Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/121

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trace and apprehend the thoughts of the printed page, through the impression of the black lettering, this man received some finer impression from the printed page than any we know?

In closing this short account of a remarkable individual, we would only record one or two events prior to his birth, which afford some little explanation of what appears in this man as arrested development. His mother, not long before his birth, passed through a severe attack of measles. This at the time was not reckoned in the account of causes that might have unfavorably influenced the unborn child. One thing, however, was recognized as the probable cause of a prenatal organic disturbance, viz., the fright of the mother by some hogs kept on the farm. Herein we have a possible explanation of those strange actions while eating, the peculiar grunt, the turning of the head, and the listening attitude, which are frequently observed when swine are feeding.


"WITHOUT forming what is ordinarily called an eventful career," says an English essayist,[1] "the life of Mrs. Somerville is marked by a degree of interest far beyond that which attaches to the lives of many men and women who have shown more striking traits of temperament and character. It is the unobtrusive record of what can be done by the steady culture of good natural powers, and the pursuit of a high standard of excellence, in order to win for a woman a distinguished place in the sphere habitually reserved to men, without parting with any of those characteristics of mind, or character, or demeanor, which have ever been taken to form the grace and glory of womanhood." "Nature" speaks of her as an illustrious woman, "unique, or almost unique, from one point of view, though so beautifully womanly from others." Sir Charles Lyell spoke of her, in one of his letters ("Life," Vol. I, page 373), as "the first of women, not of the blue."

Mrs. Somerville was born in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland, December 26, 1780, and died at Sorrento, near Naples, November 29, 1872. Her father was Sir William George Fairfax, who commanded the admiral's ship in the battle of Camperdown, and was afterward made a vice-admiral. There was nothing congenial in the surroundings of her childhood to the scientific pursuits for which she even then seems to have had an inclination, and the influences under which she lived were rather adverse to the gratification of her tastes in that direction. Her earliest pictures of herself represent her as "a lonely child picking up shells along the shore, . . . or gathering wild-flow-

  1. "Saturday Review," January 10, 1874.