Modern Humanists Reconsidered

Modern Humanists Reconsidered

Modern Humanists Reconsidered

Modern Humanists Reconsidered

Excerpt

Thirty-six years ago the present writer delivered a series of lectures, under the title of "Modern Criticisms of Life," dealing with the six most distinguished "humanists" who had written in English during the previous fifty or sixty years. Since those estimates were penned, a whole generation, as in statistics and in literature we reckon generations, has passed--a lapse of time sufficient to change considerably the social environment. Of the six subjects, all save Ruskin and Spencer had died before the time of writing; but all were still to be recognized as highly influential teachers, each having, as the French say, "made a school." And now, more than twenty years after the deaths of the two longest surviving, it seems not ill worth while to ask how they look on retrospect, and how the world of to-day relates to them.

These short monographs inevitably fail, of course, to say all that is required to constitute an all-round estimate of the men considered. Thus, things are said in the older book entitled "Modern Humanists" which are still to be taken into account; while some judgments, it may be, are partly corrected, and others are reiterated. In the case of Spencer, again, a third estimate, written at his death in . . .

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