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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/863

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

tem, which was published twenty-two years ago, and the article is characterized throughout by the most inexcusable ignorance of the subjects considered. It is spiteful, contemptuous, and flippant in spirit, vicious in misrepresentation, and mean in its covert insinuations and outright imputations. Brougham's assault upon Young is its model, and the phraseology of disparagement is almost identical in the two papers, as we illustrate by italicized passages. The reviewer says of Spencer: "He has not ascertained or discovered a single new fact, nor put any old ones together in such a way as to justify any new inference as to their causes, either immediate or ultimate. He has only applied new and fanciful terms to the collections he has made." And this is the way he sums the matter up: "This is nothing but a philosophy of epithets and phrases introduced and carried on with an unrivaled solemnity, and affectation of precision of style concealing the loosest reasoning, and the haziest indefiniteness on every point except the bare dogmatic negation of any 'knowable' or knowing author of the universe; which, of course, is the reason why this absurd pretense of a philosophy has obtained the admiration of a multitude of people who will swallow any camel that pretends to carry the world standing on the tortoise that stands on nothing, provided only it has been generated by a man out of his own brains, and asserted in imposing language with sufficient confidence." The philosophy of the universe, it may be remarked, which is tacitly held by the writer, is simply mathematics and physics plus Scotch orthodoxy.

We have no space to go into particulars in regard to this performance, but may give one illustration of its looseness and lack of decent regard for truth. Its fragmentary quotations are made in the most slovenly manner, and mixed up with the language of the writer so as to convey his own perverted meaning; and, as if conscious of this, he seems to think it necessary to make at least one fair extract. So he says: "This time we will not omit a word for brevity. We ought to give at least one specimen of Mr. Spencer's most careful and precise style unreduced." Then follows an extract of eighteen lines, and, if the reader will believe it, the passage was reduced by the dropping of whole clauses, which were not only significant, but made the entire statement unintelligible. And if the reader hesitates to believe this on our authority, as too improbable a thing, then let us say that Mr. Proctor has exposed it in his London journal, and convicted the reviewer of mutilation by publishing the extract, with the omissions bracketed.

The "Edinburgh Review" will not succeed at this late day in the revival of its old tactics. Its "slashing" article will be rated at its true worthlessness because there are now multitudes who have some intelligent understanding of the Spencerian philosophy, even if the chosen reviewer knows nothing about it, cares nothing about it, and only takes it up to make a sensational caricature of it. In confirmation of this, we quote a passage from a recent letter of Mr. Richard A. Proctor to the "New York Tribune":

The "Edinburgh Review" makes a savage assault on Herbert Spencer this quarter, in an article written in a style so familiar that it might as well have been signed. Those who admire the work which has already been achieved and is in progress of achievement by the leading philosopher of the century, "will be scarcely less pained by this unfair and acrimonious attack than those who have a regard for the reputation of Sir Edmund Beckett. Sir Edmund has attacked the Bacon of this day in terms that would be hardly appropriate if applied to one of those absurd persons who go about with theories that the earth is flat, the law of gravity a gigantic blunder, and the squaring of the circle child's play. Belonging myself to both categories above mentioned, I am doubly grieved. I value Sir Edmund Beckett as a kind personal friend, a masterly reasoner within certain