Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[graphic]

case which he treated with so much We walked and conversed upon vasuccess as to attract the public no- rious literary subjects till it was dark; tice, was that of a young man of for- when Mrs. Darwin seeming to be tume, who, being in a fever, was given surprised that the Doctor had not over by his ordinary physician, but come home, I offered to take my whom Darwin restored, probably by leave; but she told me that I had one of those bold measures from been expected for some days, and which others would have shrunk, but that a bed had been prepared for me: to which he wisely had recourse I heard some orders given to the whenever a desperate malady called housemaid, who had destined a diffor a desperate cure. His patient, ferent room for my reception from whose name was Inge, was, I believe, that which her mistress had upon the same whom Johnson, in his life second thoughts appointed. I perof Ambrose Phillips, has termed a ceived that the maid examined me gentleman of great eminence in Staf- attentively, but I could not guess the fordshire. Part of the wealth that reason. When supper was nearly now flowed in upon him, from an ex- finished, a loud rapping at the door tensive and opulent circle, was em- announced the Doctor. There was a ployed with that liberality which in bustle in the hall, which made Mrsa this country is perhaps oftener exer- Darwin get up and go to the door. cised by men of his profession than by Upon her exclaiming that they were those of any other.

bringing in a dead man, I went to At Lichfield, he formed an intim the hall. I saw some persons, dimacy with several persons, who af- rected by one whom I guessed to be terwards rose to much distinction. Doctor Darwin, carrying a man whos Of these, the most remarkable were appeared to be motionless. He is. Mr. Edgeworth, whose skill in me- not dead," said Doctor Darwin. chanics made him acceptable to · He is only dead drunk. I found Darwin; Mr. Day, a man remember- him,' continued the Doctor, 'nearly ed to more advantage by his writings suffocated in a ditch: I had him than by the singularities of his con- lifted into my carriage, and brought duct; and Anna Seward, the female hither, that we might take care of most eminent in her time for poetical him to-night.” Candles came; and genius. The manner in which the what was the surprise of the Doctor first of these introduced himself shall and of Mrs. Darwin, to find that the be told in his own words, as they person whom he had saved was Mrs. convey a lively description of Dar- Darwin's brother ! who, for the first win's person and habits of life at this time in his life, as I was assured, had time. “I wrote an account to the been intoxicated in this manner, and Doctor of the reception which his who would undoubtedly have perished scheme” (for preventing accidents to had it not been for Doctor Darwin's a carriage in turning) “had met with humanity. During this scene I had from the Society of Arts. The Doc- time to survey my new friend, Doctor wrote me a very civil answer; tor Darwin. He was a large man, and though, as I afterwards found fat, and rather clumsy ; but intelliout, he took me for a coach-maker, gence and benevolence were painted he invited me to his house: an invi- in his countenance : he had a consitation which I accepted in the ensu- derable impediment in his speech, a ing summer. When I arrived at defect which is in general painful Lichfield, I went to inquire whether to others; but the Doctor repaid the Doctor was at home. I was, his auditors so well for making them shown into a room where I found' wait for his wit or his knowledge, Mrs. Darwin. I told her my name. that he seldom found them impatient. She said the Doctor expected me, When his brother was disposed of, and that he intended to be at home he came to supper, and I thought that before night. There were books and he looked at Mrs. Darwin as if he prints in the room, of which I took was somewhat surprised when he occasion to speak. Mrs. Darwin heard that I had passed the whole asked me to drink tea, and I per- evening in her company. After she ceived that I owed to my literature withdrew, he entered into conversathe pleasure of passing the evening tion with me upon the carriage that with this most agreeable woman. I had made, and upon the remarks Vol. VI.

2 P

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that fell from some members of the Sir Brooke Boothby, and a proctor Society to whom I had shown it. I whose name was Jackson. Of this satisfied his curiosity; and having told triumvirate, Miss Seward, who knew him that my carriage was in the town, them well, tells us that Jackson adand that he could see it whenever mired Sir Brooke Boothby, and worhe pleased, we talked upon mecha- shipped and aped Dr. Darwin. He nical subjects, and afterwards on became a useful drudge to each in various branches of knowledge, which their joint work, the translation of necessarily produced allusions to the Limæan system of vegetation classical literature ; by these, he dis- into English from the Latin. His ilcovered that I had received the edu- lustrious coadjutors exacted of him cation of a gentleman. • Why! 1 fidelity to the sense of their author, thought, said the Doctor; " that and they corrected Jackson's ineleyou were a coach-maker!' That gant English, weeding it of its pompwas the reason,' said I, that you ous coarseness. Darwin had already looked surprised at finding me at conceived the design of turning the supper with Mrs. Darwin. But you Linnean system into a poem, which, see, Doctor, how superior in discern- after he had composed it, was long ment ladies are even to the most handed about in manuscript ; and, I learned gentlemen: I assure you that believe, frequently revised and alterI had not been in the room five mi- ed with the most sedulous care. The nutes before Mrs. Darwin asked me stage on which he has introduced his to tea!'

fancied Queen of Botany, and her atThese endeavours to improve the tendants from the Rosicrusian world, construction of carriages were near has the recommendation of being a costing him dear; nor did he real spot of ground within a mile of desist till he had been several times the place the inhabited. A few thrown down, and at last broke years ago it retained many traces of the pan of the right knee, which oc- the diligence he had bestowed on it, casioned a slight but incurable lame- and has probably not yet entirely

The amiable woman, of whom lost them. Of this work, called the Mr. Edgeworth has here spoken, died Botanic Garden, which he retained in 1770. Of the five children whom till he thought there was no danger of she brought him, two were lost in his medical character suffering from their infancy. Charles, the eldest his being known as a poet, he pubof the remaining three, died at Edin- lished, in 1789, the second part, conburgh, in 1778, of a disease supposed taining the Loves of the Plants, to be communicated by a corpse first; believing it to be more level to which he was dissecting, when one of the apprehension of ordinary readers. his fingers was slightly wounded. It soon made its way to an alHe had obtained a gold medal for most universal popularity. With the pointing out a test by which pus lovers of poetry, the novelty of the might be distinguished from mucus; subject and the high polish, as it and the Essay in which he had stated was then considered, of the verse, his discovery was published by his secured it many favourers, and the father after his death, together with curiosity of the naturalist was not less another treatise, which he left incom- gratified by the various information plete, on the Retrograde Motions of the and the fanciful conjectures which Absorbent Vessels of Animal Bodies abounded in the notes. The first part in some Diseases. Another of his sons, was given to the public in three years Erasmus, who was a lawyer, in a after. temporary fit of mental derangenient In 1795 and 1796, appeared the two put an end to his existence in 1799. volumes of Zoonomia, or Laws of Robert Waring, a physician, now in Organic Life, the produce of long high réputation at Shrewsbury, is the labour and much consideration. only one of these children who sur- What profit a physician may derive vived him.

from this book I am unable to deterA few years before he quitted mine; but I fear that the general Lichfield in consequence of a second reader will too often discover in it a marriage, he attempted to establish a hazardous ingenuity, to which gool Botanical Society in that city ; but sense and reason have been sacrificed. his only associates were the present When the writer of these pages, who

ness.

[ocr errors]

n

was then his patient, ventured to Four or more strong springs rise near the intimate the sensuality of one part house, and have formed the valley, which, of it to its author, he himself imme- like that of Petrarch, may be called Valdiately referred to the passage which chiusa, as it begins, or is shut at the situawas likely to have

raised the objec- tion of the house. I hope you like the detion; and, on another occasion, as if scription ; and hope farther, that yourself to counteract this prejudice in the

or any part of your family will sometime do

me the pleasure of a visit. mind of one whose confidence he

Pray tell the authoress that the watermight be desirous of obtaining, he nymphs of our valley will be happy to asrecommended to him the study of sist her next novel. Paley's Moral Philosophy.

My bookseller, Mr. Johnson, will not In 1781, he married his second wife, begin to print the Temple of Nature till the widow of Colonel Pole, of Rad- the price of paper is fixed by Parliament. burne, near Derby, with whom he ap- I suppose the present duty is paid pears to have lived as happily as he To this imperfect sentence was had done with his first. By her persua- added on the opposite side by another sion, he was induced to pass the latter hand; part of his days at Derby. Here his

Sir,—This family is in the greatest afmedical practice was not at all less- fliction. I am truly grieved to inform you ened ; and he had a second family to of the death of the invaluable Dr. Darwin. provide for out of the emolument Dr. Darwin got up apparently in good which it brought him. His other health ; about eight o'clock, he rang the publications were a Tract on Female library bell. The servant, who went, said Education, a slight performance writ- he appeared fainting. He revived again. ten for the purpose of recommending Mrs. Darwin was immediately called. The a school kept by some ladies, in whose Doctor spoke often, but soon appeared welfare his relation to them gave him

fainting ;

; and died about one o'clock. a warm interest'; and a long book inconsolable: their affliction is great in

Our dear Mrs. Darwin and family are (in 1800) on the Philosophy of Agri

deed, there being few such husbands or culture and Gardening, which he en- fathers. He will be most deservedly latitled Phytologia.

mented by all who had the honour of being On Lady Day, 1202, he took pog- known to him. session of an old house, called the

I remain, Sir, Priory, which had belonged to his

Your obedient humble servant, son Erasmus, and was situated at a

S. M. short distance from Derby; and on

Ps. This letter was begun this morning the 17th of the next month, while he by Doctor Darwin himself. was writing to his friend, Mr. Edge- The complaint which thus suddenworth, the following letter, he was ly terminated his life, in his sevenarrested by the sudden approach of ty first year, was the Angina Pectoris. death.

The Temple of Nature was printed

in the year after his death; but the Priory, near Derby, April 17, 1802, public had either read enough of his Dear Edgeworth, I am glad to find

writings or that you still amuse yourself with mecha- other things, for little attention was

occupied with nism, in spite of the troubles of Ireland.

That The use of turning aside, or downwards, paid to this poetical bequest. the claw of a table, I don't see, as it must be ingenious burlesque of his manner, reared against a wall, for it will not stand the Loves of the Triangles, probably alone. If the use be for carriage, the feet contributed to loosen the spell by may shut up, like the usual brass feet of which he had for a while taken the a reflecting telescope.

general ear. We have all been now removed from

his person is well described by his Derby about a fortnight, to the Priory, and biographer, Miss Seward, as being all of us like our change of situation. We above the middle size, his form athhave a pleasant home, a good garden, letic, and his limbs too heavy for ponds full of fish, and 'a pleasing valley exact proportion; his countenance somewhat like Shenstone's-deep, umbrageous, and with a talkative stream run

marked by the traces of a severe ning down it. Our home is near the top small-pox, and, when not animated of the valley, well screened by bills from by social pleasure, rather saturnine the east and north, and open to the south, than sprightly. In youth, his exwhere at four miles' distance we see Derby terior was rendered agreeable by tower.

florid health, and a smile that indica

were

ence.

ted good humour. His portrait, by all bilious or liver complaints; in Wright of Derby, gives a very ex- short, all the family of pain. This act, but inanimate, representation of opinion he supported in his writings his form and features.' In justice to with the force of his eloquence and the painter, it must be told, that I reason; and still more in conversa. believe the likeness to have been tion, by all those powers of wit, sataken after death.

tire, and peculiar humour, which In his medical practice he was by never appeared fully to the public in some accused of empiricism. From his works, but which gained bim this charge, both Miss Seward and Mr. strong ascendancy in private society, Edgeworth have, I think, justly vindi- During his life-time, he almost bà. cated him. The former has recorded nished wine from the tables of the a project which he suggested, on the rich of his acquaintance; and persupposed authority of some old prac- suaded most of the gentry in his own titioners, but which he did not exe- and the neighbouring counties to cute, for curing one of his consump- become water-drinkers.” Here, I tive patients by the transfusing of doubt, Miss Edgeworth has a little blood from the veins of a person in over-rated the extent of his influhealth. I have been told, that when

Partly in jest, and partly a mother, who seemed to be in the in earnest, he expressed his suspiparoxysm of a delirium, expressed ancions, and carried his inferences on earnest wish to take her infant into this subject, to a preposterous exher arms, and her attendants were cess. When he heard that my father fearful of indulging her lest she was bilious, he suspected that this should do some violence to the object must be the consequence of his havof her affection, he desired them to ing, since his residence in Ireland, commit it to her without apprehen- and in compliance with the fashion sion, and that the result was an of the country, indulged too freely immediate abatement of her disorder. in drinking. His letter, I rememThis was an instance rather of strong ber, concluded with Farewell, my sagacity than of extraordinary bold- dear friend. God keep you from ness; for nothing less than a well- whiskey- if he can." founded confidence in the safety of His opinion respecting the safety the experiment could have induced of inoculating for the small-pox at a him to hazard it.

proper age, as it was expressed in I know not whether it be worth the following letter to the writer of relating, that when sent for to a these pages, will be satisfactory to nobleman, at Buxton, who conceived such parents as are yet uncouvinced his health to have suffered by the use of the efficacy of vaccination; and of tea, to which he was immoderate- his opinion is the more valuable, bely addicted, Darwin rang the bell, cause it was given at a time when and ordered a pot of strong green there was neither prejudice nor pretea to be brought up, and, filling both possession on the subject. his patient's cup and his own, en

Derby, Oct. 9, 1797. . couraged him to frequent and lavish

Dear Sir-On the best inquiry I have draughts. I have heard that he was been able to make to-day, I cannot hear impatient of inquiries which related that the small-pox is in Derby. I can to diet; thinking, I suppose, that only add, that all those who have died after the age of childhood, in ordi- by inoculation, whom I have heard of nary cases, each person might regu- these last twenty years, have been children late it best for himself. But of an

at the breast ; on which account it may be almost entire abstinence from fer- safer to defer inoculation till four or five mented liquors, he was, both by years old, if there be otherwise no hazard precept and example, a strenuous

of taking the disease naturally. adviser. “He believed," says Miss

I am, &c.

E. DARWIN. Edgeworth, in her Memoirs of her Father, “ that almost all the dis- On the accounts which his patempers of the higher classes of peo- tients gave him of their own malaple arise from drinking, in some form dies he placed so little dependence, or other, too much vinous spirit. that he thought it necessary to wring To this be attributed the aristocratic the truth from them as a lawyer disease of gout, tbe jaundice, and would do from an unwilling witness. ' His general distrust of others, in all der is, what had kept them waiting that related to themselves, is well so long. He mentions, with someexemplified by a casual remark that thing like approbation, the hypohas been lately repeated to me by a thesis of Buffon and Helvetius, who, respectable dignitary of the church, as he tells us, seem to imagine, that to whom, when he was apologizing mankind arose from one family of for his want of skill in the game of monkeys, on the banks of the Mechess, at which they were going to diterranean, who accidentally had play, Darwin answered, that he learned to use the adductor pollicis, made it a rule, not to believe either or that strong muscle which constithe good or the harm that men spoke tutes the ball of the thumb and of themselves.

draws the point of it to meet the This want of reliance in the sin- points of the fingers, which comcerity of those with whom he con- mon monkeys do not; and that this versed has been attributed, with muscle gradually increased in size, some colour of reason, to his ha- strength, and activity, in successivegebitual scepticism on matters of nerations; and that, by this improved higher moment. Mr. Fellowes has use of the sense of the touch, monobserved of him, that he dwelt so keys acquired clear ideas, and gramuch and so exclusively on second dually became men. causes, that he seems to have for- To this he gravely adds, that pergotten that there is a first. There is haps all the productions of nature no solution of natural effects to which are in their progress to greater perhe was not ready to listen, provided fection ! an idea countenanced by it would assist him in getting rid of modern discoveries and deductions what he considered an unnecessary concerning the progressive formation intervention of the Supreme Being of the solid parts of this terraqueous A fibre capable of irritability was globe, and consonant to the dignity with him enough to account, not of the Creator. only for the origin of animal life, but His description of the way in which for its progress through all its stages. clear ideas were acquired is not He had thus involved himself in the much improved when he puts it into grossest materialism ; but, being en- verse. dued with an active fancy, he engen- Nerved with fine touch above the bestial dered on it theories so wild and chime- throngs, rical, that they might be regarded The hand, first gift of Heaven! to man with the same kind of wonder as the belongs: fictions of romance, if our pleasure Untipt with claws, the circling fingers close, were not continually checked by re- With rival points the bending thumbs membering the error in which theyori- oppose, ginate. What more prodigious trans- Trace the nice lines of form with sense formation shall we read of in Ovid, And clear ideas charm the thinking mind.

refined, than that which he supposes the organs

Temple of Nature, c. 3. of his strange ens to have undergone during the change of our globe from He tells us of a naturalist who had moist to dry ?

found out a shorter cut to the proAs in dry air the sea-born stranger roves,

duction of animal life, who thought Each muscle quickens, and each sense it not impossible that the first insects improves ;

were the anthers and stigmas of Cold gills aquatic form respiring lungs, flowers, which had by some means And sounds aerial flow from slimy tongues. loosened themselves from their pa

Temple of Nature, c. l. rent plant, and that other insects in The peculiarities of the shapes of process of time had been formed animals, which distinguish them from from these ; some acquiring wings, each other, he supposes to have been others fins, and others claws, from gradually formed by these same irri- their ceaseless efforts to procure table fibres, and to have been varied food, or to secure themselves from by reproduction. As to the faculties injury. What hindered but these inof sensation, volition, and associa- sects might have acquired hands, and tion, they come in afterwards as mat- by those means clear ideas also, is not ters of course, and in a manner so explained to us. easy and natural, that the only wons As great improvements, however,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »