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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/643

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

tion of law throughout all the workings of Nature, has entered with its new method upon the study of society. In what does the social structure consist? what are the nature and laws of its activities? what are the conditions of its development? These are its problems. Science always begins with the observation, determination, and classification, of facts. This is its first solicitude. To get at the facts with the highest certainty and the greatest exactness and fullness that are possible, is the primary and inexorable duty of the true scientific inquirer. To put these facts in their proper relations, so as to draw from them the principles and laws by which they are governed, is the essence of scientific method, and to this Mr. Spencer has rigorously conformed by devoting a separate and extensive work to the systematized data that are necessary for valid reasoning upon social subjects. All this, says Mr. Gibson, is of no use, because, if it is "done with as great accuracy and intelligence as possible," it is still worthless from its superficiality. And so, court frivolities and the trumperies and trivialities of personal incident are the deep things for which the "historical sense" must make research, while the investigation of principles and laws is the worthless work of shallow scientists! That will do for Mr. Gibson. Let him return to his dust-holes and rubbish-bins, and enjoy their obscurities and confusions as the profundities of history. We should not have meddled with him on his own account, but Mr. Spencer's work is a challenge to his party, and we were interested in seeing what they would do about it. Their champion has done the best and the only thing that he could, and that is to merge his attack upon Spencer into a final assault upon science itself.

 

 

We reproduce on another page the brief but suggestive address of Mr. George Ripley, upon laying the cornerstone of the new Tribune building. It was fitting that the paper which was founded by Mr. Greeley, and devoted to progressive ideas, and which has had so wide an influence in educating the American people, now that its founder and master-spirit has passed away, should be solemnly rededicated to the continued advance and diffusion of liberal thought and growing knowledge. A political partisan press we must, undoubtedly, continue to have, just as we must have war, pestilence, crime, corruption, and other evils; but it is coincident and will be coterminous with public ignorance, shortsightedness, and the general reign of demagogism. We accordingly hail with pleasure every indication of revolt against party domination, and the increasing recognition of those wider and deeper interests with which the permanent prosperity of society is involved. In the diffusion of science in cheap popular forms, the Tribune has always taken a leading part; and its recent efforts in this way add strength to the pledge now offered, that the same policy will be pursued in the future. In a few compressed sentences Mr. Ripley happily sketches the recent movements of philosophic thought, and discerns the full significance of that latest and largest synthesis of ideas to which scientific inquiry has brought the foremost minds of the age. Nothing is more significant of positive intellectual advance than to see a great newspaper, immersed as it must be in the practical concerns of daily life, yet holding its course in the world of thought by the higher lights of science and philosophy. The career and character of this journal have undoubtedly been, in a large measure, determined by the active mind of Mr. Greeley; but no estimate of its public influence would be just that should omit the prolonged and distinctive labors of its able literary editor, now president of