An Autobiography: Herbert Spencer - Vol. 2

By Herbert Spencer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER LI.
THE DATA OF ETHICS. 1878-79. ÆT. 58-59.

AN unusual amount of ill-health experienced during the winter months of 1877-78, had, even before the illness described in the last chapter, led to serious thoughts respecting my future; and these had prompted a pre cautionary step. On the 9th January, while lying in bed with a bad cold, I sent for my secretary, and, after disposing of a small matter, began dictating memoranda for the Data of Ethics. My reasons for doing this are given in a letter dated Feb. 16, 1878, as follows:--

"When I have got through the chapters on Ceremonial Government, and have also got through those on Ecclesiastical Government, which I propose to deal with next (not, however, publishing them in the same way), I have some idea of writing, and publishing as I am now doing in the Fortnightly, the first division of the Principles of Morality: showing how morality is to be dealt with from the Evolution point of view, as the outcome of all preceding investigations. I begin to feel that it is quite a possible thing that I may never get through both the other volumes of the Principles of Sociology, and that, if I go on writing them, and not doing anything towards the Principles of Morality till they are done, it may result in this last subject remaining untreated altogether; and since the whole system was at the outset, and has ever continued to be, a basis for a right rule

-369-

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