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In the Preface to The Data of Ethics, published in June, 1879, there occurred the sentence :-“Hints, repeated of late years with increasing frequency and distinctness, have shown me that health may permanently fail, even if life does not end, before I reach the last part of the task I have marked out for myself." There followed the statement that since this last part of the task”—the affiliation of Ethics on the doctrine of Evolution—was that to which I regard all the preceding parts as subsidiary,” I did not like to contemplate the probability of failure in executing it. Hence the decision to write The Data of Ethics in advance.
Something like the catastrophe foreseen gradually came. Years of declining health and decreasing power of work, brought, in 1886, a complete collapse; and further elaboration of The Synthetic Philosophy was suspended until the beginning of 1890, when it became again possible to get through a small amount of serious work daily. Of course there arose the question—What work to undertake first ? Completion of The Principles of Ethics was, without hesitation, decided upon : the leading divisions of The Principles of Sociology having been executed. A further question presented itself-What part of The Principles of Ethics should have precedence ? Led by the belief that my remaining energies would probably not carry me through the whole, I concluded that it would be best to begin with
the part of most importance. Hence, passing over Part II,
Should improved health be maintained, I hope that,
This work covers a field which, to a considerable extent,
It seems proper to add that the first five chapters have
LONDON, June, 1891,