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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/638

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to thirty years, conquers, bringing the exhausted organism, which has daily approached nearer and nearer to her dead self, into her dead bosom.

Why the excess of power developed during growth or ascent of life should be limited as to time; why the power that maintains the developed body on the level plain should be limited as to time; why the power should decline so that the earth should be allowed to prevail and bring descent of life, are problems as yet unsolved. We call the force that resists the earth vital. We say it resists death, we speak of it as stronger in the young than in the old; but we know nothing more of it really, from a physical point of view, than that while it exists it opposes terrestrial weight sufficiently to enable the body to move with freedom on the surface of the earth.

These facts we accept as ultimate facts. To say that the animal is at birth endowed with some reserved force, something over and above what it obtains from food and air, would seem a reasonable conclusion; but we have no proofs that it is true, save that the young resist better than the old. We must, therefore, rest content with our knowledge in its simple form, gathering from it the lesson that death, a part of the scheme of life, is ordained upon a natural term of life, is beneficently planned, "is rounded with a sleep."

 

SKETCH OF HERBERT SPENCER.

HERBERT SPENCER was born in Derby, April 27, 1820. He comes of a race of pedagogues—his father, grandfather, and uncles, having followed the profession of teaching. He has written a book upon education, which some people think "theoretical;" but it was a product of experience, for he was himself subjected to much the same method as that he lays down in his work.

The father of Mr. Spencer was a gentleman of fine culture, of engaging manners, and enlightened views which he carried into practice as a teacher. He was strongly disinclined to the prevailing method of imparting knowledge and loading the memory with book acquisitions. He believed that true mental development can only come through self-instruction, and he constantly encouraged his pupils to find things out for themselves. He held it to be of great importance to foster independence and originality of thought. He hence aimed to arouse feelings of interest, curiosity, and love of inquiry in the minds of the young, and then leave them to solve their own problems. One of the objects he constantly sought to attain was to quicken and give scope to the constructive and inventive faculties. He was an excellent mathematician, but in dealing with this subject