We now come to
the purpose for which the preceding lengthy examination has been made: the
consideration of Mr Spencer's present opinions on the land question, as
set forth with all the weight of the "Synthetic Philosophy" in its author's
most recent volume, Justice
, which bears date of June, 1891, and
was published somewhat later in that year.
But it will be best to break the chronological
order, and record here the fate of Social Statics
. Even after Mr
Spencer had made The Times
and Mr Greenwood believe that he had suppressed
it years before, that book still continued to be published by Mr Spencer's
authorised publishers, D. Appleton & Co., and their edition of Justice,
published in October, 1891, contains an advertisement of it in its original
form. But now, at last, it has been done for. It has not been killed outright;
that would be mercy compared with its present fate. It has—and I cannot
but feel that Progress and Poverty
, the Edinburgh reviewer, and Mr
John Laidler of Newcastle, have been innocent causes of its fate—it has
been disembowelled, stuffed, mummified, and then set up in the gardens of
the Spencerian philosophy, where it may be viewed with entire complacency
by Sir John and his Grace.
Soberly, the original volume has with this
year been withdrawn from publication, to give place to a new Social Statics
dated January, 1892, and published in February. This volume, which is,
of course, now to pass in the publisher's lists as Social Statics, has
for full title, Social Statics, abridged and revised
, together with
The Man versus the State
. It consists of disjointed
fragments of the old Social Statics
, which, in order
to make some approach to the bulk of the original, is padded out with the
magazine articles before referred to. In the preface Mr. Spencer says:
intention was to call this volume, or, rather, part of a volume, Fragments
from Social Statics, and afterwards, Selections from Social Statics.
Both of these titles, however, seemed to indicate a much less coherent
assemblage of parts than it contains. On the other hand, to call it an
abridgement is somewhat misleading, since the word fails to imply that large
and constructively important parts are omitted. No title, however, appears
appropriate, and I have at length decided that Social Statics, abridged
and revised, is the least inappropriate.
If appropriateness was what Mr. Spencer sought,
it does seem as if a title much less inappropriate might have been found.
For the only discernible principle of revision is the chopping out of
all that might imply a God or offend vested interests, in the same fashion
that Russian censors revise distasteful works, the result being a Hamlet
from which not only Hamlet himself, but the Ghost, the Queen Mother, and
Ophelia, have gone. The "First Principle" is left, but everything large
or small relating to land is omitted. The only allusion to land is in the
cavilling at Locke, which is retained, and that what was originally Section
3, Chapter X, now converted into a chapter, headed "Socialism," is left
by careless editing to begin, as in the original:
The doctrine that all men have equal rights
to the use of the earth seems at first sight to countenance a species of
social organization at variance with that from which the right of property
has just been deduced.*
The foot-note indicated by this asterisk is:
*Referring to an omitted
part of the last chapter, the argument of which, with modifications, will
now be found in Part IV of the Principles of Ethics.
Thus revised, Social Statics no further concerns
us. All that Mr. Spencer originally said about the relation between men
and the earth having now been definitely withdrawn, we are referred for
his present opinions to the book we are about to consider.
But the advertising of the revised Social
is worth noting, as by some blunder it lays before the American
reader what was originally intended for English circulation only, and brings
to mind the fiction about the suppression of Social Statics
did duty in the St. James's Gazette and the London Times. Here is the advertisement
as published at the head of D. Appleton & Co.'s announcements in May,
BY HERBERT SPENCER. New and revised edition, including "The Man versus
the State," a series of essays on political tendencies heretofore published
separately. 12mo. 420 pages. Cloth, $2.00.
Having been much annoyed by the persistent
quotation from the old edition of Social Statics, in the face of repeated
warnings, of views which he had abandoned, and by the misquotation of others
which he still holds, Mr. Spencer some ten years ago stopped the sale of
the book in England and prohibited its translation. But the rapid spread
of communistic theories gave new life to these misrepresentations; hence
Mr. Spencer decided to delay no longer a statement of his mature opinions
on the rights of individuals and the duty of the state.
This is a queer statement to come from D.
Appleton & Co., who have been publishing and advertising the old edition
of Social Statics
up to this year, without the slightest
warning to purchasers that the author had changed his views otherwise
than as stated in the prefaces and notes, which, as I have before said,
made no reference to any change on the land question. It is strange to
hear from them, that the annoyed Mr. Spencer ten years ago stopped the
sale of his book in England, when it had not been in print for over twenty
years, serenely leaving it to be sold in the only country where it was
in print, and that he also at the same time prohibited its translation.
Why is Mr. Spencer so careful of what Englishmen in the little home island
and even the "foreigner" may read, yet so careless of what is read by Americans,
Canadians and Australians? And why have D. Appleton & Co., for nearly
ten years, been passing off on their great constituency a book that its
author would not allow to be sold in his own home or in foreign countries?
These are questions this advertisement suggests but does not answer.