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great men, that there has seldom been a forward boy who has not made an ordinary man. The slowness of a boy, which is imputed to dulness, often arises from his taking things into consideration when viewing a particular object, which one of less real intelligence would overlook: he looks at the thing in more ways than one, or suspects that there may be more ways than one of looking at it, and is perplexed for a right conclusion, and withholds his judgment, while the genius sees only a likeness or a difference, and without hesitation pronounces on it at once. Sometimes the young genius, by his coup-d'oeil, hits the mark as often he misses, but his hits are recorded and his misses are left out of the account. Miss Edgeworth has made her Lucy quick, and what would be called, by fond parents, a wit; she has made her Harry circumspect, cautious of assent, and therefore, as a child, slow, and what would be set down by guests at a dinner-table when the fruit and the young folks come in, as a dull boy. He does not see the point of a joke, or comprehend an allusion. The sensible parents of the story, instead of priding themselves on Lucy's wit, hold out no encouragement whatever to it; and allow Harry to grow to understanding at his own rate without any attempt at forcing. The consequence of this judicious treatment is, that Lucy, finding that accuracy is held in more honour than fancy, subdues the one quality and endeavours to acquire the other, which she accomplishes by a triumph, not of, but over her quickness. This effected, she ceases to overrun the game, and learns to secure it.
"Lucy, your hair is hanging into your eyes this morning," said her mother. "Yes mother," said Lucy, "because it is quite out of curl."
"Did you curl it last night, Lucy?" said her mother.
We shall now proceed to give some extracts which will serve to show the manner of this excellent book. In the subjoined chapter we begin by finding Lucy's hair out of curl, owing to the dampness of the weather; and by means of this natural phenomenon, so extremely disagreeable to young ladies in our watery climate, we arrive at the principle of the hygrometer. Lucy's astonishment how her hair's going out of curl in damp weather can be useful to men in general, and to men of science in particular, is nature to the life.
"Yes, mamma, I did indeed; and it curled very nicely this morning early; but I went out in hopes of meeting my uncle, who was to have come to breakfast: and by the time that I came in again, my hair was all as you see. The breakfast bell rang, and I had not time to curl it again."
Her mother was satisfied, since Lucy had not neglected to curl it at night, which had been sometimes been the case. Her father asked, if she knew what had uncurled her hair when she went out?
"The damp of the morning, papa," said she: "my hair always goes out of curl in damp weather."
"So does mine, Lucy," said her mother. "It is not peculiar to your hair, to go out of curl in damp weather."
"But, Lucy, what do you mean by your hair going out of curl?" said her father. "Just what you see, papa; that it hangs straight.'
You told me the moisture of the morning uncurled it; do you know how or why it does so?" said her father.
"No, papa, not in the least; I wish you would tell me."
"When your hair is curled, the parts of one side of each hair are pressed close together, and the parts on the other side are stretched out. Give me that piece of packthread."
It was loosely twisted. He coiled up a bit of it, and showed her, that in the inner circle the parts are pressed together, and in the outer they are stretched.
"Now I see," said Lucy; and you mean, that it is just the same with my hair, when I curl it. But still I do not understand how the damp straightens it."
"That you shall see directly," said her father; and he dipped the curled packthread into a cup of water; when it was all wet, it became straight.
"Yes, it has uncurled, like my hair," said Lucy.
"Look, and you will see, that the water has filed all the interstices, or vacancies, which you observed between the different parts of the cord. Now there are in your hair, and in all hair, pores, or small vacancies, which can be filled with moisture, like the interstices in this packthread, and which imbibe moisture from the air, as this packthread imbibed the water, and you see it filled the pores on the inside, as well as on the outside."
"Thank you, papa," said Lucy, "that is very nice. To know why my hair uncurls is at least a comfort. Now I understand it all."
Not all," said her father. "There is a property of hair which you do not yet know; that when it is wet, that is, when its pores are filled with moisture
"I see, papa; you mean it swells out, and becomes thicker, like this cord."
Not exactly like that cord, Lucy; that cord shortens as it swells out in breadth;
but har lengthens when it is moist. All human hair is easily affected by moisture." Very easily, indeed," said Lucy, dividing her uncurled locks on her forehead, and trying to put them out of her way. "I was not in the damp above ten minutes, and yet you see how straight my hair has become. Indeed, papa, as you say, human hair is very easily affected by moisture."
"Yes, fortunately," said Harry.
Fortunately!" repeated Lucy; fortunately?"
unfortunately you mean. Why do you say
"I have a reason, and a good one," said Harry. "It is fortunate that hair has that property. For one reason, for one purpose, useful to all men and women, but especially to men of science.'
"Fortunate and useful!" said Lucy. "Brother, how can it possibly be fortunate or useful to you, or to men of science in particular, or to any body, that my hair should so easily go out of curl in damp weather?"
"Not your hair in particular, Lucy, but hair in general,” said Harry.
"What use," said Lucy, "if every body's hair in the whole world was to go out of curl like this every damp day-what use could it be but to make them all look very deplorable, as mamma says I do when my hair is in this condition? What good would this do to men of science, or to any men?"
"You do not understand me," said Harry, smiling. "Did you never hear of an hygrometer?"
"Hygrometer!" said Lucy, "Yes, I have often heard of an hygrometer. I heard papa talking to you about hygrometers very lately, and reading a great deal, last Wednesday-no, last Thursday.
No matter, my dear," interrupted her father, "what day you heard me reading about it: do you know or do you not know what an hygrometer is?"
Lucy confessed she did not know exactly what it was; but she thought it had something to do with a barometer and a thermometer, because it ends in meter; and she remembered long ago her father had told her, that meter meant measure, and comes from some Greek word that means to measure; therefore, she supposed an hygrometer must be a machine, or an instrument for measuring some ng, but what she did not know; she guessed it was something about the air.
Her father said, that she was so far right in thinking that it is an instrument used to measure something. He told her, that it measures moisture in the air; and that the name hygrometer is composed of two Greek words, hugros, moist, or moisture, and metron, measure.
Lucy liked this name, which contains, as she observed, the history of the thing; and now she knew this, she thought she could never forget it.
Their uncle had not yet come in to breakfast, and their father beginning to read the newspaper to their mother, Harry and Lucy went on at the farther end of the room, talking to each other.
"Now you can guess," said Harry, "why I said that it was very lucky that your hair uncurls so easily in the damp. You observed yourself, that you could always know by your hair whether it is a damp day or not, whether air is moist or not."
"So hair is an hygrometer," said Lucy, for it measures moisture. I am sure my hair might say, if it could speak Greek, Hygrometer; or, in plain English, moist-1
Very true," said Harry; but still you do not know the measure exactly of how moist, how damp the day may be; do you?"
“Yes, on very, very damp days my hair comes quite out of curl, as you see it now," said Lucy, "and hangs quite straight; but it only comes a little out of curl on days that are only a little damp or damp-ish."
"A little damp! 'Damp-ish!"" repeated Harry; "that is very well for common talking, but it does not describe exactly how damp. I do not know what degree of moisture you mean to express by damp-ish."
"Pish!" echoed Lucy. Harry would not smile.
"You have not yet told me, Lucy," said he, gravely, "how the hygrometer is made to show the measure of moisture exactly."
"I do not know exactly, brother. But suppose, for instance, you knew how long my hair is when it is quite dry; then in damp weather when it is moist, and hangs straight, you could measure how long it has grown; I mean how much it has lengthened by the damp."
"I could measure," said Harry, "but how?"
"You could see whether my hair comes down as far as to my eyebrows, or only this far, or this far," said Lucy, touching different points on her forehead. "If I had a looking-glass I would measure this for myself."
"This might do," said Harry; "but at best it would do only for yourself; and but badly for yourself, because you must, to mark your points, have disagreeable spots on your forehead always."
"I should not like that," said Lucy, "nor would mamma, I am sure."
"Besides," continued Harry, "it would be rather inconvenient to me to run in search of you, with a pair of compasses and my ruler, to measure your hair and your scale on your forehead. This would be rather an inconvenient hygrometer."
Rather, I acknowledge," said Lucy, "you would twitch all the hair off my head too, in measuring each hair, I suppose; and I should be afraid that you would put out my eyes with the points of your compasses, when you came to measure the scale on my forehead. I should not like to be your hygrometer.".
"I would much rather have one that would always stand or hang in my room," said Harry; "or one that I could carry about in my pocket, better still. Could you manage that for me? Could you find out how to do that? I found out how to do it." Did you indeed, brother? and do you think I can ?"
'Yes, if you think well, and if you go on thinking," said Harry.
"I will then. But tell me exactly what I am to think about, and what is to be done," said Lucy.
Harry pulled a hair out of his own head, and laid it on a piece of white paper before her. "There," said he, stretching it out, " you see its length. We will suppose this hair is as dry as it can be. Now I will dip it into this bason of water. Now that it has been wet, it is longer than it was when it was dry."
"Yes; but we want to know how much longer," said Lucy. "Well, it is easy lay it on this sheet of paper, and measure, as exactly as you please, how much longer it is when it is wet than it was when it was quite dry."
“Very well,” said Harry," and I can tell you, that you would find it to be one fortieth of its length longer. Then you have the utmost length between extreme moisture, and extreme dryness."
"And," continued Lucy, "I could divide this line on the paper between the two black dots, by which you marked the points to which it stretched when it was dry, and when it was damp; and, if divided exactly, it would be what you call a scale; you could measure how much, in different degrees of damp or dry, it stretches or shortens."
"Very well, indeed," said Harry; "and the scale on paper would be better than on your forehead, you see. That's one point fixed."
"That's one point gained," said Lucy; "now what is to be done next?"
"Next, you are to find out how, without the trouble of continually plucking hairs out of my head or yours, and wetting or drying, and measuring them, you might know every day or hour, or at any time you please, how damp the air is, or how much moisture it contains."
"If I could but make the hair measure itself,” said Lucy, "and mark or show how far it shrinks or lengthens on this paper in any time."
Aye, if you could," said Harry, "that is the question."
Suppose I had a very, very, very little weight," said Lucy; "so little, that this hair could support it without breaking, then I could tie it to one end of the hair, and hang the hair by the other end to something, suppose a piece of wire stuck into the wail: and I would put this paper, with our scale upon it, against the wall, just behind the weight, and when you look at it, you would see how much the hair had shrunk or lengthened, at any time, in damp or dry.”
"There, papa!" cried Harry; Lucy has made out as far as I did the first time I thought of making an hygrometer?"
Lucy looked much pleased with herself, and with her brother for being pleased with her.
And have I really invented an hygrometer, Harry?" cried she.
"Yes, but not a perfect one, my dear," said Harry; "there is a great deal more to be done."
"What more?" said Lucy.
"To come to breakfast, in the first place," said her father.
This Lucy was ready to do, for she was a little tired; but the time she had refreshed herself by eating half her breakfast, she returned to the question-" What more is to be done, brother, about the hygrometer?"
"To make it more convenient," said Harry. In your way, it must always be stuck up against a wall; and besides, your divisions are so very, very small, that you can hardly see how much the hair lengthens or shortens."
You might take a magnifying glass," said Lucy.
"Well, that would help; but cannot you think of another way?"
Lucy thought for a little while, and went on eating her breakfast, and presently answered, "No, brother; I can think only of taking a larger magnifying glass, a glass that magnifies more. Will that do?"
'Still there is an easier method; put the magnifying glass out of your head."
'It must be a more difficult, instead of an easier way, for I cannot find it out," said Lucy.
'But it is easier, I assure you, when you have found it out," said Harry. “Come, I will help you a little," continued he, after she had considered for some time.
at the hand of that clock," and he pointed to the dial-plate of a pendule, which was on the chimney-piece opposite to the breakfast-table. Look, the hand now points at
ten. Do you see how far it is from ten to eleven? from ten to eleven?"
Suppose that hand was to move
"Well, suppose," said Lucy; "I can easily suppose this."
Then which would have moved the farthest? which would have gone over the most space? the point of the hand, which is at the outside of the dial-plate, or that part of the hand, which is closest to the centre?"
"The point of the hand, which is at the outermost part of the circle, would have gone the farthest; I mean, would have moved over the most space. The part nearest to the centre would have moved so little, that I suppose I should hardly be able to see or measure by my eye how much." could measure
"True," said Harry, "you could not; but you could see, and you the space from ten to eleven easily; could not you?"
"Certainly," said Lucy.
"You could guess the measure even by your eye, without taking compasses or magnifying glass," said Harry.
"Now I see what you are about," said Lucy; "I must have a little, leetle hand, and dial-plate for my hygrometer, to show and to measure the least motion of the hair in shortening or lengthening,"
Right," said Harry; "so far right."
"Do not tell me any more," said Lucy; "I can do it all for myseif now, and in a
"Do not be in such a hurry, my dear," said Harry; "or you will never do it." "Hurry! I am not in the least hurry," said Lucy, "only I like to be quick. Well, I would fasten the end of the hair to the axle, so as to make every, the smallest motion of the hair, move the hand."
She paused. She was not quite clear of the manner in which this was to be done. "I will help you," said Harry. Suppose" "Suppose," said his mother, "that you were to let Lucy finish her breakfast." "I will, and welcome," said Harry ; "for now she has the principle of an hygrometer, which papa was explaining to me the other day, and of which I will show her a plate after breakfast-
A plate!" said Lucy; "I may as well have the plate at breakfast, may not I?"
By a plate, I mean an engraving," said Harry;
did not you know that?" "Oh! yes, to be sure,' said Lucy; "I was only in play."-(Vol. i. p. 38.) The subjoined is a delightful dramatic scene. The children are on a visit to a lady who has a fine flower-garden, and who gives them permission to take such flowers as please them.
The gardener's jea
lous love of his choice flowers is painted with amusing truth-first, he is full of fears lest they should be selected by the young folks, and when they are looked upon with indifference, he is piqued, and angry that the objects of his admiration are not coveted by the whole world. The anecdote of the selfish lady, (who boiled the tulip roots which she was compelled to send as a present to a friend,) with which the extract concludes, is excellent:
She told Lucy, that she would give her the root of an agapantha, and of some dahlias, and that she and Harry were welcome to seeds, roots, cuttings, or slippings, of any thing they liked in this garden. "Write down what you wish, and I will have them ready by the time your mother brings you here again, as I hope she will on your return homewards."
Joy sparkled in their eyes, and they thanked Mrs. Frankland, with warm gratitude; but, an instant afterwards, they looked unusually grave; for the embarrassment of riches came upon them. They were left to make out their list; and how to choose was the difficulty, where all were beautiful, and when their little garden could not hold all. Harry went to work prudently. He measured out a space of ground, that was the size of their own garden. Lucy could hardly believe that it was so small as what he now showed her; but he had often stepped the boundaries, and was sure of the size of their territories. Rule and measure soon settled the affair, and brought their wishes into proper compass. They calculated what their garden would hold, and made out their list accordingly. Their chief wish was to have a great bed of pinks and carnations.
But the moment they went near these, an old gardener, who was at work in the garden, and who had long been eyeing them, approached. He began to praise his carnations, which he said were the finest in the county, and he pointed out his favourites. There was the Prince Regent, and the Duke of Wellington, in full glory, these every body knew; but beyond these, he had two superlative new favourites. One he called, The pride of Holland, or the great Van Tromp. The other, The envy of the world, or the great panjandrum. Harry and Lucy did not much admire either of these. Van Tromp they thought was of a dull colour, and the great panjandrum had burst, and was falling to pieces in spite of his card support. Harry preferred some others.
"That which you are now at, master," said the gardener, "is Davy's Duchess of Devonshire: that little duchess was thought a great deal of some years ago, but she is quite out of fashion now."
Harry did not care for that, he liked her.
"What does he say?" asked the deaf gardener, turning to Lucy, and leaning down that he might hear the answer.
"I say," cried Harry, speaking loud in his ear, "that I like my little duchess better than your great panjandrum."
"Indeed!" said the gardener, smiling in scorn. "Why, master, what you have taken such a fancy to is not a carnation even, it is only a pink."
"I do not care," said Harry, "what you call it. I like it, whether it be called carnation or pink."
The gardener looked at him with contempt.
"Pray what is the difference between them?" said Lucy; "my mother has told me, but I forget it."
The gardener told her, that one chief difference is in the roundness of the petals of carnations, and the jagged or pinked edges of the petals of pinks.
Lucy liked these edges, and she really thought some of the pinks prettier than the carnations. She told Harry so, in a low voice. "But I am afraid," said she, "that the gardener would despise me if he heard me say so."
"What signifies whether he despises you or not?" said Harry. "There is nothing wrong in liking a pink better than a carnation."
The gardener, who did not hear what was said, fancied that they were debating whether they should ask for one of his panjandrums, and he began to say, that he was sorry that he could not offer this, he could not give this to any body.
Harry assured him, that he need not make any apology, because they did not wish for them. Piqued by Harry's indifference, the gardener named several lords and ladies, who had admired his panjandrum above all things, and who had tried in vain to obtain it. It was a very great rarity, he said. Only two other people in England had a real panjandrum.