Page:Memoir and correspondence of Caroline Herschel (1876).djvu/60

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38
[1775-1782.
Caroline Lucretia Herschel.

ther.[1] In general he was never unemployed at meals, but was always at those times contriving or making drawings of whatever came in his mind. Generally I was obliged to read to him whilst he was at the turning lathe, or polishing mirrors, Don Quixote, Arabian Nights' Entertainment, the novels of Sterne, Fielding, &c.; serving tea and supper without interrupting the work with which he was engaged,. . . . and sometimes lending a hand. I became in time as useful a member of the workshop as a boy might be to his master in the first year of his apprenticeship. . . . . But as I was to take a part the next year in the oratorios, I had for a whole twelvemonth two lessons per week from Miss Fleming, the celebrated dancing mistress, to drill me for a gentlewoman (God knows how she succeeded). So we lived on without interruption. My brother Alex was absent from Bath for some months every summer, but when at home he took much pleasure to execute some turning or clock-maker's work for his brother."


News from Hanover put a sudden stop for a time to all these labours. The mother wrote, in the utmost distress, to say that Dietrich had disappeared from his home, it was supposed with the intention of going to India "with a young idler not older than himself." His brother immediately left the lathe at which he was turning an eye-piece in cocoanut, and started for

  1. "The grinding of specula used to be performed by the hand, no machinery having been deemed sufficiently exact. The tool on which they were shaped having been turned to the required form, and covered with coarse emery and water, they were ground on it to the necessary figure, and afterwards polished by means of putty or oxide of tin, or pitch spread as a covering to the same tool in the place of the emery. To grind a speculum of six or eight inches in diameter was a work of no ordinary labour; and such a one used to be considered of great size."—"Lord Rosse's Telescopes," 1844.