An Autobiography: Herbert Spencer - Vol. 2

By Herbert Spencer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXX.
A SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY PROJECTED. 1857-8. ÆT. 37-38.

My search for a fit place of abode when I returned to town, ended satisfactorily. Malvern House, otherwise 13, Loudoun Road, St. John's Wood, in which I settled myself, is a good house seated in the midst of a garden walled round. The occupier, who carried on a wholesale business in the city, and who, as I afterward learnt, feared to fall into a state of chronic melancholy, as his father had done before him, had hit on a prophylactic--surrounding himself with a lively circle. In addition to the family, consisting of host and hostess, three daughters and a son, ranging from seven up to about twenty, and a governess, there were as boarders an old retired government official (a commissioner of some kind I think he had been) lively notwithstanding his years--eighty and a wit; a "grass-widow," pleasant to look upon but without an idea in her head, whose husband was in India; and her friend, a vain old lady who played the part of duenna.

Beyond the fitness of the circle and the salubrity of the locality, which is on the backbone of St. John's Wood, the place had the advantage that it was within two minutes' walk of No. 1, Waverley Place, then occupied by Huxley. We had a standing engagement for Sunday afternoons: a walk of a few miles into the country along the Finchley Road, or up to Hampstead, being the usual

-3-

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