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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/280

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

essays immediately gave me the lead which I wanted to bring into shape the crude notions which had been floating in my head for five or six years, especially since the Oxford days. The conception of society, of social forces, and of the science of society there offered, was just the one which I had been groping after, but had not been able to reduce for myself. It solved the old difficulty about the relation of social science to history, rescued social science from the dominion of the cranks, and offered a definite and magnificent field for work, from which we might hope at last to derive definite results for the solution of social problems.

"It was at this juncture (1872) that I was offered the chair of Political and Social Science at Yale. I had always been very fond of teaching, and knew that the best work I could ever do in the world would be in that profession; also, that I ought to be in an academical career. I had seen two or three cases of men who, in that career, would have achieved distinguished usefulness, but who were wasted in the parish and the pulpit."

Mr. Sumner returned to New Haven as professor in September, 1872. Of the further development of his opinions he says:

"I was definitely converted to evolution by Prof. Marsh's horses some time about 1875 or 1876. I had re-read Spencer's 'Social Statics' and his 'First Principles,' the second part of the latter now absorbing all my attention. I now read all of Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, and quite a series of the natural scientists. I greatly regretted that I had no education in natural science, especially in biology; but I found that the 'philosophy of history' and the 'principles of philology,' as I had learned them, speedily adjusted themselves to the new conception, and won a new meaning and power from it. As Spencer's 'Principles of Sociology' was now coming out in numbers, I was constantly getting evidence that sociology, if it borrowed the theory of evolution in the first place, would speedily render it back again enriched by new and independent evidence. I formed a class to read Spencer's book in the parts as they came out, and believe that I began to interest men in this important department of study, and to prepare them to follow its development, years before any such attempt was made at any other university in the world. I have followed the growth of the science of sociology in all its branches, and have seen it far surpass all the hope and faith I ever had in it. I have spent an immense amount of work on it, which has been lost because misdirected. The only merit I can claim in that respect is that I have corrected my own mistakes. I have not published them for others to correct."

The above statement of the history of Prof. Sumner's education shows the school of opinion to which he belongs. He adopts