note is that the abler men who have latterly ventured to cope with his thought no longer disparage him. In this respect there is a marked change of tone on the part of his critics. They recognize that his work has in it great elements of valuable influence, worthy of cordial praise and even of emphatic eulogy.
This more liberal spirit is well illustrated in a recent English criticism of Spencer's doctrines that is attracting attention. Principal Fairbairn, of Bradford, was appointed to deliver the "Muir Lectures" at the University of Edinburgh last winter, and recognizing the growing influence of the synthetic philosophy he devoted three of these lectures to an examination of it. They were reported at the time, and awakened so much interest that the author was led to make an extended restatement of his case, which has appeared in the July and August numbers of the "Contemporary Review."
Dr. Fairbairn is a subtle and thoroughly trained metaphysician, and he devotes himself mainly to an attack upon the introductory portion of Spencer's scheme, where he discusses the limits of knowledge to find the true sphere of philosophy. With Dr. Fairbairn's general argument we have here no concern, but are interested in its opening passage, which reads as follows:
This is a novel strain for an adversary of Spencer. It is no small compliment to pay a system of thought that its largeness and power are attested by its influence upon the national mind, and that even during its promulgation. It may seem ungracious not to accept so generous a statement as wholly satisfactory; but, in accounting for the "remarkable influence" ascribed to Spencer's system. Dr. Fairbairn seems strangely to have missed what we regard as its most important element. He recognizes its ambitious claims and its specious character, which make their appeal to a deficient national culture; but he was not ignorant that this system has in it also sterling elements which have made their successful appeal to the most sober and thoroughly instructed minds of England. Admissions made in the course of his discussion, if placed at its threshold, would have very materially altered the complexion of the opening passage we have quoted.