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Great inquiry was made after her, and it appearing, that the day she was missing, she went out with her uncle into the forest, and that he returned without her, he was taken into custody. A few days afterwards he went through a long examination, in which he acknowledged, that he went out with her, and pretended that she found means to loiter bebind him as they were returning home; that he sought her in the forest as soon as he missed her; and that he knew not where she was, or what was become of her. This account was thought improbable, and his apparent interest in the death of his ward, and perhaps the petulant zeal of other relations, concurred to raise and strengthen suspicions against him, and he was detained in custody. Some new circumstances were every day rising against him. It was found, that the young lady had been addressed by a neighbouring gentleman, who had, a few days before she was missing, set out on a journey to the north; and that she had declared she would marry him when he returned: that her uncle had frequently expressed his disapprobation of the match in very strong terms: that she had often wept and reproached him with unkindness and an abuse of his power. A woman was also produced, who swore, that on the day the young lady was missing, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, she was coming through the forest, and heard a woman's voice expostulating with great eagerness; upon which she drew nearer the place, and, before she saw any person, heard the same voice say, Don't kill me, uncle, don't kill me; upon which she was greatly terrified, and immediately hearing the report of a gun very near, she made all the haste she could from the spot, but could not rest in her mind till she had told what had happened.
Such was the general impatience to punish a man, who had murdered his neice to inherit her fortune, that upon this evidence he was condemned and executed.
About ten days after the execution the young lady came home. It appeared, however, that what all the witnesses had sworn was true, and the fact was found to be thus circumstanced :
The young lady declared, that having previously agreed to go off with the gentleman that courted her, he had given out that he was going a journey to the north; but that he waited concealed at a little house near the skirts of the foresi, till the time appointed, which was the day she disappeared. That he had horses ready for himself and her, and was atteuded by two servants also on horseback. That as she was walking with her uncle he reproached her with persisting in her resolution to marry a inan, of whom he
disapproved ; and after much altercation, she said with some heat, I have set my heart upon it, if I do not marry him it will be death ; and don't kill me, uncle, don't kill me ; that just as she had pronounced these words, she heard a gun discharged very near her, at which she started, and immediately afterwards saw a mani come forward from among the trees, with a wood-pigeon in his hand, that he had just shot. That coming near the place appointed for their rendezvous, she formed a pretence to let her uncle go on before her, and her suitor being waiting for her with a horse, she mounted and immediately rode off. That instead of going into the north, they retired to a house, in which he had taken lodgings, near Windsor, where they were married the same day, and in about a week, went a journey of pleasure to France, from whence when they returned, they first heard of the misfortune which they had inadvertently brought upon their uncle.
So uncertain is human testimony, even when the witnesses are sincere; and so necessary is a cool and dispassionate inquiry and determination, with respect to crimes that are enormous in the highest degree, and committed with every possible aggravation.
VIII. Account of Jedediah Buxton.
THE accounts of Jedediah Buxton, which have already been published in the Magazine, were so extraordinary, that many have questioned if they were true; and several letters have been sent to the editor by his friends, to know whether they were fictions written merely for amusement, or whether they were intended as satires upon the pretensions or performances of any adept in arithmetical calculations. To the assurances which were then given of the certainty of the facts, upon the known integrity of the gentlemen by whom they were communicated to the press, much stronger testimony may now be added.
His grandfather, John Buxton, was vicar of Elmeton, in Derbyshire, and his father, Wm. Buxton, was schoolmaster of the same parish; but Jedediab, notwithstanding the profession of his father, is extremely illiterate, having, by whatever accident, been so much neglected in his youth as never
to have been taught to write. How he came first to know the relative proportions of numbers and their progressive denominations, he does not remember; but to this he has applied the whole force of his mind, and upon this his at. tention is constantly fixed, so that he frequently takes no cognizance of external objects, and when he does, it is only with
respect to their numbers. The same attention of his mind appears as well by what he hears as by what he sees. If any space of time is mentioned, he will soon after say, that it is so many minutes; and if any distance of way, he will assign the number of hair's breadths, without any question having been asked, or any calculation expected by the company.
By this method he has greatly increased the power of his memory, with respect to figures, and stored up several common products in his mind, to which he can have immediate recourse ; as the number of minutes in a year, of hair's breadths in a mile, and many others. When he once comprehends a question, which is not without difficulty and time, he begins to work with amazing facility, and will leave a long question half wrought, and, at the end of several months, resume it, beginning where he left off, and proceeding regularly till it is completed.
His memory would certainly have been equally retentive, with respect to other objects, if he had attended to other objects with equal diligence; but his perpetual application to figures has prevented the smallest acquisition of any other knowledge, and his mind seems to have re. tained fewer ideas than that of a boy of ten years old, in the same class of life. He has been sometimes asked, on his return from church, whether he remembered the text, or any part of the sermon; but it never appeared that he brought away one sentence. His mind, upon a closer examination, being found to have been busied, even during divine service, in its favourite operation, either dividing some time or some space into the smallest known parts, or resolving some question that had been given him as a test of his abilities. His power of abstraction is so great that no noise interrupts him; and, if he is a:ked any question, he immediately replies, and returns again to his calculation, without any confusion, or the loss of more time than his answer required. His method of working is peculiar to himself, and by no means the shortest or the clearest, as will appear by the following example :
He was required to multiply 456 by 378, which he had completed as soon as a person in company had produced the product in the common way; and upon being requested to
work it audibly, that his method might be known, he multiplied 456 first by 5, which produced 2280, which he again multiplied by 20, and found the product, 45,600, which was the multiplicand multiplied by 100; this product he again multiplied by 3, which produced 136,800, which was the sum of the multiplicand multiplied by 300; it remained therefore to multiply it by 78, which he effected by multiplying 2280 (the product of the multiplicand multiplied by 5) by 15; 5 times 15 being 75; this product being 34,200, he added to the 136,800, which was the multiplicand multiplied by 300, and this produced 171,000, which was 375 times 456 ; to complete his operation, therefore, he multiplied 456 by 3, which produced 1368, and having added this number to 171,000, he found the product of 456 multiplied by 378 to be 172,368.
Thus it appears that his arithmetic is perfectly his own, and that he is so little acquainted with the common rules as to multiply 456 first by 5, and the product by 20, to find what sum it would produce multiplied by 100, whereas, if he had added two noughts to the figures, he would have obtained it at once.
The only objects of Jedediah's curiosity, except figures, were the king and royal family, and his desire to see them was so strong, that, in the beginning of the spring, he walked to London on purpose, but at last returned disappointed, the king having just removed to Kensington, as Jedediah came into London. He was, however, introduced to the Royal Society, whom he called the volk of the Siety Court: the gentlemen who were present asked him several questions in arithmetic, to prove his abilities, and dismissed him with a handsome gratuity.
During his residence in London he was carried to see King Richard III. performed at Drury Lane playhouse, and it was expected either that the novelty and the splendor of the show would bave fixed him in astonishment, or kept his imagination in a continual hurry; or that his passions would, in some degree, have been touched by the power of action, if he had not perfectly understood the dialogue ; but Jede-diah's mind was employed in the playhouse just as it was employed at church. During the dance he fixed his attention upon the number of steps; he declared after a fine piece of music, that the innumerable sounds produced by the instruments had perplexed him beyond measure, and he attended even to Mr. Garrick only to count the words that he uttered, in which, he says, he perfectly succeeded. Jedediah is now safely returned to the place of his birth,
where, if his enjoyments are few, his wishes do not seem to be more; he applies to his labour, by which he subsists, with chearfulness; he regrets nothing that he left behind him in London, and it is still his opinion, that a slice of rusty bacon affords tbe most delicious repast.
IX. Account of Robert Hill, the learned Tailor of Buckingham.
MR. URBAN, As I was, with many others, much entertained with your memoirs of Jedediali Buxton, I send you an account of a man who has risen much higher from the same level, and whose mind, if in one instance it is less retentive, is yet much more remarkable for the variety and vigour of its operations, and the multitude of ideas which it contains.
Robert Hill was born at Tring, in Hertfordshire, where an old relation having taught him his letters, he learned to read by himself at home. This acquisition was so reinarkable in a child, that he was, for the first time, sent to school, but was, by some accident, prevented from going there longer than seven weeks, during wbich time, however, he learned to write. When he was about fourteen years of
age, he was put apprentice to a stay-maker and tailor, at Buckingham; but his desire of knowledge being still predominant, he contrived to gratify it under every possible disadvantage. With the first money that he could scrape together he purchased Beza's Latin Testament, and a Latin Grammar. He then applied to the boys at the free school, and got himself employed by them, to run on errands, or to render them such other service as was in his
having always first stipulated, that in return they should tell him the English of the Latin words in some rule of bis Grammar. In proportion to the knowledge he acquired, he became more sensible of what was yet wanting; and as soon as he was able, he added a Gradus to his Testament and Grammar, by which he was assisted in his pronunciation. As there are few difficulties insurmountable by persevering labour, Hill, at the expiration of his apprenticeship, had not only learned his trade, but could read and understand several Latin authors tolerably well.
He was now known to the neighbouring gentlemen, one