1888, i. 35) Darwin quotes, in support of his arguments, some remarks made by Somerville in his ‘System’ (1800).
Somerville also invented several ingenious and useful devices for agricultural implements, including a plough. He started in 1802 an annual show in London of cattle, sheep, pigs, &c., which he carried on at his own expense for a number of years, and for which he provided the prizes. He was a constant attendant also at the famous sheep-shearings at Woburn and Holkham. He held views far in advance of his time on agricultural education, experimental farms, slaughtering of animals, old-age pensions, and other rural subjects.
He was a keen sportsman, both in the hunting field when young and as an angler in later life. But a succession of accidents greatly impaired an otherwise robust constitution. The winter of 1818 he spent in Italy, and the succeeding summer in France, for the benefit of his health. While journeying through Switzerland he died of dysentery at Vevay, on 5 Oct. 1819. His remains were buried at Aston-Somerville.
Sir Walter Scott eulogised his handsome person and face, his polished manners, and his patriotism (Miscellaneous Prose Works, 1834, iv.). A portrait of him at Matfen Hall, Northumberland, by Samuel Woodforde, R.A. (engraved by James Ward, R.A., in 1800), depicts him in his yeomanry uniform, with, in the background, a team of oxen and a representation of his improved plough (a reproduction of this picture forms the frontispiece to vol. viii. 3rd ser. of the ‘Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society,’ 1897).
- ‘Short Address to the Yeomanry of England and others,’ Bath, 1795.
- ‘The System followed during the last Two Years by the Board of Agriculture,’ two editions, London, 1800.
- ‘Facts and Observations relative to Sheep, Wool, Ploughs, Oxen,’ &c., 3rd edit., London, 1809.
He also wrote various letters and papers in agricultural publications, and annotated a ‘Work on Wool,’ by Robert Bakewell of Wakefield, London, 1808.
[Scott's Memorie of the Somervilles, 1815, Misc. Prose Works, vol. iv. 1834; Ann. Reg. 1798, vol. xl.; Annals of Agriculture, 1799, vol. xxxii.; Gent. Mag. 1805, vol. lxxv.; Public Characters, 1806–7, vol. ix.; Agricultural Mag. 1811, vol. ix.; Sinclair's Corresp. 1831, vol. i.; R. A. Kinglake's A Forgotten President of the Board of Agriculture, pamphlet, 1888; Southey's Life and Correspondence, passim; Journ. of the Royal Agricultural Society, 2nd ser. 1875, xi. 310, 3rd ser. 1891 ii. 130, 134, 136, 1895 vi. 4, 1896 vii. 14, 1897 viii. 1–20.]
SOMERVILLE, MARY (1780–1872), writer on science, daughter of Vice-Admiral Sir William George Fairfax [q. v.] and his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Samuel Charters, was born in 1780 during her father's absence at sea at the Manse of Jedburgh, the house of her aunt and future mother-in-law, Martha Somerville. Keenly observant of nature from childhood, she learned much from her early rambles over the sands and braes of Burntisland. Subsequently this open-air education was supplemented by attendance at a fashionable boarding-school at Musselburgh. The bent of her genius was shown in her application to Euclid, and she perfected herself in Latin in order to read Newton's ‘Principia.’ Her marriage in 1804 to Captain Samuel Greig, son of the Russian admiral, Sir Samuel Greig [q. v.], did not interrupt her studies, and her widowhood at the end of three years left her free to prosecute them with increased devotion. Her second marriage, in 1812, to her cousin, Dr. William Somerville [q. v.], gave her a companion who entirely sympathised with her intellectual aims. Edinburgh, her residence during the ensuing four years, was exchanged for London in 1816, and she moved thenceforward in the brilliant intellectual circle which included Brougham and Melbourne, Rogers, Moore, Macaulay, Sir James Mackintosh, and the Napiers. Among her scientific friends were Sir William and Sir John Herschel, Sir Charles Lyell, Sir George Airy, and Dr. Whewell, while Humboldt, Arago, Laplace, Gay-Lussac, and De Candolle were among her foreign acquaintances and correspondents.
A paper on ‘The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum,’ presented by her to the Royal Society in 1826, showed ingenuity in original speculation, and attracted much interest at the time, although the theory it propounded was subsequently negatived by the researches of Moser and Ries. In the following year Lord Brougham, on behalf of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, asked her to write a volume descriptive of Laplace's great work, ‘Le Mécanique Céleste,’ and its publication in 1831 raised her at once to the first rank among scientific writers. Distinctions were showered on her; the Royal Society ordered her bust, by Chantrey, to be placed in their great hall, and a civil list pension of 200l., afterwards raised to 300l., a year was soon conferred on her by Sir Robert Peel. Her next work, ‘The Connection of the Physical Sciences,’ an able summary of research into physical phenomena, was published in 1834, and went through