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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/656

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

about the Jamaica revolt and Governor Eyre, I am afraid that, if things had been pushed to extremities over that unfortunate business, each of us would have been capable of sending the other to the block. But the sentence would have been accompanied by assurances of undiminished respect and affection; and I have faith that we should not have spoiled our lives by quarreling over the inevitable.

Carlyle's extraordinary peculiarities of style, even at his worst, were not, to me, the stumbling-blocks which they often proved to other people, who, in their irritation, would talk of them as affectations. Even admitting them to be indefensible, it seems to me that if he is chargeable with affectation at all (and I do not think he is), it is rather when he writes the classical English, say, of the Life of Schiller. As any one who ever heard Carlyle talk knows, the style natural to him was that of The Diamond Necklace.[1] These observations have a bearing on the adverse criticisms of a like kind, to which Tyndall was sometimes subjected. Modes of speech and action which some called mannerisms, or even affectations, were, in fact, entirely natural; and showed themselves in full force, sometimes with a very droll effect, in the smallest gathering of intimate friends, or with one or two on a hillside, from whom abundant chaff was the only response likely to come. I say, once more, Tyndall was not merely theoretically, but practically, above all things sincere; the necessity of doing, at all hazards, that which he judged, rightly or wrongly, to be just and proper, was the dominant note of his character; and he was influenced by it in his manner of dealing with questions which might seem, to men of the world, hardly worth taking so seriously. Of the controversies in which he became involved, some of the most troublesome were undertaken on behalf of other people who, as he conceived, had been treated with injustice. The same instinct of veracity ran through all Tyndall's scientific work. That which he knew, he knew thoroughly, had turned over on all sides, and probed through and through. Whatever subject he took up, he never rested till he had attained a clear conception of all the conditions and processes involved, or had satisfied himself that it was not attainable. And in dealing with physical problems, I really think that he, in a manner, saw the atoms and molecules, and felt their pushes and pulls. A profound distrust of all long chains of deductive reasoning (outside


  1. In reading the very positive conclusions, based upon differences of style, about the authorship of ancient writings, enunciated by some critics, I have sometimes wondered whether, if the two pieces to which I have alluded had come down to us as anonymous ancient manuscripts, the demonstration that they were written by different persons might not have been quite easy.