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[415] friend Whishart1 and Professor Smyth.2 I was very glad to go, to meet the latter especially, whom I had barely seen at Lady Lansdowne's concert. His singular appearance attracted my notice there, at first. Tall and somewhat awkward, dressed like a marquis de l'ancien regime, and looking like one, with his earlocks combed out and his hair powdered, but still with an air of great carelessness, he moved about in that brilliant assembly, hardly spoken to by a single person, with a modest and quiet air, as if he belonged not to it; and yet, when there was a fine passage in the music, seeming to enjoy it as if he were all ear. This morning he came in the same whimsical dress, and had the same singular air. But I found it all entirely natural and simple. He talked well, and not much, and some of his remarks had great beauty as well as great truth and originality; now and then he showed a striking eagerness in manner which contrasted strongly with his usual modesty and reserve. On the whole, I think he justified his reputation as a man of genius, and as one of the first men now at Cambridge, where he is Professor of Modern History.

I was sorry to leave them early, and for so disagreeable a purpose as that of being examined before a committee of the House of Commons, on the subject of the ballot as practically managed in the United States. I had refused twice to go, but being much pressed and receiving a very civil note from the chairman, and having nothing to say but what I chose, I at last went. Mr. Ord, a pleasant gentleman from Northumberland, whose father I formerly knew, presided, and Warburton, the philosopher, as they call him, Grote, a very sensible, excellent member from the city, etc., were present, and asked acute questions. I was, however, most curious about Shiel, the Irish agitator; a short, thick-set, fiery-faced little fellow, who carried all the marks of his spirit in the eagerness of his countenance and manner, and in the rapidity and vehemence of his utterance.—They all treated me with the greatest courtesy and kindness, evidently desirous only to get facts. . . . . The examinations are very skilfully and very fairly conducted, if these are specimens.

We dined with Mrs. Reid;3 . . . . . the dinner was more than commonly


1 * Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘I did not then know who Whishart was; but Miss Edgeworth afterwards told me that he was a man of much talent, and one of the men of all societies in his time, the particular friend of Sir Samuel Romilly.’

2 Professor Smyth, whom Mr. Ticknor had seen in 1819, in Cambridge; see ante, p. 271.

3 A lady of fortune and radical opinions, who gave her time and money to the service of the poor, in a truly Christian spirit. She kept open a library and reading-room for them, at her own expense.

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