Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/873

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LITERARY NOTICES.

ties, the parts that make up the social state are rudimental, while in the ascending grade of social progress they are developed to all degrees of complexity. Some societies, as the savages, are stationary, that is, without historic change, and the descriptions of their composition and character are therefore simple, and occupy the least space. But other communities have had a long historical development, which has, of course, consisted in the evolution of the constituent parts, and these have therefore to be separately traced through all the stages of progress.

To understand how difficult the mode of presentation was, we have but to refer to the extent of the subjects dealt with. Among the social structures and activities, are the forms of government, both general and local; industrial, educational, and military institutions; domestic relations, and the constitution of families; religious systems and ideas, and ecclesiastical organizations; ceremonial customs, and social habits; recreations and amusements; useful arts, inventions, industries, and the progress and condition of knowledge; moral sentiments, ideals, and practices, and the cultivation of taste and æsthetic art; the physical, intellectual, and emotional characters of different peoples and races; and the widely varied conditions of nature, and the environing circumstances that influence the social state. These are the fundamental facts of all communities which are to be inquired into by the student of social science, and Mr. Spencer's problem was to bring these facts into such relation by classification and tabular representation as will facilitate comparison for scientific purposes. It was indispensable that two conditions be fulfilled: In the first place, the facts required to be so presented as to bring out coexisting conditions, or to show how the various factors were combined and correlated in the social structure at any one period. In the next place, it was imperative that the movement of progressive societies from epoch to epoch should be so exhibited that each constituent should be separately traced, while at the same time the consensus of advancement is displayed. Progressive societies grow unequally. Some advance rapidly in certain lines, and slowly or not at all in others, and to deduce the laws of social growth, the first condition is that of comprehensive comparative study, and Spencer's cyclopædia is conformed throughout to the attainment of this object.

It will be seen that in the nature of the case the work must have been on a very comprehensive scale. A treatise for this purpose within moderate limits would have been good for nothing; and the treatment of the subject in the ordinary form of books would have been of but very little service. But, by getting rid of all that is superfluous, by eliminating irrelevant statements, and rejecting comment and speculation, in short, by confining the digest to the essential things concerning human society to which science must be confined in its work of establishing general truths, it became possible to condense immense amounts of historic and descriptive matter within comparatively narrow spaces. It is the merit of Spencer's work to have accomplished this object with remarkable success. Of course, anything like a really universal description of human societies, no matter how condensed, would be practically impossible, nor would it be at all necessary. What is wanted for general instruction, and scientific induction, is an array of social data that shall largely represent all the types, forms, and grades of the social state. The greatest number of human societies upon the earth are still in the low and comparatively stationary condition, although in this respect no two are alike. A large number must therefore be studied, sufficient for the derivation of general principles, but it would be needless to extend the list to unmanageable proportions. Then there are societies which have advanced to certain stages of civilization where they have been arrested and fallen into decay. A sufficient number of these require to be represented to teach the lessons they are calculated to enforce. Then there are societies which illustrate a long and slow historic progress through many centuries, and which stand at the head of the present civilization of the world. These are selected for the study of social development in its highest degree as hitherto attained. Mr. Spencer's work covers this broad field, and is thus fully adequate for the scientific demands of the