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had taken him for a professional coachmaker, was from home when he arrived; but he presented himself to Mrs Darwin, who, though at first under the same impression, with the quick tact of her sex, almost instantly discovered the mistake--which her learned husband did not suspect till several hours after his return. This visit brought Mr E., for the first time, into that society by which he was for the rest of his life most attracted, instructed, and improved—the society of the Boltons, the Watts, the Keirs, the Smalls, the Days, Sewards, and Sneyds. Through them he also got into a learned society in London, composed of Sir Joseph Banks, John Hunter, Maskelyne, Smeaton, Ramsden, and several others. Of Ranısden we are tempted to transcribe the following short anecdote.
Besides his great mechanical genius, he had a species of invention not quite so creditable, the invention of excuses. He never kept an engagement of any sort, never finished any work punctually, or ever failed to promise what he always failed to perform. - The king (George III.) had bespoke an instrument, which he was peculiarly desirous to obtain ; he had allowed Ramsden to name his own time, but, as usual, the work was scarcely begun at the period appointed for delivery. However, when at last it was finished, he took it down to Kew in a post-chaise, in a prodigious hurry; and, driving up to the palace gate, he asked if His Majesty was at home. The pages and attendants in waiting expressed their surprise at such a visit : he however pertinaciously insisted upon being admitted, assuring the page, that, if he told the King that Ramsden was at the gate, His Majesty would soon show that he would be glad to see him. He was right; he was let in, and was graciously received. His Majesty, after examining the instrument carefully, of which he was really a judge, expressed his satisfaction, and, turning gravely to Ramsden, paid him this compliment upon his punctuality. -- " I have been told, Mr Ramsden,” said the King, “ that you are considered to be the least punctual of any man in England ; you have brought home this instrument on the very day that was appointed. You have only mistaken the year !” I. 191-2.
The most figuring person, however, in Mr E.'s narrative, is Mr Day—of whom we find, first and last, a very interesting and amusing account. He was unquestionably a man of extraordinary talents, and of a high and amiable character- but was as unquestionably a little mad. When he and Mr E. first met, in 1768, he was under twenty years of age, but irrevocably wedded to all the inipracticable notions and systematic absurdities which characterized his after life. Though master of a large fortune, and unusually well read and ingenious, he had not merely a scorn, but an abhorrence for the refinements of polished life, and an antipathy to everything that bore the name of fashion, as a mere mask for profligacy, heartlessness, and insin
cerity; and accordingly would neither dress, talk, nor behave, like other persons of his condition. In politics, he was an ardent, but visionary and impracticable lover of liberty-a zealous and undaunted philanthropist, in theory and practice--an eloquent declaimer, and a most expert and indefatigable disputant in private conversation. Before he was of age, he resolved to educate a wife for himself; and, with this view, selected two nice girls from the Foundling Hospital, with whom, to be more out of the way of impertinent observation, he established himself for a year or two at Avignon.
Simplicity, perfect innocence, and attachment to himself, were at that time the only qualifications which he desired in a wife: and for this reason he was not anxious to cultivate the understandings of his pupils. He taught them by slow degrees to read and write. By continually talking to them, by reasoning which appeared to me above their comprehension, and by ridicule, the taste for which might afterwards be turned against himself, he endeavoured to imbue them with a deep hatred for dress, and luxury, and fine people, and fashion, and titles. At his return to England, which happened, I believe, when I was out of that country, he parted with one of his pupils, finding her invincibly stupid, or, at the best, not disposed to follow his regimen. He gave her three or four hundred pounds, which soon procured her a husband, who was a small shopkeeper. In this situation she went on contentedly, was happy, and made her husband happy, and is, perhaps, at this moment, comfortably seated with some of her grandchildren on her knees. His other pupil, Sabrina Sidney, was, at Mr Day's return from France, a very pleasing girl of thirteen. Her countenance was engaging. She had fine auburn hair, that hung in natural ringlets on her neck ; a beauty, which was then more striking, because other people wore enormous quantities of powder and pomatum. Her long eyelashes, and eyes expressive of sweetness, interested all who saw her; and the uncommon melody of her voice made a favourable impression upon every person to whom she spoke. I was curious to see how my friend's philosophic romance would end.' 1. 217–218.
It ended as might have been expected. After confounding the poor child's understanding by long rhetorical disputations, and frightening her to death (if we may believe Miss Seward) by firing pistols at her petticoats, and dropping burning sealing wax on her arms, to make her familiar with pain and danger, he at last caught her with a handkerchief or a sleeve, at which he had expressed a lofty disdain and antipathy, and immediately. gave up the idea of their union. He provided, however, for her comfort with his usual generosity; and, after his death, she married one of his early friends, and conducted herself with uniform judgment and propriety. He himself, soon after their separation, married a lady of great beauty and accomplishments,
and with a taste for eloquence and discussion perfectly analogous to his own. By the account that is here given of them, they must have been a most loquacious and argumentative pair.
• Shortly after their marriage, he brought Mrs Day to Northchurch to see us. Her person and conversation were pleasing, and the noble and generous sentiments which she expressed, and the conformity of all her conduct to these sentiments, entitled her to more than common admiration and respect. Mrs Edgeworth had been well accustomed to Mr Day’s habits of discussion and declamation : she observed that Mrs Day's replies, replete with sense and spirit, were always delivered in chosen language, and with appropriate emphasis. My friend proceeded towards his conclusions with unerring logic, and inflexible perseverance; but Mrs Day's eloquence won the hearers, at least for a time, to her opinions.-Notwithstanding the dryness of political and metaphysical subjects, which were usually those upon which we descanted, I was amused and instructed, and I wished most heartily to prevail upon Mr Day to settle in my neighbourhood in Hertfordshire; but he had an insurmountable objection to any situation near his former friends, lest, as I supposed, any opinions contrary to his system of connubial happiness might be supported before his wife. He remained some time at Hampstead, being in no great haste to purchase a house ; as he thought, that, by living in inconvenient lodgings, where he was not known, and conse quently not visited by any body except his chosen few, he should accustom his bride to those modes of life which he conceived to be essential to his happiness. I never saw any woman so entirely intent upon accommodating herself to the sentiments, and wishes, and will: of a husband. Notwithstanding this disposition, there still was a never-failing flow of discussion between them. From the deepest political investigation, to the most frivolous circumstance of daily life, Mr Day found something to descant upon; and Mrs Day was nothing loath to support upon every subject an opinion of her own : thus combining in an unusual manner, independence of sentiment, and the most complete matrimonial obedience.' I. 344-346.
These philosophers then bought an estate, and wasted an enormous sum of money in great experiments in agriculture ; anil at last he got about building a house. He set the builders towork before he had fixed upon the plan, so that there was nothing but stoppages and alterations.
One day he was deep in a treatise, written by some French agriculturist, to prove that any soil may be rendered fertile by sufficient ploughing, when the masons desired to know where he would have the window of the new room on the first floor. I was present at the question, and offered to assist my friend--No-he sat immoveable in. his chair, and gravely demanded of the mason, whether the wall might not be built first, and a place for the window cut out afterwards! The mason stared at Mr Day with an expression of the most unfeigncd surprise. " Why, Sir, to be gure it is very possible ; buty
I believe, Sir, it is more common to put in the window-cases while the house is building, and not afterwards.” Mr Day, however, with great coolness, ordered the wall to be built without any opening for windows, which was done accordingly; and the addition, which was made to the house, was actually finished, leaving the room, which was intended for a dressing-room for Mrs Day, without any window whatsoever.' I. 348.
He lived happily, however, with his discursive partner, and was killed at last, in his forty-third year, by a fall from a horse which he was attempting to break for himself, without any of the harsh and cruel practices usually employed for that purpose. His Sandford and Merton is a work of great merit and genius. His poetry is verbose and heavy; his political effusions are of the same character; and his familiar letters, of which we are presented with several in these volumes, appear to us to be singularly diffuse and elaborate.
In the mean time Mr E. falls in love with Miss Honora Sneyd; and is sent off to Lyons by the virtue of his friend Mr Day; where he stays for two years, and makes himself very busy by : scheme for turning the course of the Rhine by embankments, and by various mechanical inventions. He has also recorded a good number of anecdotes of the Lyonese society-good, bad, and indifferent. The following appears to us among the most memorable.
About this time a fatal catastrophe, that befel two lovers, made a great noise at Lyons. A young painter, of considerable eminence, came there, in company with a woman of uncommon beauty, who was his mistress. There was something remarkably attractive in both the man and the woman, and their company was sought for with the utmost enthusiasm by all the young men of that city. The urbanity, liveliness, and good nature of the young painter, were extolled in every company. Both he and the lady sang and played well on several instruments; and, by a variety of other talents, which they exercised without ostentation, they made what is called in France a great sensation. Their mutual fondness kept all pretenders to the lady's favour quite at a distance, while it excited a lively interest among their acquaintance. There was still, however, something mysterious in their conduct towards each other, that induced an indefinite kind of suspicion. In the midst of gaiety or mirth, a look, or a sigh, betrayed a secret anxiety. This anxiety gradually increased, notwithstanding the pains which were taken to conceal it. After some months, the stranger and his mistress invited all their acquaintance to a handsome supper, which they gave at taking leave of their friends, before their intended departure from Lyons. When they bade farewell, they showed great emotion, and hastily withdrew before their friends departed.
• There is, near a convent at Lyons, a place which was callod the tomb of the two lovers. - On this spot the bodies of the stranger s were found the next morning. They had shot each other with pistols, the triggers of which were so connected by a red riband, as to go off at the same moment. At first no trace of their history, or motive for their conduct, could be discovered: but at length it was ascertained, that the man laboured under some incurable disease, to which the physicians had convinced him he must fall a sacrifice within a given period. His mistress had determined to live no longer than her lover : they had, therefore, converted whatever they possessed into ready money, which they agreed to spend in the manner most congenial to their tastes; and as soon as their funds should be ex. hausted, which they had calculated would last to the predicted period when his disease must end his life, they had resolved to destroy themselves.' I. 300-302.
Mrs E. then dies; and the widower returns to England, and marries Miss Sneyd. He then takes up his abode for some time on his estate in Ireland ; but afterwards settles in the neighbourhood of London. The two following detached anecdotes show human nature in its extreme stages of simplicity and corruption; and, we think, are both very striking.
. One day, in one of the crowded streets, I met a poor young girl, who seemed utterly bewildered; she stopped me, to ask if I would tell her the name of the street she was in. Her accent was broad Scotch, and her look and air of perfect simplicity was, I perceived, not assumed, but genuine. I gave her the information she wanted, and asked her where she lived, and if she was in search of any friend's house. She said she did not live any where in London ; she was but just arrived from Scotland, and knew nobody who had any house or lodging of their own in town, but she was looking for a friend of the name of Peggy; and Peggy was a Scotch girl, who was born within a mile of the place where she lived in Scotland. Peggy was in seryice in London, and had written her direction to some house in this street; but the number of the house, and the names of the master or mistress, had been forgotten. The poor girl was determined, she said, to try every house, for she had come all the way from Scotland to see Peggy, and she hạd no other dependence !
It seemed a hopeless case." I was so much struck with her sim. plicity and forlorn condition, that I could not leave her in this perplexity, an utter stranger as she evidently was to the dangers of London. I went with her, though I own without the slightest hope of her succeeding in the object of her search ; knocked at every door, and made inquiries at every house. When we came near the end of the street, she was in despair, and cried bitterly ; but as one of the last doors opened, and as a footman was surlily beginning to answer my questions, she darted past him, exclạiming, “There's Peggy!” She few along the passage to a şervant girl, whose head had just appeared as she was coming up stairs. I never heard or saw stronger expressions of joy and affection than at this meeting ; and I scarcely