THE memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay, by Sir Archibald Geikie, is a valuable addition to literature and to science. We will refer our readers to the book itself to learn when Sir Andrew was born and when he died: what support the theories of heredity obtain from the scientific tendencies and noble courage of his parents and fore-elders: who were the teachers and friends, and what were the surroundings of his early years: what, in fact, made Ramsay such as we find him in later life—a prominent person in whatever circumstances he was thrown, whether in the small society of a provincial town or in scientific gatherings in London—a welcome guest at every table, a critic whom any author bolstering up wild theories with bad evidence would fear to have to reckon with. “Of an eminently social temperament, he made acquaintances easily wherever he went, and these chance acquaintanceships sometimes ripened into lifelong friendships. In one family circle we find him reading aloud Shakespeare, or Scottish ballads, or a good novel; in another, he takes part, heart and soul, in singing glees and madrigals; in a third, he joins in dancing and all kinds of merriment.” “English literature was to him a vast and exhaustless garden, full of alleys green and sunny arbours, where from boyhood he had been wont to spend many a delightful hour. When he found among his colleagues one whose talk was not always of stones, but who had ranged like himself far and wide in literary fields, he opened out his inner soul, and his conversation glowed with an animation and power, as well as a gleeful exuberance, which astonished and charmed his companion.” And “though he was not in any sense an antiquary, he knew a good deal about the history of architecture, and took a keen delight in visiting ruins and trying to form a mental picture of what they must have been before the gnawing tooth of time had dismantled them. Whatever, indeed, linked him with the past had a charm for him. He never willingly missed an opportunity of seeing a ruined castle or keep, a mouldering abbey, a grass-grown encampment, or a lonely cairn. If tradition or song invested any spot with a living interest, he would not consider his geological inspection complete if it had not included a visit to that site.” With his quick sympathy and conversational powers, with his wide knowledge of nature, as well as of history and her monuments, no wonder that he was welcome in any society of intelligence and culture. He would unbend in congenial and sympathetic company, like a strong man who had been out in the cold and had at last gained a warm fireside, but he always made room for others round the fire. His impulsive and generous nature was, however, tempered with native judgment and caution. He soon gauged the character of those with whom he was thrown, and quickly estimated the amount of receptivity and the temper of an audience.
Memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay.
By Sir Archibald Geikie. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1895.)
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