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January 16, 2017

He Searched 100 Miles And Found Her

In his 1903 autobiography, the astronomer Simon Newcomb wrote about how his parents met. It's a sweet story.

My father was the most rational and the most dispassionate of men. The conduct of his life was guided by a philosophy based on Combe's "Constitution of Man," and I used to feel that the law of the land was a potent instrument in shaping his paternal affections.

His method of seeking a wife was so far unique that it may not be devoid of interest, even at this date. From careful study he had learned that the age at which a man should marry was twenty five. A healthy and well endowed offspring should be one of the main objects in view in entering the marriage state, and this required a mentally gifted wife. She must be of different temperament from his own and an economical housekeeper.

So when he found the age of twenty five approaching, he began to look about. There was no one in Wallace who satisfied the requirements. He therefore set out afoot to discover his ideal.

In those days and regions the professional tramp and mendicant were unknown, and every farmhouse dispensed its hospitality with an Arcadian simplicity little known in our times. Wherever he stopped overnight he made a critical investigation of the housekeeping, perhaps rising before the family for this purpose. He searched in vain until his road carried him out of the province.

One young woman spoiled any possible chance she might have had by a lack of economy in the making of bread. She was asked what she did with an unnecessarily large remnant of dough which she left sticking to the sides of the pan. She replied that she fed it to the horses. Her case received no further consideration.

The search had extended nearly a hundred miles when early one evening he reached what was then the small village of Moncton. He was attracted by the strains of music from a church, went into it, and found a religious meeting in progress. His eye was at once arrested by the face and head of a young woman playing on a melodeon, who was leading the singing. He sat in such a position that he could carefully scan her face and movements. As he continued this study the conviction grew upon him that here was the object of his search. That such should have occurred before there was any opportunity to inspect the dough pan may lead the reader to conclusions of his own.

He inquired her name: Emily Prince. He cultivated her acquaintance, paid his addresses, and was accepted.

He was fond of astronomy, and during the months of his engagement one of his favorite occupations was to take her out of an evening and show her the constellations. It is even said that among the daydreams in which they indulged one was that their firstborn might be an astronomer. Probably this was only a passing fancy, as I heard nothing of it during my childhood.

The marriage was in all respects a happy one, so far as congeniality of nature and mutual regard could go. Although the wife died at the early age of thirty seven the husband never ceased to cherish her memory and so far as I am aware never again thought of marrying.


2 fabulous comments:

  1. I hope she was impressed by how far he walked to find her.

  2. I like this story. When he found the right woman, he stopped worrying about the "rules".


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