« AnteriorContinuar »
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864,
BY D. APPLETON & CO.,
Lu the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
17,455 5745.4esm 1888
THE miscellaneous writings of Herbert Spencer, originally published in various English periodicals, were collected by the Author and reissued in London in two volumes, under the title of "Essays Scientific, Political, and Speculative," first and second series—the former appearing in 1857, and the latter in 1863. Neither of these volumes has been printed in this country, though a small edition of the second series was imported in sheets, bound and sold in a few weeks. The increasing demand for these works on this side of the Atlantic, and the impracticability of obtaining them from England, owing to the high rate of exchange, made it desirable to republish them here. Accordingly, a portion of the Essays, selected from both series, were recently reissued under the title of "Illustrations of Universal Progress." This collection embraced the more strictly scientific articles, and those which bore most directly upon the gen
eral doctrine of Progress or Evolution. The present volume puts the American public in possession of Mr. Spencer's remaining essays.
It is to be observed, however, that nearly all that this Author has written bears more or less directly upon the theory of Evolution, and that his tendency is to consider all subjects in their scientific aspects and relations; that is, he aims to seize and bring out with scientific precision, the fundamental principles of the subject treated. This trait is eminently marked in his disquisitions upon Education, and will be found equally to characterize the essays now published.
The large success and high commendation which the former volume has met with, shows that the genius of Mr. Spencer is widely appreciated in this country, and renders any laudation of his works unnecessary in this place. But it is proper to call attention to the special claims of several of the essays of this collection upon the American public. The nature of our political institutions implies, and their success demands, on the part of the people, an acquaintance with those fundamental principles which determine the reason, the scope, and authority of all civil rule. Repudiating as we did, at the outset of our national career, the ancient and prevailing forms of government; casting loose to a consid erable extent from the traditions and precedents of the past, and organizing a new system professedly founded upon self-evident truths, and aiming at the establish.
ment of natural rights, it is obvious that our citizens have a vital and peculiar interest in the elucidation of those foundation truths which should guide the course of legislation, and control the policy of government And now when our political system is convulsed to its centre, and we are passing into a new order of things, this duty is pressed upon us with critical urgency, and we are summoned with solemn and startling emphasis to the task of moulding our civil policy into completer harmony with those principles which advancing knowledge and a riper experience have combined to establish.
Mr. Spencer has given these subjects profound and protracted study, and the views he advances are entitled to grave consideration. A devoted student of science in its comprehensive bearings upon the welfare and improvement of society, he has labored to unfold and illustrate those laws of human nature and human action, of social organization and social growth, which rest at the foundation of all intelligent administration of public affairs. Without by any means assuming that his views are final, it may be claimed that they mark an immense advance in political philosophy, that they indicate the inevitable direction of future progress, and throw important light upon numerous questions of immediate and practical concern.
Although some of the following Essays may seem to be confined to the consideration of English policy, yet this limitation is only apparent. English facts and
experiences are taken as examples and illustrations, but the discussions strike through to principles of universal moment and applicability. The line of thought opened in portions of this volume is systematically pursued in the Author's work entitled "Social Statics; or, the conditions essential to human happiness specified, and the first of them developed,” which is now in course of republication.
NEW YORK, Sept. 10, 1864