Monday, July 16, 2012

Dionysius Lardner

‘July 16 [1829]…The work goes on as task-work must, slow, sure, and I trust not drowsy, though the author is. I sent off to Dionysius Lardner (Goodness be with us, what a name!) as far as page thirty-eight inclusive, but I will wait to add to-morrow's quota…’

An interesting name indeed, as Scott records in his Journal.  Scott agreed to supply Mr. Lardner a history of Scotland for his “Cabinet Cyclopedia”, which was published in 1831.  Among the contents of this cyclopedia was John Hershel’s “A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy”, which Charles Darwin found interesting.  Darwin was so entranced that he met with Hershel for a week in Cape Town during his voyage on the HMS Beagle the following year.

Lardner’s own career ended under difficult personal circumstances, with another odd name connection.  He was caught in an affair with a woman named Mary Heaviside. 

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