Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/623

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603
SIR CHARLES LYELL.
instead of the coarser class into whose hands the reins of government have been placed. But these men and the majority of capitalists would, I am sure, have knocked under to the South, and the slave-owner would have made a compromise by which his institution would have been more rampant than ever. If slavery, which was more injurious to the white man than to the negro, and which to a certain extent poisoned the political institutions of the North, . . . is got rid of, it will be owing to a very extended suffrage among a class which has had much instruction, for working-men, but to whom the aristocracy of wealth and refinement were not prepared to make great sacrifices for such an object.

In a man of Lyell's antecedents and position, such reasoning is both brave and unexpected. I regret to say he observes in the same letter that he would rather fight for any number of years than let Ireland be "independent," though he admits that the Irish might make out a fair case for "repeal." Like most English Liberals, he can be just and sympathetic to Venetians, Poles, Hungarians, and negroes, but can not go quite so low as Irishmen.

So much by anticipation. A life like this is so full of real triumphs that one almost forgets to mention such a small matter as that in 1848, when at Kinnordy, "he rode over the hills by Clova and Lochna-gar to Balmoral, when he had the honor of being knighted by the Queen." He was Englishman enough to appreciate the distinction, as well as the baronetcy which followed it later on. Nor was he insensible to the blandishments of royalty: he records the doings of little princes and princesses, when he happens to meet them, a trifle too much in the style of the special correspondent, and he details his conversations with a distinguished personage somewhat more fully than their intrinsic nature really demands. But there is not much of this sort of thing: as a rule, when he mentions a man, it is because the man is worth mentioning. The life in London during the years of full maturity is even richer in reminiscences of famous people than the earlier days. Dining at Hallam's, the great subject of conversation is the vacant editorship of the "Edinburgh"—Longman closeted for hours with Macaulay, and Jeffrey strongly opposed to letting the control go from Auld Reekie. Breakfasting at Rogers's, the veteran poet tells him how he knew a boatman who used to ferry Mr. Alexander Pope across the river at Twickenham, how Chantrey once came to his house as a workman, at five shillings a day, to receive orders for some ornamental drawing-room furniture, and how he still possessed the identical table at which Addison wrote his "Spectator" papers. Now it is "Ruskin, who was secretary of our Geological Section"; now it is "a friend of mine, Huxley, who will soon take rank as one of the first naturalists we have ever produced"; and now it is "young Geikie, . . . certainly the coming geologist and writer." His eye for men was very keen, and his predictions have almost always turned out to be correct. Of Agassiz, just settling in Boston, he says: "He will