Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cyples, William

CYPLES, WILLIAM (1831–1882), philosophical writer, was born on 31 Aug. 1831 at Longton in the Staffordshire potteries. His parents were engaged in the local industry. He educated himself with the help of his mother, a woman of unusual strength of character, took to journalism, edited several provincial newspapers, and contributed to many of the best periodicals of the day. He published two volumes of verse, ‘Pottery Poems’ and ‘Satan Restored,’ 1859, besides some anonymous novels. He had for many years devoted his chief thought to philosophy, and had been encouraged by J. S. Mill and G. H. Lewes. In 1877 he left Nottingham, where he had long resided, for London. Here he became known to many eminent thinkers, and in 1880 published his ‘Inquiry into the Process of Human Experience; attempting to set forth its lower laws with some hints as to the higher phenomena of Consciousness.’ The book shows thorough familiarity with the psychological researches of Professor Bain, G. H. Lewes, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and others, and contains many original and acute remarks upon the topics discussed. Its main purpose, however, is to indicate the defects of these writers in regard to higher philosophy, and to show the necessity of finding fuller satisfaction for the moral and religious aspirations. Unfortunately, it is defaced by the adoption of an elaborate system of new technical phrases, which was a stumbling-block to readers, and perhaps covered some real looseness of thought. It certainly impeded the success of the book, and led to some sharp criticisms, to which Cyples replied forcibly and with good temper in ‘Mind’ (v. 390). He was disappointed at the want of recognition of his prolonged labours. Soon afterwards he fell into ill-health, and died of heart disease at Hammersmith on 24 Aug. 1882. He was a man of great refinement and nobility of character. A novel by him called ‘Hearts of Gold’ was published posthumously in 1883.

[Mind, v. 273, 390, viii. 150.]

L. S.