Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/426

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ary reception speech, expressed also his quite emphatic disagreement with Spencer, and his admiration of the spirit of American enterprise and the splendid activity of the American people. As to the injury done by overwork, he did not believe in it, and the eminent physician, Sir William Gull, told him he had never known a man who had died from it. It is worry, not work, which kills, said Mr. Haden.

Undoubtedly, but is not the deadly worry one of the inevitable accompaniments and consequences of the overwork under the conditions of competitive enterprise in this country? It is work carried to such extremes as to engender anxiety and harassment under the fierceness of business struggles and the eagerness of unchecked ambition that is condemned. It is not claimed that the man who kills himself at fifty by unremitting labor has done it by too much physical exertion. He has done it by assiduous mental solicitudes without break or reaction, and the neglect of the conditions of health which that absorption of thought and strain of the feelings imply. Spencer's criticisms were leveled at the want of regulation and of a corrective in the shape of systematic relaxations that shall give more contrast in life, and greater freedom to the play of agreeable feeling, in place of the vexatious solicitudes which spring from devotion to work. To say that it is not overwork that kills, but the worry that is entailed, is merely to quibble with the subject. Sir William Gull might as well have declared that he had never known a case of death from cholera or consumption because it is the lack of power in the constitution to resist these diseases that is really the cause of death. It is only by such caviling that the notorious fact can be evaded, that thousands of men in this country sacrifice health and life to the passionate eagerness of business pursuits. Every observing person can give examples within the sphere of his own acquaintance of such premature breakdowns by the score.

The New York "Sun" gives an editorial to the subject, and maintains that the warning of Mr. Spencer is quite mistaken, as the Americans are far from being an overworked people. "There may be more fret and worry about money-making due to the haste to get rich, and the greater dissatisfaction with a position in mediocrity, but real overwork is not among our vices." But it would have been well to point out how "fret and worry about money-making," "haste to get rich," and "dissatisfaction with a position in mediocrity," operate to produce discretion in the regulation of our activities!

But the "Sun" gives expression to a criticism of Mr. Spencer which has been heard in various quarters, and requires attention. It intimates that he is under an objective illusion, and has simply generalized from his own morbidities to the condition of everybody else whom he saw. The editor says: "It is not at all remarkable that Mr. Herbert Spencer took this view of us, and that he made it the subject of the only speech he delivered while in the United States. Himself suffering from the lack of rest, he was naturally disposed to "discover symptoms of the same trouble among the men in the strange country to which he had come on an unavailing search for repose. He had found in his American travels many nervous sufferers who could sympathize with him, just as every victim of a chronic malady, no matter how seemingly peculiar to himself, is sure to meet others who are more or less in the same state. His disease is naturally foremost in his thoughts, and his conversations are likely to lead up to it, so that he gets in the way of hearing of similar cases. There is a strong sympathy which brings together invalids of like kinds. They like to compare symptoms."

This is a very easy theory of the