« AnteriorContinuar »
to gratify every wish; and Lady Davy therefore preceded him on the journey, in order that she might prepare for his comfortable reception at that place. Apartments were accordingly in readiness for him at L'Hotel de la Couronne, in the Rue du Rhone; and at three o'clock on the 28th of May, having slept the preceding evening at Chambery, he arrived at Geneva, accompanied by his brother, Mr. Tobin, and his servant.
At four o'clock he dined, ate heartily, was unusually cheerful, and joked with the waiter about the cookery of the fish, which he appeared particularly to admire; and he desired that, as long as he remained at the hotel, he might be daily supplied with every possible variety that the lake afforded. He drank tea at eleven, and having directed that the feather bed should be removed, retired to rest at twelve.
• His servant, who slept in a bed parallel to his own, in the same alcove, was, however, very shortly called to attend him, and he desired that his brother might be summoned. I am informed that, on Dr. Davy's entering the room, he said, "I am dying," or words to that effect; "and when it is all over, I desire that no disturbance of any kind may be made in the house; lock the door, and let every one retire quietly to his apartment." He expired at a quarter before three o'clock without a struggle.
On the following morning, his friends Sismondi* and De Candolle were sent for; and the Syndics, as soon as the circumstance of his death was communicated to them, gave directions for a public funeral on the Monday; at which, the magistrates, the professors, the English residents at Geneva, and such inhabitants as desired it, were invited to attend. The ceremony was ordered to be conducted after the custom of Geneva, which is always on foot-no hearse; nor did a single carriage attend. The cemetery is at Plain Palais, some little distance out of the walls of the town. The Couronne being at the opposite extremity, the procession was long.
The following was the order of the procession:-t
Magistrates of the Republic
'Professors of the College in their robes,
The Right Hon. WM. WYCKHAM,
WM. HAMILTON, Esq., Ex-Ambassador at Naples,
Sir EGERTON BRYDGES, Bart.,
Captain ARCHIBALD HAMILTON,
The Students of the College.
'Simond de Sismondi, the celebrated author of the History of the Italian Republic.'
+For these particulars I am indebted to Sir Egerton Brydges.'
The English Service was performed by the Rev. John Magers, of Queen's College, and the Rev. Mr. Burgess.
The grave was stated in the public prints to be next to that of his friend, the late Professor M. A. Pictet; this is not the fact. It is far away from it, on the second line of No. 29, the fourth grave from the end of the west side of the cemetery.
Sir Humphry Davy having died without issue, his baronetcy has become extinct.
At present, the only memorial raised to commemorate the name of this distinguished philosopher is a Tablet placed in Westminster Abbey by his widow. It is thus inscribed :
TO THE MEMORY OF
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY, BARONET;
DISCOVERIES IN CHEMICAL SCIENCE.
PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY;
MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FRANCE.
BORN 17 DECEMBER, 1778, AT PENZANCE,
DIED 28 MAY, 1829, AT GENEVA,
WHERE HIS REMAINS ARE INTERRED.
'The numerous scientific societies of which he was a member, will, no doubt, consecrate his memory. An eloquent Eloge has been read by Baron Cuvier before the Institute of France, but it has not yet been published: I have obtained, however, a copy of a speech delivered upon the same occasion, by H. C. Van der Baon Mesch, before the Institute of the Netherlands.'-pp. 514-517.
The volume which we are now about to dismiss, can hardly fail, from its subject alone, to excite attention. But it is vastly too extended-and it continually excites in our mind the unpleasant recollection that one is dealing with a mere mechanical bookmaker, with whose mercantile devices it is impossible to associate the disinterestedness and the purity of mind that are ever suggested by subjects of philosophy. If biography consisted of a review of a man's works, Dr. Paris would be the greatest author that ever penned a life. But such is not the case. He has given us a great deal too much about Sir H. Davy as a writer-and a lecturer-but a great deal too little about him as a man.
ART. V.-Recollections of Seven Years' Residence at the Mauritius. By a Lady. 1 vol. 8vo. London: Cawthorn. 1830.
WE could very much wish that more of our English wives and mothers, who are destined, from time to time, to spend a portion of their lives in foreign lands, would furnish the public with the record of their observations and adventures. There are many reasons why the works of such tourists should claim attention.
The delicacy of the sex, in the first place, is a sure guarantee of the good faith of female writers; a cardinal virtue in the locomotive tribes; and, therefore, their statements are always certain of being received with confidence. They are also the best judges of manners-domestic and national; and, with reference to the former, they have far more favourable opportunities for acquiring information than the members of the other sex can, by possibility, enjoy. Neither does it often happen that they are driven to the press by the mere ambition of authorship. A certain modest reserve always offers an impediment to their appearance before the public, and when they succeed in overcoming the difficulty, we feel ourselves at liberty to conclude, that it is upon very sufficient grounds that they do so.
The critics are by this time perfectly tired and ashamed of the bigotry and the folly, the national arrogance, and the personal impudence, of some of our chief male travellers. These persons look down with a most offensive aspect of thorough contempt on all that they see and hear in their foreign excursions; an ill-dressed herring an unsatisfactory couch-an inadequately humble bow from a landlord-seem, to such, an ample excuse for the most atrocious excesses of calumny against the strangers amongst whom such accidents take place. Then the long yarns, beneath whose thin disguise are recommended to our credulity the very concentrated essence of falsehood itself! We are a-weary of travels and voyages, the works of such pretenders and deluders! Women travellers will, in all probability, restore our affections to that important branch of literature. They are always considerate; they make allowance for circumstances; they enter into the excuses by which the people with whom they communicate, might justify those singularities of manners which others would say were obnoxious to censure; and all their ready sympathies are so amiably excited when they behold a trait of natural tenderness and feeling!
The unpresuming little volume before us bears all the characters of being the production of one of that class of lady tourists for which we have professed so unequivocal a partiality. An officer's widow, the writer professes to indulge no more ambitious views, in sending forth these pages to the world, than those of gratifying her orphan children. We are of opinion that what she has written will afford amusement and instruction to a much more extended circle of readers; and, with this impression, we shall make a few extracts from the work.
The writer, accompanying her husband, who was a military officer, and family, arrived at the Mauritius early in 1820. Here she remained for seven years, and so far as the country and inhabitants are concerned, she seems to have been well pleased with her residence. She gives occasional descriptions of the principal places which she visited, and praises, particularly, the vegetable
P productions of the island. The manners of the Creole inhabitants, however, she appears to have very attentively noticed. She says
Their drawing-rooms are generally furnished in a showy manner, with a superabundance of looking-glasses; the dining-room is the worst apartment in their houses. The floor of their rooms is of a dark wood which takes a fine polish, and by being rubbed every morning with wax and a brush, rivals in brilliance a mahogany table; this process is performed at an early hour, and the slaves are extremely expert at it; they fix one foot on the brush, which is a large flat one, and jumping alternately on the other foot, with a bend of the body each time, pass the brush rapidly up and down the floor, with a motion not unlike that of skating. I recollect hearing a young naval officer relate, that the first night he slept on shore at Port Louis, being ignorant of this colonial custom, he was exceedingly surprised, on awaking in the morning, to find two or three negroes skating about his room in this extraordinary style. He desired they would leave the room, but they only laughed at him, and continued their jumping, until the work of polishing was completed. Sometimes the floor is inlaid with woods of different shades of colour, in different forms, such as diamonds, squares, &c., which has a very pretty effect.
The Creoles, instead of tea in the evening, offer eau sucrée and beer; but, unless they are entertaining visitors, they seldom remain within doors after the sun has declined, usually preferring to sit out in their gardens, enjoying the air. I have observed many a cheerful looking family party so seated together; sometimes one of the young females playing on the guitar, and accompanying the instrument with her voice. pp. 58-60.
It is the custom with the Creole ladies, not to call on strangers, but to await a visit from the newly-arrived; in conformity with this usage, I went, accompanied by your father, to visit some French ladies, to whom your father's relative, Mr. introduced me. On one of these occasions, the lady of the house had lately lost a child, of which circumstance I was ignorant, or I should have deferred my visit some time longer, concluding that it could not be agreeable to one suffering from so recent an affliction to receive a stranger; however, I found, upon a further acquaintance with the French character, that their habits of feeling are very different from ours: they feel acutely, no doubt; and the Creoles, in particular, are most tender mothers; yet, in the first anguish of their hearts, after losing one of the dearest objects of their affection, they will expatiate on the subject with a fluency of speech, and minuteness of detail, which we should think incompatible with the character of mourners; these are, however, peculiarities of national habits and manners, which do not detract from the excellence of individuals: and the grief of a French mother venting itself in eulogiums on the child she has lost, may be equally as deep and sincere, as the silent sorrow of an English one.
I was but newly arrived in the colony, when I called on the lady above mentioned, and being unacquainted with the customs of the inhabitants, was unprepared for the scene which I witnessed, and which I shall now describe.
'After waiting some time in the drawing room, before any of the inmates of the house made their appearance, at length a door opened, and a tall figure
wrapped up in black crape, advanced with slow and dignified steps; another figure, similarly attired, followed the first; and I thought I had to await a spectral procession; for a string of five female mourners occupied the length of the room, at small distances from each other. I could have imagined myself at the representation of a sentimental German play, in which the murdered victims of some wicked baron were appearing, to demand vengeance; but the illusion ceased, as in all the politeness of French accent, the foremost lady introduced her sister and daughters, and informed me of her late loss, with more detail than our habits of feeling would allow on a similar occasion. I found it was the custom to receive visitors in this nunlike attire, after a death in the family.
In speaking of foreign countries, it cannot be too often repeated to others, nor can one too frequently remind oneself, that manners are a kind of language, which should be as carefully studied as that spoken by the natives; it requires, however, a long practice of travelling, in order to become fully aware of this fact; though, without habitual attention to it, the traveller will be exposed to constant mistakes, which must make the natives disagreeable to him, even when they are most desirous of pleasing him.
'I recollect being no less surprised by another occurrence in the visiting way, soon after my arrival: one evening, about tea-time, I was told that a lady had called to see me, and on her being invited to enter, I found that she was accompanied by four or five others, and six or seven children, of different ages, each attended by a negress; a couple of dogs followed: this formidable array of visitors entered the room en masse, the children crowding on each other, staring at la dame Anglaise; and their attendants close behind them, determined not to lose sight of their young charges, who seemed equally resolved to force their way into the room, without paying any regard to the remonstrances of their maids.'—pp. 61–65.
The following is the account of a tragical event which took place shortly after the Mauritius had been distracted by a spirit of revolutionary disorder, after the example of the mother country:
'A young married gentleman lived on an estate in a very retired and lonely part of the country, at a great distance from town. At that time the island was covered with thick forests and impenetrable jungles. Estates were far apart, and divided from each other by deep ravines, high mountains, rapid rivers, or pathless woods: communication was very difficult in consequence; narrow foot paths, and devious tracts over the mountains, and along the brink of precipices, were the only medium of intercourse between the inhabitants, instead of the fine broad roads over which the carriages of the English now roll so smoothly. This gentleman's family consisted only of his wife, her sister, and himself; both the ladies were very beautiful and attractive. It happened, unfortunately, that some troops were stationed in the neighbourhood of the estate, commanded by a man of the most infamous character. The army of revolutionized France was of a very different order from that which Condé and Turenne had led into the field; and of that army the regiments stationed at the colonies were the worst specimens, and composed of the most abandoned characters. The colonel of the military party stationed near this estate was of this