Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/621

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601
SIR CHARLES LYELL.

events as a party at Milman's, where Rogers and Whewell discuss Pope, and where Milman gives the fresh opinion of a contemporary on Macaulay's "Bacon." To follow him in all his wanderings after the age of railways would be impossible: a run across to Spain, Italy, or Scandinavia, seemed to him merely an ordinary bit of his week's work. In 1841, however, he took a more ambitious trip across the Atlantic to lecture at the Lowell Institute, and then traveled through much of the United States and Canada. Geologically, he was deeply impressed by the great scale of the phenomena he saw, the vast lakes, the enormous glacial deposits, the immense subterranean forests; socially and politically, the trip left lasting effects upon his tone of mind. Singularly unprejudiced to start with, he met American society frankly and cordially, and judged both its merits and defects with somewhat lenient impartiality. But his kindliness was not the result of mere unobservant and uncritical good nature. He kept his eyes open, as usual, to all the main sociological factors, and rightly remarks that many Englishmen set down much to American political institutions which is really due to American circumstances—abundant land, free elbow-room, and constant European immigration, often of the poorest and most ignorant class. On the other hand, when he crosses the border at Niagara, he sees the weak points of the colonial system on the north of the Great Lakes keenly and acutely:

You and I would hear more in good society here (in Canada) in one week (he writes to Leonard Horner), which we should consider narrow-minded and prejudiced and ungenerous to foreigners, in matters of politics, religion, and political economy, than we heard in nine months in the United States; for they have here all the Kleinstädterei of a colony and the enmity of the borderer, added to everything that you might disapprove of which they bring from home.

This is less true now than it was then, but there is still much truth in it; and it is painful to think that we have condemned Canada to such a poor and petty mock-national existence for forty years longer, since Lyell wrote, merely for the sake of our own meaningless imperial claim, which nobody ever seriously means to assert, but which everybody pretends to believe is vastly important. The interesting thing to note here, however, is the fact that Lyell should have come to so definite and just a conclusion after only a few weeks' sojourn in a new country. It is one of the many proofs of his keen practical penetration which lie scattered over every page of his memoirs and journals.

Perhaps the chief visible results of this first American trip was the formation of a close friendship with Mr. Ticknor, of Boston—a member of the well-known publishing firm—to whom many of his letters are henceforth addressed. They are among the most interesting he ever wrote, containing expressions of broad general opinions, which would hardly be needed in writing to European friends. Some of