Page:Passages from the Life of a Philosopher.djvu/442

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

amongst whom were a few men of science, I asked him to join the party.

It so happened on that day that the Speaker had a small dinner-party. The Silver Lady was accidentally mentioned, and greatly excited the curiosity of the lady of the house. As the whole of this small party, comprising three or four of my most intimate friends, were coming to my house in the evening, they proposed that the Speaker and his wife should accompany them to my party, assuring them truly that I should be much gratified by the visit.

The Silver Lady happened to be in brilliant attire, and after mentioning the romance of my boyish passion, the unexpected success of her acquisition, and the devoted cultivation I bestowed upon her education, I proceeded to set in action her fascinating and most graceful movements.

A gay but by no means unintellectual crowd surrounded the automaton. In the adjacent room the Difference Engine stood nearly deserted: two foreigners alone worshipped at that altar. One of them, but just landed from the United States, was engaged in explaining to a learned professor from Holland what he had himself in the morning gathered from its constructor.

Leaning against the doorway, I was myself contemplating the strongly contrasted scene, pleased that my friends were relaxing from their graver pursuits, and admiring the really graceful movements produced by mechanism; but still more highly gratified at observing the deep and almost painful attention of my Dutch guest, who was questioning his American instructor about the mechanical means I had devised for accomplishing some arithmetical object. The deep thought with which this explanation was attended to, sud-