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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/420

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

he has had to take the penalty in very serious losses. With Part 8, devoted to French Sociology, he issues the following notice of the cessation of the work:

With the issue of the eighth part, herewith, the publication of the "Descriptive Sociology" will be closed.

The collecting, classifying, and abstracting of the materials contained in the parts now completed was commenced in 1867; and the work, carried on at first by one compiler, subsequently by two, and for some years by three, has continued down to the present time.

On going through his accounts, Mr. Spencer finds that during the fourteen years which have elapsed since the undertaking was commenced, the payments to compilers, added to the costs of printing, etc., have amounted to £4,425 15s. 7d., while up to the present time the returns (including those from America) have been £1,054 12s. 1d.—returns which, when they have been increased by the amount derived from the first sales of the part now issued, will leave a deficit of about £3,250.

Even had there been shown considerable appreciation of the work, it would still have been out of the question to continue it in face of the fact that, after the small sales which immediately follow publication, the returns, so far from promising to repay expenses in course of time, do not even yield five per cent interest on the capital sunk.

Should the day ever come when the love for the personalities of history is less and the desire for its instructive facts greater, those who occupy themselves in picking out the gold from the dross will, perhaps, be able to publish their results without inflicting on themselves losses too grievous to be borne—nay, may possibly receive some thanks for their pains.

The personality of this announcement makes some corrections here appropriate. It has been often said that the profits of Mr. Spencer's American reprints have been greater than those of the original English publications. This is a mistake. Some of his books sold better in this country at first, but the English sales have had a steady increase, so that the income from them has been greater than from the American editions. In regard to the "Descriptive Sociology," although encouraged by his American friends to expect fair returns from it here, the sales have been so small that the publishers declined to reproduce it after the third number, and the work has been kept in stock by the help of others and by advances from Mr. Spencer himself. The appearance of the above notice of discontinuance has, moreover, been the occasion of no little misrepresentation, both in England and in this country. In England it was rumored that Mr. Spencer's losses from publication have been so great as to compel him to go to America to recruit his means by lecturing; and in this country the newspapers have intimated that the failure of his "French Sociology" has brought him to actual want. These statements are wholly groundless. Mr. Spencer has never for a moment entertained the idea of lecturing here, although offered very liberal terms; and, while he is not a rich man, he is by no means in straitened circumstances. He could, of course, ill afford to lose sixteen thousand dollars, besides many years of labor, on a single publication, but it has certainly not made him a bankrupt.

It must be added that Mr. Spencer has never accepted a farthing from any source contributed for his private or personal benefit. When his "System of Philosophy," which was not self-sustaining, was threatened with suspension, some funds were sent him from this country to meet the expenses of its continuance, but they were accepted solely as a public trust, and to be applied to an object recognized by all as of a purely public nature.

 

 

ELECTRIC STORAGE-BATTERIES.

Since the first announcement of M. Faure's improvement of the Planté secondary battery, speculation has been rife as to the great number and kinds of uses to which such batteries could be applied; and, while much of it has been only sober prediction, some of it has been altogether fanciful. The re-