Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/13

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EDWARD LIVINGSTON YOUMANS.

cidents of his life and work. It is desirable that the story should be set forth concisely, so as to be remembered; for the work was like the man, unselfish and unobtrusive, and in the hurry and complication of modern life such work is liable to be lost from sight, so that people profit by it without knowing that such work was ever done. So genuinely modest, so utterly destitute of self -regarding impulses was our friend, that I believe it would be quite like him to chide us for thus drawing public attention to him, as he would think, with too much emphasis. But such mild reproof it is right that we should disregard; for the memory of a life so beautiful and useful is a precious possession of which mankind ought not to be deprived.

Edward Livingston Youmans was born in the town of Coeymans, Albany County, N. Y., on the 3d of June, 1821. From his father and mother, both of whom survived him, he inherited strong traits of character as well as an immense fund of vital energy, such that the failure of health a few years ago seemed (to me, at least) surprising. His father, Vincent Youmans, was a man of independent character, strong convictions, and perfect moral courage, with a quick and ready tongue, in the use of which earnestness and frankness perhaps sometimes prevailed over prudence. The mother, Catherine Scofield, was notable for balance of judgment, prudence, and tact. The mother's grandfather was Irish; and, while I very much doubt the soundness of the generalizations we are so prone to make about race characteristics, I can not but feel that for the impulsive—one had almost said explosive—warmth of sympathy, the enchanting grace and vivacity of manner, in Edward Youmans, this strain of Irish blood may have been to some extent accountable. Both father and mother belonged to the old Puritan stock of New England, and the father's ancestry was doubtless purely English. Nothing could be more honorably or characteristically English than the name. In the old feudal society the yeoman, like the franklin, was the small freeholder, owning a modest estate yet holding it by no servile tenure, a man of the common people yet no churl, a member of the state who "knew his rights and knowing dared maintain." Few indeed were the nooks and corners outside of merry England where such men flourished as the yeomen and franklins who founded democratic New England. It has often been remarked how the most illustrious of Franklins exemplified the typical virtues of his class. There was much that was similar in the temperament and disposition of Edward Youmans—the sagacity and penetration, the broad common sense, the earnest purpose veiled but not hidden by the blithe humor, the devotion to ends of wide practical value, the habit of making in the best sense the most out of life.