and two or three other agreeable people, constituted the party. . . . We had a most pleasant time. Indeed, the very minute and consistent, but altogether unobtrusive attentions and kindness of Sir Francis make all feel at their ease and happy in his house; and the conversation, which was chiefly literary, with a mixture of politics and nationalities, was as agreeable as could be desired. . . . . One day, as we came back from Wimbledon and Putney,. . . . we drove to Dr. Somerville's, and passed an hour with him and his truly simple, kind-hearted, astonishing wife. He is a good, round, easy person, by no means without talent, or fair scientific knowledge, both in his profession and out of it, but enjoys his comfortable place as head of the medical part of this grand establishment, given out of respect to his wife's rare merits. She is the daughter of one of the Fairfax family, a branch of which is in Virginia,—Lord Fairfax, Washington's friend, was of the same family,—a little, small, quiet, kindly person of about fifty, with a voice ‘soft, gentle, and low, ever an excellent thing in woman’; a good mother, who has educated her family herself, and done it well and successfully; a good wife, managing her household judiciously; a good friend, as Lady Byron knows, to whose daughter, Lady King, she has been of great practical use; a domestic person, yet receiving and enjoying a great deal of the best scientific and literary society, and frequenting occasionally the most exclusive and fashionable; skilled in the modern languages, two of which she speaks fluently; painting beautifully in oil-colors, of which we saw many specimens; and one of the most extraordinary mathematicians alive, of whom all the rest speak with the greatest kindness and admiration. The hour we passed with her would yet have informed us of nothing of all this, except that she is a most gentle, quiet, and kind-hearted person. When we were obliged to come away, they said so much about our visiting them again, that we promised to dine with them on Wednesday, the day but one before we should leave London, without company. We went, therefore, and found only Mr. Babbage, so that we had as agreeable a dinner as we well could have, talking upon all sorts of subjects until very late, with great vivacity. . . . . English kindness was uniform and consistent to the last, but I do not recollect anything worth noting except a visit to Wilkie, the painter, at Kensington, to which he invited me at Dublin. I found him living very comfortably, but very much like an artist. With great good-nature and a strong desire to please, not unmixed with Scotch shrewdness, he talked a good deal and pleasantly about his
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