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characteristic disregard of self, led not only to the caution, patience, and candour of his own workwhich are proverbial—and to the generous satisfaction which he felt on finding any of his thoughts or results independently attained by the work of others; but also to a keen and vivid freshness of interest in every detail of a new research, such as we have sometimes seen approached by much younger men when the research happens to have been their own. And indeed what we may call this fervid youthfulness of feeling extended through all Mr. Darwin's mind, giving, in combination with his immense knowledge and massive sagacity, an indescribable charm to his manner and conversation. Animated and fond of humour, his wit was of a singularly fascinating kind, not only because it was always brilliant and amusing, but still more because it was always hearty and goodnatured. Indeed, he was so exquisitely refined in his own feelings, and so almost painfully sensitive to any display of questionable taste in others, that he could not help showing in his humour, as in the warp and woof of his whole nature, that in him the man of science and the philosopher were subordinate to the gentleman. His courteous consideration of others,
also, which went far beyond anything that the ordinary usages of society require, was similarly prompted by his mere spontaneous instinct of benevolence.
For who can always act? but he
To whom a thousand memories call ;
Not being less but more than all
Best seem'd the thing he was, and join'd
Each office of the social hour
To noble manners, as the flower
Nor ever narrowness or spite,
Or villain fancy sweeping by,
Drew in the expression of an eye,
And this leads us to speak of his kindness, which, whether we look to its depth or to its width, must certainly be regarded as perhaps the most remarkable feature of his remarkable disposition. The genuine delight that he took in helping every one in their work—often at the cost of much personal trouble to himself—in throwing out numberless suggestions for others to profit by, and in kindling the enthusiasm of the humblest tyro in science; this was the outcome of a great and generous heart, quite as much as it was due to a desire for the advancement of science. Nothing seemed to give him a keener joy than being able to write to any of his friends a warm and glowing congratulation upon their gaining some success; and the exuberance of his feelings on such occasions generally led him to conceive a much higher estimate of the importance of the results attained than he would have held had the success been achieved by himself. For the modesty with which he regarded his own work was no less remarkable than his readiness enthusiastically to admire the work of others; so that, to any one who did not know him well, this extreme modesty, from its very completeness and unconsciousness, might almost have appeared the result of affectation. At least, speaking for ourselves, when we first met him, and happened to see him conversing with a greatly younger man, quite unknown either in science or literature, we thought it must have been impossible that Mr. Darwin—then the law-giver to the world of biology—could with honest sincerity be submitting, in the way he did, his matured thought to the judgment of such a youth. But afterwards we came fully to learn that no one was so unconscious of Mr. Darwin's worth as Mr. Darwin himself, and
that it was a fixed habit of his mind to seek for
opinions as well as facts from every available quarter. It must be added, however, that his tendency to go beyond the Scriptural injunction in the matter of self-approval, and to think of others more highly than he ought to think, never clouded his final judgment upon the value of their opinions; but, spontaneously following another of these injunctions, while proving all things, he held fast only to that which was good. “In malice be ye children, but in understanding be ye men.”
On the whole, then, we should say that Mr. Darwin's character was chiefly marked by a certain grand and cheerful simplicity, strangely and beautifully united with a deep and thoughtful wisdom, which, together with his illimitable kindness to others and complete forgetfulness of himself, made a combination as lovable as it was venerable. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that no man ever passed away leaving behind him a greater void of enmity, or a depth of adoring friendship more profound.
But, as we have said, it is impossible to convey in words any adequate conception of a character which in beauty as in grandeur can only, with all sobriety, be called sublime. If the generations are ever to learn, with any approach to accuracy, what Mr. Darwin was, his biographers may best teach them by allowing this most extraordinary man to speak for himself through the medium of his correspondence, as well as through that of his books; and therefore, as a small foretaste of the complete biography which will some day appear, we shall quote a letter in which he describes the character of his great friend and teacher, the late Prof. Henslow, of Canıbridge. We choose this letter to quote from on account of the singular manner in which the writer, while describing the character of another, is unconsciously giving a most accurate description of his own. It is of importance also that in any biographical history of Mr. Darwin, Prof. Henslow's character should be duly considered, seeing that he exerted so great an influence upon the expanding powers of Mr. Darwin's mind. We quote the letter from the Rev. L. Jenyns' Memoir of the late Prof. Henslow.