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of the general truth of Darwin's views, with which he had been generally acquainted for twenty years, he was yet loth to express himself definitely; and Darwin himself was as much disappointed with his pronouncement in the recently published “Antiquity of Man,” as he was with my rejection of the sufficiency of natural selection to explain the origin of man's mental and moral nature. Sir Charles Lyell's character is well exhibited in what he wrote Darwin soon after its publication (March 11, 1863).
“I find myself, after reasoning through a whole chapter, in favour of man's coming from the animals, relapsing to my old views whenever I read again a few pages of the 'Principles,' or yearn for fossil types of intermediate grade. Truly, I ought to be charitable to Sedgwick and others. Hundreds who have bought my book in the hope that I should demolish heresy will be awfully confounded and disappointed. . . . What I am anxious to effect is to avoid positive inconsistencies in different parts of my book, owing probably to the old trains of thought, the old ruts, interfering with the new course. But you ought to be satisfied, as I shall bring hundreds towards you, who, if I treated the matter more dogmatically, would have rebelled. I have spoken out to the utmost extent of my tether, so far as my reason goes, and further than my imagination and sentiment can follow, which, I suppose, has caused occasional incongruities” (“Life of Sir Charles Lyell,” vol. ii. p. 363). These passages well exhibit the difficulties with which the writer had to contend, and serve to explain that careful setting forth of opposing facts and arguments without stating any definite conclusion, which is felt to be unsatisfactory in some portions of his great works.
During the ten years 1863–72, I saw a good deal of Sir Charles. If he had any special subject on which he wished for information, he would sometimes walk across the park to St. Mark's Crescent for an hour's conversation; at other times he would ask me to lunch with him, either to meet some interesting visitor or for friendly talk. After my marriage we occasionally dined with him or went to his evening receptions. These latter were very interesting, both because they were not overcrowded and on account of the number of scientific and other men of eminence to be met there. Among these were Professor Tyndall, Sir Charles Wheatstone, Sir Charles Bunbury, Mr. Lecky, and a great many others. The Duke of Argyll was frequently there, and although we criticized each other's theories rather strongly, he was always very friendly, and we generally had some minutes' conversation whenever I met him. Miss Buckley (now Mrs. Fisher) was a very constant guest, and would point out to me the various celebrities who happened to be present, and thus began a cordial friendship which has continued unbroken, and has been a mutual pleasure and advantage. I therefore look back upon my friendship with Sir Charles Lyell with unalloyed satisfaction as one of the most instructive and enjoyable episodes in my life-experience.