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CHAPTER X111
SOCIAL LIFE
Interesting visits--Explorers of those days-Other notabilities
and friends

E NTRIES in old diaries recall many pleasant social meetings at home, whether dinners, breakfasts, or simple gatherings of friends, where there was generally some traveller or other lion of the clay whom people were glad to meet. I made occasional excursions to visit Charles Darwin at Down, usually at luncheon-time, always with a sense of the utmost veneration as well as of the warmest

affection, which his invariably hearty greeting greatly

encouraged. I think his intellectual characteristic that struck me most forcibly was the aptness of his questionings ; he got thereby very quickly to the bottom of what was in the mind of the person he conversed with, and to the value of it.

I enjoyed two interesting visits to Lord Ashburton at the Grange, under the presidency of the first and second Lady Ashburton respectively. Carlyle was a guest on both occasions. On my first meeting him he surprised me by his unexpectedly courteous and even polished manner, but he became more like his ordinary self later on. On the second occasion lie seemed to me the greatest bore that a house

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