Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/842

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824 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

picnics were held under Burnham Beeclies, one or more on St. George's Hill, Weybridge, and another in Windsor Forest. As our spirits in those days had not been subdued by years, and as we had the added pleasure of ladies' society, these gatherings were extremely enjoyable. If Tyndall did not add to the life of our party by his wit he did by his hilarity. But my special motive for naming these rural meetings of the x is that I may mention a fact which, to not a few, will be surprising and perhaps instruct- ive. We sometimes carried with us to our picnic a volume of verse, which was duly utilized after the repast. On one occasion, while we reclined under the trees of Windsor Forest, Huxley read to us Tennyson's " GEnone," and on another occasion we listened to Tyndall's reading of Mrs. Browning's poem, " Lady Geraldine's Courtship." The vast majority of people suppose that science and poetry are antagonistic. Here is a fact which may perhaps cause some of them to revise their opinions.

From the impressions of Tyndall which these facts indirectly yield, let me return to impressions more directly yielded. Though it is scarcely needful to say anything about his sincerity, yet it can not properly be passed over, since it was a leading trait in his nature. It has been conspicuous to all, alike in his acts and his words. The Belfast address to the British Association exhibited his entire thought on questions which most men of science pass over from prudential considerations. But in him there was no spirit of compromise. It never occurred to him to ask what it was politic to say, but simply to ask what was true. The like has of late years been shown in his utterances concerning political mat- ters shown, it may be, with too great an outspokenness. This outspokenness was displayed, also, in private, and sometimes per- haps too much displayed ; but every one must have the defects of his qualities, and where absolute sincerity exists, it is certain now and then to cause an expression of a feeling or opinion not ade- quately restrained. But the contrast in genuineness between him and the average citizen was very conspicuous. In a community of Tyndalls (to make a wild supposition) there would be none of that flabbiness characterizing current thought and action no throwing overboard of principles elaborated by painful experience in the past, and adoption of a hand-to-mouth policy un guided by any principle. He was not the kind of man who would have voted for a bill or a clause which he secretly believed would be injurious, out of what is euphemistically called " party loyalty," or would have endeavored to bribe each section of the electorate by ad cap- tandum measures, or would have hesitated to protect life and prop- erty for fear of losing votes. What he saw right to do he would have done, regardless of proximate consequences.

The ordinary tests of generosity are very defective. As rightly

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