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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/839

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MR. FRANK BUCKLAND.

eye rarely missed anything. He thought that he had facts at his disposal which would have enabled him to answer the great doctrines which Mr. Darwin has unfolded. Evolution was eminently distasteful to him; only two days before his death, in revising the preface of his latest work, he deliberately expressed his disbelief in it, and he used to dispose of any controversy on the subject by saying: "My father was Dean of Westminster. I was brought up in the principles of Church and state; and I will never admit it—I will never admit it."

Though, however, on such occasions as these Mr. Buckland used the language of advanced Tories, he habitually shrank from political discussion. He declared that he did not understand politics, and that he reserved himself for his own immediate pursuits. Into these pursuits he threw himself with his whole energy; and his energy was extraordinary. The greatest example of it was in the search which he made for John Hunter's coffin in the vaults of St. Martin's church. He literally turned over every coffin in the church before he found the one of which he was in search, spending a whole fortnight among the dead. He was ultimately rewarded by obtaining a grave for his hero's remains in Westminster Abbey. John Hunter was his typical hero. He had pursued the studies to which Mr. Buckland also devoted himself. He had founded a great museum. He had almost originated a science. Like John Hunter, one of Mr. Buckland's main objects was to form a collection which would illustrate the whole science of fish culture. The museum at South Kensington, which he has left to the nation, exists as a proof of his success. Inferior, of course, to the similar collections in the Smithsonian Museum of the United States, it forms an unequaled example of what one man may accomplish by energy and industry. Thousands of persons have interested themselves in fish-culture from seeing the museum; and the collection has long formed one of the most popular departments of the galleries at South Kensington.

Energy was only one of Mr. Buckland's characteristics. His kindliness was another. Perhaps no man ever lived with a kinder heart. It may be doubted whether he ever willingly said a hard word or did a hard action. He used to say of one gentleman, by whom he thought he had been aggrieved, that he had forgiven him seventy times seven already; so that he was not required to forgive him any more. He could not resist a cry of distress, particularly if it came from a woman. Women, he used to say, are such doe-like, timid things, that he could not bear to see them unhappy. One night, walking from his office, he found a poor servant-girl crying in the street. She had been turned out of her place that morning as unequal to her duties; she had no money, and no friends nearer than Taunton, where her parents lived. Mr. Buckland took her to an eating-house, gave her a dinner, drove her to Paddington, paid for her ticket, and left her in charge of