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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/836

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

for the second inspectorship. The old traditions of the office were thus snapped at the period of Mr. Buckland's appointment, and the new inspectors, without the assistance of an experienced colleague, had to map out their own policy. This is not the place to describe the policy which they pursued, or the results which ensued from it. It is sufficient to say that no public officer ever threw himself so heartily into his work as Mr. Buckland. His zeal frequently led him into imprudences which would have told severely on a less robust constitution, and which, perhaps, had the effect of shortening his own life. He has been known to wade up to his neck in water, and change his clothes driving away from the river on the box of a fly. This was an exceptional case; but it was a common thing for him to sit for hours in wet boots. He rarely wore a great-coat; he never owned a railway-rug; he took a delight in cold, and frequently compared himself to a polar bear, which languished in the heat and revived in the frost. The pleasure which Mr. Buckland derived from cold accounted for many of his eccentricities. Even in winter he wore the smallest amount of clothing; in summer he discarded almost all clothing. The illustrated papers, which have published portraits of him at home, have given their readers a very inaccurate idea of his appearance at his house in Albany Street. Those were very rare occasions on which he wore a coat at home. His usual dress was a pair of trousers and a flannel shirt; he deferred putting on socks and boots till he was starting for his office. Even on inspections he generally appeared at breakfast in the same attire, and on one occasion he left a large country-house, in which he was staying, with no other garments on. While he was driving in a dog-cart to the station he put on his boots, and as the train was drawing up to the station, at which a deputation of country gentlemen was awaiting him, he said with a sigh that he must begin to dress. Boots were in fact his special aversion. He lost no opportunity of kicking them off his feet. On one occasion, traveling alone in a railway-carriage, he fell asleep with his feet resting on the window-sill. As usual, he kicked off his boots, and they fell outside the carriage on the line. When he reached his destination the boots could not, of course, be found, and he had to go without them to his hotel. The next morning a plate-layer, examining the permanent way, came upon the boots, and reported to the traffic-manager that he had found a pair of gentleman's boots, but that he could not find the gentleman. Some one connected with the railway recollected that Mr. Buckland had been seen in the neighborhood, and, knowing his eccentricities, inferred that the boots must belong to him. They were accordingly sent to the Home Office, and were at once claimed.

We have said that he rarely wore a great-coat, and when he did so it was apparently more for the value of the additional pockets it contained than for its warmth. One of his good stories turned on this. He had been in France, and was returning, via Southampton, with an