the highest interpretation of them, can be only in that completed religious philosophy for which these writers prepare the way.
In the development of his very large and comprehensive plan, Mr. Spencer has got beyond this preliminary and controverted field. The argument which he is now unfolding can be followed without any drawback of an implied dissent on speculative grounds. It is as patient and modest in treatment as it is masterly in analytic ability. We judge it, of course, not from the point of view of an adept in the elementary part of organic chemistry. We assume the author's accuracy in his statement of points, which can be verified by turning to any recent standard exposition of the science. His extraordinary skill shows to great adrantage in the way he turns them to the uses of philosophy. For example, the argument by which he connects the essentially unstable and "modifiable” nature of organic compounds on one side, with the atomic levity of three of their chief elements (oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen) on the other, and especially with the feeble elective affinities of nitrogen, which is a large ingredient also in all explosive compounds, — is a masterpiece of scientific reasoning. So, too, as to the physical effect of luminous undulations in upsetting the unstable equilibrium essential to the elementary structure of organic matter. And for condensed analytic argument, we bardly know where to point to a finer example than that
* We do not include in this judgment his earlier work, “ Social Statics," (1850,) which, both in style and argument, is far inferior to the later ones.
† See National Review for October, 1862.
| The Principles of Biology. By HERBERT SPENCER. Part I. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
in which he approaches his definition of organic life, — that it is “ the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations." *
Most readers will, probably, be unaware that the projected system of philosophy which Mr. Spencer is developing with so remarkable ability corresponds in its precise arrangement, even to many of its details, with the latter half of that which was sketched by Comte, and by him left to be wrought out by his successors. We do not consider that this fact detracts from the merit or the originality of Mr. Spencer's treatment; still less that it should prejudice any one against what is truly valuable in it. Both in its grandeur and in its limitations, it belongs to that order of thought most truly characteristic of the present period. And, probably, it will have to do its perfect work before the conditions will be fully provided for that nobler religious philosophy which shall do justice alike to the universe and the soul. As a help to such a philosophy, — at least as its conditio sine qua non,-- every genuine effort of this kind deserves the careful study and the best judgment of the religious mind of our day.
When Darwin's “ Origin of Species” appeared before the world, a few years ago, the reader must have noticed a wonderful breach in the logic of that entertaining book, which it would take at least a dozen first-class syllogisms to defend successfully. This breach was just at the dividing line between the shrewd and valuable observations of the naturalist and the startling deductions of the philosopher. It seemed no compulsion of his argument, which, as far as it went, was both modest and ingenious, — no fair inference from his observations, curious, varied, and fruitful as they were, - but rather a sort of mental heroism, that prompted him to leap the gulf, and range himself, out of a fanciful consistency, with the extreme defenders of the development hypothesis. Surely, no facts which he adduced added much of plausibility or strength to that hypothesis, which, for whatever merit it has, rests on quite other grounds. But the theory has strong fascination to many minds. It is the legitimate, or (as it were) the ideal terminus, towards which scientific induction always leads ; and though by no means vindicated as yet by any actual observation, yet, once assuming it, a multitude of facts range themselves easily in support or illustration of it. Perhaps the most that can fairly be claimed for the philosophical value of Mr. Darwin's book, is its exposition and illustration of the laws of “ varieties,” (not species,) and of the conditions of existence in animated beings. And it covers, in a way which will perhaps never be surpassed, this portion of the wide field which must be included in the larger argument.
Mr. Darwin's facts and reasonings are addressed to those who already know something of the science. It is the object of Mr. Huxley's Lectures I to instruct the general public in some of those matters which
* A still more remarkable instance of sustained power of analysis may be found in Mr. Spencer's “Elements of Psychology,” published in 1855.
+ See Système de Politique Positive, especially the close of Vol. II.
I On the Origin of Species ; or, The Causes of the Phenomena of Organic Nature. A Course of Six Lectures to Workingmen. By Thomas H. HUXLEY. New York: D. Appleton & Co. pp. 150.
scientific readers are supposed to know. Their topics are, the condition of organic nature, present and past; the origination of living beings ; the laws of hereditary transmission; the conditions of animal existence; and a special exposition of the Darwinian theory, which is thus stated, that “all the phenomena of organic nature, past and present, result from, or are caused by, the interaction of those properties of organic matter called Atavism and Variability with the Conditions of Eristence." The book has not the interest of an independent treatise ; but as the clear, compact, forcible, often vivid and entertaining statement of the points most requiring to be known for understanding the present aspects of the question, it will well repay the reader. The illustration of the laws of organic life, in the first lecture, is the most favorablé example of the writer's manner.
Among the works on the science of language, that of M. Renan,* though not the most recent, deserves particular mention, for the clearness and force with which one or two points in it are specialized. The interest of the study, as in fact the "embryology of the human mind”; the value of language itself, as the documentary record of pre-historic ages ; the vigorous and clear statement of what is meant by the “spontaneous" origin of speech, - what is spontaneous admitting no such qualification as hard or easy; the assertion that monosyllabic roots, as actual parts of speech, are a mere etymological fiction, since language in its primitive forms was highly complex, and simplicity comes only from analysis and growth; the vivid sketch which is given of the “twin-races," Shemitic and Japhetic, commencing together, in the Asiatic highlands, the great historic race of civilization; the attempt that is made to trace back and localize the actual birthplace of that proud, dominant, and conquering stock, all these points secure to this Essay a place in the literature of the subject, from which it can by no means be spared. It is an indispensable aid and comment in the study of the other works to wbich we have called attention heretofore.
It is with regret we have so long left unacknowledged the great value and interest of Mr. Marsh's second course of Lectures * to students of the English language. In the statement of general principles and in the felicity of popular illustration, the former course is perhaps superior. The present volume has a higher special value, from its very full exhibition of those five centuries of growth which carried the language over from the barrenness of Saxon Chronicles to the culinination of its wealth and power in the age of Shakespeare. All the materials are given here which a student requires, not only to follow the course of that development, but also to learn enough of the structure and vocabulary of Saxon and early English, to read the very ample illustrations that are given, with independent knowledge and pleasure of
* De l’Origine du Langage. Par Ernest Renan. 3me ed.. Paris : Michel Lévy, Frères. 1859.
† The Origin and History of the English Language and the Early Literature it embodies. By G. P. MARSH. New York: Charles Scribner.
his own. Mr. Marsh has labored that nothing shall be wanting in this work, except what is required by those who make of these dialects a separate and extended study. And even those who do, will find great benefit in the guidance of a scholar so admirable and accomplished.
Instead of a detailed criticism of a work so extended in plan and so rich in material, we have marked a few single points which may serve either to correct current impressions or to convey interesting information. First as to the influence of Anglo-Saxon on English literature.
"The earliest truly English writers borrowed neither imagery nor thought nor plan, seldom even form, from older native models ; and hence AngloSaxon literature, so far from being the mother, was not even the nurse of the infant genius which opened its eyes to the sun of England five centuries ago." — p. 100.
Again, the large addition of French words to the native vocabulary, making so rich an element in the composite structure of our tongue, was not, as we have been apt to think, the result of the Norman Conquest, - at least not its immediate or its political result. It is not till more than two centuries afterwards that we find “the awakening of a new spirit of nationality — which was a result of the French and Scotch wars of Edward III.” — which led to “ the enlargement of the English vocabulary, and the impulse to the creation of an original English literature.” Mental food must be found in translations from the richer stores of other lands, particularly French ; and out of sheer poverty foreign words must be borrowed to express the foreign thougbt. “ It is a remarkable fact,” says Mr. Marsh, “ that, at the very moment when it was naturalizing this foreign element with the greatest rapidity, it asserted most energetically its grammatical independence, and manifested a tendency to the revival of Anglo-Saxon syntactical forms which had become wellnigh obsolete.” Meanwhile, the study of the native tongue was carefully taught in schools; and
“ The learning, the poetry, the philosophy, which had been slowly gathered on the summits of social life, and had been the peculiar nutriment of the favored classes, now flowed down to a lower level, and refreshed, as with the waters of a fountain of youth, the humbler ranks of the English people. .... The English middle classes, who were now, for the first time, admitted to the enjoyment of literary pleasures, accepted, as a consecrated speech, the dialect employed by their authors and translators, without inquiring into the etymology of its constituents; and thus, in the course of one generation, a greater number of French words were introduced into English verse, and initiated as lawful members of the poetical guild, than in the nearly three centuries which had elapsed since the Norman conquest.”
Indeed, law, trade, and science were more active agents even than poetry in introducing the foreign elements required by the poverty of the native speech.
“The poets, so far from corrupting English by a too large infusion of French words, were in truth reserved in the employment of such, and, when not constrained by the necessities of rhyme, evidently preferred, if not a strictly Anglo-Saxon diction, at least a dialect composed of words which use had already familiarized to the English people.” — p. 267.
Without going into the detailed examination of words by which Mr. Marsh vindicates this statement, we copy the close of the illustration he gives from Sir John Mandeville's Prologue, written about the year 1356:
“And zee schulle undirstonde, that I have put this Boke out of Latyn into Frensche, and translated it azen out of Frensche into Englvssche, that every Man of my Nacioun may undirstonde it. But Lordes and Knyghtes and othere noble and worthi men, that conne Latyn but litylle, and hau been bezond the See, knowen and undirstonden, zif I erre in devisynge, for forzetynge, or elles; that thei mowe redresse it and amende it. For thinges passed out of long tyme from a Mannes mynde or from his syght, turnen some into forzetynge: Because that Mynde of Man ne may not ben comprehended ne witheholden, for the Freeltee of Mankynde." - p. 273.
The following distinction is suggestive, and happily expressed :“ While true wit is as universal as social culture, humor is localized and national, and the distinctive forms in which different peoples clothe the ludicrous conceptions peculiar to themselves and almost inappreciable by strangers, constitute their national humor. English humor, then, is Anglicized wit. It is a spark thrown out whenever the positive and negative electricities of the French and Saxon constituents of the English intellect are passing into equilibrium, and no great English writer has ever been able wholly to suppress it." - p. 300.
The distinctive position of English among other literatures it is satisfactory to find thus stated, on so high authority :
“ The English is the only Gothic tribe ever thoroughly imbued with the Romance culture, and at the same time interfused with Southern blood, and consequently it is the only common representative of the two races. The civilization and letters of Germany and Scandinavia are either wholly dissimilar to those of Southern Europe, or they are close imitations. On the other hand, the social institutions and the poetry of the Romance nations are selfdeveloped, and but slightly modified by Gothic influences. In England alone have the best social, moral, and intellectual energies of both families been brought to coincide in direction; and in English character and English liter ature we find, if not all the special excellences which distinguish each constituent of the English nationality, yet a resultant of the two forces superior in power to either." - p. 401.'
We should be glad to quote what Mr. Marsh says of Chaucer,“ the first well-characterized specimen of the intellectual results of a combination, which has given to the world a literature so splendid and a history so noble”; and the comparison which is drawn afterwards (p. 569) between him and Shakespeare, “the two great masters of the English tongue.” But we copy, instead, a statement which may strike some readers with surprise, respecting Shakespeare's infinite wealth of diction:
“ He introduces, indeed, terms borrowed from every art and every science, from all theoretical knowledge and all human experiences, but his entire vocabulary little exceeds fifteen thousand words, and of these a large number, chiefly of Latin origin, occur but once, or at most twice, in his pages. The aflluence of his speech arises from variety of combination, not from numerical