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Discs ut semper victurus, vive ut eras moriturus 


ffitor^ibe prrgtf 


Published December iqrj 












SIGNS FROM HARVARD LIBRARY (1874-1879) ... 62 

Two NOTABLE ESSAYS (1874-1879) .... 




27, 1880 (1879-1880) 









AN EVOLUTIONIST" (1883-1884) 266 


OF MAN" "THE IDEA OF GOD" (1884-1885) . . 307 

CYCLOPEDIA OF BIOGRAPHY (1885-1886) . . . 337 





CATION AND RECEPTION (1889-1891) .... 399 



SAGE FROM TENNYSON (1892-1894) . . . . 438 



1900) 469 



INDEX 507 


JOHN FISKE Photogravure Frontispiece 

From a photograph taken in 1897 


From a cartoon in the New York Daily Graphic for September 12, 1874 






AUGUST, 1876 90 



MRS. FISKE IN 1880 172 





The birthplace of Mrs. John Fiske, the daughter of Aaron Brooks, Jr., an 
eminent lawyer and one of the leading citizens of Petersham, Massachusetts. 
For three generations the town of Petersham owed much of its prosperity to 
members of the Brooks family, who were extensive landowners and public- 
spirited men. Approximately two thousand acres of the estate of the late 
James W. Brooks now constitute the outdoor laboratory of the Harvard 
School of Forestry. The illustration shows the homestead in its latter-day 







The illustrations for this book were selected 
under the supervision of Mrs. John Fiske 





FISKE'S home-coming to Cambridge and the greet- 
ing of his children were cheering to his heart. Again 
united with his family, his joy was unconfined ; and 
in this moment of gratulation the incidents of his 
memorable journey were quite obliterated from his 
mind. But he was soon at his work in the Harvard 

In September a duplicate set of the plates of his 
work was received from England by his Ameri- 
can publishers, James R. Osgood&Co., and in Octo- 
ber the work was published simultaneously in the 
United States and in England under the title of 
"Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy, based on the Doc- 
trine of Evolution, with Criticisms of the Positive 


John Fiske 

The work bore the following felicitous and alto- 
gether appropriate dedication: 







It should be said that the book made no claim 
to be the presentation of a system of philosophy 
devised by Fiske: rather it was presented as an ap- 
preciation or an interpretation of the philosophic 
system outlined and partially worked out by Her- 
bert Spencer, to which Fiske had made some impor- 
tant contributions in the way of showing the rela- 
tionship of Spencer's system to other systems, as 
well as in strengthening its applications to man's 
social well-being and his religious faith. In other 
words, the work was a fuller presentation of the 
social and religious implications of the doctrine of 
Evolution, than had hitherto been made. 

A philosophic work, produced under such auspices 
as we have seen attending this, must perforce trav- 
erse, in the light of the scientific advances of the 
middle period of the nineteenth century, the three 
fundamental problems of all philosophy : the Cosmic 
Universe, its origin, sustentation, and meaning; 
Man, his origin, his possession of intellectual, moral, 
and religious consciousness and his destiny; and the 

"Cosmic Philosophy" Published 

Inscrutable Power that lies back of, or is enshrouded 
in, the phenomena of the physical cosmos and of 
human life as their ultimate cause or reality prob- 
lems of three distinct yet interrelated orders of co- 
existences, which it has been the aim of philosophic 
thinkers of all ages to bring into order and unity: 
into harmony, within the compass of the human 

And now the question arises, What were the dis- 
tinguishing points regarding these three funda- 
mental problems in the philosophic system offered 
by Spencer, and which were given an appreciative 
interpretation by Fiske in his " Cosmic Philosophy." 

Before attempting a definite answer to this ques- 
tion, it is essential that we get clearly before us the 
nature of the philosophic crisis that then existed 
by reason of the impinging upon the system of theo- 
logico-philosophic thought which then prevailed, 
of three lines of cosmic truth relating to the phys- 
ical universe, to the organic life of the terrestrial 
world, and to psychologic and sociologic man which 
had been established through science ; together with 
the results of a century of profound and reverent 
critical study of the Bible as a Divine revelation to 

Speaking broadly, it can be said that down to the 
middle period of the last century, Christian theol- 
ogy formed largely the intellectual framework or 
background for pretty much all the philosophico- 
religious thinking throughout Christendom, on the 


John Fiske 

three fundamental problems of philosophy, notwith- 
standing the various sects, or creeds, or churches 
into which believers in the Christian religion were 

Christian theology, in its distinctly orthodox, dog- 
matic form, we had under consideration when deal- 
ing with Fiske's change of religious views in 1859. 
A reexamination of this theologic scheme, 1 for the 
purpose of abstracting its philosophic content, 
shows that it claimed to give a definite and positive 
answer to the three fundamental problems of phil- 
osophy, in a series of related Divine truths trans- 
cending experiential knowledge: truths which had 
been divinely revealed to man by the Creator of 
the universe and of man, and which must be ac- 
cepted as ultimate answers to all questions of phil- 

Such being its claims, we have first to ask what 
of the truth of this theologico-philosophic system 
itself its origin and verification? 

Candor compels the admission that it had its 
origin and development into a related and appar- 
ently consistent body of thought under conditions 
of intellectual, moral, and spiritual culture widely 
different from what prevailed during the nineteenth 
century. In fact, the statement will not be ques- 
tioned that all its affirmations regarding the per- 
sonality of a Divine Creator, the origin of the cosmic 
universe and its sustentation, as well as in regard 
1 See ante, vol. i, p. 109. 

A Philosophic Crisis 

to man, his origin, his endowment with rational con- 
sciousness, his fall, his redemption, and his destiny, 
were all formulated when the human mind was 
obsessed by beliefs in supernatural agencies and 
occurrences; and long before anything like a criti- 
cal or scientific observation or study of cosmic phe- 
nomena or of human life existed. 

And if .we inquire more particularly, and limit 
our inquiries to modern times, we see, during the 
fifteenth century, the emergence of this theologico- 
philosophic system from a long period of Euro- 
pean ignorance and superstition, with its positive, 
dogmatic affirmations regarding God, the cosmic 
universe, and man, substantially as they existed 
in the orthodox theologic creeds of half a century 

Pursuing our inquiries still further, we find that 
during the intervening centuries this system has 
been constantly on the defensive against the steady 
advances of science man's rational inquiry into 
the nature of his cosmic environment and of his 
own existence and that it has been enabled to 
maintain itself against these advances only by slight 
concessions here and there ; and on vital points ap- 
pealing to implicit faith in its unverified dogmas 
as against reason in science; affirming, with ever- 
increasing emphasis, that ultimate truth regarding 
the cosmic universe and man was to be found in its 
divinely revealed message from God the Creator, 
rather than in man's experiential cosmic knowledge. 


John Fiske 

And this controversy remained substantially of 
this import down to the middle period of the last 
century, when the advances in the astronomical, 
the physical, the biological, and the sociological 
sciences, with their positive verifications, not only 
upset some of the fundamental dogmas of theology, 
but also yielded immensely enlarged conceptions of 
the cosmic universe and man's place in it, as well 
as nobler conceptions of the Divine Creator, the 
Source and Sustainer of all things, than were given 
by theology. 

Let us consider the presentation of ultimate truths 
regarding the cosmic universe, man with his rational 
mind and the inscrutable Power that lies back of 
all cosmic phenomena as Source and Sustainer, by 
the two respective sides to this controversy. 

And first, as to the cosmic universe as presented 
by theology. Here its creation, structure, duration 
in time, and method of sustentation were all pre- 
sented in the most positive manner. It was fiatis- 
tically created in a few days by a personal Creator 
and within a period of time comparatively recent. 1 
In structure it was given a geocentric character; 

1 Cowper in his poem The Task, naively reflected, in the following 
lines, the theologico-philosophic view of creation and its date, as well 
as the general contempt for geologic science: 

"Some drill and bore 

The solid earth, and from the strata there 
Extract a register, by which we learn 
That He who made it and revealed its date 
To Moses, was mistaken in its age." 

I have before me a recent Oxford edition of the Bible specially 


Advances in Science 

that is, the earth was made the centre of all things 
and around it the sun, the moon, and the stars 
were made to revolve as tributary thereto. And 
then all the activities, the ever-changing phenom- 
ena of this circumscribed geocentric universe were 
presented as the direct personal acts of its Creator 
and as evidences of His persistent watchful care 
over it. In truth, the daily sustentation of this fiat- 
istically created universe was presented as without 
established principles of order and of law, and as 
dependent upon the personal superintendence and 
good- will of its Creator. 

If, now, we turn to the series of related cosmic 
truths revealed by science, we have the verified 
evidence of the existence of a cosmic universe 
widely different in character from that presented 
by theology. In the first place, there was revealed 
the existence of a distinctly knowable solar sys- 
tem, heliocentric, instead of geocentric, in structure, 
and in which the earth held a very subordinate 
place. Then, beyond this solar system, extending 
through space inconceivable in its vastness, there 
was revealed the existence of millions upon millions 
of giant stars, great blazing suns, many larger than 
our own sun, and each presumably the centre of a 
solar system like that to which our earth belongs; 
together with the fact that our solar system, as well 

prepared for Sunday-School teachers, in which the date of the crea- 
tion of the earth and heaven and man is given as 4004 years before 

John Fiske 

as these millions of blazing suns, had existed for a 
period of time inconceivable in its duration. And 
further, there was revealed a still more sublime 
truth: the fact that these millions of blazing suns 
with their attendant planets were all interrelated, 
were ever in motion through space, ever in a proc- 
ess of development from a simpler to a more com- 
plex or higher form of phenomenal existence; and 
that in all their movements and transformations 
they were held in order and unity by the operation 
of immutable cosmic law. 

And thus, in the middle period of the last cen- 
tury, there stood revealed through science a uni- 
verse which, in its structure, its duration, its mode 
of sustentation, presented to the human mind vir- 
tually a new heavens and a new earth a universe 
of variety, order, and unity so far transcending in 
vastness and sublimity the crude, childish universe 
of theology as to leave no comparison between 
them. 1 

And then, as to man. Theology affirmed that 

1 One has only to survey the steady development of the astro- 
nomic, the geologic, the physical, the chemical sciences from the 
period of Copernicus and Galileo in the sixteenth century, when the 
stellar universe was opened to man's experiential inquiry, down to 
the middle period of the last century, to note the steady progress of 
the human mind in bringing the physical phenomena of the cosmic 
universe into order and unity under the operation of immutable 
law. And three great discoveries stand out conspicuously in this pro- 
gressive development of cosmic knowledge. First, the discovery by 
Newton, in 1685, of the law of gravitation; the cosmic truth that 
every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle, 
with a force proportionate directly to their masses, and inversely to 
their distances apart. Second, the discovery by Lavoisier, in 1789, of 


Theology and Science 

man the human race originated with Adam 
and Eve, two human beings who were fiatistically 
created by the Divine Creator, contemporaneously 
with the creation of the geocentric universe, some 
six thousand years ago; and that in their creation 
they were endowed with full intellectual, moral, 
and spiritual consciousness- It also affirmed that 
the Divine Creator prepared for them a garden 
wherein to dwell, and in which He revealed Him- 
self to them and conversed with them; that in this 
garden He planted a certain tree, the fruit whereof 
He forbade them to eat. Theology further affirmed 
as Divine truth that Adam and Eve disobeyed this 
command, and did eat of the fruit of this tree; 
whereupon the Divine Creator was very wroth ; and 
He changed, debased, their natures, and expelled 
them from the garden, and condemned them and 
their posterity to an earthly life of toil, sin, sorrow, 

the indestructibility of matter; the cosmic truth that while the mat- 
ter composing the material universe is ever in a process of change or 
transformation, no atom is ever lost or destroyed. Third, the dis- 
covery, in the period between 1840 and 1860, by a group of German 
and English physicists, of the conservation of energy; the cosmic 
truth that the amount of energy in the cosmic universe is a fixed 
quantity, which is never increased or diminished; that this energy 
is convertible into various forms of force, which forces are convertible 
into one another, and that in these transformations there is no loss 
or increase of the primal energy itself. Thus it was seen that the 
cosmic universe was composed of two limited and indestructible ele- 
ments, matter and energy, and that these two elements were inter- 
related in a persistent process of cosmic development. 

It is upon the immutable character of these three discoveries in 
cosmic phenomena that the physical and chemical sciences, with 
their constant additions to the enlargement and ennoblement of 
human life, have their impregnable foundation. 

John Fiske 

suffering, and death ; and to a still greater punish- 
ment in an eternal life beyond. Thus, as Divine 
truth, theology affirmed the fall of man: that 
through the primal disobedience of Adam and Eve 
did want and sin and suffering and a fearful eternal 
doom befall the human race. 

As against this terrible punishment for inherited 
sin, theology brought a partial relief: it affirmed 
that the Divine Creator, in His great mercy for man, 
had provided a means of escape through a scheme 
of atonement or redemption by the sacrifice of His 
son, Jesus Christ; which sacrifice had been carried 
out, and which served as a perfect release from 
condemnation for the original sin of Adam and Eve 
to all who would accept it: that is, to all who would 
accept Christ as their Saviour and Redeemer, and 
would follow his teachings in their conduct to- 
wards the Divine Creator and towards their brother 

The details of this scheme of atonement we have 
already seen. 1 As a means of relief to man it came 
as complementary to the affirmation of his fall 
and his condemnation. How powerfully these two 
affirmations man's fall and Christ's atoning sac- 
rifice have affected the human mind for the past 
nineteen centuries is reflected in the arts, the 
sciences, the institutions, the religions, and the 
philosophies of Christendom. Christian literature 
abounds with able and ingenious expositions, de- 

1 See ante, vol. I, p. 91. 

Theology and Science 

fences, and attempts to verify this vital humanistic 
portion of Christian theology; and although these 
efforts have fared badly in the court of reason, as 
against the cosmic truths regarding man verified 
by science, they could not be thoroughly discred- 
ited until some other and more rational manner 
for the causal origin of man and his endowment 
with intellectual, moral, and spiritual conscious- 
ness had been established. 

If, now, regarding the origin of man with his 
rational mind, we turn to the revelations of science 
down to the middle period of the last century, we 
find a very different story from that told by theol- 
ogy. As we acquaint ourselves with the researches 
of the palaeontologic, biologic, psychologic, and 
sociologic sciences, we see the accumulation of a 
vast body of harmonious evidence, all affirming the 
development through vast expanses of time of 
man's physical organism from an animal ancestry; 
while in regard to his rational mind, the evidence 
was equally clear that it had been developed out of 
the egoistic and nascent socialistic feelings or pro- 
pensities of his animal progenitors; and that in the 
struggle for existence against environing conditions 
during the progress from brute to primitive man, 
these inherited animal feelings or propensities had 
been developed into psychical powers of a more or 
less rational, and with a tinge of moral, character. 
From primitive man to civilized man, the develop- 
ment of intellectual, moral, and spiritual conscious- 


John Fiske 

ness, pari passu with the development of the human 
physical organism through contact with environing 
cosmic conditions, was clearly shown by archaeologic 
remains, by historic records, and by contemporary 
anthropologic researches. 1 

Thus civilized man, with his physiologic, his 
psychologic, and his sociologic characteristics all in 
harmony, stood revealed as possessing a rightful 
heritage in the new heavens and the new earth of 
science, their fitting inhabitant. More important 
still, in the court of reason, he was forever freed 
from the awful doom of theology, and given a pro- 
gressive development in intellectual, moral, and 
spiritual consciousness, the full import of which the 
human mind could not conceive, much less measure. 

And now, as to the Ultimate Cause, the Power 
back of all cosmic phenomena and of human con- 
sciousness, which must be posited as a causal basis 

1 These wide and varied researches culminated in 1859 in the pro- 
found discovery by Charles Darwin of the cosmic truth that by a 
process of natural selection that is, through the interrelated work- 
ing of the cosmic elements during vast periods of time there had 
been differentiated and developed from some simple form of life the 
infinite variety of organic life with which the terrestrial world had 
been filled; and it was seen that this cosmic truth applied to the 
origin and development of man as well as to all other forms of life. 
In fact, the great antiquity of primitive man was distinctly affirmed 
by palaeontologic and palaeolithic discoveries. Also, the geologic, the 
biologic, the psychologic sciences all affirmed that, as compared with 
the animals immediately below him in the organic scale, primitive 
man was identical with them in the physical processes of his ori- 
gin, in his embryonic development, in his mode of nutrition before 
and after birth; while in his adult state he exhibited a marvellous 
likeness to them in his physical organization, as well as in his psychi- 
cal powers. 


Theology and Science 

for rational thinking on these profound questions. 
Here, theology, basing its affirmations wholly on 
the Bible as comprising a body of divinely revealed 
truth, positively affirmed the existence of a Divine 
Creator, to whom was given distinctly human char- 
acteristics or limitations. He was presented as the 
prototype of man man being created in His image 
and His manner of creating the universe and man 
was after man's ways of willing and doing things. 
And then, His work was so imperfect in its nature 
as to need His constant personal supervision, with 
much mending or adjusting to keep it in order. In 
short, the God of Christian theology was presented 
as a distinctly anthropomorphic Being; and the 
work of His hand the geocentric universe and 
fallen man reflected, in its limitations, its want 
of order, unity, and harmony, His anthropomorphic 

On the other hand, science, or organized human 
experience, confessing the subjective origin and con- 
ditioned development of the human mind, frankly 
admitted its impotence to affirm anything positive 
transcending experience. It saw in the phenomena 
of the cosmic universe 

"Boundless inward toward the atom, 
Boundless outward toward the stars," 

the exhibition of Infinite intelligence, wisdom, and 
power, the ultimate sources and nature of which it 
could not comprehend. It saw, in the phenomena of 
mind, ranging through the whole animal kingdom 


John Fiske 

and finding its culmination in man's arts, sciences, 
institutions, conduct, and ideals, a vast display of 
consciousness the ultimate source and nature of 
which were alike incomprehensible. And of these 
two orders of phenomena it could only affirm that 
they appeared to be persistent, to be harmoniously 
interrelated, and to be forever developing into more 
complex and higher forms of phenomenal manifes- 
tation, in conformity to immutable cosmic law. 

In the presence of this vast, orderly display of per- 
sistent, interrelated physical and psychical phenom- 
mena, science could only reverently postulate, as 
Source and Sustainer of it all, an Infinite Eternal 
Power from which all things proceed: an Omnis- 
cient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent Reality, transcend- 
ing, in the nature of its existence, the comprehen- 
sion of the conditioned, finite, human mind. 

And one point more. Contemporaneously with 
the establishment through science of the funda- 
mental cosmic truths we have been considering, 
there came the result of a century of reverent in- 
quiry into the truth of the theologic affirmation 
that the Bible was a special Divine revelation from 
the Divine Creator to man, and hence that it was 
the embodiment of ultimate truth regarding the 
cosmic universe and man ; and as such transcended 
all other knowledge all knowledge derived from 

In this inquiry the various books of the Bible 
were subjected to the ripest critical learning of the 


Biblical Criticism 

time: as to their authorship and dates of com- 
position; the accuracy of their texts and transla- 
tions ; their mythical and philological characteristics 
and relationships ; their cosmological, biological, and 
physical affirmations ; their diversities and their uni- 
ties, and how they had been preserved, selected, and 
collated so as to form a body of ultimate Divine 

This was, of course, subjecting the Bible to the 
same kind of impartial criticism that was given to 
the sacred books of all other religions as well as to 
all the literary remains of antiquity. Much con- 
trariety of opinion was brought forth on various 
points by the inquiry. The rational conclusion de- 
rived from it was adverse to the affirmations of the- 
ology. This conclusion was to the effect that the 
Bible was no special revelation from the Divine 
Creator to man; rather, that it was simply a collec- 
tion of sociologico-religious literature which re- 
flected with great clearness the life of a primitive, 
tribal people, surrounded by powerful and more 
cultured enemies from whom they learned much ; a 
people, ignorant and superstitious, yet gifted with 
an exceptional degree of ethical and religious feeling, 
who, in their struggles against their physical and 
their political environments through an indefinite 
period of time, slowly advanced along a normal 
line of intellectual, moral, and spiritual develop- 
ment, which had its culmination in the ethical and 
religious teachings of Christ and his apostles. In 


John Fiske 

short, that the Bible was but one among several 
collections of sacred writings, all encrusted with 
error and superstition, and all attesting to the in- 
herence in the human mind of ethical and religious 
ideas which had their development in conformity 
to environing physical and political conditions. 1 

With this invalidation of the theologic dogma 
that the Bible was a special Divine revelation, and, 
as such, was the basis of all ultimate truth, the 
theologic dogmas of the existence of a personal, an- 
thropomorphic God, of His method of creating and 
sustaining a geocentric universe, of His creation of 
man and man's fall, condemnation, and redemp- 
tion, were all left without any verifiable founda- 
tion were, in fact, also invalidated. 

And thus, in the middle period of the last century, 
there came a profound crisis in human thinking; 
a crisis wherein, on the one side, it appeared that 
the claims of theology for the ultimate truth of its 

1 As evidence on this point we have only to refer to the memorable 
contests that followed the publication, in 1860, of " Essays and 
Reviews," a work written by seven distinguished English church- 
men, holding influential positions in the English universities and pub- 
lic schools; and the publication in 1862 of a work by Bishop Colenso 
on "The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua critically examined." 
Both these works were written in a reverent spirit, and were very 
moderate in their claims for a rational interpretation of the Bible in 
the light of modern knowledge. Both were violently attacked by the 
theologians as undermining all religious truth. The wide discussion 
that followed brought under review the whole question of dogma 
vs. the verified cosmic truths of science, and revealed the inherent 
weakness of theology in claiming for the Bible a special Divine in- 
spiration and for its affirmations, regarding the cosmic universe and 
man, ultimate truths transcending all other knowledge. 


New Demands on Philosophy 

fundamental dogmas were without verifiable foun- 
dations. While on the other side there was presented 
a series of cosmic truths fully verified in human 
' experience truths which yielded conceptions of 
the cosmic universe, its origin, its vastness, its sus- 
tentation; of man, his origin, his conscious endow- 
ment, his destiny, as well as of the Infinite Eternal 
Power from whom all things proceed far nobler 
than was presented by Christian theology, or any 
philosophy based on that theology. 

Hence, in 1860, following the publication of Dar- 
win's " Origin of Species," there came a demand for 
a new philosophy, one which should recognize the 
verified truths of modern science as transcend- 
ing the affirmations of dogmatic theology; which 
should endeavor to bring the ever-developing phys- 
ical phenomena of the cosmic universe into har- 
mony with the ever-developing psychical phenom- 
ena of conscious mind ; and which should present 
both orders of phenomena as interrelated and as 
reflecting, in their interrelated ness, the existence 
of an underlying Reality or Ground as the Source 
from which all things proceed in short, a phil- 
osophy which should present as its fundamental 
truth an objective Divine Reality, which in the 
form of its existence transcends the comprehension 
of the subjective human mind. 

To Herbert Spencer this demand for a philosophy 
of the cosmic universe based upon the verified rev- 
elations of science a philosophy which should 


John Fiske 

bring the whole universe with man's place in it 
into order and unity with its source and sustaining 
power made a strong appeal. 

Spencer possessed an unsurpassed knowledge of 
the acquisitions of science, and he was one of the 
profoundest thinkers of his time. Then, too, he was 
singularly independent in his thought. He would 
not accept any important proposition without due 
verification. His fundamental conception of the 
cosmic universe was that of a unity held in order 
by immutable law. Much brooding over cosmic 
phenomena had led him to question the universal 
belief that these phenomena were special creations. 
At the same time there was generated in his mind 
the conviction that the cosmic universe in all its 
parts was the outcome of a process of development, 
and that this process was still going on. 

Notwithstanding that science was daily bringing 
forth facts discrediting the theory of special crea- 
tions and confirming the theory of development, 
Spencer was baffled in applying the theory to the 
phenomena of organic life. In this department of 
science biology the theory of special creations 
was thoroughly entrenched with the support of phil- 
osophy and religion. While Spencer had collected 
a mass of evidence tending to support the theory of 
development throughout the organic world, he was 
yet without a natural vera causa which would answer 
for a positive scientific explanation of the origin of 
the infinite varieties of species in the floral and 


The Doctrine of Evolution 

faunal kingdoms and their geographical distribu- 
tion. He was mulling over this profound subject 
in 1859, when Darwin brought forth his immortal 
work on "The Origin of Species by Natural Selec- 
tion/* This work gave Spencer just the help he 
needed to round out his theory of development, or 
of Evolution, to the whole of cosmic phenomena. 

How influential Darwin's work was in bringing 
Spencer's evolutionary thought to focus we cannot 
say. We know that he welcomed Darwin's views as 
most significant and as giving him important data 
for the application of his theory of Evolution to 
the organic world; and that four months after the 
publication of the " Origin of Species" -March, 
1860 Spencer announced his purpose of engaging 
in the preparation of a system of philosophy based 
on the doctrine of Evolution, the scope and aim of 
which he set forth with much detail. 

This announcement was publicly welcomed by 
over fifty of the leading scientists and philosophic 
thinkers of Great Britain, among whom were John 
Stuart Mill, George Grote, Charles Darwin, Charles 
Kingsley, Thomas Huxley, Sir Charles Lyell, Sir 
J. D. Hooker, G. H. Lewes, John Tyndall, W. B. 
Carpenter, Augustus De Morgan, J. D. Morell, 
R. W. Mackay, David Masson, Alexander Bain, 
Thomas Graham, Sir John Herschel. 

Thus we are brought directly to the consideration 
of Spencer's doctrine of Evolution which has had 
such a mighty influence upon all subsequent think- 


John Fiske 

ing, and to the interpretation of which, in its bear- 
ing upon the spiritual well-being of man, Fiske gave 
the better portion of his life. 

And now, what were the distinctive character- 
istics of Spencer's projected philosophic undertak- 
ing so significantly encouraged by representatives 
of the highest scientific and philosophic thought of 
the time? 

Briefly summarized, its chief points were as 
follows : 

I. An Infinite Unknowable. 

Spencer postulated the existence of an Infinite 
Unknowable Power as the Source and Sustainer of 
all things, the nature and form of whose existence 
transcends the comprehension of the human mind. 
The existence of 'such an Infinite Power he found 
an inexpugnable dictum of consciousness, without 
which there could be no causal basis for rational 
thinking, for the human mind cannot rest its fun- 
damentals of thought upon a negation. 

II. The cosmic universe a revelation of an Infinite 

Unknowable Power. 

Spencer accepted the cosmic universe, with its 
multiform phenomena including man with his 
rational mind as a positive revelation of an In- 
finite Power from whom all things proceed, a revela- 
tion which it is the highest duty of man reverentially 
to study in the light of his experiential knowledge 
arxd his rational consciousness. The greater man's 
knowledge of the nature, unity, and relativity of 
cosmic phenomena, pari passu the higher his con- 
ception of the Infinite Power, the Source and Sus- 


The Doctrine of Evolution 

tainer of the cosmic universe, as well as his concep- 
tion of the meaning and purpose of human life. 

III. The knowledge of the cosmic universe that had 

been established through science. 
Through the investigations of science the phe- 
mena of the cosmic universe had been mapped out 
into five divisions of phenomenal manifestations 
more or less interrelated : 

1. Astronomy: the phenomena of the stellar 

and planetary systems. 

2. Geology: the phenomena of the terrestrial 


3. Biology: the phenomena of living organisms. 

4. Psychology : the phenomena of adjusting 

organic life to environing conditions. 

5. Sociology : the phenomena arising from so- 

cial aggregation. 

Scientific analyses of the varied phenomena of 
these five divisions revealed certain cosmic truths as 
well as some profound mysteries : that notwithstand- 
ing the infinite variety of forms in which these phe- 
nomenal manifestations appear, they all had their 
base in, and were conditioned by, matter and mo- 
tion; that through the constant redistribution and 
integration of matter and motion they were ever 
in a process of transformation into more complex 
forms of phenomenal manifestations, many of which 
are wholly inexplicable. It was also revealed that 
matter was indestructible ; that motion was contin- 
uous; and that the intrinsic natures of both were 
unknown ; while there was brought to light a truth 
of still greater significance: that matter and motion 


John Fiske 

in all their redistributions and integrations were 
conditioned by an underlying unknown force or 
energy which eternally persists throughout the cos- 
mos, and is never increased or diminished. 

Thus Spencer found that the human mind, in 
its searchings of the phenomena of the cosmic uni- 
verse for their ultimate reality, was brought face 
to face with several insoluble mysteries for which 
it could find no solution whatsoever: a condition 
of things which confirmed the inexpugnable dictum 
of rational consciousness, that the cosmic universe 
was in its totality and its sustentation a revelation 
of an order of Being transcending the comprehen- 
sion of the human mind. 

IV. The truths of the cosmic universe yielded by 
science implied the existence of a further truth 
of great importance to man. 

From his wide survey of cosmic phenomena as 
presented by science, Spencer felt that man was far 
from possessing all that is to be known of the mani- 
festations of the Infinite Unknowable in the phe- 
nomena of the cosmic universe. He saw that man's 
present knowledge of these phenomena was greatly 
limited was principally confined to them in their 
disparateness. But in his mind there was shaping 
the idea that the cosmic universe was a related 
unity, and that these five divisions of its phenom- 
ena were its components. Hence he was feeling 
his way to the logical conclusion, that underlying 
all the varied phenomena of these components there 
must be some common dynamic principle which 
was holding them all in order and unity as a con- 
sistently rounded whole, while each was undergo- 


The Doctrine of Evolution 

ing a ceaseless change or development. The dis- 
covery of this principle appeared to Spencer as 
the highest quest of scientific research, and its es- 
tablishment could not fail to throw much needed 
light upon the problems which exist in the relations 
between inorganic and organic phenomena, as well 
as in the relations between organic phenomena and 
psychical phenomena. In short, in Spencer's mind, 
to have positive knowledge of a cosmic principle 
underlying all cosmic phenomena, and which uni- 
fies them into a cosmic universe as an interrelated 
whole, would not only add immensely to man's 
knowledge of the cosmic universe and his own place 
in it, but would also greatly heighten his concep- 
tion of the Infinite Unknowable Power, the Source 
and Sustainer of it all. 

V. Spencer propounded a law of universal cosmic 
evolution which he set out to verify in the five 
divisions of cosmic phenomena. 
In the widest survey of cosmic phenomena as 
revealed by analytic science, Spencer found two 
knowable factors common to them all, and with- 
out which none of the phenomena of the cosmos as 
we know them could exist: these were matter and 
motion. Having found, further, "that absolute 
rest and permanence do not exist within the cosmic 
universe, that every object, no less than the aggre- 
gate of all objects, undergoes from instant to instant 
some alteration of state, that gradually or quickly 
it is receiving motion or losing motion, while some 
or all of its parts are simultaneously changing their 
relations to one another, " he was led to the conclu- 
sion that the principle he was seeking, a princi- 

John Fiske 

pie which would express the truth regarding these 
universal, ever-changing phenomenal activities and 
relations, must be found in the continuous redis- 
tribution and integration of matter and motion. 

Accordingly Spencer hypothesized the existence 
of a dynamic law of cosmic evolution answering 
to these conditions, and this law he formulated in 
the following very abstract terms: 

" Evolution is an integration of matter and con- 
comitant dissipation of motion during which the 
matter passes from a relatively indefinite, incoher- 
ent homogeneity to a relatively definite, coherent 
heterogeneity, and during which the retained mo- 
tion undergoes a parallel transformation." 

It was to the task of seeking a verification of this 
abstract law in the concrete sciences of biology, 
psychology, and sociology that Spencer gave him- 
self in 1860, in the announcement above referred to. 

This is not the place to discuss Spencer and his 
philosophy. We are too near him to appreciate the 
full significance of his life-work. His conception of 
the cosmic universe as a unity, with its phenomena 
ever in a process of development or transformation 
into more complex or higher forms of phenome- 
nal existences, the whole a manifestation of an 
Infinite Unknowable Power whose form of exist- 
ence transcended the comprehension of the human 
mind, was too sublime a conception to be read- 
ily grasped by the mind untrained in science. While 
his hypothesis of a law of Evolution, whereby all the 


Spencer's Work Completed 

varied phenomena of the cosmic universe were held 
in order and unity while undergoing their ceaseless 
transformations, was so opposed to the universally 
accepted doctrine of special Divine creations as to 
be regarded, even in some scientific quarters, as the 
height of speculative absurdity. Nevertheless, as 
he proceeded in the development of his thought 
through his analyses of the phenomena of the or- 
ganic sciences, it became evident that a thinker of 
no ordinary capacity had come ; a thinker who was 
finding the sources of truth not so much in the 
Bibles and dogmas of primitive peoples, as in the 
reverent study of the cosmic universe with man's 
place in it, in the light of modern knowledge. 

Spencer lived to see the completion of his great 
undertaking substantially as planned. It was com- 
pleted in I896. 1 In the psychological and sociolog- 
ical sciences particularly the influence of Spencer's 
Evolutionary thought has been immense. Whether 
his formula of the law of Evolution is complete, 
whether or not it expresses all the truths involved, 
particularly in regard to psychical phenomena, may 
be open to question ; but that there is a law of Evo- 
lution at the bottom of things, a law which holds 
the varied phenomena of the cosmic universe in 
order and unity, while ever in a process of devel- 

1 See the congratulatory letter sent to Spencer on the com- 
pletion of his philosophy and asking him to sit for his portrait, signed 
by over eighty of the most distinguished scientists and thinkers of 
Great Britain. (David Duncan, LL.D., Life and Letters of Herbert 
Spencer, p. 383.) 


John Fiske 

opment into higher forms of manifestation, is no 
longer questioned by cultivated minds. And the 
whole tendency of modern science is towards the rev- 
elation of further truth in this direction. Indeed, 
science is every day affirming, with ever-increasing 
emphasis, that the cosmos cannot be at war with 
itself. The day for belief in special creations has 
gone by; and that Herbert Spencer was the first to 
grasp a clear comprehension of the existence of an 
Evolutionary law universal throughout the cosmos, 
and that he gave the greater portion of his life 
to seeking its verification and to pointing out its 
significance in the interpretation of psychological 
and sociological phenomena, constitute his title to 
honor, and give him place among the few great 
thinkers of all time. 1 

From this survey of the rise of the great Evolu- 
tionary movement in philosophy during the middle 
period of the last century, a survey which seemed 
necessary in order to get a clear conception of the 
seething condition of philosophic thought in the 
intellectual environment which surrounded Fiske 
during the years of his early manhood, and which, 

1 It can be said that during the past half-century the deepest 
discussions in science, philosophy, religion, ethics, and sociology 
have centred around the twin propositions of cosmic unity and cos- 
mic evolution, first coherently presented by Spencer in 1860-62. 
We are by no means at the end of these discussions indeed, we 
are in the midst of them to-day. And this fact is clearly apparent: 
that the acceptance of these twin propositions as fundamental 
cosmic truths is entering in very widely as a condition precedent to 
any rational study of cosmic phenomena in its inorganic, its organic, 
or its psychical divisions. 


Broadening of His Thought 

as we have seen, profoundly affected his developing 
thought on the fundamental problems of philosophy, 
we return to our narrative: the consideration of the 
essential points in his " Cosmic Philosophy/' his 
contribution to the great discussion then fully under 

First, however, let us note the direct connection 
of events in the life of Fiske between the issuing 
by Spencer of his programme of his philosophic 
undertaking in 1860 and the publication by Fiske 
of his "Cosmic Philosophy" in 1874. 

It was Fiske's falling-in by chance with a copy 
of Spencer's programme in the Old Corner Book- 
Store of Ticknor & Fields, in Boston, in June, 1860, 
that roused his interest in Spencer and the latter's 
great undertaking. How deeply Fiske was stirred, 
we have already seen in his letters of this period 
to his friend Roberts and to his mother. 1 We have 
also seen how his interest, flowing from the strong 
impulse thus started, deepened as Spencer went on 
unfolding his theory of Cosmic Evolution; how the 
acceptance of this theory broadened Fiske's thought 
in every direction; how, as an undergraduate, he was 
threatened with expulsion from Harvard College 
if found disseminating his Evolutionary views 
misnamed Positivism among the students ; how 
he opened an interesting correspondence with Spen- 
cer; how, a few years later, under a new administra- 
tion at Harvard, he was called by President Eliot 

1 Cf. ante, pp. 138, 139. 

John Fiske 

to expound the theory of Evolution under the aus- 
pices of the college; how in response to this call he 
delivered in Holden Chapel two memorable courses 
of lectures setting forth the fundamental principles 
of this theory with their philosophic implications; 
finally, we have seen him five months in London, 
revising these lectures for publication, the while in 
conference with Spencer, Darwin, Huxley,Tyndall, 
Clifford, Lockyer, Lewes, and other leaders in the 
rapidly developing scientific thought of the time. 

Thus we have the history of the development of 
Fiske's "Cosmic Philosophy/* While treating of 
Evolution, it was itself a product of Evolution. That 
it was based on Spencer's theory of Evolution as 
then outlined in his various essays and in his " First 
Principles/' and partially elaborated in his " Biol- 
ogy" and in his "Psychology," is without ques- 
tion. The high esteem in which Fiske held Spencer, 
and the significance that he attached to Spencer's 
ideas, are indicated by the following extract taken 
from the chapter in which he defines the law of 
Evolution : 

" In an essay published thirteen years ago, youth- 
ful enthusiasm led me to speak of Mr. Spencer's 
labours as comparable to those of Newton both in 
scope and importance. More mature reflection has 
confirmed this view, and suggests a further com- 
parison between the mental qualities of the two 
thinkers; resembling each other as they do, alike 
in the audacity of speculation which propounds 
far-reaching hypotheses, and in the scientific so- 


Interpreter of Evolution 

berness which patiently verifies them; while the 
astonishing mathematical genius peculiar to the one 
is paralleled by the equally unique power of psy- 
chologic analysis displayed by the other. As in 
grandeur of conception and relative thoroughness 
of elaboration, so also in the vastness of its conse- 
quences in the extent of the revolution which it 
is destined to effect in men's modes of thinking, and 
in their views of the universe Mr. Spencer's dis- 
covery is on a par with Newton's. Indeed, by the 
time this treatise is concluded, we may perhaps see 
reasons for regarding it as in the latter respect, the 
superior of the two." 

But the work was far more than a re- presenta- 
tion of Spencer's argument. In the development 
of his system Spencer had paid but little attention 
to preceding systems of philosophy. While in its 
comprehensiveness and its unity it transcended 
other systems, the light we have regarding its pro- 
duction shows that it came from a wholly inde- 
pendent line of investigation, accompanied with 
an indifference to the thought of others without a 
parallel in the history of philosophical thinking. 
Being based largely on the revelations of science, 
it was alleged by superficial critics to be but an 
offshoot from the philosophic vagaries of Auguste 
Comte; while by theologians it was regarded as 
the embodiment of atheistico-materialistic ideas, 
inasmuch as it did not recognize, as a sufficient 
Source and Sustainer of all things, the anthropo- 
morphic God of Christian theology. Further than 


John Fiske 

this, it was under the condemnation of the idealistic 
thinkers, to whom the positive revelations of sci- 
ence as to the reality of the cosmic universe were 
of less significance than the results of unverified 
ontological speculation. 

Fiske set out with the very definite purpose, 
not only of presenting in clear light the funda- 
mental points in Spencer's philosophy, but also of 
showing Spencer's independence of, and opposition 
to, Comte; his emphatic repudiation of all atheis- 
tico-materialistic ideas; and how in opposition to 
theologians and idealists he had presented the cos- 
mic universe as an ever-developing, unified reality 
governed by immutable law, the knowable mani- 
festation of an Infinite Power transcending, in the 
nature of His existence, the comprehension of the 
human mind. This portion of his task accom- 
plished, Fiske went on to consider, in certain corol- 
laries, what must be the influence of this Evolution- 
ary philosophy upon the intellectual, moral, and 
spiritual development of the future. 

It should not be overlooked here that in his ex- 
position of the evolution of humanity, Fiske made 
an important contribution to the general Evolution 
doctrine, by pointing out the significance of the part 
played by infancy in the progress from brute to 
man. He was the first to call attention to infancy 
as a prime factor in bridging the great gulf which, 
on a superficial view, seemed to divide humanity 
irrevocably from the brute world; and Spencer, as 


An Important Contribution 

we have seen, gave a ready acknowledgment of 
the importance of the contribution. 1 

His corollaries were four in number and they 
carried the Evolutionary argument into the higher 
realms of human thinking. They may be stated 

I. Theism; or the nature of Deity. 
II. Matter and spirit; or materialism vs. spirit- 

III. Religion as affected by the doctrine of Evolu- 
tion. * 

IV. The philosophic implications of the doctrine 
of Evolution. 

The reverent spirit in which Fiske entered upon 
this phase of the discussion is indicated by the 
following passage from the Prophet Isaiah which 
prefaced this portion of his work: 

" For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither 
are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the 
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways 
higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your 

Only a brief exposition can here be given of the 
Evolutionary argument as developed in these corol- 
laries. It has had great weight in shaping subse- 
quent thought; and it underlies in one form or an- 
other pretty much all current philosophic thinking. 

We will consider these corollaries in their order, 
and first: 

1 Cf. ante, vol. I, p. 471; also Cosmic Philosophy, vol. n, p. 360. 


John Fiske 

Theism; or the nature of Deity. Fiske regarded 
the problem of theism as the central or fundamen- 
tal one in philosophy, inasmuch as the conclusions 
reached regarding the Ultimate Cause of all phe- 
nomena must vitally affect the conclusions regard- 
ing all other problems. 

Now, the doctrine of Evolution, as presented by 
Spencer and accepted by Fiske, distinctly affirmed 
the existence of Deity of an Infinite Power of 
which the cosmic universe, with its multiform phe- 
nomena ever in a process of transformation in con- 
formity to immutable law, is a positive manifesta- 
tion. The doctrine further affirmed that, owing to 
the subjective, conditioned nature of the human 
mind, it was limited in knowledge to its experience 
with cosmic phenomena, and could never rise to 
a knowledge of what transcends phenomena in 
other words, to a positive knowledge of the Infinite 
Power from which all things proceed. 

Fiske found this conception of Deity vigorously 
opposed by an anthropomorphic conception which 
affirmed a knowable, personal God who was en- 
dowed with human characteristics; and who, in 
creating and sustaining the cosmic universe, worked 
after man's ways of willing and doing things. The 
question before him for exposition, therefore, was 
not as to the existence of an Infinite Power, the 
Source and Sustainer of all things, for the exist- 
ence of this Power was granted. But it became an 
inquiry which took this alternative form: Is this 


The Nature of Deity 

Infinite Power a limited, personal God possessed of 
a quasi-human consciousness, from whose quasi- 
human volitions have originated the laws of the 
cosmic universe, and to whose quasi-human con- 
trivances are due the manifold harmonies ob- 
served in the universe? Or, Is this Infinite Power a 
Being, transcending in the nature of His existence 
the comprehension of the human mind, and of 
whom the phenomena of the cosmic universe con- 
stitute a knowable revelation? 

Fiske discussed the issue at much length under 
the titles of " Anthropomorphic Theism " and 
" Cosmic Theism/' The discussion was carried on 
in fine philosophic temper and is marked by several 
passages of rare beauty of literary form: indeed, in 
his presentation of the higher truths involved in 
his theme, his style of setting forth the truth be- 
comes truly grand. 

After a wide survey of the bases of anthropo- 
morphic theism on the one hand, and an analysis 
of the positive truths derived from cosmic phe- 
nomena in behalf of cosmic theism on the other 
hand, he reached a conclusion in favor of the latter, 
a conclusion he formulated in the following terms : 

" There exists a Power, to which no limit in time or 
space is conceivable, of which all phenomena, as pre- 
sented in consciousness, are manifestations, but which 
we can know only through these manifestations" 

Thus, from a wide survey of our knowledge of 
cosmic phenomena, Fiske came to the conclusion 


John Fiske 

that the theistic implications of the doctrine of 
Evolution yielded far higher and purer conceptions 
of Deity than obtains in any other philosophic or 
religious system of thought. As between anthropo- 
morphic theism and cosmic theism, he stated the 
issue in the following form : 

1 Theologically phrased, the question is whether 
the creature is to be taken as a measure of the 
Creator. Scientifically phrased, the question is 
whether the highest form of Being as yet suggested 
to one petty race of creatures by its ephemeral ex- 
perience of what is going on in one tiny corner of the 
universe, is necessarily to be taken as the equiv- 
alent of that absolutely highest form of Being in 
which all the possibilities of existence are alike 
comprehended . ' ' 

Matter and spirit. Fiske approached the consid- 
eration of these twin subjects by passing in review 
the arguments of the materialist thinkers who main- 
tain that psychical phenomena are but products 
of antecedent physical phenomena. From this in- 
quiry he reached the following as the conclusions 
of science: 

"The most that psychology, working with the 
aid of physiology, has thus far achieved, has been 
to show that within the limits of our experience, 
there is invariable concomitance between psychical 
phenomena and the phenomena of nervous action; 
and this, as we have seen, is but the elaborate ana- 
lytic statement of a plain truth, which is asserted 
alike by philosophers of every school, and by the 


Matter and Spirit 

common-sense of every human being, namely, 
that from birth until death there is no manifestation 
of Mind except in association with Body. But be- 
yond this it is quite clear that objective psychology 
can never go. ... The latest results of scientific in- 
quiry, whether in the region of objective psychology 
or in that of molecular physics, leave the gulf be- 
tween mind and matter quite as wide as it was 
judged to be in the time of Descartes. It still re- 
mains as true as then, that between that of which 
the differential attribute is Thought and that of 
which the differential attribute is Extension, there 
can be nothing like identity or similarity." 

How, then, from the viewpoint of Evolution is 
the great gulf between physical and psychical phe- 
nomena, between matter and mind, to be bridged 
so as to yield a unified cosmic universe? 

Spencer's discussion of this vital point has been 
vigorously attacked, and it must be admitted that 
regarding it he has left himself in doubt. It is true 
that in many places in his writings he strongly 
emphasizes the distinction and incompatibility be- 
tween the two orders of phenomena; yet, in the 
last edition of his "First Principles," published 
in 1900, in Section 71, on the " Transformation of 
Forces," he reviews the whole question and closes 
the discussion thus : 

"Though the facts oblige us to say that physical 
and psychical actions are correlated, and in a cer- 
tain indirect way quantitatively correlated so as 
to suggest transformation, yet how the material 


John Fiske 

affects the mental and how the mental affects the 
material are mysteries which it is impossible to 
fathom. But they are not profounder mysteries 
than the transformation of the physical forces into 
one another. They are not more completely beyond 
our comprehension than the natures of mind and 
matter. They have simply the same insolubility 
as all other ultimate questions. We can learn noth- 
ing more than that here is one of the uniformities 
in the order of phenomena/ 1 

In 1876 Professor Harald Hoffding, of Copen- 
hagen, called Spencer's attention to certain incon- 
sistencies in his treatment of the metamorphosis 
which holds between the physical and mental forces 
in his ''First Principles" and in his " Psychology. " 
Spencer acknowledged the inconsistencies, and then 
attempted an elaborate explanation of how the 
metamorphosis might take place an explanation 
which Professor Hoffding admits he did not find 
"quite clear." 1 

Fiske's procedure on coming to this vital point 
was quite different. He saw very clearly the anti- 
thetical natures of the two orders of phenomena and 
their harmonious parallelism or union in the hu- 
man organism, and that this union did not involve 
any interchange of their intrinsic properties: that 
the psychical phenomena, while concomitant with 
physical phenomena, and in many respects condi- 
tioned by the latter, always remained entirely dis- 

1 David Duncan, LL.D., Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer, 
p. 178. 


Matter and Spirit 

tinct from the latter. He also found that science 
had no explanation for this harmonious interplay 
between these two antithetical orders of phenom- 
ena; at best it could only suggest the possibility 
that in some unknown way psychical phenomena 
might be potential in physical phenomena. 

Fiske, however, was not content to leave the 
question in this nebulous state. Here was a vast 
volume of psychical phenomena with its culmina- 
tion in the human mind, without any kinship, 
without any causative principle back of it in the 
cosmic universe. He felt that there must be some 
rational explanation of this apparent disharmony 
in the phenomena of the cosmic universe. Accord- 
ingly, he resolutely pushed his thought to the out- 
ermost verge of admissible speculation, in an in- 
quiry into the nature of that inscrutable existence 
of which the universe of phenomena is the multi- 
form expression, and found that its intimate essence 
might conceivably be identifiable with the intimate 
essence of what we know as mind; thus giving to 
psychical phenomena a causal basis in the cosmic 
universe coextensive with physical phenomena, as 
well as an order of development through conscious 
feeling, with its culmination in rational mind ; which 
give to its phenomena a qualitative character widely 
different from, as well as far superior to, physical phe- 

And so, from his consideration of matter and 
spirit as manifested in physical and psychical 


John Fiske 

phenomena, Fiske was led to the conclusion that 
upon no imaginable hypothesis of Evolution could 
mind be regarded as a product of matter, and that 
the existence of psychical energy distinct from phys- 
ical energy implies as its antecedent source some- 
thing quasi-psychical in the constitution of things ; 
in other words, that there exists : 

" A form of Being which can neither be assimilated 
to humanity, nor to any lower type of existence. 
We have no alternative, therefore, but to regard it 
as higher than humanity 'even as the heavens are 
higher than the earth/ The time is surely coming 
when the slowness of men in accepting such a con- 
clusion will be marvelled at, and when the very in- 
adequacy of human language to express Divinity 
will be regarded as a reason for deeper faith and 
more solemn adoration/' 

In the years to come, we are to see Fiske inter- 
preting the highest phases of psychical phenomena 
in the light of the doctrine of Evolution based upon 
the conception of an Infinite quasi-psychical Power 
from whom all things proceed. 

Religion as affected by the doctrine of Evolution. 
In his exposition of ''Cosmic Philosophy based on 
the Doctrine of Evolution," Fiske could not let 
pass the consideration of its effect upon religion: 
that is, upon man's religious faith and conduct. 
Naturally this question arose : Does the enlargement 
of the conception of Deity, as implied in cosmic 
theism, involve any lowering of character in the 


Religion and Evolution 

elements of religious faith ; or any radical alteration 
of the fundamental principles of ethical conduct 
in which religion viewed practically consists? In 
other words, what concerns us to know is, whether 
the substitution of scientific for theologic symbols 
involves any lowering of values in the grand equa- 
tion between religious beliefs and ethical conduct. 

Fiske asserts that no such change is involved in 
the substitution : that cosmic theism implies higher 
religious and ethical ideals than were given by 
theology. And he maintained, in a chapter entitled 
" Religion as Adjustment," that although the Evo- 
lutionist might and does throw overboard much of 
the semi-barbaric mythology in which Christianity 
has been symbolized, he nevertheless holds firmly 
to the religious and ethical elements for which 
Christianity is chiefly valued even by those who 
retain all its mythological features. 

As against the allegation that cosmic theism 
with its Unknowable Deity gave no tangible basis 
for religious faith he says : 

"At this stage of our exposition, it is enough to 
suggest the fallaciousness of such argumentation, 
without characterizing it in detail. It is enough to 
remind the reader that Deity is unknowable just 
in so far as it is not manifested to consciousness 
through the phenomenal world, knowable just 
in so far as it is thus manifested ; unknowable in 
so far as infinite and absolute, knowable in the 
order of its phenomenal manifestations ; knowable, 
in a symbolic way, as the Power which is disclosed 


John Fiske 

in every throb of the mighty rhythmic life of the 
universe; knowable as the eternal source of a moral 
law which is implicated with each action of our 
lives, and in obedience to which lies our only guar- 
anty of the happiness which is incorruptible, and 
which neither inevitable misfortune, nor unmerited 
obloquy can take away. Thus, though we may not 
by searching find out God, though we may not 
compass infinitude or attain to absolute knowl- 
edge, we may at least know all that it concerns us to 
know as intelligent and responsible beings. They 
who seek to know more than this, to transcend the 
conditions under which alone is knowledge possible, 
are, in Goethe's profound language, as wise as little 
children who, when they have looked into a mirror, 
turn it around to see what is behind it." 

As to the ethical bearings of the new doctrine, 
Fiske was no less emphatic in claiming for it the 
highest ideals of righteous conduct. He says: 

"The seeking after righteousness is characteristic 
of the modern follower of science quite as much as 
it was characteristic of the mediaeval saint; save 
that while the latter symbolized his yearning as a 
desire to become like his highest concrete concep- 
tion of human excellence, ideally embodied in Christ, 
the former no longer employs any such anthropo- 
morphic symbol, but formulates his feeling in scien- 
tific phrase as the persistent desire to live rightly or 
in entire conformity to the requirements of nature 
as Goethe expresses it : 

"'Im Ganzen, Guten, Wahren, resolut zu leben.'" 

In the doctrine of Evolution, therefore, Fiske found 
the theistic and ethical elements characteristic of all 


Philosophic Implications 

religions not only blended, but also given a rational 
origin, and a vastly more rational interpretation 
than obtains in any particular religious system. 

The philosophic implications of the Doctrine of 
Evolution. And now, having given an outline sketch 
of a system of Cosmic Philosophy based on the 
affirmation of the existence of an Infinite Power 
transcending the comprehension of the human mind 
as the Source and Sustainer of all things, and of 
whom the cosmic universe is an ever-developing 
manifestation, Fiske, in closing, turned to the con- 
sideration of what must be the critical attitude of 
this order of philosophic thinking upon past and 
present religious beliefs and social institutions. In 
other words, whether the critical temper of this 
evolutionary form of philosophic thinking tends to- 
wards the subversion, or towards the conservation 
and further development of that complex aggregate 
of beliefs and ordinances which make up civiliza- 
tion: the social order amid which we live. 

In entering upon this phase of the discussion, he 
drew attention to the philosophic contrasts that 
naturally flow from what he termed the "statical" 
and the " dynamical " habits of thinking. A statical 
view of things he defined as one which is adjusted 
solely or chiefly to relations existing in the imme- 
diate environment of the thinker. He says: 

"The fundamental doctrine of the philosophy 
which is determined by this statical habit of in- 
terpreting phenomena is the Doctrine of Creation. 

John Fiske 

The world is supposed to have been suddenly 
brought into existence at some assignable epoch, 
since which time it has remained substantially un- 
altered. Existing races of sentient creatures are 
held to have been created by a miraculous fiat in 
accordance with sundry types which, as representing 
unchangeable ideas in the Divine Mind, can never 
be altered by physical circumstances. The social 
institutions also, amid which the particular statical 
theory originates are either referred back to the 
foundation of the world, as is the case in early and 
barbaric mythologies; or else, as is the case with 
modern uneducated Christians, they are supposed to 
have been introduced by miracle at a definite era of 
history. In similar wise the existing order of things 
is legitimately to endure until abruptly terminated 
by the direct intervention of an extra-cosmic Power 
endowed with the anthropomorphic attributes of 
cherishing intentions and of acting out its good 
pleasure. . . . Likewise the social institutions and 
the religious beliefs now existing by express divine 
sanction, must remain essentially unaltered under 
penalty of divine wrath as manifested in the in- 
fliction upon society of the evils of atheism and an- 
archy. Hence, as the Doctrine of Creation is itself 
held to be one of these divinely sanctioned reli- 
gious beliefs, the scientific tendency to supersede 
this doctrine by the conception of God as mani- 
fested not in spasmodic acts of miracle, but in the 
orderly evolution of things, is stigmatized as an 
atheistical tendency, and the upholders of the new 
view are naturally enough accredited with a desire 
to subvert the foundations of religion and of good 

Philosophic Implications 

In opposition to this statical or fixed way of view- 
ing things, an order of thought inherited from a 
primitive period of culture, Fiske placed what he 
termed a higher, a dynamical viewpoint, one fur- 
nished by looking at the cosmic universe as a unity, 
with all its multiform phenomena ever in a process 
of development, in a definite and irreversible order 
of sequence, and all, the manifestation of an Infin- 
ite Power transcending the comprehension of the 
human mind. 

That this dynamical or evolutionary way of 
viewing things should not have been acquired, save 
by two or three prescient minds, previous to the 
last century, was not surprising to Fiske, inasmuch 
as not until the middle period of the last century 
was scientific knowledge of the interrelatedness of 
cosmic forces sufficiently developed to yield a con- 
ception of the existence of a persistent energy which 
held the phenomena of the whole universe in sub- 
jection to immutable law. With the establishment 
of the conservation of energy, however, as an ulti- 
mate cosmic truth, with its necessary corollary, 
that all existing phenomena are the direct products 
of preceding phenomena, a new era was opened 
in human thinking. It became evident that the 
whole statical theory of special creations, with their 
permanence of character, especially as applied 
to human history, was invalidated, and must in- 
evitably be swept away by advancing knowledge 
of cosmic phenomena; which, with every advance, 


John Fiske 

confirmed with ever-increasing emphasis the truth 
of the dynamical or evolutionary theory of things. 
Thus, to Fiske's mind, this evolutionary theory of 
the origin of things, in its universality and its im- 
mutability as revealed by science, appeared as a 
process whereby the existence of Deity was ever 
being unveiled to the human mind. 

The acceptance of this evolutionary view of 
things, Fiske believed would in the future, with the 
spread of scientific knowledge, become common 
among men, leading to higher ideals of ethical 
conduct on the one hand, and to purer and nobler 
conceptions of Deity on the other hand. Thus would 
there always be a place for religion : for the inculca- 
tion of the ethical principles in conduct which make 
for the fulness of life here and now, and for the 
direction of men's thoughts reverently to that form 
of existence which, in the nature of things, must 
transcend cosmic existence of which cosmic ex- 
istence is but an adumbration. 

This evolutionary way of viewing things, more- 
over, tended to the utmost catholicity of thought, 
to the evident tolerance of opposing opinions on the 
subject of politics, religion, science, or philosophy. 
According to the doctrine of Evolution every 
theory regarding fundamental questions of thought 
or conduct was the result of antecedent causes, 
was the outgrowth of preexisting conditions, and 
was to be set aside or superseded only by the sub- 
stitution of something better: that is, something 


Cosmic Philosophy and Religion 

better adapted to the conditions. Hence, believing 
that all institutions and orders of thought stood 
each for some phase of psychical development, 
some truth in the evolution of civilized humanity, 
Fiske would not have Cosmic Philosophy assume 
an iconoclastic attitude towards any established 
institution or order of thought ; rather, that its atti- 
tude should be one of rational toleration, accom- 
panied by well-directed efforts clearly to set forth 
the conceptions of ultimate truths embodied in this 
philosophy, truths having a direct bearing upon 
the well-being of mankind, leaving these truths 
to make their way in the minds and in the conduct 
of men. Thus, in Fiske's mind Cosmic Philosophy 
was emphatically divorced from all forms of athe- 
ism on the one hand, and from all forms of Jacobin- 
ism or anarchy on the other hand. 

Animated with this broad spirit of toleration, 
Fiske took much pains, in closing, to set forth the 
attitude of Cosmic Philosophy towards the Chris- 
tian religion. In the two fundamental theorems 
underlying both Christianity and Cosmic Philoso- 
phy, their theistic and their ethical theorems, 
he found much in common. In their ethical codes, 
particularly, he found th f e ethical principles en- 
joined by each for the conduct or fulness of life 
identical in character, although expressed by dif- 
ferent verbal symbols; while in their theistic af- 
firmations, the difference between them consisted 
mainly in their presentation of the character of 


John Fiske 

Deity: Christianity presenting Deity as of a limited, 
knowable, anthropomorphic character a charac- 
ter born of ancient mythology; while Cosmic Philos- 
ophy presented Deity as a form of Being transcend- 
ing the comprehension of the human mind, and 
knowable only through the manifestations of its 
existence in cosmic phenomena. Regarding this dif- 
ference between the two in their theistic theorems, 
Cosmic Philosophy could affirm that as science ex- 
tended the boundaries of positive knowledge of the 
cosmic universe and man's place in it, pari passu 
was the conception of Deity presented by Chris- 
tianity ever in a process of purification, whereby its 
anthropomorphic character was being sloughed off, 
and whereby the conception itself was being trans- 
formed into the recognition of a form of Being 
transcending all materiality. 

Thus, with the progress of scientific knowledge, 
Fiske believed, would the theistic theorems of the 
two orders of thought be brought into complete har- 
mony, through the recognition by each as ultimate 
truth the existence of a form of Being not measur- 
able by human standards; and to which all cosmic 
phenomena, including man with his rational mind, 
are relative. In this union science will ever have 
its vocation in describing phenomena in their in- 
ter-relatedness, their coexistences, their sequences ; 
while religion will ever have its place in interpreting 
these phenomena in their order, their unity, their 
persistence, as relative to, and as adumbrations of, 


Cosmic Philosophy and Religion 

the unknown Reality or Infinite Power which tran- 
scends them all. 

Fiske closed his work with the following tolerant 
and reverent line of thought : 

"The iconoclast, who has the welfare of man- 
kind nearest his heart, will probably blame us as 
too conservative, as lacking in robust and whole- 
some aggressiveness. And he will perhaps find fault 
with us for respecting prejudices which he thinks 
ought to be shocked. Our reply must be that it is 
not by wounding prejudices that the cause of truth 
is most efficiently served. Men do not give up their 
false or inadequate beliefs by hearing them scoffed at 
or harshly criticised : they give them up only when 
they have been taught truths with which the false 
or inadequate beliefs are incompatible. The object 
of the scientific philosopher, therefore, will be to or- 
ganize science and extend the boundaries of knowl- 
edge. ... It is not for us, creatures of a day that 
we are, and seeing but a little way into a limited 
portion of nature, to say dictatorially, before patient 
examination, that we will not have this or that doc- 
trine as part of our philosophic creed. We must 
feel our way as best we can, gather with unremitting 
toil what facts lie within our reach, and gratefully 
accept such conclusions as can honestly and by due 
process of inference and verification be obtained for 
our guidance. We are not the autocrats, but the 
servants and interpreters of Nature; and we must 
interpret her as she is, not as we would like her 
to be. That harmony which we hope eventually to 
see established between our knowledge and our as- 
pirations, is not to be realized by the timidity which 


John Fiske 

shrinks from logically following out either of two 
apparently conflicting lines of thought as in 
the question of matter and spirit but by the 
fearlessness which pushes each to its inevitable 
conclusion. Only when this is recognized will the 
long and mistaken warfare between Science and 
Religion be exchanged for an intelligent and en- 
during alliance. Only then will the two knights of 
the fable finally throw down their weapons, on dis- 
covering that the causes for which they have so long 
been waging battle are in reality one and the same 
eternal cause, the cause of truth, of goodness and 
of beauty; ' the glory of God and the relief of man's 
estate/ " 




THE rounding-out of the doctrine of Evolution into 
a philosophic system with its transcendental impli- 
cations had a very salutary effect upon the mind of 
Fiske. By this philosophic generalization the phe- 
nomena of the whole cosmic universe were' brought 
into order and unity as a manifestation of an In- 
finite Unknowable Power which was working out, 
through a universal dynamic principle underlying 
all objective and subjective phenomena, a mighty 
teleological purpose, a purpose more ennobling 
than anything born of dogmatic theology or ideal- 
istic philosophy. This conclusion brought Fiske 
great composure of mind as he looked out upon 
the ever-seething phenomena of human life in its 
sociological, its political, and its religious aspects. 

In sociology, viewed in its broad relations, he 
saw the persistence of a fundamental ethical prin- 
ciple^- "the continuous weakening of selfishness 
and the strengthening of sympathy ": in other 


John Fiske 

words, the " gradual supplanting of egoism by al- 
truism." Politically he saw the ethical principle 
in sociology slowly but surely making itself mani- 
fest in the steady growth of remedial legislation, of 
equity jurisprudence, and in international comity. 
In religion, amidst all the animosities of antagonis- 
tic beliefs, the bigotry and strife of creeds, he saw a 
steady growth of toleration, if not progress towards 
ultimate cooperation in the promulgation of reli- 
gious truth this religious liberalism arising from 
two factors, a higher conception of the Infinite 
Power, the Source and Sustainer of all things, flow- 
ing from the revelations of science; a clearer con- 
ception of the brotherhood of man, attested as it 
was by the economical results of ethical relations. 
Fiske contemplated with great hopefulness the ef- 
fect of the Evolutionary Philosophy upon the Chris- 
tian religion the religion which he regarded as 
the highest organized expression yet given of the 
religious nature of man. This religion, while "sick- 
lied o'er" in his mind with much of man's anthro- 
pomorphic mythology, embodied in its two funda- 
mental doctrines, the Fatherhood of God and the 
Brotherhood of man, two great interrelated cosmic 
truths the existence of righteousness as an active 
principle in the Infinite Power or Reality back of the 
cosmos, and its correlative manifestation in the al- 
truistic consciousness of man. He conceded that on 
these two fundamental theorems a form of existence 
transcending present known existence might be as- 


Evolution and Religion 

serted rationally as a matter of religious faith, as a 
correlative to present existence. 

It was Fiske's conclusion from his survey of mod- 
ern religious thought that the Christian religion 
was steadily undergoing a purification through sci- 
, entific criticism whereby it would ultimately be 
stripped of its anthropomorphic and much of its 
ecclesiastical accretions, and brought down to the 
simple yet comprehensive formula of its Founder: 
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; 
and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self." 
Compliance with this injunction he regarded as an 
essential condition for the enjoyment of the fulness 
of life. At the same time he found an authority for 
it higher than that of the " Law and the Prophets," 
an authority far exceeding that of Christ; he found 
it a command writ in all the objective phenom- 
ena of the cosmic universe, with its spirit persist- 
ently welling up in the ever- widening consciousness 
of man. 

At this period Fiske's mind was full of these 
great themes, and he talked freely concerning 
them. As I recall our many conversations regard- 
ing the effect of the doctrine of Evolution on cur- 
rent methods of scientific and religious thinking, 
there comes back to me the remembrance of his 
serenely optimistic belief, that as the new doctrine 
spread, atheism and materialism would be wholly 
discredited, while Christianity would inevitably 

John Fiske 

be metamorphosed into a more rational form of 
religious faith. With this remembrance there comes 
also the distinct recollection of a remarkably im- 
pressive close that he gave to a Sunday discourse 
delivered, I think, before the Free Religious Associa- 
tion, in Boston. He had been speaking mainly 
extempore on Evolution with its philosophic im- 
plications, and he closed substantially as follows : 

"If the foregoing presentation of the doctrine 
of Evolution be accepted, atheism and material- 
ism are forever discredited ; while certain dogmas of 
the Christian religion, such as a personal triune 
God, special miraculous creations, the fall of man, 
and his redemption through Christ, a materialistic 
Heaven and Hell, the plenary inspiration of the 
Scriptures, fall away, and become to the philo- 
sophic thinker outgrown symbols of thought, mark- 
ing man's religious progress, through his ever-ad- 
vancing knowledge of cosmic phenomena, from a 
grossly anthropomorphic conception of a personal 
Creator working after man's ways, to the concep- 
tion of the Evolutionary Theist, who, in the pres- 
ence of the profound cosmic mystery that sur- 
rounds him, acknowledges an Infinite and Eternal 
Power as the Source and Sustainer of it all; and 
who, however much he may stumble in his saying 
of it, reverently affirms that the everlasting Source 
of all cosmic phenomena can be none other than an 
Infinite Power that makes for righteousness; that 
finite man cannot by searching find out this Infinite 
Power, yet should he put his trust in Him, holding 
fast to the belief that this Infinite Power will not 
leave him to be confounded at the end." 


Evolution and Religion 

The reception given to Fiske's "Outlines of Cos- 
mic Philosophy" marks the seething condition of 
the philosophico-religious mind on the great prob- 
lems of existence forty years ago. A philosophy 
which presented the cosmic universe as a multiform 
complex of phenomena, inconceivable in its vast- 
ness, and ever in a process of orderly development 
into higher forms of phenomenal manifestation in 
conformity to immutable law; a philosophy which 
presented conscious man, with his civilizations, as 
an evolutionary outcome of this ceaseless cosmic 
activity; a philosophy which affirmed that this 
vast cosmic universe must have had an antece- 
dent Cause transcending itself, a Cause which must 
ever, in the nature of its existence, be beyond the 
comprehension of the conditioned cosmic mind of 
man; a philosophy which further affirmed that 
this Ultimate Cause could be known only as it is 
revealed in the ever-developing phenomena of the 
cosmic universe, was so radically opposed to the 
metaphysico-theologic and to the atheistico-ma- 
terialistic methods of philosophizing, that its fa- 
vorable consideration could not be expected from 
critics belonging to either the metaphysical or the 
atheistical orders of thought. 

By the metaphysico-theologic critics, the work 
was summarily condemned in toto. The doctrine 
of Evolution was alleged by them to be only a fresh 
form of scientific infidelity, only another attempt to 
substitute, for the ultimate truths assured by Divine 


John Fiske 

revelation, some vague speculations regarding the 
cosmic universe including man, his origin and 
destiny derived from man's cosmic experience. 
The irrational and virulent character of this criti- 
cism was to be expected. Christian thinkers, who, 
through all their intellectual development, had ac- 
cepted the metaphysical dogmas as the embodi- 
ment of all ultimate truth, could not look upon the 
new doctrine with any favor. In fact, they could 
only regard the work as a direct attack upon the 
very foundations of revealed truth; and the more 
conclusively its general propositions were sustained, 
the more emphatically should the whole work be 

It should also be noted that the years between 
1870 and 1880 comprised the period of an intensely 
active discussion over the origin of man with his 
rational mind which flowed from the publication 
of Darwin's " Origin of Species" as well as from a 
number of palaeontological discoveries which at- 
tested the great antiquity of primitive man with 
positive simian characteristics. These discover- 
ies were very impartially set forth by Sir Charles 
Lyell in his great work on the " Antiquity of Man," 
and by Darwin in his still more important work on 
the "Descent of Man" from an animal ancestry. 
To these works should be added the results of the 
researches of a group of scientific sociologists 
Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Edward B. Tylor, John F. 
McLennan, Sir John Lubbock, Lewis H. Morgan, 


Hostile Criticism 

and others into the origins of civilized society, 
researches by which it was conclusively shown that 
the occupations, the customs, the institutions of 
civilized life had all been developed through experi- 
ence out of the life or habits of primitive man. In 
this discussion the theologians had no positive sci- 
entific verifications whatsoever in support of their 
dogmatic affirmations of man's special creation and 
his fall. Consequently, as against a philosophic 
system which gave to man a verified evolutionary 
origin through an ascent from an animal ancestry, 
they could only oppose an appeal to ignorance and 
prejudice by claiming a divinely revealed knowl- 
edge of his special creation and his fall, and by ridic- 
ulous presentations of his descent from a monkey. 

It is not worth while now to give much attention 
to such criticism. It has already been largely out- 
grown. Two examples of it will suffice. The first is 
from "The New Englander," one of the leading 
organs of theologico-philosophic thought in Amer- 
ica. In a strongly condemnatory review of Fiske's 
"Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy/' we find the fol- 
lowing contemptuous characterization of it, which 
was evidently intended as a bit of superior sarcasm, 
but which is in reality an attempted burlesque 
of some of the profoundest truths of the cosmic 

"In the continuous redistribution of matter and 
motion there has at last been evolved, by integra- 
tion of the homogeneous, the American apostle of the 


John Fiske 

truth hitherto hidden from the eyes of men. A se- 
ries of states of consciousness (plus a something), 
resident in Cambridge, has worked over a certain 
amount of sunshine, and has communicated it to 
other possibly existing series of states of conscious- 
ness in the shape of a book entitled 'Outlines of 
Cosmic Philosophy/*' 

The second example is from "The Congrega- 
tionalist," the organ of the American Congrega- 
tionalists. Under the title of " Great is Dynamis, 
and John Fiske is its Prophet," this journal gave a 
sneering sort of summary of some of the points in 
Fiske's work. The general tone of the article is in- 
dicated by the closing paragraph : 

" It is to be regretted that Mr. Fiske cannot elim- 
inate from his writings the anthropomorphism of 
abuse and sneers and contempt for theologians and 
penny-a-liners and all others who do not worship 
' this Wondrous Dynamis/ His criticism of Dr. 
Biichner is not wholly inapplicable to himself ' a 
writer whose pages are too often deformed with 
brutalities of expression for which no atonement is 
made in the shape of original or valuable thought/ " 

Rarely has a philosophic work been issued so 
free from disparaging epithets applied to oppo- 
nents as is Fiske's "Cosmic Philosophy." 

The next example is a graphic illustration of the 
prevailing theologic thought of the time regarding 
the doctrine of Evolution. The "New York Daily 
Graphic," in its issue of September 12, 1874, 


(Cartoon in the New York Daily Graphic, September 12, 1874) 

Hostile Criticism 

lished a full-page cartoon of which the illustration 
opposite the preceding page is a photographic repro- 
duction. 1 

There has been a marked advance in the appre- 
ciation of the intellectual, moral, and religious 
truths involved in the doctrine of Evolution since 
the time, some forty years ago, when such a car- 
toon as this, wherein Spencer and Darwin are de- 
picted as still enveloped in their simian ancestry, 
could be regarded by intelligent people as a clever 
burlesque of a manifest absurdity. 

But from independent critics in the United 
States and Great Britain, critics accustomed to 
philosophic thinking, the work received much con- 
siderate attention as an important setting-forth of 
the philosophic implications arising from the recent 
truths of science, with their bearing upon the reli- 
gious faith, and also upon the political and social 
well-being of mankind; and the work has had a 
wide influence in shaping subsequent thought upon 
philosophic, religious, and social questions. 

Among the many personal encomiums Fiske re- 
ceived for the work, two were indeed memorable 

1 Fiske was greatly impressed by this cartoon, and he had it 
framed and gave it a conspicuous place in his library. It remains 
with his library still. To his friends, who objected to its vulgarity 
in so degrading Spencer and Darwin, Fiske's ready response was: 
"Yes, but remember it is a faithful presentation of the attitude of 
the religious mind generally towards the doctrine of Evolution in 
1874-1875. I like to keep this design before me as a sort of theo- 
logical barometer objections to it show how rapidly the religious 
mind is moving towards the great truths of Cosmic Evolution." 


John Fiske 

and should be given a place here: one was from 
Herbert Spencer, and the other was from Charles 
Darwin. Spencer wrote as follows: - 


II December, 1874. 
My dear Fiske: 

Enclosed I send the only two reviews 1 of your 
work which have appeared or which I have yet 
seen. On the whole, they are I think very favor- 
able; containing, indeed, along with their applause, 
not more in the way of fault-finding than every 
critic feels bound to utter. I will send you further 
notices from time to time as I meet with them. 

As yet, I have myself read but parts of the first 
volume. I am so continually hindered by multitu- 
dinous distractions and my small reading power 
proves so inadequate for getting up the matter 
bearing on my immediate work, that I have an in- 
creasing difficulty in getting any knowledge of the 
books I receive; even when they concern me very 
nearly, critically or otherwise. 

What I have read, however, which has been 
chiefly in the new parts, has pleased me greatly. 
I am very glad you have so fully and clearly con- 
trasted a system which constitutes an organon, 
with a system which constitutes a cosmology. The 
distinction, deep as it is, is one which those who are 
prepossessed by the philosophy of Comte seem to 

1 Reviews in the London Daily News and in the London Exam- 
iner; the latter written by James Sully, the eminent psychologist. 

Frederick Pollock, author of a Life of Spinoza and a writer on phil- 
osophic subjects, gave a very appreciative review of the work in the 
Fortnightly Review. 


Letter from Spencer 

have great difficulty in recognizing. Lewes, for ex- 
ample, failed entirely to perceive it, at the time we 
had a polemic on the matter. Hence, I rejoice that 
you have brought out the contrast so distinctly. 

I suppose I shall find matter of much interest to 
me in the sociological division. But comments on 
this must stand over till some future letter. 

The progress of things is amazingly rapid. The 
public mind is everywhere being ploughed up by 
all kinds of disturbing forces and prepared for the 
reception of rational ideas. Indeed, the process of 
sowing needs to be pushed on actively, lest a crop of 
weeds should take possession of the soil left vacant 
after the rooting-up of superstitions. 

I shall be glad to hear from you: learning how 
you are after settling down to your work again and 
what reception your book meets with in the United 

Very sincerely yours, 


This letter, while exceedingly friendly in charac- 
ter and highly appreciative of Fiske's work, shows 
Spencer's adroit avoidance of committing himself 
directly to the spiritual and religious implications 
of Fiske's Evolutionary argument. We have previ- 
ously had occasion to note a similar avoidance on 
this point, 1 and we shall have occasion to note 
another later on. 

But Darwin's tribute was without any reserva- 
tion whatever; and it was given in such a simple, 
modest way as to reflect its entire sincerity. Fiske 
1 See ante, vol. i, p. 388. 


John Fiske 

found Darwin's judgment of his work alone enough 
to cheer his mind against all adverse criticism. It 
was as follows : 

DOWN, December 8, 1874. 
My dear Sir: 

You must allow me to thank you for the very 
great interest with which I have at last slowly read 
the whole of your work. I have long wished to know 
something about the views of the many great men 
whose doctrines you give. With the exception of 
special points, I did not even understand H. 
Spencer's general doctrine, for his style is too hard 
work for me. I never in my life read so lucid an 
expositor (and therefore thinker) as you are; and 
I think that I understand nearly the whole per- 
haps less clearly about Cosmic Theism and Causa- 
tion than other parts. It is hopeless to attempt out 
of so much to specify what has interested me most, 
and probably you would not care to hear. I wish 
some chemist would attempt to ascertain the result 
of the cooling of heated gases of the proper kinds 
in relation to your hypothesis of the origin of living 
matter. It pleased me to find that here and there 
I had arrived from my own crude thoughts at some 
of the same conclusions with you; though I could 
seldom or never have given my reasons for such con- 
clusions. I find that my mind is so fixed by the in- 
ductive method that I cannot appreciate deductive 
reasoning: I must begin with a good body of facts 
and not from a principle (in which I always suspect 
some fallacy) and then as much deduction as you 

This may be very narrow-minded ; but the result 
is that such parts of H. Spencer as I have read with 


Letter from Darwin 

care impress my mind with the idea of his inex- 
haustible wealth of suggestion, but never convince 
me; and so I find it with some others. I believe the 
cause to lie in the frequency with which I have 
found first-formed theories to be erroneous. 

I thank you for the honourable mention which 
you make of my works. Parts of the "Descent 
of Man" must have appeared laughably weak to 
you ; nevertheless, I have sent you a new edition just 

Thanking you for the profound interest, and 
profit, with which I have read your work, 

I remain, my dear sir, 

Yours very faithfully, 

JOHN FISKE, Esg r -, 





RETURNING to our narrative of the life of Fiske 
after his return from Europe in June, 1874, we find 
that the publication of his "Outlines of Cosmic 
Philosophy" greatly heightened his reputation in 
the United States as a philosophic thinker, while in 
England it gave him a recognized position, not only 
as an expositor of, but also as a contributor to, the 
doctrine of Evolution. In fact, he was very generally 
credited not only with having completely cleared the 
doctrine of all affiliations with the Positive Philos- 
ophy of Comte; but also with having set forth its 
ethical and religious implications, something which 
Spencer had not yet done. This at least can be said : 
that in America, while Spencer was substantially 
credited with the authorship of the theory of Evolu- 
tion, Fiske was credited with having given an inter- 
pretation to the theory more in consonance with the 
religious convictions of the Christian world than 
Spencer had done more than Spencer, by the gen- 


Growing Reputation 

eral attitude of his thought, seemed inclined to 
admit. From this time on, therefore, we are to see 
Fiske credited as being the chief representative in 
America of the Evolution doctrine. In the years to 
come we shall see him, as occasions arise, drawing 
out from the armory of his " Cosmic Philosophy" 
several philosophic arguments with which to do 
effective battle for an "Unseen World" transcend- 
ing this world of physical phenomena; for a 
" Destiny of Man" transcending his finite exist- 
ence; for an "Idea of God" transcending the 
affirmations of Christian theology, and for "The 
Everlasting Reality of Religion" as a Divine truth 
writ in the very consciousness of man himself, and 
not derived from the religious experience of any 
particular race or people. 

After his return from Europe, however, Fiske 
found himself obliged to give the subject of philoso- 
phy a place of secondary importance in his practi- 
cal life. His position in the Harvard Library was 
no sinecure. He was in full charge, and on his return 
the subject classification and cataloguing of books 
and pamphlets was resumed, the supervision of 
which, together with the oversight of the regular 
routine work of the library, left him but very little 
time for philosophic thinking or for literary work of 
any kind. This fact is clearly apparent. He was 
never idle. The nature of his mind involved its 
constant activity on some theme or other practi- 
cal or speculative. He was in the library nearly 


John Fiske 

seven years, some of the best years of his life for 
literary production, and yet he produced dur- 
ing this period only about a dozen magazine arti- 
cles and lectures; and these were written mostly 
during his vacations. 

With all his scholarly tendencies and tastes, there 
was an element in his intellectual make-up which 
enabled him to focus his mind upon problems of 
practical life with great effectiveness, and the 
library presented a succession of such problems. 
One instance of this nature in his library experi- 
ence is particularly worthy of note. In 1876 the 
college was reconstructing its library building, 
Gore Hall, and it was of vital importance that 
the library should be kept in efficient working order 
while the reconstruction was going on. How this 
could be done was a problem of a very serious 
nature. Fiske's statement of the problem and his 
solution of it are given in a letter to his mother un- 
der date of June 2, 1876: 

"Our new Library transept is rising from the 
ground. By July ist our old east transept is to be 
torn down to make way for the new huge transept. 
Said east transept contains forty thousand volumes 
which of course must be moved. There is no room 
for anything in the body of the building. Some 
twenty thousand volumes can be accommodated 
in a room in Boylston Hall ; the other twenty thou- 
sand must be stored, deuce knows how, in our pres- 
ent building. But now ! these forty thousand volumes 
in the transept are among our most valuable books, 


Reconstruction of Library 

which it won't do to risk in Boylston Hall, which 
is 'Joby CookeV chemical building, and by no 
means fireproof. Therefore twenty thousand other 
volumes less valuable must go to Boylston Hall, and 
these more valuable volumes must take their places. 
So at least sixty thousand volumes have got to be 
shifted in four weeks. Again, this confusion is to 
last for more than a year, until our huge new tran- 
sept is ready for occupancy. The public want their 
books, and we don't want to have a third of the 
Library useless. But the catalogues indicate the 
places where the books stand to-day, and to re- 
mark it would be a fearful job. It would take a 
third of my cataloguing force, and they could n't 
do it in less than six months. And all this labor 
would be unprofitably spent, because when the 
building is finished there will be a general change 
of plans, and then re-marking will have to be done 
in earnest. Therefore, the problem is no less than 
this: to shift sixty thousand volumes in four weeks 
without impairing the efficiency of the existing 
numbers, which are to send one to the new place of 
the book just as readily as to the old place; to keep 
the whole Library available to the public all the 
while; and carry only poor books away to Boyl- 
ston Hall, while keeping the valuable ones in the 
Library building. And all this must be done with- 
out altering a single shelf-mark on the catalogue, 
or calling off any of my assistants who are cat- 

" What do you say to that for a practical prob- 
lem? It has worried me for a good while vaguely, 
and for a week definitely ; and to-day, I have solved 
the whole thing triumphantly ! It can be done, and 


John Fiske 

is to be done. All these books are to be shifted by 
July ist without closing the Library, or interfering 
with the taking-out of books for one day, and 
without hampering the cataloguers in any way. 
And besides this, two hundred thousand pam- 
phlets are to be moved with like placidity. I feel 
very grand at this issue of things. By the time I 
had got the plan three fourths unfolded, President 
Eliot said, ' Mr. Fiske, I have no more to say; go on, 
if you please, and carry out the work entirely at 
your own discretion/ I have plenary power to hire 
my workmen, and order everything; and am only 
too willing to be held responsible for a thing I 
have thought out so completely. Is n't it splendid? 
I think even outsiders, who don't begin to know 
what library-work is in all its countless details, will 
appreciate and admire the entire absence of annoy- 
ance which will characterize this revolution in the 
Library. I think the professors all look forward 
with dread to what they think must be a frightful 
muddle. I am in hopes that not one of 'em will be 
made to feel there is any muddle at all." 

And a few days later, June 19, he writes: 

"The book-moving goes on with beautiful quiet 
and regularity. It begins to seem so simple that 
any jackass might have done it. We have carried 
about nineteen thousand five hundred volumes over 
to Boylston Hall, and filled all the shelf -room there, 
and have moved some fifteen thousand within the 
Library itself, besides shifting the entire stock of 
nearly two hundred thousand pamphlets. There 
has been no disturbance beyond the sound of the 
carpenters' hammers. Books have been taken 


Catalogue of Sumner Collection 

from, and returned to, the migratory divisions 
without perplexity. By July 1st, I think we shall 
be in equilibrium for the coming year." 

The shifting of the books was done in less than a 
month. It was completed June 30, 1876. 

Another incident connected with his library ex- 
perience and outside his routine labors is worth 
noting. The Honorable Charles Sumner, at his 
death in 1874, left the library a collection of about 
3750 books, among which were many rare and 
valuable ones in various languages, together with 
an exceedingly valuable collection of autographs. 
A catalogue of this collection was greatly desired, 
and Fiske, with two of his assistants, undertook the 
task. It was one which involved much laborious 
research on Fiske's part, and the result is another 
illustration of the facility with which he could bring 
his wide knowledge into practical service. The 
bibliographic knowledge shown in this catalogue 
is so extensive that I sought the opinion of Mr. 
Charles K. Bolton, the accomplished Librarian of 
the Boston Athenaeum, as to its character. Mr. 
Bolton reports thus: * 

"Mr. Fiske's catalogue of the Sumner Collection 
of books, in the Harvard Library, is a test of learn- 
ing that few librarians are called to meet. It shows 
his familiarity with early calligraphy, with the art 
and history of printing, with binding and illustra- 
tion. It covers also the difficulties involved in cata- 
loguing and annotating rare books, and indirectly 


John Fiske 

proves that Mr. Fiske loved the text as well as the 
dress. The bibliographical notes, by their discrimi- 
nation, variety, and detail, show both erudition and 
clarity of mind such as we now associate with 
German scholarship. " 

In a letter of Fiske to his mother describing his 
library duties, I find a paragraph of a personal na- 
ture which shows his deep filial affection for her, in 
that he wishes her to share in any honors that came 
to him. It is also of interest because of the glimpse 
it gives us of two distinguished mathematicians. 

He writes: 

"Mousing in the galleries the other day to find 
some book, I stumbled on old Ben Peirce, in com- 
pany with Dr. Sylvester, the greatest mathema- 
tician in the world, who has just been enticed over 
from London to the Johns Hopkins University at 
Baltimore. Old Ben looked beaming, and said: "I 
want to make you acquainted with Mr. J. F., our 
Assistant Librarian one of our greatest philo- 
sophical thinkers. He has a gift of straightening 
things out, and without any special study of astron- 
omy, has done more for the nebular hypothesis than 
either you or I could have done/ I generally take 
such things with equanimity, but this time my 
cheeks felt a little warm; and such an unexpected 
remark from an old veteran in science, who doesn't 
usually say much, and on whom I used to look with 
profound reverence, was rather overwhelming. We 
had a pleasant little chat. Sylvester is a stout 
Englishman of about sixty, with rosy cheeks, and 
long grey hair. The man whose 'Theory of In- 


Out of Place in the Library 

variants' is the greatest step taken in mathematics 
since Lagrange's ' Calculus of Variations/ and who, 
according to Herbert Spencer, deserves to rank just 
below Newton and Leibnitz as a mathematician 
it seems odd to have him here in the flesh in Cam- 
bridge, and boarding at Miss Upham's! I am sorry 
to say that his achievements are all Greek to me, 
and I must take them on trust. I know precious 
little of post-Newtonian mathematics. If good old 
Ben had only had some gift of straightening things 
out (when I was in college) I might have known 


But no one at this time appears to have regarded 
Fiske 's position in the Harvard Library as his 
proper place, or as his destined field of work at the 
college. He did not himself so regard it; and in a 
letter to his mother of July, 1877, he writes that he 
hears "it is intended to put me into the History 
Department next summer when the term expires of 
the two young instructors who were appointed for a 
year on Adams's [Professor Henry Adams] resigna- 
tion." And further, on the resignation of Dr. John 
Langdon Sibley, the nominal Librarian in the 
summer of 1877, Fiske saw the propriety of the 
appointment of Justin Winsor, the most eminent 
librarian in the country, to the position, although 
the appointment of Mr. Winsor superseded Fiske in 
the management of the library. 

From the viewpoint of the rightful fitness of 
things, notwithstanding Fiske's varied and valu- 
able services in the library when we consider his 


John Fiske 

exceptional endowments for philosophic thinking 
and for fine literary production, he was sadly out of 
place as a mere custodian of books in the service of 
others. Fiske never regarded the library as his 
proper place. He accepted the position there, and 
continued cheerfully in it for the time being, hop- 
ing that faithful service in this important but not 
wholly congenial field would bring him more favor- 
ing fortune in the way of an advancement to a full 
professorship at the college. 

Fiske had many influential friends who wished to 
see him installed in the chair of History and who 
were active to this end. But neither Fiske himself 
nor his friends fully realized the strength of the 
opposition, in the government of the college, to his 
occupancy of any position of instruction whatever, 
an opposition which sprang from a strong dislike of 
his philosophical and religious views. 

Thus, cheerfully accepting the order of work that 
fell to his hand, and patiently biding his time when 
the opposition to his advancement at the college 
should be allayed, Fiske's years of service in the 
Harvard Library slipped away, until, in the sum- 
mer of 1878, he was brought to a distinct realiza- 
tion of the fact that his modest salary as Assist- 
ant Librarian was no adequate income for his 
support; and that his advancement to a professor's 
chair at the college was still a matter of much un- 
certainty; and that he was sadly misapplying the 
most productive years of his life. 


Turns to American History 

It was while reflecting upon these conditions, in 
the summer of 1878, that a proposition came to 
him to give a course of six lectures upon American 
history, the following spring, in the Old South 
Church in Boston, in aid of the project of saving 
this old church building, with its rich historic as- 
sociations, from the ruthless hands of commercial 
philistinism. He accepted the call with great readi- 
ness, for it fell in with a cherished line of thought 
that was slumbering in his own mind. 

In the preface to his subsequent work, "The 
American Revolution," he wrote thus: 

" In the course of my work as Assistant Librarian 
of Harvard University in 1872 and the next few 
years, I had occasion to overhaul what was called 
the 'American Room,' and to superintend, or re- 
vise, the cataloguing of some twenty thousand vol- 
umes and pamphlets relating to America. In the 
course of this work my attention was called more 
and more to sundry problems and speculations con- 
nected with the transplantation of European com- 
munities to American soil, their development under 
new conditions, and the effect of all this upon the 
general progress of civilization. The study of abo- 
riginal America itself had already presented to me 
many other interesting problems in connection with 
primitive culture." 

This cataloguing experience gave rise to much 
serious thought as to American history being a 
fruitful field for the illustration on a broad scale 
of the doctrine of Evolution in its application to 

John Fiske 

human history. This call for a course of lectures 
on American history at the Old South Church fell 
in, therefore, with a line of thought which for some 
time had been mulling in his mind. 

During the summer and autumn of 1878, Fiske 
utilized his vacation and spare time in preparing his 
lectures. As he progressed in his work, he found 
himself profoundly interested in his subject, so 
much so that the conviction steadily deepened in 
his mind, that in the presentation and interpreta- 
tion of American history he could find a broad field 
for permanent and fruitful work of a congenial na- 
ture, where he could utilize, in the interpretation 
of a great historic movement, his wide philosophic 
and historic knowledge. 

I find that Fiske consulted Professors Gurney and 
Norton, and also Francis Parkman, the eminent 
historian, and that they thought well of the project 
and hoped he might find a way to undertake it. 
Parkman wrote him: 

"As to the 'Short History of the American 
People/ I strongly advise you to go into it. If you 
are able to give it the necessary time and attention, 
I am sure they will be well invested in all senses. I 
believe that you could do the work better than any- 
body else." 

He also took counsel with some of his friends in 
New York, all of whom favored his project, if he 
could see his way clear to get his undertaking well 
launched. As he rounded to their completion his 


Resigns from Harvard Library 

forth-coming lectures at the Old South Church, his 
faith in his subject and his confidence in his method 
of treating his subject were such that he decided to 
make the venture. Accordingly, in February, 1879, 
he resigned his position of Assistant Librarian in 
the Harvard Library. 

Fiske's resignation of his position in the Harvard 
Library and his entering upon the task of giving a 
history of the discovery of America and its coloni- 
zation by Europeans, with an account of the politi- 
cal and social development of some of these colo- 
nies into the national political organization of the 
United States, opens an entirely new chapter in his 
intellectual and domestic life. Before entering upon 
the consideration of these new phases of his life, 
however, it is well to turn back for a brief review of 
his domestic life during his years of service in the 
Harvard Library subsequent to his return from 
Europe, that is, from July, 1874, to February, 1879; 
for as we have already seen, Fiske was so essen- 
tially a domestic man in all his tastes and feelings 
that it is impossible to get a just view of his life as a 
whole, during any period, without seeing how his 
domestic tastes, his love of nature, music, and art 
were blended in his intellectual make-up and per- 
meated all his activities. In this review we shall 
also be able to take note of his literary productions 
during this period. 




BEFORE entering on this review, however, we have 
to note the first serious bereavement in Fiske's life, 
the death of his grandmother, Mrs. Mary Fisk 
Lewis, who died shortly after his return from 
Europe, in July, 1874. That Fiske was deeply 
attached to his grandmother the foregoing pages 
abundantly show. During the later years of her 
life she spent several weeks of each year in his 
family; and her visits, by reason of deep affections, 
her cheerfulness, and her overflowing kindness of 
heart, were occasions of joy to the whole household. 
Fiske felt her death most keenly. He had come in 
his imagination to regard her as somewhat tran- 
scending mere sense personality; in short, as being 
a sort of beneficent fairy who had presided over his 
early years, and had left his mind free to expand 
in a natural, healthy way. Certainly, in her death, 
he felt that the last family tie which connected 


Domestic and Social Life 

him with Middletown, the home of his boyhood 
and youth, was broken. 

Coming now to the review referred to, this can 
best be made by taking the main incidents of his 
domestic and social life as revealed in his letters, 
and grouping them around his home; for to his 
home all his activities were related as to a common 

We have seen that his return from Europe in 
June, 1874, was to his home, No. 4 Berkeley Street, 
Cambridge. It was a commodious house owned 
by his brother-in-law, James W. Brooks; and the 
household consisted of the Fiske family with Mrs. 
Martha A. Brooks, Mrs. Fiske's mother; James 
Brooks, and Miss Martha Brooks, Mrs. Fiske's 
brother and sister. It was, indeed, a happy family, 
with the interests of all the adults largely centred 
around the Fiske children. The summers of the 
whole household were spent at the Brooks home- 
stead at Petersham. 

The glimpses we get in the letters of the family life, 
both in Cambridge and in Petersham, are delight- 
ful. The family appears to have been pervaded by 
the sweet, benign influence of Mrs. Martha Brooks, 
the mother and grandmother of the whole family 
except Fiske himself. She was a woman of rare 
personal qualities, and her thought was always for 
the interests of others. Fiske's affection for her was 
hardly second to his affection for his own mother 
and grandmother. James and Martha Brooks, too, 


John Fiske 

were important factors in that they gave them- 
selves largely to ministering to the interests of the 
Fiske children. 

James Brooks, particularly, was unceasing in his 
considerate helpfulness. When Fiske's European 
trip was proposed in 1873, he at once came for- 
ward and assumed oversight of the family dur- 
ing Fiske's absence. And the same thoughtful- 
ness was continued after Fiske's return. With the 
children "Uncle James " came to be regarded as 
a sort of godfather to whom they could safely 
appeal in their perplexities. And it appears that 
they were never beyond the reach of his sym- 
pathy. Being a broad-minded man with high 
ideals of social service, and being also a firm be- 
liever in Fiske's philosophic and religious views, 
James Brooks felt it a pleasure throughout his life 
to aid in the development and promulgation of 
Fiske's ideas. In the family life of the years to come, 
and particularly at Petersham, we are to see his 
continued devotion. 

As an illustration of the fine feeling which per- 
vaded this family life, and also as a further revela- 
tion of the considerate kindness, the deep poetic 
sensibility, and the profound reverential feeling 
which were constituent elements in Fiske's nature, 
I take the following extracts from a letter of 
Fiske to his lifelong friend, Mrs. William Wilcox, 
of Middletown, in which, under date of Novem- 
ber 25, 1875, he gives an account of the illness of 



Death of Mrs. Brooks 

Mrs. Martha Brooks, her death, which occurred Oc- 
tober 20, 1875, and what followed. He writes: 

" Mother Brooks had not been well since Feb- 
ruary, but we had not been really alarmed about 
her. In July she seemed better. The day before she 
went to Petersham, her last day in this house, in 
passing her door I heard her say to Sister Martha, 
'How I should like a bit of fine steak!* The maids 
having left, I turned chef, went down cellar, chopped 
my wood, built a good coal fire, went to market, 
selected a prime steak and some mealy potatoes, 
baked the latter and broiled the former, toasted 
some brown bread, made tea, and served them to 
Mother Brooks, who said she never enjoyed a 
luncheon more in her life. I think I enjoyed getting 
it even more than partaking of it. 

"At Petersham we had our usual fun with croquet 
and music, walking in the woods, and driving over 
the hills, ftot thinking Grandma very ill, though I 
used to take her from her bed and carry her down 
to her lounge under the trees and carry her back 
again. Early in September she grew rapidly worse, 
and the noise of the children disturbed her very 
much, especially as we had nine at the house my 
five, John Brooks's two, and two others of a musical 
friend of ours. So we devised a plan for keeping the 
children away. Our house in Petersham is kept by 
a farmer with his wife and daughter; and they have 
a farmhouse on a lofty hill a grand and romantic 
spot about two miles from the village. Here 
Mr. Howe (our farmer) would sleep nights and 
come jogging up to the village in the morning with 
milk, ears of luscious green corn and other vege- 


John Fiske 

tables for dinner. To this lonely place, amid its 
sublime hills, we decided to go with the babies to 
spend our days, so as to leave the house in the vil- 
lage quiet. The first day there we were hilarious, 
for we thought there was some hope of grandma's 
recovery, and we thought we were doing something 
to help her; and the sweetness of the century-old 
farmhouse, and the glory of the landscape, and the 
brisk mountain air, and the rich scent of the roast- 
ing corn, and the sight of our little curly-heads 
playing under the apple trees all this made us 
feel very happy. As we learned that Grandma en- 
joyed the quiet we returned there day after day; 
and finally, when things grew worse, I decided to 
stay there nights with Maud, Harold, and Clarence. 
Mr. Howe used to get breakfast, though one morn- 
ing Maud did it, and one morning I did, coming out 
very strong on corn-fritters. Mr. Howe's daughter 
used to come down and get our dinners. If I were 
to live a thousand years I should never forget the 
strange, dreamy life we led, my children and I, in 
that wild place for ten days. The driving the cows 
to pasture, the sunrise, purple and gold, over the 
magnificent hills, the bleak spires of the village on 
the horizon, the tall, frowning pines on the hillside 
with the music of their boughs, the soft cloud- 
shadows on distant blue mountains, the delicious 
air, the sad thoughts that contrasted with the 
merry laughter of the little curly-pates all this 
sank deep into my heart and made me meditate 
more than ever on the dread mystery and solemnity 
of it all." 

Mrs. Brooks regained her strength somewhat, 
and the Fiske family returned to Cambridge. On 


Death of Mrs. Brooks 

October 15 she had a relapse and on the 20th she 
died. Fiske writes: 

"October 22d I went up to Petersham in the 
morning, and the funeral was in the afternoon. We 
had no ghastly accompaniments of undertaker and 
hearse, but we carried her ourselves to the church, - 
and of the six men who carried her, I was the only 
one she had not once carried in her arms. At the 
church, her brother Edmund Willson (the same who 
married Abby and me) made the prayer, and I im- 
provised on the organ. There was nothing else. We 
carried her to the graVe, the whole village following 
on foot, and we laid her there, in a spot so lovely 
that the thought that I shall by and by lie there 
myself is of itself enough to lend a pleasant seeming 
to death. None outside the family had anything to 
do with these last services to our dear, good, kind 

As the children grew, and as the requirements of 
Fiske' s literary and social life broadened, the house 
at No. 4 Berkeley Street became less and less 
adapted to his comfort and his needs. It also failed 
to give James Brooks the conveniences he needed. 
Then, too, in view of Fiske's future prospects at 
Harvard College, Mr. and Mrs. Stoughton wished 
to see him well established in a home of his own, 
with full provision for his family, and with the 
necessary conveniences for intellectual work. And 
such a home they wished to provide for him. Much 
time was consumed in weighing the matter, and in 
examining various Cambridge properties. No house 


John Fiske 

was found, however, suited to his particular needs, 
and finally his mother decided to have a house built 
for him one especially designed to meet his re- 
quirements. Accordingly, in May, 1877, the lot of 
land, No. 22 Berkeley Street, was purchased; and 
under date of May 24, 1877, we have a letter to his 
mother of twelve letter-sheet pages in which he sets 
forth for the architect the distinctive features of the 
house he desires. These features may be summar- 
ized thus: A capacious library and study opening 
into a music-room at one end ; a large family din- 
ing-room with conservatory, kitchen, and store- 
room connections; a spacious hall and stairway, 
with lavatory and clothes-room connections ; a cosy 
reception-room a large reception-room or parlor ; 
conveniently arranged sleeping-rooms for the fam- 
ily household, with suitable provisions for guests; 
a nursery and sewing-room; and also a store-room 
and a play-room for the boys. With these specific 
features he asked for several fireplaces and an abun- 
dance of closet-room. 

Fiske's general lay-out for his house was sub- 
stantially carried out under his general versight; 
and in its design and construction we have another 
instance of the facility with which he could bring 
his philosophic mind to grapple with the affairs of 
everyday life. It took nearly a year to get the house 
into condition for occupancy, and it was much over 
a year before it was completely furnished. When 
the furnishing was complete, Fiske wrote his 


New Home in Cambridge 

mother, under date of September 18, 1878, giving 
her a graphic description of all the rooms, with the 
furniture, pictures, and ornaments in each. He 
even included a plan and descriptive sketch of the 
basement store-closet with its huge refrigerator 
a sort of cold-storage plant which he had designed 
himself, in order to get food supplies for his good- 
sized family in quantities. His furniture appears 
to have been made up largely of heirlooms from 
the Brooks and Fiske family homesteads. 

The letter in which these particulars are given 
is, indeed, a delightful letter, one in which are re- 
vealed not only Fiske's keen appreciations of na- 
ture, literature, music, and art, but also, how these 
appreciations were blended with his domestic tastes 
and requirements. I regret that limited space re- 
stricts me to but a single extract from this deeply 
interesting letter. 

It appears in an addendum to the main letter, 
and it reveals Fiske's keen appreciation of, and 
sympathy with, boyhood nature. He writes: 

"I should have said, in my description of the 
house, that the three* boys have the room over the 
guest chamber for a ' raise- the-devil-room.' They 

raise the d 1 there a good deal, and it saves the 

rest of the 'hipe.' The furniture consists of a large 
kitchen table and five or six kitchen chairs, to- 
gether with several tons of rubbish pails, nails, 
hooks, tenpins, bits of wood, marbles, mosses, bats, 
paint-brushes, pots of flour-paste, pebbles deuce 


John Fiske 

knows what not. A museum, too, with sixty or 
eighty kinds of moths and butterflies; a fine assort- 
ment of birds' eggs, wasps' nests, birds' skulls, 
postage-stamps, coins, one Indian stone spear- 
head, etc., etc. The walls are rapidly getting cov- 
ered with pictures cut out of newspapers and 
colored toy-books, etc. It is a jolly room." 

Of Fiske's happy domestic life the letters bear 
abundant witness. His children were his unfailing 
delight, and the individuality of each one is clearly 
set forth. He takes careful note of their varied men- 
tal development, and he tries to keep in touch with 
them in their tastes as he sees their minds unfold. 
He particularly interests himself in their musical 
tastes and in their love of nature. 

It was during this period that his fourth son, 
Herbert Huxley Fiske, was born (August 20, 1877). 
That this son should be christened with the names 
of two of Fiske's dearest friends was quite a matter 
of course. 

Fiske's musical practice during these years was 
fairly continuous. We have previously seen that 
in his periods of intellectual strain he found a great 
measure of relief and relaxation in music. Usually 
he took what he called a sort of "musical siesta" 
after luncheon or dinner. I give some extracts from 
the letters of 1875: 

" As for me, I am trying a whole sonata in three 
movements ( Op. 14, No. 2), one of the loveliest of 
Beethoven's earlier works, and I think I can master 


Musical Practice 

it. Hitherto I have never tried anything but the 
slow movements of the sonatas. 

" I have mastered the difficult E Major nocturne 
of Chopin, that I murdered for you, and can now 
make it sing. I shall have another hard one to play 
for you in F major, when you get home a superb 
one: and I am just beginning a splendid movement 
from one of Schubert's sonatas. I find I can tackle 
things now that I could n't look at a year ago. 
My work last winter on Beethoven and Chopin has 
limbered my fingers and improved my fingering." 

It does not appear that during this period Fiske 
did anything to speak of in the way of musical com- 
position. His Mass, upon which we saw him so 
earnestly engaged during his philosophic period, 
does not appear to have received any attention. In 
fact, this Mass was never finished : it remained one 
of the tasks he was always hoping for a fitting op- 
portunity to complete. 

Musical evenings with his friends Professor John 
K. Paine and the eminent singer and teacher, 
George L. Osgood, were frequent, and they were 
occasions of rare enjoyment. Sometimes these mu- 
sical evenings were made "social occasions" for 
gathering in his closest friends/ Outside his home 
he appears to have found his chief musical enjoy- 
ment in the Symphony Concerts in Boston. And 
here is a fine bit of musical criticism I find in one of 
his letters: 

"I have heard Von Billow again and don't like 
him so well as Rubinstein or Miss Mehlig. They 


John Fiske 

say he never strikes a false note; but I heard him 
strike two in the third movement of Beethoven 
Op. 31, No. 3. But they all do that his execu- 
tion is wonderful." 

Professor Paine has left us his judgment of 
Fiske's musical gifts and attainments derived from 
their long and close intimacy; and the opinion of 
this most competent of critics is in place -here: 

"He [Fiske] was not allowed to take music 
lessons in his boyhood, yet in spite of this, he 
taught himself as a young man to play the piano 
and to sing. Certainly it was a remarkable proof 
of his genuine talent, that he was able to acquire 
sufficient skill to play from memory certain sonatas 
of Beethoven, nocturnes of Chopin, and piano- 
pieces of Schubert, etc. He played with true ex- 
pression and conception. He also gained a knowl- 
edge of Harmony and Counterpoint by reading 
text-books. He had a sonorous bass voice of wide 
compass; and it was a pleasure to hear him sing 
songs of Schubert and Franz, for he sang them with 
feeling and enthusiasm. He showed a deep appre- 
ciation of the music of Bach, Beethoven, Schubert 
and all the great masters, but did not care much for 
recent ' Programme* music. In brief, music was his 
great passion. Next to his love for his family was 
his love for music and nothing gave him more happi- 
ness. In speaking of a future life he always asso- 
ciated it with music." 

But it was the summer home in the Brooks 
homestead at Petersham to which Fiske and the 
whole family looked forward with the keenest zest 



Visit of the Huxleys 

all the rest of the year. And every year seemed to 
bring fresh delights with the increasing years of his 
children. The letters of this period overflow with 
charming descriptions of rides, walks, and saunter- 
ings with his children in this enchanting region. He 
dearly loved to botanize with them. 

It was at Petersham that he and Mrs. Fiske 
and James Brooks entertained Professor and Mrs. 
Huxley during their memorable visit to the United 
States in the summer of 1876. Huxley had heard so 
much about the beauties of Petersham from Fiske 
that as soon as he had decided upon his American 
trip, he wrote Fiske of his proposed visit and of his 
determination to observe Fiske in his Petersham 
" fastness/' The letter in which Huxley advises 
Fiske of his proposed visit is so characteristic is 
so redolent of Huxley's abounding geniality that 
I give it entire : 

LONDON, N.W., April 23, 1876. 

My dear Fiske : 

I have a great mind to tell you that the reason 
why I did not answer your letter of the 1st of 
January, '75, was that there was a Mister stuck be- 
fore my proper name which is a liberty I don't 
permit my friends. Unfortunately any such state- 
ment would be a lie pressure of things always to 
be done, and a confounded habit of corresponden- 
tial procrastination is at the bottom of it. But as 
you confess your own sins, I forgive you on condi- 
tion of the abolition of the "Mr." hereafter. 


John Fiske 

After a world of deliberation and balancing of 
possibilities and impossibilities, I have made up my 
mind that the impossible shall be, and my wife and 
I embark for the States at the end of July, or be- 
ginning of August, returning the last of September. 
The wife is terribly torn between me and the chil- 
dren, but I mean to bring her. 

Many thanks for your most kind offer of hospi- 
tality. Of course we shall look you up somehow; 
but at present all my plans are in nubibus, and I 
must wait until I get quietly stowed away in Edin- 
burgh, whither I betake myself next week, to de- 
termine what I shall do. Nothing we should like 
better than to have a quiet day or two with you in 
your country fastness. 

The book of Essays has arrived. 1 You have made 
a deal more of the " Unseen Universe " 2 than I could. 
If I had had time I should have had some fun out 
of it as gross materialism. I know the writers and 
there is not a grain of speculative power in either. 

My eyes have been wide open for your friend 
Professor Gurney, but he has as yet not been visi- 
ble above the horizon, and I fear I may be away 
before he arrives. 

My wife sends her kindest regards. The elder girls 
and the two boys are away in the country, but I 
gave Madge your message and she was greatly set 
up thereby. Her voice is growing grandly. 
Ever yours very sincerely, 


1 Fiske's Unseen World and Other Essays, then recently published. 

2 A reference to the Unseen Universe, a work by Professors Bal- 
four Stewart and P. G. Tait. It was this work that called out Fiske's 
essay on the Unseen World. See supra, p. 101. 


Visit of the Huxleys 

Fiske wrote expressing his delight, not only that 
Huxley was coming, but also that Mrs. Huxley was 
coming with him, and he cordially invited them to 
visit himself and his family at their summer home 
in Petersham. To this letter Huxley replied : 

EDINBURGH, June 27, 1876. 
My dear Fiske: 

Your letter reached me this evening and I sit 
down to reply just before midnight. Count it unto 
me for righteousness. 

We shall arrive just about the time you are leav- 
ing for Petersham, and the greatest pleasure you 
could give us would be to have us for a few days at 
that sylvan Dilkooshah, as soon as I have done 
exploring Marsh's fossils at New Haven, which 
task will, I suppose, take up more or less of the first 
week of the seven which I have to dispose of. 

You know what manner of people we are, and I 
hope you have reported faithfully of us to Mrs. 
Fiske as folk who love peace and quietness; and 
that when we are left to ourselves we live in the 
plainest of plain ways. We must find our way to 
Agassiz's at Newport some time before the Associa- 
tion meets. Then we go to Buffalo, and take our 
time at Niagara. Then South as far as Nashville, 
and back by way of Baltimore and Philadelphia. 
But my great desire is to go my own way quietly 
and keep out of all sorts of fuss. 

I am hard worked here, and shall be right glad 
when the 27th of July arrives, and we are steaming 

Ever yours very sincerely, 



John Fiske 

The Huxleys reached New York early in August, 
and Huxley himself went at once to New Haven, 
where, under date of August 9, he wrote Fiske as 

My dear Fiske: 

I have just been reading "your last letter, which 
reached me just as I was in the midst of prepara- 
tions for leaving England, and I do perceive that 
having failed to obey orders I shall come in for ex- 
communications sundry and strong. But I thought 
it was of no use to write to you, until I could say 
something definite about my movements, and there 
has been no possibility of saying that something till 
this afternoon. 

I have left my wife with the Appletons at New 
York. I believe they are all going gallivanting to 
Saratoga, while I am here as Marsh's guest, deep in 
birds with teeth, and reptiles without 'em, to say 
nothing of other palseontological winders which to 
a confirmed Evolutionist are worth all the journey 
across the Atlantic. 

One way or another I shall not have done here 
till this day week. Then we go to Agassiz's at New- 
port for two or three days, and for a day take a 
look at Boston. Anyhow, I do not see why we 
should not make our way to Petersham on the 2Oth, 
if that will suit you. The American Association 
meets at Buffalo on the 23d, and as I have promised 
to go there, I must, in decency, show myself by the 
24th or thereabouts. 

Petersham is, I am sorry to say, ignored on all the 
maps I can get at; but there is such a network of 
railways somewhere about the spot that I assume 


Visit of the Huxleys 

there is no difficulty in getting thence to Buffalo. 
But you are by no means to come to Boston to 
escort us. We shall find our way to you beautifully. 
Let me have a reply here, written in a placable 
spirit, just to say if we may come on the 2Oth. And 
with all good wishes to Mrs. Fiske and yourself 
believe me, 

Ever yours very sincerely, 


The examination of Professor Marsh's palseonto- 
logical collection was a notable event in Huxley's 
life, and one of the direct outcomes of it was a com- 
plete change of view in regard to the genealogy of 
the horse, and the admission that here for the first 
time was gathered the indubitable evidence which 
demonstrated the direct line of descent of an exist- 
ing animal. Huxley's letters show how deeply he 
was impressed by his study of this collection ; indeed, 
so deeply was he impressed that he recast a great 
part of a lecture on Evolution which he had pre- 
pared fof delivery in New York. 

Professor and Mrs. Huxley found their way to 
Petersham August 21, 1876, and they had a cordial 
welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Fiske, James Brooks, 
Miss Martha Brooks, and the Fiske children. Fiske's 
joy was unconfined. It was a great pleasure to him 
to take his guests, both lovers of nature, over some 
of the Petersham places which had come to stand in 
his mind as types of nature's supreme beauties and 
have their approval of his aesthetic judgment. It 


John Fiske 

was a still greater pleasure to resume with his dear 
friends, in his own home in America, and with his 
children, the musical diversions and social ameni- 
ties he had so greatly enjoyed in their charming 
home with their children in London. And then, in 
the midst of these delightful surroundings, occasion 
was found for the exchange of views between Hux- 
ley and Fiske regarding some of the ultimate ques- 
tions of Evolution which had so often engaged 
their thought in Huxley's cosy library. 

Of course, Huxley had much to tell of the work 
of their Evolutionary friends in England since 
Fiske's visit of three years before; how rapidly the 
doctrine of Evolution was spreading among the 
leaders in science; how it was coming to be recog- 
nized as a universal cosmic principle underlying all 
classes of phenomena; and how the doctrine had 
been greatly strengthened by Professor Marsh's 
wonderful palaeontological collection at New Haven. 

Huxley's abounding humor could not be entirely 
suppressed by the consideration of even these great 
themes ; for, as appears in the Petersham guest-book, 
he left a sketch of what he called a true history of 
Adam and Eve as suggested by the palaeontologic 
remains in Professor Marsh's wonderful collection. 
This sketch is reproduced on the opposite page. 

The two evenings of the visit were given to free 
social intercourse between the guests, the Fiske and 
Brooks families, and a few invited friends. Among 
the latter was one of Longfellow's daughters and 



Visit of the Huxleys 

also one of Hawthorne's, together with Professor 
John K. Paine, the eminent musical composer, and 
Christopher Cranch, the poet. There was much 
music and a great amount of jollity on these occa- 
sions. Huxley was in fine spirits and by his exuberant 
nature, his keen observations, and his genial wit, he 
captured all hearts. He said that when Fiske was in 
London he had so much to say about the beauties 
of Petersham that he Huxley was inclined to 
set Fiske down as a romancer. But now that he 
had himself seen Petersham, he must confess that 
its charms had not been fully told him. 

Huxley appeared as the really great man with the 
engaging personality so graphically set forth by 
Fiske in his letters from London three years before. 

This visit of the Huxleys to Petersham was, 
indeed, a memorable one; and Fiske in a letter, a 
few days after to his mother, sums it up in one brief 
sentence: "The Huxleys staid from Monday noon, 
August 2ist, to Wednesday noon, August 23d, and 
we had a glorious time, and everybody great and 
small fell in love with 'em both." 

And this should be said, that this memorable 
visit was greatly enhanced to all who shared in its 
pleasures by the ever-thoughtful consideration of 
James Brooks, who knew so well how to present 
the glories of Petersham at their best, and whose 
estimate of Huxley, both as a scientist and a philo- 
sophic thinker, was from this visit greatly height- 

John Fiske 

The further extension of the American visit of 
the Huxleys kept them almost constantly on the 
move. It embraced a trip to Niagara and to 
Buffalo, where the American Association for the 
Advancement of Science was holding its annual 
meeting, and where they met the leading scientists 
of America; thence to Nashville, Tennessee, where 
they visited Huxley's sister the beloved sister of 
his boyhood, whom he had not seen for many years; 
thence to Baltimore, where Huxley delivered the 
address accompanying the opening of Johns Hop- 
kins University; thence to New York, where he 
delivered three lectures on Evolution, in which he 
presented the fresh light thrown upon the new 
doctrine by Professor Marsh's palaeontological col- 
lection at New Haven. Everywhere he was re- 
ceived with conspicuous honor. In the face of his 
great learning, his honesty of purpose, and his in- 
spiring personality, theological bigotry was silent. 
With his engagements all fulfilled, on September 
23, 1876, he and Mrs. Huxley sailed from New 
York for Liverpool, leaving behind them in the 
minds of their friends nothing but the pleasantest 

Shortly after their return home, Huxley wrote 
Fiske, telling him that, aside from the visit with 
Professor Marsh and with his sister, their visit to 
Petersham was the most delightful of their Ameri- 
can experiences, and that in this opinion Mrs. 
Huxley fully agreed. 


Petersham in Winter 

Petersham had charms for Fiske at all seasons of 
the year; so much so that at times, when mentally 
weary, he would make an excursion up there for a 
day or two, out of season, just for mental relaxa- 
tion. And he has given such a graphic sketch of one 
of his mid-winter excursions and his entertainment 
by his good neighbor, Mr. Mudge, a sketch which 
shows such a keen appreciation of Nature in her 
sterner aspects, and also so redolent of his physical 
enjoyment of plain country life, that it well deserves 
a place here. Under date of January 21, 1878, he 
writes his mother thus : 

"And what do you suppose I was up to last 
Saturday ! Got up after a stiff week's work feeling 
very tired and nervous. For the first time I had a 
cruel sense of what nerves are. While dressing, I 
said to Abby, 'By Jove! I'll go up to Petersham, 
and breathe in new boyhood and new zest.' Off I 
went, and found it 22 below zero, and snow over 
the tops of the fences. Went to good Mr. Mudge's 
and such sausages, and squash pies, and cider! 
Went to the old village church, Sunday morning, 
and everybody was so surprised and so glad to see 
me. In the afternoon it being 18 below zero, with 
a brisk breeze, I muffled up a yard deep in shawls 
and furs, and took a magnificent sleigh-ride with 
Mr. Mudge among the pine woods, right over stone 
walls, across lots, wherever we liked. O what happi- 
ness! Then went down to Mrs. Spooner's (where 
you sat and held the horse last summer, while I went 
in and made a call after our Tom Swamp ride), and 
had such a dear good countrified time. Then home 


John Fiske 

to bed fearfully sleepy at 8 o'clock, in a room where 
my breath froze into icicles on my mustache, with 
a hot soapstone at my feet. Up at 7 in the morning, 
after a sweet sleep, to a delicious breakfast of pork 
steak and apple-sauce. Then over to Athol with 
Mr. Mudge a hot soapstone in the sleigh and lots 
of robes over us; mercury 12 below zero and such 
a lovely ride over that beautiful road. Got back to 
the Library soon after Monday noon had an ex- 
perience I shall never forget!" 

In January, 1878, Mr. and Mrs. Stoughton sailed 
for Europe, Mr. Stoughton to enter upon his duties 
as Minister of the United States to Russia. They 
remained in Russia until May, 1879, when Mr. 
Stoughton was compelled to resign his position 
on account of ill health. He died, as we shall see, 
not long after. While Fiske's letters to his mother 
were continued during her residence at the Imperial 
Court at St. Petersburg, nothing of special import 
is revealed in them beyond the record of his library 
experiences, his limited literary w r ork, and his happy 
domestic life! Mrs. Stough ton's letters do not ap- 
pear to have called out from him any noteworthy 
expressions of opinion regarding Russian or Euro- 
pean affairs. One act of his mother's while in St. 
Petersburg pleased him greatly. Being very skilful 
with her brush, she made for him a fine copy of the 
portrait of John Locke, the eminent English phil- 
osopher, to whom as we have seen Fiske was 
distantly related, which is one of the notable 


Poem by C. P. Cranch 

treasures in The Hermitage, the famous Art Gal- 
lery at St. Petersburg. This copy of the portrait 
has a conspicuous place in the Fiske library at 

And now we come to an incident in the social life 
of Fiske which has left an interesting memorial 
behind it. Among his neighbors in Cambridge was 
Christopher Pearse Cranch: preacher, painter, and 
poet. Cranch was a man of fine culture, and was 
one of the small circle of Transcendentalists who 
made so much stir in the intellectual life of New 
England between 1830 and 1850. His many en- 
gaging qualities brought him into close personal 
relations with the most eminent literary and artistic 
persons of his time: particularly with Emerson, 
Story the sculptor, James Russell Lowell, and 
George William Curtis. 

One day in February, 1879, Cranch called upon 
Fiske at his house, 22 Berkeley Street, Cambridge. 
Fiske was not at home; and, while waiting in the 
library for Mrs. Fiske to come down, Cranch's 
poetic feelings were deeply stirred by the embodi- 
ments of human thought with which he was sur- 
rounded. Two days after, he brought to Fiske the 
thoughts which came to him while in Fiske's li- 
brary, expressed in the following lines: 

In my friend's library I sit alone, 
Hemmed in by books. The dead and living there, 
Shrined in a thousand volumes rich and rare, 
Tower in long rows, with names to me unknown. 
A dim half-curtained light o'er all is thrown, 


John Fiske 

A shadowed Dante looks with stony stare 
Out from his dusky niche. The very air 
Seems hushed before some intellectual throne. 
What ranks of grand philosophers, what choice 
And gay romancers, what historians sage, 
What wits, what poets, on those crowded shelves! 
All dumb forever, till the mind gives voice 
To each dead letter of each senseless page, 
And adds a soul they own not of themselves. 

A miracle that man should learn to fill 

These little vessels with his boundless soul; 

Should through these arbitrary signs control 

The world, and scatter broadcast at his will 

His unseen thought, in endless transcript still 

Fast multiplied o'er lands from pole to pole 

By magic art; and, as the ages roll, 

Still fresh as streamlets from the Muses' hill. 

Yet in these alcoves tranced, the lords of thought 

Stand bound as by enchantment signs or words 

Have none to break the silence. None but they 

Their mute proud lips unlock, who here have brought 

The key. Them as their masters they obey. 

For them they talk and sing like uncaged birds. 

During this period Fiske lost two personal friends 
who were very dear to him Professor John R. 
Dennett, of Harvard, who died in December, 1874; 
and Chauncey Wright, who died in September, 
1875. Disagreeing with these acute critics and 
thinkers as he did on many points, Fiske was at one 
with them in their high literary and philosophical 
ideals. His tribute to the latter, in his volume, 
"Darwinism and Other Essays," is a masterpiece 
of philosophic criticism and character appreciation. 
His intellectual companionship with these two 




* j . ^ 




Literary Work 

brilliant thinkers had a strong stimulating effect 
upon his own mind. 

The record of Fiske's literary productions during 
this period is a very brief one. When considered in 
relation to his powers of intellectual production, it 
yields conclusive evidence that he was sadly out of 
place in the Harvard Library. During this period of 
four and a half years, he produced nine essays and 
four lectures, which, while of a very high order of 
thought, are yet somewhat circumscribed in their 
range; and, with two or three exceptions, they ap- 
pear as an overflow from his previous philosophic 
and historic studies. The principal exception is his 
essay on "The Unseen World." Here he advances 
his philosophic and religious thought to the con- 
sideration of what may lie in the phenomenal 
Cosmos beyond the apprehension of the finite 
mind beyond the reach of science. 

The following is a list of these essays, with their 
times and places of publication : 

"Mythology" and "Positivism"; two articles or 
essays prepared for Johnson's Cyclopaedia. 

"The Unseen World" ; an essay published in the 
"Atlantic Monthly" in February and March, 1876; 
subsequently published in a volume under the same 
title, with other essays. 

"A Librarian's Work" ; an account of the routine 
work in the Harvard Library, an essay published in 
the "Atlantic Monthly" for October, 1876. 

"The Triumph of Darwinism"; an essay pub- 


John Fiske 

lished in the " North American Review " for Jan- 
uary, 1877. 

"The Races of the Danube " ; l an essay published 
in the "Atlantic Monthly" for April, 1877. 

"A Crumb for the Modern Symposium"; an 
essay published in the "North American Review" 
for January, 1878. 

"Chauncey Wright: a Personal Tribute"; pub- 
lished in the " Radical Review" for February, 1878. 

"What is Inspiration?" A contribution to a 
symposium in the "North American Review" for 
September, 1878. 

The last six essays were subsequently published 
in a volume under the title of "Darwinism and 
Other Essays." 

The four lectures referred to were on "The Early 
Aryans: their Myths and their Folk-Lore"; and 
they were prepared for, and were delivered at, the 
Peabody Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, in Feb- 
ruary, 1877. The substance of these lectures was 
subsequently utilized by Fiske in various essays; 
e.g., "Who are the Aryans?" "What we Learn 
from Old Aryan Words," " Koshchei the Deathless," 
etc. His work on " Primitive Aryan Culture," con- 
cerning which he wrote Spencer, a work which 
was near his heart, he never was able to complete. 

Let us note, in passing, that in the invitation for 
his lectures at the Peabody Institute, it was cour- 

1 Fiske writes his mother in January, 1877, that "this essay 
was written because of your desire to get some clear notions on the 

Two Notable Essays 

teously intimated to him that it would be well to 
avoid the subject of Evolution. 

Two of the foregoing essays, "What is Inspira- 
tion?" and "The Unseen World," are deserving of 
special consideration here. The former was a con- 
tribution to a symposium in the " North American 
Review," where, in the definition and exposition of 
the doctrine of Inspiration, Fiske was associated 
with the Reverend F. H. Hedge, a Unitarian; the 
Reverend E. A. Washburn, a Congregationalist ; 
the Reverend Chauncey Giles, a Swedenborgian ; 
the Reverend J. P. Newman, an Episcopalian; 
and the Most Reverend J. Gibbons, Archbishop of 
Baltimore. This symposium may be said to have 
consisted of two broad divisions a theological 
division, wherein the five clerical disputants each 
presented his views from his particular theological 
viewpoint ; and a philosophic division, wherein Fiske 
alone presented views from the viewpoint of philo- 
sophic rationalism. This discussion, in which one 
of the fundamental tenets of Christian theology 
was involved, can be heartily commended to the 
earnest seeker of truth, by reason of its complete 
freedom from sectarian bitterness and intolerance. 
Fiske's contribution has all the characteristics of 
his reverent thought, as well as all the marks of his 
simple, lucid style. As the whole discussion centred 
around the dogma of the special Divine inspira- 
tion of the Bible, the last paragraph in Fiske's con- 
tribution reveals his own thought on this point: 


John Fiske 

"A sad incumbrance [a belief in the special In- 
spiration of the Bible] it certainly is, to any one 
who truly loves and reveres the Bible. To make a 
fetich of the best of books does not, after all, seem to 
be the most reverent way of treating it. Take away 
the discredited hypothesis of infallibility, and the 
errors of statement and crudities of doctrine at once 
become of no consequence and cease to occupy the 
attention. It no longer seems worth while to write 
puerile essays to show that the Elohist was versed 
in all the conclusions of modern geology, or that 
the books of Kings and Chronicles tell the same 
story. The spiritual import of this wonderful col- 
lection of writings becomes its most prominent 
aspect; and, freed from the exigencies of a crude 
philosophy and an inane criticism, the Bible be- 
comes once more the book of mankind." 

I have referred to the essay, "The Unseen 
World," as showing a clear development of Fiske's 
thought beyond the limits of mere experiential 
knowledge beyond the realm of science. This 
essay is, indeed, a remarkable one, and it has never 
received the attention it deserves. I know of no 
other article or essay in which the ultimate ques- 
tions of science and religion, and their philosophic 
interrelatedness, are more distinctly set forth than 
in this. It marks the culminating period in the 
development of Fiske's philosophic thought; and 
hence, hereafter, we are to see him placing an ever- 
increasing emphasis upon the spiritual aspects of 
human life. 


The Unseen World 

This essay was called forth by the publication 
of "The Unseen Universe," a work which was the 
joint production of two eminent physicists, Pro- 
fessors Balfour Stewart and P. G. Tait a work 
which, as we have seen, Huxley characterized as 
" gross materialism"; and in which an attempt was 
made to establish, in the light of the nebular hy- 
pothesis and the Helmholtz and Thomson vortex- 
atom theory of matter, the doctrine or theory of 
man's spiritual immortality as an outcome from 
pure physical materialism. Fiske reviewed in a 
masterly way the whole argument; and, while ad- 
mitting that man's physical existence was wholly 
conditioned by his physical environment, he con- 
tended that his psychical experience or life was not 
so conditioned. While emphatically denying the 
proposition that a spiritual existence could in any 
way be a product of physical phenomena, he ad- 
vanced the idea that man's immortal spiritual 
existence might be an unknown evolution of his 
cosmic psychical experience, freed from its physical 

He then propounded this question, Can there not 
be* within the cosmos a spiritual world or a spirit- 
ual form of existence transcending the physical 
phenomena of the cosmos as we know the latter? 
He answered this question with the distinct affirma- 
tions of science, that while man's knowledge of 
cosmic phenomena gives no evidence of the exist- 
ence of psychical or spiritual existence independent 


John Fiske 

of physical phenomena, man's knowledge of cosmic 
phenomena is so very limited that it can be no 
measure of the possibilities within the cosmos, much 
less of the resources of the Infinite Unknowable 
Power which created and sustains it. 

Such being the affirmations of science, Fiske then 
propounded this further question, Does the failure 
to establish within the limits of our cosmic experi- 
ence a form of spiritual life, transcending our physi- 
cal cosmic existence, raise the slightest presumption 
against the validity of such a form of spiritual exist- 
ence? His answer was most emphatic that it does 
not ; that in a case of such transcendent importance 
"the entire absence of testimony does not raise a 
negative presumption except in cases where testi- 
mony is accessible" in short, that the burden of 
proof lies on the negative side. With these affirma- 
tions he then enforces his argument for man's spirit- 
ual immortality with great skill, by presenting the 
cosmic universe as a vast theatre wherein is dis- 
played a mighty teleological purpose, and one which 
has a profound meaning for the ever-expanding 
mind of man. He closes this most significant essay 
with the following inspiring expression of his own 
reverent feeling and his sublime faith : - 

"There could be no better illustration of how we 
are hemmed in (in this cosmic existence) than the 
very inadequacy of the words with which we try to 
discuss this subject. Such words have all gained 
their meanings from human experience, and hence 

1 02 

The Unseen World 

of necessity carry anthropomorphic, implications. 
But we cannot help this. We must think with the 
symbols with which experience has furnished us; 
and when we so think, there does seem to be little 
that is even intellectually satisfying in the awful 
picture which science shows us, of giant worlds con- 
centrating out of nebulous vapour, developing with 
prodigious waste of energy into theatres of all that is 
grand and sacred in spiritual endeavour, clashing 
and exploding again into dead vapour-balls, only 
to renew the same toilful process without end a 
senseless bubble-play of Titan forces, with life, love, 
and aspiration brought forth only to be extinguished. 
The human mind , however ' scientific ' its training, 
must often recoil from the conclusion that this is all ; 
and there are moments when one passionately feels 
that this cannot be all. On warm June mornings, in 
green country lanes, with sweet pine odours wafted 
in the breeze which sighs through the branches, and 
cloud-shadows flitting over far-off blue mountains, 
while little birds sing their love-songs and golden- 
haired children weave garlands of wild roses ; 1 or 
when in the solemn twilight we listen to wondrous 
harmonies of Beethoven and Chopin that stir the 
heart like voices from an unseen world; at such 

1 In a letter from Fiske to his mother of June 19, 1876, he makes 
reference to this wonderfully beautiful passage in a way which iden- 
tifies it with a personal experience with two of his children in Peters- 
ham on an anniversary of his mother's birthday; and this reference 
is accompanied by an expression of filial affection akin to the occa- 
sion. Rewrites: 

"To-morrow will be your birthday, and the anniversary of the 
heavenly Sunday morning with Harold and Ethel in Sunset Lane, 
Petersham, to which I allude on page 56 of The Unseen World, In 
the language of little Ethel may the 'woad ' never be ' wutty ' for you 
from this time." 


John Fiske 

times one feels that the profoundest answer which 
science can give to our questioning is but a super- 
ficial answer after all. At these moments, when 
the world seems fullest of beauty, one feels most 
strongly that it is but the harbinger of something 
else that the ceaseless play of phenomena is no 
mere sport of Titans, but an orderly scene, with its 
reason for existing in 

"'One far-off divine event 

To which the whole creation moves.'" 

With this declaration of the foundations of his 
religious faith, we now pass to an entirely new 
chapter in the life of Fiske. Henceforth we are to 
see him engaged in presenting and interpreting the 
facts of American history. While engaged in this 
great work, we shall see him, as special occasions 
arise, turning from his particular work in hand to 
set forth, in essays remarkable for their clearness, 
beauty, and force, his more mature conceptions of 
nature, man, and God, as the philosophy of Evolu- 
tion ripened in his mind. 




THE entrance of Fiske upon his career as an Ameri- 
can historian was marked by a brilliant literary and 
oratorical success. His course of six lectures on 
" America's Place in History" was opened at the 
Old South Church in Boston on the loth of March, 
1879, where he was met by as fine an audience as 
was ever assembled in Boston, an audience which 
entirely filled the church, and which greeted him 
with an unmistakable expression of appreciative 
good- will. The title of the lecture was "The Era of 
Maritime Discovery," and it covered sketches of 
the voyages of the Northmen; of the attempts to 
reach India by sea; of Henry the Navigator; and of 
the voyages of Columbus, Da Gama, Vespucci, 
Magellan, and Cook. The theme, the place, and the 
audience were inspiring. 


John Fiske 

Fiske was himself in fine form. He was in perfect 
health, and at the full maturity of his powers. In 
his personal appearance and bearing he was the 
personification of a rare combination of physical 
and intellectual power, with an entire absence of 
egoistic self-consciousness. Feeling a deep interest 
in the occasion I took a seat where I could observe 
critically both the speaker and the audience. After 
rising, Fiske paused a moment to survey his audi- 
ence; and when he had attention at full focus he 
said, in clear tones, and in a simple, conversational 
way: "The voyage of Columbus was in many re- 
spects the most important event in human history 
since the birth of Christ." He then paused a bit. 
The momentary effect upon the audience the 
attempt to grasp its significance - - was clearly 
perceptible. Observe the immense connotative sug- 
gestiveness of this simple sentence. Brief, senten- 
tious as it was, it threw a momentary searchlight 
over the whole period of Christian history, and was 
a clear intimation that a master mind had come 
to give a philosophic interpretation to the events 
which had flowed from the memorable voyage of 
Columbus from the port of Palos on the 3d of 
August, 1492. 

This bold challenge, as it were, to much historic 
opinion at once drew every eye intently to the 
speaker. Then, as the story of the Northmen, with 
their visits to Greenland and Massachusetts, and 
their failure to make any impression upon the 

1 06 

Lectures on American History 

European mind of their time by their adventures, 
was briefly sketched, followed by a luminous sur- 
vey of European civilization from the tenth to the 
fifteenth centuries, with the contests with the Sara- 
cens, the crusades, and the spirit of romantic adven- 
ture as shown in attempts to reach India by sea 
all culminating in the voyages of Columbus and his 
followers, it was clearly apparent, from the eager, 
interested faces of the audience, that Fiske's hear- 
ers were yielding themselves without reserve to the 
wonderful story, the story of a great historic move- 
ment embellished with such historic and philosophi- 
cal side-lights as gave to the movement itself a clear 
meaning and purpose in the development of hu- 
manity. In fact, it was clearly perceived in this first 
lecture that American history was to be presented, 
not as an unrelated historic incident, but rather as a 
legitimate development out of antecedent history, 
with immense significance to the future develop- 
ment of man's social and political institutions. 

Fiske's bearing throughout the lecture was a 
model of effective simplicity. There was not the 
slightest indication of conscious oratorical effort. 
He simply read from his manuscript with distinct 
enunciation and with perfect ease, and with such 
modulations of voice as the theme or flow of 
thought required. Thus anything like a monoto- 
nous tone was avoided. He made no gestures of 
any kind whatever; in short, his delivery was that 
of simple, unaffected reading, so free from all self- 


John Fiske 

consciousness that his hearers took in the full sig- 
nificance of his thought without the slightest con- 
sideration of his manner of expressing it the 
highest effect of eloquence. 

When the lecture was over, he received such ex- 
pressions of approval from his audience as to re- 
move all doubts as to his ability to interest the 
American people in the subect of their own history. 
Writing the next day to his mother with reference 
to the lecture he says : 

"The audience was the very cream of Boston, 
the enthusiasm prodigious, the success complete. 
Everybody says I went miles ahead of anything I 
had ever done before. The people were enthusiastic 
to a great degree/' 

The second lecture was given March 17, 1879; 
and, as Fiske gave his mother the same day a 
graphic account of the circumstances attending its 
delivery, together with a frank statement of his 
feelings during its delivery, the following extract 
from his letter is of psychologic as well as of general 
interest : 

"My second lecture to-day was on the 'Spanish 
and French Explorers and Colonists in America': 
the Huguenot colony in Florida, and its horrible 
destruction by the Spaniards in 1565; Samuel de 
Champlain and the discovery of the great lakes 
and the founding of Canada ; La Salle and his heroic 
adventures and the founding of Louisiana and the 
discovery of the Great West a splendid and glow- 
ing theme. 


Marked Success 

"This was the worst of nasty March days 
pelting snow, slush up to yoirt* knees, dark as 
Egypt a day when ordinarily nothing would 
have tempted me to leave the house. But the Old 
South Church was packed full of the very best of 
Boston, in spite of the weather. I felt every pulse 
quickened by this fact, and they say I was so elo- 
quent as to seem almost like a new man. The 
applause was great. I felt the sense of having the 
people drinking in every word and tone with 
hushed breath and keen relish. Half unconsciously 
I deepened and intensified my voice and began to 
lose myself in the theme, with which I was greatly 
fascinated myself. I had a sort of sense that I was 
fascinating the people and it was delicious beyond 
expression. They who first engaged me to give this 
course of lectures are emphatic in their delight. One 
old white-haired gentleman came up and warmly 
grasped my hand, and said he must thank me for 
'an enchanted hour which he should never forget.' 

"This thing takes the people, you see: they un- 
derstand and feel it all, as they can't when I lecture 
on abstract things. The fame of it is going about 
briskly ; and I believe I shall get full houses all over 
the country. The Centennial has started it r and 
I have started in at the right time." 

The subsequent lectures were: "The struggle 
between France and England"; "The Thirteen 
English^Colonies "; " Causes of the American Rev- 
olution"; "The Manifest Destiny of the English 

Public interest in these lectures deepened to the 
very end. The last one particularly, in the summing- 


John Fiske 

up of the whole argument and in the presentation of 
the Anglo-American ideas of local self-government 
combined with federation, as destined to be domi- 
nant factors in the future development of the politi- 
cal organizations of the world, was not only a master- 
piece of historic generalization ; it was also a logical 
application of the doctrine of Evolution to the de- 
veloping interests of humanity. Never before had 
America's place in universal history been pre- 
sented from such a comprehensive viewpoint, or 
with such a wealth of historic knowledge combined 
with philosophic insight. In very truth, these lec- 
tures not only gave a new valuation to American 
history ; they were also a delightful prelude to what 
was yet to come through Fiske's detailed presenta- 
tion of the leading features of this great historic 
movement of the nations to the western world. 

The success of the lectures in Boston was so com- 
plete that applications for their delivery in other 
places were numerous ; but, as the lecture season in 
America was fairly over, while the season for lectur- 
ing in London was just on, Fiske was strongly ad- 
vised to repeat the lectures at once in London if 
suitable arrangements for their delivery there could 
be made. An urgent adviser of the London project 
was Mrs. Mary Hemenway, whose foresight and 
liberal public spirit had saved the Old South Church 
from commercial vandalism and had made it a not- 
able centre for instruction in American history and 
in good citizenship. Mrs. Hemenway had taken an 


To Repeat Lectures in London 

active part in procuring the lectures, and she was 
so greatly pleased with the outcome that she 
wanted the course delivered throughout the coun- 
try. To this end, feeling confident that the lectures 
would be warmly received in England, she urged 
their delivery there as a substantial aid in stimulat- 
ing a widespread demand for their delivery in the 
United States; and she was ready to contribute lib- 
erally to the venture. 

Accordingly, Fiske wrote to his friends Huxley, 
Moncure Conway, and James Sime, giving them a 
synopsis of the course and an account of its great 
success in Boston, and telling them that if a suitable 
place for the delivery of the course could be had 
in London, with the probability of a good audience 
during the coming month of June, he would come 
over and give the lectures there. He asked them 
to take counsel together and, if they were in agree- 
ment that the scheme was practicable and wise, 
simply to cable him "Come." 

There was no delay. These friends at once took 
counsel, and they were agreed that a good audi- 
ence could be secured ; whereupon Huxley said that 
one of the theatres or lecture halls of University 
College could be had for the lectures. This settled 
the matter, and Fiske therefore had not long to 
wait beyond the arrival of his letters in London be- 
fore he received a cablegram, "Come," signed by 
his three friends. 

Fiske hastily made preparations for a two 


John Fiske 

months' absence, and on the 24th of May, 1879, 
he set sail for Liverpool in the Cunard steamer 

Fiske was eleven days at sea the Samaria was 
then regarded as a good boat and during this time 
he wrote a letter of eight letter-sheet pages to Mrs. 
Fiske, which is such a revealer of his innermost hu- 
man nature, his abounding enjoyment of physical 
existence, his keen appreciation of the sublime beau- 
ties of the sea, his comradely in adapting him- 
self agreeably to all sorts and conditions of people, 
and above all his intense affection for his wife and 
his children, that I wish there was space for the 
whole letter. But in view of what is directly before 
us in the way of his epistolary productions, space 
can be given to but a few extracts. 

The haste with which he had prepared himself 
for his trip had taxed his strength to the utmost, 
so that when he found himself aboard ship he gave 
up the first three or four days principally to sleep- 
ing. From this period he came forth wholly re- 
freshed, and we have the following graphic account 
of his sensible experiences : 

"Tell you what, when Hezzy goes in for sleep he 
can do it up brown! Dr. Means thinks I must have 
a mighty clear conscience ! ! ! Consequence is I feel 
exactly like a youthful hart or roe a-scamperin' over 
the hills where spices grow, only I hope those hills 
don't smell like this Araby-blest of a ship. If it 
was n't for the bilge-water and the machine-oil and 


Keen Enjoyment of the Sea 

the cooking of the fish, perhaps a ship's odors 
would n't be so wondrously composite. The ' saloon ' 
or mess-room, bress de Lor', is, however, tolerably 
sweet, having large windows each side so we can eat 
in comfort." 

And here is a relishing description of a dish for a 
Sunday dinner: 

" These old Englishmen know how to set a liberal 
table. The Cap'n is a mighty jolly old bird face 
as red as a biled lobster and as fat as Mr. Weller 
senior. To-day he offered us an old English dish, 
not aristocratic now-a-days, but suthin' like Boston 
pork-and-beans a good Sunday dish. To- wit: 
' Corned leg of pork and pease pudding' ! It did n't 
sound particularly inviting, but when it came on 
table the sight of it would have whetted the appe- 
tite of even the sourest dyspeptic. It looked like a 
superb Deerfoot ham of colossal proportions, in the 
midst of a puree of something awfully savory and 
good. In short, it was a giant ham just pickled, or 
corned a little, without any smoking; covered with 
crumbs and delightfully singed ; and the bed it re- 
posed in was made of dried peas cooked in such 
manner as much to resemble a mess of baked beans, 
only far more delicate. The whole thing was crisped 
over most beautifully; and, garnished with a few 
herbs it looked like a very poem of a Sunday dish 
as indeed it was. You can't imagine how delicious 
it was; or, rather, I hope you can imagine it after 
the above pellucid description." 

And then he could be companionable in various 
ways : 

John Fiske 

"The first day (Saturday) at dinner, Hezzy took 
occasion to make a neat little speech a propos of the 
Queen's birthday and to propose her health 
which seemed to please the officers considerably 
(the captain, doctor, and three other officers were 
at the table) and the doctor ordered up an excellent 
bottle of port and passed it around. At, an early 
stage in the voyage Hezekiah, being known as the 
author of 'Myths and Mythmakers,' was called on 
for a fairy-tale and he had to give forth the ' In- 
vincible Pounder/ the * Useless Waggoner/ the ' Sol- 
dier and the Warlock/ and Lord knows how much 
other stuff, including ' Old Misery and her Pear- 
tree/ ' 

Of his keen enjoyment of the sea he writes: 

11 Yesterday no overcoat at all was needed. To- 
day it has been somewhat colder: 58 this after- 
noon with gorgeous sunshine and sea of azure 
sprinkled with diamonds. I don't see how people 
can call the sea monotonous, I could sit and watch 
its changing moods forever and be happy, and 
it is always changing, always full of life and joy. 
Even when the black black waves toss up their 
snowy crests with savage laugh, I feel something 
within me that responds to the demon in them, and 
all my veins tingle as the blood flows faster. O, I 
love the sea!" 

But supreme over all his shipboard experiences 
in fact, permeating them all as a delightful fla- 
vor are his remembrances of his wife and his 
children. And he gives expression to his feelings 
thus : 


Welcomed to England Again 

"Six years ago to-day Sunday, June i, 1873 
I went to Spy Pond with Tick (Maud) and Barl 
(Harold) and Lacry (Clarence); and we went out 
in a boat, but it was too windy to row comfortably 
and so we adjourned to the grove to swing. Ask 
them all if they " Mer ember it." Bless their dear lit- 
tle hearts! Papa is awfully homesick to see them 
already. Don't you be slow in sending me the 
"pickerwows," -of yourself and of each of the 
little ones; that is to say three of every one of 
you; and send them awful quick just as soon as 
possible. Hezzy can't stand it without 'em." 

And on Tuesday, June 3, 1879, he closes his letter 
thus: - 

"The lovely coast of ould Ireland is before us in 
all its soft beauty, with cloud-shadows on its purple 
hills and velvet green fields all in the glory of a 
perfect summer day. O, how beautiful! 


Fiske reached Liverpool at ten o'clock the even- 
ing of June 4, 1879, an d ne went directly to the 
Adelphi Hotel, where he found letters from Huxley 
and Sime, in which they gave him a cordial welcome 
to England again, and also advised him of the ar- 
rangements that had been made for the delivery of 
his lectures in London. He was perfectly satisfied 
with the arrangements, and his state of mind and 
his movements are given in a letter he wrote Mrs. 
Fiske the next morning: 

" Am perfectly MAD with joy at setting foot again 
on the shores of old England: it seems like Para- 

John Fiske 

dise. Was just sitting down to a delicious supper 
of broiled kidneys, crisp bacon, hot toast and bitter 
beer about n P.M. last evening, when in walked 
Henry Holt." 

The unexpected meeting between the two friends 
was a most cordial one, and although Fiske had 
already planned his trip up to London via Chester 
and Oxford, he gladly put his own plan aside to 
join Holt and his friend, William Henry Fuller, 
on a side-excursion they had planned to Coven- 
try, Kenilworth, Warwick, and Stratford-on-Avon. 
From Fiske's account of this excursion, written 
at Oxford, June 6, 1879, the following extracts are 
taken : 

"After dinner at 8 P.M. (Coventry, June 5th, 
1879) we started on the most ravishingly beautiful 
walk on the globe we started afoot for Kenil- 
worth, sending our bags by a deliciously green 
rustic with his old wheelbarrow it is a five-mile 
road, and sublimity would be no name for it. The 
road is as smooth as a floor, under giant elms 
and sycamores overarching the whole way, with 
mediaeval houses loaded with ivy every now and 
then. But that does n't tell the road to you, and 
you'll have to wait till you and I do it together. In 
this ravishingly soft air I believe even you could 
walk five miles. It was a scene worthy of Eden. At 
10 twilight, you know we turned in among 
the quaint mediaeval streets of Kenilworth, and 
after some groping found our deliciously green 
rustic at the King's Arms with all our luggage safe 
and sound. 


Kenilworth and Stratford 

"Got up this morning at 8 and found it raining, 
which disconcerted my two boys, who were inclined 
to quit all and go to London. However, I got 'em 
to go out and see Kenilworth Castle; 1 and then I 
tugged 'em on to Stratford and we did the whole 
thing and dined at the Red Horse. I was glad to see 
the dear old town again, and at the church I found 
the organist a warm friend of my old fellow- 
traveller in Italy John Adkins and I gave him 
a syllabus of my lectures with my card and com- 
pliments to Mr. Adkins. The organist was very 
pleasant, and said Mr. Adkins had a fine estate in 
the neighborhood and would show me real old 
English hospitality if I would look in. Perhaps I 
may, on my way to visit Derbyshire which I'm 
bound to see." 

Fiske's engagements necessitated his being in 
London the next day, Saturday, June 7. Accord- 
ingly, after dining with his friends Holt and Fuller 
at the Red Horse Inn, Stratford, he was obliged to 
leave them to jog their leisurely way up to London, 
while he pushed on to Oxford for the night in order 
to catch an early morning train. 

From this time on, Fiske has given in his letters 
to Mrs. Fiske such a detailed account of his experi- 
ences during this memorable visit to London, that 
anything interrupting their genial flow would be 
of the nature of impertinent supererogation. He 

1 As a great lover of Scott, the ruins of Kenilworth Castle had a 
deep interest for Fiske. He got several photographs of the ruins, and 
the absence of any expression of sentimental feeling in his letter 
is accounted for by his haste. 


John Fiske 

is left, therefore, to tell his story in his own way, 
with a note here and there in the way of explana- 

As these letters, in connection with the letters 
giving an account of his previous visit, will doubt- 
less receive much attention, not only as revelations 
of the many-sidedness of Fiske's intellectual make- 
up, but also as valuable contributions to the bi- 
ographical literature of the time through the 
glimpses they give of a number of eminent per- 
sonages, one point should be borne in mind in the 
reading of them they were written without 
thought of publication, and that fact gives them 
their charm. We have frequently had occasion 
to observe how completely his whole intellectual 
life was permeated with his domestic affections. 
In these letters this trait in his character comes 
out in a little more emphatic way than we have 
had occasion to observe it before: particularly in 
his descriptions of his own performances and their 
effect upon his audience. In the very graphic de- 
scriptions he gives of his own feelings and of the 
honors bestowed upon him, it should be considered 
that in his own mind these honors and tributes were 
not wholly his, were things to be shared with his 
family, particularly with his wife and mother, 
and hence we have throughout the letters that tone 
of generous self-revealing frankness which is so de- 
lightful, and which is the farthest possible remove 
from selfish egoism. 


Second Visit to London 

On reaching London, Fiske sent postal cards every 
few days, in which he announced his arrival and 
gave his general movements. June 23d he took up, 
in a sort of diaristic form, the story of his visit from 
the time of his leaving Oxford. 

LONDON, June 23, 1879. 

I was so tired when I got to Oxford that I slept 
over the first train, and did n't start till 12.25, but 
we reached London (63 miles) at 1.50. At West- 
bourne Park there is a junction with the "under- 
ground," so I changed cars and whizzed through 
the bowels of the earth to Marlborough Road, left 
my bag at the station and walked with strange emo- 
tions through the well known streets leading to 
Marlborough Place. As I approached the gate a 
hansom stopped at it, and out got Mrs. Huxley and 
Madge! They looked with surprise at the sudden 
apparition, and then there was a very warm greet- 
ing: told 'em I couldn't wait and so had come 
straight from the cars, which seemed to gratify 'em. 
Went in and had a delightful lunch with them and 
Jessie's husband, but was too happy to eat. I could 
only sit and look at them, and did n't care to say 
much either. They were both amused and pleased 
at my beatific state of mind, and Madge gave me a 
great shake of the hand/and said she could n't tell 
how glad she was to see me; and added "O, I am 
going to be married, you know!" She showed me 
a bushel of drawings, etchings, water-colors &c. - 
you know she draws and paints beautifully and 
we had a lovely two hours. The others were not at 


John Fiske 

Took a cab, got my bag, and went to Bowles's. 
Came on to rain pitchforks, and I must get lodgings 
before night so as to make a good toilet for Sunday. 
Cudgelled my brains a spell, but could n't seem to 
make any part of London seem like home so much 
as Bloomsbury: happy thought, get my old 
rooms at 67 Great Russell Street. Hezzy is a real 
cat, you know, when it comes to the garret-ques- 
tion. Alas! vicissitudes do occur even in conserva- 
tive London. My pretty landlady and her silly 
" Alfred" had vanished, clean gone, busted, bank- 
rupted, and moved "down into the country some- 
where." In their place was a horrid old beldame 
who said I could have the rooms by July 1st, but 
not before. I looked across at the majestic British 
Museum, heaved a sigh and came around the corner 
to i Bedford Place, where I had roomed in May, 
1874. All full, but could warmly recommend No. 9. 
Ancient maiden lady, very kindly, rather proud, 
and fond of literary people; knows Ralston, and 
several opera singers! Her papa, an old doctor, 
deaf as an adder; tries now and then to make a little 
conversation, but gives it up; pats me on the back 
and nods approvingly, to show that he thinks I 'm 
fair-to-middlin'. Dogmatic semi-gentlemanly gent, 
with long auburn beard, and terremenjuously fat 
wife covered with furbelows, who laughs all the 
time, misplaces her h's, knows Ruskin, and says 
stupid things, invariably getting condign punish- 
ment in the shape of a sarcastic comment from the 
dogmatic semi-gentlemanly gent. Homely and very 
gentle old maid, dark complexioned and wears aw- 
fully unbecoming blue ribbons, extremely refined in 
manners, plays Mozart's and Beethoven's sonatas 

1 20 

Second Visit to London 

all day long and plays 'em very well indeed, on a 
diabolical old piano. 

Such, my dear, are the inhabitants of this abode of 
faded gentility. Terms : For one front room up three 
flights with boots, candles, attendance, and break- 
fasts twenty nine shillings a week = $6.96 or say 
one dollar a day ! All right : I liked the room and the 
terms and the inmates, as far as described, and 
concluded the bargain and by seven P.M. was in- 
stalled, trunk, bag, and all. Felt very faint and 
tired ; walked to the Horse-Shoe, and got a steak and 
some lentils. This tavern now professes to concoct 
" American drinks" and I enclose the printed list, 
which I think will amuse you: it shows how J. Bull 
exaggerates an American-ism when he once gets 
hold of it. 1 Feeling now revived I cabbed it five 
miles to Sime's, and did n't I get a good hearty 
Scotch reception! They could n't shake my hands 
enough. Sime's brother was there with his wife, so 
there were a jolly party of us. At 10 o'clock we had 
supper veal-and-ham pie, " garden sass" of some 
kind, cheese and biscuits, Scotch ale and old sherry; 
and pipes afterwards. Staid till 12.30 and was al- 
most too happy to live. 

Next day (Sunday) went to Conway's at Ham- 
mersmith a pretty villa surrounded by a beau- 
tiful garden to two o'clock dinner. A young 
painter was there named Bloomer a Calif ornian. 
I like his work. Also Mr. and Mrs. Ernestine L. 
Rose, and Miss Sara Hennell. Miss Hennell is an 
old lady about seventy, of most angelic beauty and 
loveliness: she has the face of a saint: her hair is 
snow-white and soft as silk: she is a perfect " vision 

1 I regret that this list has disappeared. 

John Fiske 

of loveliness "; her features are purely Greek and 
exquisite in every outline; eyes deep violet blue 
with long lashes, O, isn't she a beauty! Mrs. 
Rose is a handsome old lady too. Miss Hennell 
knew my books well and professed herself delighted 
to see me. 1 At six I took the underground to 
Huxley's and found the good old fellow himself and 
all the babies. Babies! Good Lord! Nettie and 
Rachel are as tall as Seringapatam, and Leonard 
is as tall as I am! The celebrated painter Alma- 
Tadema and his wife were there. We had a glorious 
time, and a good "tall tea"; but Hezzy was too 
happy to eat. Hezzy played piano to the crowd. 
At ten Huxley took me into his study, and we had 
a cozy smoke and talk till 12, when I hansomed 
home about three miles and a half. 

Monday: June 9: Huxley gave me a letter to the 
principal draughtsman of the Geological Survey, 
requesting him to get my map for my lectures 
mounted with all possible speed; and so Monday 
morning I visited the Royal Concern in Jermyn 
St. and they took the matter in hand (and had it 
ready in time). Lunched on a small steak and 
cucumber-salad at the Vienna Beer Hall. Called at 
Trubner's shop, but he had gone to Worthing. 
Took the underground at Blackfriars, and flew to 
Bayswater and picked up Sime and we cabbed to 
Conway's where we found a lot of pretty girls and 
Baron Ernst de Bunsen, son of Bunsen's Egypt, you 
know. An immensely learned and amiable old fel- 
low, like his papa. He found out that I knew some- 

1 Miss Hennell was the author of a work significant of the time, 
entitled Present Religion. Fiske made a notable extract from this 
work in summing up his argument in his Outlines of Cosmic Philoso- 
phy (vol. II, p. 503). 


Social Courtesies 

thing about the Assyrian language and held me so 
that I had n't time to talk to any of the pretty girls, 
which Sime had 'em all to himself, which I envied 
him and mused upon the unequal way in which 
Providence distributes its good things. 

Entr'act. [Two o'clock to-day, June 23: out for 
a little walk: went behind Great Russell St. and 
looked at old Bloomsbury clock, which I used to 
hear in bed years ago and wonder if I ever should 
get back to my dear ones. Recollected that the ale 
at the Pied Bull used to seem superior to anything 
else in London; wondered if it would seem as 
delicious now, and stepped in. It was just as good; 
but there was nothing fit to eat but a pork-pie, so I 
strolled on past where the Cock-a-doodle-doo used 
to wake me mornings here in the very heart of 
London. Dear old roosters, they're all dead and 
gone! been "served" with sausage and bread- 
sauce, no doubt. Kept on to the Horse-Shoe and 
ate a small steak smothered with lentils and now 
return refreshed to my egotisti-graphical essay.] 

To continue, Monday, June 9. Sime and I staid 
to dinner at Conway's and at 9 o'clock went to 
Macmillan's in Covent Garden. He used to live 
over his shop when he was young, and now has 
large parlours there, where he gives receptions in 
the " Season." It is more convenient than to have 
people go out to his "Castle" at Upper Tooting. 
It was truly a stupendous affair. I went quite un- 
invited, knowing that I would be welcome. There 
were at least 400 people there I should think. What 
did the bonny old boy do but throw his arms about 
my neck and hug me like a grizzly bear (!!!) and 
then step off a bit and hold me at arms-length, and 


John Fiske 

scan me from head to foot, and then exclaim with a 
broad grin, "And was't na a naughta bay, 't wad 
coom awver all the way to England, and wadna 
wrait me a lun ta tell me that a was coomin?" 

I began to apologize on account of the sudden- 
ness, etc. ; but the old fellow hit me an awful thump 
between my shoulder-blades and said, "De'il take 
it, mon: I shall have ta forgie ye, for ye 're sach a 
gude bay." Then he introduced me to a lot of ce- 
lebrities; Dr. Crich ton-Browne, Dr. Lauder-Brun- 
ton, Maudesley, Charlton-Bastian, Edmund About, 
and a lot of others. They had all read " Cosmic 
Philosophy" and all flocked around me and said 
the prettiest things you could ever imagine ! I said 
aside to Sime that I was surprised to find all these 
people knowing me so well. "My dear boy," said 
Sime, "your ' Cosmic Philosophy' at once gave you 
a place in England among the greatest thinkers 
and writers of the age, and you must expect to 
be treated accordingly while you are here." Dr. 
Lauder-Brunton said he felt that he owed more to 
me than to any other man living, and said a lot of 
other pretty things, and enlarged upon my "beau- 
tiful style," etc. "Yes," said Dr. Fothergill, "he 
is as great a poet as philosopher," - and forth- 
with he recited a whole page from memory verbatim 
from "Cosmic Philosophy" to prove his point 
which showed that at any rate, he must have been 
sincere. By Jove, how they did pile it on ! 

About this time Macmillan came up and said: 
"Fiske, here's Glaadstane a-askin' ta be antradooced 
ta ye," and so I turned around and had a very 
pleasant chat with Gladstone, chiefly about Rus- 
sia. I told him I was Mrs. Stoughton's son, and he 


Social Courtesies 

recollected my mother very well ancftold me how 
charming she was, and was surprised that she had 
such an elephant of a boy though he did n't use 
just that expression. Well, we had a high old P.M. 

Tuesday, loth June, 1879. Loafed about Covent 
Garden and lunched at Evans's celebrated by 
Thackeray on a chop and ale. Walked through 
Mayfair till tired and took cab to Queen's Gar- 
dens, Bayswater, but Spencer was out of town. 
Had been wondering every day where "Fiske" 
was and why he did n't turn up! Had tried to keep 
a room in the house for me, but I did n't come and 
somebody else did and finally Miss Sheckel let it. 
Sat down and had a pleasant chat with the Misses 
Sheckel, told 'em I would come Saturday to lunch 
at I, and strolled off through Kensington Gardens. 
The day was perfect, sunny and clear, with a 
cool, fresh breeze. Giant elms and beeches, velvet 
grass, herds of sheep, nurses with baby-carriages, 
the beautiful Serpentine River gleaming between 
the trees, hawthorns pink and white, in full blos- 
som, yellow laburnums, purple wisteria, moun- 
tains of rhododendrons as soft and exquisite a 
scene of beauty as ever fell upon human eye. O 
how I wished I had you, and Maudie, and Barl, 
and Lacry, and Waffle, and Offel and 'ittle 'erbert 

Dined at Vienna Beer Hall and cabbed to Alfred 
Place; wound up the stone stairs and through the 
dusky passage, opened the door, and there in his 
dingy den, buried up among tons of books and 
papers was my good old Ralston! Another happy 
meeting and furious handshaking : pipes were lighted 
and our tongues ran hard till midnight. 


John Fiske 

Wednesday, June n, 1879. Anniversary of the 
day when I first met you, my angel, on the veran- 
dah at Miss Upham's, 1 and instantly made up my 
mind to marry you if you would consent. First 
lecture at University College. The room or theatre 
had been granted at once on Huxley's request. 
Too late for Royal Institution. Sir Frederick 
Pollock, Vice President of the Royal Institution, 
said he was mighty sorry he had not known of 
my lectures earlier, he would then have had them 
there. Huxley then decided for the University Col- 
lege, as the next best place to the Royal Institution. 
Huxley says we will try to make some plan for the 
Royal Institution next year and this will open the 
door to all the other lecture places in Great Britain. 
We are hatching a plan in which YOU are included ; 
and if you come you can't imagine what a lovely 
greeting you'll get. 

There are two " theatres" at the London Uni- 
versity College. Huxley chose the smaller one, 
seating about 400, for he said that would be a large 
audience for London any way. J. Bull is not such a 
lecture-going animal as the Yankee. Huxley did n't 
think I would get a room full no matter how good 
the lectures might be. Conway was sanguine enough 
to predict at least 200. All agreed that to fill the 
room, at such short notice, would be enough of a 
success to produce famous results, much more 
than one could reasonably expect. 

Well, my dear, you may believe I was nervous 
beyond my wont. I felt sick all Wednesday fore- 
noon, and all unstrung with anxiety. I feared there 
would n't be 50 people. If there had been a small 

1 See ante, vol. I, p. 244. 

Great Success of Lectures 

audience I should have been disheartened, and 
should have made a poor appearance. At 10 A.M. 
the sky grew black and all London was dark: a 
gloomier day I never saw. At 1 1 down came the 
rain in torrents, pouring like an American rain of 
the most determined kind. The streets ran in riv- 
ulets: you needed an India-rubber overcoat and 
overshoes; I never saw it rain so hard before in 
London; and at 2.30, when I got to the lecture 
room, it was still pouring in bucketfuls, and I was 
so unhappy I could hardly keep from tears. Two 
young American girls were in the room not 
another soul till 2.50. O dear, thought I, what if 
I should have no audience but these two young 
girls ! 

All at once came a rattle of hansom cabs and 
in poured the people ! Within five minutes in came 
two hundred ; and did n't my heart beat with glad- 
ness! Then entered Huxley, and the two hundred 
applauded! Then Sime, and Conway, and Ral- 
ston, and Baron Bunsen, and so on till by 3.05 the 
room was full a good four hundred, I should say: 
hardly any space left. My spirits rose to the boil- 
ing-point. When I got up I was greeted with loud 
applause, and I forgot there ever was any such anir. 
mal as John Fiske, and went to work with a gusto. 
I must have outdone myself entirely; I was inter- 
rupted every few minutes with applause, at re- 
marks which we should n't notice in America; but 
which seemed to hit them here most forcibly. When 
I got through they applauded so long, I had to get 
up and make a bow; and then they went at it again, 
till I had to get up again and say that I was very 
much pleased and gratified by their kind sympathy ; 


John Fiske 

and then I had a third long round of applause with 
cheers and "Bravos." 

Up came Huxley and squeezed my hand and said, 
"My dear Fiske, you have gone beyond anything 
you could have expected: do you know you have 
had the very cream of London to hear you!" Sime 
came up and said, "My dear boy, I can't tell you 
how delighted I am: you have entranced us all." 
Baron Bunsen said, "I am happy to have de 
honour of hear so beautiful discourse: accept my 
most warm congratulashon'. You do please dese 
London people most extremely." Ralston said, 
"Fiske, I wish you could bite some of our public 
speakers and infect them with some of your elo- 
quence!" Henry Holt was there and he said, 
"Fact is, John, you have conquered your audience 
this time. I am glad I was here; these things don't 
come to a man often." Henry Stevens, the anti- 
quarian, said, "I say, young man, you can give 
these lectures in every town in England and Scot- 
land, did you know it?" 

Well, my dear, I felt quite jubilant, naturally 
enough and so to keep the blessed anniversary of 
the day when first we two did meet, I sent you my 
brief telegram, "Glorious," which I thought you 
would understand in the main, and immediately 
transmit to my mother and my fairy godmother. 1 
Then we that is, Holt and I went to Kettner' s 
for a grand skylark of a dinner. I led the way 
through the quaint dingy streets. When we got 
there I observed "Therese Kettner" over the door, 
and sure enough good old Kettner, most gen- 
ial and learned of cooks, is dead, and it is now his 

1 Mrs. Hemenway. 

Great Success of Lectures 

widow who keeps up the place. As for the "Book of 
the Table/' all of the learning and most of the fun 
was really Kettner's own, but he did not write the 
English. Dallas the author of the ' ' Gay Science," 
which you will probably find in the left-hand or 
street side of my bay-window alcove wrote the 
book from Kettner's dictation and clothed Kett- 
ner's thoughts in his own English. But all the 
thought was Kettner's own. 

We had a delicious dinner: Mulligatawny 
soup, soles au vin blanc, fillet aux truffles, petits pois, 
a dainty vol-au-vent, pigeons, a wonderful salade de 
legumes, omelette sucree, fromage de Brie and cafe; 
with some chablis and champagne, winding up with 
cigars quite an especial treat, you know, for this 
grand occasion. How was this for the eighteenth 
anniversary, my dear? 

Friday, June 13, 1879. Second lecture: fine day, 
and room packed; at least 80 or a 100 standing up 
in the aisles; huge applause. Huxley told me he 
thought I was making a really "tremendous hit" 
(those were his words, "tremendous hit"), and 
that a great deal would come of it hereafter. " For 
my own part, my dear Fiske," he added, "I will 
frankly say that I have never before been so en- 
chanted in all my life. Henceforth I shall tell all my 
friends that there is no subject so interesting as 
the early history of America." Those were Huxley's 
words. After the lecture I dined at the Arts Club 
with Sime, and we had a most delightful evening. 

Saturday, June 14, 1879. Called at Spencer's, 
expecting to find him at lunch. But he had reached 
home the night before, and had got off for the day, 
without getting my message from Miss Scheckel. 


John Fiske 

I then went off to Hennessy's the painter and 
he invited me most cordially to come and make 
him a visit at his chdteau in Normandy near 
Honfleur and the temptation is great. I don't 
quite know yet whether I shall do it or not. Then 
I went to Simpson's Divan to dine: and there was 
my same old head-waiter to call out in nasal tones 
"Saddle o' mutton 15"; and the same old gray- 
headed servant wheeled up the little table with the 
saddle o' mutton on it and asked me if I was very 
hungry to-night. I said yes, awfully faint and 
ravenously hungry. "Well, sir, God bless ye, we '11 
feed ye accordingly " and so he dealed me out 
two " terremenjuous" slices of the richest mutton 
with summer cabbage (" 'Aha/ said Mr. Jobling, 
'you are there, are you? Thank you, Guppy, I 
really don't know but what I will take summer 
cabbage'." 1 ) I got a heap of enjoyment out of 
that dinner and I don't think that even Delmonico 
could have produced the peer of that Southdown 
mutton ! 

Sunday, June 15, 1879. Dined: no, I must begin 
still earlier. I intended spending the morning 
writing to you, and mother and Mrs. Hemenway; 
but just as I got about ready to work Herbert 
Spencer called, and that broke up my whole A.M. 
Spencer was extremely jolly and friendly, and we 
had a most delightful and inspiriting talk of more 
than two hours. Then I had to go to dine at two 
o'clock with Henry Stevens the eccentric anti- 
quary. He says I am to be invited to dine with the 
"citizens of Noviomagas" at the Star and Garter 
inn at Richmond early in July and shall be expected 

1 See Dickens's Bleak House, chap. xx. 

Notable Social Courtesies 

to make a big speech on account of my lectures now. 
O Lord! but I send you one of their droll pro- 
grammes. Perhaps I may go and "sass" the Lord 
High as I did before, you know. Had a most jolly 
dinner with Stevens, who is very learned, and by no 
means a fool : and then we went to the Zoological 
Gardens together. 

"Tall tea" at the 'orrid 'uxleys. Mr. and Mrs. 
Lecky were there. I sat next Mrs. Lecky at table: 
she is delightful. Lord Arthur Russell was there 
with his wife. I soon made friends with Lady 
Russell, who is a sweet and lovely lady, and we had 
a jolly chat. Lord Arthur said I must come to the 
Cosmopolitan club and see all the "folks/') Yes, 
my dear, the brother of the Duke of Bedford said 
" folks." Did n't I always tell you that " folks " was 
the best of English? In the course of conversation 
it turned out that Macmillan had forgotten to send 
Lord Arthur a copy of "Cosmic Philosophy"; but 
Lord Arthur said he should feel it a great honour to 
receive a copy even now, with my autograph if not 
too late. So I sent him a copy the next day and en- 
close you his reply. At 10 P.M. the Huxley affair 
terminated, and Lord and Lady Arthur Russell 
took me homeward in a four-wheeled cab. Reach- 
ing their home Lady Russell got out and went in, 
saying that she hoped I would come and see her 
that we "might prolong this delightful talk." 
Lord Arthur continued with me to the Cosmopol- 
itan Club. As we entered arm in arm, a most ele- 
gant and beautiful old gentleman got up, with the 
loveliest smile, and took me by the hand. I did n't 
know him, but of course responded amiably, as 
why should n't I, for I was perfectly bewitched with 


John Fiske 

his grace of manner, surpassing anything I had 
ever before seen in this world. In all my life I had 
never seen any human being so completely clothed 
with gracefulness as this superb old gentleman. Be- 
fore it had time to come to words, Lord Hough ton 
rushed up, saying, "My dear Mr. Fiske, we are all 
delighted to see you again. " Ditto Tom Hughes, 
and Lord Enfield, and somebody else got hold 
of the delightful old gentleman and he went away. 
The delightful old gentleman was Earl Granville. 
I was afterwards introduced to him. Lord Enfield 
gave me a written request to come to the club while 
in London. Went home awfully homesick for my 
wife and little ones. 

Monday, June 16, 1879. Went to Spencer's, as of 
old, to lunch, and walked with him through Ken- 
sington Gardens and Hyde Park. Dined at Kettner's 
with Holt and came home to bed at 9 o'clock. By 
this time Holt's friend Fuller had gone to Paris, and 
Holt being reduced to me, for comradeship, came 
up and took a room in this very house. 

Tuesday, June 17, 1879. Called at Macmillan's 
shop and proposed to him my new book of essays 
("Darwinism and Other Essays"). He said if I 
would bring him the essays the next day he would 
look them over and let me know. Got on top of an 
omnibus with Holt, and traversed miles and miles 
of streets even to the Seven Sisters Road, near 
Finsbury Park. Returning lunched at the Angel at 
Islington, and "trammed" via City Road to Lud- 
gate Hill, where we were most cordially greeted by 
Trubner. Mrs. Triibner's father, M. Octave Dele- 
pierre, is fatally ill, will not live more than two 
or three months but Mrs. Trubner had told her 


Notable Social Courtesies 

husband that I must any way come to dinner infor- 
mally; and so we arranged for the next Tuesday 
Holt to come also. Dined alone at Kettner's, 
and went out to Sime's, and had a most happy 

Wednesday, June 18, 1879. Carried my essays 
to Macmillan and found he had already decided to 
publish the book. He has not yet fully reimbursed 
himself on the "Cosmic Philosophy/' but expects 
to, for he says my fame is growing all the time and 
he thinks people will be more "up to" the "Cos. 
Phil." ten years hence than now. Third lecture to- 
day. It was as successful as the others. Spencer was 
there, and congratulated me warmly. 

After lecture went down by cars to Orpington 
in Kent and found Darwin's carriage awaiting me 
at the station. 1 Drove four miles through exquisite 

1 In his dally record Fiske appears to have omitted to mention 
the fact that soon after his arrival in London he sought an interview 
with Darwin, who responded with the following cordial invitation to 
visit him at his home at Down. 

DOWN, June 10, 1879. 
My dear Mr. Fiske: 

Would it suit you best to come here on the i8th either to luncheon, 
or to dinner, returning after breakfast next morning for we are not 
likely to be in London for some time? Pray do whichever suits your 
arrangements best. If you come for luncheon you must leave 
Charing Cross by the 11.25 train; if for dinner by the 4.12 train. 
If we can (but our house will be very full on most days for the next 
month) we will send to Orpington Station to meet you ; but if we 
cannot send a carriage you must take a bus distance four miles. 

I hope what I propose will be convenient to you and that we may 
have the pleasure of seeing you here. 

I remain Yours faithfully, 


I have not been very well of late and am up to but small exertion 
of any kind. An artist, Mr. Richard, is coming here on the evening 
of the 1 8th, as he is making a portrait, but he is a pleasant man and 
I do not think you will dislike meeting him. 


John Fiske 

English lanes (the air heavily scented with blos- 
soms) to Darwin's house. Jolly place with lots of 
garden. George and Horace were there, and Mrs. 
Litchfield, and two or three Wedgwoods. The old 
man was as lovely as lovely could be. Nice dinner 
and smoke on verandah, and Miss Carrie Wedg- 
wood played considerable Bach, Scarlatti, Schu- 
mann, and Schubert on the grand piano. After- 
wards grandpa and Hezzy got into a very abstruse 
discussion, and when the clock said ten, up came 
Mrs. Darwin and pointed with warning finger to the 
clock, and so grandpa said he must obey orders and 
trotted off to bed. I staid up till eleven and smoked 
another cigar with the boys. Breakfast at eight 
next morning. At ten Darwin was to sit for his por- 
trait in his red Doc tor-of- Laws gown, for the Uni- 
versity of Cambridge. He put the gown on after 
breakfast, to the great glee of the little grandchil- 
dren, and the merriment of all, as he stepped up on 
a chair to get a full view of himself in the mirror. 

At 9.30 George Darwin drove me to the station 
and went up to London with me, as he was to 
be made an F.R.S. that evening for some mathe- 
matical discoveries. Met Holt and Spencer at the 
Athenaeum Club at eleven, and we went out by 
train to Richmond. Perfect summer day, bright 
sunlight, broken with flitting clouds, delightful cool 
breeze. I know where Adam and Eve lived before 
the Fall. It was on the Thames about a mile and 
three quarters above Richmond. Of course it was; 
for no other spot on earth smiles with such deli- 
cious and entrancing beauty. We strolled up as far 
as Twickenham on one bank, and then were fer- 
ried across in a fairy-boat (pardon the pun : every- 


A Delightful Excursion 

thing was fairy that day), and walked back on the 
other side. O, I thought, if I DON'T bring you here 
some day ! ! ! Being hungry we stopped at the 
Castle inn for lunch, and sat down at a cool table in 
an oriel window overhanging the beautiful river. Ex- 
cellent chops, salad of cresses, cheese, and ale. 
Spencer insisted on paying the score and would n't 
let us: so we silently vowed REVENGE ! ! ! Walked 
up to the Park, and an itinerant photographer 
wanted to "take" us in a group. You can believe I 
should have liked to bring home such a souvenir; 
but Spencer gave signs of not wishing to be bored 
by itinerant business-chaps, and I did n't venture 
to propose a sitting. We roamed till seven P.M. 
through the lovely Park, (Richmond Park) now and 
then lounging under great beeches and oaks, telling 
stories, making jokes, philosophizing &c. All day 
long we listened to Spencer's rich bass voice and his 
rich brogue, with his heavy trill of the r quite equal to 
a Frenchman's, while he poured out infinite store of 
wit and wisdom, and amazed us with his stupen- 
dous knowledge and his wonderful keenness. He 
felt perfectly well and was in high spirits; I was in 
my highest feather. Holt carries a pedometer, and 
so we know that we walked 19 miles that heavenly 
day. As we came down a beautiful hill about 7 P.M. 
approaching some quaint houses under overarch- 
ing elms and cedars of Lebanon, I asked what was 
this lovely place? "O, now," said Spencer, quite 
unconsciously, "now we're just in Petersham!" 
It came over me oddly, and somehow made the 
chokes come, and for several minutes I could think 
of nothing but my darlings. 

Fancy such a day, my dear; try to fancy such 


John Fiske 

a day! such a long, long, sunny, happy, sweet, 
delightful day. From the vision of red-gowned, 
white-haired Darwin, with his capering grand- 
children in the morning, down to the vision of 
Spencer, Holt, and myself among the grand cedars 
at Petersham, in the evening, it seemed a full 
month, so much life had I lived on that day of 
ecstatic bliss! Holt said he would cross the Atlantic 
at any time, and feel far more than repaid for the 
time and expense, for one such day as this. But the 
vague shadow on his face told that he had no dear 
sympathising one to tell the story to. 

Spencer had paid for our spree at the inn and we 
were bent on fell revenge. When we parted at 8.30 
in Trafalgar Square, Holt invited Spencer to dine 
with us at any time or place he might like. Spencer 
said he did n't care much for dinners just now, and 
would rather have another day in the country. So 
we left it in that way, internally resolving to do well 
by him when the time should come. At 9 Holt and 
I took a chop at the Horse-Shoe, and then I swallow- 
tailed and went to a grand reception at University 
College and was very much lionized there. 

Friday, June 20, 1879. Fourth lecture: audience 
increasing and more enthusiastic than ever. Spencer 
said after the lecture, that he was surprised at the 
tremendous grasp I had on the whole field of history; 
and the art with which I used such a wealth of 
materials. Said I had given him new ideas of Soci- 
ology, and that if I would stick to history I could go 
beyond anything ever yet done. Said still more: in 
fact he was quite as enthusiastic as Mrs. Hemen- 
way. I never saw Spencer warm up so. I said I 
did n't really dream when writing about American 


Social Courtesies 

history that there could be anything so new about 
it. "Well," said Spencer, "it is new anyway: you 
are opening a new world of reflections to me, and I 
shall come to the rest of the lectures to be taught!' 1 

Went then to a garden-party at Conway's, and 
saw a lot of folks among 'em Mrs. Julia Ward 
Howe. Got back to dinner at eight o'clock at 
the Reform Club, with Henry James. Turgenieff 
was the hero of the occasion, and he is splendid, 
not unlike Longfellow in appearance. James Bryce, 
the great historian, was also there, and my ever- 
delightful old Ralston. Magnificent dinner, and 
brilliant chinwag. Ralston walked home with me 
at midnight. 

Saturday, June 21, 1879. Spent most of the day 
at the printers' my same good old printers Clay 
and Taylor. Whizzed through the bowels of the 
earth to South Kensington, and climbed about 
1,000,000 stone stairs, and burst in on Huxley who 
was buried in his new work on Crayfish and a 
charming book I think it will be, from what he 
read me. He said he was tired out with writing, 
wiped his pen and began joking and laughing. Took 
me home in a cab to dinner Jessie was there and 
is just twice as lovely, now she is married. She is 
my old pet is Jessie, and we did have a good eve- 
ning and lots of music. 

Sunday, June 21, 1879. Out to Macmillan's 
"castle" at Upper Tooting, with Holt to early 
dinner. Delicious summer day. About a dozen 
people, good dinner, and very much piano by Hezzy . 
Miss Pignatel, of my previous visit is over 
at Boulogne and not very well. Did I tell you 
that Mrs. Macmillan and Miss Pignatel are pure 


John Fiske 

Italians? The name is Pignatelli. They never 
talked anything but Italian till they were twelve 
years old or more. They came from Leghorn. They 
talk English without any accent. Mrs. Macmillan 
is very charming, as I have told you before I 
gave her my "Unseen World." 

Got back to "town" at 10 and wound up at the 
Cosmopolitan Club with Earl Granville, his brother 
Mr. Leveson-Gower, Tom Hughes, Lord Kimberley, 
Lord Barrington, Mallock the author of "New 
Republic," Lord Arthur Russell, and Count Teff, a 
most agreeable Dutchman. Lord Kimberley is at 
present the head of University College, and of 
course was the one who at Huxley's request gave 
me the room to lecture in. 

Monday, June 23, 1879. Wrote to you on this 
letter most of the day, and dined at Kettner's with 

Tuesday, June 24, 1879. Called at Macmillan's 
and printers' and loafed about town. Dined with 
Holt at Triibner's. Warm welcome from Mrs. 
Triibner. I always told you that no one could get 
up a dinner like Triibner, and that a sip of his wine 
gave one a new conception of the heights to which 
civilization can attain. Found it just so this time, 
and so did Holt. Mrs. Triibner sat through the 
dinner and then went to look after her papa: her 
papa, you know, Octave Delepierre, is the author 
of the famous book on "Historical Difficulties," 
a propos of which I wrote my essay in October, 
1868, when your mother said one day at the dinner- 
table at Oxford Street, "Why, John, if you keep on 
working this way you'll get rich, only you can't 
keep on so." [N.B. We had a boiled Indian pud- 


End of Lecture Course 

ding that day; it was in the halcyon days of Mary 
and Maria, about the time when Maudie " storned " 
the base imputation.] 

Wednesday, June 25, 1879. Fifth lecture and 
everything good as usual. Nothing new. Dined 
with Holt at Vienna Beer Hall. 

Thursday, June 26, 1879. All day on new book 
of essays and went to printers'. Devil calls daily 
now. Called at Huxley's and had an hour's pleas- 
ant chat with Jessie. Dined at Frederick Mac- 
millan's with Holt and had a pleasant evening. 

Friday, June 27, 1879. A great day! At n A.M. 
strolled through Great Russell Street, looked at 
No. 67, of course, saw a notice in the window, 
called, and found my same old suite of rooms vacant 
and ready for me! II Horrid beldame became at 
once, in my softened vision, a most amiable and 
unctuous female. In short, I engaged the rooms 
at once and am to move in there Wednesday, 
July 2d ! ! ! Same old rooms, as where Spencer 
used to come to see me, and where Hezzy used to 
write " tezzletelts" to you my heart jumped with 
gladness ! 

Went out to Spencer's and lunched with him and 
we went together to my last lecture. Room jammed : 
every seat full, extra benches full, people crowding 
up on the platform where I stood, all the aisles 
packed full of people standing, people perched up on 
the ledges of the windows, and a crowd at each door 
extending several yards out into the entry ways!!! 
I never had such a sensation of " filling a house" 
before, though I had numerically larger audiences 
at Baltimore. Now here is one of the unforeseen 
ways in which you make a "hit" when you talk 


John Fiske 

to a somewhat foreign audience. I wrote about 
Africa quietly and philosophically, foretelling what 
must happen there, as any one can, of course, fore- 
see. I told it simply, and my Boston audience did 
not single it out for special notice, as why should 
they? But I was now addressing a British audience, 
and these are the days when England is in mourning 
for husbands, brothers, sons, slain in horrid warfare 
with the Zulus, and all England is as tender about 
Africa as we were fifteen years ago about the 
South. When I began to speak of the future of the 
English race in Africa, I became aware of an im- 
mense silence, a kind of breathlessness, all over the 
room although it had been extremely quiet 
before. After three or four more sentences, I heard 
some deep breathings and murmurs, and " hushes." 
All at once, when I came to round the parallel of the 
English career in America and Africa, there came 
up one stupendous SHOUT, not a common dem- 
onstration of approval, but a deafening SHOUT of 
exultation. Don't you wish you had been there, 
darling? it would have been the proudest mo- 
ment of your life! 

At the end of the lecture they fairly howled 
applause. Gentlemen stood up on the benches and 
waved their hats; ladies stood up on the benches 
and fluttered their handkerchiefs; and they kept it 
up until I had to make a pretty little speech. Then 
they clamoured again, and one old white-haired 
man made a speech of thanks; and then another 
gentleman got up and seconded the other with an- 
other pretty little speech, winding up by propos- 
ing three cheers for me; and they gave three rous- 
ing cheers so that I had to bow and smile and thank 


A Day in the Country 

'em once more. Then about a hundred or more 
came up to shake hands and say pleasant things. 
Spencer kept his bright eyes fastened on me all 
through the lecture and after all was over he said : 
"Well, my boy, you have earned your success: it 
was the most glorious lecture I ever listened to in 
my life.*' Ditto or similarly Ralston and Sime. The 
'orrid 'Uxley was not there that day too busy. 

Loafed around after the lecture with Sime and 
dined at Kettner's with Sime and Holt. 

Saturday, June 28, 1879. Took revenge on 
Spencer by treating him to "a day in the country" 
at our expense; that is, Holt's and mine. Day of 
ineffable happiness. Went to Windsor Castle, 
ascended the round tower and had a wonderful 
view; walked over to Eton College and saw a fine 
cricket-match, lots of pretty girls and happy stu- 
dents; strolled through some "English lanes"; lis- 
tened to the carol of the lark and the delicious 
notes of a great chorus of nightingales; drank in all 
the sweetness of an English summer day; went back 
to Windsor, ravenous, and made a mighty lunch at 
the White Hart, royal cold mutton, cold ham, 
salad of endives and lettuce, pigeon pie, superb 
bread and butter, new Stilton cheese, and miracu- 
lous beer. Even the abstemious Spencer drank a 
quart of ale, a thing which he said he had hardly 
ever done before. Took a carriage and drove 
through the Park to Virginia Water, and walked 
the rest of the way. Spencer fairly boiled over with 
"animal spirits"; he is a different man from what 
he was five years ago. Fascinating is no name for 
it; he was absolutely a magician this day with 
sparkling wit and his wonderful flashes of wisdom. 


John Fiske 

I only wish I could remember it all. We walked 
sixteen miles by Holt's pedometer. O, what a won- 
derful day!! 

Sunday, June 29, 1879. Dined with Holt at 
Conway's and had a pleasant afternoon. Cosmo- 
politan in the evening and had another jolly chat 
with Tom Hughes, Dr. Hamilton and Count Teff. 
Earl Granville came in about 11.30 and imme- 
diately "fastened on to" Hezzy and said no end of 
pleasant things. Said he thought I was doing a 
great work by giving these lectures here and was 
only sorry that I had n't an audience of five thou- 
sand instead of five hundred. Hoped I would come 
again and give some more lectures. 

And here I bring Fiske's epistolary diary to a close 
and will summarize his record of the rest of his visit. 

Monday, May 30, was the day of Miss Madge 
Huxley's wedding to the Hon. John Collier, and 
Fiske was an honored guest both at the church 
service and at the wedding breakfast which fol- 
lowed. He gave Mrs. Fiske quite a detailed account 
of both functions, but as these details would lead 
us somewhat aside from our legitimate story it is 
sufficient to say that it was a delightful occasion, 
that the bride "was extremely happy and viva- 
cious," that "Huxley looked perfectly splendid," 
and among the many speeches that were made at the 
breakfast "his was by far the funniest and best." 

His lectures over, Fiske found that in revising 
his forthcoming volume of essays, "Darwinism and 
Other Essays," he had work in hand that would 


Social Courtesies 

detain him some two or three weeks longer in Lon- 
don. Accordingly, on July 2, he settled himself in 
his old lodgings at 67 Great Russell Street, in as 
complacent a state of mind as he could enjoy in any 
place away from his home in Cambridge. But he 
was not destined to any isolation while in London. 
His " Cosmic Philosophy " and the great interest in 
his lectures had made him widely known in the 
scientifico-literary set in London, while his social 
reputation had been greatly heightened by his 
modest, engaging personality. In addition, there- 
fore, to his social intimacies at the homes of his 
friends Huxley, Spencer, Sime, Conway, Mac- 
millan, and Trlibner, together with the cordiality 
with which he was received at the Cosmopolitan 
Club, Fiske also received many dinner invitations 
which he was obliged to forego. He did, however, 
accept an invitation from Sir Joseph and Lady 
Hooker, to meet Sir John Lubbock, whose works 
on " Primitive Man," and on "Plant and Insect 
Life " were very familiar to him; and also an invi- 
tation from a young author, Mr. S. G. C. Middle- 
more, where he met " several young chaps, some 
of whom, " he says, "will perhaps be better known 
ten years hence. " He particularly enjoyed this 
dinner, and he speaks of it thus: "Middlemore I 
like extremely. I was the grey-haired patriarch of 
the occasion; and I begin to realize that another 
generation is coming along. " 

But notwithstanding the many courtesies that 


John Fiske 

were bestowed upon him during this visit, Fiske 
greatly missed the fine intellectual companionship 
of his friend Professor William K. Clifford, to whom, 
as we have seen, he became warmly attached dur- 
ing his previous visit. Professor Clifford, although 
quite a young man, had won recognition as one of 
the keenest intellects of his time; and his too early 
death had left the cause of rational, independent 
thinking bereft of a valiant champion. Fiske, back 
in his old quarters, could but recall his dear friend, 
and wish him back, that they might, with hospita- 
ble surroundings, discuss the theory of "a universe 
of mind stuff " which his friend had bequeathed as 
a contribution to current philosophic thinking. 

Soon after he was settled in his old quarters he 
had the great pleasure of welcoming there his dear 
Cambridge friends, Professor and Mrs. John K. 
Paine, who had just arrived in London. He took 
great pleasure in introducing these good friends to 
his London friends as representative Americans. 
He became their guide and companion to the 
London and the Thames country he had come to 
know so well and to love so much. The Paines 
being direct from Cambridge brought him not only 
personal information regarding his family, but also 
the information that at the Harvard Commence- 
ment in June he had been elected a member of the 
Board of Overseers of the college an honor which 
was wholly unexpected, and which was particularly 
gratifying to him. 


Elected Overseer of Harvard 

The further things worthy of particular note dur- 
ing this visit are: a dinner at the Arts Club with 
Spencer, Huxley, and Sime; an excursion to Epp- 
ing Forest with Mr. and Mrs. Sime and their 
daughter Georgiana; a day with Holt, Haven 
Putnam, and Sime at Weybridge, Chertsey, and 
Hampton; a social gathering of a few friends at his 
rooms in Great Russell Street; his final visit at the 
Huxleys, and with Spencer. 

On Friday, July 4, after an excursion to Rich- 
mond with some American friends he got back to 
London early in the evening for a dinner with 
Spencer, Huxley, and Sime. Of this occasion he 
writes : 

"An evening of unrivalled glory and bliss. A 
philosophic discussion of richness and profound- 
ness worth a whole year of ordinary study; 
mainly on the proper method of treating questions 
of causation in history. I never learned so much 
in one evening before. I have since heard from 
Huxley and Spencer that they two would look back 
on this as one of the happiest evenings of their 

Brief as is the record of this evening's talk the 
deep feeling expressed as existing at once rouses the 
imagination, and any one familiar with the general 
line of thought of Spencer, Huxley, and Fiske can, 
in a way, perhaps, conceive what was the general 
tenor of the discussion. It is safe to say that from 
the respective viewpoints of the Evolutionary phil- 


John Fiske 

osopher, the acute and broadminded scientist, and 
the philosophic historian, causation in history must 
have been considered as something far nobler and 
higher than blind, sportive chance, or than the re- 
sult of anthropomorphic, lawless will. 

Fiske's enjoyment of nature and especially of 
nature blended with human life was so keen, and 
he gives expression to his feelings in such graphic 
language, that I do not like to pass all his records 
of his country rambles during these remaining days 
of his visit : and so I give the record of the day 
July 5 spent with his dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. 
Sime and their daughter Georgiana (aged eleven), 
wandering in Epping Forest : 

11 Delicious day of fitful showers, and wondrous 
atmospheric effects. Groves of stupendous beeches, 
1000 years old, gnarled and contorted beyond 
Dore's wildest conceptions, leaves so thick that we 
could sit on a stump and hear the rain pattering 
overhead as on a shed-roof and still not feel a drop 
wetting us a weird and fairy-like scene. We ate 
sandwiches and boiled eggs, and took a drop of 
' mountain-dew ' from Sime's flask and were happy, 
though all sighed for my dear one and said it 
would be quite heaven if she were with us. We 
must have walked eight or ten miles, and saw many 
grand views. At one time we were caught in a 
pelting shower, and had to run into a quaint old inn 
some two centuries old where a lot of rustics 
were wrangling and the indignant landlord kicked 
one of 'em out, a jolly scene for Dickens, if he had 
been there. Went to another jolly old country inn 


Country Rambles 

(one of the few that did n't get drowned in Noah's 
little six weeks' drizzle, and still survives: the ale 
there, I doubt not, is the same that Adam drank) 
and had a tolerably poor dinner there. Got home 
wearied and happy." 

And one more of his "wonderful and happy 
days," Friday, July n, a day with his friends 
Sime, Holt, and Haven Putnam, of New York. 
He writes thus : 

"Gorgeous sunny day with fresh breeze, ther- 
mometer about 70. No showers. Sime came and 
breakfasted with me on mutton chops at my rooms 
at 8.30. Cab to Waterloo Station over Waterloo 
Bridge, and fine view of the giant city quite clear 
of fog. Rendezvoused at station with Holt and 
Haven Putnam. Went to Weybridge and walked 
to top of St. George's Hill. O, if you had only been 
there! View of indescribable beauty: foreground of 
yellow pines, like North Carolina pines, amid which 
we stood, on a carpet of needles through which 
sprouted the ferns, as in Petersham. Larches the 
like of which you never saw, cedars of Lebanon, 
araucaria, gnarled beeches, elms, oaks, banks of 
wild rhododendrons loaded with blossoms, great 
trees of holly, white flowering alders, a wilderness 
of ivy all growing wild and tangled just as in an 
American forest ! Before us miles and miles of ex- 
quisite undulating country, waving fields of grain, 
acres of velvet green pasturage with quiet crowds 
of sheep and deer, lovely hedgerows sprinkled 
in with scarlet poppies ; on the horizon blue 
hills with flitting cloud-shadows, the lordly turrets 
of Windsor Castle about 12 miles distant, rising 


John Fiske 

above all surroundings and as conspicuous as Wa- 
chusett from Petersham, farm houses with red- 
tiled roofs nestled among the trees; little silvery 
brooklets winding here and there; arched cause- 
ways with distant train sending out long sinuous 
trail of white smoke; village of Weybridge with 
Gothic spire; chimes of noontide bells stealing 
through the soft air, while the branches over our 
heads were vocal with nightingales and thrushes, 
and ever and anon lazy cock-crows answered each 
other in the distance; O what a scene! 

"After we had feasted awhile on this loveliness, 
we walked down the hill by a narrow path, having 
to push aside the rhododendrons to force our way 
through, got back to the rail-road and proceeded 
5 miles to Chertsey, a quaint old town which 
no one knows how old it is, for it was here when 
the' Romans invaded Britain about half a century 
before Christ! Here it was that the burglary was 
committed in 'Oliver Twist' 1 (I believe), and I 
pointed out to my companions a window which I 
thought would answer for the one where Monks 
and the Jew looked in on Oliver asleep. We walked 
quite through the town to the banks of the Thames 
to a very quaint inn which we were all raven- 
ous. We made a capital lunch of cold corn-beef, 
bread and butter and homebrewed ale and mighty 
fine ale it was, too. Then we got a large row-boat 
and a waterman to row us, and we were rowed about 
15 miles down the Thames to Hampton, which we 
reached at 5.30 P.M. I had never seen this part of 
the Thames before, and it is quite different from 
the section about Richmond; but if you ask me 

1 See Dickens's Oliver Twist, chapters xxn and xxxiv. 

Plans for Future Lectures 

which part is the more beautiful, I give it up! We 
were all almost too happy to speak. At Hampton 
we took train back to London." 

In the evening Fiske went to the Huxleys' for a 
farewell visit, as Mrs. Huxley was to leave town 
the next day for several weeks. After a cordial 
welcome Huxley took Fiske into his study for 
the consideration of a plan for future lectures in 

It was Huxley's opinion that the present course 
of lectures had been such an unqualified success, 
that there would not be the slightest difficulty in 
getting for Fiske an invitation to deliver the fol- 
lowing year a course of three or four lectures before 
the Royal Institution an invitation that would 
open for him invitations for their repetition in as 
many places in England as he could accept, and all 
on a paying basis. Huxley felt so much interest 
in the matter that he suggested that Fiske take 
for his subject the "Genesis of American Political 
Ideas," treated according to the law of Evolution 
and traced back to the early Aryans; and he said, 
further, that if Fiske could send him, in the course 
of the next few months, a full syllabus for the 
proposed lectures, with the number of engagements 
he could accept, he would undertake to put the 
whole scheme through. 

After arranging these details, the two friends fell 
into the consideration of some of the profound ulti- 
mate questions with which each in the course of 


John Fiske 

his investigations frequently found himself face 
to face. In language full of the deepest reverence 
Fiske expresses himself thus: 

"Then Huxley and I got into a solemn talk about 
God and the soul, and he unburdened himself to me 
of some of his innermost thoughts, poor creatures 
both of us, trying to compass thoughts too great for 
the human mind. 1 At last about 12.30 I took my 
leave. And how many months of ordinary life does 
such a day as this represent, my dear?" 

Fiske had received so many social courtesies dur- 
ing this London visit that he[desired in some simple 
way to make what might be termed a social re- 
joinder. Soon after getting settled in his old quar- 
ters he bethought himself in thiswise: "Why not 
bring this visit to a close by having a social gather- 
ing of my English and American friends who have 
done so much to make this visit both a profes- 
sional success and a delightful personal experience 
and why not have this gathering here in my 
present quarters? " As he reflected upon the matter 
the eminent fitness of such a parting courtesy 
grew in his mind; and he took counsel with his 
friend Triibner, the prince of social entertainers. 
Triibner at once fell in with the idea, and suggested 

1 The tenor of this conversation can be readily imagined by any 
one acquainted with the thought of Huxley and of Fiske on these 
subjects at this time. Huxley's thought was expressed in his letter 
to Charles Kingsley in September, 1860 (Huxley's Life and Letters, 
vol. I, p. 233), and in his discussion with Frederic Harrison in the 
Nineteenth Century for 1877. Fiske's thought was expressed in his 
essay on The Unseen World, already alluded to. 


Gives a Punch Party 

as an appropriate "function" a "Social Punch 
Party " in Fiske's rooms in Great Russell Street 
at the same time offering his services in aid of 
the project. Triibner's suggestion was accepted by 
Fiske, and accordingly he sent out invitations for 
the evening of July 14 to the following persons: 

Ten Englishmen: Lord Arthur Russell, M.P.; 
Thomas Hughes, M.P.; Thomas Huxley; James 
Bryce; Herbert Spencer; W. R. S. Ralston; James 
Sime; Nicholas Triibner; Frederick Macmillan; 
W. Fraser Rae. 

Eight Americans: John K. Paine; Henry Adams; 
J. W. White; Moncure D. Conway; Henry James; 
Henry Holt; Haven Putnam; Willard Brown. 

All accepted excepting James Bryce, Frederick 
Macmillan, J. W. White, and Henry James. Owing 
to urgent Parliamentary duties, sprung upon them 
that evening, both Lord Arthur Russell and Mr. 
Tom Hughes were unable to come, and Mr. Spen- 
cer entirely forgot the engagement. The next day 
Fiske gave Mrs. Fiske a brief and hastily written 
account of the affair: 

" ' Terremenjuous ' spree last evening ! The punch 
(which Hezzy carefully concocted out of lemons, 
oranges, pineapples, strawberries, rum, brandy, 
claret, and apollinaris water) was unanimously pro- 
nounced an unparalleled work of art, and they all 
drank it just as though they liked it. The connois- 
seur Triibner was here before any one else, as I had 
dined with him; and he saw me put in the finish- 
ing touches; and when he tasted it, he said he had 

John Fiske 

never tasted a more delicious punch. I had a moun- 
tain of ice in a big bowl and it was cooling unto the 
palate. Bro. Paine, who staid with me all night, 
says he does n't feel the slightest trace of headache 
this morning, though he drank freely; and if he's 
all right, I 'spect they all are. I know I am. 

"We had a truly glorious time, and kept it up till 
one o'clock. Thanks to Triibner, I had some very 
good cigars to offer 'em which I don't know how 
to buy in London myself. All sympathized with 
Hezzy's scheme for next year's lectures. Huxley 
was the great wit of the evening. 

" Bro. Paine and I are now waiting for breakfast." 

Just as Fiske was closing the above letter he re- 
ceived the following note from Spencer: 

Dear Fiske: 

Last night at a quarter to eleven, just as I was 
leaving the Club to come home, I exclaimed to my- 
self "Good Heavens! I ought to have gone to 

I had duly made all my arrangements for join- 
ing you, and then, after dinner, forgot all about it. 
Pray forgive me. 

I shall look for you to-morrow at one, and I shall 
be at liberty till three, when I have an engagement. 

Truly yours, 


One incident more: Fiske's farewell visit with 
Spencer. We have just seen from Spencer's note 
that Fiske was under engagement for luncheon 
with him the next day, July 16. This engagement 


Farewell Visit with Spencer 

Fiske was prompt in fulfilling, as he desired some 
counsel with Spencer regarding the course of lec- 
tures he had planned with Huxley to deliver in 
London the next year. Fiske gave Spencer a general 
idea of the scheme of the lectures as it had become 
roughly shaped in his mind the analysis of Anglo- 
American political ideas into their fundamental 
bases or elements; and then to show, on the one 
hand, that these bases are evolutionary products 
developed out of primitive Aryan civilization; while 
on the other hand, their further development among 
the nations of the earth must be a powerful in- 
fluence making for universal peace. 

Spencer responded warmly to the whole project, 
and felicitated Fiske upon his entrance into the 
historic field with such broad philosophic views. 
He cautioned Fiske, however, against being misled 
by some of the current theories regarding primitive 
culture, and particularly primitive Aryan culture 
and its evolutionary development; and he enjoined 
upon him the broadest comparative study possible 
of primitive man as his starting-point. His closing 
words to Fiske were: "Go ahead, my dear fellow! 
You have the right conception of history, and you 
possess a remarkable power in the art of putting 

In referring to this interview many years after, 
Fiske said : 

"I was amazed at the profound knowledge 
Spencer had of history not knowledge of the 


John Fiske 

pedantic sort, but knowledge derived from much 
reflection upon the underlying causes in history. 
While I have met many men who greatly surpassed 
him in a knowledge of historic details, I never found 
his equal in the power of historic generalization. 
His acquaintance with the fundamental facts of his- 
tory was, indeed, remarkable ; but what was more 
remarkable, was his keen insight into the meaning 
of these facts, and the manner in which they were 
related and interrelated in his mind." 

And now the noteworthy incidents of this memor- 
able London visit were at an end. The two remain- 
ing days were given to making parting calls and to 
finishing the proofs of his forthcoming volume 
of essays. Saturday, July 19, 1879, saw him well 
aboard the Cunard steamer Gallia, steaming west- 
ward from Liverpool, with his thoughts centred 
about the inmates of his Cambridge home whose 
affectionate greeting he was soon to experience. 
His homeward voyage was uneventful. During its 
continuance, however, he had reason for much grat- 
ulation in that the favorable judgment of his his- 
toric lectures given by his Boston audience had 
been fully confirmed by one of the most critical of 
London audiences; while his historic undertaking 
itself had received the heartiest commendation from 
some of the most distinguished leaders in the liter- 
ary, scientific, and philosophic thought of the time. 




UPON his return from London in July, 1879, Fiske 
entered upon an entirely new line of thought, and 
upon a wholly new order of work from that in which 
he had heretofore been engaged. His London expe- 
rience had confirmed him in the opinion that Amer- 
ican history, in its relation to universal history, 
presented a rich field for exploration in the light of 
the doctrine of Evolution. It also gave emphatic 
confirmation of the fact that his manner of pre- 
senting this great chapter in human history would 
make the subject one of deep interest to the general 

His signal triumph in London had been reflected 
at home, and this favoring fortune in connection 
with his great success in Boston, had created a wide- 
spread interest in his lectures. Hence on his return 
he found applications for their repetition, in whole 


John Fiske 

or in part, in many cities and towns throughout the 
country; as well as applications from the leading 
magazines for popular historical articles. 

Fiske, therefore, found two lines of work ready 
for his hand : the planning and arranging of a lecture 
programme for the ensuing autumn and winter, and 
the preparation of quite a full syllabus of his pro- 
posed lectures for the Royal Institution the follow- 
ing spring. 

His friend George P. Lathrop, a young man of 
considerable literary reputation at this period, has 
given a graphic sketch of Fiske's personal appear- 
ance at this time which is in place here: 

4 'His figure is a familiar one on the Cambridge 
streets as that of a tall, large-framed man, with 
thick beard and dark auburn, curling hair, a pale 
face, and wearing gold-rimmed spectacles, which, 
added to his preoccupied air, gives him the stamp 
of a professedly studious person. His step is long, 
deliberate, and firm, seeming to indicate sureness 
and regularity of progress in physical matters, as 
his facial expression does in matters intellectual. 
The heavy walking-stick which he carries and 
strikes solidly upon the ground in front of him at 
every pace, contributes still further to the system- 
atic manner of his advance. Altogether, he presents 
a very forcible and characteristic appearance. 1 ' 

Soon after Fiske's return he went with his family 
to Petersham, and during the next few weeks we 
have glimpses of him enjoying with his children his 
delightful surroundings and pegging away at his 


Personal Appearance 

tasks. He undertook the management of his lecture 
engagements himself, and soon found it no easy 
matter to adjust his practical convenience to many 
of the conditions which surrounded some of the 
most desirable of such engagements. By dint of 
much planning and correspondence, he managed to 
work out a programme which, during the season, 
yielded him seventy-five engagements and a vast 
amount of personal experience. His first practical 
experience in his new order of work his first 
campaign with his historical lectures was in the 
State of Maine. His engagements were for course 
lectures in Lewiston, Portland, and Brunswick, three 
neighboring towns; his programme calling for a 
lecture every week-day evening for over a fort- 
night, beginning October 21, 1879. Portland being 
the principal town in the State, Fiske very natu- 
rally regarded it as the most promising place for 
both appreciative and financial returns; while from 
Brunswick, being a small college town, the 
seat of Bowdoin College, he counted mainly on 
appreciation, with perhaps an audience of from 
fifty to sixty persons. Lewiston, being a manu- 
facturing town, was a wholly unknown quantity; 
and the only light he had upon the situation was 
the information that a short time previous " a blear- 
eyed scare-crow gave a lecture on 'How to Shoot 
your Grandfather's Ghost/ and had an audience 
of eight hundred." The prospect here he did not 
regard as flattering! 


John Fiske 

His programme for this campaign called for the 
delivery of the opening lecture at Lewiston. Judge 
what must have been his momentary feelings 
when he found himself facing an audience of but 
eighteen people. The situation the great contrast 
between the deep interest taken in his lectures in 
Boston, in London, and elsewhere, and the apparent 
apathy here was enough to daunt any heart not 
sustained by an implicit faith in the intelligence of 
the people and their readiness to appreciate what is 
fine in thought when it is simply and clearly put 
before them. Fiske, however, was nothing daunted. 
If he felt the contrast between his previous audi- 
ences and the one now before him, he did not show 
it. Writing the next morning he says: " I gave my 
lecture at Lewiston last evening with as much gusto 
as if I had a big audience; was bound I would n't 
flinch anyway. My little audience of eighteen were 
greatly pleased ; and woefully disgusted at the pros- 
pect of the course being given up." 

The first thought was that the course in Lewis- 
ton must be given up; but the few who heard the 
opening lecture were so greatly interested that they 
vigorously bestirred themselves and soon had prom- 
ise of better results. Fiske was induced to give 
his second lecture, when he was greeted by an 
audience of two hundred and fifty; and to this en- 
larged audience he not only gave the remainder of 
the course, but also a repetition of the first lecture. 

At little Brunswick his success was all he could 


Lectures in Maine 

expect. He had a very appreciative and enthusiastic 
audience of seventy-five, and he was very hospitably 
entertained by two of the college professors. Port- 
land, where he had expended much, and where he 
confidently expected the largest interest and the 
greatest returns, proved disappointing his audi- 
ence, notwithstanding the enthusiasm of those who 
heard him and the cordial commendations of the 
press, not much exceeding seventy-five. 

Brief as was this first lecture campaign, it yielded 
rich experience, in that Fiske saw that the measure 
of his success with his lectures was largely dependent 
upon his getting the nature of his subject clearly 
before the people. One incident is worthy of special 
note. It was while struggling with the various ad- 
verse conditions in which we have seen him engaged 
that he utilized his spare time in preparing the syl- 
labus for his lectures on " American Political Ideas," 
to be delivered at the Royal Institution in London 
the ensuing spring. This syllabus was finished while 
he was facing the untoward conditions at Lewiston. 
The table of contents in his published volume, 
" American Political Ideas," is substantially a re- 
print of this syllabus, which was prepared before 
any portion of the lectures had been written. We 
have in this incident a striking example of the 
orderly way in which he had his wide historic 
knowledge arranged in his mind: that it was so 
arranged as to be at ready command, thereby 
enabling him to sketch out without references 


John Fiske 

directly out of hand, as it were a series of lec- 
tures, of such profound significance as his dis- 
course on "American Political Ideas " proved to be. 

Fiske's next appearance was on November 12, 
1879, m Brooklyn, New York. Here he gave a 
course of four lectures. He had found that in some 
places, while arrangements could not be made for 
his full course, they could be made for one, two, 
or four lectures; and he had adapted his material 
to meet these varying conditions. In Brooklyn he 
was greeted by a fine and enthusiastic audience. 
Mr. and Mrs. Stoughton were present. This was 
the first time they had heard him lecture on his- 
torical subjects, and they "were astonished and 
delighted" at his style and bearing, and also by 
his reception. 

In arranging for this course he was greatly aided 
by the generous assistance of four of his class- 
mates, Benjamin Thompson Frothingham, Wil- 
liam Augustus White, Frederick Cromwell, and 
Francis Alexander Marden, of whom he speaks in 
a letter to Mrs. Fiske thus: 

" Don't you love my dear old Ben and Gus and 
Fred? three of the dearest boys that ever were! 
And did n't you think that Marden's letter was 
hearty and lovely? These college friendships, after 
all, are just the next best things to family ties. I 
remember, on my own class-day, when Ben 
Frothingham gave his lovely oration, Mother said, 
' Can it be that these boys have come to love each 
other so much?' But now I don't speak of Ben, 

1 60 

Lectures in Brooklyn 

who is so dear and so good that one need n't be his 
classmate to love him but I speak of Marden 
who was simply my classmate and fellow O.K. 
don't you see how warmly he responds? These are 
some of the sweet things in this world, these college 
brotherhoods. We don't see or hear of each other 
for years, but the moment a little favor is desired 
you have only to suggest it, and it's 'Come, my 
dear old fellow, and we'll do what we can for 
you.' " 

The Brooklyn course was in every way a marked 

In December, Fiske was back again in Boston 
where he gave two repetitions of his course of six 
lectures one a public course in Hawthorne Hall, 
and the other before a club of ladies. Both courses 
were given to deeply interested audiences. 

Here we may interrupt the narrative of his first 
lecture campaign to make two or three extracts 
from his Christmas (1879) letter to his mother, in 
which is reflected somewhat his fine feeling, his 
happy domestic life, and his growing reputation : 

CAMBRIDGE, December 25, 1879. 
Merry Christmas, darling Mother, 
and Many Happy New Years!!! 

Just a midnight minute to say your magnificent 
Xmas present is received, and not all the resources 
of the most copious language of the dominant race 
of the world, would begin to suffice to express our 
gratitude or our sense of your kindness. . . . 

Herbert Huxley has developed into the most 


John Fiske 

frightful and horrible maker of mischief that ever 
was known, quite putting into the shade the whilom 
renown of Lacry, as princeps scamporum. He has 
discovered perpetual motion, and exemplifies it 
from minute to minute, and woe to the " thing " 
whatever it may happen to be that gets within 
reach of his all-grasping and all-smashing finger- 
lets. Such a restless, such a despotic, such a ruth- 
lessly bland and amiable angelic imp, I never before 
saw. . . . 

An elegant work is now being published in 
London "Portraits of the 100 Greatest Men in 
History" --classified in eight volumes one vol- 
ume of Poets, one of Philosophers, and so on. The 
introduction to the whole work is written by 
an American, R. W. Emerson. The special intro- 
ductions to the several volumes are by Matthew 
Arnold, Froude, Dean Stanley, Taine, Helmholtz, 
Max Miiller, and Renan, Alexander Bain (I be- 
lieve), which makes seven volumes. I have just 
been invited, in a lovely letter from London, to 
write the introduction to the eighth volume, and 
have accepted. So you see your boy is in very good 

My volume has the portraits and lives of Co- 
lumbus, Magellan, Arkwright, Watt, Stephenson, 
Gutenberg, etc., the great discoverers and in- 
ventors, representatives of the industrial life of 
modern society, just the part that, in my present 
mood, I would have been glad to choose. . . . 

This is a world in which people have an odd way 
of turning up. At my last lecture in Lowell, I met 
a man (of about sixty, I should say) named Bement, 
who said he knew my father, and you, and John 


Lectures in Philadelphia 

Bound, very well; and was present at your wedding 
with my father, and remembered Grandpa Fisk very 
well as the"jolliest of old fellows, "and thought 
my father the handsomest, and most brilliant man 
he had ever met. Is n't it sort of odd to meet 
this man in Lowell? 

The year 1880 opened for Fiske with some thirty 
lecture engagements in New York, New Jersey, 
Philadelphia, Washington, Buffalo, and Ohio. The 
fulfilling of his engagements was marked by alter- 
nate success and failure in getting satisfactory au- 
diences. In New York and in New Jersey he had 
good and responsive audiences, but in Philadelphia 
and Washington, where he had counted on a gener- 
ous reception by reason of the prominent persons in- 
terested in his lectures, he was sadly disappointed. 
In Philadelphia, particularly, partly from the many 
expressions of interest in his undertaking that he 
had received from prominent citizens, and partly 
from the general interest in matters pertaining to 
American history flowing from the Centennial Ex- 
position of four years previous, he had looked 
forward with much confidence to good audiences. 
And yet, although he gave the lectures with his 
usual charm of manner, and while his hearers were 
as enthusiastic as were his hearers in Boston, 
London, and Brooklyn, he had meagre audiences. 
This fact becoming known, a few public-spirited 
citizens, not wishing the stigma of non-apprecia- 
tion of such lectures to rest upon the citizens of 


John Fiske 

Philadelphia as a whole, made up a purse for Fiske, 
and sent it to him with an expression of their ap- 
preciation of the important work he was doing in 
arousing an interest in the significance of American 
history, and of their personal regard. 

It was in Fiske's nature, as we have already seen, 
to extract some good from even rather forbidding 
conditions, and there was an incident connected 
with his experiences in Philadelphia at this time 
which made a strong impression upon his mind 
an incident he often referred to in after years. At 
the close of his second lecture he attended a recep- 
tion, where he met a notable historic personage of 
whom he writes: 

"I met General Robert Patterson (the Grouchy 
of Bull-Run), aged eighty-eight, the youngest man 
in the crowd. He was on Scott's staff at Lundy's 
Lane, in 1814, and was an intimate friend of Hull, 
Bainbridge, Stewart, Lawrence, and Decatur! You 
can imagine what a good talk we had. He took me 
to my hotel in his carriage a most wonderfully 
charming old fellow!" 

Alternately with his Philadelphia lectures he gave 
a course of four lectures at Chickering Hall, 
New York, and here he found ample compensation 
in large and enthusiastic audiences for his disap- 
pointment in Philadelphia. His success was as 
marked as it had been in Boston and in London. 
Indeed, it was so marked, that before the course was 
concluded he received a letter signed by twenty- 


Lectures in Washington 

one ladies prominent in the intellectual and social 
life of New York, asking for a repetition of the lec- 
tures in a morning course at Chickering Hall, a re- 
quest he complied with a little later, when he was 
met with another series of large and highly enthu- 
siastic audiences. 

The fame of Fiske's lectures in London had 
reached official Washington, and a letter was sent 
to Fiske, under date of January 30, 1880, signed by 
President Hayes, the chief members of his Cabinet, 
Chief Justice Waite, Senators Hoar and Dawes of 
Massachusetts, General W. T. Sherman, George 
Bancroft, the historian, Simon Newcomb, the emi- 
nent astronomer, and other distinguished persons, 
asking for a repetition of the lectures in Washing- 
ton, at his early convenience. 

President Hayes, in signing this document, said 
that it gave him much pleasure to be at the head 
of such an invitation; that he had heard much of 
Mr. Fiske's success with these lectures in London; 
and he expressed a desire, if Mr. Fiske came to 
Washington, to have an interview with him. 

In accepting this invitation Fiske appointed the 
evenings of February 13, 14, 18, and 21 for the lec- 
tures, and they were given in the Congregational 
Church. He had a very distinguished audience com- 
prising members of the Cabinet with their families, 
members of the Supreme Court, attaches of the for- 
eign legations, some Senators, and a few Congress- 
men. Simon Newcomb presided, and in his intro- 


John Fiske 

cluctory remarks he said that, during a recent visit 
to England, he found among the scientific think- 
ers there that Fiske was regarded as the deepest 
thinker America had yet produced. 

Fiske's Washington audiences, though not large, 
were of fine quality, and as usual with such audi- 
ences he roused them to great enthusiasm. 

Financially the Washington lectures were not 
a success, but through them Fiske's reputation as 
the interpreter of American history was widely ex- 
tended and he made many friends. While in Wash- 
ington, he received many social courtesies, and 
his accounts of an evening en famille with Carl 
Schurz, then Secretary of the Interior in the Cab- 
inet of President Hayes, and of his reception by 
President Hayes, are of interest. 

As Secretary Schurz had taken a leading part in 
getting up the invitation for the lectures, Fiske called 
upon him immediately upon his arrival in Washing- 
ton, to get the particulars of the arrangements, and 
what followed is best given in Fiske's own words : 

"Got here to breakfast, Wednesday morning, 
and saw Schurz, who is lovely and very jolly, and 
who invited me to his house sans dress-suit in the 
evening. Went around at 8 P.M. and found Schurz 
and two fine daughters about twenty-two and 
eighteen, I should say and a profoundly medita- 
tive old German chap who beamed on us all the 
evening and vouchsafed three ' Ja's' as his contribu- 
tion to the conversation, except that he once asked 
what 'snicker' meant. Carl and I soon got on to 

1 66 

An Evening with Carl Schurz 

music; he made me play. I was in my most can- 
labile mood, very happy and ready to play all night. 
Schurz has a magnificent Steinway grand, every tone 
of which entranced me. I played my best. Then 
Schurz extemporized. He has a wonderful gift for 
improvising. He played one very delightful noc- 
turne, making it up as he went, but could n't play 
it over again. Most such things are trash: but 
Schurz's playing is not trash. Then he played a 
sonata of Chopin's with great fire and expression. 
His touch is beyond measure delightful. Staid till 
1.30 A.M. and the girls sat up. Truly we had a 
magnificent time." 

During the evening Secretary Schurz told Fiske 
that the President would like to see him, and ad- 
vised him as to the best hour for calling. Of his 
interview with the President Fiske writes : 

"Friday morning I called on President Hayes at 
the White House. He received me very warmly and 
said he felt very proud of my going over to England 
to speak to John Bull about America, and of my 
reception there. When I thought it time to go, the 
President urged me to stay as long as I could ; and 
he treated me with very marked deference. He 
kept me more than an hour, till all the Cabinet 
came in for a Cabinet-meeting. The President then 
introduced me to all the members I did n't know, 
and we had a jolly talk for fifteen minutes before 
'biz,' when I left." 

The untoward financial result of his visit to 
Washington, while not wholly unexpected, yet, fol- 


John Fiske 

lowing so closely upon his experience in Philadel- 
phia, this strong manifestation of consideration 
and appreciation on the one hand, unsupported 
by adequate financial returns on the other hand, 
raised, for the moment, a questioning in Fiske's 
mind as to the outcome of his historical undertak- 
ing, which had expression- in one of his Washington 
letters. The feeling was but temporary, however; 
for, as he saw his subject ever broadening in its 
scope and character, he also saw that wherever 
he could get an audience, he evoked such an in- 
terest and enthusiasm in his subject as to be con- 
clusive evidence that he had only to bide his time 
for getting American history, and his method of 
dealing with it as but one phase of universal his- 
tory, clearly before the American people, to reap 
a satisfactory reward. 

Immediately after finishing his Washington 
course, Fiske returned to New York to fulfil his en- 
gagement with the ladies of New York for a morn- 
ing course at Chickering Hall ; and also an engage- 
ment for an afternoon course with a private school. 
While these two day courses were going on he gave 
an evening course of three lectures at Plainfield, 
New Jersey. 

While giving these lectures in New York, and 
vicinity, he made his home with his mother, Mrs. 
Stoughton ; and I find in a note from Mrs. Stough- 
ton to Mrs. Fiske the following passage which is of 
interest : 

1 68 

Invited to Lecture Abroad 

"John sat at home much of the day to-day, and 
said it was good to get off his boots and frock-coat 
and sit at ease and read. This afternoon he went 
with me to a Monday ' at home ' at John C. Hamil- 
ton's, son of Alexander Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton is 
eighty- two years old, and remembers, when he was 
a lad, his father said to him one day, -- his mother 
being away, I think, - ' My son, you will sleep with 
me to-night/ And then, when he got into bed, his 
father clasped him close to his heart, and, kissing 
him over and over, said/ My boy, we will say the 
Lord's Prayer together.' 

"That was the last he knew of his father alive. 
The next morning he went out at daybreak to meet 
Burr, and was killed, as you know. Think what he 
must have felt when he prayed with that child, 
knowing it was probably the last night, for he 
meant to fire in the air, and he knew Burr meant to 
have his life, and he was a sure shot." 

These three engagements fulfilled, Fiske had a 
three days' respite, and he returned to Cambridge. 
Here he found a letter from Huxley, enclosing an 
invitation from the Royal Institution of London 
for his three projected lectures on "American 
Political Ideas," to begin May 18 following; and 
also a letter from his good friend, Dr. Muir, of 
Edinburgh, asking for four of his American his- 
torical lectures before the Edinburgh Philosophical 

With pleasing anticipations of another visit to 
London and to Edinburgh he set out on March 2, 
1880, to fulfil his remaining lecture engagements 


John Fiske 

for the season, the first at Buffalo, New York. Here 
he was to give a course of three lectures, and he 
was most cordially received by large and enthusi- 
astic audiences the largest he had yet had at 
any of his lectures, and the most remunerative as 

Of the other lectures of this trip but little is to 
be said. At Cincinnati all arrangements had been 
made by Fiske's friend, Judge J. B. Stallo, well 
known to philosophic thinkers by his essays on the 
"General Principles of the Philosophy of Nature" 
and on the "Concepts and Theories of Modern 
Physics." Judge Stallo was to have entertained 
Fiske during his stay in Cincinnati, and to this 
visit with such a profound thinker as Judge Stallo, 
Fiske looked forward with the pleasantest anticipa- 
tion. Just before his arrival, however, Judge Stallo 
met with a severe domestic affliction which took 
him from his home, and although he turned over 
Fiske's interests into other and willing hands, his 
own deep personal interest and his cordial, influ- 
ential support could not be made good. While 
Fiske had fair audiences in Cincinnati, with much 
enthusiasm expressed, he greatly missed his longed- 
for converse with Judge Stallo. 

At Cleveland and at Dayton, his lectures were 
disappointing. At Cleveland his audience was only 
thirty-five; yet, small as it was in numbers, Fiske 
took it by storm and paved the way for future suc- 
cesses when his fame should be firmly established. 


Lectures in Ohio Cities 

After a little over a fortnight of lecturing at 
Buffalo, and in Ohio, he set his face homeward, 
cheered by the conviction that soon in London and 
Edinburgh he would be received with distinguished 
consideration, the while actively shaping in his 
mind his lectures for the Royal Institution in 

Thus his first real lecture season in America came 
to a close. The result led him to the conviction that 
there was no want of interest in his subject as 
he presented it, but that his ultimate success de- 
pended upon his getting his purpose and his method 
of treating American history more distinctly before 
the American people. To this end, in his judgment 
and in that of his friends, the development of an 
interest in American history in England, through 
the avenues that were open to him there, would be 
productive of a strong reflective influence in his 
favor in America. 

Fiske reached his home in Cambridge the middle 
of March and immediately set about preparing for 
his third visit to England. It was decided that Mrs. 
Fiske was to accompany him, and his letters of this 
period overflow with expressions of delight that she 
was to share in his forthcoming experiences and 
honors. He engaged their passage to Liverpool by 
the Cunard steamer Atlas, sailing May I, thus giv- 
ing him six weeks for the necessary preparations 
for a three months' absence, and for the writing of 
his three proposed lectures. It was, indeed, a busy 


John Fiske 

six weeks, and no better evidence could be given of 
the orderly way in which he held his historic knowl- 
edge at command and his methodical way of work- 
ing, than the record he has left of the composition 
of these lectures. Beginning March 30, 1880, his 
thirty-eighth birthday, he spent twenty-three days 
in the preparation of them, the last four days of 
which were spent in Huxley's library in London. 

It has been very generally conceded that these 
lectures embody one of the most lucid and power- 
ful peace arguments that has ever been made, in 
that they so clearly predicate universal industrial 
peace as the politico-sociological result to which 
the forces of modern civilization are irresistibly 
tending. This argument is supported by such a 
wealth of historic knowledge and enforced by such 
a sound philosophy that it has produced a profound 
impression during the past thirty years upon the 
public mind of all English-speaking peoples. Then, 
again, the style of the lectures is one of their marked 
characteristics. English literature has no finer ex- 
ample of a great, ennobling theme presented in a 
thoroughly adequate style. There are many pass- 
ages which deserve a place among the finest exam- 
ples of English prose. 

I have already considered these points in an In- 
troduction to a recent edition of the lectures. Here 
we are interested only in their generation, and in 
the rich personal experiences which attended their 
first delivery in London. 



Royal Institution Lectures 

As Mrs. Fiske was to accompany him, it was one 
of his chief desires that during their stay in London 
she should have the pleasure of meeting Darwin. 
Accordingly, in the midst of his preparations he 
sent to Darwin the following letter: 

CAMBRIDGE, April 20, 1880. 
My dear Mr. Darwin : 

I am about to sail for England to give some lec- 
tures at the Royal Institution, and shall be in 
London from May i6th until June 1st. I am going 
to bring my wife with me this time, for after fifteen 
years with the children I think she should have a 
vacation. While we are in London, I hope to get a 
chance to look at you again for a moment and shake 

After finishing in London, I go to Edinburgh to 
give some lectures at the Philosophical Institution 
and shall be coming home again early in July. 

I hope you are still well and prospering in your 
great work. I am unable to follow you in detail 
quite so closely as I used to, for year by year I find 
myself studying more and more nothing but history. 
But Huxley told me last year that he thought I 
could do more for the "Doctrine of Evolution" in 
history than in any other line. To say that all my 
studies to-day owe their life to you, would be to 
utter a superfluous compliment; for now it goes 
without saying that the discovery of "Natural 
Selection" has put the whole future thought of 
mankind on a new basis. When I see you I shall 
feel a youthful pleasure in telling you what I would 
like to do, if I can. 

I shall stay at Professor Huxley's while in London 


John Fiske 

(4 Marlborough Place, Abbey Road, N.W.), and 
any word from you will reach me there. 
Ever, my dear Mr. Darwin, 

Most sincerely yours, 


Of this visit with Mrs. Fiske to London, Edin- 
burgh, and Paris, in connection with these lectures, 
Fiske has given quite a detailed account in his 
letters to his mother, his children, and to the Rev- 
erend E. B. Willson, an uncle of Mrs. Fiske the 
clergyman who married them and for whom Fiske 
always held an affectionate regard. As the letter 
to Mr. Willson was written during the homeward 
passage, and as it is a narrative of their experiences 
in a consecutive form, I take this letter as an en- 
closing sort of matrix, and weave into it, here and 
there, details from his other letters in order to save 
repetitions, and also for the purpose of presenting a 
full record of this memorable journey in Fiske's own 



July 24, 1880. 

My dear Uncle: 

Your very welcome letter of May 24th, which we 
received in Edinburgh, is before me. The I4th of 
June, while Abby and I were going on top of a 
coach through the Trossachs, we made a plan to 
send you a huge letter (such as I call "one of my 
old peelers ") and give you a more or less detailed ac- 
count of all the goings-on since the May-day when 


Visits Europe with Mrs. Fiske 

we steamed down Boston Harbour without your 
Benedicite. We did n't get a chance to write any 
long letters, though, and not many short ones, 
until we got on to the steamer last Saturday, 
since which I have had to contend with my natural 
slothfulness of disposition. 

Having floored the latter enemy, I now seize the 
thread of events at May-day, and would observe, by 
way of prelude, that as the hawser was cast, and the 
crank began to turn, nothing was quite so vivid in 
my mind as surprise at actually having got Abby 
with me on such a wedding journey, with all the 
babies left behind. 

I managed the thing with some astuteness, by 
having company come to the house toward the last 
minute, and so kept things in such a general rush 
that Abby did n't have a moment free to stop and 
reflect on what she was about till she was really off. 
None of the babies cried, though I saw Harold's 
mouth twitch. They knew enough to understand 
the danger of an explosion at such a critical mo- 
ment, and their six little noddles were tolerably 

The Atlas is a mean, contracted, uncomfortable 
old tub, with the concentrated perfumes of twenty 
years of service; and although we did n't have a 
single day rough enough to put racks on the table 
we did n't get into Liverpool till the morning of the 
1 3th. Abby did n't suffer much from seasickness, 
but she is n't in any danger of becoming a mermaid 
from choice! 

Glad as we were to set foot in Liverpool, we 
did n't stay there a bit, but drove straight to 
the station and started for Chester. Reached the 


John Fiske 

Grosvenor Hotel, Chester, about noon, had a 
delicious lunch, and then walked all around the 
walls one of the loveliest walks I know of and 
admired the river Dee and Grosvenor Bridge and 
the thin veil of haze over the sunlit landscape. Then 
we took a little rest at the hotel, and started out to 
see the Rows, walking down through Bridge and 
Watergate Streets to "God's Providence House," 
and went to the Cathedral and heard vespers there. 
Abby enthuses over the same things that I do, and 
thought the day about the happiest day of her life 
up to date. 

The next morning we transferred ourselves to 
Rowsley, and put up at the Peacock, which, after 
a pretty extensive experience, I call the pearl of all 
English country inns. We did Haddon Hall that 
afternoon and Chatsworth next morning, and 
Abby was so charmed with the Peacock that she 
bought of the old landlady the tea-pot in which we 
had tea and brought it away as a memento. 

N.B. It was rather a pretty tea-pot. 

By Saturday evening (May 16) we had got to 
London and to Huxley's, where the welcome was 
warm, and we immediately began to feel as if we 
had always lived there. The next evening Sun- 
day the Huxleys had a reception for us one of 
their "tall-teas." But I am not going to particu- 
larize all of our three weeks in London chronolog- 
ically. A digest must suffice. To wit: as regards 
these "receptions," we had three while at the 
Huxleys'; and Abby thus met Herbert Spencer, 
Browning, Frederic Harrison, Frederick Pollock, 
John Green, the historian, Leslie Stephen, Sir Fitz 
James Stephen, Lecky, Romanes, Mark Pattison, 

Warmly Welcomed in London 

Dr. Burdon Sanderson, Alma-Tadema, Lieutenant- 
General Strachey, my dear friend Ralston, Clif- 
ford's widow, beside several lords and ladies and 
others whom I can't think of. 

The Huxleys had also a dinner-party just before 
we left, at which were present Herbert Spencer, 
Lord and Lady Arthur Russell, Sir James and 
Lady Stephen, Leslie Stephen and wife, Matthew 
Arnold, and others. We also went to a musical 
party at Alma-Tadema's, at which the piano was 
mellifluously clawed by Charles Halle and by 
Wagner's friend Richter. We went to a garden- 
party at Sir Joseph Hooker's at Kew Gardens; and 
in this way Abby saw many noted people. We 
took tea with Mrs. Tyndall, but did n't see Tyn- 
dall. We had a lunch at the countess of Airlie's, 
where we met Robert Lowe; and we went to a 
soiree of the Royal Society. 

By a curious chance I lunched (without Abby) in 
company with "dynamite Hartmann," the cheerful 
youth who tried to .blow up the Czar, near Moscow, 
the fellow that the French Government would n't 
surrender. He makes no secret of his wickedness, 
but glories in it, and means to try it on again if he 
ever gets a chance ! I felt an odd smell of brimstone 
clinging about me for the next two days ! 

N.B. The above Hartmann is in outward mien 
and appearance the mildest of milk-and-water phil- 

Then Darwin sent me a lovely letter inviting me 
to come down to his house in Kent to dine and pass 
the night, and to bring Abby, so the 2ist of May 
we went down there and had a delightful visit. 
Darwin treated Abby so sweetly, giving her beau- 


John Fiske 

tiful flowers from his garden, which I have care- 
fully pressed; she nearly shed tears when we came 
away. 1 

As for Spencer he seemed to take a great fancy 
to Abby, though he seldom pays much attention 
to ladies anyway, and invited us to come and take 
lunch with him at his lodgings. So we went and 
had lunch in his private parlour and David Masson 
made the fourth one at the table, and we had most 
uproarious fun. After our return from Scotland, 
toward the end of June, Spencer invited us again to 
lunch and so we did it over again. 

Spencer is in better health than he has known for 
years and is one of the j oiliest companions I have 
ever taken a glass of beer with. Abby was very 
much charmed with him, and they got on together 
beautifully. I never met a man in my life who 

1 Darwin wrote Fiske as follows: 

DOWN, May 14, 1880. 
My dear Mr. Fiske: 

I suppose that you have reached London. I did not write before 
because we have had a succession of visitors and I absolutely require 
a day or two of rest after any one has been here. Some persons now 
in the house leave to-morrow evening, and others are coming on 
Tuesday morning. 

If you and Mrs. Fiske happen to be disengaged on Friday evening 
(2 ist), would you come down to dinner and to sleep? There is a good 
train which leaves Charing Cross at 4.12 P.M. 

On Monday, the 24th, we leave home for a fortnight for me to 

If it would be more convenient to you to come here after June 8th 
or thereabouts, it would suit us equally well and we should be very 
glad to see you and Mrs. Fiske then. 

In haste to catch the post, 

Yours sincerely, 


Very many thanks for all the kind expressions in your note. 


Royal Institution Lectures 

for brilliant conversation could be compared with 
him: and then, his voice is so rich and musical you 
could never get tired of hearing it. 

We also dined at Conway's and at my friends the 
Macmillans', and the Triibners'. At the M acmillans' 
we also had a fine musical evening. As for the 
Simes my most intimate friends of all we went 
to Richmond together, rowed up the Thames past 
Twickenham to Teddington, and drove to Bushy 
Park while the horse-chestnuts were in full glory; 
and we did chin-wag together even until Sime ac- 
companied us to Euston Square Station and saw 
us start for Liverpool. 

We also saw pretty much all the "sights" of 
London, from Westminster Abbey, down to Mrs. 
Jarley's Wax- Works. We went once to the opera, 
to hear Lohengrin, and once to the theatre to see 
Henry Irving; and we did one stylish drive at 3 P.M. 
in Hyde Park; and Abby got into the House of 
Commons and heard Gladstone and others blow 
off steam. As for me, more through ignorance than 
malice-aforethought, I got in on the floor of the 
House instead of the strangers' gallery, and passed 
for some time as a new member (it being a new 
House), until finally my non-identity becoming ap- 
parent, I was respectfully shown to the gallery. 

The lectures at the Royal Institution went off 
with great success. There was a grand audience 
lords and ladies, Members of Parliament and sav- 
ants ; very swell in quality. Huxley says they are 
the very best lectures he has ever heard at the 
Royal Institution. He says he had no fears about 
my " filling the bill" when he had me invited there, 
but I have utterly gone beyond his expectations. 


John Fiske 

Spencer thinks the last lecture simply "wonder- 
ful." The audience was very enthusiastic, con- 
tinually stopping me with applause. James Russell 
Lowell, our Ambassador, was there at the last 
one and much pleased. Dowager Lady Stanley of 
Alderly (cousin to Lord Derby) was there and wild 
with delight. She blew my trumpet to Gladstone 
that day at dinner. Next evening we went to a 
party at her house, where Abby was introduced to 
Gladstone, Tom Hughes, Matthew Arnold, and 
others. Lady Stanley kept introducing right and 
left with as much enthusiasm as if she had been 
Mrs. Hemenway, of whom she slightly reminded 
me. Gladstone remembered me from last year and 
came up to me, so that I introduced Abby. Lady 
Henniker had me to lunch Tuesday before lecture ; 
her whole family were warm over the lectures. 
Lord Granville's brother, Mr. Leveson-Gower, was 
at the last lecture and I saw him vigorously clap- 
ping his hands. 

The foregoing made altogether a tolerably in- 
dustrious three weeks' time in London. Mighty 
little grass grew under our feet in spite of the 
propitious showers. 

On the 3d of June we left the Huxleys in London, 
and went to Ipswich and put up at The Great White 
Horse of Pickwickian renown, a place where I had 
stopped before and lost my way to boot, though 
without any such romantic consequences as en- 
sued in the case of my immortal predecessor. Our 
object in going to Ipswich was to visit the home of 
my Fiske ancestors at Laxfield. I knew the name 
of the manor, and thought there might still be a 
potato-patch on the old spot and bearing the old 

1 80 

Visits Home of Ancestors 

name, though if Abby had n't insisted on my go- 
ing, I should probably have been too lazy to go. It 
turned out to be the most romantic experience we 
had in our whole journey and marked out Friday, 
June 4th, as a red-letter day in our calendar. 

We started from Ipswich by train at 7 A.M. for 
Framlingham, about twenty-five miles distant. 
There we got a young man with a dog-cart, which 
I call rather an awkward vehicle for a heavy fellow 
like me, and he drove us eight miles to Laxfield. 
Framlingham is a small market town with a col- 
lege and ruined castle. Two or three Fiskes live 
there now. My own direct ancestors came over 
from Framlingham to Wenham, Massachusetts; 
but the headquarters of the family from at least 
1400 to about 1640 was Stadhaugh Manor at Lax- 
field. Laxfield is a village about the size of Peters- 
ham. Arriving near the village, after a beautiful 
drive through delicious rural scenery, we began to 
inquire for Stadhaugh, but nobody seemed to know 
it, and I began to think it possible that the place 
might have vanished. But in England things don't 
vanish easily. By and by we stopped and asked at 
a wheelwright's shop. The man said he paid quit- 
rent for a bit of land held from Stadhaugh Manor, 
and paid it to a Mr. Aldrich. We drove to Mr. 
Aldrich's house, a very quaint old place, and him- 
self a quaint old man of eighty. He remembered 
that there used to be Fiskes at Stadhaugh. In 1718 
the place was owned by a John Smith, who left it to 
the town, and the town leased it to a Mr. Read. By 
Smith's will the rents were to be applied to keeping 
up a charity-school for twenty boys. The house, 
with 112 acres of land surrounding, have been 


John Fiske 

leased and occupied by six generations of Reads 
at present byThomas Read, Esqr. We drove to the 
house, about half-a-mile from the village; and it is 
a fine, comfortable house, though not grand ; but in- 
comparably the finest place in the neighbourhood. 
As we drove up, Mr. Read came out to meet us 
a most stalwart, ruddy, and cordial country squire, 
full of laugh. 

He was greatly interested in our errand, took 
us into the dining-room (a fine old room with low 
ceiling, and huge beams across it, a book-case, a 
piano, sideboard, and tall Dutch clock), sat us 
down before the fire, and gave us some port wine 
and cake, and began to talk over antiquities. This 
is the very identical house where my ancestors lived; 
the house which the Reverend John Fiske, of 
Cotton Mather's "Magnalia," left in 1637 to come 
to Cambridge, thence to Salem (where I believe 
he taught the first grammar school), thence to 
Chelmsford. He was n't my direct ancestor; but 
his grandfather Robert (in Elizabeth's time) was, 
and must have lived in this very house, for the 
house goes back to that time. It was a good deal 
altered in 1602, being then a very old house. 

Mr. Read was extremely courteous, and after 
about an hour's talk we started for the parsonage, 
Mr. Read going with us. The vicar has a bright boy 
of eleven who collects birds' eggs, like Clarence. 
Old Mr. Aldrich told me that I would find the 
Fiske graves in the pavement of the church. So we 
all went to the church an immensely old place, 
one of the oldest churches I have seen, and un- 
affected by "restorations." I think it must date 
from the ante-Norman times, though the vicar 


Visits Home of Ancestors 

did n't know. The stone floor was covered with 
matting and carpets which the sexton lifted and 
swept under till we had taken up seven or eight 
bucketfuls of dust; but nary a Fiske. The search 
was not exhaustive, however. There were spots 
from which it was difficult to raise the carpeting; 
and besides, our time was limited. Moreover, as I 
knew the family history down to the departure 
from England, at least as well as gravestones could 
tell it, I did n't look for the graves for information, 
but only for sentiment, and so did not press the 
matter. Mr. Aldrich said he had seen the graves, 
and I presume we should have found them if we 
had hunted long enough. 

I saw the grave of John Smith, of Stadhaugh 
(died 1718), in the church: the inscription was in 
Latin, and he was described as "Armiger." I also 
saw the grave of John Borrett, of Stadhaugh 
Manor, and his wife Mary (died 1691 and 1699). 
Now I know that Stadhaugh was owned by Nicho- 
las Fiske in the time of Charles II (1660-1685), 
from a grant in the " Heraldic Journal" referring to 
the crest on the Fiske coat-of-arms. I now know all 
but one point how did Stadhaugh Manor pass 
from Fiske to Borrett and to Smith? 

There are no Fiskes now in Laxfield ; and my im- 
pression is that pretty nearly the whole lot cleared 
out and went to Massachusetts. There were many 
such cases of wholesale migration. The vicar's boy 
knew all about the burning of John Noyes in 1557 
by order of Bloody Mary and told me of the exact 
spot. John Noyes was brother-in-law to Nicholas 
Fiske, of Dennington, a lovely village four miles 
from Laxfield, through which we passed on our 


John Fiske 

dog-cart drive. This Nicholas Fiske (mentioned 
in Foxe's "Book of Martyrs ") was son of Robert 
and Sybil. 

Well, what was this for a romantic day? In the 
morning I did n't know that the old Fiske place had 
survived. Now I know beyond perad venture that it 
does survive and that in the very room where my 
forefathers ate I actually drank a glass of wine 
and a lovely room it was too! And to have had 
Abby with me to see it all ! ! ! I have had some 
photographs of the house made to bring home. 

We got back to the Great White Horse, Ipswich, 
about 4 P.M. and our room, for aught I know, may 
have been the very one in which Mr. Pickwick met 
the middle-aged lady in yellow curl-papers. While 
waiting for our dinner I read to Abby the Ipswich 
part of "Pickwick Papers" and we enjoyed it 

From Ipswich we went to Cambridge, Ely, 
Lincoln, and York all places which I knew well 
already, and was glad to see again with Abby. I 
have never seen a grander cathedral than York, 
though I have seen the finest ones on the Continent. 
Then we got to Edinburgh, where I gave four 
historical lectures at the Philosophical Institute. 
The audience was very large something like 800 
and very enthusiastic, and the whole affair went 
off splendidly. In the intervals between lectures the 
first week we devoted ourselves to seeing Edin- 
burgh, to dining and lunching with W. W. Hunter 
(who wrote the Annals of Rural Bengal, and a dozen 
other books) and David Masson, and my good 
friend Dr. Muir, as well as to miscellaneous fun. 
Among other things Abby having been dressed 



Lectures in Edinburgh 

in long skirts for a luncheon we drove with Mr. 
and Mrs. Hunter around Arthur's Seat, and it 
being proposed we should make the ascent, we 
ascended, which as we got to a very steep place 
near the top, Abby holding up her train, and I 
pushing her along and using mine umbrella as a 
third leg unto myself; lo! the sky darkened, and 
the windows of heaven were opened, and the 
floods came down ; whereat the undersigned raising 
aloft the umbrella to protect his better ^, did 
thereby deprive himself of the third leg needful for 
propelling his weighty earthly tabernacle up the 
steep declivity, and thus we did remain to consti- 
tute an impressive tableau for about five or eight 
minutes, until aid did arrive from the summit of 
the mount in the person of Hunter with another 
umbrella. Which we did n't see anything after we 
got to the top, and so descended and explored 
Craig-Miller Castle. 

And the next week we took two Highland trips 
between lectures. The first trip was the one "they 
all take" to wit: the Trossachs, Loch Katrine, 
and Loch Lomond, and Abby thought she never 
knew what scenery was before. The second, how- 
ever, outdid it: it was a big excursion to be made 
in two days, but as I knew what the Pass of Glen- 
coe was I was bound Abby should see it to make 
up for not being able to go to Switzerland. And this 
is the way we did it. We started on Wednesday 
morning early from Edinburgh, took the train four 
hours to Tyndrum and were thence taken ten miles 
by dog-cart to Inveroran. As I doubt if you have 
ever seen the road, I will make bold to say it is one 
of the most sublime on the earth : if you have seen 


John Fiske 

it you will agree with me. Huge mountains rise 
from 2000 to 3000 feet each side of the road, al- 
most perpendicularly, covered with heather. Not 
a tree, not a house, not a sign of life. Inveroran is 
a charming place consisting of a lake, a grove of 
Scotch firs, and a pretty inn, where we did eat. And 
the undersigned not liking the jerk of the dog-cart 
we then did take a wagonette for the next twenty- 
six miles which took us through the Pass of Glencoe, 
to Ballachulish on Lake Leven. It was 9 P.M. when 
we reached the inn at Ballachulish, and at 10 we 
saw the sun set over the beautiful lake. The drive 
through Glencoe filled us with a feeling of awe 
which we were long in getting over. 

The mountains are little more than three thou- 
sand to thirty-five hundred feet high ; but they rise 
sheer from the road so that you see their full 
height, and their tops overhang you against the 
sky. There is no vegetation on them and the 
enormous rocks are piled above each other with a 
grandeur that is absolutely terrific. At the bot- 
tom of the glen is the little oasis where the Mac- 
donalds were massacred. 

The next morning we got up at five and took 
steamer down Loch Linnhe, by the land of Ossian, 
through most magnificent scenery twenty-six miles 
to Oban. We breakfasted at Oban, and got on top 
of a stage and did the road by Dunstaffnage Castle 
and Ben Cruachan, through the Pass of Brander, 
and past Loch Awe to Dalmally, whence we took 
train five hours to Edinburgh. 

Total, four hours train, thirty-six miles of private 
carriage, twenty-six of steamboat, twenty-six of 
stage-coach, and five hours train that is my idea 


In France 

of a good deep draught at the cup of pleasure, and 
Abby, this time at any rate, quite agreed with me. 
I had seen every bit of the road before and hope 
I shall see it again. Then too, the Lord was on 
our side and gave us such superb weather as one 
does n't often see in Scotland. 

June 19 we departed from Auld Reekie, and went 
400 miles at one dash to Oxford, where we spent 
a delightful Sunday and dined at the rooms of a 
friend. Next day we did Stratford-on-Avon and 
went on to London where we put up in lodgings for 
a few days to give Abby a taste of my old-fashioned 
kind of life there. I had been asked to repeat my 
three Royal Institution lectures at South Place 
Institute (Conway's place), and did so the even- 
ings of June 22d, 24th, and 25th, spending the in- 
tervening time in mousing about London with 
Abby. The 2Qth we went to the Isle of Wight, and 
used up the 3Oth in driving by the Undercliff Road 
from Ventnor to Carisbrooke Castle and Cowes. 
That night we crossed from Southampton to Havre, 
and thence next day to Honfleur, and drove five 
miles of charming wooded road to the Chateau of 
Pennedepie. My old friend Hennessy the painter 
has lived there for some years and I now carried out 
an old project of visiting him. 

We staid a day and a half there and wished we 
could stay forever. It was more like Petersham than 
anything else I have ever seen in Europe, although 
with the lovely hills and the walks in the pine 
woods there is also to be seen at Pennedepie the 
deep-blue sea. Indeed, the great watering-place, 
Trouville, is but five miles distant and we included 
that in an afternoon drive. 


John Fiske 

Then we pegged along to Rouen and spent half-a- 
day there viewing the Cathedral and went on to 
Paris and staid there eleven days. Our very best, 
number one, jolly day in Paris, was spent, not in 
Paris, but in Versailles. To my mind there is 
nothing in Europe more interesting than the Pal- 
ace of Versailles it is so crammed with history. 
Westminster Abbey is nothing to it, in point of 
quantity, at any rate. 

As for Paris, we wished it would smell a little 
sweeter. (I tell Abby I don't know what she would 
say if she were once to get a good square whiff of 
Naples, but Paris is enough for a warm day.) On 
the whole, we don't belong to the sect of good 
Americans who go to Paris when they die. I never 
did like Paris much, and Abby does n't like it. She 
likes some dresses, and a love-of-a-bonnet or two, 
though. We do bow down to the superiority of 
French millinery and cooking, too, to some ex- 
tent, though Abby could n't for her life get a de- 
cent cup of tea with cream, or a glass of real lem- 
onade even, in this headquarters of y 6 gourmets. 

It had been suggested that I should give two or 
three lectures in Paris, and Taine and Renan were 
interested in. the scheme; but it was out of the 
question to scare up an audience in July, and the 
scheme stands postponed. I have had a letter 
from Emile de Laveleye, the author of " Primitive 
Property," who lives at Liege, and it is proposed 
that the next time I come over I shall give some 
lectures at Liege. I have been invited to lecture at 
the London Institution, at the Birmingham Mid- 
land Institute, and again at Edinburgh. All this 
might be done next spring, but I have got tired of 

1 88 

Returns to America 

being away from home so much and don't think I 
shall cross again for eighteen months or two years. 

From Paris we crossed via Calais- Dover to Lon- 
don on Wednesday, July Hth, and had just time 
to drop the parting tear with our friends, and get 
off to Liverpool for the Gallia. 

Doxology: The Gallia stopped six hours at 
Queenstown, and we went ashore and took a lovely 
drive of ten miles or so on a jaunting car, just to 
give Abby a taste of "ould Ireland/' 

And all together, it was a very good notion of a 
three months' skylark. 

Deo volente we shall reach Cambridge, and the 
babies, Tuesday, the 27th, and go to Petersham 
Saturday, the 3ist, to remain till about the 8th of 
September. Abby and I hold that all Europe has no 
more attractive place than Petersham. They may 
have better places over there, but if they have they 
keep them out of sight. 

And so I have given you quite an "old peeler" of 
a letter, though I can't decorate the envelope with a 
British stamp and am, with very much love to 
you all, in which Abby joins, affectionately yours, 


The Gallia reached New York July 26, 1880, and 
thus Fiske's second lecture excursion to England, 
with Mrs. Fiske, is shown by his own record to 
have been a veritable "wedding journey," and one 
of rare experiences. 




ON the return of Mr. and Mrs. Fiske from England 
they joined their children in Petersham, and there 
the family remained until the middle of September. 
From the letters we get glimpses of an idyllic 
country life amidst the pleasantest surroundings: 
of picnic excursions galore, one of which has special 
mention in a letter to Mrs. Stoughton: 

"On Monday (September 6th), being the six- 
teenth anniversary of our wedding day, we had a 
picnic at Tom Howe's farm Abby, our six babies, 
and six friends. We built a fire and the boys 
roasted corn and broiled slices of pork on the end of 
a stick; and we had sandwiches, and baked beans, 
and potato salad and coffee : and there was a sort of 
wedding-cake. We had a jolly time and staid till 


Domestic Life in Petersham 

Of Fiske's musical diversions we get this 

" We have a fine piano and a young lady who is 
able and willing to play difficult accompaniments 
by the hour and I am singing a lot of most beautiful 
songs of Schubert/' 

Fiske's marked success in England, which had 
been widely noticed by the American press, greatly 
increased the demand for his lectures in the home 
market. His repertoire now consisted of nine lec- 
tures, out of which could be chosen a single lecture, 
or a course of three, four, or six lectures, and he 
was able to adjust his "discourse" so as to meet 
the great variety of local conditions. On his re- 
turn, therefore, he found many applications for 
his lectures awaiting him. By the opening of the 
lecture season, in November, Fiske had secured en- 
gagements for nearly his whole available time till 
the close of the season in the following April, 1881. 
His lecture engagements extended over a wide 
range of territory, within the bounds, one might 
say, of Boston, New York, Baltimore, St. Louis, 
and Milwaukee, the fulfilling of which involved al- 
most incessant travelling. 

Before entering on his lecturing campaign in 
fact, while he was arranging his campaign Fiske 
wrote two magazine articles, " Sociology and Hero- 
Worship" for the "Atlantic Monthly," and "The 
Causes of Persecution" for the "North American 


John Fiske 

Review/' and also a brief article on " Heroes of 

The first of these articles is worthy of serious 
consideration by every one who wishes to see the 
application of the doctrine of Evolution to social 
development clearly presented, and who also wishes 
to get light upon Fiske's historical method. In the 
" Atlantic Monthly" for October, 1880, William 
James, of Harvard, the well-known psychologist, 
published an article entitled "Great Men, Great 
Thoughts, and the Environment." In this article 
James rambled quite discursively over much phil- 
osophic, historic, and scientific ground, with no 
little incisiveness and brilliancy of phrase. The 
main point of the article was an attack upon the 
doctrine of Evolution in its application to indi- 
vidual and social life, and this attack bristled with 
sharp thrusts at " Mr. Herbert Spencer and his dis- 
ciples." James stated his thesis thus: 

"Our problem is, What are the causes that make 
communities change from generation to generation 
that make the England of Queen Anne so differ- 
ent from the England of Elizabeth, the Harvard 
College of to-day so different from that of thirty 
years ago? I shall reply to this problem. The differ- 
ence is due to the accumulated influences of in- 
dividuals, of their examples, their initiations and 
their decisions . . . The mutations of societies then 
from generation to generation are in the main due 
directly or indirectly to the acts or the example of 
individuals whose genius was so adapted to the 


Reply to William James 

receptivities of the moment, or whose accidental 
position of authority was so critical that they be- 
came ferments, initiators of movement, setters of 
precedent or fashion, centres of corruption, or 
destroyers of other persons, whose gifts, had they 
had free play, would have led society in another 

James admitted there was some kind of evolution 
at work in human society, for he says : 

"Thus social evolution is a resultant of the inter- 
action of two wholly distinct factors : the individual, 
deriving his peculiar gifts from the play of physi- 
ological and infra-social forces, but bearing all the 
power of initiative and origination in his hands ; and 
second the social environment, with its power of 
adopting or rejecting both him and his gifts. Both 
factors are essential to change. The community 
stagnates without the impulse of the individual. 
The impulse dies away without the sympathy of 
the community." 

Good Spencerian, Darwinian, Fiske Evolution- 
ary doctrine, this, as far as it goes. But it gives no 
hint of the play of the physiographic forces in the 
environment, or any distinct recognition of the so- 
cial institutions by which organized society is held 
together institutions which in their development 
conserve and generate an intellectual and social 
atmosphere without which, from the viewpoint of 
social science, your " Great Man" could not exist. 

Fiske read James's article with mingled feelings 
of regret and surprise: regret that a psychologic 


John Fiske 

thinker like James, who made so much in his teach- 
ing of the play of environing conditions, physio- 
logical, physical, and social, in his interpretation 
of psychical phenomena, could so far forget his 
indebtedness to Spencer for blazing the way to a 
rational method of psychologic study as to charge 
Spencer with " impudence'* in his argument, and 
to characterize his theory of social progress as 
an " obsolete anachronism/' And he was greatly 
surprised to observe that with all his sociologic 
and historic study, James had failed to note that 
Evolutionary ideas, of which Spencer -was the 
greatest living exponent, were permeating as with 
new life all modern thought; and that, while bitterly 
condemning Spencer in toto, he was in many re- 
spects following closely in Spencer's footsteps him- 

Regarding some of the points in James's article 
as directed against himself, he being a disciple of 
Spencer's, Fiske felt that he was challenged for a 
reply. And he lost no time in making it: one 
in which there is an entire absence of a desire to 
make brilliant points; rather one which consists of 
a lucid presentation of the facts involved with the 
logical overwhelming conclusion to which they lead. 

In the first place, Fiske is at pains to show the 
points wherein James and the Spencerian Evolu- 
tionists are agreed, and then turns with perfect 
fairness to the charge which James brings against 
the Spencerians of neglecting the function of great 


Reply to William James 

men in their theories of social evolution. He shows 
conclusively, from Spencer's writings and his own, 
that there has not been any such neglect indeed, 
the evidence leads to quite the contrary conclusion. 
He sums up his argument at this point with this 
keen, incisive statement: 

" If Mr. Herbert Spencer and his disciples main- 
tain any such astonishing proposition as this [the 
denial of the function of great men in social evolu- 
tion] it must be difficult to acquit them of the charge 
of over-hasty theorizing to say the least : if they do 
not hold any such view, it will be difficult to avoid 
the conclusion that somebody has been guilty of 
over-hasty assertion. " 

Having thus turned James's polemic batteries, 
which were aimed at "Mr. Spencer and his dis- 
ciples," back upon James himself, Fiske proceeds to 
the discussion of the real question involved that 
of sociology as a science and how its development 
is affected by great men, a discussion wherein the 
views of James, reflecting Carlyle's doctrine of 
hero-worship, seem sadly out of place. Defining 
sociology as the science of social phenomena, he 
pointed out that the truths with which sociology is 
primarily concerned are general truths relating to 
the structure of man's various social organizations, 
and the functions of their various parts; truths re- 
vealed by a comparative and analytical study of the 
actions of great masses of men when considered 
on a scale where all matters of individual idiosyn- 


John Fiske 

crasy are averaged, and, for the purposes of the 
enquiry, are eliminated. 

As a pertinent illustration of this fact Fiske cites 
the representative assembly common to all govern- 
ments making any pretence to a consideration of 
the interests: of their people. This assembly is a 
direct outgrowth from the primary meeting of in- 
dividual citizens, and has been developed through 
social changes among the people themselves. This 
is a fact established by a wide historic induction; 
and its implications, when once fully unfolded, go 
farther toward explaining the differences between 
Greek and Roman political history on the one hand, 
and English political history on the other, than 
do the biographies of all the Greek and Roman 
and English statesmen from Lycurgus and Servius 
Tullius, to Gladstone. 

Then, too, this scientific study of social phe- 
nomena, as illustrated by the investigations of 
Maine, Stubbs, Coulanges, Maurer, Tylor, and 
others, is not only bringing new interpretations to 
history, but also juster valuations of the services of 
" Great Men/' Carlyle's method of dealing with 
history, making it a mere series of prose epics, has 
many merits, but it is nevertheless inadequate. It 
does not at all explain the course of events ; it leaves 
them a jumble. History is something more than 
biography, else we are thrown back upon "special 
causes" and have nothing stable wherewith to in- 
terpret the past or to predicate the future. And it 


Reply to William James 

is here that sociology comes in as a science, and 
affirms the relativity of all social phenomena to 

"One far-off divine event 
To which the whole creation moves." 

Fiske closes his article with three very pertinent 
illustrations of the effect of the scientific study of 
social phenomena in the interpretation of history, 
and also in the valuation of great men, which are 
overwhelming in their support of his contention. 
He says: - 

"As an example I may refer to the way in which 
the life of Caesar has been treated respectively by 
Froude and by Mommsen. To both these writers 
Caesar is the greatest hero that has ever lived and 
both do their best to illustrate his career. Both, 
too, have done their work well. But Mr. Froude 
has profited very little by the modern scientific 
study of social phenomena, and his method is in 
the main the method of Carlyle. Mommsen, on 
the other hand, is saturated in every fibre with 
'science,' with, 'sociology,' with the 'comparative 
method,' with the 'study of institutions.' As a 
result of this difference, we find that Mr. Froude 
quite fails to do justice to the very greatest part of 
all Caesar's work, namely, the reconstructive meas- 
ures of the last years of his life, which Mommsen 
has so admirably characterized in his profound 
chapter on the 'Old Republic and the New 
Monarchy.' Or, if a still more striking proof be 
needed that the scientific study of the evolution of 
society is not incompatible with the highest possi- 
ble estimate of the value of individual initiative, I 


John Fiske 

may cite the illustrious example of Mr. Freeman. 
Of all the historians now living Mr. Freeman is 
the most thoroughly filled with the scientific spirit, 
and he has done more than any other to raise the 
study of history on to a higher level than it has 
ever before occupied. His writings in great part 
read like an elaborate commentary on the doctrine 
of Evolution a commentary the more valuable 
in one sense, in that Mr. Freeman owns no especial 
allegiance to Mr. Spencer, or to any general evolu- 
tionary philosophy. Yet this great historian, whose 
opinions are determined everywhere by the socio- 
logical study of institutions, turns out to be at the 
same time as ardent a hero-worshipper as Carlyle 
himself, and vastly more intelligent." 

To sum up in a word Fiske's conception of the 
" Great Man," it was that of servant, servant in 
the service of humanity; and the really great serv- 
ants of humanity stood in his mind, to use his own 
words, "as the Memnon Colossi of the human race. 
No matter in what century or among what people 
their feet may be placed, around their brows the mu- 
sic of morning and of evening is forever playing." 

James and Fiske were the best of friends, and 
James was prompt in acknowledging the force of 
Fiske's criticism, as appears by the following 

CAMBRIDGE, December 19, 1880. 
My dear Fiske: 

I have received your spanking, and I should n't 
mind having some more from the same rod. I kiss 
the rod that chastises me! It is pleasant to find one 



who so perfectly endorses all I have to say about 
the facts and laws of sociology; and reading your 
last pages has made me more than ever regret that 
you are not teaching history in college. 

As for the Spencer question, perhaps I laid it too 
strong on the individual's share in my polemic 
passage, as he on the " Conditions" in his polemic 

Always yours faithfully, 


In the second article referred to as written at 
this time "The Causes of Persecution " - Fiske 
showed how this terrible infliction on the human 
race was the outcome of expanding social ideas in 
conflict with established social conditions, a conflict 
which enabled egoistic great men, when uncurbed 
by adequate social forces, to resort to the most dire 
persecutions for opinion's sake. He pointed out 
also how, with the growth of more rational views of 
social well-being, the outcome of increasing tol- 
erance, society is steadily sloughing off the con- 
ditions which made it possible for great men, as 
persecutors or as arbiters of public opinion, to exist* 

His article on the "Heroes of Industry," written 
at this time, was prepared as an introduction to the 
eighth volume of the work entitled "The Hundred 
Greatest Men." This volume comprised biogra- 
phies of inventors and discoverers, and Fiske's intro- 
ductory article illustrates some of the points made 
in his reply to James. 

Fiske's lecture experiences during his season of 


John Fiske 

1 880-8 1, so far as success with his audiences was 
concerned, were much more satisfactory than dur- 
ing the previous season. His new course on " Amer- 
ican Political Ideas" was received with greater 
favor, if that were possible, than his course on 
American history. Never before had the peace 
movement been given such a comprehensive and 
philosophic basis as was given to it in this presen- 
tation of American political ideas. What is more, 
these lectures are to-day the best interpretation we 
have of the underlying principles of our Federal 

t During this season's campaign, he had some per- 
sonal experiences which are of interest, not only as 
reflections of his own individuality, but as typical 
illustrations of the social and intellectual culture of 
the American people. 

The season was opened in Boston with his three 
lectures on " American Political Ideas," and the 
lectures were received with as deep an interest and 
with as marked an enthusiasm as had been bestowed 
upon them in London. 

Here is a glimpse of his experiences, in January, 
1881, among the Quakers at Haverford College, 
near Philadelphia. Fiske gave here his six lectures 
on "America's Place in History," and the last lec- 
ture in his course on " American Political Ideas," 
alternating their delivery with two shorter courses 
in Baltimore, and in Plainfield, New Jersey. He 
writes : 


Lecturing Experiences 

" I have got a most enthusiastic audience here of 
students with prof.s and prof.s' wives; and several 
people who heard my lectures last winter in Phila- 
delphia, and who come out here to hear me now. 
It is the same old story; the lectures are voted a 
success of the first water. President Chase is a true 
scholar, and a man of broad views and great heart 
- an ideal college president. His wife and children 
are also very interesting. They are all Quakers and 
say ' thee and thou * and their family life is a new ex- 
perience for Beelzie. It is awfully countrified here, 
quite like Petersham. We walk to the lectures under 
pine trees, and pick our way among the snowdrifts. 
Quite an Acadia. . . . The last lecture, ' Manifest 
Destiny/ was a tremendous success (as every- 
where) and especially pleased the Quakers, who be- 
lieve in peace, you know. They say Hezzy is a boss 
Quaker himself! I said good-bye regretfully to the 
Chases, who are lovely people." 

In his extensive railway travelling Fiske occa- 
sionally met with incidents of much personal inter- 
est. Whenever he met with an experience that was 
in any way an attestation to the value of his work 
in the world of thought, he took great pleasure in 
passing it on to his wife or to his mother, as he so 
truly regarded them as joint sharers in whatever of 
appreciation or honor might come to him. Imme- 
diately after the close of his Haverford lectures he 
started for St. Louis; and on his way, via the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad, he fell in with some "chance 
acquaintances" who relieved the monotony of the 
journey, and also paved the way for a lecture 


John Fiske 

engagement at Indianapolis; which, as we shall 
see, proved an event of great interest and pleasure 
to himself and to the good people of Indianapolis. 
The delightfully simple and frank way in which 
Fiske tells Mrs. Fiske of his experiences with these 
"chance acquaintances*' needs no comment. In 
his account of his trip to St. Louis, under date of 
February 2, 1881, he wrote her thus: 

"Saturday after lunch I went into a little smok- 
ing-room and found a very bright-looking young 
man of thirty there, who lighted my pipe. We got 
talking on railroad travel and its recent improve- 
ments, and he proved to be one of the principal 
mechanical engineers of the Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company, the inventor of the best kind of car 
wheel. His name is Barr. From car- wheel making 
we got on to contraction and expansion, molecu- 
lar motion, vortex-atoms, the nebular hypothesis, 
matter and spirit, etc., and I took great pleasure in 
the keenness and precision with which the young 
man talked and the extent of his scientific knowl- 

"After a while he said, 'These materialists are 
getting some heavy blows lately, and soon will 
learn that they have n't exhausted the sphere of 
knowledge. These matters have been beautifully 
treated in a little book called " The Unseen World," 
by John Fiske ever see it? Tell you what, sir, 
that man 's by all odds the greatest thinker of our 
day sees farther than Spencer himself in many 
points. In my opinion nothing has ever been done 
that equals the argument in the "Unseen World." 
I 'd give a heap to see that man ! ! ! ' ' 


Lecturing Experiences 

"Here I thought it best to interfere at once and 
not sit and let him go on in that vein. I explained 
that the individual here alluded to was identical 
with the 'gent here present/ Whereat he got up in 
great excitement and seized my hand, and told me 
that words could n't begin to tell the good I had 
done him with my writings, and he considered this 
one of the greatest days of his life! 

"This young man lives in Altoona, in the Alle- 
ghanies. At Harrisburgh, we were joined by an- 
other Altoona man named Duffield, an orthodox 
minister, enormously fond of all sorts of literature 
and especially of folk-lore. He recognized me, and 
said he had met me in Central Park, with Henry 
Holt, as we were returning from Bob Weeks's. I 
remember the time. It was in February, 1877, the 
last time I ever saw dear Bob. We entered into a 
'terremenjuous' triangular chin-wag till 10 P.M., 
when we reached Altoona, and my two friends got 

"Next morning, as I was taking my after-break- 
fast smoke, a young man (of twenty-five or so) 
came up and introduced himself as F. C. Eaton, of 
Indianapolis, a graduate of Williams. Mr. Duffield 
had told him I was on my way to St. Louis to give 
some lectures, and he wanted to know if I could n't 
put in two or three at Indianapolis. I told him 
I could give three lectures there and named my 
terms. He thought there was no doubt it could be 
arranged and is to let me know next week." 

As we shall see, Fiske gave his three lectures on 
"American Political Ideas " in Indianapolis during 
the following April. 


John Fiske 

At St. Louis his engagement was for three lec- 
tures on "American Political Ideas " under the 
auspices of Washington University. He was most 
cordially received by Dr. Eliot, the President of 
the University, and by Professor Snow, the Pro- 
fessor of History. The latter was an undergradu- 
ate at Harvard with Fiske, but in the class of '65. 
Fiske also received many social courtesies from 
President Eliot, the University Club, Judge Gantt, 
Colonel Hitchcock, formerly of General Sherman's 
staff-- "a capital fellow, native of Alabama, but 
very Northern in feeling and highly cultivated"; 
and several others. In short, the St. Louis people 
took him warmly to their hearts, and he established 
personal friendships that in years to come were 

His lectures were received in the most flattering 
manner, with unstinted applause, and with ex- 
pressions of personal appreciation that were most 
gratifying. President Eliot said to him, "You are 
throwing a new light on the whole of American 
history, and you are a benefactor to your country- 
men." On the strength of his great success Presi- 
dent Eliot made a definite engagement with him for 
a course of five lectures under the auspices of the 
university the next winter. In one of his letters to 
Mrs. Fiske, from St. Louis, telling of his great 
success, Fiske remarks parenthetically: "By the 
way, my dear, these Royal Institution lectures 
('American Political Ideas') are the ones to give 


Lectures in St. Louis 

whenever the audience is cultivated enough they 
are grander than the historical series." 

A little incident occurred during this St. Louis 
visit, worth relating as showing the wide range and 
accuracy of Fiske's knowledge. Judge Gantt, who 
was a well-informed man of some sixty-five years, 
had taken a great fancy to Fiske and he seemed to 
take a delight in probing Fiske's knowledge. One 
day he sought to feaze Fiske with a historico-legal 
question or puzzle, and here is Fiske's account of 
the incident : 

" Judge Gantt thought he would stick me and so 
propounded to me the barbarous law-Latin puzzle 
propounded by Sir Thomas More to a learned 
jurist at Amsterdam, 'whether a plough taken in 
withernam can be replevied?' Did n't stick Heze- 
kiah not much. I gave him a minute account of 
the ancient process of distraining and impounding 
and of the action of replevin, considerably to my 
own amusement and his astonishment." 

Fiske left St. Louis greatly cheered by the hearty 
Western appreciation that had been shown to- 
wards his work, as well as by the warm personal 
friendships he had established. Henceforth we are 
to see St. Louis stand forth in his regard as one of 
his intellectual homes. From St. Louis he went to 
Milwaukee. He spent a month in Wisconsin giv- 
ing lectures in Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton, and 
Waukesha. In these places he was received with 
the same enthusiastic appreciation given to him 


John Fiske 

elsewhere. He writes: " Wisconsin has certainly 
waked up to Hezzy ! They 're lively folks out here ; 
want to hear all the new notions. At Madison I had 
the Governor and several members of the Legisla- 
ture present, and they were profuse in their ex- 
pressions of delight. " He encountered some snow 
blockades which interfered with a few of his en- 
gagements. He took the interruptions philosoph- 
ically, however, contenting himself with an exple- 
tive now and then, such as this: "The snow in 
Madison lies in mountains. Great Scott, what a 

While in Wisconsin Fiske made his headquarters 
in Milwaukee; and of course he at once resumed 
personal relations with his dear friends Professor 
Peckham and his family, and the Reverend Mr. 
Dudley, of whom the reader has doubtless retained 
pleasant recollections, from the account which was 
given in previous pages of Fiske's first visit to 
Milwaukee with his philosophical lectures in 1872. 
He had a tender regard for these dear friends who 
sought by many delicate attentions to make his so- 
journ among them agreeable to his aesthetic tastes* 
He was entertained by the Peckhams during the 
whole period, and here is just a glimpse he gives 
Mrs. Fiske of his pleasant home-like surround- 

"It is a divinely beautiful Sabbath morning, 
quiet as Petersham, snow three feet deep and bright 
sun. George [Professor Peckham] is reading my 


In Milwaukee Again 

Pollock's 'Spinoza,' now and then exclaiming with 
delight or reading a sentence aloud ; his little dear 
of a wife is looking over the newspaper, and his 
white-haired mother is dozing in a big rocking- 
chair before the fire. So I will grasp the occasion to 
write a line to my dear home circle, eleven hundred 
miles away. 

"George is going to give a 'tremenjuous' break- 
fast-party for me here next Sunday morning, at 
10 o'clock; so you can imagine Hezzy in great 
feather and in good company." 

He had many "chin-wags" with his ever-delight- 
ful old Middletown friend and adviser Dudley, to 
whom, with his intimates, he gave the sobriquet of 
"Black John" by reason of Dudley's swarthy com- 
plexion, -- hence remarks like these: 

"Friday, nth. Lunched with Black John, and 
chin-wagged till 4 P.M. 

"Saturday, I2th. Stormy. Lunched and chin- 
wagged all day with Black John and his wife, and 
played on their Stein way piano. Dear old Black 
John how I do love him! He's awful good." 

We can easily imagine the nature of their "chin- 
wags": their Middletown reminiscences; Fiske's 
youthful inquiries and their profound significance; 
and the great development of thought the inter- 
vening years had brought to both. The Misses 
Hathaway were by no means overlooked. In a 
letter to Mrs. Fiske he gives an account of an eve- 
ning in their hospitable home, which is, one may 
well say, self-revealing on both sides. He writes : 


John Fiske 

"Saturday, I2th. At 8 P.M. went to the Hatha- 
way 's, with Peckham, and found the three girls, 
their brother Andrew, and their Uncle John. Car- 
ried my Schubert songs and sang nearly all of them 
to Mary's accompaniment on the Steinway grand. 
Hezzy was in his very best voice. Then we all went 
up to the uncle's den at the top of the ' hipe.' He is a 
jolly old bird, fat, black-eyed, handsome and good- 
natured. His room is half the attic, with low eight 
foot ceiling; a compound of bedroom and study, 
with lots of books, rugs, and easy-chairs, and a side- 
board to boot. It is just awfully cosy. Here in this 
delightful nest, with a bright fire, a glass of ' some- 
thing hot,' a rich cigar, the beaming old uncle, the 
ever philosophic George, the three charming sisters, 
and the wind howling outside for a background to 
enhance the brightness of it all, Hezzy for the time 
being, dropped the gnawing homesickness which 
he generally carries around in his thorax just next 
his heart. It was midnight when we reached home. 
I wish you had been there, you would enjoy the 
Hathaway s; and the den was just the kind to make 
Maudie flap her wings." 

As I turn over these Milwaukee letters of Feb- 
ruary, 1 88 1, I am struck by the following coin- 
'cidence which could not possibly be owing to any 
premeditation: I find a note from Mr. Howells, 
then editor of the " Atlantic Monthly," asking 
Fiske for a paper, critical and reminiscent, on 
George Eliot; and close beside this note I find a 
letter of Fiske, which contains this injunction to 
Mrs. Fiske: 


In Milwaukee Again 

" Read the ' Undiscovered Country ' at once. It is 
by far the best thing Howells has yet done. It is 
simply magnificent. It made the tears come." 

While in Milwaukee, Fiske had the good news 
that his dear friend Huxley had received from the 
English Government a sinecure appointment - 
Inspector of Salmon Fisheries which doubled his 
income without increasing his work. This greatly 
delighted Fiske, inasmuch as he well knew how this 
honor would ease Huxley's declining years. He also 
received a letter at this time from his dear Scotch 
friend, James Sime, of London, who, in the follow- 
ing extract, not only gave expression to his deep 
personal regard, but also voiced the grief of Eng- 
land at the departure of one of the most striking 
and influential personalities of the Victorian era. 
Sime writes under date of February 7, 1881 : 

"As I write we are all mourning the loss of our 
great old hero Carlyle. I do not think any of us 
knew how much we loved him until now. He said 
many wild things about your country, as indeed he 
did about most subjects: yet how much we all owe 
to him! It seems somehow as if life must be less* 
ideal now that his grand picturesque figure is gone. 
With all his extravagances he had some of the very 
qualities which we appear to need most in these 
materialistic times. Spencer's influence is any- 
thing but materialistic but we want so much more 
glow and fervour than a writer of his stamp can 
give us. If only the mighty poet for whom the 
whole creation is groaning would come! Nature 


John Fiske 

seems to find it very hard to give birth to those 
radiant spirits who, without exactly adding to our 
knowledge give a new meaning and glory to the 
world, and bring us nearer to the very heart of 

" I am so pleased to think that you are resolved 
to visit the old country again as soon as you can. 
Next time I hope nothing will prevent us from 
having some happy days together in the country, 
or, still better perhaps, on the continent. What 
say you to our planning a trip from Coblentz to 
Treves, such as Mrs. Fiske and you thought of? It 
would be all the more delightful if she were of the 
party. We should have quite a world of happy 


Thus, greeted by enthusiastic audiences, and 
cheered by warm personal friendships, some ex- 
tending over the greater portion of his life, and 
all in the midst of Wisconsin's terrific snows, there 
came to Fiske this sympathetic note from Sime as a 
sweet message from his friends beyond the sea, and 
at the same time a delicate attestation to his own 
place in the world of thought. His state of mind is 
'reflected in this passage in one of his Milwaukee 
letters: "Hezzy is well, bright, and clear all the 
time nowadays, things look so bright to him." 

While in Milwaukee Fiske received an urgent 
request from Mrs. Mary Hemenway, for two 
lectures to be given in the Old South Church in 
Boston: one in support of the proposition to make 
this historic building a centre for the teaching of 


The Old South Church 

American history, and the principles of good citi- 
zenship; and the other upon Samuel Adams as a 
type of eminent citizenship. He was glad to comply 
with this request as a patriotic duty; and getting 
a postponement of his lecture engagements at In- 
dianapolis for a month, he went directly from Mil- 
waukee to his home in Cambridge, where he arrived 
March 13, and at once set about the preparation 
of the two lectures, to be delivered April 4 and 
April 6. 

In the first lecture he gave a summary of the 
principal events in New England history, and par- 
ticularly an account of the notable incidents which 
identified the Old South building with the War of 
Independence. He had a fine audience, and in a 
letter to his mother he gave quite a graphic account 
of the occasion : 

"I gave my new lecture on the Old South 
Church to-day, on the site of the pulpit where Sam 
Adams and Warren once roused the people to resist 
the encroachments of George III. There were 400 
or more present. I wound up with a grand appeal 
to save the building and convert it into a place for 
teaching American history. Every one says it is the 
most eloquent thing I ever did. Mrs. Hemenway is 
overjoyed. I know myself that I never held an 
audience so breathless with interest before. I got 
excited myself, and Abby says she never before 
saw me so animated in manner. My audience was 
the cream of Boston. More than all, I believe I 
have started a fresh impulse toward saving the 


John Fiske 

building; and if so, it will be well. O, this has been 
a sweet and happy day! Harold and Ralph were 
there, and took it all in with enthusiasm. How funny 
it seems to have children old enough to do so!" 

The Samuel Adams lecture, which came two 
days later, was also one of great interest, and gave 
Fiske a fine opportunity to show his appreciation of 
the function of great men in the development of 
social and political well-being, and also an oppor- 
tunity to display his power of individual character- 
ization the first opportunity he had had to treat 
a really great historic personality by itself. He first 
sketched the social and political life of New Eng- 
land, based on its town meetings and its represent- 
ative assemblies, as forming the general social con- 
ditions into which Samuel Adams was born; and 
which furnished him, in the maturity of his powers, 
with the instrumentalities for doing his great work 
for, and with, his countrymen. And thus by the play 
of outward and inward forces Samuel Adams be- 
came the type of New England citizen-statesman- 
ship at the opening of the Revolutionary period. 
Then by way of complementary contrast, Fiske 
briefly sketched the social and political development 
of ^Virginia, and pointed out how this development 
tended to the production of leaders in thought and 
action, so that Washington became as distinctly and 
legitimately the type of Virginia citizen-statesman- 
ship as Samuel Adams was of that of New England. 

Having thus sketched a general background for 


Lecture on Samuel Adams 

his portrait, he presents his hero, not only as the 
first of citizens, but also as the statesman around 
whom the civil history of the Revolutionary period 
centres, as its military history centres around 

Thus, cheered by a patriotic duty well performed, 
and by a short visit with his family, Fiske promptly 
set his face westward to fulfil his two remaining 
lecture engagements of the season the one at 
Indianapolis and the other at Cornell University, 

There is a free, autobiographic frankness of ex- 
pression in the letters immediately following, the 
aim being throughout to present Fiske as he was, 
especially to give due prominence to his robust 
enjoyment of life, his profound sympathy with his 
fellows, and his great pleasure in service, in giving 
joy to others. 

He knew Dickens by heart and Dickens's char- 
acters were his constant companions. Hence he 
looked out upon life as abounding in charity and 
humor, and he was ever ready "to lend a hand." 
Then, too, these letters were written under cir- 
cumstances where he had only to reveal himself, 
his impressions, his feelings, his thoughts, and 
it will be noted that his revelations all relate to 
worthy things. 

His trip to Indianapolis was by way of New York 
and thence over the Pennsylvania Railroad. Of his 
journey under date of April 15, he writes thus: 


John Fiske 

"I had a most delightful ride hither from Phila- 
delphia over the mountains. The day was wonder- 
fully beautiful all the loveliness of spring. I 
read Lecky all day with intense delight and the car 
was so well lighted that I was able to read com- 
fortably till 10 P.M. By the time I got here I had 
nearly finished the first volume. Eaton met me 
at the Station and brought me here the New 
Denison Hotel. It is one of the most comfortable 
hotels I have ever stopped at; clean beds, pleasant 
rooms, good food. I have made a great hit with the 
lectures, the last of which I give to-night. Wednes- 
day afternoon half a dozen young ladies assembled 
at Mrs. Eaton's, and Hezzy sang a lot of songs and 
some of the ladies sang, and then we adjourned to 
the church, and Hezzy played on the organ. After 
the lecture the Literary Club gave me a grand re- 
ception. Yesterday Mrs. Eaton gathered 38 ladies 
in her parlour, and Hezzy read 'em his paper on a 
Common Origin of Languages, and then answered 
about 500 questions about everything, and told 'em 
about George Eliot, and sang 'Wohin,' and 'Am 
Meer,' and 'Bid me to live,' in which Mrs. Vinton, 
Judge Stallo's daughter, accompanied me. This 
afternoon the Vintons take me to drive and to tea. 
After the lecture to-night there is to be a great 
pow-wow here at the hotel, including a supper and 
speeches and songs. I was asked to make a speech, 
but resolutely refused. Then I was asked to sing 
some songs, which I said que oui, and am to sing, 
possibly, a bouquet consisting of 

"i. Wohin. 

"2. Am Meer. 

"3. Auf dem Wasser zu Singen. 


Lectures in Indianapolis 

"They are bound to have me here next winter 
they say. Indianapolis is a very pretty city a 
sort of immense New England village with wide, 
shady streets; but not to be compared with Mil- 
waukee for beauty." 

After the evening's "pow-wow" he writes as 
follows : 

"Grand shindy came off this evening. Supper of 
300 people. Speeches, stories, and fun. Toasts 
were given me. When called up, I waived speech 
and gave 'Rauschen' with a good accompanist 
on a grand piano. Never before did Hezzy's voice 
ring out so loud and clear. It was all utterly bran- 
new to these Indianopolitans! By Jove the 
applause was uproarious, absolutely deafening, 
and prolonged till encore was a necessity. Then I 
sang 'Auf dem Wasser zu Singen'; and I never 
sang so before in my life. It went off beautifully. 
So did Hezzy's lecture to-night. Everything is 
working well. I think I have conquered Indiana. 
The whole Legislature heard me sing to-night ; and 
I held a levee afterward, shaking hands with 'em all. 
And now every town in Indiana wants to 'have 
the honor ' of entertaining me with a lecture course 
next winter. My two songs were worth two lectures 
to me. If all else fails, I'll go a-singing with Thomas's 

Fiske spent another day in the friendly atmos- 
phere of Indianapolis, and then set out for Ithaca 
by way of Buffalo. From Ithaca, under date of 
April 20, 1 88 1, he resumes the record of his experi- 
ences. Writing to Mrs. Fiske he says: 


John Fiske 

"Well, my dear, what do you suppose Hezzy did 
the next morning after he sang songs to 300 people? 
Lindley Vinton came with his two prancing nags in 
a light buggy and we scampered, you may believe. 
Drove away out into the woods, where it was so 
beautiful that we got down, hitched our team, and 
went into the woods and lay an hour on the dry 
leaves looking up into the sky. I enclose some of 
the leaves. Then we went to the Bates House and 
had a festive dinner of wild ducks, etc. Then 
Hezzy packed and went over to Mrs. Eaton's, and 
sang a lot of songs in which Miss Helen Wright 
accompanied me. Then took tea and left at once to 
get the 7.30 train for Buffalo (got a horrible break- 
fast next morning at Cleveland), and reached 
Buffalo at 1.15, reading Lecky all the A.M. with 
great delight! Henry Richmond was there to meet 
me with carriage, and took me bag and baggage 
up to his 'hipe,' and regaled me with some fried 
oysters, broiled spring chicken, delicious French 
rolls, and heavenly beer. Two nice young Harvard 
graduates were there. Then Richmond took me a 
long, beautiful drive in an open buggy --it was 
chilly. At 7 we had dinner, to which came Fred 
Wheeler and five others, so that we sat eight at 
table. Great tall chairs like those in the 'Old 
Curiosity Shop'; rich tapestries hanging over the 
doors; rare paintings on the walls, and portfolios, 
prints, giant red volumes, etc., scattered about in 
confusion; low ceiling of solid oak; orchestrion 
discoursing sweet music; jolly place, my dear! 
We had a clear soup, fresh shad, porter-house 
steak and potato croquettes, wild duck, lobster 
salad, Charlotte russe, ice-cream and coffee; with 


At Cornell University 

claret and champagne. Broke up at 10.30, and 
went around to Wheeler's house for an hour then 
came back and bunked in. Had a truly magnif- 
icent time, and the boys all treated me as if they 
were glad to see me. 

"Got off Monday morning on the 8.20 train, 
read Lecky all day, and reached Ithaca at 5.20 P.M. 
I was immediately brought up here to Sage Col- 
lege, which is the building especially devoted to 
the young women ; and so here is Hezzy , in a great 
building full of 'sweet-girl-undergraduates.' None 
but ministers, I am told, are allowed this privilege; 
so I suppose I am a minister. I have a lovely pair 
of rooms parlour and bed-room on the second 
floor. There is a great commons hall downstairs, 
where I take meals with the 60 or 80 'sweet girl 
undergraduates,' though here two male instructors 
do likewise, besides the husband of the matron. 

"As a rule the girls are not extremely pretty, and 
their general style is more or less annexy! Does n't 
Hezzy put up in all sorts of places? There's a 
monstrous parlour with a good Steinway concert- 
grand, and this morning I struck out an outline of a 
1 Dona Nobis' for my Mass, which seems good, and 
if I really adopt it and fill it out, that will finish 
the Mass, you know. These girls are mighty 
well-mannered. There's very little discipline, but 
there 's never been an atom of trouble or scandal of 
any sort, though you see the girls strolling about 
the yard with the young men, to and from lectures, 
etc. They do get married, though; it is a common 
thing for engagements to take place here, resulting 
in marriage soon after graduation. They say the 
boys work a great deal harder for having the girls 


John Fiske 

to hear and see what they do. Every one, without 
exception, approves of the system unreservedly, 
which I found to be the case also at Madison. 

"A great deal has been said of the beauty of this 
place but no description can begin to come up to 
the reality. In the first place, there is Cayuga 
Lake, forty miles long and averaging four miles in 
width: that goes winding away among the hills, 
almost as lovely as a Scotch lake. At the head of 
the lake, on a flat plain, stands the village of 
Ithaca, about twice as large as Athol, with wide 
shady streets, and many handsome houses. There 
are several millionnaires living in the village! 
From the village up to the college-yard the ascent 
is quite as steep as the ascent to Tom Howe's farm 
steeper in fact, for a road straight up would be 
impossible. The road winds up turning corners as 
sharp as those which scared you, as we approached 
Loch Lomond. As I sit here, I see village and lake 
400 feet below. Beyond them rise the opposite 
hills, with mountains in the distance, where snow 
still lies. Great gorges, two and three hundred feet 
in depth cut through the yard, and are crossed 
by elegant stone bridges. At the bottom of these 
gorges are roaring streams and waterfalls. One of 
these falls, which is over 150 feet high is worth a 
journey to see. The gorges are thickly covered with 

' The college-buildings are very large and elegant, 
and are not crowded together. The houses of many 
of the professors stand about the edges of the yard. 
Before my window, on the edge of the steep descent, 
stand five or six, all many gabled and picturesque. 
It is simply a wonderfully beautiful place. There 


At Cornell University 

are not many large trees about the yard but they 
are not needed. Here and there are clumps of huge 
pines. They say it is terribly cold here in winter, 
which I readily believe. 

11 My lectures are in a large hall down in the vil- 
lage, and we go down in an omnibus with brakes. 
The hall, which seats about 1000 people, was packed 
full the first night, and the lecture was voted a suc- 
cess as usual. To-night I give the second lecture. 

'The food at the feminine commons is very 
good : something like what we get at Mrs. Moore's 
in Petersham and a great plenty of it. Most 
of the girls look fresh and rosy and healthy. It 
is profoundly quiet, but now and then I hear 'em 
laughing as they go along the hall. Lots of feminine 
head-gear and worsted shawls and sich hang around 
by the foot of the stairs, and altogether the whole 
sense of being installed here for ten days is sort of 

" O, my dear, I am awfully homesick! I am read- 
ing and studying as hard as I can to keep down my 
feelings. I do think it is wicked that I have to be 
away from home so much. It is all as wrong as it 
can be. I have finished Lecky and am now reading 
Gardiner's 'Thirty Years' War.' " 

From Cornell, Ithaca, under date of April 28, 
1 88 1, he writes: 

"They tell me that there have never been any 
lectures here, since the University was founded, so 
successful as mine. The hall is packed every time 
and there are many standing up. I seem to have 
won the heart of everybody and can count on Cor- 
nell in future as often as I have anything to give. 


John Fiske 

To-night by general request I gave ' Common Ori- 
gin of Languages ' here in the lecture-room of Sage 
College. The room was packed. At least 300 peo- 
ple toiled up the fearful hill from the village to hear 
me. After getting through my manuscript the spirit 
moved me to make some extempore remarks, which 
I interspersed with some puns and odd stories, and 
it was a great success every way. To-morrow eve- 
ning I give ' Manifest Destiny ' and wind up Satur- 
day at 9 A.M. I then 'quit these diggin's,' shall take 
sleeping-car at Utica and reach Boston about 9 A.M. 
Sunday, May ist." 

Thus Fiske's third lecture season came to its 
close, and he was only too glad to get an easement 
from his peripatetic work. But he could not remain 
idle. His experience in presenting some of the gen- 
eral aspects of American history to popular audi- 
ences, the universal favor with which his lectures 
had been received, the widely expressed opinion of 
eminent critics that he was giving not only a fresh 
interpretation, but also a new philosophic valida- 
tion to "American history, were definite evidences 
that he had undertaken a greatly needed work, and 
that his broad, philosophic method of treating his 
subject presenting American history as a chap- 
ter in the social evolution of mankind would be 
readily appreciated by his countrymen. 

While engaged with his lectures, his mind was 
much engaged with thoughts of a concise history 
of the American people, from the discovery of the 
continent by Columbus, down to the close of the 


Plans New American History 

Civil War in 1865; this history to be comprised in 
three volumes. He took as a typical model John 
Richard Green's " Short History of the English 

While brooding on this subject during the spring 
of 1 88 1, he received a letter from Messrs. Harper 
& Brothers, publishers, in which they asked if he 
was open to negotiations for a work on American 
history. The letters show that after a few days' 
rest with his family, Fiske was in conference with 
the Messrs. Harper in New York, and that he was 
not long in coming to an agreement with them for 
the publication of such a history as he had in 

Having now a very definite literary task before 
him, Fiske set about its execution in the same care- 
ful, deliberate way we have had occasion to note as 
customary with him when undertaking any impor- 
tant literary work. In the first place, he laid out 
a tentative plan for the proposed work, showing 
within the prescribed limits its main features in 
their logical order. This plan is an interesting docu- 
ment, not only as an exhibition of Fiske's orderly 
way of working, but also as showing what consti- 
tuted the main features of American history as this 
history had at this time shaped itself in his mind. 
One who reads it cannot fail to be impressed by the 
arrangement of the main features in a series of topi- 
cal chapters presenting a logical flow of events from 
the beginning to the very end. As we run through 


John Fiske 

the scheme and observe the steady evolution of 
social and political conditions that constitute, as 
it were, its framework; and then consider that this 
scheme is cast as a scenic background for the por- 
trayal of the services of great men as their lives 
come and go as they function in the flow of the 
events in which their lives are cast - we recognize 
one of the principal factors in Fiske's lucid style, 
his careful attention to the logical arrangement of 
the subject-matter of his thought. 

Henceforth, however much he may be called 
aside for special work, Fiske's main line of thought 
is to be given to the presentation of American his- 
tory, as indicated in this first tentative plan. The 
subject, however, is to expand greatly under his 
hand. We are to see him in the next few years sub- 
stantially completing a history as here sketched 
out, and then putting the work aside as inadequate, 
as having been undertaken under too circumscribed 
conditions three volumes which necessitated 
too condensed a treatment of many essential points. 
In short, we are to see him come to the point of 
regarding what he had done on the foregoing plan 
as but a skeleton framework for the history he 
wanted to write. We are then to see him begin the 
work all over again with a much broader purpose: 
the presentation of American history from the 
philosophic viewpoint, from its relation to pre- 
Columbian history, from its relation to antecedent 
and contemporaneous European history, and also 


Laylor's Cyclopaedia 

as involving within itself the development of certain 
social and political principles of vast significance 
to the future well-being of civilized society. All 
this will appear as our narrative unfolds. 

The ensuing summer was spent by Fiske alter- 
nately in Cambridge and Petersham. He had a lit- 
erary task in hand which kept him busy the whole 
summer the preparation of three articles for 
Laylor's "Cyclopaedia of Political Science": one on 
Great Britain, one on the House of Commons, and 
one on the House of Lords. It is interesting to note, 
a propos of his controversy with William James, 
that his article on Great Britain consists of a suc- 
cinct account of the origins of the people of the 
United Kingdom, and the historic evolution of 
their government, their institutions, their indus- 
tries, and their commerce. It is essentially a brief 
history of the English people, and in no sense a 
biography of great men. In truth, the article may 
be characterized as presenting the environing phys- 
ical and social conditions which have made the 
development of the great men of the English race 

As he was finishing these articles for Laylor's 
"Cyclopaedia," Fiske received an invitation from 
an association of Unitarian ministers to give a pa- 
per on some philosophic subject agreeable to him- 
self at a meeting of the association at Princeton, 
Massachusetts, on October 4 following. He gladly 
accepted the invitation and prepared a paper, to 


John Fiske 

which he gave the title "The True Lesson of Prot- 
estantism." It was a paper replete with a knowl- 
edge of modern philosophic and religious thought, 
and in its fair-mindedness, it appealed to the ad- 
vanced thinkers of the Unitarian faith no less than 
to all serious-minded persons who were observant 
of the steady, unmistakable disintegration going on 
in all the orthodox religious creeds. 

Briefly stated, the thesis was this: since the day 
when Martin Luther posted his audacious heresies 
on the church door at Wittenberg, a great change 
has come over men's minds, the full significance of 
which is even yet but rarely comprehended. The 
immediate effect of Luther's revolt was the forma- 
tion of a great number of little churches, each with 
its creed as clean-cut and as thoroughly dried as 
the creed of the great Church from which they had 
separated. At the present day it is not the forma- 
tion of new sects, but the decomposition of the old 
ones that is the conspicuous phenomenon inviting 
attention. The latter half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury will be known to the future historian as es- 
pecially the era of the decomposition of orthodoxies. 
People, as a rule, do not now pass over from one 
church into another, but they remain in their own 
churches while modifying their theological opin- 
ions, and in this way the orthodoxy of every church 
is gradually but surely losing its consistency. 

In view of this decomposition, which is going on 
before our eyes, it is not strange if we are sometimes 


The Lesson of Protestantism 
led to ask, What is to be the final outcome of this 
disintegrating movement? Will the present decom- 
position of religious beliefs be succeeded by a 
period of reconstruction in which the teaching of 
some church shall be accepted as authoritative in 
all matters pertaining to religious belief; or will the 
decomposition go on until, through the develop- 
ments of science, the last vestige of religious faith 
shall have vanished, and all educated men shall 
have become atheistic materialists? Fiske repudi- 
ates any such implications as being involved in the 
rational thought of the time, and says: 

"It is my object on this occasion to show that 
no such alternative really confronts us; that the 
very propounding of such a question involves 
grave philosophical and historical errors; that 
neither materialism on the one hand, nor any spe- 
cies of ecclesiastical orthodoxy on the other hand, 
is likely to become prevalent in the future ; and that 
the maintenance of an essentially religious atti- 
tude of mind is compatible with absolute freedom 
of speculation on all subjects, whether scientific or 

He then goes on to show with much fulness of 
illustration, how the deeper scientifico-philosophic 
thought of the time is leading away from material- 
ism and to ever-increasing problems of a transcen- 
dental nature, so that the time may come when 
men shall be as profoundly interested in questions 
of a transcendental or ontological character as were 


John Fiske 

Aquinas and the other great mediaeval thinkers; 
only that the conceptions of the Infinite Eternal 
Power, the Source and Sustainer of all things, by 
the thinkers of the future, will not be hedged in by 
the personalities with which the mediaeval thinkers 
invested their conceptions of a Divine Creator. 

The true lesson of Protestantism Fiske finds to 
be this : 

" Religious belief is something which in no way 
concerns society, but which concerns only the in- 
dividual. In all other relations the individual is 
more or less responsible to society; but for his reli- 
gious belief and his religious life, these are matters 
which lie wholly between himself and his God." 

He closes with the following fine thought: 

"When this lesson shall have been duly compre- 
hended and taken to heart, I make no doubt that 
religious speculation will continue to go on; but 
such words as 'infidelity' and 'heresy/ the present 
currency of which serves only to show how the rem- 
nants of primitive barbaric thought still cling to us 
and hamper our progress such words will have 
become obsolete and perhaps unintelligible save 
to the philosophic student of history. ... To feel 
that the last word has been said on any subject is 
not a desideratum with the true philosopher, who 
knows full well that the truth he announces to-day 
will open half-a-dozen questions where it settles 
one, and will presently be variously qualified, and 
at last absorbed in some deeper and wider truth. 
When all this shall have been realized, and shall 
have been made part and parcel of the daily mental 


Yorktown Anniversary 

habit of men, then our human treatment of reli- 
gion will no longer be what it has too often been in 
the past a wretched squabble, fit only for the 
demons of Malebolge, but it will have come to 
be like the sweet discourse of saints in Dante's 

The I Qth of October, 1881, being the centennial 
anniversary of the surrender of Cornwallis at York- 
town, Mrs. Hemenway desired to have this his- 
toric event commemorated by some appropriate 
exercises in the Old South Church. Accordingly 
she asked Fiske to deliver an address on the occa- 
sion. He was glad to comply with the request. He 
had the story of the remarkable campaign which 
brought the War of Independence to a close so well 
in hand, that in a few days he produced a very lucid 
and interesting account of the combined move- 
ments of Greene in the Carolinas, of Lafayette in 
Virginia, of Washington's wonderful march from 
the Hudson, with the operations of the French 
fleet under Count de Grasse, all culminating in 
such a complete investment of Cornwallis at York- 
town that he had no possible alternative but an 
unconditional surrender. 




THE year 1882 opened with a sad bereavement to 
Fiske's mother, in the death of her husband, the 
Honorable Edwin W. Stoughton, which occurred 
on the 7th of January. Mr. Stoughton was a lineal 
descendant of the brother of William Stoughton, 
who was Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts 
Bay Colony, the first Chief Justice of that Province 
under the last royal charter, and who presided at 
the famous witchcraft trials at Salem. He had 
passed a life of great activity at the bar, and by his 
abilities and force of character he had achieved a 
foremost position among the eminent lawyers of 
the country. In the memorable controversy which 
arose as to the choice of President in the Presiden- 
tial election of 1876, whether Hayes or Tilden, and 
in the establishment of the Electoral Commission 
to which the issue was confided, Mr. Stoughton 
took an active part in behalf of the Republicans, 
and was of counsel to argue the claim of Hayes 
before the Commission. 


Death of Mr. Stoughton 

For his services in behalf of the Republican 
Party in this memorable contest, President Hayes 
appointed him, in the autumn of 1877, Envoy 
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to 
Russia. The climate of Russia did not agree with 
him, and after less than two years he returned, with 
his health seriously impaired. Several months be- 
fore his death a movement had been started among 
his professional brethren in favor of his appoint- 
ment as Justice of the Supreme Court of the United 
States. Had he lived and his health permitted, he 
undoubtedly would have received an appointment 
to this high office. 

The Stoughton home at 93 Fifth Avenue, New 
York City, was also the home of Fiske and his fam- 
ily when in New York, and it was a most hospitable 
one. Here one was sure to meet those eminent 
in the various walks of life, for Mrs. Stoughton 
had developed social entertaining into a fine art. 
Among the many visitors to this hospitable home 
of whom we get glimpses through Fiske's eyes, no 
single individuality stands out with greater dis- 
tinctness than that of Captain John Ericsson, of 
Monitor fame. Mr. Stoughton was counsel for 
Captain Ericsson during the greater part of his 
inventive career, and particularly during the Mon- 
itor period, and the intimacy between counsel and 
client was of the closest kind, the Captain being a 
welcome guest in the Stoughton home whenever he 
felt like dropping in. 


John Fiske 

When the Builders of Iron Ships and Marine 
Engines presented Captain Ericsson with a gold 
model of the Monitor as a tribute to his inventive 
genius, he asked Mrs. Stoughton to take charge of 
the gift for him; and for a long time it was one of 
the attractions in her home an attraction that 
appealed to Fiske with ever-increasing significance. 
Here he had a concrete symbol of the dominance 
of mind over matter, consisting simply in a new 
adjustment of materials and forces, an invention 
which impelled an immediate reconstruction of the 
naval architecture of the world. 

Fiske found Captain Ericsson a wonderfully in- 
teresting man, not only on account of his great in- 
ventive powers, but also by reason of the play of 
his mind in conversation, as he grappled with the 
various problems arising from the applications of 
the broadening truths of science to man's social 

As I turn over the Stoughton papers which have 
been placed in my hands I find among them many 
mementos of the fine social life characteristic of the 
Stoughton home, and among these I find certain 
facts relating to a social entertainment given by 
Mr. and Mrs. Stoughton in the early spring of 1873, 
which, from an incident that flowed from it, is 
of much historic interest. The entertainment was 
given in behalf of some event connected with our 
Civil War, for in the decorations, the opening 
and the close of the war were symbolized: the one 


Gold Model of the Monitor 

by the presence of the flag borne by the Star of the 
West, the vessel sent by President Buchanan in 
January, 1861, to relieve the garrison at Fort Sum- 
ter, and which was fired upon by the rebel batteries ; 
and the other by a floral arrangement representing 
the words "Five Forks," where the success of the 
Union forces under General Sheridan led to the 
surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. The de- 
sign was a most significant one, and upon General 
Sheridan, who was one of the guests, it made a 
strong impression, so great that he said to Mrs. 
Stoughton: "To fully complete your design you 
should have the flag which is the complement to 
the flag of the Star of the West!" 

" And what may that be?" she asked. 

"The flag my troops carried in the final charge 
on Lee's forces at Five Forks and which compelled 
Lee's surrender." 

"That would be a fitting complement, indeed!" 
said Mrs. Stoughton. 

General Sheridan responded: "I have the flag 
still in my possession and it will give me great 
pleasure to present it to you, Mrs. Stoughton." 

Shortly after Mrs. Stoughton received the flag 
from General Sheridan, accompanied by the fol- 
lowing letter, which gives the flag, historically, a 
priceless value. 1 

1 The original letter of General Sheridan is in the possession of 
William K. Bixby, Esq., of St. Louis. 


John Fiske 

CHICAGO, March 23, 1873. 
My dear Mrs. Stougkton : - 

When last in your house in New York, enjoy- 
ing your hospitality, I saw the flag of the Star of 
the West draped with evergreens and under its 
" Union" the words, " Five Forks," written in beau- 
tiful flowers. I cannot express to you, Madame, 
the emotions, and many thoughts, crowding each 
other which this delicate representation of inter- 
esting national events created. 

I thought, perhaps, that it would not be inap- 
propriate to let you replace the flowers, which fade, 
by the battle-flag of "Five Forks," and then you 
could drape together the first and last flags fired 
upon in the great struggle for our national exist- 

My proposition was most gratefully accepted, 
and I send you by express to-day the flag. It has 
always been very dear to me; but this only serves 
to increase the pleasure I have in giving it to 

The flag was new when I left Winchester in the 
Shenandoah Valley, February 27, 1864, and from 
that date commenced its active service. It took the 
place of its old and faded comrade of Opequan, 
Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. At Waynesboro 
the remnant of General Early's Army of the Shen- 
andoah surrendered to it. At the crossing of the 
James River by my command on the 25th of 
March, 1865, it was lowered to Mr. Lincoln as 
he passed through the bridge over which we were 
crossing. When General Grant passed through the 
gate to Mr. McLean's house to receive the surren- 
der of General Lee at Appomattox Court House, 


General Sheridan's Flag 

it was lowered to him: it has never been lowered, 
in salute or otherwise, to any one else. 

At Five Forks, when it was necessary that we 
should win, I took it from the color-bearer and it 
led the troops to victory. The bullet hole in the 
white was received there. At Jetersville it stood 
in front of Lee's army to oppose its further prog- 
ress until the arrival of the Army of the Potomac. 
At Sailor's Creek, Ewell and his corps surrendered 
to it. 

On the morning of the Qth of April, 1865, it stood 
opposite the white flag which the Army of North- 
ern Virginia raised in token of surrender; and 
while I was advancing to meet the envoys repre- 
senting the enemies' flag, it was fired upon by a 
brigade of South Carolina troops receiving the last 
shot from the Army of Northern Virginia. 1 
I am, dear Madame, 

Very respectfully, 

Your ob'd't. Servant, 

Lt. General. 

After the death of her husband Mrs. Stoughton 
had no desire to live in New York. In her loneli- 
ness, its social attractions were in no way compar- 
able to the joy of living in close relations with her 
children and her grandchildren. Accordingly, she 
disposed of her Fifth Avenue residence, and pur- 
chased a vacant lot in Cambridge, near the Fiske 

1 At the death of Mrs. Stoughton this flag descended to Mrs. 
Fiske. As she thought so priceless an historic object rightfully be- 
longed to the family of General Sheridan, she returned it to Mrs 


John Fiske 

home; and while plans for a suitable home for her- 
self were being worked out she took a journey to 

Fiske's labors for the year 1882 were of a some- 
what different character from those of previous 
years. In the first place, his mother's bereavement, 
her removal to Cambridge, and the condition of 
her affairs generally brought a fresh weight of care 
upon him. Then, too, his history, now well in hand, 
needed his closest attention in order to bring it to 
completion in conformity to his agreement with 
his publishers. Lecturing was, therefore, greatly 

Of magazine articles he published in the " At- 
lantic Monthly" two of a scientifico-evolutionary 
character relating to the arrival of man in Europe, 
articles which for some time had been lying in his 
desk; and also a memorial tribute to Charles Dar- 
win, who died April 19, 1882. To "Harper's Maga- 
zine" he contributed four articles on subjects taken 
from his history. But the events of the year of 
greatest significance in the life of Fiske, as well 
as to the cause of Evolution, were the death of 
Darwin and the visit to America of Herbert 

Most of Fiske's days, therefore, were spent with 
his family, and while we have delightful glimpses 
of him in his home at Cambridge, and at Peters- 
ham engaged in his literary work, at play with his 
children, and enjoying his musical diversions, these 


Tribute to Darwin 

glimpses are very similar in character to what we 
have seen in previous years and they do not call 
for any particular mention. I, therefore, pass them 
by, and will ask the attention of the reader to these 
points: Fiske's fine discriminating tribute to Dar- 
win, and Herbert Spencer's visit to America and 
Fiske's identification therewith. 

Fiske's appreciation of Darwin was charged with 
a feeling of personal affection, which had expres- 
sion in such fine literary form that the opening 
and closing paragraphs of his article are in place 
here : 

u To-day, while all that was mortal of Charles 
Darwin is borne to its last resting-place in West- 
minster Abbey, by the side of Sir Isaac Newton, 
it seems a fitting occasion to utter a few words of 
tribute to the memory of the beautiful life that 
has just passed away from us. Though Mr. Dar- 
win had more than completed his threescore and 
ten years, and though his life had been rich in 
achievement and crowned with success such as is 
but seldom vouchsafed to man, yet the news of his 
death has none the less impressed us with a sense 
of sudden and premature bereavement. For on the 
one hand the time would never have come when 
those of us who had learned the inestimable worth 
of such a teacher and friend could have felt ready 
to part with him; and on the other hand Mr. Dar- 
win was one whom the gods, for love of him, had 
endowed with perpetual youth, so that his death 
could never seem otherwise than premature. As 
Mr. Gal ton has well said, the period of physical 


John Fiske 

youth say from the fifteenth to the twenty- 
second year is, with most men the only avail- 
able period for acquiring intellectual habits and 
amassing the stores of knowledge that are to form 
their equipment for the work of a life-time; but in 
the case of men of the highest order this period is 
simply a period of seven years, neither more nor 
less valuable than any other seven years. There is, 
now and then, a mind perhaps one in four or 
five millions' which in early youth thinks the 
thoughts of mature manhood, and which in old 
age retains the flexibility, the receptiveness, the 
keen appetite for new impressions, that are charac- 
teristic of the fresh season of youth. Such a mind 
as this was Mr. Darwin's. To the last he was eager 
for new facts and suggestions, to the last he held 
his judgments in readiness for revision; and to this 
unfailing freshness of spirit was joined a sagacity 
which, naturally great, had been refined and 
strengthened by half a century most fruitful in 
experiences, till it had come to be almost super- 

"When we remember how Alexander von Hum- 
boldt began at the age of seventy-five to write 
his 'Kosmos/ and how he lived to turn off in his 
ninetieth year the fifth bulky volume of that pro- 
digiously learned book, when we remember this, 
and consider the great scientific value of the mono- 
graphs which Mr. Darwin has lately been publish- 
ing almost every year, we must feel that it is in a 
measure right to speak of his death as premature. 

" It is fitting that in the great Abbey, where rest 
the ashes of England's noblest heroes, the place of 


Tribute to Darwin 

the discoverer of natural selection should be near 
that of Sir Isaac Newton. Since the publication 
of the immortal ' Principia ' no single scientific book 
has so widened the mental horizon of mankind as 
the 'Origin of Species.' Mr. Darwin, like Newton, 
was a very young man when his great discovery 
suggested itself to him. Like Newton, he waited 
many years before publishing it to the world. Like 
Newton, he lived to see it become part and parcel 
of the mental equipment of all men of science. The 
theological objection urged against the Newtonian 
theory by Leibnitz, that it substituted natural 
causes for the immediate action of the Deity, was 
also urged against the Darwinian theory by Agas- 
siz; and the same objection will doubtless con- 
tinue to be urged against scientific explanations of 
natural phenomena so long as there are men who 
fail to comprehend the profoundly theistic and re- 
ligious truth that the action of natural causes is 
in itself the immediate action of the Deity. It is 
interesting, however, to see that, as theologians 
are no longer frightened by the doctrine of gravi- 
tation, so they are beginning to outgrow their 
dread of the doctrine of natural selection. On the 
Sunday following Mr. Darwin's death, Canon Lid- 
don, at St. Paul's Cathedral, and Canons Barry 
and Prothero, at Westminster Abbey, agreed in 
referring to the Darwinian theory as 'not neces- 
sarily hostile to the fundamental truths of reli- 
gion.' The effect of Mr. Darwin's work has been, 
however, to remodel the theological conceptions 
of the origin and destiny of man which were cur- 
rent in former times. In this respect it has wrought 
a revolution as great as that which Copernicus in- 


John Fiske 

augurated and Newton completed, and of very 
much the same kind. Again has man been rudely 
unseated from his imaginary throne in the centre 
of the universe, but only that he may learn to see 
in the universe, and in human life, a richer and 
deeper meaning than he had before suspected. 
Truly, he who unfolds to us the way in which God 
works through the world of phenomena may well 
be called the best of religious teachers. In the 
study of the organic world, no less than in the 
study of the starry heavens, is it true that 'day 
unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night 
showeth knowledge/ ' 

As Fiske penned these closing lines, so full of 
deep religious feeling, it can be readily imagined 
that there flashed through his mind the recollec- 
tion of his own bitter experiences in championing 
Darwin's views. And what an instance it is of 
the mutability of opinion in matters theological: 
the bitter condemnation of Darwin in 1860-62, 
because, as a man of science, he had found that 
the truths of nature ran counter to the dogmas of 
theology; and twenty years after, the placing of 
his remains, with theological acquiescence and with 
conspicuous honor, among the immortals of the 
English race. 

We pass now to the visit of Herbert Spencer to 
America in this year 1882. For some years the 
thought of visiting America had been floating in 
Spencer's mind, and the idea was eagerly encour- 
aged by Dr. Youmans, who was always on the look- 


Spencer's Visit to America 

out for whatever would tend to direct public at- 
tention to Spencer and the cardinal points in his 
philosophy. Then, too, Spencer had strong rea- 
sons of his own for making personal observations 
of the political and social forces at work in the 
United States, for he was at this time in the midst 
of the sociological section of his great philosophi- 
cal undertaking. A personal glance, therefore, at 
society in the "Great Republic' 1 was a great 
desideratum. As in all important matters, he 
made preparations for the visit well beforehand. 
We find that early in September, 1881, he had 
definitely planned to make the visit in the autumn 
of the ensuing year, and that he then informed 
Dr. Youmans of his purpose. In January, 1882, 
he advised Fiske of his intended visit. 

Fiske replied, telling Spencer that his own visit 
to England was postponed for a year, and express- 
ing his great pleasure at knowing that within a few 
months Spencer would take a trip to America. 
Fiske gave him a cordial invitation to visit him 
at his home in Cambridge. 

Spencer arrived in New York August 21, 1882. 
He was accompanied by his lifelong friend, Edward 
Lott. Mr. Lott came not only as a companion, 
but also as a " buffer " or protector to guard Spen- 
cer, in his unstable health, against undue excite- 
ment or exertion arising from the public interest 
that would undoubtedly be called forth by the 
visit. The "reporters" were awaiting them on 


John Fiske 

their arrival, all desirous of an interview. By the 
dexterous management of Dr. Youmans, however, 
this ordeal was eluded, and the two travellers were 
soon quietly resting at the Windsor Hotel. The 
"reporters" were not long in finding the travellers' 
retreat, but they were skilfully kept at bay by 
Mr. Lott, who pleaded Spencer's enfeebled condi- 
tion as a bar to the desired "interview." The 
failure to get at Spencer did not prevent, however, 
the concoction of several ingenious "interviews" 
on the part of the ready-witted reporters, some 
of whom, in professing to express the opinions of 
Spencer on men and things, were widely amiss of 
the truth. The travellers remained but two days 
in New York, and then went to the Kaaterskill 
Hotel, in the Catskills on the Hudson, a hotel 
selected by Dr. Youmans as a choice resting-place 
after the fatigue of the sea voyage. Here they 
remained in undisturbed quiet, as "Mr. Edward 
Lott and friend," for five days, during which time 
Spencer was for the first time made acquainted, 
among other things, with a portion of a virgin 
forest. He says: 

"I was shown how erroneous was my precon- 
ception. In common, I dare say, with the pre- 
conceptions of most others, mine had been based on 
experiences of woods at home ; and I had failed to 
imagine an important trait of which we see noth- 
ing in England the cumbering of the ground on 
every side with decaying, moss-covered trunks of 


Spencer's Visit to America 

past generations of trees, lying prone, or leaning 
one upon another at various angles, and in all 
stages of decay." 

From the Catskills the travellers went to Sara- 
toga, where they spent two uninterested days, and 
from thence they journeyed on to Montreal. But 
Canada, as seen about Montreal, brought no pleas- 
ant thoughts to either of them. After a brief de- 
scription of the city and its environs, Spencer 
says : 1 

"To many travellers these would, I dare say, 
have given more pleasure than they gave to me; 
for I failed to exclude the thought of certain ante- 
cedents not in harmony with a feeling of admira- 
tion. For a generation or more Canadians have 
been coming to England for capital to make their 
great lines of railway; and have put before Eng- 
lish investors statements of costs and profits so 
favorable, that they have obtained the required 
sums. These statements have proved far more 
wide of the truth than such statements usually 
prove so wide of it that the undertakings have 
been extremely disastrous to investors: impoverish- 
ing great numbers and ruining not a few (my poor 
friend Lott becoming, eventually, one of these last, 
and dying prematurely in consequence). But while, 
to open up these communications which have been 
so immensely beneficial to their commerce and 
industries, the Canadians have, by exaggerated 
representations, got from the mother-country re- 
sources which they were unable to furnish them- 

1 Autobiography, vol. II, p. 463. 

John Fiske 

selves, they have yet been able to build imposing 
cities full of magnificent mansions, and at Mon- 
treal an hotel far exceeding in grandeur anything 
the mother-country could, at that time, show." 

Spencer has been charged in philosophical mat- 
ters with unduly basing his conclusions upon 
a-priori considerations. I apprehend that the citi- 
zens of Montreal feel that they are entitled to a 
more appreciative social valuation from an Eng- 
lish philosopher than is given in this distinctly 
a-priori verdict. 

From Montreal the travellers set out for Niag- 
ara Falls by way of Kingston, Toronto, and Buf- 
falo. One observation of Spencer's during this 
journey shows his freedom from national bias in 
his judgment of his own countrymen. Their boat 
stopped some little time at Kingston, and the trav- 
ellers rambled about the town, and found, to their 
astonishment and shame, that this town of only 
ten or twelve thousand people had the telephone 
in use all over the place; while at that time it was 
scarcely in use in London, and was unknown in 
the great provincial English towns. Commenting 
on this state of things Spencer says: l 

"I have sometimes puzzled myself over the 
anomaly that while in some ways, the English are 
extremely enterprising, they are, in other ways, 
extremely unenterprising. While there exist a se- 
lect few among us who are full of ideas, the great 

1 Autobiography, vol. n, p. 465. 

Spencer's Visit to America 

masses of our people appear to be without ideas. 
Or, to state the case otherwise, it seems as if the 
English nature (I say English, because I do not 
assert it of either Scotch or Irish) exhibits a wider 
range than any other nation between its heights 
of intelligence and its depths of stupidity." 

Spencer found the Falls much what he expected 
- they neither came short of his expectations, nor 
much exceeded them. The effect of a closer ac- 
quaintance with them was to deepen the impres- 
sion of grandeur. The travellers had intended to 
go as far west as Chicago, but on reaching Cleve- 
land, they decided that they had had enough of 
Western travel, and to return to New York by 
way of Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore, and 
Philadelphia, and close their visit with an excur- 
sion to New Haven, Newport, and Boston. On 
reaching Baltimore they were met by Dr. You- 
mans, all intent that on the eve of his departure 
Spencer should be the guest of a public dinner at 
Delmonico's, which should be an expression of the 
feeling of an influential portion of the American 
public towards Spencer and his great work. Spen- 
cer was reluctant to allow himself to be set up as 
a target for post-prandial eulogies, and pleaded 
his physical infirmities as unable to withstand the 
ordeal. But Dr. Youmans's persistence prevailed, 
and with Spencer's assent, he immediately re- 
turned to New York and preparations for the 
dinner went on apace. 


John Fiske 

On reaching New York a few days later, Spen- 
cer suggested that, inasmuch as many opinions 
had been attributed to him since his arrival which 
were wholly untrue, it might be well to give the 
press a formal interview, and thus make sure of 
having his views correctly stated. Dr. Youmans 
readily agreed, and between the two an "author- 
ized interview " was prepared and distributed to 
the press. This "interview," while consisting 
mainly of adverse criticism of American political 
life, was yet so imbued with a just appreciation 
of the really important features of the social and 
political life that were being worked out here, and 
the inherent difficulties attending their develop- 
ment, that these criticisms were seen to be those 
of a friend anxious for American welfare, rather 
than those of an enemy hostile to our institutions. 
Accordingly, the " interview " was well received 
and greatly heightened the interest in the forth- 
coming public dinner. 

On Saturday, October 28, 1882, Spencer and 
Mr. Lott arrived in Boston and attended a din- 
ner of the Saturday Club at which Dr. Oliver Wen- 
dell Holmes presided. This was a select dining- 
club, no less famous in America than was the X 
Club 1 in England. In speaking of the occasion Spen- 
cer says: 

"The 'Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table 1 proved 
himself a very genial head of the dinner- table. It 
1 See ante, vol. I, p. 469. 

Spencer's Personality 

was pleasant to meet, in company with others less 
known, one whose writings had given me so much 
pleasure, and some copies of whose best known 
book I had given to friends as a book to be read 
and re-read." l 

The next forenoon the travellers made their 
way to Fiske's home, 22 Berkeley Street, Cam- 
bridge, and remained to luncheon with Mr. and. 
Mrs. Fiske and their six children, a luncheon 
strictly en famille. As Spencer here comes in pro- 
pria persona directly within the circle of interests 
it has been a purpose in the foregoing pages to 
weave around Fiske and his family home, it is 
eminently fitting that we endeavor to get before 
us, as vividly as possible, a picture or a concep- 
tion of his remarkable personality. 

Spencer was now sixty- two years old. He was 
five feet ten inches in height, but his long limbs 
and his slender figure gave him an appearance of 
greater height. His weight was about one hundred 
and fifty pounds. He wore side whiskers, thus 
leaving the features of his face fully exposed. He 
was quite bald, with light locks of gray hair flow- 
ing over his ears and mingling with his side whis- 
kers. His physiognomy was a noticeable one, by 
reason of its massive, overarching brow, its some- 
what prominent, slightly aquiline, nose, its pro- 
nounced upper lip, its well-shaped mouth indicat- 
ing both firmness and tenderness, and its positive 

1 Autobiography, vol. n, p. 477. 

John Fiske 

chin. And these features were so related to a pair 
of keen, deep-seated, penetrating blue eyes that 
the whole countenance could be made to glow 
with deep interest or benignant kindness; could 
be made expressive of profound meditation or 
indignant scorn yea, could oftentimes give vent 
to uncontrolled, petulant feeling, according as the 
soul behind the face was stirred to action by its 
environing conditions. His voice was rich and 
harmonious in its tones, and was modulated in 
strict accord with his feelings. His conversational 
powers, when in the mood for conversation, were 
of the rarest order. He had an easy flow of lan- 
guage, and had his wide and varied knowledge at 
such ready command that he was able to illumine 
all subjects in which he felt an interest with much 
lucid thought and pertinent illustration. He was 
easy and graceful in his movements, although his 
bearing and manner clearly indicated his physi- 
cal invalidism. As, in 1873, Fiske described his 
appearance as that "of a strong man tired," so 
now, in 1882, his tired appearance was somewhat 

It was a great pleasure to Spencer, after his 
many weeks' travelling, to find himself in such a 
quiet, scholarly home as this of Fiske's. In the 
library, seated in a comfortable easy-chair before 
an open wood fire and surrounded by books on 
books, he seemed for a time to forget his physical 
ailments and his discomforting journeyings in the 









Visited by Spencer 

presence of so much quiet restfulness. He was 
also delighted to see Fiske's whole family together, 
especially his six children; and after taking in the 
whole family surroundings he remarked most gra- 
ciously, but with just a tinge of personal loss: 
"Well, Fiske, you certainly have a happy home 
here. I can now understand your homesickness 
when away from it." 

Fiske had in his library a cuckoo clock, which 
promptly opened its little door and in musical 
tones announced the hour and half-hour as the 
time glided by. Spencer's attention was early 
attracted to this faithful little monitor. At last 
he said: "Doesn't it disturb you, Fiske, to have 
so many books and things all about you, and this 
little monitor to remind you of the passing time? 
Why, I could n't work at all under such condi- 

Fiske assured him that these surroundings had 
quite the contrary effect upon himself; that his 
thought never flowed quite so freely when away 
from them; and at times they were a positive in- 
spiration to him. 1 

1 In the Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer, by David Duncan 
(vol. ii, p. 117), I find, in a letter of Spencer to F. Howard Collins, 
the following reference to the necessity of his relieving his mind from 
all possible distractions: "I am desirous in all cases to exclude 
superfluities from my environment. Multiplication of books, and 
magazines, and papers which I do not need continually annoys me. 
As you may perhaps remember, I shut out the presence of books by 
curtains, that I may be free from the sense of complexity which they 


John Fiske 

Of course, there was much talk regarding mutual 
friends in England, the recent death of Darwin and 
the significant opinions regarding his life-work 
that had been expressed in influential quarters, 
and also regarding the increasing attention that was 
being paid to the subject of sociology now that 
Spencer had brought the subject under fresh con- 
sideration, by treating it as an important branch 
of science and as one of the structural divisions of 
his doctrine of Evolution. 

Two or three points came out in the conversa- 
tion, as reported to me by Fiske shortly after, which 
are of interest as reflecting Spencer's thought 
while in America. He frankly admitted that his 
visit had greatly broadened his comprehension of 
the political and social problems that were being 
worked out here. In the first place, he had had no 
adequate conception of the physical environment 
which so largely conditions the sociological devel- 
opment of the people. Then, statistics of immigra- 
tion had given him no realizing sense of the socio- 
logical problems that were rising here through the 
mixing of races in various stages of social and 
political culture. While the people of London pre- 
sented various phases of social aggregation, from 
the most degraded to the most highly cultured, 
the great mass were members of the English race 
with their racial characteristics. In New York, 
on the other hand, Spencer found a great, imperial 
city, made up of various nationalities or races, 


Spencer's Observations 

some of which in their new urban aggregation re- 
tained many of the social ideas and customs to 
which they were born. In fact, he found, on one 
side in New York, a great German city, and on an- 
other a great Italian city; and scattered here and 
there, were sections made up of lesser nationali- 
ties; while he had not failed to observe that the 
shop signs throughout the city bore witness to the 
fact that the distributions of food and industrial 
commodities was by no means in the hands of peo- 
ple of the English race. These observations could 
not fail to start trains of thought in regard to the 
effect of this mixing of races under a democratic 
form of government upon the future of the Ameri- 
can people, and, through them, upon the people 
of the world at large. He saw that the immediate 
effect of this mixing of races, in various stages of 
social and political culture, under a democratic po- 
litical organization, was the lowering of the stand- 
ard of intelligence, of virtue, in the electorate. As 
to this fact there could be no question. Political 
bossism and civic corruption were too apparent. 

Fiske then pointed out that, while the immedi- 
ate effect of this great foreign immigration was 
political and social deterioration, it had a healthy 
evolutionary tendency in two directions: it tended 
to an ever-increasing differentiation in the inter- 
ests and the employments of the people, coupled 
with an ever-increasing development of integrating 
power on the part of the Government, both State 


John Fiske 

and Federal. This increase of integrating power 
was particularly noticeable in the provisions for 
public education, sanitation, and transportation; 
and for the protection of the public from unjust 
demands of capitalistic combinations and labor 
organizations, as well as the protection of the 
natural resources of the country from individual 
or capitalistic exploitation. 

Spencer was quick to see the point, that while 
this great tide of foreign immigration had a nat- 
ural tendency, if left to itself, to weaken the in- 
tellectual and moral stamina of the people who 
founded the Republic and who had thus far sus- 
tained it, this deteriorating influence was met by 
a much stronger counteracting force, that of social 
and political integration, whereby the interests of 
the people as a whole were made paramount to 
the interests of individuals, classes, or sections. 
Hence, the ever-increasing provisions for public 
education, sanitation, and the public welfare gen- 
erally. He also saw that this was an order of social 
and political development somewhat at variance 
with his preconceived ideas of what the order of 
such development should be. He saw, in fact, that 
in placing himself, as he had done in England, in 
strong opposition to provisions for public educa- 
tion, sanitation, etc., he had logically put himself 
out of sympathy with the great integrating social 
and political forces at work in America. 

Fiske suggested that the structural difference in 


Spencer's Observations 

the social and political organizations of the two 
peoples called for different methods of integration 
while in the process of social and political evolu- 
tion. For instance, in England the fundamental 
social and political idea in practice is, that govern- 
ment is for the people, by privileged classes, and 
primarily for the benefit of the privileged, classes. 
Hence all governmental acts affecting public in- 
terests are more or less tainted with special bene- 
fits to the privileged classes at best, they tend 
to develop a spirit of dependence, rather than of 
independence, among the people. In the United 
States, on the other hand, the fundamental idea 
of government is, that it is of the people, by the 
people, and for the people. Hence the public in- 
terest is put forward as the integrating, control- 
ling interest; and consequently questions affecting 
the welfare of the people as a whole become ques- 
tions of legitimate practical importance. 

Spencer admitted the justice of the distinction, 
between the conditions obtaining in England and 
in the United States, and he said that his visit 
had given him a fresh light on some of the prob- 
lems attending the social and political develop- 
ment of the future. He enjoined Fiske to keep an 
observant eye upon the development of these inte- 
grating forces, particularly in American industrial 
and political life. He believed that the great in- 
crease of wealth, so manifest on every side, and 
coming upon a generation so unprepared for its 


John Fiske 

use, would make its baleful influence felt through 
political corruption, in its efforts to obtain special 
privileges. To guard against the insidious advance 
of special privileges in the rapidly developing life 
here, seemed to him the imperative duty of the 
American citizen. 1 

At the luncheon, Spencer quite forgot the phi- 
losopher and did his best to make himself one with 
the children. He could be most interesting when 
he passed out of the "homogeneity" of his own 
thoughts and feelings into the "heterogeneity" 
of the thoughts and feelings of others. On this 
occasion he pleasantly sought the various interests 
of the children, and then made their interests his 
own and deftly enforced his points of view by per- 
tinent, happy anecdotes. He was in an inquiring 
mood and he created no little merriment among the 
young people by asking, quite unphilosophically, 
when a plate of raised biscuits was passed to him : 
"Fiske, do tell me, are these buckwheat cakes?" 

After a most -agreeable hour at the luncheon- 
table, Spencer said he had the impression that 
music had been much cultivated in this pleasant 
home, and if so, he would like a taste of it, that he 
might take away with him a remembrance of the 

1 As stated in the text, Fiske gave me, shortly after Spencer's visit, 
the substance of their conversation. In after years, as we met fre- 
quently and had occasion to discuss the steady advance of the 
demand for special privileges in nearly all the departments of our 
industrial life, the remembrance of Spencer's remarks came back to 
us, and I have found no difficulty in recalling them for insertion 


Spencer in the Fiske Home 

Fiske family home as a whole. Accordingly, Miss 
Maud, who for some seventeen years has occasion- 
ally appeared in these pages, cheerfully complied 
with his request, and sang two songs from the 
beloved Schubert, "Fruhlingslaube" and "Du Bist 
die Ruh," with such grace and expression as to 
give Spencer unfeigned delight. 

Mr. Lott had known, ever since they set out on 
their journey, how much Spencer had looked for- 
ward to this meeting with Fiske and his family. 
He therefore remained a quiet observer, aiding in 
the conversation when necessary. 

But Fiske could not let his friends depart from 
Boston without their having a glimpse at Harvard 
College and at some of the suburbs of Boston. 
Accordingly, he arranged for the next day a visit 
to Harvard and to the suburbs of Brookline and 
Jamaica Plain, on the condition that there should 
be no calls on officers or professors or any intro- 
ductions. In their visit to Harvard, Fiske took his 
friends to the house on the corner of Kirkland and 
Oxford streets, and pointed out the room where in 
1860, as a Sophomore, he first became acquainted 
with Spencer's thought by reading " Social Statics." 
He also showed them the University Building with 
its faculty room, where in 1861 he was threatened 
with expulsion from college if caught disseminating 
Evolutionary ideas among students. He then took 
them to the little Holden Chapel, where eight years 
afterwards he was called to expound, under auspices 


John Fiske 

of the college, the fundamental principles of the Evo- 
lutionary philosophy to undergraduates and to all 
who would choose to hear. Gore Hall, the Library, 
was also visited, and here Fiske was able to show 
his friends where he had spent the best six years of 
his life in the service of the College as its librarian, 
the custodian of its literary treasures. It is to be 
presumed that they visited the Agassiz Museum, 
although there is no mention of a visit there. 

After the inspection of the principal buildings of 
the college, Fiske took his friends to drive in the 
suburbs of Brookline and Jamaica Plain. Spencer 
was in exceedingly good spirits during the whole 
excursion; and at parting he was very gracious, 
and with much feeling he said: " Fiske, it has 
been a great pleasure to me to see you in your 
home and in your surroundings. These two days 
have been the pleasantest days I have had in 

Both knew they were to meet again at the fare- 
well dinner to Spencer in New York, and so they 
bade each other good-bye for a few days. 

During this visit to Boston, Spencer and his 
friend made an excursion to Concord, a reference 
to which is not out of place here. In his " Autobi- 
ography/' Spencer makes record of this Concord 
excursion thus : 

"Our chief purpose was, of course, to visit Emer- 
son's house; and here a pleasant hour was spent in 
company with his widow, son, and daughter. We 


Spencer and Emerson 

were then taken to the cemetery. Not many 
months had passed since Emerson's death, and 
the grave-heap was undistinguished by any monu- 
ment. 'Sleepy Hollow' is so beautiful and poeti- 
cal a spot as to make one almost wish to die in 
Concord for the purpose of being buried there." 

But why this special interest in Emerson on 
the part of Spencer, leading to a special pilgrimage 
to Emerson's house and grave? There is no record 
of Spencer's paying a similar mark of respect to 
any other thinker. What can be the meaning of 
this act when it is well known that Emerson was 
not a reader of Spencer? l The answer is, that 
Spencer was a penetrating reader of Emerson, and 
found, in his pithy, oracular phrases, which the 
religious mind of half a century ago regarded as 
the quintessence of mystic infidelity, deep in- 
sights, both poetic and philosophic, into the pro- 

1 I have a bit of testimony on this point. In 1860, when Spencer 
published a prospectus of his proposed philosophical undertaking, 
we had, in the " Old-Corner Bookstore" of Ticknor & Fields, a number 
of copies for distribution. We have seen that it was from this 
prospectus that Fiske got his first knowledge of Spencer's under- 
taking. (See vol. I, p. 138.) I had become interested in Spencer 
through reading his essays in the Westminster Review and his Social 
Statics. Emerson was a frequent visitor to the store, and one day I 
saw him attentively reading Spencer's prospectus. When he had 
finished I asked him if he could tell me anything about Spencer. His 
reply was: " I cannot, but I hear much about him. I have not read 
him at all, and from what I hear I am not impressed with his philoso- 
phy. Mr. Alger or Mr. Silsbee can tell you about him." I referred to 
the very remarkable list of subscribers to Spencer's undertaking and 
Emerson said: " Yes, he is undoubtedly a man of great intellectual 
power, and if he completes the work here outlined it will be a great 


John Fiske 

found mysteries of the cosmos. He also saw that 
Emerson's idea of God was purified from the Cal- 
vinistic anthropomorphism of the time. Let us 
look at a little evidence on these points. Away 
back in 1833 we find Emerson reading with critical 
insight the speculations of Lamarck, the precursor 
of Darwin, in regard to the origin and distribution 
of the organic life of the globe; and in a lecture, 
delivered in December, 1833, on "The Relation of 
Man to the Globe," he speaks of this relationship 
and man's development under it, thus: 

"The most surprising, I may say the most sub- 
lime, (fact, is) that man is no upstart .in creation, 
but has been prophesied in nature for a thousand 
ages before he appeared; that from times incalcu- 
lably remote, there has been a progressive prep- 
aration for him, an effort to produce him; the 
meaner creatures containing the elements of his 
structure and pointing to it from every side. . . . 
His limbs are only a more exquisite organization 
say rather the finish of the rudimental forms 
that have been already sweeping the sea and creep- 
ing in the mud: the brother of his hand is even 
now cleaving the Arctic Sea in the fin of the whale, 
and innumerable ages since was pawing the marsh 
in the flipper of the saurian." l 

And again, in the essay on "Fate," we have a 
similar passage: 

"The book of Nature is the book of Fate. She 
turns the gigantic pages leaf after leaf never 

1 James Elliot Cabot, Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. I, 
p. 20. 


Emerson and Evolution 

returning one. One leaf she lays down, a floor of 
granite; then a thousand ages and a bed of slate; 
a thousand ages, and a measure of coal ; a thousand 
ages, and a layer of marl and mud : vegetable forms 
appear; her first misshapen animals. Zoophite, 
trilobium, fish; then saurians, rude forms in 
which she has only blocked her future statue, con- 
cealing under these unwieldy monsters the fine 
type of her coming king. The face of the planet 
cools and dries, the races meliorate and man is 
born. But when a race has lived its term, it comes 
no more again.'* 1 

These extracts and many more of similar im- 
port might be given clearly show that years be- 
fore Spencer and Darwin had laid the scientific 
foundations for the doctrine of Evolution, Emer- 
son had come, by pure insight, into a conception 
of Divine action regarding the cosmos which re- 
lated man to the organic world as its crowning 
evolutionary product; and this, at a time when 
religious orthodoxy was scoffing at science and af- 
firming the fall of man as an ultimate Divine truth, 
transcending all the positive evidences of nature 
in regard to man's origin and development. 

In regard to Emerson's conception of the Deity, 
his writings speak for him from beginning to end. 
His conception may be said to have been a conver- 
sion of Spencer's affirmation of an " Infinite Eter- 
nal Energy from which all things proceed" into a 
positive, uncognizable Spirit stripped of all an- 
1 Emerson's Conduct of Life (Riverside Edition), p. 20. 


John Fiske 

thropomorphic connotations. Hence it was a con- 
ception that defies analysis. In a far deeper sense 
than did Spinoza, he saw God, and the goodness of 
God, in everything. In his own words: "The world 
is a temple whose walls are covered with the em- 
blems, pictures, and commandments of the Deity/' 
"Ineffable is the union of man and God in the 
soul." " If a man have not found his home in God, 
his manners, his forms of speech, the turn of his 
sentences, the build, shall I say, of all his opinions, 
will involuntarily confess it, let him brave it out 
how he will." 

Then, too, his insights into man's social evolution 
of the future were no less remarkable than his in- 
sights into man's origin and development, and they 
were permeated with the highest optimism, and 
were given forth before Spencer had begun his pro- 
found sociological observations. In evidence let 
us take an extract from his essay on "Culture," 
written between 1850 and 1860:- 

"The fossil strata show us that Nature began 
with rudimental forms and rose to the more com- 
plex as fast as the earth was fit for their dwelling- 
place, and that the lower perish as the higher ap- 
pear. Very few of our race can be said to be yet 
finished men. We still carry sticking to us some 
remains of the preceding inferior quadruped organ- 
izations. We call these millions men ; but they are 
not yet men. Half-engaged in the soil, pawing to 
get free, man needs all the music that can be brought 
to disengage him. If Love, red love with tears and 


Emerson and Evolution 

joy; if Want with his scourge; if War with his can- 
nonade; if Christianity with its charity; if Trade 
with its money ; if Art with its portfolios ; if Science 
with her telegraphs through the deeps of space and 
time can set his dull nerves throbbing, and by 
loud .taps on the tough chrysalis can break its walls 
and let the new creature emerge erect and free, 
make way and sing paean ! The age of the quadru- 
ped is to go out, and the age of the brain, and the 
heart is to come in. The time will come when the 
evil forms we have known can no more be organ- 
ized. Man's culture can spare nothing, he wants 
all the material. He is to convert all impediments 
into instruments, all enemies into power. The for- 
midable mischief will only make the more useful 
slave. And if one shall read the future of the race 
hinted in the organic effort of Nature to mount 
and meliorate, and the corresponding impulse to 
the Better in the human being, we shall dare affirm 
that there is nothing he will not overcome and 
convert, until at last culture shall absorb chaos and 
gehenna. He will convert the Furies into Muses, 
and the hells into benefits." 

Thus we see that Spencer, with his frigid intel- 
lectual nature, was by sympathy drawn to Emer- 
son as the intuitive poet of the oncoming doctrine 
of Evolution, and hence his visit to Concord was 
quite in the natural order of things. This being the 
case, the setting-forth of their intellectual kinship 
in the promulgation of Evolutionary views in the 
past is of rightful place here, inasmuch as in the 
portion of our narrative which follows, we are to 


John Fiske 

see the poetic, religious insight of Emerson blended 
with the profound philosophic generalizations of 
Spencer, as Fiske, in language of great force and 
beauty, sets forth that ethical conduct has its 
genesis in the cosmic nature of man, and that its 
development has been pari passu with the purifi- 
cation of men's conceptions of the Infinite Being, 
the Source and Sustainer of the cosmic universe, 
and that the recognition of these truths is among 
the first principles of the doctrine of Evolution. 

While Spencer was visiting New England the 
preparations for the farewell dinner in his honor 
in New York were going on apace. Dr. Youmans 
had a keen appreciation of the weight of public 
opinion when massed on any important question, 
and he determined, therefore, that the proposed 
honor to Spencer should at the same time be an 
occasion for a fresh setting-forth of the doctrine 
of Evolution in its relation to all the higher in- 
terests of humanity. The dinner was served at Del- 
monico's on the evening of November 9, 1882. 
About two hundred persons, representative of the 
best interests and thought of the country, were 
present in person or by letter. The Honorable 
William M. Evarts, formerly Secretary of State, 
and at that time America's leading statesman, pre- 
sided. In the course of his remarks introducing 
Spencer, Evarts said : 

" We are glad to see you, for we recognize in the 
breadth of your knowledge, such knowledge as is 


Farewell Dinner to Spencer 

useful to your race, a greater comprehension than 
any living man has presented to our generation. 
We are glad to see you because in our judgment 
you have brought to the analysis and distribution 
of this vast knowledge a more penetrating intelli- 
gence and a more thorough insight than any living 
man has brought even to the minor topics of his 
special knowledge. In theology, in psychology, in 
natural science, in the knowledge of individual man 
and his exposition, and in the knowledge of the 
world, in the proper sense of society which makes 
up the world, the world worth knowing, the world 
worth speaking of, the world worth planning for, 
the world worth working for we acknowledge 
your labors as surpassing those of any of our 

Spencer, who was in bad form physically, re- 
sponded, as was his wont, with criticism good- 
natured criticism of our American " Gospel of 
Work," and made an earnest plea for more con- 
sideration of the " Gospel of Relaxation" and a 
higher ideal of life than he had seen about him. 

Spencer was followed by Professor W. G. Sum- 
ner, of Yale University, who spoke warmly of 
Spencer's great services in bringing the new science 
of sociology into recognition as an important de- 
partment of Science. Next the Honorable Carl 
Schurz responded to the toast, "The Progress of 
Science tends to International Harmony." Then 
came Professor O. C. Marsh, of Yale University, 
Acting President of the National Academy of Sci- 
ences, who responded to the toast, " Evolution - 


John Fiske 

once an Hypothesis, now the Established Doc- 
trine of the scientific world. " After Professor 
Marsh, Fiske was called to respond to the toast, 
"The Doctrine of Evolution and Religion." Fol- 
lowing him came Henry Ward Beecher, who spoke 
for the liberal orthodox clergy, and who testified 
to the trouble Spencer had given to the ministers, 
who found they could not get along with Calvin 
and Spencer both. He closed his stirring address 
with the following reverent tribute to Spencer: 

"May He who holds the storm in His hand be 
gracious to you, sir; may your voyage across the 
sea be prosperous and speedy; may you find on 
the other side all those conditions of health and of 
comfort which shall enable you to complete the 
great work, greater than any other man in this 
age has ever attempted ; may you live to hear from 
this continent and that other an unbroken testi- 
mony to the service which you have done to hu- 
manity ; and thus, if you are not outwardly crowned, 
you wear an invisible crown in your heart that will 
carry comfort to death and I will greet you be- 

There were other tributes ready for expression, 
particularly one by Youmans, while cordial letters 
had been received from Andrew D. White, Presi- 
dent of Cornell University, and from Oliver Wen- 
dell Holmes, and others. But at the close of Beech- 
er's address, it was felt that the fitting words had 
been spoken, and as Spencer appeared fatigued, on 
the motion of Evarts, the company rose and ex- 


Farewell Dinner to Spencer 

tended to him a heartfelt ban voyage, thus bringing 
to a close an evening forever memorable in the 
lives of those present, as well as forming an occa- 
sion of much significance in the appraisement of 
the doctrine of Evolution. 

All of the addresses were of a high order, and 
it will be noted that the doctrine of Evolution and 
Spencer's labors were approached from various 
viewpoints. To Fiske was allotted the task of set- 
ting forth the philosophic relation of the doctrine 
of Evolution to religion, to the very highest in- 
terests of the human mind. His address was so 
compact and clean-cut in thought, so lucid in state- 
ment, and so fine in literary form, that it greatly 
impressed his hearers, and gave a special satisfac- 
tion to Spencer. At its conclusion, Spencer, who 
sat near Fiske, partly rose from his chair and said, 
taking his hand: "Fiske, should you develop to 
the fullest the ideas you have expressed here this 
evening, I should regard it as a fitting supplement 
to my life-work. " This was not the expression of 
a passing feeling on the part of Spencer. He wrote 
Fiske shortly after getting home, expressing his 
mature conviction regarding the address: 

BAYSWATER, London, W. 

November 24, 1882. 
My dear Fiske: 

I regretted very much that I did not return to 
the Windsor in time to see you the day before sail- 
ing, but there were so many imperative matters to 


John Fiske 

be settled that I found it impossible to get back 
in time. Had it not been that Youmans gave me 
the impression that I should again see you before 
starting, I should, notwithstanding my state of 
fatigue, have written you a letter on the Saturday 

I wanted to say how successful and how impor- 
tant I thought was your presentation of the dual 
aspect, theological and ethical, of the Evolution 
doctrine. It is above all things needful that the 
people should be impressed with the truth that 
the philosophy offered to them does not necessi- 
tate a divorce from their inherited conceptions 
concerning religion and morality, but merely a 
purification and exaltation of them. It was a great 
point to enunciate this view on an occasion en- 
suring wide distribution through the press; and if 
Youmans effects, as he hopes through the medium 
of a pamphlet reporting the proceedings, a still 
wider distribution, much will be gained for the 
cause. Thank you for the aid thus given. 

Very truly yours, 


As this Spencer-dinner address of Fiske's ex- 
presses in a brief and lucid form the relation of the 
doctrine of Evolution to religion and ethics, and as 
the views expressed therein had the emphatic en- 
dorsement of Spencer, it can be said that it marks 
a definite stage in the development of the Evolu- 
tion doctrine a stage when the two leading pro- 
tagonists of the doctrine were ready to grapple with 
all the religious and ethical questions involved in 


Address at Spencer Dinner 

it. Viewed in this light this address may well be 
considered as a key-note to the religious and ethi- 
cal implications of the doctrine as held by Spencer 
and by Fiske. In the religious essays of Fiske, 
those we have already considered and those which 
are to follow, it will be noted that the rational phi- 
Iqsophy of this Spencer-dinner address pervades 
them all, while it permeates his "Cosmic Philos- 
ophy" as a deep refrain. l 

1 The address is published in full in the volume of Fiske's essays, 
Excursions of an Evolutionist, p. 294. 




MRS. STOUGHTON returned from Europe in No- 
vember, 1882, and was welcomed to the Fiske 
family home while her own house was being built 
a short distance away on Brattle Street, Cam- 
bridge a very commodious house which she 
planned with special reference to its becoming 
later "the homestead of the Fiske family." But 
the building of the new home and the settlement 
of Mrs. Stoughton's affairs brought many perplexi- 
ties which found their way to Fiske's study, seri- 
ously interfering with his literary work, his his- 
tory of the American people, to the prosecution of 
which all other interests were subordinate. The 
plan that seemed practicable under the conditions 
was expatriation to London, for a season, provided 
he could find in the British Museum the necessary 
books of reference on American history. To settle 
this point he wrote to his friend Henry Stevens, 
of London, the eminent antiquarian scholar, in- 
quiring as to the Americana resources of the Brit- 


Letter from Henry Stevens 

ish Museum. He received in reply the following 
characteristic and very satisfactory letter from 
Mr. Stevens: 

LONDON, January ix, 1883. 


XXII Berkeley St., Cambridge, in N.E. 
My dear Sir: 

I think you will find the Library of the British 
Museum a little better place for study on early 
American history, as well as late, than even Har- 
vard College Library and the Boston Public Ditto 
thrown in, though it may be hard to convince any 
Massachusetts man of this fact, until he has seen 
something outside the hub and its surroundings. 

The Museum library does contain the New York 
Nation about which you inquire as to materials 
for modern history, and, moreover, possesses part 
of the "Youth's Companion," "Niles's Register," 
and Puffer Hopkins, on " International Copy- 
right." But what is still better, the Trustees will 
at once purchase any book illustrating the history 
of the American people that you, from your experi- 
ence, will point out to them as a desideratum. Do 
pray come over and do your work here, where roast 
beef, American cheese, and strong beer may be 
had and taken ad libitum. 

The Museum is rich in American local history 
and genealogy. It has not much about the Miss- 
issippi Valley prior to Father Marquette's voyage, 
but possesses almost everything since. Jefferson's 
purchase of Louisiana from Napoleon, when he 
was hard up, is pretty well sifted in the early 
Congress papers and in the French memoirs all of 


John Fiske 

which may be found in the B.M.; and as to Mary- 
land, you will probably find a fuller bibliography, 
from L. Baltimore to Scharfe, than you will find 
in any other one library. 

You will also in the Museum find material con- 
cerning Mathew Lyon from the time he landed at 
Newbury Port, from the North of Ireland, and was 
sold to Mr. Leffinquile afterwards, of Vermont, 
for a yolke of bulls, until the famous contest on 
the floor of Congress wherein he broke his wooden 
sword with Master Griswold; and every other im- 
portant subject illustrative of the rise and prog- 
ress of the American People, not omitting the re- 
markable case of Timothy Dexter, the author of 
"A Pickle for the Knowing Ones." 

The Tree of Knowledge grows now in the Centre 
of the Reading Room of the British Museum in a 
huge pot. You have only to shake it and down the 
ripe fruit drops. There is still room in London, prob- 
ably at your old quarters, for another American. 

So pray take an affectionate leave of your large 
family, pack up your ideas, leave your sins behind, 
and embark for Bloomsbury, with your American 
gold-pen, and your Yankee energy. Forget that 
there is not an international copyright and picca- 
roon right and left until you have boiled down and 
simmered the great subject. 

All this in answer to your racy and offhand notes 
of the 28th December to be answered instanter. 
Dine with us at Noviomagus 2ist February. En- 
closed find a late programme. 

Yours truly, 



Fourth Visit to London 

This letter of Mr. Stevens was sufficiently assur- 
ing, and accordingly Fiske arranged for at least a 
six months' absence and engaged his passage on 
the Cunard steamer Bothnia, sailing from New 
York to Liverpool January 31, 1883. He then ad- 
vised his friends Spencer, Huxley, Sime, and Ral- 
ston of his sailing. 

He had a rough passage over and he found the 
Bothnia to be a great pitcher and roller, so much 
so that they were " either on one side or on one 
beam-end all the way over/' Just before reaching 
Queenstown he wrote Mrs. Fiske, giving the fol- 
lowing racy account of the voyage: 

"The coast of ould Ireland is freninst me, but it 
is all wrapped in mist, and the rolling is so bad 
as to forbid anything like extensive letter- writing. 
If there ever was an old tub that could beat this 
Bothnia, for rolling, I should like to see it. The 
portmanteaus have kept up a wild demon-dance 
in the state-room, and the number of tumblers I 
have seen smashed would do credit to the Jo Bun- 
kerest Paddy girl that you ever saw. Coffee and 
beer have been liberally poured on the table cloth ; 
fried eggs have hopped around like mature chick- 
ens, with their heads cut off; and those have had 
cause to be truly thankful who, by dint of quick 
wit and extreme agility, have succeeded in keeping 
their 'wittles' from landing in their laps/' 

On his way from Liverpool to London, he stopped 
overnight at Lichfield to see the cathedral ; and he 
writes : 


John Fiske 

" It is a grand Cathedral, not equal to York, but 
unlike any other, and especially beautiful in its 
three tapering spires. Its length is gigantic, and 
the effect inside is not broken by the organ inter- 
posing between nave and choir." 

Fiske reached London Sunday, February 10, 
and was met by Sime, who took him home until 
suitable quarters near the British Museum could 
be found for a permanent abode and the prosecu- 
tion of his work. Above all places in London he 
desired his old rooms at 67 Great Russell Street, 
but on inquiry he learned that these rooms would 
not be vacant for a week or more. Feeling that no 
other rooms in London would seem like home to 
him, he engaged them, and meantime he took 
rooms at 7 South Crescent, Tottenham Court 
Road. Having arranged his settlement, he be- 
gan to look up his other friends, although he was 
far from feeling well his rough voyage having 
greatly shaken him up. 

He was cordially welcomed by Henry Stevens, 
by Ralston, by the Huxleys, by Triibner, by the 
younger Macmillans, the senior Macmillan hav- 
ing gone to Mentone to look after John Green, the 
historian, who was very ill, and he found a very 
courteous recognition at Kettner's famous dining- 
rooms. But his experiences should be told by him- 
self. Writing Mrs. Fiske under date of Tuesday, 
February 20, he says: 

" I had a dreadful time last week because every- 


Cordially Welcomed 

thing reminded me of you, and for the first time 
London seemed a great lonely place and as if I 
must take the first steamer back to America. 

"After writing you Friday, I went up to Kett- 
ner's, and little Mademoiselle, behind the desk, 
bowed recognition as if but a week had elapsed 
since I had dined there. Do you remember the 
burly, smooth-faced, bustling head -waiter who used 
to say, 'Thank you sir!* with so much energy? He 
showed me to a seat, inquired very politely as to 
how I had been, and hoped I left 'Madame' quite 
well. I wished 'Madame' was there so much that 
it half spoiled my delicious dinner. On coming out 
I met Fred Macmillan and his wife, who had also 
dined at Kettner's. I went home with them and 
staid till 1 1 , and there I met a queer old Dickens 
character named Bain, a well-known bookseller, 
and a very learned old chap. Fred Macmillan is a 
really good fellow and his wife is very nice, and 
while with them I had been quite jolly. But all 
this did n't prevent my breaking down when I got 
to my rooms. I went to bed and fell asleep from 
mere exhaustion in bemoaning my loneliness. 

"Saturday morning, I got up feeling weak and 
mean, and at noon I went by omnibus to Bays- 
water, but found that Spencer had gone down to 
Derbyshire to spend a week with Mr. Lott. He 
is not feeling very well. Miss Scheckel brought me 
a glass of Sherry and a biscuit, and I sat two hours 
chatting with her. She seemed to cherish an affec- 
tionate remembrance of you, and sent her love to 
you. I told her I felt low-spirited and out-of-sorts ; 
and she said Spencer's doctor was a great man- 
of-science and very reasonable in his charges, that 


John Fiske 

Spencer thought there was nobody like him, and 
that I had better consult him. She gave me his 
address ' Dr. Bruce, 42 Kensington Gardens 
Square, Bayswater, W.' 

" After leaving Miss Scheckel I returned, via 
New Bond Street, and being near the Royal Insti- 
tution I thought I would look in and see if I should 
find Tyndall. Sent up my card and was presently 
shown up to the top of the hipe, to the famous 
rooms once occupied by 'ngSir ngHumphry 
ngDavy.' l Had a most cordial greeting from Tyn- 
dall and his wife. It was about 5 P.M. and presently 
Mrs. Tyndall's father, Lord Claude Hamilton, came 
in and the tea-tray was brought and we had a good 
cup of tea with some very thin slices of bread 
and butter. Lord Claude is a great, bluff, honest, 
hearty fellow. He has an enormous admiration 
for Spencer, and he appeared to take an immedi- 
ate fancy to 'Hezekiah.' Mrs. Tyndall was lovely 
and Tyndall himself was perfectly delightful. We 
had a fine talk. Mrs. Tyndall said she should think 
it would be more than I could bear to be separated 
from my family such a family as she had seen 
portraits of at the Huxley's. There was a real ten- 
derness toward me on the part of all three which 
went deep into my heart. Tyndall said he thought 
the History would be well received in England and 

1 Fiske often quoted with great glee the opening sentences of 
one of Professor Josiah P. Cooke's chemical lectures delivered dur- 
ing Fiske's undergraduate days. The Professor had a nasal twang 
in his utterance which was very pronounced when he attempted to 
emphasize a phrase. The quotation was as follows: "In a room 
lined with blue litmus paper sat a philosopher. Who was that philos- 
opher? SIR HUMPHRY DAVY!" The name thus stressed Fiske en- 
deavored to represent on paper as " ngSir ngHumphry ngDavy." 


Cordially Welcomed 

Lord Claude said it was just what they needed 
above everything; they were shamefully ignorant 
about America, and eager for an interesting his- 
tory of it. Tyndall said there were a great many 
rare books and documents on America, right there 
in the Royal Institution and I might come there 
as much as I liked, and have a room all to myself to 
study and write in ! They all three said my speech 
at the Spencer dinner was magnifique! 

"Well, my dear, after a delightful hour-and-a- 
half I left them and went to Kettner's where I had 
a delicious dinner, but I did n't enjoy it! Some- 
how I seemed to miss you terribly at Kettner's. 
Came to my rooms, lighted pipe and read in Abel's 
1 Linguistic Essays ' - - a charming book that Triib- 
ner gave me on Friday. Felt a little chilly, and 
went to bed, desperately lonesome, about eleven 
o'clock. When I waked at 9 Sunday morning, it 
was a black fog. I felt empty and weak, but not 
hungry; feet a little cold; no assignable cause for 
all this fuss. Concluded to resign myself, and call 
Dr. Bruce. The doctor came at eleven o'clock; 
fine, hearty fellow with long side whiskers a very 
pleasant fellow. Knew all about me and treated 
me very courteously. First made me tell how I feel 
naturally, when I am well, then how I had felt for 
two or three months past, all about leaving home, 
the voyage, etc. ; asked especially after my appetite 
for the past month; felt of both pulses; in short, he 
gave me such an overhauling as I never had before. 
Then he began some general conversation, while I 
suppose he turned things over in his mind. Said he 
thought my history would have a great sale in 
England, and he was glad to know that I was the 


John Fiske 

chap that was writing it. Said he had read my 
speech at the Spencer dinner again and again, and 
thought it was wonderful, and if I could write a 
book like that, I might do something toward lead- 
ing this age out of its materialism; that I spoke 
like a man who had gone through and through the 
thought of this age, and was beginning to utter the 
ideas which the next generation would realize bet- 
ter than this. Said he had also had this feeling 
when he read my Princeton address on the 'True 
Lesson of Protestantism/ which many in England 
praised, but few (he thought) really understood. 

"Well, was n't it nice, my dear, to find such a 
sympathizer? After a while, he said I was a strong, 
active fellow, without a flaw physically as far as 
he could see; heart and lungs seemed in splendid 
condition; said he was glad I was made so strong 
to do the work I was born to do. Said I had done 
well to take advice, for I was just where a good 
square chill might come in with savage effect. 

"Yesterday (Monday) Dr. Bruce came at ten, 
looked me over more or less and said I might get 
up and have sole for breakfast ; and might have 
- broiled chicken for dinner, might smoke a pipe 
if I liked, but no cigars; and mustn't go out of 
doors. So I sat all day before the fire and read 
Abel's 'Essays' and finished them; and Sime came 
in at four P.M. and staid till six, and we had a 
pleasant chat. I began to feel keen, sharp pangs 
of hunger, and when my little broiled chicken came 
up I ate every scrap of it. This, with a slice of toast 
and cup of tea, constituted my repast. I then 
smoked a pipe and thought of home more peace- 
fully than I had done; and at nine P.M. went to bed 


Consults Spencer's Doctor 

and slept soundly till nine this morning, just 
twelve hours! To-morrow he says I may go out, 
rain or shine, and may go to dine with the 'Citi- 
zens of Noviomagus,' only I must choose the sim- 
pler dishes and keep to red or white wine. He will 
call on Thursday, by which time he thinks I can 
resume beer and take care of myself generally. 
He says I did wisely to call for aid, for I might 
have fussed and bothered for six weeks and got 
discouraged about my work and then have had 
to call a doctor after all ; whereas now I am rea- 
sonably sure of being in glorious condition by 
the end of this week. His medicine has wrought 
a profound effect I can see. The mulligrubs 
have all blown away and I begin to think only of 
the History and of success sure to come, and 
of earning the right to keep my dear home, and 
stay in it. 

"Dr. Bruce says if I will get up at nine, write 
from ten till five (but not without a solid break- 
fast, and some lunch), walk never less than three 
and generally five miles, dine heartily at seven, write 
or study two hours in the evening if I like, never or 
VERY rarely eat a late bite, go to bed at twelve ; 
if I'll do this he'll warrant I'll write my twenty- 
five weeks with a blithe heart, and feel better at 
the end than if I had n't worked at all. That is not 
the programme he would cut out for a weak man; 
but he thinks it right for me, and you see it allows 
me nearly nine hours a day for work. I think all 
the doctor's ideas very good. 

"Well, my dear, have n't I made a regular bore 
of myself with all this rigmarole! But I thought 
you would like to know what the doctor has to say. 


John Fiske 

I could n't help thinking how you would like to talk 
with, him, he is such a jolly fellow, and so extremely 
elegant, and courteous. 

"Friday I am to dine with the Tyndalls. Spen- 
cer is expected back on Thursday, and I may meet 
him at the Tyndalls'. I shall move into 67 Great 
Russell Street Saturday afternoon, and spend Sun- 
day arranging things. All my friends know how 
busy I am to be, and they all promise to let me 

In a letter two days later, February 22, we have 
a glimpse of him at his work: 

"I have been studying these two days back, on 
local self government in Illinois, where the Virgin- 
ian and New England systems came into collision, 
and the New England system proved the stronger. 
I have also, at last, got a flood of light through 
John Rope's suggestion about the Scotch- Irish ele- 
ment in the South. It is n't quite as he conceives 
it, but it is better still. I shall set forth the his- 
toric meaning of the whiskey rebellion in Penn- 
sylvania in a new light. Ideas are coming to me 
thick and fast." 

And he has begun his London peregrinations: 

"I started out at four o'clock for my walk, and 
I have been on my legs just two hours and twenty 
minutes, so that I can't have done less than five or 
six miles, though I have walked slowly, pondering 
my book, but keeping my eyes open. From Tot- 
tenham Court Road I kept down High Holborn 
to Chancery Lane, and down that till 'Cursitor 
Street ' caught my eye, and I struck into that until 


Walks about London 

I found ' look's Court ' and went through it. You 
remember in ' Bleak House/ Mr. Snagsby's house 
was in ' Cook's court, Cursitor Street.' Then I ex- 
plored Church Passage till I found a place vile 
enough for the graveyard in Tom-all-alones; but 
I am sure it is not the place. I shall find that some 
day, as also the Sol's Arms. Then I turned up 
Carey Street and wound through a labyrinth of 
passages into New Square, thence into Lincoln's 
Inn Fields, thence Southwestward through a still 
more tangled labyrinth into Blackmoor Street, 
thence into Drury Lane, coming out into the civil- 
ized world at St. Mary-le-Strand, rather tired 
and mighty hungry. So I call my first walk a suc- 
cess. Such creatures as I have seen! And some 
very, very ancient houses, as funny as any in 
Chester. One can easily walk five miles in London 
without going very far; and one is a goose to stick 
to the thoroughfares. The side alleys and courts 
are the picturesquest of all." 

The next day he took a five-mile walk and dined 
with the Tyndalls. He says: - 

"Had a charming dinner with Tyndall and his 
wife in their upstairs den. After dinner we went 
downstairs and heard Walter Pollock's lecture on 
Sir Francis Drake, and it was pretty good. After 
the lecture the Pollock family and Sir John Mow- 
bray came upstairs and we had some bisquit and 
mulled claret. I had a long talk with Sir Frederick 

Before going to the Tyndalls' Fiske received the 
following note from Spencer: 


John Fiske 

BAYSWATER, February 23, 1883. 
My dear Fiske : 

Welcome to England ! I shall be glad to see you 
on Saturday at one. 

Please apologize on my behalf to the Tyndalls 
for not joining them with you to-night. I have not 
dined out once since my return from America; and 
at present dare not do so. 

Would you like to be invited to the Athenaeum 
Club, or to the Saville Club, or to both? The Sa- 
ville would suit you very well in the respect of hav- 
ing a good and not expensive table d 'hote. It has 
also a magnificent smoking room which you would 
appreciate; and its present position in Piccadilly 
is a very pleasant one. But the Athenaeum would 
also be desirable for you as bringing you into con- 
tact with friends. 

Ever yours, 


On Saturday, February 24, Fiske called on 
Spencer and took luncheon with him. Spencer re- 
ceived him most cordially, and they had a "won- 
derful talk and walked about four miles together." 
He adds: "The weather is lovely, the buds are 
starting, the birds are singing, and the grass is ever 
so green." He found that Spencer was also to be- 
gin work the next week in earnest; that since his 
return from America he had done but little. On re- 
turning from Spencer's he gathered his traps to- 
gether and took possession of his old rooms at 67 
Great Russell Street; and three days after he writes 
Mrs. Fiske : 


In his Old Quarters 

February 27, 1883. 
My darling Wife : 

At length Hezzy is himself again. I think I have 
really been very much upset, but now I am wooden. 
I am all arranged in apple-pie order in my dear 
old rooms. The rooms have been newly papered, 
Brussels-carpeted and curtained. There is a new 
iron bedstead, with new hair mattress and canopy 
over the head. All the chairs have been newly cov- 
ered with olive green plush, and olive green is the 
prevailing color all over. The pictures, too, are in 
good taste all engravings. The rooms are now 
really elegant, and with my books and things about, 
you can't tell how cheerful it looks. I shall not be 
ashamed to receive a call here from Gladstone him- 

The quiet here is profound, except the vague 
rumble of the streets which does n't annoy me. 
When I ring in "mornin' air," my cannel coal fire 
is made to burn brightly, my little round table is 
covered with a clean white cloth, and a gigantic 
mutton chop is served, with a loaf of bread and a 
pot of blazing hot tea. When I get through, I ring, 
and the maid, Alice, comes with the morning paper 
and "Mrs. Coldrey's compliments, sir, and 'opes 
you are quite well to-day. " Then Hezzy smokes 
and looks over the paper for a few minutes while 
the little table is cleared, and then goes to work. 
My dear, I wish you would come over and take 
breakfast with me! 

I have drawn a diagram of the rooms with 
the furniture so that you can, with your recollec- 
tions of the rooms, picture Hezzy to yourself quite 
completely. I don't think it would be possible 


John Fiske 

in all London to find anything more cosy and 

Mrs. Coldrey is not a widow. Her 'usband has 
business in the City. A newspaper writer and wife 
are over me; and a bachelor London merchant is 
under me, on the ground floor. They might as well 
be 100 miles away, for all I ever hear or see of them. 
This was a fine house a century ago. The walls are 
tremendously thick, and very little sound passes 
from floor to floor. I can vaguely hear the piano 
overhead, but it is a distant sound that I hardly 
notice. I am absolutely undisturbed. If I want a 
bite of lunch, it is only to touch the bell and Alice 
brings cheese and biscuit and a tankard of splen- 
did ale fresh from the tavern around the corner; 
- 1 do not need to stir. Nothing could be more 

The London gas is so poor that I have bought a 
lamp for $3.86 a very powerful triplex burner. 
Have bought a special pair of scissors for it! First 
thing after breakfast, I take it out into the octagon, 
spread a thick piece of paper on a chair, fill the 
lamp on it, trim the three wicks accurately, wipe 
chimney and globe quite clean, rub it dry with a 
piece of old flannel, bring it back and stand it on 
the centre-table, burn up the paper, onto which 
drops of oil have fallen, and carefully put away 
the piece of flannel in the octagon corner-cupboard. 
It is no trouble, and I won't entrust it to Alice. 
Is n't this correct housekeeping? 

I have got a pedometer, and shall henceforth 
know 'just how much I walk every day and shall 
enter it in my diary. 

After all, though these are not the rooms in 


In his Old Quarters 

which I finished "Cosmic Philosophy," the asso- 
ciations with them are almost as strong. I occu- 
pied these rooms when I first came to the house in 
October, 1873. It was here that Spencer first came 
to see me. I moved upstairs in November. Then 
in 1879 I occupied these rooms again, and it was 
here that I received brother and sister Paine. It 
was here that I had my famous punch party and 
brother Paine slept in the octagon which then had 
a small bed in it. Who knows but in future the 
guide-books may point out this old house as the 
place where Hezzykiah did so much work? 

Only I wish I had you here, my dear! ! ! If I had 
known how great the strain was going to be, I don't 
think I should have had the courage to face it. 
It is dreadful to be so homesick! But this deep 
quiet is going to make the book grow with great 

The lady overhead is now playing divinely. It 
sounds very distant, but O, so sweet! 

Yesterday I tried a new dodge for dinner. 
Went to the famous Angel at Islington. Found it 
splendid and shall go there again. It will be a fairly 
good walk say three miles to the Angel, and I can 
get home on top of a 'bus for 4 cents. 

By the way, I think the top of a 'bus even beats a 
hansom cab for jolly; you can sit so high, and see so 
much; and it costs about a penny, where cab costs 
a shilling. 

O, London is a delightful place! But I wish I 
had you and the little ones here! 

To his mother, under date of March 2, 1883, 
Fiske writes : 


John Fiske 

11 1 have been too much absorbed in the treasures 
of the British Museum to make a great show of 
pages this week but I am going to work Sunday, 
and next week I expect to report a great pile. I 
should have been a fool not to have come over here. 
What do you think? I can actually go in to the 
shelves and mouse for what I want!!! Splendid, 
is n't it? The one thing I feared, was the red tape. 
It used to bother me in 1873. Now Richard Gar- 
nett, son of the great philologist, is director of the 
reading room and generally all-powerful in the 
library. He has always liked me because I was one 
of the first to see the value of his father's very ab- 
struse researches, and praised him enthusiastically in 
the ' North American Review' as long ago as 1869. 
I don't know whether this had anything to do with 
it, but as soon as I had walked in and shaken hands 
with Garnett, and told him what I had come to 
England for, the bars were all thrown down at 
once. No red tape for me. If I want to find any- 
thing, there are ninety thousand volumes on Ameri- 
can history just across the street entirely at my 
disposal ! 

"Garnett showed me the sheets of some of the 
new printed catalogue of the whole Museum Li- 
brary!! They are going to print it all, and it will 
fill about six hundred royal octavo volumes!! How 
is that for a big library? 

"O, this is the capital of the world! You can 
have no idea of the endless treasures of Americana 
across the way. My coming over here was the 
wisest thing I could possibly have done. 

" I just now met Lecky, on Great Russell Street, 
and we talked twenty minutes, standing in the 


The British Museum 

street, about the* Scotch- Irish element in the popu- 
lation of the Alleghany region. I told Lecky I had 
got some bones to pick with him, and he said some 
evening we will fight it out over a pipe. 

"I have had some absolutely horrible turns of 
homesickness this week, though my rooms are 
really delightful, and I have every comfort that 
heart could wish, and everybody treats me with the 
greatest cordiality almost tenderness ; and I am 
highly excited over my work. But if there ever 
was a chap that loved his home, it 's me. 

"Have n't I been concentrated on my work this 
week? Profound, almost awful quiet, all day long. 
Not a human being except landlady, maid, and offi- 
cials, did I speak to from Monday morning till 
yesterday Thursday afternoon, when I ran in 
before dinner to chat fifteen minutes with Ral- 
ston. I felt as if I must scream for somebody to 
speak to. To-night Sime is coming will be here' 
soon we shall dine at Kettner's, and come back 
to smoke before the fire. Gradually I shall get used 
to the silence, and I see already that the amount I 
can do in a day is prodigious. 

"The Huxleys have a dinner-party for me on 
the 1 4th of March. In her invitation Mrs. Hux- 
ley asked me if I was * glooming into the Man- 
uscripts of the British Museum to good pur- 

On March 9, he writes: 

"It is Friday, and I hadn't exchanged words 
with a soul all this week except Alice when 
Spencer came and made me a lovely call. He has 
had me admitted to the Athenaeum Club and hopes 


John Fiske 

I will dine there with him often. He says I am shut- 
ting myself up too closely. Last Saturday after- 
noon I heard a divine concert at St. James's Hall. 
Just think, Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata by Miss 
Krebs and Joachim; also songs of Handel and 
Mendelssohn by Santley. Santley's voice has not 
the wondrous ring it had in his prime, but O, the 
pathos and sweetness of it! It made me shed hot 
tears. He is a singer straight from Heaven. 

" Whenever the American letters come, Mrs. 
Coldrey sends them up by Alice, with 'The Missus's 
compliments, sir, and 'opes Mrs. Fiske and the 
childrens are quite well.' I have a delightful home 
here, and it is a pity you can't all have some memo- 
ries of it to carry along through life with me." 

But this was written on the verge of a much more 
serious collapse than he had yet experienced. A 
little later he writes : 

"Sunday, March n, I waked up finding that I 
had an awful chill which I could n't account for, 
except that the weather was excessively raw and 
my bedroom felt damp. I had n't hitherto thought 
it worth while to keep a fire in my bedroom, which 
I see was an error. Spencer says because I lived 
and flourished here one winter in defiance of all 
precautions, I mustn't think I can do so always; 
and it is just as well to know that when England 
makes up its mind to chill you, you have got to 
look out. I don't need any more lessons, for I have 
got the creed at my tongue's end. The way that 
chill seized me and knocked all the strength out of 
me began to scare me towards evening. But I 
walked down to the Criterion, got a little dinner, 


Severe Illness at Triibner's 

felt dreadfully weak and wretched, with my feet 
like icicles, and longed for a kind word, and would 
have given $1000 never to have left home. Where 
should I go for a word of bright cheer? A little 
chat with Triibner, I thought would do me good, 
and I beckoned a cab. It began to snow and a north- 
west gale blew hard. Cabby could hardly hear me, 
and I found my voice going. A three-mile drive 
brought me to Upper Hamilton Terrace, quaking 
and teeth chattering, and legs frozen to the knees. 
Paid cabby, went in, and went to the dining-room, 
where Triibner was dozing in his easy-chair before 
the fire. He jumped up and said, 'O, my friend, 
it gladdens my heart to see you ! ' I tried to speak, 
but could only faintly whisper, and felt everything 
whizzing about my ears. 'O, my friend,' said he, 
'what voice is this I hear? Good God, you are 
ill! Your face is very pale.' He led me to a big 
chair by the fire, went out, and in a minute came 
back with a huge pair of German felt boots that 
came halfway up to my knees, kneeled down and 
unlaced and took off my . shoes and put on these 
warm things, and did n't they feel good? Then he 
went out again and presently came back with Mrs. 
Triibner and Lina and Jacobina (or 'Binnchin' as 
they call her) the sister. You remember them all, 
no doubt. Lina came up and kissed me. Mrs. 
Triibner said, 'Why, my dear Mr. Fiske, how is it 
that you have come to be so ill? We shall not let 
you go home to-night.' ' 

How the Triibners kept him and tenderly nursed 
him for four days, and got him in condition for the 
dinner at Huxley's, where he was the guest of 


John Fiske 

honor, is delightfully and gratefully told. He closes 
his account thus: 

"Triibner is a noble fellow, a great scholar, a 
generous publisher, a charming host, and his hon- 
est German heart is as full of tenderness as a hu- 
man heart can be! I believe they saved me from a 
dangerous illness; and if I were to live a thousand 
years I could never forget their kindness. I shall 
always carry it with me as a sweet memory. It was 
almost worth while to be sick, to find out what 
dear friends I had got there." 

In getting back to his quarters in Great Russell 
Street Fiske felt fully recovered, and plunged into 
his work with better spirit and great energy tem- 
pered by a sense of moderation in his application - 
he took more relaxation. Sime was a frequent visi- 
tor, was very sympathetic, and quite enthusiastic 
over Fiske's "significant grasp of facts." The let- 
ters contain extracts from his growing manuscript 
that Mrs. Fiske might see the style in which he 
was doing his work. At the Huxley dinner he met 
a fine company; and Spencer gave him a dinner at 
the Athenaeum Club where he met Hirst and the 
Honorable George Broderick, Warden of Merton 
College, Oxford. He spent an evening with James 
Martineau -- "a dear old man" - and also dined 
and spent an evening with William Sime, a brother 
of James Sime, where they had much music. He 
found William Sime possessed of a fine knowledge 
of French literature, and that he had a great rever- 


Billingsgate Fish Market 

ence for Voltaire. He writes: "William Sime 
opened up to me new lights about Voltaire." 

And in the afternoon of "Good Friday," his 
friend Ralston came in, "blue with the cold," 
ready for a trip down to Billingsgate Fish Market 
for dinner. Here is Fiske's account of his experi- 
ence : - 

" Put on my big ulster, and we walked down Hoi- 
born and Newgate Street into the old City, and 
through its noble quaint streets to Billingsgate 
Fish Market. The Three Tuns Tavern is in the 
market, on the edge, just overhanging the Thames 
below London Bridge a forest of masts just out- 
side the windows. At 4 P.M. daily they have a fish 
table d'hote dinner. Ralston said the last time he 
had been there was about twenty years ago. Gee- 
rusalem, what a place! but lovely, for a blazing sun 
lit up the river, and, when in out of the wind, it was 
warm. The head-waiter had just come out of 
Dickens. The diners were mostly queer coves, and 
doubtless thought us queer coves. The head-waiter 
stood at the end of the table, and when all were 
seated rapped loudly on the table with his knife- 
handle, and then said grace! And this was the din- 
ner: - 

1. Boiled salmon with anchovy sauce. 

2. Boiled cod with oyster sauce. 

3. Fried cod with piquante sauce. 

4. Fried eels. 

5. Whitebait with brown bread. 

6. Roast beef, with potatoes and greens. 

7. Cheese. 

Beer, Coffee, and Cigar. 


John Fiske 

" The bill was 3/2 = 76 cents for each of us. I en- 
joyed it! The fish was fresh, delicious, and su- 
perbly cooked. We walked home again, making 
about seven miles for the day's walk. I got 
back to work again about 7 o'clock and wrote till 
12.45, making eight of the best pages of the book 
so far. I don't dawdle or waste a minute of time 

The letters show that for a fortnight after his 
illness at the Triibners', by sheer force of will, by 
steady work on his history, and various diversions, 
he managed to keep his homesick feelings under. 
But as his birthday came around (March 30), bring- 
ing him letters from home in which he seemed to 
hear the voices of all his family, his mother, his 
wife, his children, the effect was overpowering, 
and he could not endure the thought of a much 
longer isolation from them. Writing Mrs. Fiske, 
March 31, he says: 

" I really think I had better come home soon. 
I am making good progress, but no better than I 
could make at home. I go on nicely, for a few days, 
and then I get to thinking of my home, and it com- 
pletely upsets me for a day or two. The fact is the 
day has gone by when I could do such a thing as 
I once did --be absent from my family for ten 
months. Being away from you amounts in itself 
to a serious illness. The agonies I have suffered 
since I landed in England are such as no words 
can ever describe, and it goes far to offset the good 
effects of my seclusion. Nay, rather, let me come 


Depressed by Homesickness 

home and work as in the old days. I fear that 
this awful homesickness will break down my 

"More than all, I am cured of Europe. I shall 
never come over again except with you or some 
of the children for a short summer glorification. 
Never! I am disenchanted. I crave nothing but 
my home, my wife, and my children. London is 
splendid, and I find myself famous here, and I shall 
have got great good from coming over. My book 
is making fine progress, and everybody is tenderly 
kind to me, and Sime is the sweetest fellow that 
ever lived, but I cannot be happy without my dear 


Fiske struggled bravely against his depression. 
The quiet attractiveness of his rooms, so favor- 
able for composition, began to pall upon him the 
moment he released his mind from his work, for he 
had none of his family to share his pleasant sur- 
roundings with him. His unselfish nature was in 
revolt against the conditions which gave him 
pleasures he could not share with his dear ones; 
and then, in his intellectual work hitherto, he had 
had Mrs. Fiske at hand, with her appreciative 
sympathy with what was best in his writings, to 
cheer him on; while now, even in his pleasant sur- 
roundings, he was isolated from all that was dear- 
est to his heart the very attractiveness of his 
London home only intensified his loneliness in it. 
From the extracts from his manuscript copy of 
his history which he sends Mrs. Fiske as examples 


John Fiske 

of his style, it is readily seen how much he craved 
her appreciative sympathy. 

In his moments of depression the thought oc- 
curred to him to have Mrs. Fiske come over to 
^ London for a while that her presence and her 
sympathy for a few weeks would serve to break his 
long exile, and thus prove the best prescription for 
his diseased mind. Accordingly, we have in his 
letters to Mrs. Fiske early in April earnest plead- 
ings for her to come to him, and picturing how 
their days might be spent he at his work and 
she aiding him by her presence and her ready sym- 
pathy, and cheering him in his hours of relaxation; 
in short, he pictured how, with her, his London life 
would be perfect, while his history would grow 
apace. But it could not be. It was impossible for 
Mrs. Fiske to leave her family for the many weeks 
necessary to make her visit to London of benefit 
to him, and she cabled him to this effect. 

Fiske was disappointed; but he struggled on, his 
days alternating between those of depression and 
those of determination to carry his project through. 
But his work suffered, not so much in quality as 
in quantity there were days he could do no 
work. His friends were most considerate for him. 
The Huxleys, the Triibners, the Macmillans, and 
the Simes were unremitting in their kind courte- 
sies. Spencer invited him to dinner to meet the 
Japanese Minister and a few friends, and after- 
wards took him down to Brighton for a few days. 


Returns to America 

But the weight on his mind could not be lifted. 
He consulted his friend, Dr. Lauder Brunton, and 
asked him if he could minister to a mind diseased. 
Dr. Brunton advised him to send for his wife. He 
again consulted Dr. Bruce, and Dr. Bruce advised 
his returning home as the only sure remedy in his 
case. This advice was conclusive, and accordingly 
he took passage on the Cunard steamer Servia 
which sailed from Liverpool April 21, and he ar- 
rived in New York April 29, 1883, thus bringing to 
a close his last visit to England, a visit which was 
undertaken with anticipations of much pleasure, 
and with expectations of great profit to his work. 

The visit, however, was not a failure. Notwith- 
standing his great personal discomforts, he did a 
good body of solid work. Among the rich treasures 
in the British Museum he found much of great 
value to him relating to the discovery of America, 
and particularly relating to English politics and 
English thought regarding America during the 
period of world-activity from 1753 to the estab- 
lishment of constitutional government under Wash- 
ington in 1789. At this time Fiske was writing the 
story of the revolt of the colonies and of the Revo- 
lutionary War. 

Fiske's* return to his home brought his cure. 
With his family about him the pressure on his 
heart his real ailment and one no medication 
could reach : was relieved, and he soon settled 
down to steady work at his, task. In the Harvard 


John Fiske 

Library and in the Boston Public Library he found 
the necessary books of reference, although not so 
convenient for his use as were those in the Brit- 
ish Museum. His working hours were carefully 
guarded by Mrs. Fiske, and thus, for the remain- 
der of the year, his days in Cambridge and Peters- 
ham, with but few interruptions, sped along with 
great serenity and with steady accretions to his 

Among the incidents of this period, perhaps the 
most notable, and the one that most deeply stirred 
his feelings, was his action as a member of the Board 
of Overseers of Harvard University in opposition to 
conferring the degree of LL.D. upon General Ben- 
jamin F. Butler, then Governor of Massachusetts. 
It had been customary to confer this degree upon 
the Governors of the Commonwealth, although 
the university was under no obligation to do so; 
in fact, the conferring of the degree was simply 
an act of courtesy on the part of the university. 
Massachusetts had been fortunate in a line of Gov- 
ernors who had nobly served the Commonwealth 
and who were worthy of the honors of her chief 
university. Consequently the propriety of the cus- 
tomary bestowal of this high honor upon the chief 
magistrate of the Commonwealth had not hereto- 
fore been questioned. But Governor Butler, by 
his personal character and by his derisive floutings 
of some of the cherished opinions of the New Eng- 
land mind, in short, by his gross vulgarity, and 


Harvard and Governor Butler 

contempt for Harvard's ideals of citizenship, had 
roused a strong opposition to bestowing upon him 
the university's highest honor. This opposition was 
met by the somewhat plausible but weak argument 
that the bestowal of the honor was not upon the 
man, the incumbent of the office, but upon 
the office itself. 

On his return from England Fiske found that the 
discussion of the propriety of conferring this degree 
was rife in the various departments of Harvard 
University and also under general discussion by 
the Boston press. The President and Fellows of 
the university had unanimously voted to confer the 
degree, and although none thought the act con- 
sistent with the character or the services of the 
Governor, it was generally regarded as politically 
unwise to withhold from him the customary honor. 
Even those most urgent for conferring it were em- 
phatic in condemning the unprincipled character 
of the Governor. Fiske, as we have seen, was one 
of the Overseers of the university, and the vote 
of the President and Fellows proposing the con- 
ferring of the degree had to be confirmed by the 
Board of Overseers in order to become operative. 
Fiske promptly took a decided stand against de- 
basing Harvard's honors by a bestowal of her chief 
honor upon one who for thirty years had lost no 
opportunity of publicly testifying his contempt 
for the university and all its belongings; and who, 
by the testimony of his neighbors, had been pro- 


John Fiske 

nounced untruthful, tricky, and dishonest, both 
professionally and politically. He ridiculed the 
idea of Harvard, with its motto of " Veritas," find- 
ing in the life of such a man anything worthy of 
honor; and pointed out the absurdity of attempt- 
ing to make a distinction between the office and 
its incumbent in order to save the credit of the 
university in its act. 

He found ready sympathy among his fellow 
members of the Board of Overseers, particularly 
the Reverend James Freeman Clarke, who, when 
the matter came before the Board for final action, 
made a vigorous plea for moral consistency in their 
action. The recommendation to confer the degree 
was defeated by the decisive vote of eleven to 

As Fiske was now at home, and as his mother was 
living with him while her house near by was being 
built, there are no self-revealing letters from him 
giving the details of his life during this period such 
as we have had in previous years. His papers and 
memoranda give glimpses of him as steadily at 
work on his history, as taking pleasure in reading 
certain passages of it to Mrs. Fiske and his mother, 
and as taking great pleasure in diversions with his 
children. Among his papers I find a letter from his 
friend James Sime, written in July of this year, 
1883, which so clearly reflects the fine friendship 
between the two men, as well as somewhat of their 


Letter from James Sime 

personal characteristics, that I make place for the 
following extract. Sime writes : 

"Your happiness in getting home was, I am sure, 
as deep as the Atlantic. Your visit to England will 
now seem like a dream, but not a bad dream, I 
hope; for after all, you had some happy hours. To 
me you brought, as usual, much joy of the kind 
that can only be feebly expressed in words. All the 
same, however, both my wife and myself were very 
anxious about you from the first day of your visit 
until nearly the last; and while regretting to lose 
you, we knew that it was best for you to get back 
to those who would give you new life and energy. 
How thoroughly miserable you seemed to be at 
times ! as if all the lights of the world had been sud- 
denly quenched! But that is all passed now, and 
when you come again your mood will always be as 
bright and as elastic as it often was even when you 
were ill and homesick; for of course your wife will 
be with you, and I do not think you could despond 
in her presence however much you might try! 

"Looking back on the times we had together, I 
think I enjoy most the recollection of that perfect 
day at Rochester, and of your last long evening 
here, when we talked of Goethe, Heine, Omar 
Khayyam, and I know not what besides. The 
Rochester day was a gem of purest ray one of 
those days in which one's nature and the world 
seem to be in absolute harmony, and when one 
feels sure that the last word does not belong to the 
pessimists. I could not help thinking of the strange 
influences which had brought you and me together 
there united in idea and affection although 
trained in such diverse circumstances near us 


John Fiske 

the monuments of a far-off age in which even 
America has its roots, and all around, the earth so 
gracious and so young, as if the crowd of bishops 
and warriors had never been! I wonder whether 
six centuries hence, our descendants will find a 
touch of romance in us ? I cannot doubt that they 
will ; for there must be deep poetry in all this stir- 
ring of mighty forces, that are going to bring forth 
a new world. 

"So you are making good progress with your 
History? I congratulate you, for I feel confident 
that it is to be a great book. The more I think of 
America, and know about her, the more I believe 
in her. She is one of the supreme sources of hope for 
mankind and it is a satisfaction to know that in 
you, she is to have a worthy historian." 

Now that Fiske had a very complete envisage- 
ment of American history, he was whenever prac- 
ticable ready to lend a helping hand in bringing 
the significant features of this history home to the 
people. And Mrs. Hemenway, whose efforts to 
make the Old South Church in Boston a centre 
for the propagation of a knowledge of American 
history as well as for the dissemination of the 
principles of good citizenship have already been 
noted, was ever active in her beneficent work. 
During the school vacation for the summer of this 
year she provided a course of lectures in the historic 
old church on topics in American history of interest 
to young people. Fiske was very glad to cooperate 
in this good work, and accordingly, on the after- 


Lectures to Young People 

noon of September 12, 1883, he gave to a large and 
interested audience, mostly of young people, a 
simple, lucid story of our Revolutionary struggle 
its causes, its main incidents, its results. He 
made the story interesting by keeping in the narra- 
tion the causes more prominent than the incidents, 
so that the latter were seen to flow naturally from 
the former. For instance, he briefly sketched, in 
the first place, the nature of the political differences 
which had arisen between the mother country and 
the colonies, and pointed out why the estrangement 
was stronger in the New England colonies, on the 
one hand, and in Virginia and the Southern colo- 
nies, on the other hand, than it was in the middle 
colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsyl- 
vania. He then called attention to the geographi- 
cal situation of the colonies from the military or 
strategic viewpoint the New England colonies 
being separated from the others by the Hudson 
River, thereby leaving the confederacy open to 
attack from the seaboard at New York and from 
Canada by Lake Champlain attacks which if 
united and successful would sever the New Eng- 
land colonies from the confederacy, thus enabling 
the British forces to subjugate the colonies in de- 
tail. Having made these points clear, he showed 
that the English Cabinet adopted as its plan of 
military operations three lines of converging forces: 
the first consisting of a strong force, under General 
Burgoyne, to descend through Lake Champlain and 


John Fiske 

Lake George; the second, a smaller force, under 
Colonel St. Leger, to come by way of Lake Ontario, 
Oswego, and the Mohawk Valley, these two forces 
to come together in the vicinity of Albany, where 
they were to be joined by a strong force from New 
York, under Lord Howe, which was to move up 
the Hudson River. By these combined movements 
it was expected that the colonial confederacy would 
be effectively dismembered. Success depended upon 
these three lines of operations being conducted 
under a complete understanding by the three com- 
manders of the general plan of the campaign. Ow- 
ing, however, to the stupid neglect of Lord George 
Germain, the British Cabinet officer having charge 
of the colonies, the definite instructions prepared 
for Lord Howe in New York defining the impor- 
tant part he was to play in the general movement 
were never sent. So General Burgoyne and Colo- 
nel St. Leger, deprived of his assistance, were left 
to their respective fates: the former surrendered 
his army at Saratoga, while the latter was com- 
pletely routed at Fort Stanwix and fled for his 

These signal victories in the year 1777, completely 
; upsetting the British plan for dismembering the 
colonies, in connection with Washington's bril- 
liant campaigns in New Jersey, Fiske showed, 
formed the turning-point in the Revolutionary 
struggle. The British ministry were signally de- 
feated in their main efforts to subdue the colonists, 


On the Revolutionary War 

and France now came to their open assistance with 
her army and her fleet. What followed during the 
next five years was succinctly and graphically told : 
the great public privations and distresses, Ar- 
nold's treason, the efforts of the British generals 
to win back the Southern colonies, the brilliant 
campaign of General Greene in Georgia and the 
Carolinas, ending with the cooping-up of Lord 
Cornwallis at Yorktown, the descent of Wash- 
ington with his army from the Hudson, the co- 
operation of the French fleet, the surrender of Corn- 
wallis, the close of the war, and the treaty of 
independence and peace between England and the 
United States in the autumn of 1782. 

Fiske was so familiar with his subject that he 
had but little occasion to refer to his notes. The 
lecture therefore partook of the nature of an ex- 
tempore talk on a subject in which he took a deep 
interest. He was also interested in his audience, 
and he spoke with great ease and fluency. I took 
a seat where I could observe the audience. It was, 
indeed, an inspiring sight so many bright young 
faces animated by "a desire to know," and as the 
theme was unfolded it was pleasant to see their 
growing interest. When the story of Arnold was 
told, his base treason, in contrast with his previous 
brilliant services, and the effect of the treason 
upon Washington, the interest of the audience was 
profound. Every eye was riveted on the speaker, 
and in the rapt attention it could be seen that feel- 


John Fiske 

ings of pity were mingled with feelings of indig- 
nant patriotism at such dastardly conduct. 

Another incident of the lecture I recall. The 
story of the investment and surrender of Corn- 
wallis was followed with close attention. When 
Fiske told, in a highly pleased and animated way, 
how the news of the surrender, flying northward, 
reached Philadelphia on a dark morning in the 
fourth week of October, 1781, and was announced 
to the citizens by an old German night-watchman 
in his broken English "Basht dree o'glock und 
Gornvallis ish dakendt" the deep feeling of the 
audience found relief in an impromptu round of 
applause, which showed the keen, sympathetic 
interest with which the whole story had been fol- 

This lecture was so successful, it showed so 
clearly that the Revolutionary struggle had, when 
properly presented, so many points of a deep and 
general interest which bore directly upon the ele- 
ments of good citizenship, that Mrs. Hemenway 
desired to have a succinct history of the American 
Revolutionary War in its various relations and as- 
pects given in a course of popular lectures at the 
Old South Church. This course was not only to 
set forth, with much fulness of detail, the historic 
events of the great struggle, but also to bring into 
clear light the many types of personal character 
of citizens that were developed during the 


Old South Lectures 

As Fiske, in his " History of the American Peo- 
ple " which he had in hand, had already treated the 
Revolutionary period in much the way Mrs. Hem- 
enway desired, it was not a difficult task for him 
to prepare from his manuscript copy a course of 
twelve lectures for delivery at the Old South 
Church. And this he did. Beginning on Satur- 
day, November 17, 1883, he gave twelve weekly 
lectures (omitting Christmas week) under the fol- 
lowing titles: 

I. The First Misunderstandings. 1761-67. 
II. War Clouds Gathering. 1767-74. 

III. Coming on of the Storm. 1774-75. 

IV. Independence declared. 1775-76. 

V. The Times that tried Men's Souls. 1776. 
VI. Struggle for the Centre. 1777. 
VII. Beginning of the End. 1778. 
VIII. Spreading of the War. 1778-80. 
IX. The Final Struggle. 1779-81. 
X. Independence achieved. 1781-83. 
XI. The League of Friendship. 1781-87. 
XII. Order out of Chaos. 1787-89. 

These lectures were given at noon, and they 
were attended by large and enthusiastic audiences. 
So great was the interest taken in them that be- 
fore the course was finished Fiske was asked by the 
Governor, the Honorable George D. Robinson; by 
the Superintendent of Schools, Edwin P. Seaver; 
by the Secretary of the State Board of Education, 
J. W. Dickinson; by Francis Parkman, the emi- 


John Fiske 

nent historian; by the 'Reverend Edward Everett 
Hale, and other prominent citizens, to repeat the 
course at an hour more convenient to the general 
public. Fiske was greatly pleased to comply with 
this request, and he repeated the lectures in an 
evening course, also at the Old South Church, be- 
ginning February I, 1884. 

In the lectures of the latter half of this course he 
made some changes, by leaving out of considera- 
tion the seven years' League of Friendship under 
the Continental Congress and confining himself 
strictly to the war period with greater fulness of 
detail. He felt that in the original course he did 
not do full justice to the closing years of the great 
struggle, while a calm review of his presentation 
of the important events that occurred during the 
League of Friendship, out of which grew the Con- 
stitution of the United States, led him to the deci- 
sion to give to these events a fuller treatment in 
another and a particular course of lectures. How 
these lectures were received was well expressed by 
the " Boston Advertiser," then the leading critical 
journal in Boston, in passing upon them the fol- 
lowing judgment: 

"The delivery of these lectures has been a liter- 
ary event of the first magnitude. It is not easy to 
explain the secret of the orator's wonderful charm. 
The fervid manner and varied grace of gesture of 
Everett, and the tragic air and pathetic tones of 
Choate, together with the devices of rhetoric which 


Lectures in St. Louis 

both employed, might explain theirs, as did the 
audacity and edge of Phillips's speech account in 
a good measure for his. Mr. Fiske makes no ges- 
tures, and indulges in no high-flown rhetoric; but 
his manner is extremely easy and graceful, and 
his dramatic method of presentation brings us face 
to face with persons and events as if we had 
seen and known them. The character of George 
Washington has never before been so impressively 
depicted in so few words. Part of the effect, no 
doubt, is due to the surpassing beauty of his 
language. " 

k Before finishing his lectures in Boston, Fiske was 
asked to repeat the course in St. Louis during the 
spring term, under the auspices of Washington Uni- 
versity. He was glad to comply with this request, 
and so from the last of March till the early part of 
May of this year he was in St. Louis. And his lec- 
tures evoked as great an interest as they did in Bos- 
ton. He had large audiences and the interest deep- 
ened to the very close. General Sherman was an 
attentive listener, and he commended very highly 
Fiske's lucid presentation of the military opera- 
tions of the war on both sides. 

The impression given by the lectures in St. Louis 
was well summed up by the leading journal, the 
"St. Louis Globe-Democrat/' in the following par- 
agraph : 

"For picturesqueness, and dramatic power, the 
description of the Boston Tea-Party, the battle in 
the ravine at Oriskany, the awful fight between 


John Fiske 

the Serapis and Bon Homme Richard and the 
splendid march of Washington upon Cornwallis 
have never been surpassed in historical literature. 
The character drawing was no less remarkable. Al- 
most side by side, in the same lecture, the jovial, 
irascible, learned, and energetic German tactician 
Steuben, and the strangely majestic figure of the 
great Mohawk preacher and war-chief, Brant, are 
so vividly portrayed as to haunt one's memory 
forever. Mr. Fiske's command of the English lan- 
guage is unrivalled. The success of the lectures has 
been simply astonishing." 

Before passing from Fiske's activities of the 
winter of 1883-84, mention should be made of his 
publication of "Excursions of an Evolutionist," a 
duodecimo volume in which he brought together 
his various essays, etc., printed during the previous 
three or four years. In it was included his speech 
at the Spencer dinner. This volume bore the fol- 
lowing felicitous dedication to an old friend whose 
name has several times appeared in previous pages : 


Dear and Honoured Friend: 

Quarter of a century has passed since I used to listen with 
delight to your preaching and come to you for sympathy and 
counsel in my studies. In these later days while we meet too 
Seldom, my memory of that wise and cordial sympathy 
grows ever brighter and sweeter; and to-day, in writing upon 
my title-page the words of the great German seer, 1 my 

1 Willst du ins Unendliche schreiten 
Geh nur im Endlichen nach alien Seiten. 



Excursions of an Evolutionist 

thoughts naturally revert to you. For I know of no one who 
understands more thoroughly or feels more keenly how it is 
that if we would fain learn something of the Infinite, we must 
not sit idly repeating the formulas of other men and other 
days, but must gird up our loins anew, and diligently explore 
on every side that finite realm through which still shines the 
glory of an ever-present God for those that have eyes to see 
and ears to hear. Pray accept this little book from one 
who is Ever gratefully yours, 


Mr. Dudley acknowledged the compliment by 
the following grateful note : 

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 1883. 
My good Friend : 

Your admirable book reached me after several 
stages, being forwarded from Milwaukee. 

But you have crowned me with laurel : you have 
set me up with honor. If from all the gods in the 
kingdom of letters I might have chosen one to braid 
a chaplet for me you would have been named first, 
and only. So you must know that when I read your 
generous tribute it touched me tenderly. For five 
and twenty years I have watched your career with 
interest and rejoiced in its triumph from stage to 
stage, until at last you have scored your name 
among the constellated few that shall have light 
for the pathseekers of to-morrow. 

Dear friend, if from my advance bloom any 
pollen may have fallen upon the blossoms in the 
garden of your spring-time, who shall deny that 
the glory of the harvest comes more from the soil 
than the seed. 

In the abiding youth of the Avida veteris flammae 
I shall continue yours, 



John Fiske 

This volume was very cordially received by 
Fiske's growing audience of readers; and the wide 
catholicity of his thought, the absence of all ap- 
peals to prejudice, the disposition to find some 
good in all phases of human development, com- 
bined with his ready command of his encyclopaedic 
knowledge and his wonderful power of lucid expo- 
sition, commended him to an ever-increasing con- 
stituency of rational minds. 




WE now come to two interruptions in Fiske's his- 
torical work resulting in the production of two re- 
ligious addresses which have had a marked influ- 
ence upon the religious thought of the time : his two 
addresses before the Concord School of Philosophy 
at the two sessions of the School in 1884 and 1885. 

The Concord School of Philosophy had its be- 
ginning in 1879, at Concord, Massachusetts, as a 
sort of gathering-place where those who felt dis- 
turbed over the apparent materialistic tendency of 
the current scientific thought could meet, and, by 
free converse on the deeper questions of the theo- 
logico-idealistic philosophy, emphasize the impor- 
tance of keeping the mind fixed on the Divine per- 
sonality of God, on the direct relationship between 
God and man through man's conscious powers, 
as the necessary conditions for sound philosophic 
thinking regarding the principles of right conduct 
in human life itself. 

The Directors and the active workers in the 
School were: A. Bronson Alcott, Transcendentalist ; 
Dr. Hiram A. Jones, Platonist; Dr. William T. 


John Fiske 

Harris, Hegelian; Frank- B. Sanborn, literary and 
social critic. 

The real founder of the School was Mr. Alcott, in 
whose mind the possibility of such a school, where 
men interested in the problems of the transcenden- 
tal philosophy could meet in freest converse, had for 
years floated as a sort of Platonic dream. Emer- 
son encouraged the founding of the school, and 
appeared at its first two sessions. He took no 
active part, however, in its conduct. His health 
was failing. An examination of the papers pre- 
sented during the first five sessions of the School, 
1879-83, shows that the prevailing order of phil- 
osophic thought was decidedly metaphysical in 
character, with the implication that only by this 
order of philosophizing could the truths regarding 
God, nature, man the ultimates of all philosophy 
be ascertained: Along with these presentations 
of metaphysico-philosophic doctrine, there was 
much dwelling upon the contributions thereto by 
Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. 

For the session of the School in 1884 the Faculty 
chose, as one of the leading subjects for discussion, 
" Man's Immortality "; and in a laudable desire to 
give the discussion a wide range, Fiske was asked 
to give a paper on the general subject. I gather 
that he was expected to speak as a materialist. 

Fiske accepted the invitation with much pleasure, 
as the occasion would enable him to set forth, under 
conditions of special significance, his views as an 




Concord School of Philosophy 

Evolutionist on this vital question of religious be- 

Fiske's address was written in Petersham amid 
the pleasantest surroundings and at intervals while 
he was deeply engaged in his historical work. It was 
delivered at Concord on the evening of July 31, 
1884, and in the very simple chapel which had been 
specially built upon the estate of Mr. Alcott for the 
purposes of the School. All the surroundings were 
in keeping with great simplicity of life and high 
thinking on great themes. A larger audience than 
usual was gathered, drawn doubtless by a desire 
to hear what the leading Evolutionist in America 
had to say on one of the fundamental doctrines of 
the Christian religion. It was, therefore, an au- 
dience of an unusually select character. 

The address was characterized by all the marks 
of Fiske's careful, orderly preparation. He took 
the question of man's immortality entirely out of 
the realm of me taphysico- theological speculation, 
and brought it under consideration in the light of 
man's evolutionary origin and his ever-developing, 
intellectual, moral, and spiritual nature as revealed 
by positive science. He opened with a brief refer- 
ence to the conception of the cosmic universe as 
held by theologico-philosophic thinkers previous 
to the Copernican era, when, as set forth in the 
"Divine Comedy" of Dante, "that wonderful 
book wherein all the knowledge and speculation, 
all the sorrows and yearnings of the far-off Middle 


John Fiske 

Ages are enshrined in the glory of imperishable 
verse, the earth, the fair home of man, was 
placed in the centre of a universe wherein all 
things were ordained for his sole behoof: the sun to 
give him light and warmth, the stars in their courses 
to preside over his strangely checkered destinies, 
the winds to blow, the floods to rise, or the fiend of 
pestilence to stalk abroad over the land all for 
the blessing, or the warning, or the chiding of the 
chief among God's creatures, man." 

Upon such a cosmological theory as this the 
whole universe ministering to the present and fu- 
ture well-being of man as its ultimate goal was 
founded an imposing theological system crowned 
with man's immortality, an eternal life to be spent 
in the joys of Heaven or in the torments of Hell 
according as individual life here on earth had been 
spent well or ill. 

Naturally the impinging of the Copernican as- 
tronomy upon such a body of established theo- 
logico-cosmological doctrine as this could not but 
be revolutionary in the extreme. Commenting 
upon what took place Fiske says: 

"In our day it is hard to realize the startling 
effect of the discovery that man does not dwell at 
the centre of things, but is the denizen of an ob- 
scure and tiny speck of cosmical matter quite in- 
visible amid the innumerable throng of blazing 
suns that make up our galaxy. To the contempora- 
ries of Copernicus, the new theory seemed to strike 


Address on Immortality 

at the very foundations of Christian theology. In 
a universe where so much had been made without 
discernible reference to man, what became of that 
elaborate scheme of salvation which seemed to rest 
upon the assumption that the career of Humanity 
was the sole object of God's creative forethought 
and fostering care? When we bear this in mind i 
we see how natural and inevitable it was that the 
Church should persecute such men as Galileo and 

But while the establishment of the truth of 
the Copernican astronomy by Kepler and Newton 
completely discredited the theologico-cosmological 
scheme which preceded it, this astronomical scheme 
gave no explanation of the cosmic universe itself, 
or of man's place in it. It simply affirmed the exist- 
ence of a vast universe of stellar phenomena in 
which the earth had a very subordinate place, a 
universe held in order and unity by some Divine 
Power. Consequently man was dethroned from his 
position of primacy in the universe, and relegated 
to a very conditioned form of existence on the sur- 
face of the earth. Theology, grappling with this 
astronomical truth, which it was forced to accept, 
gradually shifted its ground as to ultimate truth 
regarding man and his place in the universe. It 
finally centred its affirmations around man's spe- 
cial creation as an inhabitant of the earth, and his 
endowment with consciousness and immortal life, 
as part of the acts of the Divine Creator in the 

John Fiske 

creation of the universe by fiat, some six thousand 
years ago. 

This theologico-cosmological scheme was sup- 
ported with much affirmation of its being ultimate 
Divine truth, down to the middle period of ..the 
nineteenth century. Then the geological researches 
of Lyell and his followers, the palseontologic re- 
searches of a number of men, the biological re- 
searches of Darwin and his followers, the sociologi- 
cal researches of Spencer and his followers, together 
with the discoveries in the chemical and physical 
sciences relating to the properties of matter and 
energy, completely swept away the foundations of 
this amended scheme. It left in its place the con- 
ception of a universe of phenomena immeasurable 
in its vastness, its variety, its duration; a universe 
of order and unity ever in a process of develop- 
ment into more complex and higher forms of 
phenomenal existences in conformity to immutable 
law; a universe in which man appears as an inter- 
related crowning product of organic life, the whole 
an attestation to the existence, as the source and 
Sustainer of it all, of an Infinite Eternal Power, 
transcending, in the nature of its existence, the com- 
prehension of the human mind. 

Coming now to the direct question of man's im- 
mortality, Fiske frankly admitted that science could 
not as yet either affirm its truth or assert its denial, 
with any positive evidence whatsoever. This being 
the case it becomes us reverently to study the na- 


Man's Place in Nature 

ture of man's present existence and the conditions 
under which it is given to see whether his present 
life, so developmental in character, is legitimately 
terminal in itself; or whether its very terminal cos- 
mic conditions do not imply a conscious existence 
in another form of life beyond as its necessary ful- 

He then proceeded to bring under review man's 
place in nature as established by biological science. 
Accepting the truth of man's genesis, through his 
evolution from lower forms of animal life, he could 
not but note the psychical aspects of this evolution, 
wherein is shown man's ever-increasing mastery 
over nature's materials and forces, ever bringing 
them more and more into his service through the 
development of his psychical powers. From this 
fact he found the conclusion irresistible that man 
is the highest manifestation of the Divine Creator's 
power, the culmination of His handiwork as thus 
far manifested, and that further cosmic develop- 
ment or revelation of the Divine Creator lies in the 
perfection of humanity in its moral and spiritual 

Believing this to be the truth regarding man's 
place in nature, a place of far greater significance 
for his moral and spiritual well-being than had been 
assigned him in any scheme of things born of an- 
cient mythology, Fiske turned, in contemplating 
man's destiny, to these revelations of science re- 
garding the conditions under which his present cos- 


John Fiske 

mic existence is given, as pointing unmistakably 
to some far-off Divine result of which his ever- 
developing cosmic experiences are adumbrations. 

And among these revelations of science he found 
a group of facts relating to the origin and develop- 
ment of man's psychical powers of special signifi- 
cance, attesting that the enhancement by all the 
forces of nature of man's moral and spiritual well- 
being here on earth, over and beyond his physical 
well-being, was a distinct tendency in the nature of 

These facts Fiske presented in the order of their 
development. In the first place, accepting the ani- 
mal ancestry of man as established truth, man's 
distinct differentiation from his animal progenitors 
may be said to have had its beginning when in the 
struggle for existence the utilization of the psy- 
chical powers had become of greater service than 
the physical powers, yielding ever more and more 
the element of self-consciousness, thus opening an 
entirely new chapter in the organic life of the world. 
Indeed, in the far-off ages of the past, as now so 
clearly revealed by palseontologic science, we are 
enabled to conceive primitive man as he emerged 
from his animal condition, giving evidence, by his 
nascent powers of cognition, by his incipient lan- 
guage, and his crude arts, that a higher form than 
that of mere physical or animal existence, was 
making its way, was being developed in this uni- 
verse of things. 


Development of Humanity 

Fiske then pointed out that this progress in psy- 
chical development has been continuous, and he 
gave himself to tracing out the ever-increasing pre- 
dominance of psychical life manifested in the de- 
velopment of humanity. He particularly empha- 
sized the lengthening of infancy 1 and its giving 
rise to feelings and actions on the part of parents 
not purely self-regarding, leading to the develop- 
ment of the family with its altruistic feelings, the 
unit of human society. He then pointed out how, 
following this advance in the development of primi- 
tive man, there came the beginnings of social life 
and the origin of social organizations and of moral 
conduct: manifestations of the actions of psychi- 
cal forces which in their development are slowly 
ridding man of his egoistic animal nature and re- 
placing it with a nature dominated by psychical 
forces having a spiritual and moral content. A 
point of profound significance in this connection 
is the physiological fact that, pari passu with the 
development of man's spiritual and moral nature, 
there has gone on a corresponding development of 
his cerebral organization. 

Here Fiske found a mass of scientific evidence, 
the truth of which could not be gainsaid, which 
was clear indication that the life of civilized man, 
as shown by his origin and his progressive devel- 
opment towards spiritual and ethical ideals, was 
the highest manifestation of the Divine Creator's 

1 His original contribution to the doctrine of Evolution. 

John Fiske 

power and purpose in this universe of things. Fur- 
ther, it was in evidence that this conscious psychi- 
cal life of man had had a course of development 
parallel with, and in strict conformity to, the de- 
velopment of the physical universe which formed 
its environment, a universe which is ever in a proc- 
ess of transformation into more and more complex 
forms of phenomenal manifestation without any 
loss or destruction of material, or energy, what- 

Then came the vital question, vital to science, 
vital to religion Does the psychical life of man 
end with death? Does this marvellous form of 
conscious existence, the crowning manifestation of 
Divine power in this developing universe of phe- 
nomena, where nothing is ever lost or destroyed, 
cease to exist? Is it a mere chance occurrence in 
cosmic phenomena, ephemeral in its nature and 
without definite meaning or purpose in the cosmic 

Fiske could not so believe. In his mind the ascent 
of man from an animal ancestry, emerging from 
his brute inheritance, and the development in its 
stead of religious feelings and altruistic conduct 
born of spiritual, moral, and intellectual ideals, 
was a truth of such sublime grandeur and signifi- 
cance, as to be without a parallel in the whole uni- 
verse of things. Yet, he admitted that it is not 
likely that we shall ever succeed in making the 
immortality of the soul a matter ^of scientific dem- 

Science and Immortality 

onstration, for we lack the requisite data: it must 
ever remain an affair of religion, rather than of 
science. At the same time he asserted with much 
emphasis : 

"The materialistic assumption that the life of 
the soul ends with the life of the body is perhaps 
the most colossal instance of baseless assumption 
that is known to the history of philosophy. No 
evidence for it can be alleged beyond the familiar 
fact that during the present life we know Soul only 
in its association with Body, and therefore cannot 
discover disembodied soul without dying ourselves. 
This fact must always prevent us from obtaining 
direct evidence for the belief in the soul's survival. 
But a negative presumption is not created by the 
absence of proof in cases where, in the nature of 
things, proof is inaccessible. With his illegitimate 
hypothesis of annihilation, the materialist trans- 
gresses the bounds of experience quite as widely as 
the poet who sings of the New Jerusalem with its 
river of life and its streets of gold. Scientifically 
speaking, there is not a particle of evidence for 
either view." l 

1 This positive statement in regard to our ignorance of man's 
spiritual existence after death will be more seriously questioned now 
than at the time when Fiske wrote. The many able investigators 
engaged in probing scientifically the mysteries of psychical phe- 
nomena, attacking the problem at both ends, the beginnings of 
consciousness and the continuance of conscious existence after death, 
are bringing forth a mess of evidence which goes to show that in 
their investigations they are more or less in the presence of a form of 
existence which transcends mere physical existence; the nature of 
which and the conditions under which it is given are not verifiable in 
terms of man's experiential knowledge. Indeed, it can be said that 
science, religion, and philosophy are now facing the problem of a 
form of existence transcending this material cosmic existence, more 


John Fiske 

Fiske closed his address with the following em- 
phatic confession of faith : 

"For my own part I believe in the immortality 
of the soul, not in the sense in which I accept the 
demonstrable truths of science, but as a supreme 
act of faith in the reasonableness of God's work. 
Such a belief, relating to regions quite inaccessible 
to experience, cannot of course be clothed in terms 
of definite and tangible meaning. For the experi- 
ence which alone can give us such terms we must 
await that solemn day which is to overtake us all. 
The belief can be most quickly defined as the re- 
fusal to believe that this world is all. The mate- 
rialist holds that when you have described the 
whole universe of phenomena of which we can be- 
come cognizant under the conditions of the present 
life, then the whole story is told. It seems to me, 
on the contrary, that the whole story is not thus 
told. I feel the omnipresence of mystery in such 
wise as to make it far easier for me to adopt the 
view of Euripides, that what we call death may be 
but the dawning of true knowledge and of true life. 
The greatest philosopher of modern times, the mas- 
ter and teacher of all who shall study the process 
ef Evolution for many a day to come, holds that 
the conscious soul is not the product of a colloca- 

directly and more intelligently than at any previous period in the 
history of human thinking. In fact, each of these orders of thought 
confesses its impotence to explain the simplest cosmic phenomena; 
while the scientific investigation of psychical phenomena is daily 
bringing to light evidence that these phenomena are by no means 
wholly subject to physical conditions: in truth, that man's progress 
in civilization, is taking decidedly the character of bringing the 
materials and forces of nature in subjection to his ever-devdoping 
psychical powers. 


A Confession of Faith 

tion of material particles, but is in the deepest 
sense a divine effluence. According to Mr. Spen- 
cer, the divine energy which is manifested through- 
out the knowable universe is the same energy that 
wells up in us as consciousness. Speaking for myself, 
I can see no insuperable difficulty in the notion that 
at some period in the evolution of Humanity this 
divine spark may have acquired sufficient concen- 
tration and steadiness to survive the wreck of ma- 
terial forms and endure forever. Such a crowning 
wonder seems to me no more than the fit climax 
to a creative work that has been ineffably beautiful 
and marvellous in all its myriad stages. 

"Only on some such view can the reasonable- 
ness of the universe, which still remains far above 
our finite power of comprehension, maintain its 
ground. There are some minds inaccessible to the 
class of considerations here alleged, and perhaps 
there always will be. But on such grounds, if on 
no other, the faith in immortality is likely to be 
shared by all who look upon the genesis of the 
highest spiritual qualities in man as the. goal of 
nature's creative work. This view has survived 
the Copernican revolution in science, and it has 
survived the Darwinian revolution. Nay, if the 
foregoing exposition be sound, it is Darwinism 
which has placed Humanity upon a higher pin- 
nacle than ever. The future is lighted for us with 
the radiant colors of hope. Strife and sorrow shall 
disappear. Peace and love shall reign supreme. 
The dream of poets, the lesson of priest and 
prophet, the inspiration of the great musician, is 
confirmed in the light of modern knowledge ; and as 
we gird ourselves up for the work of life we may 


John Fiske 

look forward to the time when in the truest sense 
the kingdoms of this world shall become the king- 
dom of Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever, 
king of kings and lord of lords." 

Fiske was nearly two hours in delivering the 
address, yet so lucid was the flow of thought owing 
to the logical arrangement of the wide and varied 
knowledge embodied in the argument, so rational 
and inspiring was the thought of man's immortal- 
ity as the fitting complement, the culmination to 
his progressive moral and spiritual evolution here 
on earth, and so attractive was the style in which 
the whole argument was presented, rising at times 
to passages of supreme eloquence, that these fea- 
tures, combined as they were with an easy, un- 
affected delivery, held the audience in rapt atten- 
tion from the beginning to the end. 

The address was soon published in a dainty vol- 
ume and with the following dedication : 





The publication of the address attracted wide 
attention, not only by reason of the circumstances 
which called it forth, but also and more particularly 
by reason of its treatment of the question of man's 
immortality in the light of recent discoveries in 


The Destiny of Man 

biological science regarding his animal ancestry 
and the evolution of his civilization. The little 
book was cordially welcomed by the advocates 
of liberal thought, on the one hand, while it was 
emphatically condemned by the strenuous up- 
holders of Christian theology, on the other. Upon 
the minds of people who desired to know what the 
testimony of science is as to the ultimate destiny 
of man, and to what extent the question of a future 
existence must be a matter of faith or belief, the 
little book made a deep impression. 

And Fiske had the great satisfaction of learning, 
through private letters from persons in various 
walks of life, that his essay had been the means of 
bringing rest and comfort to minds sorely per- 
plexed with the problems of existence as presented 
by Christian theology. Some of these letters are 
before me, and they are pathetic in their revela- 
tions of the mental distress which not unfrequently 
accompanies the acceptance of the Christian dog- 
mas by minds finely organized spiritually. At the 
same time they attest the fact that a goodly por- 
tion of cultivated minds are ready to welcome the 
spiritual truths written in the phenomena of the 
cosmic universe when these truths are presented 
in all their grandeur, with fulness of knowledge, 
with beauty, and with power. 

From Spencer Fiske received the following let- 
ter in regard to the little book, which is of in- 
terest as showing that Spencer was in doubt as to 


John Fiske 

the immortality of man a doubt he never over- 
came with a positive conviction. Biographical 
literature presents no parallel instance of a great 
mind going to its rest under circumstances of such 
profound sadness as accompanied the closing life 
of Spencer. Having himself rendered an inesti- 
mable service to humanity by pointing out man's 
place in the phenomena of the cosmic universe, he 
was yet unable to reach any positive conclusion 
as to the destiny of man; at the same time wish- 
ing some solution of the mystery might be found. 

BAYSWATER, October 24, 1884. 

My dear Fiske: 

I was glad to get your little volume serving to 
remind me of your still continued philosophical 
activity showing that you have not wholly 
merged the philosopher in the historian. 

My state of brain, though improved somewhat 
recently, has long debarred me from any appre- 
ciable amount of reading. Such little as I can do 
being by necessity limited to that bearing upon 
my immediate work. The only part of your little 
volume which I have looked at, is the closing part, 
and in this, so far as I gather its drift, you ap- 
proach more nearly to a positive conclusion than 
I feel inclined to do. Have you ever looked into 
W. R. Greg's later essays? In one of these he, in 
a very interesting way, discusses the question of 
immortality; implying that in his own case, the 
desire for continued life wanes as age advances, 
and the desire becomes rather that for absolute rest. 


Letter from Spencer 

You see that I have been dreadfully bothered 
with controversies of late. Now, however, I have 
done. With an article which appears in the " Nine- 
teenth Century " on the first of next month, I shall 
have done with the question of agnosticism and the 
Religion of Humanity, and I hope now, after a 
long desistance, to make some way with my per- 
manent work. Partly from these distractions, and 
partly from my disturbed health (which has never 
yet reached its ordinary low level), I have lost an 
amount of time which is dreadful to look back 

With kind regards to Mrs. Fiske, believe me, 
Ever yours sincerely, 


The controversy to which Spencer refers in this 
letter was his memorable debate with Frederic 
Harrison in the "Nineteenth Century Review" 
for 1884 on the "Nature and Reality of Reli- 
gion, " in which the implications of Mr. Spencer's 
term "The Unknowable" and Comte's "Religion 
of Humanity" were very forcefully argued. It is 
apparent that this debate was of influence in shap- 
ing Fiske's thought in these two Concord addresses. 

So wide and deep was the interest awakened 
by Fiske's address on "The Destiny of Man" that 
the Directors of the Concord School invited him 
to give at the session of the School the follow- 
ing summer, 1885, another address on some philo- 
sophic subject agreeable to himself. He gladly ac- 


John Fiske 

cepted this second invitation, as affording a proper 
occasion for saying certain things he had for some 
time had in mind in regard to theism. He chose 
for the subject of his discourse, therefore, "The 
Idea of God as affected by Modern Knowledge," 
for the purpose of introducing the discussion of the 
question whether pantheism is the legitimate out- 
come of modern science. With this object in view 
it seemed to him that his purpose would be best 
attained by passing in review the various modifi- 
cations the idea of God has undergone in the past, 
and pointing out the shape in which it is likely to 
survive the rapid growth of modern knowledge; 
and especially the establishment of the doctrine 
of Evolution, which is fast obliging us to revise 
our opinions on all subjects whatsoever. Fiske 
approached the discussion, as he tells us, with the 
following theistic belief : 

"We may hold that the world of phenomena is 
intelligible only when regarded as the multiform 
manifestation of an Omnipresent Energy that is 
in some way albeit in a way quite above our 
finite comprehension anthropomorphic or quasi- 
personal. There is a true objective reasonableness 
in the universe; its events have an orderly progres- 
sion, and, so far as those events are brought suffi- 
ciently within our ken for us to generalize them 
exhaustively, their progression is toward a goal 
that is recognizable by human intelligence; 'the 
process of Evolution is itself the working out of a 
mighty Teleology of which our finite understandings 


The Idea of God 

can fathom but the scantiest rudiments'; it is in- 
deed but imperfectly that we can describe the dra- 
matic tendency in the succession of events, but we 
can see enough to assure us of the fundamental 
fact that there is such a tendency; and this tend- 
ency is the objective aspect of that which, when 
regarded on its subjective side, we call Purpose. 
Such a theory of things is Theism. It recognizes 
an Omnipresent Energy, which is none other than 
the living God/' 1 

The attentive reader of Fiske's religious addresses 
cannot fail to notice the characteristic manner of 
their openings in each case the presentation of a 
significant thought derived from some department 
of knowledge opposite to the subject under discus- 
sion. In "The Destiny of Man," as we have seen, 
he opened his discourse with a graceful reference 
to the sorrows and yearnings of the far-off Mid- 
dle Ages as enshrined in the imperishable verse 
of Dante. Now, having to speak on a still greater 
theme, the greatest that can engage the human 
mind, he turns for a text for his discourse to 
" Faust," Goethe's immortal poem. He finds 
in the incident of Faust's walking with Margaret 
at eventide in the garden, and Margaret's enquiry 
of her lover if he believes in God, and Faust's per- 
plexity, having delved in the deepest mines of phi- 
losophy, to make answer which shall be truthful 
and at the same time intelligible to the simple- 
minded girl that walks by his side an incident 
1 Preface to The Idea of God, p. xi. 

John Fiske 

suitable to his purpose, as depicted by one of the 
profoundest thinkers of modern times. 

The opening paragraph, in which Fiske sets forth 
Faust's efforts to explain to Margaret his idea of 
God, and her difficulty in apprehending an idea so 
far beyond any concrete symbol of the Divine Crea- 
tor with which she was acquainted so far be- 
yond what had been presented to her by the priest 
at the confessional or the altar is not only a 
passage of rare literary eloquence, but is also one 
of the finest renderings of the thought of Goethe 
regarding Deity, as expressed by Faust, that we 
have in English. 

Focussing attention by reference to this inci- 
dent in Goethe's great poem, Fiske then pointed 
out that the difficulty with which Margaret was 
beset is the same difficulty which besets every mind 
when confronted with the thought of the great 
thinkers the outcome of their endeavors to 
fathom the hidden life of the universe and inter- 
pret its meaning. He then goes on to say that most 
people content themselves through life with a set 
of concrete formulas or symbols concerning Deity, 
and vituperate as atheistic all conceptions which 
refuse to be compressed within the limits of their 
creed. For the great mass of mankind the idea of 
God is overlaid and obscured by symbolic rites and 
doctrines that have grown up in the long historic 
development of religion. All such rites and doc- 
trines once had a positive meaning beautiful and 


The Idea of God 

inspiring, or forbidding and terrible; and such con- 
crete symbols have in all ages been fought for as 
the essentials of religion, until decrees of coun- 
cils, and articles of faith, have usurped in men's 
minds, in a great measure, the place of the living 

Fiske then showed, with great clearness of state- 
ment, how inevitable it is in the nature of things 
that this should be so: that to the half-educated 
mind a theory of Divine action, in which God is 
depicted as a distinct person, and as entertaining 
human purposes and swayed by human passions, 
is not only intelligible, but is also impressive, and in 
some cases may be made inspiring. However myth- 
ical the form in which the theory is presented, it 
seems to uncritical minds profoundly real and sub- 
stantial. Just in so far as it is crudely concrete, 
just in so far as its terms can be vividly realized, 
does such a theory seem rational and true. On the 
other hand, a theory of Divine action, which, dis- 
regarding as far as possible the aid of concrete 
symbols, attempts to include within its range the 
endlessly complex operations that are forever go- 
ing on throughout the universe, is to the ordinary 
mind unintelligible. It awakens no emotion be- 
cause it is not understood. For these reasons all 
attempts to study God as revealed in the workings 
of the visible universe, all attempts to character- 
ize the divine activity in terms derived from such 
study, have met with persistent opposition and 


John Fiske 

obloquy as attempts to fritter away the true idea 
of God, or at best to reduce it to a mere abstraction. 
Fiske closes this very lucid summary of the per- 
petual conflict between man's mythically derived 
ideas of God and the idea of a Divine Creator de- 
rived from man's ever-advancing knowledge of the 
cosmic universe, which formed his introduction, 
with this exceptionally fine paragraph : 

"Thus through age after age has it fared with 
men's discoveries in science, and with their thoughts 
about God and the soul. It was so in the days of 
Galileo and Newton, and we have found it to be 
so in the days of Darwin and Spencer. The theolo- 
gian exclaims, If planets are held in place by gravi- 
tation and tangential momentum, and if the high- 
est forms of life have been developed by natural 
selection and direct adaptation, then the universe 
is swayed by blind forces and nothing is left for 
God to do: how impious and terrible the thought! 
Even so, echoes the favorite atheist, the Lamet- 
trie or Biichner of the day; the universe, it seems, 
has always got on without a God, and accordingly 
there is none : how noble and cheering the thought ! 
And as thus age after age they wrangle, with their 
eyes turned away from the light, the world goes 
on to larger and larger knowledge in spite of them, 
and does not lose its faith, for all these darkeners 
of counsel may say. As in the roaring loom of Time 
the endless web of events is woven, each strand 
shall make more and more clearly visible the liv- 
ing garment of God." 

Turning now to his direct argument, he finds 


The Idea of God 

that at no time since men have dwelt upon the 
earth have their notions about the universe and 
the conditions which govern human life undergone 
such great changes as have taken place during the 
nineteenth century; that never before has knowl- 
edge increased so rapidly, or philosophic speculation 
been so active, or their results so widely diffused as 
during this period. In support of this affirmation 
he makes a concise summary of the great advances 
in knowledge regarding the cosmic universe and 
man's place in it which this century had witnessed, 
and he adds : 

"As the inevitable result of the thronging dis- 
coveries just enumerated, we find ourselves in the 
midst of a mighty revolution in human thought. 
Time-honored creeds are losing their hold upon 
men; ancient symbols are shorn of their value; 
everything is called in question. The controver- 
sies of the day are not like those of former times. 
It is no longer a question of hermeneutics, no longer 
a struggle between abstruse dogmas of rival 
churches. Religion itself is called upon to show 
why it should any longer claim our allegiance. 
There are those who deny the existence of God. 
There are those who would explain away the hu- 
man soul as a mere group of fleeting phenomena 
attendant upon the collocation of sundry particles 
of matter. And there are many others who, with- 
out committing themselves to these positions of 
the atheist and the materialist, have nevertheless 
come to regard religion as practically ruled out 
from human affairs. No religious creed that man 


John Fiske 

has ever devised can be made to harmonize in all 
its features with modern knowledge. All such 
creeds were constructed with reference to theories 
of the universe which are now utterly and hope- 
lessly discredited. How, then, it is asked, amid 
the general wreck of old beliefs, can we hope that 
the religious attitude in which from time imme- 
morial we have been wont to contemplate the uni- 
verse can any longer be maintained? Is not the 
belief in God perhaps a dream of the childhood of 
our race, like the belief in elves and bogarts which 
once was no less universal? and is not modern 
science fast destroying the one as it has already 
destroyed the other? 

"Such are the questions which we daily hear* 
asked, sometimes with flippant eagerness, but 
oftener with anxious dread. In view of them it is 
well worth while to examine the idea of God, as it 
has been entertained by mankind from the earliest 
ages, and as it is affected by the knowledge of the 
universe which we have acquired in recent times. 
If we find in that idea, as conceived by untaught 
thinkers in the twilight of antiquity, an element 
that still survives the widest and deepest generali- 
zations of modern times, we have the strongest pos- 
sible reason for believing that the idea is permanent 
and answers to an Eternal Reality. It was to be 
expected that conceptions of Deity handed down 
from primitive men should undergo serious modifi- 
cation. If it can be shown that the essential element 
in these conceptions must survive the enormous ad- 
ditions to our knowledge which have distinguished 
the present age above all others since man became 
man, then we may believe that it will endure so 


The Idea of God 

long as man endures for it is not likely that it can 
ever be called upon to pass a severer ordeal." 

With his purpose thus outlined and his method 
of approach thus indicated, Fiske's exposition took 
the form of an enquiry into the following subjects of 
knowledge with conclusions based thereon : 

I. Sources of the Theistic Idea. 
II. Development of Monotheism. 

III. The Idea of God as immanent in the World. 

IV. The Idea of God as remote from the World. 
V. Conflict between the Two Ideas, commonly 

misunderstood as a Conflict between Reli- 
gion and Science. 

VI. Anthropomorphic Conceptions of God. 

VII. The Argument from Design. 
VIII. Simile of the Watch replaced by Simile of the 

IX. The Craving for a Final Cause. 

X. Symbolic Conceptions. 

XI. The Eternal Source of Phenomena. 
XII. The Power that makes for Righteousness. 

These subjects were treated with such a fulness 
of knowledge, such a finely tolerant spirit, and 
with such a profoundly reverent faith, that no ab- 
stract could do them justice. Space, therefore, can 
be found only for the closing paragraph of the dis- 
course, in which is reflected, in language of unsur- 
passed beauty, Fiske's belief in Deity a Power 
which transcends the comprehension of the human 
mind. Fiske's words are: 


John Fiske 

"As to the conception of Deity, in the shape 
impressed upon us by our modern knowledge, I 
believe I have now said enough to show that it 
is no empty formula or metaphysical abstraction 
which we would seek to substitute for the living 
God. The Infinite and Eternal Power that is mani- 
fested in every pulsation of the universe is none 
other than the living God. We may exhaust the 
resources of metaphysics in debating how far his 
nature may fitly be expressed in terms applicable 
to the psychical nature of man; such vain attempts 
will only serve to show how we are dealing with a 
theme that must ever transcend our finite powers 
of conception. But of some things we may feel 
sure. Humanity is not a mere local incident in an 
endless and aimless series of cosmical changes. The 
events of the universe are not the work of chance, 
neither are they the outcome of a blind necessity. 
Practically there is a purpose in the world whereof 
it is our highest duty to learn the lesson, however 
well or ill we may fare in rendering a scientific 
account of it. When from the dawn of life we see 
all things working together toward the evolution 
of the highest spiritual attributes of man, we know, 
however the words may stumble in which we try 
to say it, that God is in the deepest sense a moral 
Being. The everlasting source of phenomena is 
none other than the Infinite Power that makes for 
righteousness. Thou canst not by searching find 
Him out; yet put thy trust in Him and against 
thee the gates of hell shall not prevail; for there 
is neither wisdom nor understanding nor counsel 
against the Eternal." 

The address was given in the little chapel at 


The Idea of God 

Concord on the evening of July 29, 1885. A much 
larger audience than usual was gathered; and al- 
though, as on the previous occasion, Fiske was 
nearly two hours in the delivery, he held the rapt 
attention of his audience to the close. In the au- 
tumn the address was published in a dainty little 
volume as a companion to the previous address, 
"The Destiny of Man," with a preface, in which 
the relation of the two Concord addresses to the 
views presented in "Cosmic Philosophy," pub- 
lished ten years before, was set forth. 

To this little volume he gave the following felici- 
tous dedication: 







"Apyvpioc Kail \pv<riov OVY vwapxei 
fioi* 8 Se exw, TOVTO <roi Si5a>/m.i.J 

There is a bit of personality connected with the 
writing of this little book and this dedication that 
is of interest. In July, 1885, the Fiske family were 
at the summer home in Petersham, and one bril- 
liant Sunday morning Fiske said to Mrs. Fiske, 
with some insistence of manner, "Come, I wish 
you to go down with me to the apple tree. I have 
something in mind I want to talk over with you." 

1 Translation: " Silver and gold have I none; what I have I give to 


John Fiske 

They went down to the apple tree and there they 
talked over the things since written in "The Idea 
of God." I have before me as I write Fiske's notes 
of this conversation, with the outlines of his ar- 
gument substantially as it appears in the printed 
volume. He was fourteen days in writing out the 

Reference has been made to Fiske's happy man- 
ner of opening his discourses with some pregnant, 
related thought. This was an artistic point of 
which he was ever mindful. In this instance I find 
that the first two days of his composition were 
given to shaping the first paragraph, wherein he 
focusses attention to his great theme by depicting, 
in language of unsurpassed eloquence, the inter- 
view between Faust and Margaret in the garden, 
as set forth by Goethe. 

When published, the address received marked 
attention by the press. Save by the strictly ortho- 
dox religious journals, it was very generally wel- 
comed as an important contribution to the reli- 
gious discussion raised by the recent advancements 
of science and the promulgation of the doctrine 
of Evolution. Fiske received many letters from 
persons in various walks of life and notably 
from clergymen expressing gratitude for the 
great help the two Concord addresses had been in 
giving peace to minds sadly ill at ease over the 
great problems of existence in the light of modern 


The Idea of God 

It can be said that the two Concord addresses 
indicate the high-water mark in the exposition of 
the Evolutionary philosophy in its bearing upon 
man's religious faith and his moral conduct. They 
interrelate these two elements in the life of man 
with his destiny, and give him a physical genesis, 
a heritage in the very constitution of the universe, 
which must be conceived as a harmonious unity, 
else there is an uncontrolled diabolism as an active 
force at the very centre of things. The existence 
of diabolism is denied, and the affirmation is made 
that there exists an Infinite Eternal Power which 
makes for righteousness, of whom the cosmic uni- 
verse is a revelation, but whose ultimate nature no 
searching can find out. 

"But hold!" cries the Christian theologian; 
"what have you done with the vital elements of 
the Christian's creed: the divinely revealed Scrip- 
tures, the special creation of man, his fall and con- 
demnation, his redemption through Christ, Christ's 
sacrificial atonement, a future Heaven and Hell? 
What you give us is rank infidelity!" 

"Not so hot, my Christian friend," would Fiske 
reply, in his calm philosophic way. u The creedal 
points to which you attach so much importance 
are in no sense vital to the profoundly deep reli- 
gious truth which they enshroud. It is true men 
have fought for centuries over these creedal points, 
but only to their own destruction. Advancing 
knowledge is making it more and more evident 


John Fiske 

that these creedal points are largely the accretions 
with which ignorance and superstition have in- 
vested the developing religious instinct of man- 
kind. As a teacher of religion, I urge you calmly to 
consider these creedal points as belonging to the 
religious childhood of the race and as having been 
outgrown. In their place let me ask you to lift your 
mind to the contemplation of this universe, with 
man's place in it, as science is now revealing it, to 
our intelligence; for here I believe you will see as 
in a new light the destiny of man; and that, 'as in 
the roaring loom of Time the endless web of events 
is woven, each strand is making more and more 
clearly visible the living garment of God.' " 




IN the spring of 1885 Fiske published in book form 
his three lectures on " American Political Ideas/' 
which he had delivered before the Royal Institu- 
tion of Great Britain in 1880, and subsequently 
in various parts of the United States. Wherever 
delivered these lectures were received with great 
interest and enthusiasm, and on their publication 
in book form they were received by the general 
public with no less appreciation. In their published 
form the lectures have had a wide circulation; and 
they have produced a deep impression on the pub- 
lic mind, inasmuch as here for the first time was 
shown the peaceful character of the fundamental 
political ideas upon which the government of the 
United States was founded, with their genesis in 
antecedent history, and their manifest destiny in 
the future political organizations of the world. 

No work of Fiske's shows more clearly than this 
his wide and accurate knowledge, his deep philo- 


John Fiske 

sophic insight, his clarity of mind, and his great 
generalizing power. Without any invocation of 
the philosophy of Evolution, as applied to human 
history, this philosophy is implied in the general 
argument from the beginning to the end, as is seen 
by the way in which political society is treated: 
its rude genesis with primitive man, its irregular 
development in the historic past, its progressive 
development in the present, and its undoubted, 
steady, progressive development in the future. 

And now, after six years 7 experience in dealing 
with American history as a subject of public en- 
lightenment to which his energies should be de- 
voted as to a life-work, Fiske found that he must 
change the whole nature of his undertaking. He 
found that he had not only greatly underestimated 
the magnitude of the task when considered from 
the viewpoint of universal history, but that he had 
also greatly erred in his conception of the literary 
form in which his work should go before the public. 
We have seen that in 1881 he entered into an agree- 
ment with Messrs. Harper & Brothers for the 
preparation and publication of a " History of the 
American People from the Discovery of America to 
the Inauguration of President Gar field," the gen- 
eral style of the work to be after the manner of 
Green's "Short History of the English People," and 
to be comprised in two or three good-sized volumes. 

He regarded this work as a sort of core to his 
whole undertaking; that here would be presented 


Scope of his History 

in their sequential order the essential points in 
American history with but little comment, thus 
leaving the salient features of American history for 
fuller treatment by lectures and essays. 

But now, having gone over the whole ground and 
having practically completed his "History of the 
American People," as planned, he was thoroughly 
dissatisfied with the result. The compression neces- 
sitated by the plan had so squeezed the vitality out 
of his work that what he intended as a history ap- 
peared to him as but little more than a group of 
statistics. It certainly did not present American 
history in its relations to antecedent history or to 
the world history of the present and the future, 
at all as he would have it presented. Accordingly 
he explained the situation to the Messrs. Harper, 
assuring them that under no conditions could he 
consent to the publication of such a history as 
he had prepared. The Messrs. Harper declined to 
entertain any proposition for a history other than 
was provided for in the existing agreement, and it 
was therefore amicably annulled. It was quite in 
the order of rational development that the dignity 
and importance of his task should become greatly 
enlarged in his mind, during the five or six years in 
which Fiske was meditating the broad, germinal 
ideas regarding political organizations as set forth 
in his lectures as "American Political Ideas," and 
finding at every step in his historical work so much 
that had never been satisfactorily presented. 


John Fiske 

Freed from a publishing agreement which had 
greatly obstructed his literary productiveness for 
several years, Fiske's mind expanded broadly with 
his great theme. A new conception of a "History 
of the American People " began to take shape in his 
mind : one not limited to two or three volumes, but 
that would fill several volumes. In this work he 
would be enabled to give a philosophic as well as an 
historic presentation of the genesis of the people of 
the United States. He would also show their de- 
velopment, through a rich colonial experience, into 
a compact political organization or nation, the like 
of which the world had never before seen, of vast 
significance to the future well-being of humanity. 
This history would be, in fact, the embodiment of 
his life thought and labor. 

Fiske's success, both as a public speaker and as 
an essayist, had given him two pulpits, as it were, - 
the lecture platform, and the literary journals, 
and he had the command of both these great means 
of public enlightenment to such an extent that he 
received far more applications for lectures and essay 
articles than he could comply with after reserving 
the necessary amount of time for study and com- 
position. The lecture platform, which was extended 
to schools, became the greater means for reaching 
the public mind, and steadily his parish broadened, 
until it could be said that it extended from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, and that it comprised 
the finest audiences in this great realm. 


History of American People 

Much misconception in regard to Fiske's histori- 
cal work has arisen from the shallow criticism that, 
because he lectured so entertainingly on subjects 
which most people find dry and uninteresting, he 
sacrificed historic truth to popular applause. Noth- 
ing could be further from the truth. From what 
we have already seen and from what we shall 
further see as our narrative unfolds, it can be said 
that no one has approached the interpretation of 
American history with so wide and varied a knowl- 
edge bearing on the aspects of the subject, with a 
mind so free from political and religious preju- 
dice, with so keen a philosophic insight into "the 
thoughts that move mankind," as are shown in 
the historical writings of Fiske taken as a whole. 
He had this great advantage which he duly 
appreciated, although the involved travelling was 
very irksome to him that through his lectures he 
could take the people into his confidence, as it were, 
as the main points of his history took shape in his 

Then, too, his subject, when duly considered, 
was one of supreme interest, was full of stirring 
incidents on land and sea, of heroic adventure into 
the great unknown of the world's surface, with 
much to teach in regard to the organization of 
political society and state-building when freed 
from the ancestral laws which conditioned Euro- 
pean society. Withal it was a phase of human his- 
tory in the development of which all the better 


John Fiske 

elements of human nature were freely displayed 
by personalities of commanding virtue and power, 
on the one hand; while on the other hand, all the 
baser elements were displayed by characters which 
reflected the weakness, the brutality of man. In 
short, his subject was one possessing so many points 
of deep human interest that he could measure his 
success in its treatment by the degree of interest 
it awakened in the minds of his hearers. And there 
are instances where his first sketch of events or of 
characters did not awaken quite the interest on the 
part of his hearers that he anticipated, and of his 
critically going over his sketch to find its defi- 

A case in point was his first sketch of Washing- 
ton's masterly campaign in and about New York, 
Although this first sketch was full of stirring inci- 
dents, it fell short with his first audience. He then 
took his manuscript in hand, and found that by 
some little additions he could greatly improve the 
order and clarity of the narrative, and by empha- 
sizing more strongly some of the personal incidents 
in the campaign, he would appeal to a deeper per- 
sonal interest on the part of his hearers. His repe- 
tition of the lecture showed the wisdom of the 

Macaulay, in the exordium to his "History of 
England," says: "I shall cheerfully bear the re- 
proach of having descended below the dignity of 
history, if I can succeed in placing before the Eng- 


Sir Henry Irving 

lish of the nineteenth century a true picture of the 
lives of their ancestors." Fiske was imbued with 
a still loftier purpose than that which animated 
Macaulay. It was not alone "a true picture of the 
lives of their ancestors" that he would give to his 
countrymen. It was all this and much more. He 
would have them acquainted with the genesis and 
development of the social and political institutions 
which had descended to them, and in the further 
development of which they were to bear an im- 
portant part. Indeed, he would have them under- 
stand that American citizenship was by no means 
a condition of social or political passivity: rather 
that it was a form of sociologico-political organi- 
zation which involved serious personal responsi- 
bilities and duties on the part of individuals. To 
this end we have seen him working for several years. 
With increased ardor and with a broader compre- 
hension of purpose, we are to see him working in 
the years to come through bringing his work to the 
service of public education. 

It was while engaged in carrying out the lecture 
programme for the season of 1884-85 that he had 
the remarkable experience so vividly portrayed in 
the following letter to Mrs. Fiske: - 

NEW YORK, April i, 1885. 
My dear: 

I saw Irving in " Hamlet" the other night, and 
never before did I rise to the full understanding of 
the stupendous sublimity of Shakespeare's genius. 


John Fiske 

I have been in a state of awe ever since and I shall 
carry it with me through life. The scene between 
Hamlet and his mother surpassed anything I ever 
saw on the stage. 

Miss Terry as Ophelia was heavenly. Next night 
I saw " Much Ado." O, my dear, it was wicked for 
you not to have staid and seen that. Such per- 
fection of acting was never seen before. Miss Terry 
as Beatrice would have set you wild. O, how great, 
how mighty, how ethereal, does Shakespeare be- 
come when he gets such interpreters ! I could fancy 
that sweetest of souls and brightest of minds that 
ever lived on this ball looking down from heaven 
with a smile. 

The friendship between Fiske and Sir Henry Irv- 
ing was a very warm one, and it will not be thought 
out of place to introduce here the expression of grief 
Sir Henry felt when he learned of Fiske's death. 
Writing to Mrs. Fiske Sir Henry said: 

"To know him was a charm, and to talk with 
him an enlightenment. In all the twenty years of 
our friendship it was to me a pleasure to look for- 
ward to meeting him and a regret that we had to 

11 The news of his death, just at the time when we 
of England were looking forward to hear him at 
Winchester on the King Alfred Millenary, a sub- 
ject so close to his heart, came with the shock 
of a bitter loss. 

" He was a great philosopher and a great historian. 
The world was and is richer for his work, and he 
has left a blank never to be filled in the hearts of 
his friends." 


The Critical Period 

We have seen that in the winter of 1883-84 Fiske 
produced his course of lectures on "The American 
Revolution, " which was received by many em- 
phatic expressions of public approval. Encouraged 
by this success he prepared during 1884 another 
course of eight lectures on the period immediately 
following the Revolutionary War, the seven years 
from 1782 to 1789, during which the necessity of 
a constitutional Federal Government transcend- 
ing the powers of the several States was slowly 
taking shape in the minds of the whole people. 
Fiske called this period "The Critical Period of 
American History," and his treatment of it bore 
the marks of a wide knowledge of all the facts in- 
volved as well as remarkable powers of lucid, fair- 
minded historic exposition. These lectures were 
first delivered at the Old South Church in Boston, 
and then at Washington University, St. Louis, dur- 
ing the winter and spring of 1885, and they were 
received with no less applause than had been given 
his previous lectures. 

Fiske had now accomplished two substantial 
pieces of work, upon which he could count for rea- 
sonable returns wherever he could get good audi- 
ences, and he was so familiar with American his- 
tory in general that he could speak extempore, if 
necessary, upon any important phase of this his- 
tory. His reputation, too, had grown apace, until 
there had come a quite general recognition in the 
public mind that through his ministrations he was 


John Fiske 

awakening the American people to a higher con- 
ception than had hitherto prevailed of the nature 
and meaning of the political organization under 
which they live, and their duties as citizens in pro- 
tecting and developing this organization. 

Henry Ward Beecher heard one of these " Criti- 
cal Period" lectures, and was so greatly impressed 
by Fiske's grasp of his subject, his lucid style, and 
the great charm of his easy delivery, that he came 
at once to Fiske to express his great satisfaction 
and to enquire how he managed his lectures. When 
Fiske told him that he managed his lectures him- 
self, Beecher said: "That's all wrong. Such lec- 
tures as you are giving should be heard through- 
out the country, and you need a good manager to 
make engagements for you. Let me send you my 
manager, Major J. B. Pond, and you will find that 
what he does n't know about managing is n't worth 

Major Pond came to see Fiske and he quickly 
took in the situation. He saw that while Fiske's 
lectures were well adapted to the larger cities and 
university towns where cultivated audiences could 
usually be found, to gain good-sized audiences in 
other places, another and more popular course of 
historical lectures was necessary: that is, neces- 
sary to secure such a return as Major Pond thought 
desirable and possible for a lecturer with Fiske's 
reputation. Fiske saw the point in Major Pond's 
suggestion and was soon ready with a scheme to 


Campaigns of the Civil War 

meet it. He felt that he possessed exceptional pow- 
ers for the lucid description of military operations. 
In his lectures on the Revolutionary War he had 
found that his description of the military move- 
ments never failed to hold the deep interest of his 
audiences. During our Civil War, and when in col- 
lege, he had taken, as we have seen, great interest 
in the battles, and particularly in the strategy dis- 
played by the opposing forces. In his historical 
work he had gone over the Civil War period, briefly, 
but with sufficient thoroughness to make himself 
acquainted with the underlying strategical prin- 
ciples upon which the great campaigns were con- 
ducted. Then, too, in this phase of his work he had 
the cordial assistance of John Codman Ropes, a 
profound student of military history, whose criti- 
cisms of the military operations of our Civil War 
are among the fairest and best that have appeared. 
Accordingly, the preparation of a course of four or 
six lectures on the great campaigns of our Civil 
War took shape in Fiske's mind as fully meeting 
Major Pond's suggestion. 

Major Pond was delighted with the idea. With 
a manager's instinct he saw the particular appro- 
priateness of such a course of popular lectures at 
that time. The twenty years which had passed 
since the close of the war had removed much of the 
bitterness of feeling which accompanied it, so that 
the great events and the actions of the leaders on 
both sides might be considered with fairness; while 


John Fiske 

the sufferings of General Grant, now nearing his 
end, had so aroused the sympathies of the whole 
nation in his behalf, that a fresh portrayal by 
Fiske of his great military achievements could not 
fail of a wide popular appreciation. 

To begin with, a course of four lectures was 
planned to give a narrative of the military events 
which brought about the overthrow of the South- 
ern Confederacy by turning its left flank and open- 
ing the Mississippi River, and it was intended that 
they should especially illustrate the early military 
career of General Grant. The titles of the several 
lectures were to be : 

I. From Carthage to Shiloh. 
II. From New Orleans to Stone River. 

III. The Siege of Vicksburg. 

IV. Chattanooga. 

They were to be illustrated with maps, diagrams, 
views of towns and fortresses, landscapes, and por- 
traits, with the aid of the stereopticon, and each 
lecture to be so arranged as to be a distinct enter- 
tainment in itself. 

Fiske had no difficulty in coming to an agree- 
ment with Major Pond for the management of the 
proposed course of Civil War lectures as well as of 
all his lectures. 

Accordingly, Fiske entered upon the preparation 
of the course with great ardor, and the letters of 
the summer and autumn of 1885 from Petersham 
represent him as surrounded by the official reports 


Campaigns of the Civil War 

and by the works of various Northern and South- 
ern writers on the Civil War struggle, endeavoring 
to extract, as far as possible from the conflicting 
testimony, the substantial truth in regard to the 
great movement covered by his programme. He 
found innumerable perplexities, owing to the great 
amount of conflicting details, in getting at clear 
conceptions of the vital points in the great battles 
so as to present them intelligently to popular au- 
diences. It was evident that each battle repre- 
gjented two hostile military plans or purposes, and 
that to give an intelligent account of the conflict 
it was necessary to have a clear conception of the 
strategical elements which formed the basis of the 
battle-plans of the commanding generals on the 
respective sides, as well as of the topographical 
features of the region of country over which the 
conflict raged. 

Fiske gave himself to the study of these two 
points with great thoroughness and perfect fair- 
ness of mind. Seizing the main features of each 
battle and dropping unessential details, he ar- 
ranged these features in simple topographical dia- 
grams in such orderly relations that the decisive 
tactical movements in the progress of the battle 
were brought clearly before the mind. 

One or more diagrams accompanied each battle, 
and all were constructed by Fiske. He received 
many commendations from officers who partici- 
pated in the battles both on the Union and the 


John Fiske 

Confederate sides, for their simplicity and their 
graphic presentation of the vital points in these 
memorable contests. General Sherman particu- 
larly commended the tactical as well as the stra- 
tegical knowledge embodied in them. 

The lectures were produced at Tremont Tem- 
ple, Boston, during November ar^ December, 
1885, and they were enthusiastically received by 
the public. The illustrations had been chosen with 
such good judgment that they added greatly to 
the interest of the narrative. They served at the 
same time to give a graphic presentation of the 
great difficulties encountered by General Grant 
and Admiral Farragut in opening the Mississippi 
and in turning the left flank of the Rebellion at 

Applications for the lectures came "fast and 
furious" from various sections of the country - 
even from as far west as Denver. There was no diffi- 
culty, therefore, in arranging a season's programme 
of lectures extending to the following May, the 
lectures to be given in selected cities east of Chi- 
cago and St. Louis, and to consist of the Civil War 
course, or selections from his other courses as 
might be desired. Everything seemed bright and 
prosperous, and Fiske entered upon his new phase 
of lecturing with great cheer. His first engagements 
were in the New England section and they extended 
over about eight weeks. They involved incessant 
travelling, sometimes two lectures a day, to which 


Gives up Popular Lecturing 

were added all the discomforts of second- and third- 
class hotels. Six weeks of this kind of living brought 
him to the realization of the fact that he was har- 
nessed to an undertaking that not only took him 
from his home and subjected him to all manner 
of personal discomforts, but which also deprived 
him of social intercourse with kindred minds 
an experience he greatly valued as well as 
of all opportunities for productive work on the 
great historic themes which were gestating in his 

It was while his new lecture experiences were 
thus starting lines of thought which impinged upon 
the wisdom of his giving himself so completely to 
the lecture platform that he took a severe cold 
which deprived him of his voice and brought on 
an attack of pneumonia, upsetting all his engage- 
ments. During his weeks of convalescence he care- 
fully reviewed his new lecture scheme in the light 
of his recent experience, and he came to the con- 
clusion that the carrying-out of this scheme as 
arranged by Major Pond not only involved serious 
apprehensions as to his health, but also made it 
impossible for him to go on with his legitimate his- 
torical work. He decided, therefore, to give up the 
Pond plan of universal lecturing, and to return to 
his regular historical work with such lecture en- 
gagements as he could consistently make, having 
regard to the demands of his historical work. He 
added the Civil War lectures to his platform reper- 

John Fiske 

toire for such places or occasions as demanded lec- 
tures primarily of an entertaining character. 

During the following spring of 1886, on his an- 
nual visit to Washington University, St. Louis, 
he received a call for these lectures from the Grant 
Monument Association of St. Louis, which he ac- 
cepted with great pleasure, as General Sherman 
was President of the Association and would pre- 
side at each lecture. The lectures roused much 
local discussion, and it was at their close that Gen- 
eral Sherman complimented Fiske so highly upon 
his knowledge of military strategy and tactics, to 
which reference has been made. 

Later in 1886, he became assistant editor of 
Appleton's " Cyclopaedia of Biography." This posi- 
tion, however, did not entail persistent editorial 
labors away from home. Rather it called for sug- 
gestions in regard to the general character of 
the work, the naming of the fittest representatives 
of the great questions which were engaging the 
public mind and who could best set forth the facts 
of their lives, together with revising manuscripts, 
combined with efforts to secure eminent literary 
men to contribute special sketches to the work 
as well as to make contributions himself. In the 
responses to his applications for special articles, I 
find two that are of significance. Dr. Oliver Wen- 
dell Holmes wrote : 

"I should be very glad if I could oblige a gen- 
tleman for whom I have so high a regard as I have 


Cyclopaedia of Biography 

for yourself. But / have sold my standing grass 
that is I have promised, for a large consideration, 
all that I write to my present publishers. I have, 
therefore, no choice." 

John G. Whittier, in declining, expresses the fol- 
lowing appreciation of Fiske's writings: 

"I am glad of this opportunity to express my 
sincere thanks for the interest and pleasure with 
which I have read all thy published works." 

Fiske himself contributed the following twenty- 
four biographical articles to the "Cyclopaedia": 

Samuel, John, Abigail, John Quincy, and Charles 
Francis Adams, Benedict Arnold, Lord Chatham, 
Rufus Choate, Sir Henry Clinton, William Cob- 
bett, Lord Cornwallis, the Fairfax Family, Ben- 
jamin Franklin, Horatio Gates, Nathanael Greene, 
Thomas Hutchinson, Andrew Jackson, Lafayette, 
Charles Lee, the Lee Family of Virginia, James Mad- 
ison, Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan, James Otis. 

During 1886 he contributed the following articles 
to the "Atlantic Monthly": 

January, "The Surrender of Cornwallis and its 
Consequences." March, "The United States after 
the Revolutionary War." May, "The Weakness 
of Government under the Confederation." July, 
"Failure of Credit after the Revolutionary War." 
September, "The Paper Money Craze, 1786." 
November, "Germs of National Sovereignty." 

Fiske gave but one new lecture this year a 
description of the battle of Bunker Hill. This was 
given at the Old South Church in Boston, in August. 




THE year 1887 reveals Fiske steadily at work on 
his history, imbued with the larger conception of 
his task which is now taking quite definite shape 
in his mind. Having spent several years on the 
project of a condensed history, he had made him- 
self so familiar with the main features of his sub- 
ject that he could present them independently, 
and out of their consecutive order. At the same 
time he could give them such an interrelated rela- 
tivity that when all were completed each would 
readily fall into its sequential place as a part of the 
general whole. 

This plan enabled him to appeal to the public 
first with the most interesting phases of his sub- 
ject. Hence we have the lectures and magazine 
articles on the " Revolutionary War'* and the 
"Critical Period' 1 prior to the organization of the 
Federal Government, which brought the narrative 
down to the inauguration of Washington. This 


The Beginnings of New England 

much accomplished, he now turns back to bring 
forward the various features of the colonial period 
as well as of the period of the discovery of America, 
in their bearings upon the ultimate development 
of a great nation with a republican form of gov- 
ernment, which secured to its citizens a greater de- 
gree of civil liberty than any nation had hitherto 
enjoyed. This required a wide excursion into 
universal history. Accordingly, we find that the 
year 1887 opened with Fiske's mind grappling 
with the disturbed, seething condition of the polit- 
ical society of Europe during the sixteenth, seven- 
teenth, and eighteenth centuries, and noting how 
European society was affected by the discovery 
of America of a new world and how, in turn, 
the colonization and settlement of this new world 
reflected the social and political conditions and 
ideals of the European peoples. It was this great 
philosophico-historic conception of European so- 
ciety, from which American colonization drew its 
life-blood, as it were, that formed in no small meas- 
ure the background to his thought as he entered 
upon the colonial phase of the historic development 
of the people of the United States. 

The first instalment of his presentation of the 
colonial phase of his subject was embodied in a 
course of five lectures on "The Beginnings of New 
England," Which he prepared during the winter of 
this year and which he gave at Washington Uni- 
versity, St. Louis, during April and May. These 


John Fiske 

lectures were opened with an historico-political 
presentation of the three methods of nation-mak- 
ing among civilized peoples: the Oriental method, 
of conquest without incorporation; the Roman 
method, of conquest with incorporation, but with- 
out representation; the English method, of incor- 
poration with representation. Then followed a suc- 
cinct account of the steady progress of the Eng- 
lish method over the other two in modern Europe, 
and its acceptance as the basic idea of political 
organization in the settlement of New England 
it may be said, of all the English colonies. This 
lecture on nation-making forms the opening chap- 
ter in the volume of Fiske's works entitled "The 
Beginnings of New England/' and nowhere else in 
his writings do his powers of philosophic insight 
into the underlying forces which are impelling 
human society with its unmistakable progressive 
trend, appear to better advantage than in this 
essay. It may well be classed as one of the fin- 
est examples of historico-political generalization in 
English literature. 

These lectures were received in St. Louis with 
as much interest and enthusiasm as had been be- 
stowed upon his previous courses; and on their 
completion Fiske had every reason to think that 
a third instalment of his great work had been as 
satisfactorily done as were the first two sections, 
"The American Revolution" and "The Critical 

, 356 

Visits the Pacific Coast 

And now, at the close of his lectures in St. Louis, 
Fiske had an experience which overtopped in in- 
terest all other experiences of this period. As he 
has given so graphic an account of it in his own 
charming style, I shall allow him, in his own words, 
to set it forth in as much space as can here be given. 

This experience was a trip across the plains and 
the mountains to the Pacific a visit to Oregon 
and California. He left St. Louis May 26, 1887, 
for Portland, Oregon, where he had engagements 
for several lectures. From Portland, under date of 
June 3, he wrote Mrs. Fiske a letter of sixteen let- 
ter-sheet pages in his beautiful chirography, in 
which he sets forth the main incidents of his jour- 
ney. This letter may well be called an epistolary 
classic by virtue of the vivid descriptions it gives 
of nature as displayed in the grandeur of plains 
and of mountains, as well as by the record it makes 
of the fine emotive feelings called forth in the pres- 
ence of so much physical omnipotence. Then, too, 
the style is so simple and easy-flowing that his 
thought seems to have come from his pen with 
perfect unconsciousness as to form, and yet in per- 
fect form one of the highest qualities of good 
style. The whole sixteen pages contain but two or 
three erasures of single words, with two slight inter- 

His route was from St. Louis by way of Omaha, 
Cheyenne, Green River, Pocatello, and The Dalles. 
He begins his letter with this confession: 


John Fiske 

PORTLAND, OREGON, June 3, 1887. 
My darling Wife : 

Here I am, with eyes and head almost tired out 
with looking, and trying to take in all the wonders 
of this wonderful country. 

He then gives some particulars of his ride from 
St. Louis to Council Bluffs and Omaha. At Coun- 
cil Bluffs he found his sleeping-car, in which he 
was to live for the rest of the journey, awaiting 
him "an extremely luxurious car with an awfully 
jolly colored porter in attendance." He left Coun- 
cil Bluffs at 7.50 P.M. Friday, May 27, on a train 
of seventeen cars with two stout locomotives. He 

"The car behind mine was filled with emigrants, 
mostly German and Scandinavian, a very nice, 
cosy, well-behaved, respectable crowd they were. 
At stations I chatted with some of 'em from the 
rear platform. Before going to bed I could see by 
the dim light that we were getting into boundless 
solitudes and that we were steadily rising. Next 
morning I got an excellent breakfast at North 
Platte, more than 3700 feet above the sea. . . . 

"What a day that Saturday was! Everlasting 
plains, with unbroken horizon, like the sea. Grassy 
plains, over which you ride for fifty miles without 
seeing a house, or a tree, or even a bush. Utter 
loneliness, save now and then a few horses or cows 
grazing. Sometimes a little undulation, but gen- 
erally flat as a floor. Railroad track straight as 
a ruler mile after mile without a curve. After a 
couple of hundred miles this begins to work upon 


A Wonderful Ride 

one's mind powerfully. I began to have an awe- 
struck feeling, as if I was coming into contact with 
Infinity. I had taken Tolstoy's 'War and Peace* 
to read, and it is one of the most powerful stories 
I ever read, and on about as gigantic a scale as ' Les 
Mis6rables.' Somehow the story fitted the land- 
scape, and both worked upon me at once. 

"We dined at Sidney, and supped at Cheyenne, 
a pretty town of 8000 inhabitants. We had been 
rising almost imperceptibly through the forenoon 
and quite perceptibly through the afternoon and 
were now more than 6000 feet above the sea an 
altitude below which we were not to go for the 
next 700 miles! But now at Cheyenne it was no 
longer a boundless moor. Great blue mountains 
were coming up in the horizon on all sides except 
east. During the next thirty miles we climbed rap- 
idly and could look out through the grey twilight 
over distances far below, that seemed to have no 
end. On the other side the savage and treeless but 
still grassy mountain-side reared itself high against 
the sky. There was a rushing breeze. Large drops 
came pattering on the window-pane, far up the 
slope was a lonely house, and toward it was has- 
tening a cart, with man and woman, drawn by 
two stalwart horses galloping through the undulat- 
ing sea of grass. Anything so bleak and desolate 
I never saw and I never can forget that picture. 
So I went to bed that Saturday night, with my 
soul all stirred profoundly; but what I had seen 
was nothing to what Sunday had in store. 

"At Green River, I had a delicious breakfast. 
At Granger the huge train divided, and my sec- 
tion of seven cars took the branch called the Ore- 


John Fiske 

gon Short Line to Pocatello. The town of Granger 
comprises three log houses, a railway station, and 
a rum-shop standing in the midst of a desert. And 
such a desert! I can't say what we may have come 
through during the night; but all that Sunday fore- 
noon, from Green River to Cokeville, we were pass- 
ing through 114 miles of frightful desert. Not a 
tree, not a blade of grass; mountains rearing their 
heads on every side, wild and savage mountains 
parched with thirst; stupendous rocks lying all 
over their sides in grim fantastic disorder as if 
hurled about in some crazy riot of Titans; out of 
the everlasting red sand sprouted everywhere lux- 
uriantly a weird, unearthly little bush, about the 
size of Scotch heather and known as the 'sage- 
brush.' Sometimes I could see for an enormous dis- 
tance down some glen, but everywhere the glaring 
sand and the uncanny, goblin-like sage-brush. A 
land of utter desolation, a land where no man could 
live! It struck me as being like the moon, yes, 
these terrible mountains, casting their sharp black 
shadows across the blazing sunshine are the very 
mountains I have seen through the telescope in 
the moon! 

"As we entered Idaho the landscape began to 
change. We struck into the beautiful valley of 
Bear River, and passed through broad meadows, 
with long grass instead of the weird sage-brush. 
Stupendous vistas opened here and there between 
the mountains, showing far off snow-clad peaks 
like the Matterhorn. The nearer mountains were 
more like those of Scotland, soft and brown with 
rounded tops; and Great Scott! were so many 
mountains ever seen before in this world? The 


A Wonderful Ride 

beautiful meadow stretched one hundred and 
twenty-two miles, a broad open space between two 
parallel chains of mountains, and our track ran 
along the middle of the meadow, the height of 
which was about sixty- two hundred feet. Above 
this level rose the mountains some two thousand 
feet more, so that you see the effect was something 
like that we saw in our famous journey to Glencoe. 
But here was more than a hundred miles of it and 
the effect of this prolonging of the impression is 
wonderful. At the beginning of this intervale we 
passed through a little Mormon village ; then there 
was n't another house for more than a hundred 
miles: nothing but mountains. How mighty and 
how grotesque they sometimes looked ! Do you re- 
member in the Glencoe drive, how tremendous is 
the effect of the mountain behind, as it comes sud- 
denly into view peering down upon you over the 
mountain in front, at which you have so long been 
straining your eyes? Many, many times that after- 
noon did I get this overwhelming effect. And then 
the strangeness of it all was greatly increased by 
the astonishing transparency of the air. The effect 
of this must be felt, it cannot be described. The 
width of the grassy meadow was probably fifteen 
or twenty miles, but nothing could persuade the 
eye that it was more than two or three. Those 
majestic mountains on the right are surely not 
more than a mile distant, says the eye ; but we keep 
gliding along, a-co-she-lunk-she-lunk, a-co-she-lunk- 
she-lunk, a-co-she-lunk-she-lunk, gliding along, glid- 
ing swiftly along, and still we do not pass those 
mountains! Here for half an hour is a peak right 
opposite and there it stays and won't fall behind, 


John Fiske 

though we keep gliding on, a-co-she-lunk-she-lunk, 
a-co-she-lunk-she-lunk. In spite of all this the eye 
will not admit that the peak, which is really a 
dozen miles distant, is more than a mile off. The 
effect upon me was to give me a more wonderful 
sense of the Infinite than I had ever felt before. It 
seemed as if the meadow were a thousand miles 
long instead of a hundred and twenty-two, and as 
if I had lived ages in that one afternoon. 

"Toward nightfall, as we approached Pocatello, 
a new sight was to be seen in the shape of long 
cliffs of lava, like palisades, two hundred or three 
hundred feet high, running along in front of the 
foot of the mountains, and lending a strange depth 
to the scene behind. I never knew anything so un- 
earthly or so exciting as this whole day was. Poca- 
tello is a mean village of some five hundred inhab- 
itants, situated on an Indian reservation; and here 
for the first time I saw wild Indians. At the station 
I saw a noble savage, with his squaw and two small 
sons taking nourishment out of a swill-box! A few 
' braves ' came capering around on their small horses 
armed with bows and arrows, and scowled upon us. 
Anything in human shape so nasty, villainous, and 
vile must be seen, in order to be believed. You 
would n't suppose such hideous and nauseous brutes 
could be. 

"At Pocatello the mountains dwindled away, 
and the grassy meadow expanded into an enormous 
plain, densely covered with that weird sage-brush. 
Presently a streak of silver caught my eye. It was 
the Snake River which I do not remember having 
heard of before. It is bigger than the Connecti- 
cut. Presently my friend the porter came for me. 


A Wonderful Ride 

He knew my name to be Fiske, but in the excite- 
ment he made a slip of the tongue (what the late 
Richard Grant White would call a heterophemy) : 
'Come, Mr. Stokes' [!!!] cried the amiable Sambo, 
' Come and see the great falls of the Snake River ! ' 
I went out to the rear platform, and, oh, what a 
stupendous sight ! ! ! Around on every side the 
illimitable plain of sage-brush growing vague in 
the gathering twilight. Down below, the gorge 
with perpendicular sides and filled with the mighty 
waters, raging and foaming like the rapids of 
Niagara at the Three Sisters, a wild, seething 
waste of angry waters rushing with the violence of 
a hurricane. And Hezzy on the rear end of the 
train on the slender bridge far, far above, like a 
tiny thread in mid-air, looking awe-struck upon the 
vast, sombre plain and this awful, watery pande- 
monium beneath. I shall never forget it. It was 
the only thing that could have put a fitting climax 
upon this wonderful Sunday, in which I seemed 
to have lived for ages. I can never hear of Idaho 
again, or see it on the map, without a quickened 

"On Monday we began to get back to earth 
again, but there was no falling off of the interest. 
We entered Oregon at daybreak, and had a full 
hour for breakfast at Huntington, where I sent a 
telegram to mother. I then blissfully smoked a 
cigar, standing in the sunshine and talking about 
the geology of these wonderful mountains with a 
scientific German chap who had seen the Ural 
Mountains and the Himalayas, and pretty much 

"The scenery now began to be Alpine in charac- 


John Fiske 

ter. We had got away from the Rocky Mountains, 
and into the coast ranges, which are higher while 
the valleys are deeper. Average elevation of track 
was about thirty-four hundred feet, instead of 
six thousand, while the mountain-tops ascended 
to ten thousand, and now and then to twelve thou- 
sand feet. All at once we got among trees again, 
and it seemed strange to see them. Superb pines and 
firs one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet in 
height, glorious soft green vegetation everywhere, 
snow-capped peaks above, and on every hand cas- 
cades and brooks, and the sweet music of rushing 
waters. The track curved at every minute around 
the steep sides of the mountains. In going through 
the Blue Mountain Range we twice climbed to 
five thousand feet and then descended again to 
three thousand, and at last, toward sunset, to about 
twenty-two hundred. These descents brought out 
superb effects of huge amphitheatres with smiling 
valleys below in which nestled lovely villages of 
this new New England of the Pacific. 

"Where is this going to help my History, do you 
ask? Why, when I describe the great exploring 
expedition of Lewis and Clarke, who in Jefferson's 
time discovered this country and won it for the 
United States. Won't I put some poetry into my 
account of it when I get to it? I will make it one 
of the features of my History. Nobody has begun 
to do justice to that wonderful expedition, and 
most people know nothing about it. The brave 
men who did this on foot deserve to be immortal- 
ized. I'll give them their due. I feel it all now; 
and that alone would be worth the trip. 

"On Tuesday morning I got up at four o'clock 


Impressions of Oregon 

in order to see the scenery of the Columbia River. 
At 4.30 we passed 'The Dalles' a town eighty- 
seven miles from Portland. 'The Dalles' is a word 
which is equivalent in meaning to ' Grand Rapids' ; 
what language it belongs to I don't know. 

"I have never read or heard much about the 
Columbia River. I knew it must have fine scen- 
ery, because it is a great river flowing between 
lofty mountains. I vaguely thought of it as per- 
haps something like the Hudson. But oh, my dear, 
this was the climax to the whole journey! The 
Hudson has often been compared to the Rhine. 
Compared with the Columbia River, the Hudson 
and the Rhine are simply 


Yes, simply nowhere. If you could multiply the 
Hudson by four, and make the Catskills pretty 
nearly as big as the Alps, you would begin to get 
something like the Columbia. But I have got 
where words fail me. I can only say that for stu- 
pendous grandeur combined with ravishing beau- 
ty, I have never seen anything even in Switzer- 
land, that quite comes up to the Columbia River. 
No, never. That Tuesday morning was the cli- 
max of the most wonderful and soul-filling jour- 
ney I ever took in my life. Just to think that it 
is only a week to-day since I wrote to you from 
Omaha. It seems as if I had lived a century since 
then and had entered into a new stage of existence." 

And later he writes: 

"I am quite daft, having gone raving mad over 
the Oregon scenery. Why, it is the garden of the 
world! The City of Portland is one huge bower of 
roses Jacqueminots, and mosmets and a hun- 


John Fiske 

dred other kinds, some as gigantic as rhododen- 
drons. At first I thought Well, Portland is 
lovely in June; but Great Scott! they say it is just 
like this the whole year round." 

With Portland and its people Fiske was delighted. 
The town had many of the characteristics of a dis- 
tinctly New England town enlarged and improved; 
while the people, in their intelligence and social 
comfort, reflected many of the fine qualities asso- 
ciated with the home-life of the typical New Eng- 
land " f oiks "; this home-life, however, being height- 
ened by a broader outlook upon life and its duties 
than is common even with the better class of New 
England "folks." 

Fiske was three weeks in Portland, during which 
time he gave twenty-two lectures thirteen on 
"The American Revolution/' five on "The Be- 
ginnings of New England/' and four on "The 
Western Campaigns of the Civil War." He had 
large audiences and he writes of his experiences 
thus : 

" I am sort of like the circus, or the Italian opera, 
or the Greek play; folks are just making a business 
of coming to hear me during the Fiske season, so 
to speak. The audiences are as enthusiastic here as 

And he adds: 

"I read my essay on 'The Meaning of Infancy* 
this morning to an audience of about one hundred 
school-teachers. On Sunday, the iQth, I am to 


Ride to San Francisco 

preach in the Unitarian Church! My text will be 
from Genesis, where 'Ye become as gods knowing 
the good and the evil ' : I intend to make it work 
into my third little book." l 

June 21, Fiske left Portland for San Francisco, 
leaving behind him many warm friends who ex- 
pressed a strong desire for another "Fiske" season 
at no distant day. He took with him, as a particu- 
larly sweet remembrance, the home of the Reverend 
T. L. Eliot with his accomplished daughters, where 
in the intervals between his lectures he had enjoyed 
several hours of rare intellectual converse, mingled 
with delightful music. 

Fiske first planned to make the journey from 
Portland to San Francisco by boat, but on hearing 
of the remarkable views to be obtained of Mount 
Shasta and of the Great Canon of the Sacramento 
from the trip by rail, he decided to take the latter 
route. It was a memorable ride, indeed! His de- 
scriptions of Mount Shasta with its great glaciers as 
the mighty locomotive of a hundred and forty tons 
wheezing and panting like a thing of life, tugged the 
train slowly around its three sides a huge moun- 
tain bigger than Mont Blanc and almost as high; 
of the descent of the train into the great Dore-like 
abyss of the Canon of the Sacramento, were no 
less vivid than his descriptions of the scenery be- 
tween Omaha and Portland. 

1 This was the first delivery of his essay on "The Mystery of 
Evil," published in 1899 in his little volume, Through Nature to God. 


John Fiske 

He reached Oakland on Thursday, June 23, 
and, on taking the ferry-boat which plies across the 
beautiful bay to San Francisco, he writes: "I took 
my fill of sweet sea-breeze as we crossed to beauti- 
ful San Francisco, with which I fell in love at the 
first sight." 

He went directly to the Palace Hotel, where he 
was soon met by his classmate, Auguste Comte, a 
relative of the great philosopher of that name. 
Fiske writes : 

" Immediately on my arrival, dear little Comte 
appeared, and our voices trembled a little as we 
shook hands after twenty-four years. Just the same 
quiet, modest, refined, manly, humorous little 
Frenchman as in college days not changed a 
mite. Dear little Comte ! After much chin-wag, as 
5.30 o'clock came he took me to a dainty French 
restaurant, all mirror, lace-curtains, and spotless 
linen; for, ' I say, John, after two days of Pullman- 
car grub, you need a nice little snack to brace you 
up for your lecture!" 

Fiske was in San Francisco six days. He gave two 
lectures in Starr King's Church "Nation-Mak- 
ing" and " Benedict Arnold"; and at Oakland he 
repeated the first lecture and preached his sermon 
on "The Mystery of Evil." He had large and re- 
sponsive audiences in both places. 

He met many friends and many courtesies were 
extended to him. Three of his classmates living 
in San Francisco Edward G. Stetson, Dr. John 
D. Hall, Auguste Comte gave him a dinner at 


In San Francisco 

the Union Club; he was taken to Palo Alto, to see 
the grounds of the new Leland Stanford University 
that was then rising ; to the Golden Gate Park and 
to the Cliff House, whereof he writes, "O, such a 
dreamy, delicious afternoon on the hotel piazza, gaz- 
ing on the Pacific Ocean." He was also taken to 
Chinatown, where for the first time he was brought 
into contact with the "heathen Chinee" in his own, 
his legitimate, forms of social aggregation. This 
visit to Chinatown made a great impression upon 
Fiske's mind, as we shall see later; here he says of 
his visit: " It was like one of the chapters in ' Pick- 
wick/ too full of adventure to be briefly described." 
Fiske had one experience in San Francisco of 
much historic interest which must be set forth 
in his own words. Among the dearest friends of 
Judge Gantt, Fiske's hospitable friend in St. Louis, 
was the rebel general Joseph E. Johnston, the 
Blucher of the first battle of Bull Run. 1 Judge 
Gantt had spoken so warmly of Fiske to General 
Johnston and of General Johnston to Fiske, that 
each was very desirous of meeting the other. 
Fiske was advised by Judge Gantt that General 
Johnston was stopping at the Palace Hotel, and 
accordingly Fiske set out to find him. Finding that 
the General was then taking his solitary dinner 
in the restaurant, Fiske asked to be shown to his 
table. Fiske then says: 

1 See Fiske's account of his meeting with General Patterson, the 
Grouchy of the Battle of Bull Run, ante, p. 164. 


John Fiske 

"At that table I saw a most kingly old gentle- 
man, with white hair and beard, almost enough like 
Gantt in bearing to be his brother, a man worth 
all this journey to see, and I knew him at once. 
I said, 'General Johnston, I am so happy to have 
found you; my name is John Fiske/ He rose 
exactly as Gantt rises before a lady, gave me a 
warm grasp of the hand, and said, 'My dear Mr. 
Fiske, there is no man in this country that I have 
wanted to see so much as yourself/ Well, I guess 
the ice was pretty well broken by this first hit; and 
so we had a nice chin-wag. Was there ever, my 
dear, anything equal to the elegance and grandeur 
of manner of these old Southerners? And such in- 
telligence and vivacity. He is nearly eighty years 
old, but as sharp and hawk-eyed, as kindly and 
royal, as Gantt. O, how good it is to see such men. 
My thoughts went back to the day when I sat in 
the little house in Hanover Street in Middletown, 
that used to be Grandfather Fiske's barn, and had 
been revamped into a house. It was July 21, 1861, 
a day long to be remembered. I was reading out 
of Buckle's second volume to Sallie Browning, about 
3 P.M., when we heard the bells ringing joyfully. I 
threw down the book and rushed up street. Every- 
body was jubilant. Rebellion crushed! I came 
back to tell it to the two grandmas and poor sick 
Mr. Lewis. I was wild with pleasure, and ran back 
to Main Street and observed that the bells had 
stopped ringing. About the door of Henry Board- 
man's drug-shop men were talking gloomily. What 
is this, all this? O, it is all false. We are badly de- 
feated! Can this be true? Presently I met Judge 
Culver and he said, 'Yes, just when we were carry- 


General Joseph E. Johnston 

ing all before us Johnston came up and we were de- 
feated with the loss of 5000 men. The rebels will 
take Washington. It's all up with Uncle Sam.' 
My blood boiled. O, damnable Johnston! And 
now, after twenty-six years, I look lovingly upon 
that terrible man and chat with him and admire his 
fine, honest face!" 

Fiske left San Francisco for the Yosemite Valley 
and the Mariposa Grove June 29. His impressions 
of San Francisco were favorable: 

"Not at all half-baked or ' Western ' solid m 
stone and marble and supremely clean. Delicious 
climate noon heat about 60 all the year round 
no snow or frost in winter, no mud in spring, no 
thunderstorms in summer. The air is full of the re- 
freshing smell of cold salt water, while the glorious 
Italian sunshine keeps off all sense of chill. The 
iodine and ozone of the sea-breeze make it tonic and 
invigorating. I have never seen a climate so much 
to my taste as this." 

As Fiske was now hurrying home, he had no op- 
portunity of giving his impressions of the Yosemite 
Valley and the Mariposa Grove while the impres- 
sions were fresh in his mind. This is to be regretted, 
for, with his keen powers of observation combined 
with his remarkable powers of lucid description, we 
should have had appeals to the imagination through 
pen-pictures, of these sublime examples of nature's 
physical and organic phenomena which would have 
been of great service in bringing the more important 
features of these phenomena within the apprehen- 

John Fiske 

sion of the common mind. In a brief note written 
on his arrival at Salt Lake City he says : 

"This is only a line to say that the Yosemite 
Valley is beyond the power of human speech to de- 
scribe, and Mariposa Grove is the most sublime 
temple of God upon this earth. What I have seen 
is almost too much for the mind to take in; it is 
simply staggering/' 

He stopped at Salt Lake City from a sense of 
duty. As a historian dealing with the evolution of 
human society, he could not wisely let pass an oppor- 
tunity to observe the Mormon in his home. After 
his drive about the town and while waiting for his 
train, he gave his impressions of the place to Mrs. 
Fiske in the following letter, which is of interest 
here, not because it gives any fresh information re- 
garding the Mormon people, perhaps, but because 
his free and easy accounts of what he saw reveal 
that he was observing this "peculiar people" as a 
social abnormality or excrescence, thrown off by 
modern society in its process of progressive social 
evolution. He writes: 

SALT LAKE CITY, July 6, 1887. 
My Dear: 

Since I wrote you this morning, I have had a 
lovely drive all the afternoon in an open buggy with 
a fool of a mare that squinted at everything we 
passed, and a most delicious Irish driver who hates 
Mormons like pison and had lots to tell me about 
every blasted house and fence and tree in town. 
I have visited the Tabernacle, which seats over 


Salt Lake City 

10,000 people, and has an organ almost as big as the 
one that used to be in the Boston Music Hall. Have 
seen the Temple, Brigham Young's houses, and 
all the sights. More than all, I have seen that the 
sage-brush desert is only a desert in outward ap- 
pearance. The sage-brush soil is really very rich, 
and it is only for want of H 2 O that nothing but 
sage-brush will grow on it. The valley in which this 
pretty city stands is a plain as flat as a floor, walled 
in on all sides by great mountains, some of which 
have snow on their summits all the year round. 
This valley looks almost as if you could walk around 
it in a day; in reality it is one hundred and fifty- 
two miles long by over a hundred in width as 
big as Massachusetts! The effect of this transpar- 
ent air upon the sense of sight is simply amazing. 
Yonder is the Great Salt Lake at the foot of the 
mountains, a beautiful deep bright-blue like the 
Mediterranean. Yet the lake is eighteen miles from 
the city. The mountains are mostly very red, except 
where the sage-brush covers them with a velvety 
sage-green, or where the snow glistens in the sun- 
light. The effect of all this coloring is superb, and 
amid it all, the valley floor is as green and smooth 
as an English lawn. The only elevation in the valley 
is a most convenient little hill about one hundred 
feet high near the city; my jolly Paddy drove me to 
the top, and I assure you it was a scene of fairy-like 

Now when Brigham Young led the Mormons 
here forty years ago, and they emerged through a 
long deep mountain defile into this valley, it was 
a desert covered with sage-brush. Not a tree or a 
blade of grass in it! But it seemed so shut out 


John Fiske 

from the world, this valley in the mountains 
more than fifteen hundred miles beyond the Mis- 
sissippi, that the Mormons decided to settle here 
and reclaim it. All of Brigham's notions of farm- 
ing and building show him to have been a man of 
intelligence. He brought melted snow-water down 
from the mountains in sluices and irrigated the 
desert till he made it a garden. On each side of 
every street in the city, between the curbstones and 
the roadway, runs a little artificial brook of clear 
cold water, from two to three feet in width ; and you 
see the same thing on all the country roads. Every 
garden, every lawn, every farmer's field, taps these 
sluices, turning the water on or off at pleasure; 
while in every direction you see wonderful lawn 
sprinklers throwing spray to great distances. The 
consequence is that drought is unknown here: the 
crops never fail, and what crops! I never saw such 
cornfields, potato-fields, barley, oats, wheat, bean- 
poles so heavy with beans, or apple and peach trees 
so full of fruit. And a whole acre of yellow mustard 
is a pretty sight, too! The sun is intensely hot here, 
and things grow with mad luxuriance. It was 98 
in the shade this noon, but the valley is forty- two 
hundred feet above the sea, the air is mountain 
air and the nights are always cool. The streets of 
the town are all one hundred and twenty feet wide 
and lined with fine trees poplars that grow as 
finely as in France, honey locusts, common locusts, 
ash, beech, and maple. 

On the lawns you also see evergreens and all sorts 
of flowers. It is an extremely pretty town. Popu- 
lation, about thirty thousand, two- thirds Mormons, 
one-third "Gentile." Comparatively few Mormons 


Salt Lake City 

have more than one wife, and there is a strong 
party of them now opposed to polygamy, which 
people here seem to think is doomed soon to dis- 
appear. The United States Government is now in- 
dicting people and putting them in jail for having 
more than one wife. The leading Mormon news- 
paper had an article this morning advocating the 
abolition of polygamy. 

In crossing the state of Nevada I saw nothing 
but sage-brush all day except at Humboldt, where 
I dined. There irrigation, lately begun, had already 
made a beautiful luxuriant oasis. Thermometer 
there yesterday noon was 118 in the shade, but 
no sultriness: less uncomfortable than 85 on a 
Cambridge dog-day. 

I should have been a fool, indeed, if I had n't 
stopped at Salt Lake City! 


Fiske left Salt Lake City July 7, via the Denver 
and Rio Grande Railroad, and arrived at Colorado 
Springs the evening of July 8. July 9, he drove to 
Manitou, Monument Park, and the Garden of the 
Gods, and reached Denver in the evening. The 
next day, Sunday, July 10, he spent in Denver, 
leaving there in the evening direct for home, and 
arrived in Boston the evening of July 13, thus bring- 
ing to a close a memorable experience. In one of his 
letters he speaks of this journey thus: "Altogether 
it has been the most memorable experience I have 
had since my first journey to Europe. Nothing else 
that could have happened to me would have increased 
my power so much in working on the great History. 19 


John Fiske 

We have seen that Fiske, after working seven 
years on his "History of the American People" for 
Harper & Brothers, found that he could not do the 
subject justice within the publishing limits pre- 
scribed for that work and that he amicably secured 
an annulment of his publishing agreement with 

But the literary material he had prepared was 
not without value, indeed, he could not put his 
pen to any historical subject without greatly en- 
riching it, and as the Lea Brothers & Co., pub- 
lishers, of Philadelphia, were engaged in prepar- 
ing their great historic work, a " History of All 
Nations," a work to be comprised in twenty-four 
volumes and to be sold by subscription, Fiske found 
no difficulty in disposing of the materials he had 
prepared for the Harper work with some modifica- 
tions and additions to them. 

In this work of Lea Brothers, Fiske's contribu- 
tion was to form an important section under the 
respective sub- titles of "The Colonization of the 
New World," "The Independence of the New 
World," "The Modern Development of the New 
World." The proper presentation of these subjects 
in the Lea work called for a broad, outline method 
of treatment for which the work produced by Fiske 
under the Harper agreement was in substantial 

This work of Lea Brothers was not published 
until 1905, four years after Fiske's death; and his 


History of All Nations 

contribution thereto, by virtue of its manner of 
preparation and its mode of publication, formed 
no part of his definitely planned historic scheme 
subsequently prepared for Hough ton Mifflin Com- 
pany, although it covers in outline some of the 
ground included in the later scheme. 




FISKE returned from his trip to the Pacific Coast 
with a greatly enlarged conception of the United 
States as a nation, and its place in the international 
world. Hitherto his personal knowledge of its 
physical features and of its people had been con- 
fined to the section of country east of the Missis- 
sippi River. By this trip he was brought to a 
vivid realization that not one half of its territory 
or of its natural resources, and but little of its 
scenic beauty, had been revealed to him. The de- 
velopment in his own day of a high degree of social 
and political order of States with republican 
constitutions out of the rapid influx of emi- 
grants into the new territory, of various races, 
nationalities, and languages, a commingling of peo- 
ples to such an extent as to bring the Oriental and 
the Occidental civilizations face to face, could not 
but give a fresh impulse to his desire fully to set 
forth the fundamental principles underlying this 


Aboriginal America 

marvellous evolution of a great nation with its ac- 
companying political and social phenomena, as 
well as to trace out the genesis and development 
of these principles: "to set forth and illustrate 
some of the chief causes which have shifted the 
world's political centre of gravity from the Medi- 
terranean and the Rhine to the Atlantic and the 
Pacific: from the men who spoke Latin to the men 
who speak English/' 

Then, too, he was impressed as never before 
with the importance to his theme of setting forth 
the results of ethnologic researches regarding abo- 
riginal, prehistoric society in America, as a back- 
ground to the presentation of the introduction of 
European civilization into America. In his early 
conceptions of a " History of the American People/' 
it does not appear that any consideration was to 
be given to prehistoric society in America. After 
his return from this visit to the Pacific Coast, 
however, this subject becomes a prominent feature 
in the broader historic scheme that is shaping in 
his mind a feature, which, as we shall see a little 
later, he presented in its full philosophico-historic 

It thus appears that the historic theme which 
was now taking quite definite shape in his mind 
was composed of three interrelated parts: (i) the 
sifting of the nations for the germs of a new order 
of political organization based upon the inalien- 
able rights of man; (2) the planting of these germs 


John Fiske 

in the new world of America, and their political 
integration; (3) their fruitage in the Federal Gov- 
ernment of the United States. 

Immediately on his return Fiske took his family 
to the summer home at Petersham, where he was 
soon at work writing a new course of five lectures 
on "Scenes and Characters in American History," 
the several titles of which were : "The Revolution 
of 1689 in New England"; "Thomas Hutchin- 
son, Last Royal Governor of Massachusetts"; 
"Charles Lee, the Soldier of Fortune"; "Andrew 
Jackson, Frontiersman and Soldier"; "Andrew 
Jackson and American Democracy Sixty Years 
Ago." Fiske's reputation was now so well estab- 
lished that applications for his lectures were more 
numerous than he could fill, and it took some care- 
ful planning to have his engagements centre about 
Boston, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and 
Chicago respectively. Private schools were be- 
ginning to see the great value of his lectures in 
stimulating young minds to an interest in Ameri- 
can history, and Fiske particularly enjoyed minis- 
tering to such a demand. When it became known 
that his interest in music was hardly less than his 
interest in history, that his knowledge of the theory 
of music was in its thoroughness very rare, while 
he had a cultivated voice of exceptional range and 
power, the demands from the schools for lectures 
on both history and music became much greater 
than he could meet. 


Limits of Artistic License 

An incident occurred during this period which is 
of no little literary as well as musical interest. It 
appears that Fiske's classmate and friend, James 
Herbert Morse, had written a poem under the title 
of "Come, Silence, Thou Sweet Reasoner," the 
words of which Fiske had set to music for a chorus 
of men's voices. The words of the poem contained 
the following line : 

"The cricket tunes his slender throat." 

Professor Paine objected to the line as a basis of 
musical expression, inasmuch as it was entomologi- 
cally incorrect. This led to a lively discussion of 
the limits of artistic license in poetical and musical 
composition. Fiske maintained that the poet or 
musical composer was not wholly confined to the 
literal facts of nature in his composition. As the 
discussion broadened to the practice of Shakespeare 
in this respect, did he adhere strictly to the 
truth of Nature? Fiske claimed that he did not, 
and proposed that the question at issue be referred 
to his friend, the eminent Shakespearean scholar 
and fine literary critic, Horace Howard Furness. 
It was so referred by Fiske in a most humorous, 
characteristic letter, which unfortunately has not 
been preserved. When asked for it to use in this 
connection, Mr. Furness replied: "I find to my ex- 
ceeding regret that I have preserved none of Dr. 
Fiske's letters to me. Had I at the time known the 
gift of God I would have preserved every scratch 

John Fiske 

of his pen." His letter, however, brought forth the 
following illuminating reply : 

My dear Fiske, 

Will you ever forgive me for letting slip by the 
two weeks of your stay in New York without an- 
swering yours of 24th March? I fully grasped the 
heinousness of my conduct only this minute, and 
have turned as red as a lobster from head to foot, 
and from shame and mortification am screaming 
hard all the time I write. But I swear it was not 
intentional. You have asked me a devilish hard 
question, nothing less than to furnish you with 
a citation which shall prove the divine William to 
have been zoologically wrong, when my motto 
is, that under all circumstances Shakespeare is 
always right. However, the cause for which you ask 
is so good that for its sake and for your own sweet 
sake I have been cudgelling my brain to recall a 
passage to serve your turn. Let me premise by say- 
ing that I reecho every word you say about the 
weakness of any objection to the tunefulness of the 
cricket's throat you might just as well urge that 
no throat is tuneful, only the vocal cords which are 
in the throat. The first thing that occurred to me 
is that Shakespeare talks of the cricket's singing, 
and singing implies a throat. You remember lachi- 
mo's first words, when he creeps out of the chest in 
Imogen's bedchamber, are, " The crickets sing and 
man's o'erlabored sense repairs itself by rest," etc. 
If you need justification I think you have really 
sufficient here. Tennyson, too, will countenance 
you in his "Marianna in the South" he says, 
11 At eve a dry cicada sung, 11 etc. But if you will 
force me to recall a phrase in Shakespeare where 


Letter from H. H. Furness 

a literal, prosaic interpretation involves an error, 
why, then take Titania's command to her fairies, 
and be darned to you. She tells them to 

"take from the bees their waxen thighs, 
And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes." 

Now, we all know that, as Dr. Johnson remarked, a 
glow-worm's light is not in its eyes, but in its tail. 
But I 'd like to examine the bumps of a man who 
would change the phrase to entomological cor- 
rectness. "Her eyes the glow-worm lend thee," 
says Herrick to Julia, and the glow-worm ought to 
jump at the chance. When Hamlet's father says, 
"The glow-worm 'gins to pale his ineffectual fire," 
Brother Paine would say, " 'T ain't fire at all. 
There's no oxygen combustion about it!" Indeed, 
I think literature must be full of allusions to the 
song of the crickets, and if a song, then there 
must be a throat. Lady Macbeth says," I heard 
the owl scream and the crickets cry" and Paine 
would substitute fiddle. Have I given you any help? 
If I have I '11 praise Heaven. Let me know that this 
reaches you and that you still hold me to be 
Yours cordially, 


6th April, 1890. 

I like "The cricket tunes his tiny throat" better 
than "slender." My Anglo-Saxon instinct likes al- 
literation, but "slender" is pretty, it must be con- 

Fiske had a keen appreciation of humor, as is 
seen in his great love of Dickens and in the occa- 
sional use in his serious writings of a humorous al- 
lusion or phrase to clinch his argument. While he 


John Fiske 

was engaged in preparing for, and planning the 
details of, his coming season's lecture campaign, 
at a time when he says, "My noddle is just now 
stuffed pretty full of Andrew Jackson and his 999 
quarrels," he received from the editor of the "New 
York World" a request for a telegram giving his 
opinion regarding Ignatius Donnelly's theories 
about Shakespeare and Bacon as set forth in Don- 
nelly's work "The Great Cryptogram: Francis 
Bacon's Cypher in the so-called Shakespere Plays." 

Fiske's reply expressed the subtile thought of 
the philosopher and the humorist. 

It was as follows: 

PETERSHAM, September 3, 1887. 
To the Editor of The World, 

New York. 

As regards Mr. Donnelly's theories about Shake- 
speare, I have only to say that if a man really likes 
to amuse himself with such stuff, I can see no ob- 
jection. It keeps him busy, and is far less danger- 
ous than if he were to meddle with questions about 
labour and capital. 

Years later Fiske wrote an article entitled "Forty 
Years of Bacon-Shakespeare Folly," in which, 
with his ripe knowledge and his invincible logic, 
he completely swept away the pretensions of those 
who would find in the genius of Shakespeare only 
a corruptly minded Bacon. 

During this year Fiske contributed the follow- 
ing articles to the "Atlantic Monthly": 


New Course of Lectures 

February, "The Federal Constitution." 
June, "Concluding Work of the Federal Con- 

November, "The Adoption of the Constitution." 
December, "Paul Jones and Armed Neutrality." 

The year 1888 was a memorable one to Fiske, 
inasmuch as its close brought a complete change 
in his conditions of working, with the assurance of 
financial support sufficient to enable him to work 
out his historic scheme as it had now shaped it- 
self in his mind. We will follow the incidents of 
the year in their order. 

The year opened with a very active lecture cam- 
paign arranged for the winter and spring in and 
about New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and 
Chicago. His new course on "Scenes and Charac- 
ters in American History" was given only in St. 
Louis, where the several lectures were received 
with the usual enthusiasm. In his naive way he 
tells Mrs. Fiske that "the folks out here seem to 
like everything I do." In Philadelphia he gave his 
full course on "The American Revolution," to 
large and enthusiastic audiences; and calling to 
mind the reception he received in Philadelphia a 
few years before, he could not but mark the con- 
trast. Playfully he writes, "The Filadelfy folks are 
now wild over my lectures." Fiske's frequent use 
of the word "folks" is notable. It is a good old 
English word that he greatly liked. 

While thus engaged with his lectures, Fiske 


John Fiske 

chanced to fall in with James Martineau's recently 
published work, "A Study of Religion." In this 
work the author, while disagreeing with Fiske on 
many points, had spoken very sympathetically of 
Fiske's two Concord addresses. Fiske had met 
Martineau in London, and esteemed him highly 
as one of the deepest philosophico-religious think- 
ers of England ; and it was a great delight to him to 
find that their views on some of the great questions 
which were now under discussion coincided at 
many points. Accordingly Fiske wrote Martineau 
expressing the great pleasure with which he had 
read the latter's book. Martineau replied with the 
following letter which Fiske highly prized by rea- 
son of the fine liberal spirit it displays: 


April 2, 1888. 
My dear Mr. Fiske: - 

Your kindly and forbearing way of receiving 
my volumes, and their free, though sympathetic 
expressions of dissent from you gratifies me much. 
I do not venture to hope that you can accord to 
the book any large measure of approval. If it only 
helps a little, here and there, towards the modus 
vivendi of which you also are in quest between the 
scientific and religious theory of the world I shall 
be content and grateful. I am delighted to hear 
that, in that view, you are at work upon the lines 
of moral law and tendency. 

It is good news for others at all events and 
for me if I am still a lingerer here, that you con- 
template another visit to Europe, at no distant 


Letter from James Martineau 

date. If I check myself in forming plans for the fu- 
ture, it is not that the present alters with me much, 
but simply from the reckoning of A.D. 
I remain, dear Mr. Fiske, 

Yours very sincerely, 


The summer of 1888 was spent almost wholly in 
Cambridge, and in persistent work. His main task 
was the preparation of five new lectures for the 
ensuing season. He chose for his subjects, "Alex- 
ander Hamilton, his theory of government, and its 
influence upon American history"; "Thomas Jef- 
ferson, his political career, his theory of govern- 
ment, and its influence upon American history"; 
"James Madison, his services in framing the Fed- 
eral Constitution, his Presidency, and his place in 
American history"; "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," 
an account of the origin of the Whig Party and 
the political complications which followed; "Daniel 
Webster and the sentiment of Union." 

November 14, 1888, the Commonwealth of Mas- 
sachusetts dedicated, with fitting ceremonies on 
Boston Common, a memorial to Crispus Attucks, 
Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, Samuel Gray, 
and Patrick Carr, victims of the "Massacre" 
which took place in Boston March 5, 1770, when 
British soldiers, illegally quartered in Boston, 
fired upon unarmed citizens, and thus, by wholly 
illegal action, opened the conflict which resulted 
in the American Revolutionary War. 


John Fiske 

Fiske delivered the address on the occasion, in 
which he sketched the illegal forcing by the British 
Government of British troops upon the people of 
Boston, the indignation of the people at this at- 
tack upon their liberties, and the incidents which 
led up to the firing of these troops upon an un- 
armed body of protesting citizens and the killing of 
the five persons named in the memorial. The address 
had all the characteristics of his free-flowing, lucid 
style, and it closed with this fine peroration: 

"The moral lessons of the story are such as 
ought never to be forgotten. Adams and Warren, 
and their patriot friends, were right in deciding that 
the fatal 5th of March should be solemnly com- 
memorated each year by an oration to be deliv- 
ered in the Old South Meeting-house, and this 
custom was kept up until the recognition of Amer- 
ican independence in 1783, when the day for the 
oration was changed to the 4th of July. At the 
very first annual March meeting after the massa- 
cre, it was proposed to erect a monument to com- 
memorate it. The form of the proposal shows that 
the character of the event was understood by town- 
people at that time as I have endeavoured to set 
it forth to-day. In dedicating this memorial on 
Boston Common after the lapse of more than a 
century, we are but performing an act of justice 
too long delayed. There let it stand for future 
generations to contemplate as a monument of the 
wickedness and folly of all attempts to employ brute 
force in compelling the obedience of the people to 
laws which they have had no voice in making/' 


The Critical Period 

The very favorable reception given to his lec- 
tures on "The Critical Period of American His- 
tory," and to their publication in the "Atlantic 
Monthly/' induced Fiske to take up the considera- 
tion of this critical period the six years between 
1783 and 1789 and present it in book form as a 
distinct feature, a memorable chapter in American 
history. This he found he could do to signal ad- 
vantage by presenting the political events of this 
period by themselves, apart from the war struggle 
which went before, and the domestic political strug- 
gles which came after. In addition, he found that 
he could so treat the subject that the volume would 
have a legitimate place in his contemplated history 
as the connecting link between his account of the 
overthrow of the colonial governments and the 
establishment of the Federal Government under 
Washington. Then, too, the publication in book 
form of an essay on the most memorable period 
in our national history would be, in a certain sense, 
an appeal to the public interest in behalf of the 
great historic scheme he had in mind : a test of his 
powers to present satisfactorily to the highest form 
of literary criticism a great historic undertaking. 

Accordingly, during the latter half of the year 
1887, and the first half of 1888, all his spare time 
was given to preparing his collected material for 
the press. In one of his letters he says: 

" I am having a busy and happy time. My little 
book is going to be a fine affair, that 's clear, whether 


John Fiske 

it is exactly what was intended or not. It is grow- 
ing finer every day." 

The book was published in the early autumn 
of 1888 the centennial of the work of the Con- 
vention which framed the Constitution of the 
United States. In this volume Fiske set out with the 
proposition that the period under review was the 
most critical period in the history of the American 
people. The main features of the work comprised 
a clear setting-forth of the political dangers, exter- 
nal and internal, that then confronted the new 
nation, an impartial presentation of the issues in- 
volved, accompanied by a rare exhibition of his- 
toric justice shown in the personal sketches given 
and the judgments passed upon the leaders in the 
Constitutional Convention. These were combined 
with a fine, discriminating analysis of the consid- 
erations which governed the several States in their 
acceptance of the Constitution, with a graphic 
presentation of the crowning of the work in the in- 
auguration of Washington as President of a strong 
and united nation. These features were presented 
with such a full and accurate knowledge of the facts 
involved, with such a firm grasp of, and sympathy 
with, the fundamental principles of republicanism 
which were the impelling forces underlying the 
whole movement, and in such a free, lucid style, 
that the work could hardly fail to awaken the in- 
terest of the reader in the subject and carry a con- 
viction of the truth of the main proposition. 


The Critical Period 

The book was received with great applause. The 
leading critical journals were unanimous in com- 
mending it. It was readily seen that Fiske had 
found an important period in our national life that 
had been sadly neglected; that with his keen his- 
toric insight he had seen the necessity of bringing 
a knowledge of this neglected period into the full 
light of day, in order rightly to understand the 
genesis and full significance of the Federal Govern- 
ment of the United States. It was further seen that 
in his deeply interesting narrative of this "storm 
and stress" period of our nation's birth, the per- 
sonal characteristics of the leaders in this great 
movement-- Washington, Franklin, Samuel and 
John Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and 
their compeers came out with a fresh interest 
as they were sympathetically yet impartially por- 
trayed grappling with the great problems before 
them. The work was reviewed at length by the 
" Atlantic Monthly" and the "Nation," and their 
judgments are here given. The "Atlantic Monthly" 
summed up its criticism thus : 

" Mr. Fiske justifies his title to his work. By his 
masterly grouping of events, his projection of the 
period upon a large scale, and his comprehensive 
study of the movements which determined the 
course of affairs, he has set the whole subject in the 
clearest light, and by so doing has made a contribu- 
tion to our literature of no mean order." 

The judgment of the " Nation " was as follows: 


John Fiske 

" If the reader misses in the present treatise the 
comprehensive generalizations which gave such 
a fascination to the author's work on 'American 
Political Ideas/ he will find his recompense in the 
solid facts of history pertaining to the formative 
period in our annals, and can here see those facts 
placed in a historical perspective which reveals at 
once their national grandeur, and their world-his- 
torical significance." 

Of personal commendations of the work from 
literary critics, from historic students, and from 
men in public life there were many. Two are here 
presented as representative of the general tone of 
the whole. The first is from John Morley (now 
Lord Morley), the prince of literary and historic 
critics. In the " Nineteenth Century" for August, 
1889, Morley, in a signed article, reviewed the work 
at some length, in which, after setting forth the 
conditions that prevailed after the establishment of 
peace with Great Britain, he says: 

"The author of the present short volume starts 
from the proposition that the most trying time of 
all [for the new nation] was just beginning. [Quot- 
ing Fiske : ] ' It is not too much to say that the period 
of five years following the peace of 1783 was the 
most critical moment in all the history of the 
American people. The dangers from which we were 
saved in 1788 were even greater than the dangers 
from which we were saved in 1865.' This proposi- 
tion, Mr. Fiske makes abundantly good and he has 
turned it into a text for one of the most interesting 
chapters of history that has been written for many 


The Critical Period 

a day. . . . Mr. Fiske is a most competent guide! 
He is a trained thinker in more fields than one; 
he knows how to tell a story in a free, clear and 
lively style, and he has not the terrible defect of 
insisting on telling us everything, or telling us more 
than we want to know." 

The second is from the Honorable John Jay, a 
grandson of John Jay, one of the American Com- 
missioners who negotiated the treaty of peace be- 
tween Great Britain and the United States in 1783, 
and himself an eminent publicist. Mr. Jay wrote 
Fiske as follows : - 

NEW YORK, November 30, 1888. 
Dear Mr. Fiske: 

I thank you for your new volume, "The Critical 
Period of American History," with its kind inscrip- 
tion. I have delayed acknowledging it until I could 
read it. I have read it with instruction, and great 
satisfaction; and with no little admiration for the 
rare and happy power with which you re-present 
with new face the familiar phases of our history 
and make clear and impressive the philosophic les- 
sons that they teach. 

The book I regard as of especial value, as ena- 
bling not simply our countrymen at large, but the 
most thoughtful of our students of American his- 
tory, to appreciate more than ever the dangers 
that threatened our Union at the close of the war, 
and the formidable difficulties involved in the 
framing and adoption of the Constitution. 

It is a matter that concerns not simply the 
record of the past, but the national policy of the 


John Fiske 

future, that Americans should have the clear and 
compact idea which your narrative presents of the 
marvellous wisdom, patience, tact, and skill with 
which that task was accomplished. 

Let me thank you also for your approval of my 
sketch of the Peace Negotiations, your view of 
which I regard as settling the question for future 

With sincere regard, 

Always faithfully yours, 


Notwithstanding this widespread interest in his 
undertaking and the high praise he was receiving 
on every hand for his work both as lecturer and as 
essayist, Fiske had moments of great perplexity. 
I saw him frequently at this period, and the diffi- 
culties under which he was laboring were subjects 
of much talk between us. The most perplexing 
difficulty was that in the working-out of his scheme 
he could not take hold of his subject in the proper 
manner; that is, by bringing forward its features 
in logical sequential order through laying first a 
proper foundation for the historic superstructure he 
desired to build. In what he had published he had 
treated of events which were developments out of 
conditions which had a genesis in a common, under- 
lying ground. The more he studied his subject the 
more imperative became the need of laying the 
foundations of a satisfactory history of the Ameri- 


Perplexity over his Task 

can people in the world-events connected with the 
discovery of America and what this discovery sig- 
nified to the European peoples of the fifteenth, six- 
teenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. But 
to treat the discovery of America in the light of its 
world-significance, with reference to the past and 
the future, was a task requiring years of careful 
research, with a free mind. 

As we have seen, Fiske's undertaking had de- 
veloped into a demand upon himself which in- 
volved from five to six months* almost continuous 
lecturing, with the necessity of preparing each year 
a new course of from four to six lectures, with all 
the details of arranging the lecture engagements 
in addition. It is evident that conditions did 
not exist which would admit of his engaging in the 
research-study so essential to the scheme that 
had now become firmly fixed in his mind. 

Naturally, this untoward condition in the de- 
velopment of his task made him somewhat dis- 
couraged, for without a presentation of the Discov- 
ery Epoch, with its full significance, his historic 
scheme would be without suitable foundations. 

But ample and wholly unexpected relief was at 

Mr. Henry O. Houghton, the head of the pub- 
lishing firm of Houghton, Mifflin & Company, was 
not only a broad-minded man of great business 
sagacity; he also took great pride in his publishing 
business and ever sought to make it a support to 


John Fiske 

good literature. In the passing of the publishing 
firm of Ticknor & Fields, which, under the direc- 
tion of the eminent publisher, James T. Fields, and 
by its ownership of the "Atlantic Monthly/' had 
long held a prominent place in the publishing world, 
Mr. Hough ton secured for his firm not only the 
ownership of the "Atlantic Monthly," but also the 
publishing agreements with leading authors held 
by Ticknor & Fields, thus placing Houghton, 
Mifflin & Company in the front rank of publishing 
houses in America. 

Mr. Houghton was a good appraiser of literary 
values. He had observed Fiske's growing reputa- 
tion as an interpreter of American history, and had 
noted particularly the very favorable manner in 
which his first distinctly historic work, "The 
Critical Period," had been received. Presuming 
that Fiske contemplated publishing something fur- 
ther on American history, he sought an interview 
to learn what, if anything, Fiske had in mind. 

Fiske frankly outlined to Mr. Houghton his his- 
toric scheme in its five divisions: the Epoch of 
American Discovery; the Period of Colonization; 
the Revolutionary War; the Critical Period; the 
Establishment of the Federal Government of the 
United States and its development. He pointed 
out that he had the third and fourth divisions, and 
a part of the second, substantially completed. He 
also frankly stated the difficulties under which he 
was laboring, owing to his inability to go forward 


Relieved by his Publishers 

with the persistent research-study necessary for the 
proper treatment of the Discovery Epoch, which 
must form the foundation of the work, on account 
of his dependence financially upon his lectures. 

Mr. Houghton, with his business insight, grasped 
the whole situation with great perspicacity. He 
was much impressed by the high character of the 
scheme, and also by the logical order and clearness 
with which Fiske had its several features related in 
his mind; and he could see what a valuable and 
fresh contribution to historic literature such a work 
would be. On the other hand, he saw very clearly 
that, as a publishing undertaking, it was one that 
would require a large investment of capital for its 
preparation, and that it would be several years be- 
fore it would yield remunerative returns even if it 
met with a cordial public reception. He was, how- 
ever, so favorably impressed by the scheme, and 
with Fiske's mastery of it, that he said he would 
seriously consider undertaking its publication. 

Mr. Houghton saw Fiske shortly after, and made 
him a definite proposition to this effect: that he 
would advance the money necessary to enable Fiske 
to produce the foundational works required in the 
scheme, leaving the question of copyright on the 
whole scheme subject to future agreement: this 
proposed agreement to be terminable by either 
party, at any time, if found inequitable in its work- 
ing. In short, it was a proposition whereby the two 
were to combine their forces, each trusting the 


John Fiske 

other, until a definite literary property had been 
created as a basis for a copyright agreement. As 
it was desirable that the scheme should be kept 
before the public, Fiske was to have the privilege 
of lecturing three months in the year on his own 
account. The immediate effect of the acceptance 
by Fiske of the proposition would be, that he would 
be placed at ease for the preparation of the funda- 
mental works of his scheme, which required some 
years of patient research-study. 

Fiske did not hold the proposition long under 
consideration. He accepted it, with a due apprecia- 
tion of Mr. Hough ton's business sagacity in being 
willing to undertake on such liberal terms the pro- 
motion of a literary venture of such a personal 
character, and one requiring a large investment of 

The year 1888 closed with Fiske's giving his 
course of six lectures on " Scenes and Characters 
in American History" at the Old South Church in 
Boston; and with his coming to an agreement with' 
his publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Company, for 
the further prosecution and publication of his 
historic scheme. 






FISKE'S agreement with his publishers for the pro- 
duction and publication of his historic scheme went 
into effect January i, 1889, and now was opened 
an entirely new chapter in his domestic and intel- 
lectual life. For several years he had been obliged 
to make all his activities subordinate to the de- 
mands of his lecture campaigns, in the preparation 
of new lectures each year as well as in the delivery 
of them. Now, his lectures were to be a subordinate 
feature in his life, thus giving his mind much greater 
freedom to grapple with his great theme. He did 
not, however, entirely relinquish his lecturing, for 
he had become so familiar with his general subject 
and had acquired such proficiency in extempore 
speaking that he was enabled, without any special 
preparation, to present to his audiences the more 
important features of his great subject, as well as 
sketches of the historic characters embodied in it, 


John Fiske 

with much interest and impressiveness. Thus, 
aside from the annoyances of travelling and the 
interruption of his home life, his lecturing greatly 
widened his influence and brought him many di- 

For some time there had been gestating in his 
mind the preparation of a small volume on "Civil 
Government in the United States/' which might be 
useful as a textbook in schools, and at the same time 
be serviceable to the general reader interested in 
American history. As the project took shape in his 
mind, he found that he could treat it after the 
modern method of historic exposition: that is to 
say, by pointing out the origins of the fundamental 
features of our political organization, and indicating 
some of the processes through which they have ac- 
quired their present form, thus keeping before the 
mind of the student the important fact that gov- 
ernment is perpetually undergoing modifications in 
adapting itself to new conditions, is ever in a proc- 
ess of evolution. Fiske's publishers were much in- 
terested in this work, foreseeing its value in gen- 
eral education, and they encouraged him to carry 
along its preparation as a side product of his gen- 
eral scheme. 

Then, too, Fiske was so familiar with the events 
of the War of Independence that he had on several 
occasions given impromptu talks to schools, in 
which in the time of a single discourse he had 
broadly sketched, as an interesting story, the main 


Volume on Civil Government 

incidents of this memorable struggle. This infor- 
mal talk was so well received by his youthful audi- 
ences that his publishers induced him to write it 
out for publication. 

Now that he was relieved from the necessity of 
preparing a new course of lectures each season, he 
found himself ready to prepare for publication, 
without much labor, the two sections of his his- 
toric scheme already written and which had formed 
the basis of two of his courses of lectures "The 
Beginnings of New England" and "The Ameri- 
can Revolution." 

These, however, were but side issues. Above and 
beyond them all his study and his thought were 
concentrated during the ensuing three years upon 
the production of "The Discovery of America," 
the work which was to be the foundational feature 
of his magnum opus "The History of the Ameri- 
can People." 

These three years, 1889-91, were therefore years 
of varied and ceaseless activities. But there are no 
self-revealing letters to his wife or to his mother, 
such as we have had in previous years. He was 
more at home. But his diaries are faithful records 
of his activities. Not a single day was passed with- 
out its record; and these records, when classified 
and brought into relativity with the high purposes 
which we know were animating him, as well as 
with the results produced, are the evidences of the 
workings of his mind engaged upon the task of 


John Fiske 

interpreting to his countrymen the profound sig- 
nificance of their national history. 

I shall not enter into the full details of this cul- 
minating period of Fiske's life as revealed in his 
diaries, as I wish to present as fully as possible the 
character of the literary results produced. It is 
well, however, in passing to note briefly the chief 
divisions of his activities, for in their grouping they 
reflect unmistakably his personality and his great 

His activities may be grouped into three interre- 
lated classes: his social life, his personal diversions, 
his literary work and lecturing. 

In regard to the first, it is readily understood 
that with his wide circle of friends and his promi- 
nence as a philosophic thinker and historian, the 
social demands upon him should be very great. 
He dearly loved his friends, and no man enjoyed 
social intercourse more than he. In social converse 
he was not in the slightest degree disputatious or 
arrogant. He was a good listener. Indeed, he pos- 
sessed his great knowledge with singular modesty. 
He could receive the fine thought of another and 
give it even a higher significance than was in- 
tended, in the expression of his appreciation. What 
he had to say on any subject was so replete with 
understanding that it was well worth listening to. 
Then, too, he had a keen appreciation of humor, 
and he seemed to have at command all the witty 
sayings of the race, ready to cap with delightful 


Three Classes of Activities 

appositeness any bit of human experience. Over 
all his fine social qualities was his great love for 
music. Hence it will be readily seen that the social 
demands upon him, especially on his lecture ex- 
cursions, were very great. A popular lecturer, with 
great musical powers and a fine personality, was 
not likely to be socially neglected. 

In regard to the second division of his activities 
his personal diversions there is a very full 
record, and they appear to have been governed by 
the demands of his social life on the one hand, and 
the requirements of his intellectual work on the 
other. He was President of the Boylston Club a 
musical club for seven years, and when at home 
he was a faithful attendant at its meetings. His 
main diversions centred around his home, or good- 
fellowship with his friends while lecturing. His 
home diversions consisted largely in attendance at 
musical entertainments with his wife or children, 
of picnicking with them when in Petersham, and 
of gatherings of his musical and literary friends 
around his own board. Now and then he records 
a day given to fiction reading, with occasionally a 
day spent simply in " loafing. " On his lecture ex- 
cursions he received many social courtesies which 
were pleasant reliefs from the discomforts of much 
irregular travelling. Indeed, many of these occa- 
sions gave him great enjoyment, especially where 
music was made a feature of the entertainment, 
in which he was asked to take an active part. 


John Fiske 

These diversions are very interesting when con- 
sidered in relation to the overpowering purpose 
which we know was dominating his mind. Nat- 
urally, his children had a foremost place in his 
thought, for they had reached stages of develop- 
ment where reciprocity in thinking between him- 
self and them had begun to manifest itself. In his 
fiction reading, Dickens comes in for the major 
portion, as might well be supposed. At the same 
time he drops a little into Bulwer and George 
Eliot. His association with Professor Paine on 
musical matters was a constant inspiration. This 
but emphasizes what we have seen all along: that 
music was an essential part of his being. His rec- 
ord of days spent in " loafing " will be appreciated 
by any one accustomed to severe mental labor, 
and who has had experience of days when the 
mind has no resilience, when it refuses to work, 
and the whole bodily system demands a change. 
These days were not frequent, however: they fol- 
lowed periods of excessive labor. 

Most significant are the days recorded as "put- 
tering with my plants." His writings show that he 
was sufficiently acquainted with the fundamental 
principles of botanical science to be an intelligent 
observer of nature's processes in the phenomena 
of the floral world. His plants, therefore, were a 
never-ceasing source of interest and suggestion to 
him. With even the tiniest of them, in their germi- 
nation, their progressive development, their in- 


His Personal Diversions 

florescence, and their methods of propagation, 
he felt himself on the border-line between the 
known and the unknown, between science and the 
great mystery that surrounds us on every side - 
in the very presence of Infinity. Much that is 
finest in his religious thought had its inspiration in 
his conservatory. 

Here I may properly give, perhaps, the result of 
a personal interview with him. I remember call- 
ing upon him on one occasion, and finding him in 
his conservatory with his microscope. His mind 
was full from his recent observations, and natu- 
rally the conversation turned to the deeper ques- 
tions underlying botanical science, and his thought 
as then expressed was substantially as follows : 

"Often when weary with my studies, I find great 
rest by going into my conservatory and puttering 
with my plants. They are far from being inani- 
mate substances to me. Indeed, when in their pres- 
ence I equip my imagination with microscopic 
power and peer into their simple mechanism, 
which through root, and stem, and leaf, and flow- 
er, is using the same soil, and heat, and air, and 
light, to body forth into the world of phenomena 
a hundred different manifestations of life, I con- 
fess to a peculiar sense of nearness to the pro- 
found mystery of existence which surrounds us on 
every side. And when, in contemplation of this 
quiet orderly working of immaterial forces, moving 
without haste or resting to certain predestined 
ends, I ask, 'whence this marvellous display of 


John Fiske 

power and purpose?' I feel the answer welling 
up in the innermost parts of my own being, 
'Account for yourself and you have accounted for 
all. 1 " 

Under date of Sunday, February, 1890, he makes 
this record: "A day of delicious loaf in Conserva- 

Fiske's interest in all phases of plant life was, 
indeed, a profound one, and it was manifested in 
all his home surroundings. Here is an instance 
where he wished to have his library bay-window, 
within which he wrote, "glorified" by being cur- 
tained with some choice selections of foliage. In 
a letter to his daughter Maud at this period he gives 
the following directions : 

"Perhaps you can do something for me. Your 
mention of spring and garden and blossoms sug- 
gests it. Year after year goes by and I never can 
get any vines started because I am always away 
at planting-time. Now I want either Japanese ivy 
or Virginia creeper to grow all over my library 
bay-window as thick as ever it can (for the shears 
can always thin it if too luxuriant). I don't care 
so much about the front, and where the rosebush 
is, but all the side, and also the end window, where 
mamma sits, I want covered, embowered, festooned, 
draped, and glorified ! ! ! 

"Japanese ivy is the thing if it will cling to the 
wooden wall, and I rather think it will because the 
wall is rough. But if that won't work, then Vir- 
ginia creeper will do very well." 




His Lecturing 

And here is an extract from his essay on "The 
Everlasting Reality of Religion": 

" I often think, when working over my plants, 
of what Linnaeus once said of the unfolding of a 
blossom : ' I saw God in His glory passing near me, 
and bowed my head in worship."' 1 

We come now to the last division of his activi- 
ties during this period, his lecturing, his historic 
researches, his literary composition. While there 
is much that is of interest from a purely personal 
viewpoint in these activities, we must be content 
with noting only such as have a distinct bearing 
upon his great purpose, the setting-forth of the 
historic evolution of the political and social life of 
the people of the United States. The ten years of 
study and thought which he had given to the sub- 
ject had but deepened his conviction that it was in 
its entirety one of the greatest of historic themes. 
Now that he was so placed, by his publishers, as 
to ways and means of working, that he could pro- 
ceed with the unfolding of his scheme in its logical 
order, he was supremely happy, and he set about 
arranging his work so that its threefold character 
could be carried on harmoniously. 

His lecturing was limited to the first five months 
of the year January to May. While during this 
period its demands were supreme, he so arranged 
his engagements in and around Cambridge, New 

1 Through Nature to God, p. 177. 

John Fiske 

York, Chicago, and St. Louis that these cities 
became centres of radiation to which he could 
speedily return for the intervening days between 
his lectures. As he always took with him on his 
visits to New York and Chicago and St. Louis a 
good quantity of literary material relating to the 
particular work he had in hand, he was enabled 
to utilize his spare time to good advantage. In 
New York he established very pleasant working 
quarters on Irving Place; while in Chicago he was 
so fortunate as to have, in Franklin H. Head, a 
genial friend, who opened to him his hospitable 
home, where he had the privacy essential to 
literary work, mingled with most agreeable social 

During the three years he gave three hundred 
and eighteen lectures. The first year these were 
mainly repetitions of those relating to the Eng- 
lish colonization of America, the American Revo- 
lution, and incidents and characters in American 
history which we have already noted. In 1890, the 
result of his fresh studies of the period of the dis- 
covery of America, and the Spanish conquests that 
followed, gave him new themes with which to meet 
his old audiences, and at the same time lay foun- 
dations for future discourses. 

Here we have to note a lecture engagement of 
some related interest. We have seen that in 1872 l 
when Fiske was delivering a course of philosophi- 

1 See ante, vol. I, p. 395. 

Lectures at Lowell Institute 

cal lectures at Harvard College, President Eliot 
interested himself to have Fiske invited to give a 
course of lectures before the Lowell Institute of 
Boston, and that the invitation was refused by rea- 
son of the fact that Fiske was not a believer in the 
special Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Now, 
however, opinion at the Institute had so far 
changed in regard to Fiske that the year 1890 
opened with his giving a course of twelve lectures, 
under the auspices of the Institute, on "The Dis- 
covery, Conquest, and Colonization of America. " 

While this Lowell Institute course covered much 
ground that he had been over in his first course of 
historical lectures in 1879 on "America's Place in 
History," he introduced much new matter, partic- 
ularly in regard to pre-Columbian America, the 
search for the Indies, and the Spanish conquests of 
Mexico and Peru. 

The lectures were outline sketches of the great 
historic work that was soon to follow, and were 
received with great favor by large and critical audi- 
ences. Fiske was greatly encouraged, for he saw 
more clearly than before how through his lectures 
he could interest the public in the scope and charac- 
ter of his great undertaking as its various instal- 
ments came from his hand. 

Despite all the discomforts and annoyances at- 
tending these periods of lecturing, there were some 
satisfactions attending them. Had he produced his 
historic work in the quiet retirement of his library, 


John Fiske 

we should have had unquestionably a fine, schol- 
arly performance; but would it possibly have been 
wanting in those strong, humanistic characteris- 
tics which pervade all his historic writing, - - the 
evidence that during the whole period of his his- 
toric composition he was in close touch with the 
common people, the evolution of whose political 
and social institutions it was his chief desire to 
make clear to them. 

Then, too, he derived much pleasure and in- 
spiration from being brought into direct contact 
with masses of his countrymen through the lecture 
platform. He was a true democrat of the Jefferson 
and Lincoln stamp, and thoroughly believed in the 
good sense of the people as a whole. With his lit- 
erary skill he was enabled to invest his historic 
themes with such universal human interests as to 
awaken at once the confidence and good-will of 
his hearers; and being an effective public speaker 
he could sway with rare power the minds of his 
audiences. This implied the reciprocal action of 
both giving and receiving pleasure, and his letters 
are abundant evidence that he did enjoy speaking 
to responsive audiences. In his diary, where he 
mentions giving a new lecture or appearing before 
a new audience, he records the result thus: "The 
usual eclat. 1 ' 

But no social courtesies, no applause from his 
audiences, could take the place of his domestic 
enjoyments; and so, on his return from lecturing 


Visits the Betts Academy 

pilgrimages, we find frequent expressions like this: 
"O, my sweet home!** 

Among the letters of this period I find one in 
which, under date of March 22, 1889, he gives to 
Mrs. Fiske an account of a lecture at Stamford, 
Connecticut, and of a visit to the Betts Academy, 
where, as we have seen, some two years of his edu- 
cational life were spent. His visit to the academy 
brought back to him so vividly the days of his 
youth when, within its walls, he was an earnest 
seeker after knowledge, that his account of the 
visit is of special interest. He writes: 

"I dined up at Betts's School to-day, and had a 
delicious time. My heart was touched. Things 
generally change and are so disappointing. But 
there is the same old 'hipe,' same schoolroom, same 
everything, almost as I left it thirty-two years ago, 
in all the glory of having written and delivered an 
oration which everybody said was the beginning of 
a great career! 

" I looked over the old marking-books and saw 
my record, which I have copied for you! and it was 
rather fine, no doubt. I went up to my old bedroom 
where I used to have my cosy little bookcase, and 
things; and went to prayers in the same old sitting 
room, and the past came over me so that the tears 
stood in my eyes. 

"Willie Betts, the principal, is a charming fel- 
low, always laughing and beaming with kindliness 
- such a contrast to his father! When I was there 
he was a little Traddles. Now, you, my dear, are 
to see it all next week. You are to see the last thing 


John Fiske 

still remaining unspoiled, that goes back to my boy- 
hood, before I had ever seen George Roberts." 

Coming now to Fiske's creative literary work 
for this period, we find it consisted, first, in prepar- 
ing for publication in book form his lectures on 
"The Beginnings of New England/' and also his 
lectures on "The American Revolution"; and 
secondly of the composition of two new works ; the 
one, "Civil Government in the United States," in 
one volume; the other, "The Discovery of Amer- 
ica," in two volumes. He also prepared a brief 
story of the Revolutionary War in a small volume 
for young people. 

"The Beginnings of New England" was pub- 
lished in one volume in the spring of 1889, and con- 
tained as its opening chapter Fiske's fine lecture 
on "The Roman Idea and the English Idea of 
Nation-Making," one of the most suggestive phil- 
osophico-political essays of modern times, suffi- 
cient of itself to establish his reputation as a pro- 
found thinker on historic subjects. In 1891 he 
published his lectures on "The American Revo- 
lution," in two volumes; thus, with the volume 
on "The Critical Period of American History," 
published in 1888, and the volume on "The Be- 
ginnings of New England," published as above, 
completing three sections of his historic scheme. 

How these last two works were received by the 
general public, we will not stop to consider in any 
detail. Suffice it to say that, although the critics 


The Beginnings of New England 

could not see the great historic purpose of which 
they formed a part, and that they were ultimately 
to form sections in a completely unified historic 
whole, they were not slow in recognizing the great 
merits of the works as valuable contributions to a 
right understanding of two important periods of 
American history. The wide and accurate knowl- 
edge displayed throughout the two works, the 
philosophic insight into the underlying causes im- 
pelling human action during the two periods, the 
keen appreciation of character as developed by 
the sequence of events, the judicial fairness exhib- 
ited in weighing evidence and passing judgment 
on disputed points, with the easy-flowing, lucid 
style conspicuous on every page, were convincing 
proofs that a historian of the first rank was now 
grappling with American history, and was giving 
to the established facts of this history a new set- 
ting and significance. 

Here is a fitting place to present two letters from 
the eminent historian, Edward A. Freeman, whose 
historical writings Fiske regarded as of the highest 


August 9, 1889. 

My dear Sir: - 

I suppose it is yourself that I have to thank 
for your two books on American History. The one 
on the "New England Settlement" I have read, 
the one on the " Critical Period" I am reading. 

John Fiske 

Let me tell you plainly that I have read very few 
things for a long time that have given me more in- 
tense pleasure than some parts of both. I have sel- 
dom, if ever, seen any part of English history, that 
part of it which happened on American soil, 
treated so thoroughly as part of the history of the 
one English people. It is so strangely hard to get 
people on either side of Ocean to take in the simple 
fact that Englishmen on both sides of Ocean are 
one people. 

'T is only the other day I saw a British paper 
that fancies itself Liberal babbling about the cir- 
clet of the Cross or some such humbug join- 
ing all the members of the English race. So I sup- 
pose the people of Massachusetts and Virginia are 
no part of the English race, and the barbarics of 
India are. That is the kind of thing one has to fight 
against. To me, with my Greek, and specially my 
Sicilian work, the whole thing seems so obvious. 
I never think of Sicily without America, or of 
America without Sicily; and the twin colonies of 
Corinth: Syracuse, Korkyra. Why should not 
Middle and New England have been as Corinth 
and Syracuse? 

If anything should bring you to Middle Eng- 
land, remember you will be welcome either here, 
or at Oxford, according to the time of year. 
Believe me, yours faithfully, 


In acknowledging this letter, Fiske sent Free- 
man a copy of his volume, "American Political 
Ideas." This brought from Freeman the following 
response : 


Letters from E. A. Freeman 


November 10, 1889. 
Dear Mr. Fiske: 

I have to thank you for your letter and also for 
your book " American Political Ideas." This I see 
does come straight from yourself. I have not been 
very long back, and I have barely looked at it; but 
I see you are on the right track, at least on the track 
which I am bound to look upon as the right one. 
Truly you preach exactly the same doctrine that I 
do, which is a recommendation at least to me. 

I shall have a chance of saying a word or two 
again on that text (the unity of the English peoples) 
next Thursday, when I have a lecture on the Car- 
tularies of 1889, in which I shall suggest that here 
in Middle England we have been talking too much 
about 1789 at Versailles, and not enough about 
1789 at New York; and further, that 1689 at Bos- 
ton should not be wholly forgotten. 

Along with your book came what I certainly did 
not expect. My picture of the Landesgemeinde of 
Uri, quoted and commented on in a sermon at 

Believe me very truly yours, 


Finally, we come to the two works which were 
written and published during this period the vol- 
ume on "Civil Government, " and the two volumes 
on "The Discovery of America." As we have quite 
full particulars of the composition of these two 
important works, it is of interest to observe Fiske's 
method of working. 


John Fiske 

It appears that during the summer of 1889 the 
volume on "Civil Government" was mulling in his 
mind. Preparatory to beginning composition upon 
it, he read with great care Bryce's "American Com- 
monwealth," Howard's "Local Constitutional His- 
tory of the United States," Roosevelt's "Winning 
of the West," "The State," by Woodrow Wilson, 
"Economic Interpretation of History," by Thorold 
Rogers, and Hannis Taylor's "Origin and Growth 
of the English Constitution," all very suggestive 
as well as directly helpful works for the purpose 
Fiske had in view. 

On September 1 8, 1889, he tried to make a start 
at the composition of his contemplated book, "but 
could n't get up steam," with the resultant feeling 
that perhaps he had better turn his thought in some 
other direction. Finally, on October n, he refo- 
cussed his mind on the " Civil Government" project 
and vigorously set about its composition, writing on 
the first day four pages. There was now no longer 
any doubt or hesitancy in his mind, and his thought 
flowed with the utmost directness and clearness and 
with such freedom that he finished his task in forty- 
three days on December 30, 1889. This, consid- 
ering the nature of the subject and the wide and 
varied knowledge required for its mastery, was an 
almost incredible performance; yet it appears to 
have been easily performed at the rate of about 
five pages a day; showing that it was the product 
of a full, well-ordered mind. The bibliographic 


Volume on Civil Government 

notes scattered through the volume are abundant 
evidence of the thoroughness with which he had 
made himself master of the literature on the sub- 
ject. The work itself was a confirmation of one of 
the suggestive observations of Sir Henry Sumner 

"Wherever the primitive condition of an Aryan 
race reveals itself either through historical records 
or through the survival of its ancient institutions, 
the organ, which in the elementary group corre- 
sponds to what we call the legislature, is every- 
where discernible. It is the Village Council. . . . 
From this embryo have sprung all the most famous 
legislatures of the world. " 

The volume was published in the autumn of 
1890, with some "Suggestive Questions and Di- 
rections" after each chapter, prepared by Mr. F. 
A. Hill, Head Master of the Cambridge English 
High School, and given to facilitate the use of the 
work in schools. 

The work was very cordially welcomed by the 
leading educators of the country as a most impor- 
tant aid in the study of the fundamental principles 
underlying our republican form of government. 

With the composition of this work off his hands, 
Fiske opened the year 1890 with great elation of 
mind, inasmuch as he could now take up the prep- 
aration of what was to be the foundation of his 
historic scheme, and which had long lain near his 
heart, "The Discovery of America," with its sig- 


John Fiske 

nificance to the civilization of the modern world. 
We have seen that in opening his historic lectures 
in 1879 he took for his theme "America's Place in 
History, " and that his opening sentence was, "The 
voyage of Columbus was in many respects the most 
important event in human history since the birth 
of Christ.'* Ten years' study of the discovery of 
America and its relations to all subsequent history 
had but deepened his conviction of the truth of his 
statement in regard to the world-significance of the 
voyage of Columbus. Now that he could put in 
permanent literary form, as the basis of a great 
historic scheme, his conclusions regarding this im- 
mortal voyage and what flowed from it, with their 
verifications, he was supremely happy. He entered 
upon his task with as lofty a purpose as that which 
animated Gibbon and Macaulay in entering upon 
their immortal histories. 

With fine historic insight, Fiske saw the task be- 
fore him as one which involved the blending of two 
themes, very different in character, yet so closely 
related that the one is needful for an adequate com- 
prehension of the other. He says truly in regard to 
the first: 

"In order to view in their true perspective the 
series of events comprised in the Discovery of 
America, one needs to form a mental picture of that 
strange world of savagery and barbarism to which 
civilized Europeans were for the first time intro- 
duced in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth 


The Discovery of America 

centuries in their voyages along the African coast, 
into the Indian and Pacific oceans, and across the 
Atlantic. Nothing that Europeans discovered dur- 
ing that stirring period was so remarkable as these 
antique phases of human society, the mere existence 
of which had scarcely been suspected, and the char- 
acter of which it has been left for the present gen- 
eration to begin to understand. Nowhere was this 
ancient society so full of instructive lessons as in 
aboriginal America, which had pursued its own 
course of development, cut off and isolated from 
the Old World for probably more than fifty thou- 
sand years. The imperishable interest of those epi- 
sodes in the Discovery of America known as the con- 
quests of Mexico and Peru, consists chiefly in the 
glimpses they afford us of this primitive world. It 
was not an uninhabited continent that the Span- 
iards found, and in order to comprehend the course 
of events it is necessary to know something about 
those social features that formed a large part of the 
burden of the letters of Columbus and Vespucius, 
and excited even more intense and general interest 
in Europe than the purely geographical questions 
suggested by the voyages of those great sailors. 
The descriptions of Ancient America, therefore, 
which form a kind of background to the present 
work, need no apology." 

In regard to the second theme, the discovery of 
this unknown Western World, Fiske found some- 
thing solemn and impressive in the fact of human 
life thus going on for countless ages in the eastern 
and western portions of our planet, each unknown 
to, and uninfluenced by, the other. In asserting 


John Fiske 

that the contact between the two worlds practically 
began in 1492, he did not mean to imply that occa- 
sional visitors may not have come and had not 
come from the old world to the new before that mem- 
orable year. On the contrary, he was inclined to 
believe that there may have been more of such oc- 
casional visits than we have been wont to suppose. 
For the most part, however, he found such visits 
shrouded in the mists of obscure narrative and fan- 
tastic conjecture, and without satisfactory proofs. 
When he came, however, to the claims of the 
Northmen, based on their voyages in the tenth and 
eleventh centuries, he found quite a different state 
of things, in the dealing with which he was for the 
most part on firm historic ground. He says: 

"The colonization of Greenland by the North- 
men in the tenth century is as well established as 
any event that occurred in the Middle Ages. For 
four hundred years the fortunes of the Greenland 
colony formed a part, albeit a very humble part of 
European history/' 

So much being established, he reviewed the pre- 
Columbian voyages of the Northmen and pre- 
sented their achievements with great fulness of 
knowledge and rare candor of mind. His conclu- 
sions were as follows : 

"Nothing had been accomplished by those voy- 
ages which could properly be called a contribution 
to geographical knowledge. To speak of them as 
constituting in any legitimate use of the phrase a 


Pre-Columbian Voyages 

Discovery of America, is simply absurd. Except for 
Greenland, which was supposed to be a part of the 
European world, America remained as much un- 
discovered after the eleventh century as before. In 
the midsummer of 1492, it needed to be discovered 
as much as if Leif Ericson or the whole race of 
Northmen had never existed. 

"As these pre-Columbian voyages produced no 
effect in the Eastern hemisphere except to leave in 
Icelandic literature a scanty but interesting record, 
so in the Western hemisphere they seem to have 
produced no effect beyond cutting down a few trees 
and killing a few Indians. In the outlying world of 
Greenland, it is not improbable that the blood of 
the Eskimos may have received some slight Scan- 
dinavian infusion. But upon the aboriginal world 
of the red men, from Davis Strait to Cape Horn, 
it is not likely that any impression of any sort was 
ever made. It is in the highest degree probable that 
Leif Ericson and his friends made a few voyages to 
what we now know to have been the coast of America ; 
but it is an abuse of language to say that they ' dis- 
covered' America. In no sense was any real con- 
tact established between the eastern and western 
halves of our planet until the great voyage of Co- 
lumbus in 1492." 

With the discoveries of the Northmen disposed 
of, Fiske paused in his narrative to consider the 
condition of European society during the closing 
half of the fifteenth and the opening of the sixteenth 
century, when the spirit of Renaissance enquiry was 
impelling the human mind to seek in every direc- 
tion for the truths relating to human existence. 


John Fiske 

At this period the configuration of the earth's sur- 
face, man's place of abode, only partially revealed 
in the very limited geographical knowledge of the 
time, was a practical question of supreme impor- 
tance by reason of the serious interruption to the 
intercourse between Europe and Asia, owing to 
the ruthless depredations of the Ottomans upon the 
inter-continental commerce of the Mediterranean. 
In a chapter entitled " Europe and Cathay," re- 
plete with well-digested learning, Fiske sketched 
in broad outlines the nature and extent of this Eu- 
ropean-Asiatic intercourse from classic times down 
to its serious interruption by the Ottoman power in 
the latter half of the fifteenth century. The chap- 
ter contains a fine appreciation of Marco Polo's 
account of his wonderful journey to Asia in the 
thirteenth century: 

"One of the most famous and important books 
of the Middle Ages. It contributed more new facts 
toward a knowledge of the earth's surface than any 
book that had ever been written. Its author was 
the first traveller to trace a route across the whole 
longitude of Asia, the first to describe China in its 
vastness with its immense cities, its manufactures 
and wealth, and to tell, whether from personal ex- 
perience, or direct hearsay, of Thibet and Burmah, 
of Siam and Cochin China, of the Indian Archipel- 
ago with its islands of spices, of Java and Sumatra 
and the savages of Andaman." 

The chapter closes with the following summing- 
up of the geographical problem then presented: 


Europe and Cathay 

"Could there be such a thing as an 'outside 
route' to that land of promise? A more startling 
question has seldom been propounded; for it in- 
volved a radical departure from the grooves in which 
the human mind had been running ever since the 
days of Solomon. Two generations of men lived and 
died while this question was taking shape, and all 
that time Cathay and India and the islands of spices 
were objects of increasing desire, clothed by eager 
fancy with all manner of charms and riches. The 
more effectually the eastern Mediterranean was 
closed, the stronger grew the impulse to venture 
upon unknown paths in order to realize the vague 
but glorious hopes that began to cluster about those 
remote countries. Such an era of romantic enter- 
prise as was thus ushered in, the world has never 
seen before or since. It was equally remarkable as 
an era of discipline in scientific thinking. In the 
maritime ventures of unparalleled boldness then 
undertaken the human mind was groping toward 
the era of enormous extensions of knowledge in 
space and time represented by the names of New- 
ton and Darwin. It was learning the right way of 
putting its trust in the Unseen." 

Fiske gives an account of prehistoric America, 
and shows that its existence was wholly unknown to 
the peoples of Europe before the closing years of 
the fifteenth century. He then also tells of the 
long-continued intercourse between Europe and 
Asia over inland routes and the interruptions to this 
intercourse by the increasing depredations of the 
Ottoman power in the Mediterranean, accompanied 


John Fiske 

by speculations regarding a sea route from Europe 
to Asia. Then, discarding present knowledge of 
the sphericity of the earth and ideas derived from 
the modern map, he sought to put himself back 
into the latter half of the fifteenth century and the 
opening of the sixteenth, when European society 
was struggling with the problem of an outside or 
sea route to India and the islands of spices. This 
gave a proper vantage-ground from which to trace in 
the sequence of events the unfolding of the mighty 
drama which yielded a new world of far greater 
import to the well-being of mankind than was in- 
volved in the discovery of any new route to India. 

Placing himself thus, he found widely prevalent 
speculative ideas regarding the rotundity of the 
earth derived from the ancient Greek and Latin 
writers, and the profound practical question, "How 
to outwit the wily Saracen in his depredations upon 
Christian Commerce in the Mediterranean/' If 
the rotundity of the earth was a geographical truth, 
there must be, it was argued, a sea route to India 
either by skirting the Atlantic coast of Africa or 
plunging boldly westward across the Atlantic 
perhaps by both. 

Fiske makes it clear how completely ideas of a 
sea route to India possessed the minds of the bold 
navigators of Italy, Spain, and Portugal at this 
time, and how limited was their knowledge of the 
Atlantic, or "Sea of Darkness," as it was called. He 
also shows how ill-equipped these navigators were 


A Sea Route to India 

for the necessary voyages into the great unknown, 
with their small vessels, limited supplies of food, 
imperfect instruments of navigation, the preva- 
lence of scurvy, and superstitious, mutinous crews. 

First he directed attention to the eastern route, 
and sketched the voyages of the Portuguese along 
the African coast, from the time of Prince Hen- 
ry's navigators in 1425, to the memorable voyage 
of Bartholomew Diaz, in 1486-87, by which, al- 
though unknown at the time, the southern point of 
Africa was turned and the way to the Indian Ocean 
was opened. On this voyage Diaz had for shipmate 
an enthusiastic Italian mariner, Bartholomew Co- 
lumbus, the younger brother of Christopher Colum- 
bus. Fiske next gave attention to the proposed 
western route directly across the Atlantic, a route 
which had its embodiment in the life of Columbus, 
and the exploitation of which was undertaken under 
the auspices of Spain. 

I need not dwell upon Fiske's treatment of the 
well-known story of the life of Columbus, his cor- 
respondence with the eminent astronomer and cos- 
mographer, Toscanelli, of Florence, his bearing the 
burden of his great idea for years in spite of all ob- 
stacles, his several voyages, the honors and the in- 
sults he received, and at his death passing away 
without the slightest conception of the great service 
he had done mankind. Fiske's sketch of Columbus 
is a fine example of historic portraiture, presenting 
a man with a high-tempered soul animated with 


John Fiske 

a purpose that no obstacles could daunt; intrin- 
sically honest, and imbued, in behalf of the Church, 
with the missionary spirit of the time; and at the 
same time reflecting the sordid environment that 
surrounded Columbus, and which could not appre- 
ciate the nature or the magnitude of his services to 
the Spanish Crown. After giving the narrative of 
the first voyage, Fiske well says : 

"Nobody had the faintest suspicion of what had 
been done. In the famous letter [from Columbus] 
to Santangel there is of course not a word about 
a New World. The grandeur of the achievement 
was quite beyond the ken of the generation that 
witnessed it. For we have since come to learn that 
in 1492 the contact between the eastern and western 
halves of our planet was first really begun, and the 
two streams of human life which had flowed on for 
countless ages apart were thenceforth to mingle 
together. The first voyage of Columbus is thus a 
unique event in the history of mankind. Nothing 
like it was ever done before, and nothing like it can 
ever be done again. No worlds are left for a future 
Columbus to conquer. The era of which this great 
Italian mariner was the most illustrious representa- 
tive has closed forever." 

Columbus died without knowing what he had 
accomplished. Although bewildered by the strange 
coasts and the still stranger inhabitants he had 
found, he firmly believed that he had discovered a 
new route to the Indies. The fact that he had dis- 
covered a new world wholly unknown to the Euro- 


Americus Vespucius 

pean mind was as little understood by the con- 
temporaries of Columbus as by Columbus himself. 
One of the most interesting chapters in Fiske's 
work is the one entitled " Novus Mundus," wherein 
he brings out with great clearness the fact that the 
discovery of America, of a new world, was a growth 
of two centuries, the outcome of ever-widening 
knowledge of the earth's surface. 

This chapter has also two other particularly 
noteworthy features: the vindication by Fiske of 
Americus Vespucius, and the graphic account of 
the wonderful voyage of Magellan in circumnavi- 
gating the world the greatest feat of navigation 
that has ever been performed, and nothing could be 
imagined that would surpass it except a journey to 
some other planet. Americus Vespucius, Fiske found 
under severe condemnation in several quarters. So 
careful a writer as Emerson speaks of him thus: 

" Strange, . . . that broad America must wear 
the name of a thief. Amerigo Vespucci, the pickle- 
dealer at Seville, who went out, in 1499, a subal- 
tern with Hojeda, and whose highest naval rank 
was boatswain's mate in an expedition that never 
sailed, managed in this lying world to supplant 
Columbus and baptize half the earth with his own 
dishonest name." 1 

Fiske carefully reviewed all the evidence bearing 
upon Vespucius, his character, his voyages, and his 
letters, and completely vindicated him as a man of 

1 English Traits (Riverside Edition), p. 148. 

John Fiske 

honor, as one of the most skilful navigators of the 
time, and as wholly free from any attempt to foist 
his name upon the newly discovered lands. In fact, 
Fiske made it clear that by placing one's self back 
in this stirring time of world -exploration and trac- 
ing the sequence of events, as they appeared to 
participators and contemporaries, it was evident 
that the naming of the newly discovered lands 
"America" was not the work of any one person, 
but was in itself a process of development. 

In the chapters given to the conquests of Mexico 
and Peru, we have the story of these memorable 
episodes in the discovery of the new world impar- 
tially retold, by a skilful narrator deeply inter- 
ested in the phases of human life developed by the 
earliest contact of peoples representing the highest 
civilizations of the two hemispheres, each hitherto 
ignorant of the other, and each marvellously 
affected by the other. It is not likely that the 
Spaniards, when they first set foot upon the soil 
of Mexico and Peru, had ever imagined anything 
stranger than the things they found there. It is 
evident, moreover, that the native inhabitants 
were greatly overawed by the appearance of the 
newcomers, with their ships, their animals, and 
their weapons of warfare. The three chapters in 
which the main features of these conquests are set 
forth are full of interest, and at the same time re- 
plete with evidences of much study into the prob- 
lems of man's varying civilizations, with deep 


Appreciation of Las Casas 

thinking thereupon. One thing is particularly no- 
ticeable and adds to the historic value of these 
chapters: they are not written from the moral stand- 
ard or viewpoint of to-day, but from that of the 
first half of the sixteenth century, when all Span- 
ish explorers were imbued with the idea that above 
all other considerations they were missionaries of 
the Cross to the heathen, the bearers of the news of 
salvation were in fact extending the dominion 
of the Church of Christ. 

In a chapter given to Las Casas, Fiske turned a 
little aside from his general theme to do an act of 
historic justice to the noblest character that bore 
a prominent hand in this great epoch of discovery 
and advancing civilization. It is not necessary to 
recount the great services of Las Casas in opposi- 
tion to slavery and in behalf of human liberty as 
well as in the promotion of ethical conduct among 
men. His life forms a part of the imperishable 
record of the time; and in no other chapter that 
Fiske has written do the qualities of his own mind, 
his tolerance and his appreciation of uprightness of 
character, show to better advantage than in this. 
Himself a scientific theist and a vigorous opponent 
of Catholic dogma and intolerance, his mind was 
so broad, and his insight so keen, that underneath 
all the ecclesiastical wrappings that enshrouded the 
mind of Las Casas, Fiske saw the noble soul within 
and sought to do it justice. The chapter closes 
with the following fine appreciation: 


John Fiske 

1 'In contemplating such a life as that of Las 
Casas, all words of eulogy seem weak and frivolous. 
The historian can only bow in reverent awe before 
a figure which is in some respects the most beauti- 
ful and sublime in the annals of Christianity, since 
the Apostolic age. When now and then in the 
course of the centuries God's providence brings 
such a life into this world, the memory of it must 
be cherished by mankind as one of its most pre- 
cious and sacred possessions. For the thoughts, 
the words, the deeds of such a man there is no 
death. The sphere of their influence goes on wid- 
ening for ever. They bud, they blossom, they bear 
fruit from age to age." 

Phillips Brooks, after reading this chapter on 
Las Casas expressed the following opinion: "The 
chapter on Las Casas in Fiske's 'Discovery of 
America' is the finest piece of historical narrative 
in the English language." 

The sixteenth century opened upon this great 
epoch of maritime exploration, with Columbus 
and his followers and successors skirting among 
what we now know as the West Indies and along 
the eastern coast of Central and South America, 
endeavoring to reconcile their discoveries with their 
preconceived ideas of India, China, and Japan. With 
the voyage of Magellan and the conquests of Mex- 
ico and Peru, the vast continent of South Amer- 
ica had, by 1540, been quite distinctly delimited, 
although it had not yet been detached in men's 
minds from the continent of Asia, which was con- 


Maritime Exploration 

ceived as extending over vast regions to the west 
and the northwest. The maps constructed during 
this period are an interesting record of the steady 
growth of geographical knowledge, mingled with 
the quaint conceits of their makers. Indeed, the 
discovery of the continent of North America had 
yet to be made before the true import of the voy- 
age of Columbus in 1492 could be perceived. This 
discovery of the North American continent, with 
its final delimitation from the continent of Asia, 
was the work of two centuries. It may be said to 
have begun with the expeditions of Ponce de Leon 
to Florida, in 1513-21, and to have ended with the 
expedition of Vitus Bering in 1728, the last an ex- 
pedition which yielded a positive knowledge of the 
narrow strait which separates the two continents, 
and which bears the name of its discoverer. Thus 
was broken the last link connecting in men's minds 
the old world with the new. 

Fiske devotes the closing chapter of his work to 
a survey of the discoveries during these two cen- 
turies, with France and England engaged in the 
work. He brings out with great clearness how dur- 
ing this period maritime supremacy and the lead 
in colonial enterprise had been transferred from 
Spain and Portugal to France and England. He 
truly says : 

"Our story impresses upon us quite forcibly the 
fact that the work of discovery has been a gradual 
and orderly development. Such must necessarily 

John Fiske 

be the case. The Discovery of America may be 
regarded in one sense as a unique event, but it must 
also be regarded as a long and multifarious proc- 
ess. The unique event was the Crossing of the Sea 
of Darkness in 1491. It established a true and per- 
manent contact between the eastern and western 
halves of our planet, and brought together the two 
streams of human life that had flowed in separate 
channels ever since the Glacial period. No inge- 
nuity of argument can take from Columbus the 
glory of an achievement which has, and can have 
no parallel in the whole career of mankind. It was 
a thing that could be done but once." 

At the close of this period of external discovery 
France appears as the dominating power in North 
America by virtue of her interior possessions ex- 
tending from the St. Lawrence through the Great 
Lakes and down the Mississippi River to the Gulf 
of Mexico. But this dominance was soon to pass 
into the hands of Great Britain, by the crowning 
victory of Wolfe at Quebec the turning-point 
in modern history. Fiske closed his work with the 
following tribute to the colonizing and nation-mak- 
ing power of the English race, whose achievements 
in these directions are to be presented in the suc- 
ceeding volumes of this history: 

"Wherever, in any of the regions open to colo- 
nization, this race has come into competition with 
other European races, it has either vanquished or 
absorbed them, always proving its superior capac- 
ity. Sometimes the contest has assumed the form 
of strife between a civilization based upon whole- 


Dedication to E. A. Freeman 

some private enterprise and a civilization based 
upon government patronage. Such was the form 
of the seventy years' conflict that came to a final 
decision upon the Heights of Abraham, and not the 
least interesting circumstance connected with the 
discovery of this broad continent is the fact that 
the struggle for the possession of it has revealed 
the superior vitality of institutions and methods 
that first came to maturity in England, and now 
seem destined to shape the future of the world. " 

Fiske was nearly two years writing "The Dis- 
covery of America/' He finished his manuscript 
November 14, 1891, and we have the record of his 
researches and the steady progress of his composi- 
tion from the beginning to the end. He made care- 
ful studies of original documents and authorities 
on all disputed points. There was very little re- 
modelling of the text as it flowed from his pen. In 
fact, the printers were close on his heels all the 
way through, which is evidence that he started 
with a very definite plan in his mind. 

The work was published in the spring of 1892, 
and its publication was a fitting commemoration 
of the four hundredth anniversary of the voyage 
of Columbus. It bore the following dedication to 
England's great historian: 









John Fiske 

And how was the work received? There can be 
no doubt on this point: it was received with great 
applause. The wide and accurate learning con- 
spicuous on every page, the rational consideration 
given to disputed points in the narrative, and the 
judicial fairness with which judgment was ren- 
dered regarding them, above all, the fine historic 
insight and ripe scholarship displayed in uniting 
the discovery of America with the other world- 
movements of the time, could not but impress in- 
telligent readers with the fact that a historic work 
of the first importance had been produced in 
America itself. 

Among the many appreciations the work re- 
ceived, I find two which may be regarded as rep- 
resentative of the highest critical judgment be- 
stowed upon it. The one is a lengthy review of the 
work in the "New York Sun," written by Mayo 
W. Hazeltine, a literary critic who possessed an 
exceptionally fine knowledge of Spanish literature, 
and who was especially well versed in the facts of 
Spanish-American history. The following extracts 
from Mr. Hazel tine's article give his judgment upon 
the general character and value of the work: 

" What will invest this book with a strange charm 
for the general reader is the fact that there is not 
one of its twelve chapters in which the author, 
though he evinces no proclivities to paradox, does 
not arrive at conclusions more or less divergent 
from the commonly received opinions, so that the 


Value of the Work 

work gains from its treatment something of the 
same fascination of novelty which the subject had 
for the contemporaries of Columbus. Where the 
statements and deductions made by preceding his- 
torians are reaffirmed, it is always plain that the 
evidence has been subjected to independent scru- 
tiny, and often confirmatory testimony is added. 

"When we bear in mind the scope of this narra- 
tive and the multitude of details which the author 
is led to touch, the accuracy exhibited is surprising, 
not to say amazing! We have scrutinized the book 
from the first page to the last, and with the delib- 
erate purpose of detecting mistakes if we could - 
especially in references to the history of Spain 
with which we happen to be somewhat conversant, 
we supposed that a slip might be discernible. We 
have been unable to discover a single inadvertence, 
much less a distinct misstatement of facts. A 
dozen minor errors, had they been disclosed, would 
not have availed to efface or even cloud the general 
impression of exactitude. Homer sometimes nods, 
but in this instance, so far as we can see, there is 
no deduction to be made on the score of momen- 
tary negligence. 

"We do not hesitate to pronounce this book 
and we speak with a distinct recognition of our in- 
debtedness to Bancroft and Prescott the most 
valuable contribution to history that has been 
made by an American. It is a book of which the 
author's countrymen may well be proud, whether 
they consider the range and variety of the topics 
discussed, or the patience, sagacity, and thorough- 
ness with which each branch of enquiry is pursued, 
or the clearness and soundness of the judgments 


John Fiske 

ultimately reached. Viewed as it should be, with 
due heed to all that went before and after, the dis- 
covery of America is a theme which might well 
tax the attainments and the energies of a score of 
collaborators, each working in his special province. 
That the whole of its vast significance should have 
been brought out by one man with scientific accu- 
racy and with artistic vividness seems to us a very 
great achievement." 

The other appreciation mentioned is from Charles 
Eliot Norton, who, by his wide learning and his 
rare independence of thought, held a foremost place 
among the critical writers of the last half-century. 
Norton's appreciation was expressed in the follow- 
ing note: 

SHADY HILL, 6 April, 1892. 
My dear Mr. Fiske: 

You have given me a great pleasure in sending 
me a copy of your volumes on "The Discovery of 
America," and I thank you for it. I should value 
any gift from you as a token of regard and re- 
membrance, but I value this book also for its own 
sake. I am reading it with great interest, instruc- 
tion, and admiration. It takes rank at once as the 
best book on the subject, and it seems likely to 
hold this place permanently. For breadth of view, 
for intelligent marshalling of the facts, and vivid 
presentation of them, for abundance of learning 
easily held in hand for mastery, in fine, the 
book is without a rival in the field ! 

It reminds me pleasantly of the days, so long 
ago, when I sought your aid to make the "North 


Letter from C. E. Norton 

American " better than it had been; when I went 
to see you (at Miss Upham's) recovering from ill- 
ness. How much you have done since then to jus- 
tify my prognostications! 

I heartily congratulate you, and remain, with 
renewed thanks, 

Sincerely yours, 





FISKE was now subjected to an interruption of 
three years, 1892-94, in the working-out of his 
historic scheme. This interruption was occasioned 
by the demands upon him arising from a previous 
engagement to write the life of his friend Dr. Ed- 
ward L. Youmans, his co-worker in promoting the 
doctrine of Evolution, from the request of his pub- 
lishers to prepare a "History of the United States 
for Schools," and from a greatly increased call for 
his historic lectures and for memorial addresses as 
well as critical tributes to some of his co-workers 
in the historic field. 

Edward L. Youmans, whose great interest in the 
spread of scientific education and in the propaga- 
tion of the doctrine of Evolution we have seen, 
died in January, 1887. He had expressed the wish 
that in case a record of his life should be prepared, 
it should be written by Fiske, and Fiske had agreed 


Columbia River Centennial 

to undertake the task provided the materials could 
all be gathered and arranged ready to his hand. 
The work of gathering the materials was done by 
Youmans's sister, Miss Eliza A. Youmans. 

To this work Fiske gave a good portion of his 
spare time during the years 1892 and 1893. It was 
a task he carried about with him on his lecture 
campaigns, and his diaries reveal many a day in- 
tervening between lecture engagements given to 
setting forth .the many and great services of his 
friend in behalf of public enlightenment on the 
great questions of man's social and political well- 
being and depicting the many fine characteristics 
which made up his rare, inspiring personality. 

The centennial anniversary of the discovery and 
naming of the Columbia River would occur May 
n, 1892, and it was proposed by the people of 
Oregon to hold on this anniversary, at Astoria, a 
celebration commemorative of the event. Fiske's 
" Disco very of America " marked him as preemi- 
nently the orator for the occasion. Accordingly, he 
received a cordial invitation to deliver "the spoken 
word." There was much in this invitation that ap- 
pealed to him. He was familiar with the history of 
the discovery of the great river and the vast terri- 
tory it drained, and its discovery stood out in his 
mind as the last of those great achievements, which, 
beginning with the voyage of Columbus in 1492, 
had, during three centuries of maritime adventure 
and internal exploration which followed, yielded 


John Fiske 

substantially an accurate geographical knowledge of 
the continent of North America. The occasion was, 
therefore, of great historic interest to him. And 
there were other interests beside. We have already 
seen how profoundly he had been impressed by 
the scenic beauties of the region of the Columbia, 
and that from his own observations he was cogni- 
zant of the fact that during the period of his own 
life the whole territory had been transformed, from 
a wilderness inhabited by savages, into a region 
filled with thriving cities and happy homesteads 
into the seat of three imperial Commonwealths. 
He longed, therefore, to look into the faces of the 
pioneers, the men and women who in their own 
lives had wrought so much for humanity ; he longed 
to take part in a celebration not only commemora- 
tive of a great historic event, but which was also 
illustrative of the signal social and political progress 
going on right about us in our own day. 

But could he arrange his lecture engagements 
so as to admit an acceptance of the Astoria invita- 
tion? This came as a practical question immediately 
his " Discovery of America" was off his hands. He 
found but little difficulty in arranging a series of 
engagements directly helpful to the end in view. 
First, he arranged a series of engagements which, 
beginning at Albany, ran consecutively westward 
through Buffalo, Toledo, Chicago, St. Paul, Minne- 
apolis, Omaha, to Denver. From thence he struck 
directly for the Pacific Coast and found the people 


Celebration at Astoria 

of San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Portland, 
Salem, Tacoma, Olympia, Seattle, and other towns, 
only too happy to have him with them again; and 
they gladly took all the lectures he could give. 

Fiske set out on this trip February 15, 1892, and 
met with his usual successes in the Eastern cities. 
He reached San Francisco April 6, and was as de- 
lighted with the general aspect of nature on the 
Pacific Coast, and with the people, as during his 
previous visit of 1887. His lectures kept him pretty 
busy, yet he received many social courtesies, where 
he gave as well as received pleasure through his 
ever ready willingness to sing whenever he could 
have a good accompanist. In San Francisco he 
gave an afternoon talk on Schubert which he illus- 
trated by singing several of Schubert's songs. He 
was made at home in the families of the Reverend 
Dr. Stebbins, of San Francisco, and the Reverend 
Dr. Eliot, of Portland, and for each of these clergy- 
men he preached his religious sermon on the " Mys- 
tery of Evil." 

The celebration at Astoria was a memorable 
event. Representatives of the three States of Ore- 
gon, Washington, and Idaho participated, and spe- 
cial honors were bestowed upon the Oregon pioneers 
of fifty years before. The exercises lasted three days. 
Fiske was received with conspicuous honor. As he 
rose to speak he saw before him many white heads 
whose active lives measured the period of trans- 
formation of this vast region of the Columbia from 


John Fiske 

a wilderness to populous States representing the 
finest types of citizenship surrounded with all the 
amenities of modern civilization. His address was 
in his best style. He sketched in broad outlines the 
early explorations of the Spanish, Russian, and 
English navigators along the Pacific Coast of our 
continent, seeking safe harbors or passages to the 
Atlantic, down to the voyage of the American sea- 
man, Captain Robert Gray, of Boston, who in 1792, 
in the good ship Columbia, appeared on this coast; 
and, braving the great turmoil of waters that had 
frightened away all other mariners, passed for the 
first time into what proved to be the mouth of a 
great river, a river which he named the Columbia, 
thus establishing the American title to the territory 
by external discovery. 

Fiske then turned to the events which led to the 
discovery of the territory from the interior the 
Louisiana Purchase from France by Jefferson in 
1803, which carried the title of the United States to 
the territory lying between the Mississippi River 
and the crest of the Rocky Mountains; followed by 
the Lewis and Clarke exploring expedition, which, 
starting from St. Louis in 1806, struck the upper 
waters of the Snake River, which were traced to 
their junction with the Columbia, and then the 
Columbia was traced to its mouth thus add- 
ing internal to external discovery in behalf of the 
United States. 

But, as the title of this vast northwest territory 


His Address at Astoria 

was by the logic of events^being settled in favor of 
the United States, there came the War of 1812 
with Great Britain, which at its close left the title 
to all the territory west of the Rocky Mountains 
in dispute between the two governments. This 
complication was greatly aggravated by the claims 
of the Hudson's Bay Company, a powerful British 
corporation, which held a monopoly of the fur trade . 
in all the region of the Northwest subject to Great 
Britain. The outcome was a temporary agree- 
ment for a joint occupation of the territory open 
to the citizens of both Governments. Under this 
agreement the immigration from the States greatly 
predominated; and, after the great immigration of 
1843-46 title to the territory by occupation as well 
as by discovery had clearly passed to the United 
States. Accordingly, when, by the treaty of 1846 
between the two Governments, the great territory 
was amicably divided, there was no difficulty in se- 
curing for the United States the region drained by 
the Columbia, which has yielded the goodly States 
of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as the 
section which rounds out the contour of Mon- 

The presentation of these points in their sequen- 
tial order was a fine example of historic narration. 
The great migration into the territory of 1843 was 
graphically told ; while the diplomatic negotiations 
between the United States and Great Britain, with 
reference to the boundary line between the Oregon 


John Fiske 

territory and Canada, which were terminated by 
the treaty of 1846, were very lucidly set forth. 
The address closed with this fine peroration: 

"Perhaps no one who has not visited this glo- 
rious country can adequately feel the significance 
of these beginnings of its history. When one has 
spent some little time in this climate unsurpassed in 
all America, and looked with loving eyes upon scen- 
ery rivalling that of Italy and Switzerland; when 
one has sufficiently admired the purple mountain 
ranges, the snow-clad peaks, the green and smiling 
valleys, the giant forests; when one has marvelled 
at the multifarious and boundless economic re- 
sources, and realizes how all this has been made 
a part of our common heritage as Americans, one 
feels that this latest chapter in the discovery and 
occupation of our continent is by no means the least 
important. All honor to the sagacious mariner who 
first sailed upon these waters a century ago! and 
all honor to the brave pioneers whose labors and 
sufferings crowned the work! Through long ages to 
come theirs shall be a sweet and shining memory/ 1 

This visit to the Pacific coast roused a strong 
desire in Fiske's mind to visit Alaska and get a 
glimpse at our new territorial possessions as well 
as at the incipient social and political order there 
developing. He found that he could make the 
round trip of about three weeks from Tacoma to 
Juneau and Glacier Bay, thence back to Vancouver, 
where he could take the train home via the Cana- 
dian Pacific Railroad. Feeling the need of some 


Trip to Alaska 

absolute mental rest after a steady pull of five 
months' lecturing, he decided to make the excur- 
sion. He had a few more lectures to give in Port- 
land, Tacoma, and Seattle, after his Astoria address. 
These were soon off his hands, and on May 26, 1892, 
he set sail from Tacoma on the steamer City of 
Topeka for Alaska. 

As he had no means of sending letters during this 
trip he wrote none. His notes in his diaries are con- 
fined to brief mentions of the wonderful scenery 
and the forbidding aspects of much of the social life 
that he saw, and to some mishaps he encountered 
on his way through Canada. He brought back to 
Mrs. Fiske a large collection of photographs which 
he said must be his memorial of a region possessing 
great potentialities for future development. 

He reached his home in Cambridge June 22, 1892, 
as he records, with only one cent in his pocket, 
after an absence of a little over four months, during 
which period he had lectured seventy-five times on 
historic themes, had given two addresses on the 
doctrine of Evolution, had given two Schubert en- 
tertainments illustrating the development of mod- 
ern song, and had preached from six pulpits his 
philosophico-religious sermon, "The Mystery of 
Evil." As all his utterances were inspired by the 
highest ideals, and as in all instances his appear- 
ance called forth large and enthusiastic audiences 
followed by much public discussion by the press, it 
will be readily seen from this lecture campaign alone 


John Fiske 

that he was a great influence in setting forth to his 
countrymen the nature of Anglo-American civili- 
zation and its import to the well-being of mankind. 

For the ensuing two and a half years Fiske's work 
was of a varied character. His lecturing took up 
the greater part of the time from November to May 
of each year, leaving but irregular intervals for 
literary composition. Then, too, the calls upon him 
for memorial addresses and for review articles were 
far beyond what he could respond to. During this 
period, however, there were some calls that he could 
not well refuse. On the four hundredth anniversary 
of the Discovery of America October 21, 1892 
the City of Boston held an elaborate order of exer- 
cises commemorative of the event. Fiske was the 
orator of the occasion, and gave a very lucid ac- 
count of the historic events which led to the voyage 
of Columbus, of the voyage itself, how Columbus 
died not knowing what he had discovered, and how 
the new world he had found came to be named 

During this period he wrote two critical articles 
of very exceptional merit; one on Edward A. Free- 
man, the eminent English historian, and the other 
on Francis Parkman, the historian of the French 
domination in America. These two articles are 
among the best of Fiske's critical essays. Not only 
is fine appreciation meted out to these Iwo eminent 
historians of his own day, but the reader is also led 
to see the principles which should govern in historic 


Invited to Lecture in Oxford 

narration, principles which are well illustrated in his 
own work, indeed, in his judicious praise of Park- 
man, the attentive reader feels that similar praise 
can be bestowed upon his own work. 

Among the many calls upon him during this 
period for special lectures, he received one from the 
Department of University Extension of the Univer- 
sity of Oxford, which was indeed flattering in its 
nature. It was as follows: 


OXFORD, March 20, 1894. 
Dear Sir: 

At the next summer meeting of University Exten- 
sion students, which will be held in Oxford during 
next August, the chief series of lectures will be upon 
the history of the seventeenth century. Among 
other lectures, we are specially anxious to have a 
short course of three or four on the Pilgrim Fathers, 
and The Making of New England. The members 
of the University Extension Delegacy desire me to 
convey to you a very cordial invitation to deliver 
this course, if it is possible for you to be in England 
during the first three weeks in August. They feel 
that there is no one in the world, whom our English 
students would so much like to hear on this subject 
as yourself. If you could possibly come it would 
be the greatest delight to them, and to us. 

Your presence would also further that desire for 
the strengthening of the inter-national side of Uni- 
versity life which has been gaining ground in recent 
years in Oxford and Cambridge. We are specially 
anxious that there should be more intimacy be- 


John Fiske 

tween the American and English Universities, and 
your presence at our summer meeting, which is at- 
tended by a thousand students from all parts of 
the country, would carry with it a significance 
which would have a great effect. Should you happily 
be able to accede to the request of the Delegacy, 
they would desire to have you entirely free in point 
of subject, and would gladly consult your con- 
venience as to the day and hour of the lecture. 
But, failing other preference on your part, the 
evenings of August I7th, i8th, and 2Oth (Friday, 
Saturday, and Monday) or, the mornings of August 
I3th, I4th, and I5th, would be the most suitable. 
The last named dates would fall within the period 
of the British Association meeting at Oxford, when 
a great number of scientific men will be in residence. 
It would be very pleasant if your visit were to co- 
incide with theirs. 

Believe me, 

Faithfully yours, 



It was with profound regret that Fiske was 
obliged to decline this invitation. 

The year 1894 brought him signal collegiate 
honors. The University of Pennsylvania, at its Com- 
mencement, June 5, bestowed [upon him the de- 
grees of M.A., LL.B., and Litt.D., while Harvard 
University, at its Commencement, June 27 follow- 
ing, conferred upon him the degrees of Litt.D. and 
LL.D. To be thus honored, and especially by his 


Collegiate Honors 

Alma Mater, was particularly gratifying to him. 
He was present at both Universities, when the 
honors were bestowed, and the marked expressions 
of approval, from the two bodies of alumni when 
the honors were announced, were quite overwhelm- 

With all his multifarious activities connected with 
his social life, his lecturing, his essay writing, etc., 
during these two and a half years, Fiske had two 
pieces of solid literary work, ever ready to his hand, 
and demanding every available moment of his time: 
his "Life" of his friend Youmans, and a short 
school history of the United States. 

His work on the former extended over the years 
1892-93. He was somewhat delayed in finishing it 
owing to the desirability of having the approval of 
Herbert Spencer on certain points. The work was 
published early in 1894, with the following appro- 
priate dedication : 


My dear Spencer: 

It was thirty years ago this month that our personal 
acquaintance began in so far as the exchange of letters could 
make such a beginning. It was at the time of my first visit 
to Voumans, in this very street, and within a stone's throw 
from where I now sit writing; and as the last of this memorial 
volume goes hence to the press, recollections of days that 
can never come again crowd thickly upon me. Our friend 
expressed a wish that if his biography were to be written I 
should be the one to do it; no sign from him is needed to 
assure me that he would have been glad to have me dedi- 
cate it to you. Pray accept the book, my dear Spencer, with 


John Fiske 

all its imperfections, in token of the long friendship we have 
shared with each other, and with him, who has gone from us ; 
and believe me, as always, 

Faithfully yours, 

February 12, 1894. 

A natural outcome of Fiske's lectures, his maga- 
zine articles, and his published volumes was a wide- 
spread interest in American history. His way of 
looking at human history as a process of evolution- 
ary development, the outcome of causes having 
their origin in the conditions of human life, com- 
bined with his great power of individual characteri- 
zation and his simple, easy-flowing style of narra- 
tion, made a great impression upon educators, and 
there came a persistent call upon his publishers for 
a short history of the United States written by him 
and adapted to pupils in the upper grades of the 
grammar schools. 

Fiske gave the project of a school history much 
consideration on his lecture excursions during the 
year 1892. His railway travelling gave him frequent 
opportunities for what he called " framing his 
thought" for literary projects as well as for direct 
literary composition. His knowledge was so thor- 
oughly organized in his mind and his memory was 
so tenacious of details that he could easily think 
out a literary proposition in all its elements before 
putting pen to paper. In the matter of composition, 
he was so accustomed to think without paper that 


Short History for Schools 

some of the finest passages in his writings were 
fully composed while he was being whirled physi- 
cally over the country. 

Illustrative of his habit of mental projection I 
remember once taking a train from Rochester to 
Buffalo, and finding him at one end of the car appar- 
ently dozing. Upon being gently touched, he roused 
quickly, and to my enquiry if he was resting, he 
said: "Oh, no, I was at work on an article for the 
'Atlantic Monthly'!" Not observing any writing 
materials, I said: "But you don't seem to have 
made much progress!" "Oh, yes, I have!" he re- 
plied. Then he added: " I can compose my thought 
as well here as anywhere else; and when I reach 
Brother Head's, at Chicago, all I '11 have to do will 
be to spin out my thought on paper." 

The preparation of a history of the United States 
which should present in one small volume the story 
of the discovery of America, the colonization of 
North America, the Revolutionary War, and the 
establishment of our Federal Union, a story which 
should be written in a style to interest young 
people and at the same time be adapted for use as 
a textbook in schools, was certainly a literary task 
very different from anything Fiske had hitherto 
undertaken. It presented many serious difficulties. 
In the first place, there was the great difficulty of 
attempting to squeeze the narrative of four centu- 
ries of stirring events within the prescribed limits 
without making the story dull. Then, again, so 


John Fiske 

much compression would require the wisest selec- 
tion of details and their proper grouping in order 
to bring out clearly in the narrative the true rela- 
tions of cause and effect, so that young minds might 
experience the charm that is felt in seeing an event 
emerge naturally from its causes. Mature consid- 
eration of these difficulties, coupled with the fact 
that he was familiar with the whole story, led Fiske 
to the conclusion that they could be surmounted, 
provided the text could be supplemented by sug- 
gestions to teachers as to proper methods of arous- 
ing the interest of pupils in historic subjects. To 
do this adequately, however, would require a defi- 
nite knowledge of school conditions which he did 
not possess. 

This obstacle was overcome by his publishers' 
engaging Dr. Frank A. Hill, an educator of wide 
experience in practical teaching and in school ad- 
ministration, and whose educational ideas were in 
harmony with Fiske's, to assist in preparing the 
work for efficient use in the schools. Some time was 
taken in planning the distinctly educational fea- 
tures of the work. By January, 1893, the general 
plan was completed, and Fiske settled down to the 
composition of the work as his most serious literary 
task for the time being. This took much the greater 
part of his time not given to lecturing during the 
years 1893-94. He found it the most exacting 
literary task he had ever attempted. It was, how- 
ever, a piece of literary and educational work well 


Message from Tennyson 

done; and it has had, and is still having, a great 
influence in public education. 

In January of this year, Fiske received a message 
from Tennyson that was most gratifying to him. In 
Tennyson's poetry, Fiske found much that appealed 
to his highest aspirations. "In Memoriam," and 
"The Two Voices," particularly, with their sweetly 
solemn music, and their complete impregnation with 
the spiritual implications of the doctrine of Evo- 
lution, were ever in his mind, not only as master- 
pieces of literature, but also as harbingers of that 
awakening, through the revelations of science, to 
the immense spiritual realities of human life that 
the coming years would bring. 

This message from Tennyson came in a very 
happy, personal way. Sir Henry Irving began an 
engagement in Boston at this time, and, as was his 
custom, he sent tickets to Fiske and his family for 
the opening night. On reaching the theatre, Fiske 
was met by Mr. Bram Stoker, Sir Henry's manager, 
a gentleman of fine literary and artistic culture, who 
said : 

"Fiske, I have a special message for you from 
Lord Tennyson. I was visiting him in 1892 at Far- 
ringford, Isle of Wight. Whilst we were talking 
after dinner I happened to mention something in 
your volume on 'American Political Ideas.' Tenny- 
son then enquired in a very interested way: 'Do 
you know John Fiske?' 

"I answered that you were an old and dear 
friend of mine. He then said: 'When you see John 


John Fiske 

Fiske, will you tell him, from me, that I thank him 
most heartily and truly for all the pleasure and 
profit his books have been to me? ' 

" I then said, ' I shall write to him to-morrow, and 
tell him what you have said, and I know it will be 
a great delight to him/ 

"He answered quickly: 'No! Don't write. Wait 
till you see him and then tell him direct from me, 
through you, how much I feel indebted to him/" 

Fiske was, of course, delighted, and immediately 
went after his wife and daughters who had gone 
forward into the theatre, and brought them back to 
have Mr. Stoker repeat the message. In the time 
between the giving of the message and its delivery, 
Lord Tennyson had died, so that it came to Fiske, 
as it were, from the grave. 




WITH the school history off his hands, Fiske was 
enabled to return (with unencumbered mind) to his 
great historic undertaking. His lecturing contin- 
ued, but for lecturing on historic subjects it was not 
necessary for him to prepare any new lectures; he 
was now so familiar with all the important events 
and characters in American history that he could 
speak extempore upon any subject in this history 
that might be desired. As has been noted already, 
he greatly enjoyed extempore speaking. There was 
a freedom about it that he greatly liked, and when 
he came before appreciative and responsive audi- 
ences he frequently let his discourse run beyond the 
customary lecture hour. 

His working out of his school history, notwith- 
standing all the perplexities of adapting it to par- 
ticular conditions, was of great service to him, in 
that he was compelled to traverse his whole historic 
scheme and bring its various features into their 


John Fiske 

sequential order, so that they might appear in their 
interrelatedness and at the same time as forming 
a related chapter in the world's civilization. 

Inasmuch as he was not permitted to complete 
his great historic undertaking, as, in fact, he left 
its culminating feature untouched, it is worth 
while here to pause a little and from this school his- 
tory as a sort of ground plan to gather up in their 
structural unity the several features of the greater 
undertaking upon which he was engaged, which was 
nothing less than presenting to his countrymen the 
drama of American civilization, of which the politi- 
cal organization of the United States was the crown- 
ing feature, as an evolutionary development from 
antecedent causes and of great significance to the 
future civilization of the world. With a compre- 
hension of his purpose in its entirety we shall the 
better be enabled to appreciate the nature of his his- 
toric labors already recorded as well as of those still 
to be set forth. 

His definitive purpose may be stated as an at- 
tempt to establish the unity or interrelated char- 
acter pervading the following five lines of historic 
development during the last five centuries: 

I. That the expansion of European thought dur- 
ing the latter half of the fifteenth century in re- 
gard to the nature and extent of the earth's surface, 
coupled with the desire to bring the products of its 
various divisions within easy access for the needs 
of mankind, together with the desire for empire, led 


Comprehensive Historic Scheme 

in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth cen- 
turies to maritime explorations which resulted in 
the discovery and delimitation of the better part of 
a new world, the world of America. 

II. That the social and political disturbances 
in Europe during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and 
eighteenth centuries together with the desire for 
individual betterment, for civil and religious 
liberty, caused the migration of great numbers of 
people to North America that they might begin life 
anew under entirely new conditions of livelihood, 
and with much readjustment of social, religious, 
and political relations. 

III. That in the struggle for world-empire be- 
tween Spain, France, England, and Holland, dur- 
ing the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth 
centuries, England was the most successful, and 
became possessed, by colonization and by conquest, 
of much the more important part of North Amer- 
ica, a vast territorial empire, the colonization of 
which went rapidly forward mainly by people of 
the English race; that when, in the middle period of 
the eighteenth century, England's colonial empire 
in America was fully established, she attempted, 
during a period of political regression, to subject 
her colonists to forms of colonial vassalage repug- 
nant to their ideas of civil liberty as well as to the 
fundamental principles of English liberty and Eng- 
lish law: whereupon thirteen of her colonies vigor- 
ously protested against her unjust and illegal acts. 

IV. That in the latter half of the eighteenth 
century the people of thirteen of her American 
colonies, English by nature, revolted against her 
unjust encroachments upon their rights and liber- 


John Fiske 

ties and succeeded in dispossessing her of all rights 
in the territory occupied by them, and in establish- 
ing an independent federated government of their 
own, "a government of the people, by the people, 
for the people" the present federated constitu- 
tional government of the United States. 

V. That this federated form of constitutional 
government was the direct outgrowth of English 
ideas of civil and religious liberty developed through 
centuries of violent struggles against political and 
religious oppression in England, ideas which, in 
the rich experiences of colonial life, had ripened to 
complete fruition; that during the century of its 
existence this federated form of constitutional gov- 
ernment had acquired great accessions of territory 
until it reached from the Atlantic to the Pacific ; that 
it had so far proved itself the most successful form 
of political organization yet devised for the well- 
being of human society; that people from all na- 
tions were flocking to it for citizenship, while at the 
same time it was exerting a powerful regenerative 
influence upon all forms of government throughout 
the world. 

Here we have the evidence of a great purpose, 
one much broader than that of giving a faithful 
record of certain historic events of much interest 
in themselves, or of treating certain periods of 
American history as unrelated. We have, rather, 
the evidence of a purpose to present as a sequential 
narrative the causes which led to the discovery of 
America and the transplanting to it of the better 
elements of European civilization, where under en- 


Breadth of View 

tirely new conditions these elements had had a 
fresh development to the great betterment of man- 
kind the whole forming a distinctly related chap- 
ter in the history of the world's civilization. 

Viewed in this light, Fiske's theme had a distinct 
connection with the great uprising of the European 
mind in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when, 
weary of its long bondage to priestly intolerance, 
ignorance, and superstition, it began to assert itself 
against political and religious tyranny in demands 
for nobler interpretations of human life, its duties 
and its meaning all tending to the betterment of 
man's social and political condition here on earth, 
as "that to which the whole creation moves." His 
theme, therefore, was a branch of the great Re- 
naissance movement, and what particularly distin- 
guishes his treatment of it from that of other his- 
torians is the breadth of view in which the theme 
is conceived, a conception which, with rare historic 
insight, enabled him to trace both cause and effect 
in interpreting this great chapter in modern his- 

So much for Fiske's general theme and its struc- 
tural features as these stood related at this time 
1895 in his mind. The opening of this year 
reveals him busy on the second and third divi- 
sions of his theme the colonial period. As this 
period comprised the establishment under widely 
different conditions of fourteen separate colonies, 
which differed more or less in their forms of govern- 


John Fiske 

ment and varied greatly in their industrial pur- 
suits, he grouped them for clearness in presenting 
their interrelatedness and their respective features 
into four divisions: (i) the Southern colonies, Vir- 
ginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia; (2) the 
New England colonies, Massachusetts, New Hamp- 
shire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut; (3) the 
Dutch and Quaker colonies, New York, Pennsyl- 
vania, Delaware, and New Jersey; (4) the French 
colony, New France or Canada. 

The following six years, 1895 to *9Oi, the close 
of his life, were given by Fiske to completing 
his history of these colonies, and he lived to finish 
substantially this section of his task, thus complet- 
ing the first four divisions of his great theme, 
thereby connecting, by the narrative of a rich colo- 
nial experience, which reflected much of contem- 
poraneous European history, the historic sequence 
between the discovery of America and the inaugu- 
ration of Washington as President of the United 
States, an event which signalled the entrance of a 
new nation with essentially a new form of govern- 
ment upon the stage of the world's international 

The following is the order in which the several 
volumes of Fiske's historical writings should be 
taken in order to get the sequential flow of the 
narrative : 

"The Discovery of America." 
"Old Virginia and her Neighbours." 


Order of Historical Writings 

"The Beginnings of New England.'* 

"The Dutch and Quaker Colonies/' 

"New France and New England. " 

"The American Revolution." 

"The Critical Period of American History." 

During the period under review 1895 to 1901 
- the following three portions of the above works 
were published: "Old Virginia and her Neigh- 
bours/' in 1897, "The Dutch and Quaker Colonies," 
in 1899, and "New France and New England," in 

With what thoroughness of research, candid 
weighing of evidence, and profound sympathy, the 
principles of democracy that were here slowly 
evolving were set forth, the volumes are them- 
selves abundant evidence. Their merits have been 
so generally conceded, it is not necessary to con- 
sider them in detail. 

Here should be mentioned the publication, in 
1900, of a course of lectures which were quite inci- 
dental to Fiske's general historic scheme. We have 
seen that in 1886 he prepared a course of lectures, 
illustrated with the aid of the stereopticon, on the 
military campaign in the Mississippi Valley during 
the Civil War down to the battle of Chattanooga. 
These lectures were very popular, and were given 
in many cities from Lewiston, Maine, to Portland, 
Oregon. Now, in 1900, no longer desiring to use 
the material as lectures, he added a graphic ac- 
count of the battle of Nashville, giving due honor 


John Fiske 

to General Thomas, and published the whole in one 
volume under the title of "The Mississippi Valley 
in the Civil War/' Nowhere in Fiske's writings do 
his remarkable powers of lucid description, com- 
bined with keenness of insight and orderly arrange- 
ment of subject-matter, appear to better advantage 
than in this work. In preparing his lectures he had 
the assistance of distinguished officers in the con- 
tending armies and his work has had the cordial 
approval of the best military critics. 

The non-sequential order in which the historic 
volumes were published, and the long intervals 
between some of them, have given rise to the opinion 
that they did not present a continuous narrative 
during the period covered ; that with all their charm 
of style they were detached essays on various 
periods of American history, more or less interre- 
lated, it is true, but without a distinct historic con- 
tinuity running through them. 

This is a great mistake. We have already seen 
that from the beginning Fiske had a very definite 
plan for his undertaking considered as an interre- 
lated whole; but, being enabled to prepare certain 
portions of his narrative out of their sequential 
order in his scheme, he was induced to publish them 
from time to time, knowing full well that, while 
they would answer to a temporary interest in them- 
selves, they would fall into their proper places, 
their sequences, as he brought his undertaking to 
completion. And the reader, taking his historic 


Order of Historical Writings 

volumes in the above order, finds no loss of conti- 
nuity in a narrative running back to the Renais- 
sance period, and in which is reflected much of the 
finest thought of modern times in its process of de- 

Indeed, the reader of these volumes has his in- 
terest first called to the existence of a vast conti- 
nent or a new world, inhabited by races of men in 
various stages of barbarism and semi-civilization, 
a new world wholly unknown to the European 
world of the fifteenth century. He then has told 
him the story of the chance discovery of this new 
world and its exploration by the European peoples 
during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth 
centuries. He is made acquainted with the inci- 
dents connected with the transplanting to this 
great wilderness of the elements of European civili- 
zation and the rise of distinct colonies with strong 
European affiliations. He has traced out for him, 
with fine philosophic insight, the development of 
a high degree of social and political order based on 
the principles of personal liberty and local self-gov- 
ernment -- the outcome largely of these new con- 
ditions of colonial life. He has presented to him 
with great fulness of knowledge the external condi- 
tions which impelled these colonies to find protec- 
tion against common dangers by combining their 
forces in fact, how they grew together and formed 
a League of Friendship to which they yielded a 
stronger allegiance than to the European powers 


John Fiske 

from which they sprang. He has set before him 
a graphic account of how, under this League of 
Friendship, the colonies rebelled against the un- 
just exactions of Great Britain, and through a great 
war achieved their political independence among 
the nations of the earth. He has pointed out to him 
with rare insight the inherent weakness of the 
League of Friendship as a means of defence against 
internal and external dangers and the various ef- 
forts to remedy these defects. In the last volume 
he finds such a vivid, impartial account of the 
immortal Constitutional Convention of 1787 that 
he is fairly enabled to see Washington, Franklin, 
Madison, Hamilton, James Wilson, and their asso- 
ciates at work welding with profound wisdom these 
distinctly separate colonies into a powerful national 
unity. Finally, as the reader comes to the last 
pages of this volume wherein is a brief but impres- 
sive account of the inauguration of Washington as 
the first President of the United States, he sees 
that this event is the direct outcome of antece- 
dent causes, and that Fiske is the historian who 
has most distinctly set it forth in its full historic 
development and in its profound significance to the 
political well-being of mankind. 

As the reader closes the concluding volume of 
this series with Washington taking the oath of 
office as President of the new Republic, he experi- 
ences a profound regret that he is not to have, in 
the interpretation of the political career of the new 


Scheme never Completed 

nation during the first century of its existence, the 
guiding hand of the historian who has, with such 
fulness of knowledge, such freedom from bias, 
such keen, philosophic insight into "the thoughts 
that move mankind,'* given us the story of its 
political genesis. This is a regret that all students 
of historic science fully share, for in this branch 
of science Fiske is a recognized master; and it was 
well known that to this portion of his theme he 
had given particular attention, inasmuch as the 
United States illustrates, more instructively than 
any other political experience or unit, the inter- 
play of the two primal factors in nation-making 
militancy and industrialism. Broadly speaking, 
in national life political parties arise directly or 
indirectly out of the conflict between these two 
antagonistic factors: the former ever tending to 
the integration of the social forces into a more 
coherent, centralized political organization, curb- 
ing individual freedom and local self-government; 
the latter, ever tending to the differentiation of 
the social forces, thereby securing expansion of the 
political organization accompanied by greater per- 
sonal freedom and increased local self-government. 
Fiske accepted as one of the facts of historic sci- 
ence, as well as one of the truths of Evolution, that 
with advancing civilization the militant type of 
political organization was declining; and that all 
the provisions for social well-being born of mili- 
tancy were giving way before a type of political 


John Fiske 

organization based on industrialism; that militancy 
had done its work in bringing human society into 
conditions where industrialism could prevail, and 
that further social progress must come through 
making the industrial type of political organization 
evermore paramount in the structure of national 
life. The inauguration of Washington was the em- 
phatic announcement to the political world that a 
new nation had come with its militant forces in 
complete subjection to its industrial forces in its 
political organization. 

Fiske during his later years gave much thought 
to the history of the United States during the first 
century of its existence, considered in the light of 
its evolutionary development. He saw here, un- 
derneath the strife of political parties, and even 
the issues of the great Civil War, the persistent 
struggle between the two types of antagonistic 
political forces militant and industrial -- which 
were duly recognized in the form of government 
established for this union; and it was his purpose, 
in succeeding volumes, so to set forth the order of 
events that they could be clearly seen in their rela- 
tion to, as well as the outcome of, the struggle for 
mastery between these two types of antagonistic 
forces. To this end he was making, at the time of 
his death, a careful study of the decisions of the 
United States Supreme Court, wherein he found 
much light thrown upon the development of na- 
tionality, on the one hand, through emphasis of 


Tribute to Parkman 

the militant power of the Constitution ; and on the 
other hand, to the curbing of executive power 
through emphasis of the industrial rights and liber- 
ties of the people guaranteed by this same politi- 
cal charter. 

I cannot better close this account of Fiske's his- 
torical labors than by applying to him as a his- 
torian the very words he applied to his compeer, 
Francis Parkman. In his tribute to Parkman he 
said : 

"Nowhere can we find a description of despotic 
government more careful and thoughtful, or more 
graphic and lifelike, than Parkman has given us in 
his volume on 'The Old Regime in Canada.' Sel- 
dom, too, will one find a book fuller of political 
wisdom. The author never preaches like Carlyle, 
nor does he hurl huge generalizations at our heads 
like Buckle; he simply describes a state of society 
that has been. But I hardly need say that his de- 
scription is not like the Dryasdust descriptions 
we are sometimes asked to accept as history a 
mere mass of pigments flung at random upon a 
canvas. It is a picture painted with consummate 
art; and in this instance the art consists in so 
handling the relations of cause and effect as to make 
them speak for themselves. These pages are alive 
with political philosophy, and teem with object les- 
sons of extraordinary value. It would be hard to 
point to any book where History more fully dis- 
charges her high function of gathering friendly les- 
sons of caution from the errors of the past. 

"Great in his natural powers and great in the 


John Fiske 

use he made of them, Parkman was no less great 
in his occasion and in his theme. Of all American 
historians he is the most deeply and peculiarly 
American, yet he is at the same time the broadest 
and most cosmopolitan. The book which depicts 
at once the social life of the Stone Age, and the 
victory of the English political ideal over the ideal 
which France inherited from imperial Rome, is a 
book for all mankind, and for all time. The more 
adequately men's historic perspective gets ad- 
justed, the greater it will seem. Strong in its in- 
dividuality, and like to nothing else, it clearly 
belongs, I think, among the world's few master- 
pieces of the highest rank, along with the works of 
Herodotus, Thucydides, and Gibbon." 

Fiske's theme was a far greater one than that 
which engaged the life labors of Parkman, impor- 
tant as that theme was. As we have seen, Fiske's 
theme was nothing less than tracing the antece- 
dents of this great American Republic back to the 
period of the Renaissance, in whose genesis was 
reflected the persistent struggle between the mili- 
tant and industrial forces of civilized society dur- 
ing the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; to- 
gether with setting forth the conditions of its birth, 
and what it stands for politically by virtue of its 
national existence of over a century. Certainly 
this is one of the greatest of historic themes; and 
in view of his conception of it and his labors to set 
his conception forth, the appraisement of Fiske as 
a historian is yet to be made. 




BUSY as Fiske was during these six years, 1895 to 
1900, with his general historic lectures and with 
completing the colonial period of his history, he 
had many calls upon him for special articles and 
memorial addresses. Then, too, his active mind 
was ever seeing, in the evolving world about him, 
subjects calling for the expression of his thought. 
Some of these calls he took pleasure in responding 
to, and so we have a number of very delightful 
essays on a variety of subjects overflowing with 
his wide and varied knowledge, his tolerant spirit, 
his fine appreciation of sterling character com- 
bined with intellectual power, and his keen, pene- 
trating insight into all forms of literary shams. 
These productions have been gathered into three 
volumes and published under the titles of "A Cen- 
tury of Science and Other Essays," in one vol- 
ume, and "Essays Historical and Literary," in two 


John Fiske 

While all these products of his pen are full of 
pregnant thoughts, the overflow of a richly laden 
mind, some of them are of particular interest and 
value. The two on "Evolution; Its Scope and Pur- 
port ," and "Its Relation to the Present Age/' are 
specially noteworthy as showing how this philo- 
sophic conception of the phenomenal universe is 
entering into all forms of scientific investigation, 
and how it is affecting present philosophic and re- 
ligious thought. The one on "Old and New Ways 
of treating History " is replete with a thorough 
knowledge of the great histories of the world and 
their "points of view," and is full of wise sugges- 
tions as to the study of history. The three essays 
on Parkman, Tyndall, and Huxley are admirable 
tributes to men who have enriched human knowl- 
edge greatly in three directions men whom he 
knew intimately, and with whose works he was 
familiar ; while the seven essays on American states- 
men from Hamilton to Webster are so full of the 
political history of the United States for the first 
half-century of its existence, and of general politi- 
cal philosophy, that they are clear indications of 
the impartial, philosophic, yet interesting manner 
in which United States history as a whole was to 
be treated in the volumes to be given to this por- 
tion of his great theme. 

Then, too, in the "Century of Science" volume, 
there are three essays which well illustrate how 
overwhelming Fiske could be in his criticism of 


Incidental Literary Work 

literary shams, or of " Eccentric Literature." These 
essays bear the following titles and they have had 
a wide reading: "Guessing at Half and Multiplying 
by Two"; "Forty Years of Bacon-Shakespeare 
Folly"; "Some Cranks and their Crotchets." 

One memorable historic address of this period is 
not included in these volumes, "The Story of a 
New England Town" -an address delivered by 
Fiske at Middletown, Connecticut, October 19, 
1900, on the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary 
of the settlement of the town. This address was the 
last of his historic productions, and was published 
in the "Atlantic Monthly" for December, 1900, 
and subsequently in 1911 in the second edition of 
his volume on "American Political Ideas." 

This address, while given mainly to matters of 
local interest, contains some touches of a personal 
nature reminiscent of Fiske's boyhood experiences 
in the old town. It was an occasion of much signifi- 
cance to him. The conspicuous honors bestowed 
upon him on this festal occasion brought distinctly 
before him the conditions under which he had left 
the town forty years before and the feelings of pro- 
found sadness that were then surging through his 

What eventful intellectual experiences had been 
his since then! And what a change in the public 
mind on religious matters had taken place in the 
old town that would admit the honors bestowed 
upon him on such an occasion as this! 


John Fiske 

Fiske, as we have seen, was a firm believer in the 
purifying, ennobling effect that science was hav- 
ing, and was destined still more to have, upon the 
religious faith of mankind. He was greatly strength- 
ened in this belief by the many cordial expressions 
of approval of his philosophico-religious writings 
which came to him from people in all parts of the 
country when on his lecture tours. Indeed, when 
on his lecture trips he was cast over Sunday in a 
town blessed with a liberal church, the occasion sel- 
dom passed without his being asked to occupy the 
pulpit. These applications became so numerous 
and so urgent that he was induced to prepare three 
addresses adapted to pulpit utterances, their titles 
being "The Mystery of Evil/' "The Cosmic Roots 
of Love and Self-Sacrifice, " "The Everlasting Re- 
ality of Religion. " All were intended as illustra- 
tions of the higher phases of the Evolutionary 

The first was designed to supply some consid- 
erations which he was obliged to omit in his Con- 
cord address on "The Idea of God." The second 
is, with a few slight changes, his Phi Beta Kappa 
Oration delivered at Harvard University in June, 
1895. This was intended, in the first place, as a 
reply to Huxley's famous Romanes lecture on 
"Evolution and Ethics," given at the University 
of Oxford in 1893. In this lecture Huxley main- 
tained that the ethical progress of society is op- 
posed to the cosmic process of evolution. The 


Through Nature to God 

third was intended to show that that inward con- 
viction, the craving for a Final Cause, the theistic 
assumption which is the basis of the religious idea, 
is one of the master facts of the universe, and as 
much entitled to respect as any fact in physical 
nature can possibly be. 

These addresses were repeated many times, and 
never did they fail to bring forth expressions of 
deeply aroused thought. On one occasion, after 
the delivery of the one on "The Everlasting Real- 
ity of Religion,'* an elderly lady came to him, with 
much emotion, and said, "All my life I have been 
an ardent Presbyterian, but I thank God you were 
'evolved.' " 

These addresses were published in 1899 in a 
volume by themselves. Fiske was perplexed for 
a fitting title. Finally he struck out "Through 
Nature to God," saying, "That is a title which ex- 
presses my religious faith and at the same time 
fitly caps the titles to my two Concord addresses." 

The volume has had a wide circulation, and it 
has brought great religious hope and comfort to 
many minds. I have before me many letters from 
persons wholly unknown to Fiske, in which are ex- 
pressed feelings of profound gratitude for the great 
help the volume has been to them in enabling them 
to see that the doctrine of Evolution calls for a 
higher conception of God, a nobler conception of 
man and his place in the cosmic universe, than 
is presented by current theologies. The number of 


John Fiske 

clergymen of various denominations who person- 
ally expressed to him their substantial agreement 
with him in his interpretation of Evolution was 
so great that at times he was inclined to think 
'he must be preaching an old-fashioned doctrine. 
iThen we have, at the close of this period, another 
memorable religious address. Harvard University 
has an endowed lectureship known as the "Inger- 
soll Lectureship." The provisions of this endow 
ment require that under the auspices of the Uni- 
versity there shall be delivered each year a lecture 
on the "Immortality of Man." Fiske was invited 
to deliver this lecture for the year 1900. He took 
great pleasure in complying, and on the evening 
of December 19, 1900, he gave in Sanders Theatre 
the public hall of the University an address 
under the title of "Life Everlasting." 

This was, indeed, a memorable address. Fiske 
brought before his hearers various views of immor- 
tality held by peoples in the early stages of civili- 
zation, and pointed out how they had given way 
before advancing knowledge. He also presented 
the views of some modern scientists denying the 
possibility of the continuance of life after death, 
and he brought into clear light the grounds for 
the wide prevalence of rational doubt on the sub- 
ject owing to the unverifiable assumptions of dog- 
matic theology. After giving the scientist the 
fullest warrant for his conclusions owing to the ab- 
sence of experiential knowledge, he went straight 


Life Everlasting 

to the central point in the modern issue over im- 
mortality, in declaring that the absence of verifi- 
able evidence of the continuance of conscious life 
after death was no presumption against its truth 
so long as our knowledge of phenomena is limited 
by the conditions of this terrestrial life; conditions 
which disqualify the mind for making negative 
assertions as to the existence of conscious mind 
under other conditions. 

He then passed to the consideration of the dis- 
tinctive differences between materialism and con- 
sciousness, and affirmed that there could be no 
such thing as the transformation of the one into 
the other; that they were entirely disparate in their 
natures; that conscious life forms no part of the 
closed circle of physical phenomena, but stands 
entirely outside of it, concentric with the segment 
which belongs to the nervous system. 

His conclusions were that the implications of the 
doctrine of Evolution, confirmed by the revela- 
tions of science, did not at all favor the material- 
istic doctrine that death ends all; rather that the 
cosmic process indicated that the production and 
perfection of the higher spiritual attributes of hu- 
manity was a dramatic tendency in human life 
which was aimed at at the beginning, and which 
had been persistently followed through all the 
stages of human development. This involved the 
eternal reality of the human soul; and it was his 
belief that a further, deeper study of Evolution 


John Fiske 

would supply a basis for a natural theology more 
comprehensive, more profound, and more hopeful 
for man than has yet been conceived. 

This address was Fiske's last public utterance 
on philosophic or religious subjects. It was alto- 
gether fitting that it should have been made under 
the auspices of his alma mater. 

Among my visits to Fiske at this period one 
stands out in my memory with much distinct- 
ness by reason of the subject of our conversation. 
I found him deeply immersed in Emerson, he hav- 
ing just been reading Cabot's "Memoir of Ralph 
Waldo Emerson." He began by saying that he 
liked to dip into Emerson now and then because 
he found him so impregnated with the evolutionary 
idea; that his insights, fragmentary and illogical 
though many of them were, oftentimes gave much 
food for thought, in fact, were very tonic to the 
thinking mind. In reading Cabot's "Memoir" 
of Emerson he was struck by the fact that at the 
beginning of his literary career, in his essay on 
"Nature," published in 1836, Emerson gave un- 
mistakable evidence of an evolutionary tendency 
in his line of thought. Fiske pointed out how com- 
pletely the whole essay was saturated with the evo- 
lutionary idea of life "the continuous adjust- 
ment of internal relations to external relations"; 
and also how this idea was distinctly adumbrated 
in the invocatory lines: 


Emerson's Evolutionary Ideas 

"A subtle chain of countless rings 
The next unto the farthest brings; 
The eye reads omens where it goes, 
And speaks all languages the rose; 
And striving to be man, the worm 
Mounts through all the spires of form." 

On my expressing much interest in the evidences 
of an evolutionary tendency in Emerson's line of 
thought, Fiske brought out several instances in 
Emerson's works, and particularly in his lecture 
on "The Relation of Man to the Globe " and in 
the introduction to his essay on " Poetry and 
Imagination," where the doctrine of Evolution is 
distinctly implied, not only as the divine method of 
creation, but also as a key to the right understand- 
ing of the phenomena of the cosmic universe, in- 
cluding organic life with conscious man as its 
crowning feature. 1 Then, too, he dwelt upon the 
fact that Emerson was well acquainted with the 
nascent evolutionary thought of the first half of 

1 In the latter, Emerson's insight into the process of Evolution 
was so emphatic as to be in place here: 

"The electric word pronounced by John Hunter a hundred years 
ago, arrested and progressive development, indicating the way upward 
from the invisible protoplasm to the highest organisms gave the 
poetic key to natural science, of which the theories of Geoffroy St. 
Hilaire, of Oken, of Goethe, of Agassiz, Owen and Darwin in Zoology 
and botany, are the fruits, a hint whose power is not yet ex- 
hausted, showing unity and perfect order in physics. . . . Natural 
objects, if individually described and out of connection, are not yet 
known, since they are really parts of a symmetrical universe like the 
words of a sentence; and if their true order is found, the poet can 
read their divine significance orderly as in a Bible. Each animal 
or vegetable form remembers the next inferior and predicts the next 


John Fiske 

the last century, particularly with the thought of 
Goethe and Lamarck in regard to the development 
of organic life; as well as with the geological re- 
searches of Lyell and his followers, with the import 
of these researches upon the doctrine of special 
divine creations. Fiske found much evidence that 
Emerson dipped penetratingly into the physical and 
chemical sciences of his early time; and he ac- 
counted in a measure for the vague unrelated char- 
acter of Emerson's evolutionary ideas by the fact 
that until Spencer and Darwin came in 1860, with 
their verifying evidences, positive science could 
not give any distinct affirmation to the evolu- 
tionary theory. 

Fiske dwelt upon the fact that the really produc- 
tive portion of Emerson 's life came at the opening 
of a period of readjustment in human thinking on 
all ultimate questions, a period when science was 
steadily freeing the human mind from its bondage to 
the idea of personal fiatistic creations in the origin 
of things, and was pointing the way to a nobler con- 
ception of the vera causa of the cosmic universe with 
man's place in it than had hitherto prevailed; and 
he credited Emerson with marvellous insights, not 
only into this evolutionary process of creation 
which science was revealing, but also into the 
bearing of this order of creation upon all the vari- 
ous phases of cosmic phenomena, including the life 
of man. 

I suggested that one phase of the opposition to 


Emerson's Evolutionary Ideas 

Emerson was owing to the fact that his idea of 
God was much too impersonal, much too abstract 
to satisfy the demand of the time for a personal 
God, for a Divine Creator distinctly knowable 
through human experience. 

Fiske readily assented, and then went on to say 
that Emerson's first step in his departure from his 
Unitarian brethren consisted in his denial of the 
orthodox conception of God as a personality in 
terms of the human mind. He held that Deity 
represented an order of Being so far transcending 
everything in human experience that the human 
mind could not possibly form any adequate con- 
ception of the reality. In proof of this fact Fiske 
read from Cabot's "Memoir" of Emerson the fol- 
lowing passage taken from Emerson's diary in 1838, 
the year of the famous Divinity School address, 
which, by its denial of a personal God so startled 
the whole Unitarian denomination from its condi- 
tion of religious complacency: 

"March, 1838. What shall I answer to these 
friendly youths who ask of me an account of theism 
and think the views I have expressed of the im- 
personality of God desolating and ghastly? I say 
that I cannot find, when I explore my own con- 
sciousness, any truth in saying that God is a per- 
son, but the reverse. I feel that there is some pro- 
fanation in saying he is personal. To represent him 
as an individual is to shut him out of my conscious- 
ness. He is then but a great man, such as the crowd 
worship. The natural motions of the soul are so 


John Fiske 

much better than the voluntary ones that you will 
never do yourself justice in dispute. The thought 
is not then taken hold of ' by the right handle ' ; does 
not show itself proportioned and in its true bear- 
ings. It bears extorted, hoarse, and half witness. I 
have been led, yesterday, into a rambling exculpa- 
tory talk on theism. I say that here we feel at once 
that we have no language; that words are only 
auxiliary and not adequate, are suggestions and 
not copies of our cogitation. I deny personality to 
God, because it is too little, not too much Life, 
personal life, is faint and cold to the energy of 
God." l 

I then asked if this was not the idea of God im- 
plied in Spencer's " Unknowable," and precisely 
the idea of God that Fiske had himself endeavored 
to set forth in all his writings? 

"Certainly," was Fiske's reply; and he also 
stated that because science cannot in any way 
positively affirm the characteristics of a personal 
God in terms of human understanding, it is re- 
garded by many religious people as wholly athe- 
istic and materialistic in character. 

I then enquired how Fiske accounted for the fact 
that Emerson, with his idea of Deity and his evo- 
lutionary insight, was so insensible to the doctrine of 
Evolution when it was brought forward with such 
supporting evidence in 1860 by Spencer and Dar- 
win? I remarked that the concluding chapter in 
Darwin's " Origin of Species" alone ought to have 

1 Cabot's Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. I, p. 341. 

Emerson's Evolutionary Ideas 

brought joy to Emerson's heart: yet it does not 
appear that he ever read it. 

In reply, Fiske said that Emerson's mind, with 
all its fine ennobling characteristics, was in many 
respects individual and illogical, and we must take 
it as we find it. In no sense was Emerson a persist- 
ent student of cosmic phenomena in any scientific 
way. For the truth of a proposition he relied upon 
his impression regarding it, upon how he happened 
to feel, rather than upon a rational consideration 
of the facts upon which the proposition was based. 
This is shown in one of his most emphatic utter- 
ances. In his essay on "Inspiration" he says: "I 
believe that nothing great and lasting can be done 
except by inspiration, by leaning on the secret au- 
gury." Now, in the promulgation of the doctrine 
of Evolution by Spencer and Darwin there was no 
assertion of " inspiration," no leaning upon a "secret 
augury," but a direct appeal to human reason with a 
proposition based upon a mass of well-verified facts. 
For some reason that appeal did not strike Emer- 
son favorably. 

Fiske further said, it might be alleged, in explana- 
tion of Emerson's silence regarding the doctrine of 
Evolution with an idea of Deity so closely resem- 
bling his own, that Emerson's years of intellectual 
productivity had passed he was nearly sixty years 
old. Cabot tells us that his decline began about this 
time. Certainly it is remarkable that during the 
twenty years between 1860 and 1880, a period when 


John Fiske 

the whole scientific world was adjusting itself to the 
doctrine of Evolution as the rational process of 
cosmic creation, bringing vital changes in philo- 
sophic, religious, and practical thinking; and when 
Spencer and Darwin were being widely hailed as 
the harbingers of a new era in the development of 
humanity, not a word of recognition of their signal 
services came from Emerson, he, who, with true 
poetic insight, had seen their coming from afar. 

In Chapter XXVII we have seen that Spencer 
had an evident appreciation of the evolutionary 
as well as the theistic insights of Emerson. In view 
of this fact the foregoing conversation is given as 
evidence that while Emerson never gave any indi- 
cation that the doctrine of Evolution with its the- 
istic basis as propounded by Spencer had ever 
been considered by him, Fiske's line of philosophico- 
religious thought set forth in these pages, consists 
of a happy blending of the ' poetic philosophico- 
religious insights of Emerson with the profound 
scientific cosmic truths established by Spencer 
and by Darwin. 

In closing this philosophico-religious portion of 
Fiske's life, mention should be made of a subject 
to which he had given much thought, and regard- 
ing which he was awaiting a fitting occasion to 
express himself. The subject was the ^economic 
value in social well-being of spiritual, ethical, and 
aesthetic ideas. As an illustration he referred to 
the immense economic value that had come from 


Economic Values 

the Christmas Idea: the large capital invested, and 
the great number of people employed in producing 
and distributing articles whose main purpose is 
to enable people, on one day in the year to give 
expressions of affectionate regard and remem- 
brance one to another. This Christmas Idea arises 
from a universal spiritual and ethical feeling which 
is entirely distinct from the practical, economic 
questions of daily life. Again, he dwelt upon the 
fact that while the producing and consuming pow- 
ers of a nation or a people of the articles neces- 
sary for physical existence could be approximately 
determined, it was utterly impossible to put a 
limit upon the powers of production and consump- 
tion of the human mind along the lines of man's 
spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic interests. Indeed, 
every embodiment of spiritual and ethical truth 
in material form but demanded others, so that 
when war shall cease and the nations shall give 
themselves over to the arts of peace, the cultivat- 
ing of, and the ministering to, the needs of man's 
spiritual nature, over and above the needs of his 
physical nature, will be seen to be an economic 
factor of the first importance in the political and 
social well-being of humanity. 




THE remainder of our narrative can be briefly told. 
It is the record of the closing days of a rich, event- 
ful life which had rendered conspicuous service in 
the development of human thought on the pro- 
foundest themes which can engage the human 
mind, and which was contemplating many years 
of continued service in setting forth the signifi- 
cance of the doctrine of Evolution in the interpre- 
tation of man's social and political institutions, as 
well as his highest religious and philosophic ideals 
a life which in its ripe maturity was brought 
to a sudden and untimely close. 

The year 1901 opened with Fiske engaged in 
completing the missing link in the continuity of the 
first portion of his historic scheme, the section re- 
lating to the colonization of New France, or Canada 
under the domination of France, and its transfer 
to Great Britain, and the colonial history of New 


New France and New England 

England between 1689 and 1765, as affected largely 
by her proximity to her troublesome French neigh- 
bor. This task he substantially completed during 
the winter of 1900-01, thus consecutively round- 
ing out his scheme down to the inauguration of 
Washington as President of the United States in 

The substance of this portion of his history, to 
which he gave the title "New France and New 
England/* he utilized in a course of twelve evening 
lectures before the Lowell Institute in Boston dur- 
ing February and March of this year. 

The manner in which these lectures were received 
was an attestation to the great hold Fiske had 
acquired upon the public mind, not only as a his- 
torian, but also as an interpreter of the underlying 
principles which impel to human organizations 
both socially and politically. The mere announce- 
ment of the lectures at once brought a demand for 
course tickets far exceeding the seating capacity of 
the Institute's large hall. An afternoon repetition 
of the course was then announced which met with 
a response equally emphatic. 

It was particularly gratifying to Fiske to be met 
with such responsive audiences in his own home, as 
it were. It was the best of evidence that religious 
prejudices had been largely outgrown, and that he 
had gained in no small measure the ear of the 
American public for the history of the great nation 
he now proposed to give a nation whose genesis 


John Fiske 

in the unfolding of the modern world he had en- 
deavored clearly and philosophically to set forth. 

With the completion of his Lowell Institute lec- 
tures in March, 1901, Fiske's lecturing for the sea- 
son came to a close. During the remainder of the 
spring his chief occupation was preparing for the 
press his lectures on "New France and New Eng- 
land," and in superintending the remodelling of 
his mother's house at 90 Brattle Street, Cam- 
bridge, that it might possess certain features nec- 
essary as the future home of himself and his family, 
together with suitable conveniences for the de- 
clining years of his mother. We have seen that 
Mrs. Stoughton, in building her house in 1883, 
had distinctly in mind the idea of its ultimately 
becoming the Fiske homestead; and now that ad- 
vanced years had brought the necessity of relief 
from domestic cares and responsibilities brought 
in fact the need of much consideration for herself 
on the part of others she became very desirous 
that her long-contemplated project of having her 
home become the Fiske homestead should be car- 
ried into effect. This involved many changes, not 
only to give Mrs. Stoughton her needed conven- 
iences, but also to provide Fiske with three fea- 
tures essential to the proper working of his mind 
in the prosecution of his literary work. These fea- 
tures were: library space, sufficient for his large 
collection of books, and so retired as to answer for 
a work-room; a good-sized conservatory to hold 


Preparing a New Home 

his choice collection of plants; and a music-room, 
wherein, by himself, or with his family, or with 
his friends, he could find diversions in the world's 
great music. 

The remodelling of Mrs. Stoughton's house was 
begun in the winter of this year and was contin- 
ued during the spring, and Fiske watched the prog- 
ress of the work on the "newhipe," as he called it, 
with great interest; and as the spacious library and 
the attractive music-room came into being in con- 
formity to his desires, his mind ran out in pleasant 
contemplation of the utilization of the former, not 
only for its legitimate purpose as a library, but 
also as a choice gathering-place for the free discus- 
sion with his friends and neighbors of the vital 
questions in philosophy, history, science, and social 
well-being which were daily coming forward for 
consideration; and also to the utilization of the 
latter for the interpretation, by Professor Paine, 
himself, and others, of the masterpieces of the 
great musical composers. 

The demands of his lecturing had made it im- 
possible in the past for him to utilize his home for 
social intercourse in these two ways save to rather 
a limited extent. Now that his lecturing was to be 
greatly diminished, and his home facilities greatly 
enlarged, he looked forward, in addition to in- 
creased social enjoyments, to many years of fruit- 
ful literary work, not only in the completion of 
his " History of the American People," but also in 


John Fiske 

being able to bring out the work which had long 
lain near his heart a history of the first five cen- 
turies of the Christian era. 

While thus engaged during the spring of 1901 in 
preparing for the press his volume on " New France 
and New England" and in seeing his new home 
come into being, Fiske realized that the most im- 
portant part of his historic task was yet before him. 
With the story of the genesis of the new nation of 
the United States fully told, and its political organ- 
ization as a republic under a constitutional form 
of government clearly set forth, he realized that 
he had now to present the historic development of 
this new nationality, with its complex and untried 
internal features and its very complicated external 
or international relations, into one of the most 
powerful political organizations of the earth: and 
all this during the first century of its existence. 
The spring of this year, therefore, was given to 
much pondering over the main events of the first 
century of the United States history in the endeavor 
to trace out in their causes the working of certain 
underlying evolutionary principles common to all 
forms of civilized society. 

What particularly interested Fiske as he con- 
templated the task before him was not alone the 
fact that he had to give an account of the working 
of a form of political organization now established 
for the government of the United States which 
had been described by the eminent French critic 


Planning Details of his Work 

Tocqueville as based on "a wholly novel theory,*' 
and which might "be considered as a great dis- 
covery in modern political science/' Rather, he 
was impressed by the fact that while this new form 
of government possessed many unique features, 
it was in its genesis a distinct product of Evolu- 
tion; and that in its two most striking character- 
istics, its provisions for local self-government 
and for the exercise of the power of the people as 
a whole, as a nation, it was the embodiment in 
a political organization of the two fundamental 
principles of the doctrine of Evolution itself: dif- 
ferentiation and integration. Differentiation was 
recognized in the widest possible provisions for 
individual liberty and local self-government, while 
integration, or the combination of the power of the 
people as a whole, was recognized in provisions for 
federated action in all matters pertaining to na- 
tional well-being. 

These two series of provisions for differentiation, 
or for protecting individual liberty, on the one 
hand, and for integration or concentrating the 
power of the people as a whole, on the other hand, 
were distinctly set forth in a written Constitution 
which had been accepted by the people of the thir- 
teen United States as expressive of their sovereignty 
and the manner of its exercise; and thus for the 
first time in history was instituted a well-rounded 
government of the people, by the people, for the 


John Fiske 

I saw him frequently during this period and 
found him planning his remaining volumes in the 
light of the Evolutionary philosophy, which he 
applied to all history. Not that this philosophy 
assumed that there were certain definitely estab- 
lished laws for the social and political development 
of all peoples to which their history had to con- 
form. Rather, it was a philosophy derived from a 
wide study of man's social and political institutions, 
which had established the fact that all governments, 
all forms of political organizations were growths, 
were developments, out of racial characteristics, 
social needs, and environing conditions, and were 
always changing; and that the progress of every 
nation was owing to the manner or degree in which 
its political organization secured national protec- 
tion to all its citizens combined with provisions for 
the utmost personal liberty in their thought, their 
speech, and their industrial activities. 

Fiske's conversation relative to the work he had 
in hand was profoundly interesting. He had the 
chief events of United States history so clearly in 
mind and so distinctly related that they seemed 
the incidents in a well-rounded tale; and his re- 
marks were embellished with such pregnant obser- 
vations regarding the actors in these events as to 
show not only his freedom from bias, but also his 
capacity of putting himself in the actors' places 
and giving a rational interpretation to their activ- 


Hamilton and Jefferson 

Two topics particularly he was fond of dwelling 
upon which I distinctly recall. These were: the 
personalities of Hamilton and Jefferson, and the 
opposing political principles they represented; also 
Chief Justice Marshall and his great services in 
interpreting the Constitution. Fiske was a great 
admirer of Jefferson. He regarded him as the 
deepest thinker and the most far-seeing states- 
man among those who had a part in the formation 
and establishment of our Government. In his mind 
Jefferson stood as the representative of the liber- 
ties of the people, of local self-government against 
unduly centralized power. But this admiration for 
Jefferson did not blind Fiske in the least to the 
great abilities of Hamilton as a constructive states- 
man, as shown in his efforts to secure, under the 
exigency of the times, a strong government and 
yet one republican in character. 

Fiske pointed out how inevitable it was that in 
the formation of our Federal Government these 
two strong men should be at odds; and he dwelt 
upon the significance of the fact that the party 
divisions in the subsequent political history of the 
United States had turned primarily upon the polit- 
ical principles enunciated by Hamilton and Jeffer- 
son. What was more remarkable still was the fact 
that the Democratic Party which claims Jefferson 
as its founder has not been slow to advocate a 
strong centralized government when in matters 
of national concern it became politically expedient 


John Fiske 

to champion the supremacy of the Federal Gov- 
ernment over local or sectional interests. 

Fiske had the highest appreciation of Chief Jus- 
tice Marshall and his services in construing and 
interpreting the Constitution of the United States 
during the period 1801 to 1835. In Marshall's 
decisions he saw individual liberty and local in- 
terests so wisely adjusted to social well-being and 
to national interests that they clearly presented a 
new form of political organization in its process 
of development or evolution. Here he saw the po- 
litical theories of the monarchist and the repub- 
lican, of Hamilton and of Jefferson, brought up for 
judicial determination through legal issues growing 
out of experiences in the daily lives of the people. 
And in these decisions he found the vital points 
in the political theories of Hamilton and of Jeffer- 
son duly weighed, and so adjudicated under the 
Constitution that they have become blended as 
vital factors in the ever-developing political life 
of the American people. In other words, Marshall 
in his interpretation of our Constitution gave a 
stability and flexibility to our Government which 
admit the steady growth and development of the 
people in all that pertains to their social and politi- 
cal well-being. 

In Fiske's mind the services of Chief Justice 
Marshall in construing and interpreting the Con- 
stitution during the formative period of our na- 
tional life, though different in character, were not 


King Alfred Celebration 

inferior in value, to those of Washington, in giving 
birth to the nation itself. 

Thus it is seen that Fiske was richly prepared to 
enter upon his task of giving a history of the first 
century of the United States, not only with a mind 
strongly imbued with a philosophy based on the 
existence of certain underlying forces which are 
impelling human society in its various forms of 
social and political organization to some end or 
purpose ; but also with a mind richly stocked with a 
knowledge of the experiences of the race in its en- 
deavors, on the one hand, to establish forms of gov- 
ernment based upon political power integrated in 
the hands of a privileged few; and, on the other 
hand, forms of government based upon individual 
rights and liberties of the people, but without any 
adequate, well-defined, integrating sovereign power 
over the people as a whole. 

He was planning his history of the first century 
of the United States to be comprised in eight vol- 

While engaged in planning the details of the re- 
maining portion of his history, he received from the 
committee having charge of the millennial celebra- 
tion in honor of King Alfred, to be held at Win- 
chester, England, in September, 1901, an urgent 
invitation to be present on the occasion as a rep- 
resentative of the Western world and to deliver an 
address. His lectures before the Royal Institution 
of Great Britain in 1880, on "American Political 


John Fiske 

Ideas viewed from the Standpoint of Universal 
History," especially the one on " The Manifest Des- 
tiny of the English Race," had made him so well 
known to the historic scholars of Great Britain that 
he was unanimously chosen as the historian best 
qualified to speak for the Western world on an 
occasion of such historic importance. 

He accepted the invitation as one of conspicu- 
ous honor; and, desiring on such an occasion di- 
rectly to identify America with Alfred's England, 
he gave as a title for his proposed address, " The Be- 
ginnings of Federalism in New England, as related 
to the Expansion of Alfred's World." 

During the spring of 1901 Fiske meditated much 
upon this Winchester celebration, its historic sig- 
nificance, and upon his line of thought as the rep- 
resentative of America on so memorable an oc- 
casion. As he meditated the character of his theme 
steadily broadened in his mind, until it became not 
simply a setting-forth of the political principle of 
federation as developed by a few English people 
in New England and as related to the expansion of 
Alfred's world: it assumed the character of a pres- 
entation of some verifications in English history 
since King Alfred of the doctrine of Evolution as 
a scheme of things ever at work in the development 
of human society. At the same time the celebra- 
tion seemed a fitting occasion for the presentation 
of some historic generalizations regarding the 
English people, their political ideas, and their 


Proposed Winchester Address 

place in the modern world, generalizations of the 
utmost significance to the future political organi- 
zations of the world. 

I was to accompany him, with members of his 
family, on this visit to England, and on the evening 
of June 23, 1901, I dined with him for the purpose 
of completing plans for the trip. In the course 
of the evening the conversation turned to the ad- 
dress he was to deliver at Winchester, and he ap- 
peared well satisfied with the order of thought as 
he had worked it out in his mind, according to his 
usual custom, before putting pen to paper. He 
outlined to me quite fully his general line of argu- 
ment. This was so lucid in character, was so in har- 
mony with his general line of evolutionary thought, 
and flowed so logically from his evolutionary pre- 
mises, that I have had no difficulty in holding its 
main points distinctly in mind. Imperfect as may 
be my recollection of his argument, it is the only 
record we have of what he was prepared to say on 
this memorable occasion. As an aid, therefore, to 
glimpsing the profound line of thought which was 
engaging Fiske's mind at the very close, I will en- 
deavor to give the substance of his proposed Win- 
chester address without attempting to give the 
language in which his thought was to be expressed. 

In the first place, as an introduction he proposed 
to make a concise statement of the nature and 
functions of differentiation and integration as fac- 
tors in social and political development, and then 


John Fiske 

to consider the main landmarks in English history, 
particularly since the reign of King Alfred, as il- 
lustrative, by their sequential order, of the inter- 
related play of these two factors in the social and 
political life of the English people, thus giving to 
their history a meaning and purpose. 

In the order of his line of thought attention was 
to be directed to the deplorable condition of the 
English people during the middle period of the 
ninth century, when, torn by internecine warfare 
between the various tribes or Teutonic nations 
that then inhabited England, no effective oppo- 
sition could be made to the incursions of the pirat- 
ical Danes who ravaged their coasts and plundered 
their towns. Social and political differentiation 
and disintegration reigned supreme. At this junc- 
ture the last quarter of the ninth century Al- 
fred appears as King of the West Saxons, one of 
the English tribes or nations, and by his skill as a 
warrior, his wisdom as a civil ruler, his promotion 
of literature, religion, education, and the arts, he 
set in train, during his thirty years' reign, the social 
and political forces which, during the half-century 
that followed, culminated in the political integra- 
tion of all the people of England into a common 
nationality, under a single sovereign or king. Thus, 
by the middle of the tenth century, the Kingdom 
of England was distinctly formed; and Alfred's con- 
tribution to this integration of the Teutonic people 
inhabiting England into a distinctly English na- 


Proposed Winchester Address 

tionality, with a common language, a common re- 
ligion, a common literature, and a common law, 
will never pass from the grateful remembrance of 
the English people. 

In this early stage of the political integration of 
the English people, Fiske proposed to emphasize 
the persistence with which the ideas of civil liberty 
common to their Teutonic ancestors in Germany 
had survived four centuries of transplantation to 
England, and now appeared, in the political organ- 
izations of Alfred and his immediate successors, 
more distinctly defined than under any previous 
political arrangement. 

Fiske next proposed to point out that, with the 
establishment of the English monarchy in the mid- 
dle period of the tenth century, the evolutionary 
forces at work in the social and political life of the 
English people began to take on a new character, 
that of an internal struggle between the sovereign 
rulers, who arrogated to themselves certain pre- 
scriptive rights or privileges in the political organ- 
ism or state, on the one hand, and the great body 
of the English people, who were persistent in as- 
serting their inalienable rights, as freemen, on the 
other hand. At the beginning of this struggle the 
sovereign rulers had the upper hand, but during 
the seven centuries that followed a constant dif- 
ferentiation went forward in the social and political 
lives of the English people, a differentiation which 
was marked by a steady disintegration of the power 


John Fiske 

of the sovereign rulers, and by a steady increase 
and integration of power into the hands of the com- 
mon people, until in the closing period of the seven- 
teenth century the power of the people became 
supreme; and by the acceptance of the crown by 
William and Mary in 1689, with its famous Bill 
of Rights, political sovereignty passed completely 
into the hands of the English people England 
became a Republic in all except the name. 

While Fiske proposed to set forth the main his- 
toric events connected with this social and politi- 
cal evolution of the English people from the tenth 
to the seventeenth century particularly the 
Norman conquest, the wresting of Magna Charta 
from King John, Mountfort's Parliament, the 
struggles with the headstrong Tudors and the per- 
fidious Stuarts, the Cromwellian insurrection, and 
the Great Revolution of 1688 as having a clearly 
defined sequential relation to one another; and as 
evidencing that the evolutionary process going on 
in the social and political development of the Eng- 
lish people in their own home was steadily in favor 
of their civil and religious liberty under a consti- 
tutional government; he also proposed to empha- 
size the important historic fact that during the 
latter stages of this development the English peo- 
ple were brought to take a conspicuous part in two 
external, world- wide movements which have af- 
fected profoundly all their subsequent history 
the Reformation and the Discovery of America 


Proposed Winchester Address 

two mighty impelling forces which awakened their 
enterprising minds to interests outside their island 
home, interests which prompted to political ex- 
pansion and led to schemes of colonization and 
conquest which during the eighteenth century made 
the English people the dominant political power 
in the world. 

This expansion of the English people, which be- 
gan in the seventeenth century, Fiske proposed to 
consider as the opening of a new era in their politi- 
cal development and one of much greater signifi- 
cance than any portion of their past history. In fact, 
he regarded their island history down to the Great 
Revolution of 1689, whereby the sovereignty of the 
people under a constitutional form of government 
was firmly established, as but a process of inte- 
gration into a compact nationality; as but a prep- 
aration for the prominent part the English people 
were to play in the future political development of 
the world. 

To this end he proposed succinctly to trace out 
the stages of colonization and conquest by which 
during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth 
centuries the political power of the English people 
has been expanded over the globe, until now they 
greatly exceed in numbers the population of any 
other European nationality and hold points of 
vantage in the five continents, as well as posses- 
sion of the world 's political and commercial gate- 
ways. For the purposes of his argument he pro- 


John Fiske 

posed to leave out of consideration the severance 
of political relationship between England and her 
American colonies, and to regard the people of the 
United States as still English in character and as 
forming an important part of the great body of 
English people located throughout the world, en- 
gaged in working out the problem of man's indus- 
trial, moral, and spiritual well-being through polit- 
ical organizations based upon international peace 
and the widest recognition of man's civil and reli- 
gious liberty. 

Thus he proposed to present the differentiation, 
the expansion of the English people throughout 
the world, with their language, their literature, 
their arts and sciences, their forms of political or- 
ganization, as constituting a dominating influence 
in world affairs at the present time an influence 
which makes steadily for civil and religious liberty, 
and for the promotion of international peace. 

Having reached this point in his exposition, he 
was led to enquire as to the possibility of conditions 
arising which would obstruct the continued expan- 
sion of the English people and check their peaceful 
influence upon world affairs. Here he found two 
world-questions which, at the opening of the twen- 
tieth century, were engaging the attention of the 
students of politico-economic history, and which 
were of particular import to the English people 
and their place in the modern world. The one 
was the awakening of China, in which is involved 


Proposed Winchester Address 

the balance of political power in Asia; the other 
was the rise of militant Germany, in which is in- 
volved the balance of political power in Europe. 
England has vital interests to maintain in both 
Europe and Asia, and it is not at all improbable that 
in the near future she may be forced into a war in 
defence of her interests in one or both continents. 
If with a strong naval power the conflict would ex- 
tend to all her colonies; in fact, it would extend 
throughout the world, and the people of the United 
States could not remain disinterested spectators in 
such a conflict. Their political sympathies and 
their politico-economic interests would all be on 
the side of England, as the champion of personal 
liberty and of the utmost freedom in international 

It was Fiske's firm belief that the early years of 
the twentieth century would see all the English 
peoples of the world moving for a much stronger 
political integration than had hitherto existed, 
not only for their own protection against militant 
aggression, but also as a powerful move in further- 
ance of international comity, of universal peace 
among the nations. And he found in the scheme 
of government worked out by the English people 
of the United States a form of political federation 
which was suggestive, at least, of how a much 
broader political integration or federation of all the 
English people might be brought about. 

Therefore, on this occasion of a millennial com- 


John Fiske 

memoration to King Alfred, and speaking for the 
Western world, it was Fiske's purpose to show that 
the English people whose representative Alfred 
was, and whose nationality he did so much to es- 
tablish a thousand years ago, had not only since 
had an eventful history in their own English home, 
but that they had also expanded broadly to other 
lands, where under new conditions they had polit- 
ically organized themselves in conformity to their 
own principles of constitutional liberty, and had 
become the founders of mighty Commonwealths 
devoted to the cultivation of the peaceful arts, 
Commonwealths which only awaited the develop- 
ment of a practicable form of political integration 
to become the dominant political power in the 
world in behalf of civil liberty and international 

It was, indeed, a noble theme, and my very im- 
perfect outline sketch can at best but serve to sug- 
gest what the written address would have been 
when enriched with his ripe knowledge and clothed 
in his incomparable style. Imperfect, therefore, as 
is the record of what he was prepared to say at 
Winchester, what is here given may perhaps serve 
to show that, down to the very last, he saw with 
sublime faith the forces of Evolution as the mani- 
festations of a Divine Power ever at work in the 
elevation of human society; and, as twenty years 
before in his lectures before the Royal Institution, 
London, his mind was still filled with pictures of a 


Federation of English Peoples 

future " world covered with cheerful homesteads, 
and blessed with a Sabbath of perpetual peace." 1 
The evening I spent with him he seemed in his 
usual health, and he was much gratified at having 
received notice from President Hadley, of Yale 
College, that in October following, Yale proposed 
to honor him with the degree of LL.D. There was, 
however, a tone of sadness in his reference to the 
great changes he expected to meet with in his forth- 
coming visit to London. His dearest friends, Hux- 
ley, Darwin, Lewes, Tyndall, Sime, Lord Arthur 
Russell, Macmillan, all were gone. Only Spencer 
remained, and in a very enfeebled condition. At 

1 While this expression of Fiske's thought, in 1901, in regard to 
the political future of the English race, is passing through the press 
(April, 1917), there is sitting in London an " Imperial War Confer- 
ence," called for the consideration of a plan of readjustment of the 
political relations between the component parts of the British Em- 
pire: a readjustment or federation, "based on a full recognition of 
the Dominions as autonomous nations of an Imperial Common- 
wealth, and India a part of the same, with an adequate voice in 
foreign policy and foreign relations upon all important matters of 
common Imperial concern": a conference called for a more com- 
plete integration of the British Empire. That such an integration 
or federation of the English peoples, now dispersed over the five con- 
tinents must immediately follow the close of the present war is a 
self-evident proposition. It will be the direct outgrowth of the 
federative principle established by the people of the United States, 
and it is impossible to exaggerate its significance to the future of 
the world's political organizations. By such political action on the 
part of the English peoples, by far the larger portion of the indus- 
tries of the world will take on permanently a peaceful character. 
Fiske saw this point clearly, and with rare prescience he forecast 
that the federated integration of the English peoples would be the 
stepping-stone to the peaceful federation of the world ; and this was 
to have been the gist of his message to the English people at 
Winchester in 1901. 


John Fiske 

best he could but picture his London visit as one 
of delightful memories. 

He complained of feeling tired. The rearrange- 
ment of his mother's house to meet his needs had 
called for his constant supervision, and this had 
been quite a tax upon his physical strength. Dur- 
ing the previous few weeks, particularly, he had 
been deeply engrossed in preparing his large library 
and his many art and literary treasures for trans- 
fer to the new home he had prepared for them with 
much thoughtful care. We can well understand 
the flood of memories that came over him, as, for 
a new placement, he handled tenderly, as was his 
wont, these treasures, many of which were identi- 
fied with the deepest experiences of his life. This 
handling of his literary treasures was his last work. 

All was ready for the final transfer from the 
Berkeley Street home to the Brattle Street home, 
when, during the last week of June, there came a 
succession of exceptionally hot, muggy days that 
were very enervating to people with the most 
robust constitutions. Fiske was fairly prostrated 
by this depressing atmospheric condition. The 
early days of July brought no relief, and his phy- 
sician advised his getting out to sea a trip to 
Bar Harbor. This not being practicable, on the 
afternoon of July 3 a trip by boat to Gloucester 
was arranged. He was accompanied by his son, 
Herbert Fiske. His son-in-law, Grover Flint, fol- 
lowed immediately on hearing of his illness. 


Death and Burial 

The two hours* sail to Gloucester brought no 
relief. He was taken to the Hawthorne Inn, East 
Gloucester, where he could get the fresh sea-breeze 
from the broad Atlantic. During the evening he 
seemed to be failing, losing grasp of himself. At 
midnight he passed into a state of coma, and a 
little later semi-consciousness returned, and. he 
seemed to see a mighty, irresistible wave rolling 
towards him, when summoning all his energies he 
distinctly pronounced the name of his wife, and 
of each of his children, and his spirit peacefully 
passed to the Great Unknown. 

On the 7th of July, 1901, with a simple service, 
his body was laid at rest in the churchyard at 
Petersham the Petersham he loved so well. 



THERE has been placed over the grave of John 
Fiske a memorial symbolizing the evolution of the 
spiritual idea in man. 

It consists of a huge mass of rough granite, sym- 
bolizing the universe of inorganic phenomena. Out 
of this mass emerges a sphere, the symbol of motion, 
of life in its development through all organic forms 
from plant to conscious mind in man. This mind, 
with its languages, its arts, its sciences, its philoso- 
phies, is still further symbolized by a quadrate 
torchlight, which, held in a human hand, a sym- 
bol of conscious power, becomes a divine illumi- 
nation to man in his pathway to the realm of the 
Great Unknown. 




Abbot, Ezra, Assistant Librarian at 
Harvard, I, 398 n., 403, 448, 454. 

Adams, Prof. Henry, 2, 69. 

Adams, Samuel, Fiske's lecture on, 
2, 211-13. 

Adkins, John, I, 508-10; 2, 117. 

Agassiz, Alexander, I, 492. 

Agassiz, Louis, I, 144, 160; his Es- 
say on the Classification of the A ni- 
mal Kingdom, 179, 182; cham- 
pion of special Divine creations, 
182, 183, 197, 308; Fiske. criti- 
cises, 410, 411. 

Alcott, A. Bronson, 2, 307, 308. 

Alfred, King, millennial celebration 
in honor of, 2, 493, 494. 

Alger, William R., I, 374 n. 

Alma-Tadema, Laurence, 2, 122. 

American Political Ideas, Fiske pre- 
pares syllabus of, 2, 159; a power- 
ful peace argument, 172, 200; 
lectures favorably received, 200; 
published, 337. 

American Revolution, The, pub- 
lished, 2, 412. 

Angelo, Michael, Fiske's criticism 
of, I, 507,508. 

Appleton, William, gives a dinner 
for Fiske, I, 397. 

Appleton 1 s Journal, articles by 
Fiske in, I, 346. 

Arago, Dominique Frangois, anec- 
dote of, I, 144. 

Astoria, Oregon, celebration at, 2, 


Atlantic Monthly, publishes Asa 
Gray's articles on the" Darwinian 
theory, 1 , 1 80 n. ; articles by Fiske 
in, I, 298, 324, 378, 405; 2, 97, 
98, 191,234,353,384,389. 

Atonement, the, I, 91; 2, 10, n. 

Attucks, Crispus, memorial to, 2, 
387, 388. 

Baldwin, Hannah, I, 10. 

Barnes, Rev. Jonathan Ebenezer, 

has religious controversy with 

Fiske, I, 122-25. 

Barnum's Circus, I, 419. 

Beecher, Henry Ward, 2, 262, 346. 

Beggars, Italian, I, 511, 512. 

Beginnings of New England, The, 
2, 355..3S6; published, 412. 

Bern, Switzerland, I, 521. 

Betts Academy, the, Fiske at, I, 
57-70; revisited (in 1889), 2, 

Bible, the, criticism of, 2, 14-16. 

Bichat, Marie Francois Xavier, I, 
213 and n. 

Billingsgate Fish Market, 2, 287. 

Bixby, William K., 2, 231 n. 

Blackstone's Commentaries, Fiske 
enraptured with, I, 271. 

Blarney Castle, I, 424. 

Body and Mind, 2, 34-38. 

Bolton, Charles K., 2, 67. 

Bound family, the, I, 12, 13. 

Bound, Mary Fisk, see Green, Mrs. 
Edmund Brewster. 

Bowen, Prof. Francis, in charge of 
Department of Philosophy at 
Harvard, I, 161, 162; favors 
suspending Fiske for a year, 233 ; 
commends Fiske's scholarship, 

Bradford, J. G., I, 129. 

Bradshaw, Henry, I, 454, 455. 

British Museum, The, 2, 267, 268, 

Brooks, Abby Morgan, I, 242; a 
student at Prof. Agassiz's school, 
243; social relations with Prof. 
Child, 244; first meeting with 
John Fiske, 244; visited by him 
at Petersham, 245-48; the ac- 
quaintance ripens, 250, 251; 
becomes engaged, 256; married 
in Appleton Chapel, 299. Let- 
ters to, I, 252-57, 271, 272, 286, 
288-91. See also, Fiske, Mrs. 

Brooks, James W., I, 29 ., 243, 
247; 2, 85, 91; Vice-Consul at 
Paris with John Bigelow, I, 250; 
his home in Cambridge, 2, 75, 



79; helpfulness during Fiske's 
absence, 76. 

Brooks, John, I, 245, 249, 250. 

Brooks, Miss Martha, x, 431, 432; 
2, 75- 

Brooks, Mrs. Martha A., 2, 75; 
illness and death of, 76-79. 

Brooks, Phillips, quoted, 2, 430. 

Bruce, Dr., Spencer's physician, 2, 
272-75, 291. 

Bruges, May festival in, I, 527, 

Brunton, Dr. Lauder, 2, 291. 

Bryce, James, his Holy Roman Em- 
pire, I, 326; Fiske meets, 2, 137. 

Buckle, Thomas, History of Civili- 
zation, I, 113, 114, 214; Emer- 
son's estimate of, 213; Fiske's 
criticism of, 215, 293, 294. 

Bunsen, Baron, 2, 127, 128. 

Bushnell, Horace, I, 112, 113. 

Butler, Gov. Benjamin F., refused 
degree by Harvard Overseers, 
2, 292-94- 

Buzby, Ann, I, 2. 

Byron, Lord, quoted, I, 290, 291. 

Cabot, James Elliot, Memoir of 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted, 
2, 256, 476, 479, 480. 

Caledonian Canal, the, I, 444-46. 

Canterbury, England, I, 528. 

Carlyle, Thomas, anecdote of, I, 
213; method of dealing with his- 
tory, 2, 196; death, 209. 

Catacombs of Rome, I, 507, 508. 

Cathedrals, English, I, 451, 452. 

Causes of Persecution, The, 2, 191, 

Century of Science and Other Es- 
says, A, 2, 469-71- 

Certosa, La, monastery of, I, 504, 

Channing, William Ellery, I, 172, 

Chase, Daniel H., teacher of Fiske, 

i, 37-39- 

Chase, Pres. Thomas, 2, 201. 
Chester, England, I, 428, 429; 2, 

Child, Prof. Francis J., I, 155, 156, 

196; anecdote of, 244. 
Christian dogmas, I, 89-99, 227; 

their usefulness, 97. 
Christian Examiner, articles by 

Fiske in, I, 303. 

Christmas Idea, economic value 

of the, 2, 482, 483. 
Civil Government in the United 

States, 2, 400, 416, 417. 
Civil War, the, I, 187-92; its effect 

on Fiske, 235-42. 
Clarke, James Freeman, I, 374; 

2, 294. 

Clay, Henry, I, 6. 
Clifford, Hon. John H., I, 354 n. 
Clifford, Prof. W. K., I, 460, 483; 

2, 144. 

Coeducation, 2, 217, 218. 
Colenso, Bishop, 2, 16 n. 
Collier, Hon. John, 2, 142. 
Cologne Cathedral, I, 525, 526. 
Colton, Rev. Henry M., one of 

Fiske's teachers, I, 71-80. 
Columbia River, 2, 365 ; centennial 

of discovery of, 439-44. 
Columbus, Christopher, Fiske's 

sketch of, 2, 425-27. 
Comte, Auguste, Positive Philos- 
ophy of, I, 137, 138, 217, 348, 

357, 367-69; 2, 29. 
Comte, Auguste, classmate of 

Fiske, 2, 368. 
Concord School of Philosophy, the, 

2, 307, 308; Fiske addresses, 


Cone, Olive, I, 12, 25.; 
Confucius, Fiske's opinion of, I, 

140, 141. 
Congregationalist, The, criticises 

Cosmic Philosophy, 2, 56. 
Con way, Rev. Moncure D., I, 463, 

491, 492; encourages Fiske to 

lecture in London, 2, in. 
Cooke, Prof. Josiah P., I, 158, 159, 

233; anecdote of, 2, 272 n. 
Copernican astronomy, the, 2, 310, 


Cornell University, Fiske offered 
non-resident professorship at, I, 
397, 398; lectures at, 2, 217- 


Cosmic Philosophy, Outlines of, Eng- 
lish publication arranged for, I, 
457 ; finished, 466, 467 ; published, 
2, i ; dedicated to Roberts, 2; de- 
velopment of, 27, 28; quoted, 28, 
29, 34 35, 38, 39, 40, 42, 47; re- 
ception of, 53, 54; hostile criti- 
cism, 55-57- 

Cosmic Roots of Lov* and Self- 
Sacrifice, The, 2, 472. 



Cosmic universe, the, 2, 5-8; phi- 
losophy of, 17-24. 

Cotton, Eliza, I, 28-30. 

Cowper, William, quoted, 2, 6 n. 

Cranch, Christopher Pearse, 2, 91; 
poem by, 95, 96. 

Critical Period of American History, 
The, published, 2, 390; favor- 
ably received, 391; commended 
by John Morley, 392; and by 
John Jay, 393. 

Cromwell, Frederick, 2, 160. 

Curtin, Jeremiah, classmate of 
Fiske, I, 401, 457. 

Curtis, Judge Benjamin R., con- 
sulted by Fiske, I, 130, 131, 133; 
discusses theology with Fiske, 
143; opposes Pres. Lincoln, 190, 
191; supports Horatio Seymour, 
240; letter to Mr. Stoughton 
about Fiske, 267; on bar exam- 
ination, 282, 283. 

Curtis, George Ticknor, I, 130. 

Dante, Divine Comedy, 2, 309, 310. 

Darwin, Charles, I, 460; 2, 12 n., 
54; his Origin of Species, I, 179, 
184, 185, 186, 2, 17, 19; personal 
sketch of, I, 476-79; caricatured, 
2, 57; entertains Fiske, 133, 134, 
177, 178; Fiske's tribute to, 235- 
38. Letters to, I, 389, 476, 2, 
173; letters from, I, 391, 477, 2, 
60, 178. 

Darwin, George, 2, 134, 135. 

Darwinism, I, 179-86; in Harvard 
College, 1 80. a 

Darwinism and other Essays, 1, 404; 
2, 98; accepted by Macmillan, 
132, 133- 

Delepierre, Octave, 2, 132, 138. 

Dennett, Prof. John R., I, 362, 
396; death of, 2, 96. 

Desert, an American, 2, 360. 

Destiny of Man, The, address at 
Concord School of Philosophy, 
2, 308-20; published, 320. 

Diaz, Bartholomew, 2, 425. 

Dickens, Charles, Fiske's enjoy- 
ment of, I, 83, 2, 213; his pub- 
lic readings, I, 336, 337; Bleak 
House quoted, 2, 130; Oliver 
Twist cited, 148. 

Differentiation and integration, 
two fundamental principles of 
doctrine of Evolution, 2, 489. 

Discovery of America, The, 2, 418- 
33; dedicated to Edward A. Free- 
man, 433; received with great 
applause, 434~37- 

Dogmas of Christian theology, I, 
89-99, 227; 2, 4-16. 

Donaldson, John W., his Varroni- 
anus, I, 225. 

Donnelly, Ignatius, his Great 
Cryptogram, 2, 384. 

Draper, Prof. John W., I, 274. 

Dudley, Rev. John Langdon, a 
broad-minded orthodox clergy- 
man, I, no, 115; Fiske meets 
again in Milwaukee, 401 ; 2, 206, 
207 ; Excursions of an Evolution- 
ist dedicated to, 304, 305. 

Duncan, David, Life and Letters of 
Herbert Spencer, cited, 2, 25, 36, 
247 w. 

Eaton, Frank C., 2, 203, 214. 

Edinburgh, I, 434-38, 447-49. 

Edwards, Mrs. M. A., aids Fiske's 
journey to England, I, 406, 407. 

Eliot, Charles William, I, 159 n., 
343, 344; chosen president of 
Harvard, 345; invites Emerson 
and Fiske to lecture on philos- 
ophy, 346-48; his inaugural ad- 
dress, 353-55; appoints Fiske 
Acting Professor of History, 373; 
letter about Lowell Institute, 
395, 396; appoints Fiske Assist- 
ant Librarian, 398, 399. 

Eliot, George, personal sketch of, 

1, 482-85. 

Eliot, Rev. T. L., of Portland, Ore- 
gon, 2, 367, 441. 

Eliot, Pres. William G., 2, 204. 

Ellis, Joseph Whitcomb, I, in. 

Ely Cathedral, I, 452. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, I, 174, 
176; some affirmations of, 177, 
178; Fiske's first meeting with, 
211-14; lectures at Harvard, 
347; not a reader of Spencer, 2, 
254; and Evolution, 256-59, 

2, 476-82; his conception of the 
Deity, I, 257, 258, 2, 479, 480; 
characterization of, Americus 
Vespucius, 427. 

Enfield, Lord, 2, 132. 
Ericson, Leif, 2, 421. 
Ericsson, Capt. John, one of Mr. 
Stoughton's clients, 2, 229, 230; 


receives gold model of Monitor, 

Essays and Reviews, I, 227; 2, 16 n. 

Essays Historical and Literary, 2, 
469, 470. 

Eucken, Rudolf, quoted, I, 95. 

Evarts, William M., presides at 
Spencer dinner, 2, 260, 261. 

Everlasting Reality of Religion, The, 

Evolution, the doctrine of, I, 179, 
1 80, 217, 307, 308; Darwin's con- 
tribution to, 1 80, 184, 185; ef- 
fects of, 186, 218; Spencer's phi- 
losophy based on, 2, 19; his law 
of, 24-26; and the nature of 
Deity, 32-34; and religion, 38- 
41, 50-54; philosophic implica- 
tions of, 41-46; two fundamental 
principles of, 489. 

Evolution of Language, The, I, 

Evolutionary philosophy, I, 358, 
359, 365, 458, 4595 and religious 
faith, 2, 335. 

Excursions of an Evolutionist, 2, 
265, 304-06. 

Fall of man, the, I, 91; 2, 9, 10. 

Felton, Cornelius Conway, presi- 
dent of Harvard College, I, 148, 
196, 204; his Greek scholarship 
226; threatens Fiske with expul- 
sion, 233, 234. 

Ferney, I, 519, 520. 

Fields, James T., I, 323 and n.; 
2, 396. 

Fisk, Polly (Mrs. John Bound), 
Fiske 's maternal grandmother, 
I, 12. See also Lewis, Mrs. Elias. 

Fiske family, in England, I, 8, 9; 
in America, 9-12. 

Fiske, Bezaleel, I, n. 

Fiske, Clarence Stoughton, born, 

I, 345, 346. 

Fiske, Ethel, born, I, 400. 
Fiske, Harold Brooks, born, I, 329. 
Fiske, Herbert Huxley, I, 50 n.', 

born, 2, 82; with his father at 

the end, 504. 
Fiske, Rev. John (of Cotton 

Mather's Magnolia), 2, 182. 
Fiske, John (born in England), I, 

9, 10. 

Fiske, Dr. John (1654),!, 10. 
Fiske, Capt. John (1693), I, 10. 

Fiske, John, birth, I, I, 4; his origi- 
nal name (Edmund Fisk Green), 
i ; paternal ancestry, 1-7 ; ma- 
ternal ancestry, 8-13; boyhood, 
26-37; teaches himself to read, 
26, 27; learns to sew, 30; person- 
ates the minister, 30; early con- 
ception of God, 30, 31; some 
early traits, 32, 69; first school, 
33; his reading in childhood, 34; 
placed in Mr. Chase's school, 37; 
persecuted by schoolmates, 39; 
fits up a workshop, 39, 40; his 
economical tendencies, 43, 44, 
50, 56; studies without instruc- 
tors, 45, 49, 105; his library, 46, 
135, 193, 244; enters Mr. Brew- 
er's school, 46; translates Caesar 
into Greek, 48; reproduces an 
illustrated poster, 50, 51; 
changes name to John Fisk, 55; 
at Betts Academy, 57-70; reli- 
gious stirrings, 65; joins Ortho- 
dox church, 66; a pupil of Henry 
M. Colton, 71-80, 85; his inter- 
est in comparative philology, 76, 
80; learns to play a piano, 79; 
composes music, 79, 84; his wide 
reading, 81-83; active in reli- 
gious work, 84, 85; passes Yale 
freshman examinations, 86; de- 
cides to go to Harvard, 87; reli- 
gious questionings, 87, 88, 100- 
03, no; includes a scientific 
course, 106, 107, 125; reads an- 
cient history, 107, 108, 109, 125; 
influence of Humboldt, 108, 109; 
studies the defences of ortho- 
doxy, 112; effect of reading 
Buckle, 113, 114; abandons dog- 
matic Christianity, 115; called 
an infidel, 118; relations with his 
pastor, 120, 12 1 ; controversy 
with Dr. Barnes, 122-25; socially 
ostracized, 127; engages rooms 
in Cambridge, 131; gets a tutor, 
132; makes acquaintance of 
George Ticknor, 133; mousing 
among Boston book-shops, 135, 
136, 138; interested in Positivism, 
137; enthusiastic over Spencer, 
138, 229; progress in foreign lan- 
guages, 140-42, 153, 195, 254; on 
Confucius, 140, 141; contem- 
plates a history of early Christi- 
anity, 142, 143; passes Harvard 



freshman and sophomore en- 
trance examinations, 145, 147. 

Begins his college life, 194; his 
collegiate work, 195; personal re- 
lations with members of faculty, 
196, 197, 206; among his class- 
mates, 198-200, 203, 204; asso- 
ciate editor of Harvard Magazine, 
205, 221, 222; friendship with 
Prof. John K. Paine, 206, 299; 
method of reading and study, 
207; college expenses, 208; suf- 
fers in reputation, 209, 231 ; book 
purchases, 210, 21 1 ; visits Emer- 
son, 211-14; publishes review of 
Buckle, 215-17; publishes the 
Evolution of Language, 219-21, 
269; his philological studies, 223- 
25; on Goethe's Faust, 224; hos- 
tility to dogmatic Christianity, 
227-29; on Spencer, 229, 230; 
receives a "public admonition," 
231-35; threatened with expul- 
sion, 234; at first indifferent to 
the Civil War, 236; soon aroused, 
237, 238, 241, 242; studies war 
strategy, 239, 240; meets Miss 
Brooks, 244; visits her at Peters- 
ham, 245-47 ; presses his suit, 
248-56; estimate of the German 
language, 253; becomes engaged, 
256; graduates from Harvard, 
259; college rank, 259, 260; con- 
siders choice of a profession, 261 ; 
tries for position as teacher, 262- 
65; personanon grata at Harvard, 
264; gets photograph of Spencer, 
265, 292; turns to the law, 266; 
enters Harvard Law School, 268; 
his plan of study, 270; in love 
with the law, 271; called on by 
E. L. Youmans, 273, 277, 278; 
Norton asks him to write for 
North American Review, 274; 
visits Norton, 278, 279; com- 
pletes his legal studies in nine 
months, 280-82; admitted to 
Boston Bar, 283; his side study, 
284, 285, 298; reads Maine's An- 
cient Law, 286, 287; and the 
Koran, 288, 289; orderliness of his 
mind, 289, 290; correspondence 
with Spencer, 293-97, 313-18, 
338, 354-57, 366, 383-88, 408; his 
marriage, 299; begins practice of 
law and gets degree of LL. B . , 300 ; 

continues wide general reading, 
301; does not like Hawthorne, 
301 ; compares Motley and Pres- 
cott as historians, 302; writes 
Problems in Language and My- 
thology and Conflict of Reason with 
Bigotry and Superstition, 303, 
304; birth of his daughter Maud, 

Gives up the law for literature, 
305; inventories his intellectual 
property, 306, 307; champion in 
America of Evolution, 308, 314; 
writes Laws of History, 309, 310; 
writes on University Reform, for 
the Atlantic, 323-25; settles in 
Cambridge, 328; birth of his son 
Harold, 329; review writing, 331 , 
332, 334, 346, 378; elected a 
member of the American Orien- 
tal Society, 332; his Cambridge 
neighbors, 332; domestic life, 
333; wide reading, 333, 334; crit- 
icises Parton's Smoking and 
Drinking, 334-36; writes article 
for the Nation on Harvard presi- 
dency, 342, 343; birth of his 
second son, 345, 346; called to 
lecture at Harvard, 346-50; 
writes Genesis of Language, 352 ; 
lectures on Evolutionary philos- 
ophy, 359-62, 364, 365; Acting 
Professor of History at Harvard, 
373 374? his work in teaching 
history, 375; on the Franco- 
Prussian War, 379; third son 
born, 379; second course of Har- 
vard lectures, 380-82; objects to 
Spencer's title, "Synthetic Phi- 
losophy," 388; corresponds with 
Darwin, 38993; lectures on 
Evolution, in Boston, 393, 406; 
not permitted to speak before 
Lowell Institute, 395; lectures in 
New York, 396; called to Cornell 
University, 397; appointed As- 
sistant Librarian at Harvard, 
398; settles at 4 Berkeley St., 
400; second daughter born, 400; 
lectures in Milwaukee, 400-02; 
his duties as librarian, 404, 405, 
2, 63-69; gets leave of absence 
for European trip, 407; arti- 
cle on Agassiz, 410, 41 1 ; sails for 
England, 41 1 ; passion for music, 
412-17, 442; composes part of a 



mass, 414-16, a, 83, 217; a do- 
mestic man, I, 417-22; trip 
through Ireland, 423-28; at 
Chester, 428, 429; impressions of 
England, 429-31; in London, 
432, 456-68; in the Lake District, 
433, 434; in Edinburgh, 434-38, 
447-49; first impressions of the 
Scotch people, 434, 435; trip to 
the Scotch Highlands, 439-46; 
through some cathedral towns, 
450-52; at Ipswich and Cam- 
bridge, 453-55; arranges for 
English publication of Cosmic 
Philosophy, 457; cordially re- 
ceived by English Evolutionists, 
459, 460, 469; aided by many 
distinguished men, 460-64; occu- 
pies M. D. Conway's pulpit, 463; 
conferences with Spencer, 463- 
66; finishes Cosmic Philosophy, 
466, 467; personal sketches of 
Spencer, Darwin, Lewes, George 
Eliot, Huxley, and Sir Charles 
Lyell, 471-92; journey on the 
Continent, 493-526; admiration 
for Gothic art and indifference to 
Renaissance, 496-98, 500; im- 
pressions of Paris, 498-500; 
hasty run through France, 501, 
502; in Florence, 502-06, 515, 
516; in Rome, 507, 508, 515; in 
Naples and vicinity, 508-14; in 
Venice, 517; trip into Switzer- 
land, 519-24; down the Rhine, 
525, 526; back to London, 527- 
29; social courtesies there, 


Returns home, 2, i; publishes 
Cosmic Philosophy, I, 2; history 
of its development, 27, 28; Fiske 
and Spencer, 28, 30, 31; four 
corollaries to Spencer's argu- 
ment, 31-46; on the nature of 
Deity, 32-34; on matter and 
spirit, 34-38; on evolution and 
religion, 38-41; on the philo- 
sophic implications of evolution, 
41-46; effect of the discussion on 
his mind, 49-52 ; frames cartoon 
of Spencer and Darwin, 57 ; grow- 
ing reputation as a philosophic 
thinker, 62; leading evolutionist 
in America, 63; work jn Harvard 
Library, 63-69; catalogue of 
Sumner Collection, 67; never re- 

garded library as his proper 
place, 69, 70; lectures on Ameri- 
can history in Old South Church, 
71, 72, 105-10; resigns from Har- 
vard Library, 73; domestic and 
social life, 75-85; new home at 
22 Berkeley St., 80-82; musical 
practice, 82, 83; his musical 
gifts, 84; visited by the Huxley s, 
85-91; mid-winter excursion to 
Petersham, 93, 94; literary work, 
97, 98; What is Inspiration, 98- 
100; The Unseen World, 97, 100 
04; lectures at Peabody Insti- 
tute, Baltimore, 98; foundations 
of his religious faith, 102-04. 

Voyage to England, 112-15; 
excursion to Kenilworth and 
Stratford, 116, 117; second visit 
to London, 119; London lodg- 
ings, 120; social courtesies, 121- 
25, 129-39, 143; lectures at Uni- 
versity College, 126-28, 129, 133, 
136, 139-41; arranges with Mac- 
millan for publication of Darwin- 
ism and other Essays, 132, 133; 
visits Darwin, 133, 134; excur- 
sions with Holt and Spencer, 
134-36, 141, 142; elected to 
Board of Overseers of Harvard, 
144; dinner at Arts Club, 145; 
excursions to Epping Forest and 
other country rambles, 14649; 
farewell visits to Huxley and 
Spencer, 149, 150, 152-54; gives 
a social punch party, 151, 152; 
sails for home, 154; personal ap- 
pearance, 156; lectures in Maine, 
1 57-59 5 prepares syllabus of 
American Political Ideas, 159; 
lectures in Brooklyn, 160, 161 ; in 
Philadelphia, 163, 164; in Chick- 
ering Hall, New York, 164, 168; 
in Washington, 165, 166; an eve- 
ning with Carl Schurz, 166, 167; 
invited to White House by Presi- 
dent Hayes, 167; invited to lec- 
ture in London and Edinburgh, 
169; lectures in Buffalo and in 
Ohio cities, 170, 171; accom- 
panied to Europe by Mrs. Fiske, 
I7i> I73 W; three weeks in 
London, 176-80; lectures at 
Royal Institution, 179, 180; 
visits home of Fiske ancestors, 
180-84; lectures at Philosophical 


Institute, Edinburgh, 184; takes 
two Highland trips with Mrs. 
Fiske, 185, 1 86; lectures at 
South Place Institute, London, 
187; goes to France, 187; eleven 
days in Paris, 188; returns to 
America, 189; controversy with 
William James, 192-99; some 
lecture experiences, 199-203; 
lectures at Haverford College, 
200, 20 1 ; at Washington Univer- 
sity, 204; spends a month in Wis- 
consin, lecturing, 205-08; lec- 
tures in Old South Church, 211- 
13; in Indianapolis, 214; sings in 
public, 214, 215; lectures at Cor- 
nell University, 219, 220; agrees 
to write history of American peo- 
ple for Harper & Brothers, 22 1 ; 
enlarges his plan, 222; The True 
Lesson of Protestantism, 224-27; 
more magazine articles, 234; 
tribute to Darwin, 235-38; en- 
tertains Spencer, 245-54; ad- 
dress at Spencer dinner, 262-65; 
fourth visit to London, 269; calls 
on Tyndall, 272; ill, 273-76, 284, 
285; dines at Tyndall's, 277; at 
his old quarters, 279; dines at 
Billingsgate Fish Market, 287; 
homesick, 28891; returns to 
America, 291. 

Opposes granting degree to 
Gov. Butler, 292-94; lectures in 
Old South Church, to young peo- 
ple, 297-300; course of lectures 
on Revolutionary War, 300-03; 
repeated in St. Louis, 303, 304; 
publishes Excursions of an Evolu- 
tionist, 304-06; lectures at Con- 
cord School of Philosophy, on 
Man's Immortality, 308-20; and 
on the Idea of God, 323-36; pub- 
lishes The Destiny of Man, 320; 
dedicates The Idea of God to Mrs. 
Fiske, 333; publishes American 
Political Ideas, 337; agreement 
with Messrs. Harper amicably 
annulled, 339; misconception of 
his historical work, 340, 341, 
462; lectures on the Critical 
Period of American History, 345, 
346, 389; Major Pond becomes 
his lecture manager, 346-48; 
lectures on Civil War, 347-50, 
461 ; has pneumonia, 351 ; assist- 

ant editor of Cyclopcedia of Biog- 
raphy, 352, 353; lectures on the 
Beginnings of New England, 355, 
356; trip to the Pacific, 357-66; 
lectures in Portland, Oregon, 
366; and in San Francisco, 368; 
meets Gen. Johnston, 369-71; 
stops at Salt Lake City, 372-75; 
lectures on Scenes and Characters 
in American History, 380, 385, 
398; on the Bacon-Shakespeare 
controversy, 384; delivers ad- 
dress at dedication of Boston 
Massacre memorial, 387, 388; 
publishes Critical Period, 389- 
94; perplexed over his great his- 
torical task, 394; relieved by his 
publishers, 395-98; at work on 
Civil Government in the United 
States, 400, 416; publishes War of 
Independence, 400, 401; personal 
diversions, 403-07; puttering 
with his plants, 404-07; lectures 
at Lowell Institute, 409, 485; re- 
visits Betts Academy, 411; pub- 
lishes Beginnings of New England^ 
412; publishes Civil Government, 
417; The Discovery of Amer- 
ica, 417-37; writes Life of You- 
mans, 438, 439, 449; delivers ad- 
dress at centennial of discovery 
of ^ Columbia River, 439-44; 
visits Alaska, 444, 445; orator at 
four hundredth anniversary of 
discovery of America, 446; in- 
vited to lecture before Depart- 
ment of University Extension at 
Oxford, 447; receives degrees 
from Harvard and University of 
Pennsylvania, 448; writes school 
history, 450-52; message from 
Tennyson, 453; enjoyed ex- 
tempore speaking, 455; ground 
plan of his great historical under- 
taking, 456-59 ; order of volumes, 
460- 64; publishes Mississippi 
Valley in the Civil War, 462; 
largeness of his scheme, 465-68; 
publishes A Century of Science 
and Essays Historical and Liter- 
ary, 469-71; gives historical ad- 
dress at two hundred and fiftieth 
anniversary of Middletown, 471 ; 
publishes Through Nature to God, 
472, 473; and Life Everlasting, 
474-76; interest in Emerson, 



476-^82 ; on the economic value of 
spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic 
ideas, 482, 483; prepares New 
France and New England for 
press, 486, 488; superintends 
remodelling of his mother's 
house, 486, 487, 504; estimates 
of Jefferson, Hamilton, and 
Marshall, 491, 492; invited to 
speak at millennial celebration in 
honor of King Alfred, 493; sub- 
stance of his proposed address, 
495-502; Yale proposes to give 
him degree of LL.D., 503; pros- 
trated by hot weather, 504; 
taken to East Gloucester, 504; 
death and burial, 505. 
Fiske, Mrs. John, accompanies 
Fiske to England, 2, 171, 174- 
89; returns Five Forks flag to 
Mrs. Sheridan, 233 ; The Idea of 
God dedicated to, 333 ; letter from 
Sir Henry Irving, 344. See also 
Brooks, Abby Morgan. Letters 
to, I, 400-02, 424, 425, 433, 435- 
46, 448-55, 465, 471-75, 478-88, 

491,497-515, 519-33; 2, 112, 1 16, 
119-42, 146, 151, 160, 2OI, 202, 
208, 214-20, 269, 270, 279, 288, 

Fiske, John, Jr. (1718), I, n. 
Fiske, John, great-grandfather of 

John Fiske, I, 12, 22-24; his 

books, 25, 26; death, 31. 
Fiske, Maud, I, 333; born, 304; 

learning to talk, 330, 331; sings 

for Spencer, 2, 253; letter to, 406. 
Fiske, Nicholas (time of Charles 

ID, 2, 183. 
Fiske, Nicholas, of Dennington, 2, 

183, 184. 

Fiske, Ralph Browning, born, 1 , 379. 
Fiske, Robert (in Elizabeth's time), 

2, 182. 

Flint, Grover, 2, 504. 
Fortnightly Review, articles by 

Fiske in, I, 309, 339, 340. 
Franco-Prussian War, the, I, 379. 
Free Religious Association, the, 2, 

Freeman, Edward A., letters from, 

2, 413, 415; Discovery of America 

dedicated to, 433 ; critical article 

on, 446. 
Frothingham, Benjamin T., I, 396, 

2, 160. 

Froude, J. A., contrasted with 

Mommsen, 2, 197. 
Fuller, William Henry, 2, 116, 117. 
Furness Abbey, I, 434. 
Furness, Horace Howard, letter 

from, 2, 381-83. 

Galton, Francis, 2, 235, 236. 

Gantt, Judge, 2, 204; quizzes 
Fiske, 205; and General John- 
ston, 369, 370. 

Gardner, Francis, I, 263. 

Garnett, Richard, I, 225, 2, 282. 

Garrison, Wendell Phillips, I, 396. 

Gibbons, Most Reverend James, 

Giles, Rev. Chauncey, 2, 99. 

Gladstone, William E., his Juven- 
tus Mundi reviewed by Fiske, I, 
378, 379J meeting with, 2, 124, 

God, the idea of, 2, 13, 14, 46, 323- 
36; the nature of, 32-34. 

Godkin, E. L., I, 342, 362. 

Goethe's Faust, 2, 325, 326. 

Goodwin, Prof. William W., I, 150. 

Gothic architecture and art, I, 
496-98, 500. 

Grant, Gen. U.S., 2, 348. 

Granville, Earl, 2, 132, 142. 

Graphic, The New York Daily, cari- 
catures Spencer and Darwin, 

2, 56, 57- 

Gray, Prof. Asa, I, 160; a sup- 
porter of Darwin's views, 180, 

Gray, Capt. Robert, explores Co- 
lumbia River, 2, 442. 

Great White Horse Inn, The, I, 
453; 2, 1 80, 184. 

Green, Edmund Brewster, father 
of John Fiske, I, I, 2, 24, 36, 42; 
sent to Wesleyan University, 3; 
a journalist, 3-5; marries Mary 
Fisk Bound, 4; secretary to 
Henry Clay, 6; goes to Panama, 
7; death, 8. 

Green, Mrs. Edmund Brewster 
(Mary Fisk Bound), first mar- 
riage, 1,4, 12,24, 26; a teacher, 5, 
13, 34; marries Mr. Stoughton, 
52-54. See also Stoughton, Mrs. 
Edwin W. 

Green, Edmund Fisk, original 
name of John Fiske. See Fiske, 



Green, Humphrey, I, 1-3. 
Green, Mrs. Humphrey (Hannah 

Heaton), 1,2; letter to, 36. 
Greg, W. R., 2, 322. 
Grindelwald glacier, the, I, 522, 

Grote, George, first impression of 
Fiske, I, 312. 

Grove, Sir William Robert, I, 225, 

Gurney, Prof. Ephraim W., I, 152; 
Fiske 's friendship with, 197, 215, 
219, 264, 398; candidate for 
presidency of Harvard, 342; 
elected Dean of the Faculty, 
373; consulted by Fiske about 
historical work, 2, 72. 

Hale, Edward Everett, I, 374. 

Hall, Dr. John D., classmate of 
Fiske, 2, 368. 

Hamilton, Alexander, 2, 491. 

Hamilton, John C., 2, 169. 

Hamilton, Lord Claude, 2, 272. 

Hammond, Dr. William A., I, 

Harper & Brothers, contract wit 
Fiske for a work on American 
history, 2, 221; amicably annul 
the agreement, 339. 

Harris, Dr. William T., 2, 308. 

Harrison, Frederic, debate with 
Spencer, 2, 323. 

Harvard College, in 1860-1863, I, 
147-92; the faculty and courses 
of study, 148-63; orders and 
regulations, i63-j-66; penalties 
for neglect of religious services, 
163-65; morning prayers, 166, 
244; the dormitories, 167, 168, 
*93J professional schools, 169, 
268; Unitarianism in, 169-72, 
174, 178; Darwinism in, 180; 
controversy over war powers of 
President Lincoln, 187, 191, 192; 
athletics, 201, 202; influence of 
the Civil War, 235, 236; new 
era at, 319; Board of Overseers, 
320, 32 1 ; Overseers elected by 
alumni, 327; Pres. Hill resigns, 
341; Pres. Eliot elected, 345; 
his inaugural address, 353-55; 
and Gov. Butler, 2, 292-94; 
confers degrees on Fiske, 448. 

Harvard Law School, course of 
study in 1863, I, 268. 

Harvard Magazine, The, Fiske as- 

sociate editor of, I, 205; his con- 
tributions to, 221, 222. 

Haverford College, Pennsylvania, 
2, 200, 201. 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, his writ- 
ings not liked by Fiske, I, 301. 

Hay, John, gives a dinner for Fiske, 

I 397- 

Hayes, President Rutherford B., 
receives Fiske at White House, 
2, 167. 

Hazeltine, Mayo W., on The Dis- 
covery of America, 2, 434-36. 

Head, Franklin H., opens his Chi- 
cago home to Fiske for work, 2, 
408, 451. 

Heaton, Hannah, I, 2. 

Hedge, Rev. Frederick H., 2, 99; 
criticises Harvard College, I, 
167, 321, 322. 

Hemenway, Mrs. Mary, 2, 1 10, 1 1 1, 
128; asks Fiske to lecture in Old 
South Church, 210, 211; asks 
him to lecture on Cornwallis's 
surrender, 227; provides lectures 
for young people, 296, 297. 

Hennell, Sara, 2, 121, 122. 

Hill, Dr. Frank A., aids Fiske on 
school history, 2, 452. 

Hill, Thomas, president of Har- 
vard College, I, 149; dissatis- 
faction with, 327; resigns, 341. 

Hodges, Edward F., I, 300. 

Hoffding, Prof. Harald, 2, 36. 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, quoted, I, 
154, 160; presides at dinner to 
Spencer, 2, 244; note from, 352. 

Holt, Henry, publishes Fiske's 
Tobacco and Alcohol, I, 335, 336; 
with Fiske in England, 2, 116, 
117, 128, 132; excursions with 
Fiske, 134-36, 141, 142, 147. 

Hooker, Sir Joseph D., I, 184; 2, 


Houghton, Henry O., head of 
Houghton, Mifflin& Co., 2, 395; 
makes favorable proposal to 
Fiske, 396-98. 

Houghton, Lord, 2, 132. 

Howells, William Dean, I, 378; 
Myths and Myth-Makers dedi- 
cated to, 406; his Italian Jour- 
neys cited, 509, 513, 515; asks 
Fiske for paper on George Eliot, 
2, 208; The Undiscovered Coun- 
try, 209. 



Hughes, Thomas, 2, 132. 

Humboldt, Alexander von, his 
Cosmos, I, 83, 84, 108, 109; Fiske 
reads German edition, 140, 141. 

Hundred Greatest Men, The, 2, 199. 

Hunter, W. W., 2, 184, 185. 

Huntington, Rev. Frederick D., 
abandons Unitarianism, I, 170 
72, 177- 

Hutton, Laurence, I, 429, 431, 

Huxley, Madge, married, 2, 142. 

Huxley, Thomas Henry, letters 
from, I, 461, 489, 2, 85, 87, 88; 
consulted by Fiske, I, 463, 465; 
personal sketch of, 486-90; visits 
Fiske, 2, 85-91; encourages him 
to lecture in London, in; se- 
cures a room for the lectures, 
126; congratulates him on his 
success, 128, 129; Fiske's fare- 
well visit to, 149, 150; entertains 
Mr. and Mrs. Fiske, 176, 177; 
made Inspector of Salmon Fish- 
eries, 209. 

Idea of God, The, quoted, I, 31 ; de- 
livered as a lecture, 2, 323-36; 
dedicated to Mrs. Fiske, 333; re- 
ception by press and public, 334. 

Immortality, Man's, address on, 2, 

India, sea route to, 2, 423-25. 

Indians, wild, 2, 362. 

Industrialism and militancy, 2, 

Infancy, prolongation of, deter- 
mined the transition from ani- 
mality to humanity, I, 383, 390, 
471; Fiske's original contribu- 
tion to the doctrine of Evolution, 
2, 30, 31, 315. 

Ingersoll Lectureship, at Harvard, 
2, 474- 

Innesf alien, I, 426-28. 

Interlaken, I, 522, 523. 

Ipswich, England, I, 453; 2, 180, 

Irving, Sir Henry, friendship with 
Fiske, 2, 344, 453. 

Ithaca, New York, 2, 218. 

James, Henry, 2, 137. 

James, William, Fiske's criticism 

of, 2, 192-99. 
Janauschek, Madame, I, 336, 337. 

Jay, John, writes Fiske in praise of 
the Critical Period, 2, 393. 

Jefferson, Thomas, greatly ad- 
mired by Fiske, 2, 491. 

Johnston, Gen. Joseph E., Fiske's 
meeting with, 2, 369-71. 

Jones, Dr. Hiram A., 2, 307. 

Kenilworth, 2, 116, 117. 
Kensington Gardens, 2, 125. 
Killarney, the Lakes of, I, 425-27. 
Kimball, David P., I, 300. 

Lake District, the, I, 433, 434. 

Lane, Prof. George M., I, 151, 152. 

Las Casas, Bartholomew, historic 
justice to, 2, 429, 430. 

Lathrop, George P., 2, 156. 

Laveleye, mile de, 2, 188. 

Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent, 2, 8 . 

Laxfield, 2, 181-83. 

Laylor's Cyclopaedia of Political 
Science. 2, 223. 

Lea Brothers & Co., publishers, 2, 

Les Char met tes, I, 519, 521. 

Lewes, George Henry, editor of 
Fortnightly Review, I, 309; per- 
sonal sketch of, 479-82; a droll 
man, 532. 

Lewis, Elias, I, 28, 46. 

Lewis, Mrs. Elias, Fiske's mater- 
nal grandmother, I, 28; her 
confidence in him, 119, 121, 122; 
death of, 2, 74; letter to, I, 58. 

Lewis, Sir George Cornewall, I, 

Lewis and Clarke Expedition, 2, 
364, 442. 

Lichfield Cathedral, 2, 269, 270. 

Life Everlasting, 2, 474-76. 

Lincoln, Abraham, his Emancipa- 
tion Proclamation, I, 187, 189, 
239 ; suspension of habeas corpus, 
189, 190; remark on Judge Cur- 
tis, 191 w. 

Linnaeus, Carolus, a remark of, 2, 

Little, Brown & Co., I, 136. 

Locke, John, portrait of, 2, 94, 95. 

Lockyer, Norman, I, 460. 

Lott, Edward, companion of Spen- 
cer in America, 2, 239-44, 2 53- 

Levering, Prof. Joseph, I, 157, 158. 

Lowell, James Russell, professor in 
Harvard College, I, 156, 157; 



quoted, 175, 237, 419; becomes 
an editor of North American Re- 
view, 274. 

Lowell Institute, Fiske not per- 
mitted to speak before, in 1872, 
I> 395; lectures at, 2, 409, 485. 

Lubbock, Sir John, 2, 54, 143. 

Luther, Martin, 2, 224. 

Lyell, Sir Charles, I, 184; 2, 54; 
personal sketch of, I, 490-92. 

Macaulay, T. B., quoted, 2, 342, 

Mackenzie, Mrs. Alexander, I, 


Macmillan, Alexander, 2, 123, 124; 
accepts Darwinism and other Es- 
says, 132, 133. 

Maine, Sir Henry Sumner, 2, 54; 
his Ancient Law, I, 286, 287; 
quoted, 2, 417. 

Marble, Manton, editor of the New 
York World, I, 338, 362; gener- 
ous to Fiske, 384. 

Marden, Francis A., 2, 160. 

Marsh, Prof. O. C., palaeontologist, 
2, 88, 89, 90; at Spencer dinner, 

Marshall, Chief Justice John, 2, 
491, 492. 

Martin, Homer, I, 396. 

Martineau, James, Fiske spends 
an evening with, 2, 286; letter 
from, 386, 387. 

Masson, David, 2, 178, 184. 

Matter and spirit, 2, 34-38. 

McCarthy, Edward Dorr, I, 212. 

McClellan, Gen. George B., I, 238, 

McLennan, John F., 2, 54. 

Mead, Larkin G., I, 506, 517. 

Merrill, Polly, I, 12. 

Middlemore, S. G. C., 2, 143. 

Middletown, Connecticut, 1 , 14-22 ; 
Fiske's boyhood home, 24-128; 
he delivers address at two hun- 
dred and fiftieth anniversary, 2, 

Militancy and industrialism, 2, 

Mill, John Stuart, I, 386; The 
Contest in America, 240. 

Milwaukee, Fiske's first impres- 
sions of, I, 400, 401; lectures 
there again, 2, 206-08. 

Mind and body, 2, 34-38. 

Mississippi Valley in the Civil War, 

The, 2, 461, 462. 
Mommsen, Theodor, contrasted 

with Froude, 2, 197. 
Morgan, Lewis H., 2, 54. 
Morley, John, I, 521; commends 

the Critical Period, 2, 392. 
Morse, James Herbert, classmate 

of Fiske, 2, 381. 
Motley, John Lothrop, Fiske's 

opinion of, I, 301, 302. 
Mount Shasta, 2, 367. 
Muckross Abbey, I, 426, 434. 
Muir, Dr. John, the Sanskrit 

scholar, I, 352, 436, 448, 449; 2, 

Mystery of Evil, The, 2, 367 n., 368, 

441, 445, 472. 
Myths and Myth- Makers, I, 378, 

400; dedicated to Howells, 406. 

Nation, The, articles by Fiske in, I, 

National Quarterly Review, articles 
by Fiske in, I, 293, 309. 

New Englander, The, criticises 
Cosmic Philosophy, 2, 55, 56. 

New France and New England, 2, 
485, 486. 

New York World, articles by Fiske 
in. I, 334, 346, 360-62, 378, 382. 

Newcomb, Prof. Simon, 2, 165, 166. 

Newman, Rev. J. P., 2, 99. 

Newton, Sir Isaac, his telescope, I, 
454; discoverer of law of gravita- 
tion, 2, 8 n. 

Nismes, France, I, 501, 502. 

North American Review, The, ar- 
ticles by Fiske in, I, 269, 291, 
293, 334, 346, 352, 410; 2, 98, 
191 ; Norton and Lowell become 
editors, I, 274, 278. 

Northmen in America, the, 2, 420, 

Norton, Charles Eliot, asks Fiske 
to write for North American Re- 
view, I, 274, 278; visited by 
Fiske, 278, 279; death of, 279 .; 
declines Fiske's review of You- 
mans's Chemistry, 291, 292; asks 
Fiske to make changes in an- 
other essay, 302, 303; consulted 
by Fiske about historical work, 
2, 72; on The Discovery of Amer- 
ica, 436, 437. 

Noyes, Prof. George R., 1, 152, 153. 



Old South Church, Boston, 2, 71, 
105, 1 10 ; lectures in, 2 1 1-13, 297- 
300, 345, 353- 

Osgood, George L., 2, 83. 

Osgood, James R. & Co., publish- 
ers, 2, I. 

Paine, Prof. John K., I, 206, 415, 
419, 2, 83; plays the organ at 
Fiske's wedding, I, 299; judg- 
ment of Fiske's musical gifts, 2, 
84; with Fiske in London, 144. 

Paris, Fiske's visits to, I, 498-500; 
2, 188. 

Parker, Prof. Joel, assails President 
Lincoln, I, 187, 191. 

Parker, Theodore, I, 174, 176, 178; 
and Carlyle, 213; grave of, 505. 

Parkman, Francis, a kinsman of 
Fiske, 1, 13; advises him to write 
History of the American People, 
2, 72; critical article on, 446, 
447; tribute to, 467, 468. 

Parsons, Prof. Theophilus, sustains 
President Lincoln, I, 187, 188. 

Parton, James, Smoking and Drink- 
ing, I, 335- 

Patterson, Gen. Robert, 2, 164. 

Peabody, Prof. Andrew P., I, 162, 
163; befriends Fiske, 233; assists 
at Fiske's marriage, 299; act- 
ing President of Harvard, 341, 

Peckham, George William, City 
Librarian, Milwaukee, I, 402, 
403; 2, 206-08. 

Peirce, Prof. Benjamin, I, 153, 154, 
196; praises Fiske, 2, 68. 

Peirce, Prof. James M., I, 196. 

Petersham, Massachusetts, Fiske's 
first visit to, I, 246, 421; Hux- 
ley's enjoyment of, 2, 91 ; in win- 
ter, 93; Fiske buried at, 505. 

Philbrick, J. D., I, 263. 

Phillips, Wendell, I, 78. 

Phrenology, Fiske's early interest 
in, I, 82. 

Plummer, Caroline, I, 170. 

Pollock, Sir Frederick, I, 488, 2, 
58 n., 126, 277. 

Pollock, Walter, 2, 277. 

Polo, Marco, 2, 422. 

Pompeii, I, 509. 

Pond, Major J. B., Fiske's lecture 
manager, 2, 346-48, 35* 

Popular Science Monthly, Fiske's 

article on Agassiz published in, 

1, 410, 411. 

Portland, Oregon, lectures in, 2, 


Positivism, see Comte. 
Prescott, William Hickling, Fiske's 

opinion of, I, 301, 302. 
Putnam, George Haven, 2, 147, 


Railroad travel in England, I, 453. 

Ralston, William, assistant libra- 
rian at the British Museum, I, 
456, 457, 4 8 3; Fiske's friendship 
with, 2, 125, 128, 137, 287. 

Religion, and the doctrine of evo- 
lution, 2, 38-41; and Cosmic 
Philosophy, 45, 46, 50-54; and 
science, 46, 47. 

Renaissance architecture and 
painting, I, 496, 497. 

Rhine, the, I, 525. 

Richmond, Henry, 2, 216. 

Rigi, ascent of the, I, 524, 525. 

Roberts, George Litch, lifelong 
friend of Fiske, I, 78, 84, 85, no, 
115, 118; decides to study law, 
133; shares Fiske's philosophical 
studies, 134; letter from Fiske 
about Spencer, 139; proposes to 
Fiske an edition of the Apoc- 
rypha, 143; chides him for in- 
difference to Civil W T ar issues, 
236, 237; sympathy with Fiske, 
257, 258. Letters to, 139, 140, 142, 
144, 226, 228, 257, 326; letter 
from, 258. 

Ropes, John Codman, 2, 347. 

Rose, Mr. and Mrs. E. L., 2, 121, 

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, I, 519, 

Rubens, Peter Paul, I, 527. 

Russell, Lord Arthur, 1, 533; 2, 131. 

Sacconi, Carlo, painting by, I, 504, 

Sadler, Michael E., invites Fiske 

to lecture at Oxford, 2, 447. 
Sage College, Cornell University, 

2, 216, 219. 

Salt Lake City, Fiske's impres- 
sions of, 2, 372-75. 

Sanborn, Frank B., 2, 308. 

San Francisco, Fiske's impressions 
of, 2, 369, 371. 



Saturday Club, Boston, 2, 244. 

Schurz, Carl, entertains Fiske, 2, 
1 66, 167; at Spencer dinner, 261. 

Science, and theology, I, 98-103; 
2, 4-16; and religion, 46. 

Scotch Highlands, the, I, 439-46. 

Scott, Sir Walter, Fiske 's enjoy- 
ment of, I, 264. 

Serapis, Temple of, I, 510. 

Seymour, Horatio, I, 240, 241. 

Sheridan, Gen. Philip H., gives 
Mrs. Fiske historic flag, 2, 231- 


Sherman, Gen. W. T., commends 
Fiske 's knowledge of military 
tactics, 350, 352. 

Shipman, Judge William D., I, 23. 

Sibley, John Langdon, Harvard 
e librarian, I, 141, 398 n., 2, 69. 

Sime, James, 2, 121, 122, 124; en- 
courages Fiske to lecture in Lon- 
don, in, 128; dinner with Fiske, 
Huxley, and Spencer, 145; takes 
Fiske to Epping Forest, 146; 
a day's ramble with Fiske, 147- 
49; writes Fiske about Carlyle's 
death, 209; letter from, 295. 

Sime, William, 2, 286. 

Snake River, falls of, 2, 363. 

Sociology and Hero-Worship, 2, 
191, 194-98. 

Sociology as a science, 2, 195, 196. 

Sophocles, Prof. Evangelinus A., 

1, 150, 151. 

Spencer, Herbert, Fiske 's early 
enthusiasm over, I, 138, 139, 
229, 230, 257; and Evolution, 
218; Fiske secures a photograph 
of, 265, 292; Youmans describes 
to Fiske, 275; aided by Ameri- 
can friends, 319 .; Fiske writes 
about the evolution of language, 
354-57; indifferent toward the 
Christian religion, 371; dislikes 
Fiske's title, "Cosmic Philos- 
ophy," 387; Fiske's relations 
with, in London, 457, 463-66; 

2, 130, 132, 136, 145; personal 
sketch of, I, 471-76; qualifica- 
tions for his work, 2, 18; Dar- 
win's influence on, 19; chief 
points of his philosophy, 20-24; 
his great undertaking completed, 
25; its influence, 25,26; mutual 
regard of Spencer and Fiske, 28, 
30, 31 ; on the relation of matter 

and mind, 35, 36; caricatured, 
57; excursions with Fiske and 
Henry Holt, 134-36, 141, 142; 
forgets social engagement with 
Fiske, 151, 152; Fiske's farewell 
visit to, 152-54; entertains Mr. 
and Mrs. Fiske, 178; visits 
America, 238-65; Autobiography 
quoted, 241, 242, 244, 254; in- 
terviewed, 244; dinner at Sat- 
urday Club, 244; personality, 
245, 246; on American political 
and social problems, 248-52; 
sees Harvard College and some 
Boston suburbs, 253, 254; goes 
to Concord, 254; interest in Em- 
erson, 255, 256, 259; farewell 
dinner at Delmonico's, 260-62; 
doubted immortality of man, 
321, 322; debate with Frederic 
Harrison, 323; Life of Youmans 
dedicated to, 449, 450. Letters 
to, I, 293, 313, 338, 383, 408; let- 
ters from, I, 295, 316, 356, 366, 
385; 2, 58, 152, 263, 278, 322. 

St. Louis, Missouri, Fiske's lec- 
tures in, 2, 204, 303; one of his 
intellectual homes, 205. 

Stadhaugh Manor, 2, 181. 

Stallo, Judge J. B., 2, 170. 

Stanley, Dowager Lady, of Al- 
derly, 2, 180. 

Star of the West, flag of the, 2, 231. 

Stetson, Edward G., classmate of 
Fiske, 2, 368. 

Stevens, Henry, antiquarian, 2, 

128, 130, 131; letter from, 267. 
Stewart, Prof. 

Balfour, 2, 86 ., 

Stirling Castle, I, 439, 440. 

Stoker, Bram, brings message from 
Tennyson, 2, 453. 

Story of a New England Town, The, 
2, 471. 

Stoughton, Edwin Wallace, Fiske's 
step-father, I, 52-54; supports 
Horatio Seymour, 240; encour- 
ages Fiske to study law, 267, 
268; assents to his concentrat- 
ing on a literary life, 305; with 
Mrs. Stoughton ^ establishes 
Fiske in a home of his own, 2, 79; 
Minister to Russia, 94; death of, 
228, 229. 

Stoughton, Mrs. Edwin W., mar- 
riage, I, 52-55; disturbed over 



John's change of religious views, 
115, 1 16; thinks him extravagant 
in buying books, 210, 211; letter 
from Pres. Felton, 234; critical of 
Lincoln, 240, 241; assents to 
Fiske's giving up the law, 305; 
builds him a house in Cambridge, 
2, 79-82; goes to St. Petersburg, 
94 ; copies portrait of John Locke 
for Fiske, 94; letter to Mrs. Fiske, 
169; her home in New York, 229, 
230; receives historic flag from 
Gen. Sheridan, 231 ; builds house 
in Cambridge for herself, 266, 294 ; 
remodels it, 486, 487. Letters to, 
1, 35, 39, 41, 44- 47, 57, 62, 64, 68, 
72, 75, 81, 86, 130, 136, 139, 200, 
204, 212, 223, 241, 264-67, 269- 
71, 273, 283, 292, 329-32, 349, 
353, 375, 379, 394, 413-16, 418, 
420, 467, 473, 479, 482, 488, 516, 
532; 2, 64, 68, 81, 93, 108, 161, 
190, 211, 282. 

Strasburg, I, 524. 

Stratford-on-Avon, 2, 117. 

Sully, James, 2, 58 n. 

Sumner, Charles, leaves books to 
Harvard Library, 2, 67. 

Sumner, Prof. William G., 2, 261. 

Sylvester, Prof. James J., 2, 68. 

Tailoring, peripatetic, I, 28, 29 

and n. 

Tait, Prof. P. G., 2, 86 n., 101. 
Taylor, Rev. Jeremiah, Fiske's pas- 
tor in Middletown, I, 112, 117, 

119, 120. 
Tennyson, Alfred, sends message 

to Fiske, 2, 453, 454. 
Terry, Ellen, 2, 344. 
Theism, 2, 32-34, 323. 
Theming, Fiske's appreciation of 

value of, I, 80, 8 1. 
Theology, Christian, dogmas of, I, 

89-99, 227; and science, I, 98- 

103, 2, 4-16. 

Through Nature to God, 2, 473. 
Ticknor, George, I, 133, 134. 
Ticknor & Fields, publishers, I, 

138; 2, 27, 255, 396. 
Tolstoy, Leo, his War and Peace, 2, 

Torrey, Prof. Henry W., I, 154, 


Tremont Temple, lectures in, 2, 

Triibner, Nicholas, 2, 132, 133, 
138; helps Fiske pay a social 
debt, 150-52 ; cares for him when 
ill, 285, 286. 

True Lesson of Protestantism, The, 

2, 224-27 

Turgemeff, Ivan, 2, 137. 
Tylor, Edward B., 2, 54. 
Tyndall, John, cordiality to Fiske, 
2, 272, 273, 277. 

Unitarian, an opprobrious name, I, 

Unitarianism, and Harvard Col- 
lege, I, 169-71, 174, 178; rise of, 
172-74; soon develops heretics, 

174, 175- 
Unseen Universe, The, by Stewart 

and Tait, 2, 86, 101. 
Unseen World, The, 2, 97, 100- 

Upham, Catherine, I, 193, 243. 

Vespucius, Americus, vindication 

of, 2, 427. 

Vestiges of Creation, I, 181. 
Vico, Giovanni Battista, his Scien- 

zaNuova, I, 285. 
Vinton, Lindley, 2, 216. 
Voltaire, Francois, I, 520, 521. 

War of Independence, The, 2, 400, 


Washburn, Rev. E. A., 2, 99. 
Washington University, St. Louis, 

lectures at, 2, 204, 303, 345, 352. 
Waverley Novels, Fiske's delight 

in, I, 264, 271. 
Wesleyan University, I, 3, 22. 
What is Inspiration? 2, 98-100. 
White, Andrew D., offers Fiske a 

non-resident professorship at 

Cornell University, I, 397, 398. 
White, Judge George, I, 283. 
White, William A., 2, 160. 
Whittier, John G., 2, 35^3. 
Wilcox, Mrs. William, letter to, 2, 

Willson, Rev. Edmund B., 2, 79; 

officiates at Fiske's marriage, I, 

299; letter to, 2, 174. 
Winchester, England, King Alfred 

celebration at, 2, 493, 494: 

Fiske's proposed address, 494- 

Winsor, Justin, 2, 69. 



Wright, Chauncey, I, 333 ., 410; 

death of, 2. 96. 
Wyman, Prof. Jeffries, I, 160. 

York Cathedral, I, 451; 2, 184. 

Youmans, Edward L., I, 217, 221, 
396; calls on Fiske, 273, 293; 
his own life struggle, 276; makes 
acquaintance of English scien- 
tists, 277; becomes warm per- 

sonal friend of Fiske, 277, 278; 
arranges for publishing Fiske's 
lectures, 360, 362; encourages 
Spencer to come to America, 2, 
238; guards him from reporters, 
240; arranges public dinner for 
him, 243, 260-62; Fiske's life of, 
438, 449, 450. 

Youmans, Eliza A., 2, 439. 

Young, Brigham, 2, 373, 374. 

U . S . A 


This book is due on the last DATE stamped below. 


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