Lapas attēli
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Trübner & Co., 57 and 59, Ludgate Hill, E.C.

[blocks in formation]


W. WAYRE, Machine Printer, 22, Lower Kennington Lane.

[ocr errors]


IN UNDERTAKING the conduct through the Press of the series of papers which my friend and collaborateur, Mr. Francis Lloyd, is about to produce, under the title of “Modern Science,'” I am but contributing to the completion of the work taken in hand a year ago in the publication of “ Prussia's Representative Man.” The literary interest excited by that volume seems to have blinded the majority of its numerous critics to the purely scientific object for which it was written ; and it therefore seems fit that such explanation should here be given as will serve to link together the present with our past labours, and place them in their proper plane of research. It may then be hoped that the statement of merely new facts will not be mistaken for dogmatism, and that a scientific view of complex relations will not be regarded as betraying unfavourable moral qualities in the writers. Whether these errors of one critic arose from the fact so complimentarily stated by another, that we had taken pains to begin our *"own thinking at the very latest point reached

Academy, 18th September, 1875.

by the thought of others,” we would not presume to determine, but we would here desire to note the intelligent recognition of our labours as being * "the application of Darwinism to History;" and even when assailed † by the friends of Rousseauism and transcendentalism, we were not unmindful of the honour conferred upon us in that one of our adversaries was he who had been the worthy antagonist of Heinrich Heine, namely, the YoungHegelian, Arnold Ruge.

In then bringing forward an almost unknown writer (Kleist) and placing him in opposition to those of his contemporaries and fellow-countrymen whose fame is world-wide, we did not so much seek to call attention to the masterpieces of a neglected Genius as to point out where and how the great masters had erred ; and to indicate to what extent their errors had so become the truth of those who drew, and draw, inspiration from them, as to overshadow and almost suppress ihe merits of a lesser Genius who had triumphed where the greater failed. We preferred the illustration afforded by Germany, not because the history of that country is exceptional, but because, even at this moment-great as has been the recent progress of scientific thought, in contradistinction to what is at present considered typically German-all civilised peoples are influenced, to a degree of which they are little conscious, by the achievements of the great

· Pall Mall Gazette, 12th May, 1875. + Gottschall's Blätter für Literarische Unterhaltung, 29th July, 1875.

writers produced by that nation at the close of the last and beginning of the present century. And it seemed to us that, only by tracing, in its chief and proper seat, the action of that to which we were opposed, could we bring home to our readers the novel truth we sought to inculcate.

As we have said, the object of our work was not literary in the ordinary sense of the word. It was, in the main, identical with that pursued by the late Mr. Buckle, namely, the application to more complex phenomena of that positive method which, in a lower sphere, has yielded such good results.

Since Mr. Buckle's time, a great change has come over the spirit of the age. With the triumph of the Evolution theory, there has grown up a feeling which demands from the man of science something more than a Voltairian overthrow of existing beliefs, or the cynicism of such doctrines as the “survival of the fittest"; a feeling, namely, which claims from all a respectful and discreet recognition of every form of truth-artistic, religious, or scientific—which helps to satisfy the craving needs of humanity. And, while heartily applauding the exact results attained by Science, we became alive to the impossibility of reconciling the emotional side of human nature with the dead results of reason, so long as Science was in a position to claim an unwarrantable authority over those other sources of knowledge at which the hearts of men instinctively inform themselves.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »