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Anecdotes of Mr Loudon

In addition to the preceding memoir, I have ventured to reprint the following anecdotes, which originally appeared in the Derby Reporter; as they were written shortly after Mr. Loudon's death by a young man who knew him well, having acted as his draughtsman for upwards of nine years.

"Mr. Loudon's love of truth, like that of every great and good man, was perfect; and he would at all times make any personal sacrifice for its cause, or to punish falsehood. An instance occurred in 1831, which, though trifling, showed his strictness in this matter. He had a young man, an amanuensis, who had been with him for some years, and of whom he was. exceedingly fond, he sent. this person one morning from Bayswater to make a tracing at the residence of the celebrated Mr. Telford, Westminster. The youth being delighted at getting out from the confinement of an office, forgot, until he arrived at the place, that he had no pencils or tracing-paper with him, and unfortunately did not think of purchasing them. He thought he should look so foolish to return and say he had forgotten the materials, so he made up his mind to tell Mr. Loudon an untruth for the first the. He returned, and said falteringly, 'Mr. Telford was not at home.' Mr. Loudon fixed his keen eye upon him, and observed, 'Did I understand you to say that Mr. Telford was not at home?' The answer was in the affirmative. 'Very well,' said Mr. London; and shortly after rang for the man-servant, and ordered the phaeton. He drove direct to Westminster, and found that Mr. Telford had been confined to his house for some weeks, unwell. He returned, paid the amanuensis his salary, gave him something extra to pay his lodgings for a week, and immediately discharged him; remarking that, however valuable his services were, he (Mr. Loudon) would not suffer any one to remain a single night longer in his house who had told him a falsehood.

Mr Loudon also mixed his love of truth, determination. About this time, an officer, rather a public character, was in the habit of visiting the family. His ungentlemanly manners, one day, gave Mr. London offence, and he determined not to see him again. About the gentleman's usual time of coming, when the bell was rung, Mr. Loudon told the servant that if that were -, 'just tell him I cannot see him.' ' Shall I say that you are not at home, sir?' said the servant. ' No,' was Mr. Loudon's reply; 'you would then tell a falsehood, which you must not do. Just tell the gentleman I cannot see him.'

His love of order was also very great. The books in the library, and manuscripts in his study, were so arranged that he could at any time put his hand upon any book or paper that he might want, even in the dark. he instilled this system of order into the minds of his clerks too; for, when any new one came, his invariable instructions were 'Put every thing away before you leave at night, as if you never intended to return.'

He was also a man of great punctuality as to the, money matters, and in every other respect. When any of his clerks happened to be behind time in the morning, he would take no notice for a few times; but, if it were often repeated, he would say very quietly but sarcastically -' Oh, if 9 o'clock is too early for you, you had better come at 11 or 12; but let there just be a fixed hour, that I may depend Upon you.'

"Mr. Loudon was a man of great fortitude and unwearied industry. The morning that Doctors Thompson and Lauder called upon him for the purpose of amputating his right arm, they met him in the garden, and asked if he had fully made up his mind to undergo the operation. ' Oh, yes, certainly,' he said; 'it was for that purpose I sent for you;' and added very coolly, ' but you had better step in, and just have a little lunch first before you begin.' After lunch he walked upstairs quite composedly, talking to the doctors on general subjects. When all the ligatures were tied, and every thing complete, he was about to step down stairs, as a matter of course, to go on with' his business; and the doctors had great difficulty to prevail upon him to go to bed.

"As a man of industry, he was not surpassed by any one. Deducting for the time he has been poorly, he has, during three fourths of his literary career, dictated about five and a half printed octavo pages of matter every day on an average. He has been frequently known to dictate to two amanuenses at the same time. He often used to work until 11 and 12 o'clock at night, and sometimes all night. It may not be amiss to mention here, as illustrative of his love of labour, that, whilst his man-servant was dressing him for church on the day of his marriage, he was actually dictating to his amanuensis the whole time.

"Although Mr. Loudon was a matter-of-fact man, he had nevertheless a good deal of poetry in his soul. The writer happened to dine with him the day that he attended Dr. Southwood Smith's Anatomical Lecture on the body of his friend Jeremy Bentham. Just at the moment the lecturer withdrew the covering from the face of the corpse the lightning flashed, and an awful burst of thunder pealed forth- 'Crush'd horrible, convulsing heaven and earth'.

Mr. Loudon, during dinner, gave a most touching, poetical, and graphic description of the lecture, and the circumstances attending it; and every one present could see how deeply he felt the loss of his friend Bentham.

"Mr. Loudon was a man, like most good men, rather easily imposed upon. He, contrary to the ways of the world, looked upon every man as a good man until he had proved him otherwise; but when he had done so, he was firm in his purpose. He was a warm friend, an excellent husband, an amiable brother, and a most affectionate and dutiful son. Altogether he was a man, take him for all in all, We shall not look upon his like again.'

 

Life of John Claudius Loudon his wife

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