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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Memoir of Edward Forbes

by George Wilson


He was born at Douglas in the Isle of Man, on February 12th, 1815,1 and was the second and eldest surviving child of Edward Forbes, Esq. of Oakhill and

'The Rev. JohnCannell, incumbent of tized the 12th of February 1815.' There

St. Matthews, Isle of Man, has favoured is no registration of his birth, but it took

me with this extract from the registry of place on the day entered as that of his

the chapel:—' Edward Forbes, the son baptism, of Edward Forbes and Jane Tear, bap

Croukbane near Douglas, and Jane, eldest daughter and heiress of William Teare, Esq. of the Corvalla and Ballabeg, Ballaugh, Isle of Man.

His great-grandfather, David Forbes, "second son of Forbes of Thornton, the first cadet of the family of Sir John Forbes of Watertown," was born in 1707. He was implicated in the Jacobite troubles of 1745, and took refuge for a season in the Isle of Man. He married a Miss Quirk, whose Christian name and lineage are unknown, and died in Edinburgh in 1771. His only son, Edward, settled in the Isle of Man, where he acquired the property of Oakhill, and married, in 1784, Alice, daughter of — Holland, Esq. of Manchester, by whom he had fourteen children. This lady brought her husband a considerable fortune, but much of it was lost in loans to the refugees, who then swarmed in the island. He died in 1811.

His eldest son and namesake, born 1786, was originally connected with the fisheries and timber trade of the Isle of Man, but ultimately devoted himself entirely to banking. He married Miss Teare in 1813, and by her had nine children. The eldest, named Edward, born in that year, died in infancy, and his name was given to the second child, the subject of this memoir, whose birth occurred two years later. Miss Teare belonged to an old and esteemed Manx family, believed now to be extinct. She died in 1836.

The immediate paternal ancestors of Edward Forbes were most of them, as I learn, characterized by great activity and energy. The men, in particular, were fond of travel, fond of society and social pleasures, freehanded, and better at spending than at saving money. His grandfather was for some time at sea, in command, I believe, of a merchantman. One uncle died in Demerara, another in Surinam, a third travelled into the interior of Africa, and was last heard of some twenty or thirty years ago, as king or sultan of a native tribe. One brother of Edward's perished by drowning in Australia; another was accidentally killed in America; a third, the only surviving son, David, who resembles Edward in genius, and is one of the best field mineralogists and metallurgists of the day, has seen many adventures in Norway, and has visited all the mining districts of Europe. Whilst I write he is exploring the mines of South America. A love of roving certainly runs in the blood of the Manx Forbeses, and in none of them, as we shall presently see, was it stronger than in Edward, whose happiest hours were spent in travelling through strange lands, and dredging in unfathomed seas.

Of his maternal ancestors I cannot tell much, but his mother, by the universal testimony of all who knew her, was a singularly gentle, amiable, and pious woman, devoted to her children, and beloved by rich and poor. She was not, in the conventional sense, accomplished, for in her early days the provisions for educating both sexes, but especially hers, were very scanty in the Isle of Man; but she possessed a natural refinement and good taste, which, besides other manifestations, showed itself in an almost passionate love of flowers, and enabled her to sympathize with her children's literary and artistic pursuits. She inherited her love of flowers from her mother, and transmitted it to her son, the future Professor of Botany; and it was from her, I imagine, that he mainly derived the preponderant ideal and aesthetical elements of his nature. It will be seen, however, that he was of variously-mingled blood, his great-grandfather being Scotch, his father's mother (and perhaps grandmother) English, his own mother Manx. This descent probably went for something in giving him his striking physique, which was neither English, Scottish, Irish, Celtic, nor Teutonic; and perhaps, also, contributed to that catholicity of character which kept him, though proud of being a Manxman, free from all insular narrowness of feeling, and made him a favourite wherever his wanderings led him.

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