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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/641

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

difficulty," as Mr. Gibson allows—cannot be free from errors is obvious, and from all the foregoing causes it is peculiarly exposed to unscrupulous criticism. When these considerations are taken into account, Mr. Gibson's case of alleged errors in the tabular statements on the part of Mr. Collier is simply pitiful. His six-column search for flaws and defects yields the following outcome.

Mr. Collier enters his numerous and varied facts in their proper relations in the tables in the most condensed language possible, as he was compelled to do by the nature of the presentation; but this, of course, affords Mr. Gibson an opportunity, which he duly improves, to complain of the want of explanations. For the classified facts Mr. Collier gives in the accompanying text the exact words of the authorities which he has followed, and Mr. Gibson has no admiration for disjointed "scraps." Mr. Collier has made quotations from about one hundred and seventy works, which were of course sought as the best, and which the intelligent reader will see comprehend the great mass of authentic English history. Mr. Gibson impeaches none of these authorities, but sublimely discredits the whole, declaring that they "are not, in the historical sense of the word, authorities at all." This, of course, is mere assertion. The "historical sense" can be nothing else than common-sense applied to history, and that can only require the compiler to seek the best possible sources of information. If the regular historians have failed to furnish it, it must be gathered from other and scattered sources. Mr. Spencer's tables give strong evidence of being a faithful reflex of the social state. They are full of gaps where information could not be supplied; and the best authorities extant have been diligently searched for the statements, names and pages being carefully given; what more can be reasonably asked? Although he does not attempt to show wherein the authorities are untrustworthy, he tries to make out three or four instances in which the quotations are insufficient to justify the statements based upon them in the tables. Again, he says there is no clear trace that he (Mr. Collier) has any perception of the relative value of the different facts he has come across in the one hundred and seventy volumes which he has consulted. It is but just to Mr. Collier to say that, while he has quoted one hundred and seventy volumes, he has consulted a far larger number, and it is a sufficient reply to Mr. Gibson's insinuation regarding Collier's defective "perception" of the relative values of his facts, that their valuation was not his business, and if some are more valuable than others he could not very well help it. Mr. Spencer has pointed out in his preface the difficulty of reducing such multifarious details to a tabular statement in parallel columns, while the advance of society constantly gives rise to new elements. The exigencies of the classification required that, to a certain extent, diverse though kindred facts should be grouped together. But this does not protect him from the hypercritical Gibson, who carps at the distributions, and thinks that "most of the information under the head 'Morals' ought to be transferred to the heading of 'Law and Politics;'" while the diversity of objects that Mr. Collier has included under the head of "Tools and Implements" is gravely pointed out in the array of objections. Of Mr. Collier's omissions this keen-eyed critic has discovered one which he duly chronicles: it is the failure to mention "dramatic poetry." Mr. Gibson is captious over the deficiency of the statements, and thinks that more facts are wanted. He says: "It would be the merest impertinence for Mr. Spencer's sociological student to draw conclusions from such miserable data