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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/841

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THE LATE PROFESSOR TYNDALL.

functions held by me. On the other hand, my faith in free institutions, originally strong (though always joined with the belief that the maintenance and success of them is a question of popular character), has in these later years been greatly decreased by the conviction that the fit character is not possessed by any people, nor is likely to be possessed for ages to come. A nation of which the legislators vote as they are bid, and of which the workers surrender their rights of selling their labor as they please, has neither the ideas nor the sentiments needed for the maintenance of liberty. Lacking them, we are on the way back to the rule of the strong hand in the shape of the bureaucratic despotism of a socialist organization, and then of the military despotism which must follow it; if, indeed, some social crash does not bring this last upon us more quickly. Had we recently compared notes, I fancy that Tyndall and I should have found ourselves differing but little in our views concerning the proximate social state, if not of the ultimate social state.

In the sketch he has recently given of our late friend, who was one of the small group known as the Club, Prof. Huxley has given some account of that body. Further particulars may not unfitly be added; one of which may come better from me than from him. The impression that the club exercised influence in the scientific world (not wholly without basis, I think) was naturally produced by such knowledge as there eventually arose of its composition. For it contained four presidents of the British Association, three presidents of the Royal Society, and among its members who had not filled these highest posts there were presidents of the College of Surgeons, of the Mathematical Society, and of the Chemical Society. Out of the nine I was the only one who was fellow of no society, and had presided over nothing. I speak in the past tense, for, unhappily, the number of members is reduced to five, who are now scattered, and of these only three are in good health. For years past the difficulties in the way of meeting have been growing greater, and the club is practically dead. But the detail of most interest which Prof. Huxley has not given, concerns a certain supplementary meeting which, for many years, took place after the close of our session. This lasted from October in each year to June in the next, and toward the close of June we had a gathering in the country to which the married members brought their wives; raising the number on some occasions to fifteen. Our programme was to leave town early on Saturday afternoon, in time for a ramble or a boating excursion before dinner; to have on the Sunday a picnic in some picturesque place adjacent to our temporary quarters; and, after dinner that evening, for some to return to town, while those with less pressing engagements remained until the Monday morning. Two of our