202 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
was urging that the Council of the Association should be requested by the Committee to bring Captain Speke's services to the notice of Government and to ask for their appropriate recognition, when a messenger brought a letter for the President, Sir Roderick Murchison. He motioned to the Secretary, who was seated at his left hand, to read it, while he, the President, continued to attend to Sir James. The countenance of the Secretary clearly showed that the letter contained serious news. Sir James Alexander went on speaking, the letter was in the meantime circulated and read by each in turn, including Captain Burton, who sat opposite to me, and I got it the last, or almost the last of all before the President. It was to say that Speke had accidentally shot himself dead, by drawing his gun after him while getting over a hedge.
Burton had many great and endearing qualities, with others of which perhaps the most curious was his pleasure in dressing himself, so to speak, in wolf's clothing, in order to give an idea that he was worse than he really was. I attended his funeral at the Roman Catholic Cemetery near Sheen. It had_ been arranged by his widow, Lady Burton, a devoted Catholic, and was crowded with her Catholic friends. I did not see more than three geographers among them, of whom Lord Northbrook, a former President of the Society, was one. From pure isolation, we two kept together the whole time. There were none of Burton's old associates. It was a ceremony quite alien to anything that I could conceive him to care for.
Anyhow, I was glad to be instrumental in pro-