Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. XL] Railway Travelling Anecdotes.                 141
Travelling one day to London, when the train pulled up at Lewes and I was engaged in reading a newspaper, a paper boy came up and offered me, say, The Thames-Magazine and The Daily Moonshine. As I was sufficiently and visibly supplied with literature I took no notice of him. At length, after repeated vain efforts to move me, he said in despair " H'aint ye got a tongue ? "
One day between Polegate and Lewes I occupied myself in turning over a number of proof sheets of my Handbook of Astronomy, laying them on an adjacent unoccupied seat. A lady and gentleman were in the carriage. After the lady had watched me for a considerable time she said " Do you ever give lectures on Astronomy ? " I replied " Yes, sometimes." She then asked me whether I would pay her a visit and give a lecture on Astronomy at a forthcoming annual meeting of her Primrose League. To this startling suggestion I said that the idea seemed to me altogether out of the question ; how in the world could Astronomy be deemed in the least degree appropriate to the work of the Primrose League ? She replied " Never you mind ; will you come ? if you will, I will guarantee you an appreciative and numerous audience ; I will pay you a suitable fee, and take all the blame off your shoulders of a failure." With such an offer and such a disclaimer I saw no sufficient reason for continuing the contest. The gentleman produced his card, confirmed his wife's arguments, and I handed over my card, and it was settled that about 6 weeks later I should go to Southampton on my way to stay with my new friends whose names I had never heard of, nor they of my name. Arriving in due course at the Southampton West Station I found a smart carriage and pair of horses waiting to drive me to a large country house, about
4 miles out, where lived Mr. and Mrs. S------ M------.
The Primrose Entertainment came off in the evening ; the audience seemed quite to appreciate my lecture, especially my comparison of Mr. Gladstone to a comet— the path and character of which were unknown and uncertain. All the arrangements had been well
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