An Autobiography: Herbert Spencer - Vol. 2

By Herbert Spencer | Go to book overview

routine. Many pleasant talks and useful discussions there were between us on those occasions during the succeeding year. I remember that once when, as it would seem, society and human life as at present existing had been topics of somewhat pessimistic comment, I said (not however doing justice to my thought)--"Yes, one cannot hope for much more than to make one's mark and die."Whereupon Huxley, with greater self-abnegation, responded--"Never mind about the mark: it is enough if one can give a push."

Reference to these walks and talks reminds me of an incident connected with one of them. Shortly after I had established myself in Loudoun Road, Buckle called. It was on a Sunday afternoon. Our conversation had not gone far when I intimated that the hour had come for the usual excursion; and, on my answering his inquiry who Huxley was (for then he was not widely known), Buckle agreed to go with me to be introduced. He went with us a short distance up the Finchley Road; but, saying that he had an engagement, presently turned back. We looked after him as he walked away; and Huxley, struck by his feeble, undecided gait, remarked--"Ah, I see the kind of man. He is top-heavy." I have never done more than dip into The History of Civilization in England; but I suspect that the analogy suggested was not without truth. Buckle had taken in a much larger quantity of matter than he could organize; and he staggered under the mass of it.

November was occupied chiefly in seeing through the press the volume of Essays: Scientific, Political, and Speculative; but its last days, joined with the first part of December, found me busy with a review-article. A

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