228 ENGLISH MEN OF SCIENCE. [CHAP.
opposite attitude -,is indifferentism, founded on sheer uncertainty of what is best to do, or on despair of being strong enough to achieve useful results ; a feeling such as that which has generally existed in recent years among wealthy men in respect to pauperism and charitable gifts. A common effect of indifferentism is to dissipate the energy of the nation upon trifles ; and this tendency seems to be a crying evil of the present day in our own country. In illustration of this view, I will quote the following extract from a letter of one of my correspondents, who, I should add, is singularly well qualified to form a just opinion on the matter to which he so forcibly calls attention:-" The principal hindrance
to inquiry and all other intellectual progress in
the people of whom I see much, is the elaborate
machinery for wasting time which has been
invented and recommended under the name of
` social duties.' Considering the mental and
material capital of which the richer classes have
the disposal, I believe that much more than half
the progressive force of the nation runs to waste
from this cause."