Mr. Spencer is perhaps too little concerned for the passing influence of his doctrines, and, except that the heavy expenditure of publication requires to be sustained as it proceeds, he would be content to leave their character to the verdict of the future. But many, believing that his system of thought is of great, immediate, and practical value, were anxious that something should be done to give it a stronger hold upon public attention. Mr. Spencer was therefore urged to suspend for a time his methodical work, and to address a wider circle of readers by the preparation of a small popular volume, and by using the channels of periodical publication.
Moreover, he had reached a stage in the unfolding of his system which was not only favorable to such an episode, but which urgently required it. That which the world will probably regard as the great work of his life, should he be able to complete it, and which is also of the greatest moment to society, is still before him; while all that he has hitherto done is but a preparation for it. This is nothing less than to organize and place upon its proper foundations the science of man's social relations. A dozen years have been occupied in laying the foundation upon which alone the social science can be built. "The Principles of Sociology" is to be his next and great work, and it was felt to be on every account desirable that Mr. Spencer should say something at this time to the reading public on the nature, claims, scope, limits, and difficulties, of this important subject. This he consented to do, and, in the preface to "The Study of Sociology," he admits that he does not now regret it.
And the object proposed has been already in a good degree attained; the articles have been widely reprinted and extensively read. That they will have a large and salutary influence upon public sentiment admits of no question. The views have been reproduced and commented upon extensively by the press, who have generally recognized their importance, and the need that they should be well understood in a country where all men are government-makers. A marked illustration of the effect of these papers and of Mr. Spencer's tables of "Descriptive Sociology," the first of which is now published, is furnished by the recent inaugural address of Lord Houghton before the British Social Science Congress. The Times of October 2d reports him as saying: "Their consideration has impressed me strongly with the uncertain data on which all Social Science is founded, and the importance of the connection between Sociology and Biology which Mr. Spencer, both in his philosophical works and in the elaborate tabular statement of social facts which he has supervised, and which I earnestly commend to your notice, is now expounding and illustrating." It was to exert an influence of just this kind that "The Study of Sociology" was prepared. It is hence not to be regarded as a treatise upon sociological science, but rather an introduction to it. It treats of questions which bear upon it, but which Mr. Spencer could not properly deal with in his forthcoming "Principles of Sociology."
Men of science have their discouragements, general and special. The English just now have a spasm of unhappiness because the government will not allow them to accept honors from foreign sovereigns. It seems that the Emperor of Brazil and the King of Sweden are inclined to bestow their marks of favor upon English savants, who would be glad to accept them, but a regulation of the Foreign Office, dated 1855, forbids any subject of her majesty to accept a foreign order, or to wear its insignia, without the queen's permission; and it is declared that