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honour of Sir Egerton's acquaintance, we were unable to ascertain how far the character attributed to the imaginary memoirwriter corresponds to the supposed original; but it seemed to us that we could detect, mingled with the playfulness of fancy, the severity of satire in the portrait which is here presented to us. Our readers shall judge for themselves.
• An intense love of books from very childhood, and the pursuits for which they engendered a flame in an imaginative mind, made me always a lover of retirement, and of the scenes where it could be most peacefully enjoyed. This was increased by so extraordinary a degree of native shyness, as to take away all self-possession in society, and to make company often in the highest degree painful and irritating to me. The first eight years of my life, spent entirely in a country mansion, placed secludedly on a wooded hill
, (though in a populous neighbourhood of gentry,) confirmed this timidity of disposition and temper so strongly, that it has never since been conquered, though somewhat abated. For many years, in the early part of my life, it totally took away all power to make any way in the world ; and threw me out of the paths of ambition, and even of the opportunity to make common acquaintance. The most precious years of my life were passed in unprofitable and stagnant solitude. I say stagnant, because I am convinced that emulation and comparison are necessary for the dutrition of abilities as well as knowledge. From this defect, I soon had the mortification to see, in all directions, “ boobies” (to use Dr. Sneyd Davies's expression « mounting over my head." left college in 1783, and went to the Temple, I had scarce an acquaintance among lawyers, and was incapable of making any. I went down to the courts at Westminster ; but at that time the language talked there seemed to me an unintelligible jargon; and so I continued to write sonnets, instead of copying pleas, and to solace myself by despising what I could not understand. I read Blackstone, whom I did seem to myself to comprehend, but who did not at all assist me in affixing meaning to the arguments I heard in court. What, however, I liked better than all the rest of Blackstone, was his Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse, which I transcribed into the first blank leaf. Had I spent but three months in a special pleader's office, all my difficulties would have vanished of themselves, almost even without a mental effort. The ordinary course of the business of life has taught me these things since, without study or professional aid. And I now persuade myself, too late, that there is no knowledge which I could have more easily mastered than that of the law. When I was young, I was capable of great labour, and loved it. I did not want amusement or exercise; I did not even like exercise; it fatigued rather than refreshed me; and I could read and write from morning even Lill midnight. Now I can neither read nor write after the freshness of the morning is over. How deeply I lament that I threw away
this capacity of labour, when it would have opened to me a passage through life so beneficial and gratifying, without paying the price of any painful cost.
• I was born a younger brother, and continued so till the
age forty-five; my father also remained a younger brother till bis age of sixty-eight, and only survived his elder brother seven months; and yet more, the whole branch of my ancestors was of a reinote juniority. My grandfather has been dead one hundred and twelve y ars, at the early age of thirty-one years and nine montlis. My father retired early from college to a country life, and refused to take orders for the family living of the parish where the mansion was situated. I have spent nearly forty-four years since his death in fitful energies, which have led to nothing. Vol. I. pp. 7-11.
• I can remember one event when I was aged exactly three years and a half, at which Gray the poet was present, (but whom, I confess, I do not recollect,) and many scenes, events, feelings, and even conversations, the next year, 1767, which happened at Margate, where we spent that autumn. The next year, I remember the person and even the chariot of an uncle, who died in December 1769; and the messenger who announced the death of another relation, (my godmother,) in the following year, 1770. Thence I scarce remember any thing till the day I was first carried to school in July 1771: that event has made an impression on me as distinct as if it happened yesterday; The picture, too, of every field about Wootton, every tree, every hedge, every look of the sky, will remain as long as my faculties last. I might well love home, for among strangers my little understanding was totally lost; I could not speak, and if I was spoken to, tears came into
got through my lessons when I first went to school, but otherwise I scarcely ever opened my lips ; I was left alone in all plays and amusements, and mixed scarcely at all with other boys. On Saturday and Sunday, a family in the neighbourhood, who lived in a very elegant manner, in a beautiful spot commanding a grand view of all the Weald of Kent, generally took me to their house ; there I saw much company, but no one could ever get me to talk; I was therefore stared at, and generally considered of mental imbecility; yet I remember my kind hosts, the house, the garden, the manners, many of the incidents, the scenes of the road by which I returned, and my feelings on quitting the place to return to school, as if the whole were occurrences past not a week ago.
• One of the greatest difficulties I have had in life has been to free myself from too strong local attachments. I was more than thirty years old, before I could feel that I could be happy in any residence but the spot of my nativity; and when that could not be, í settled as near it as I was able; a most unfortunate predilection to which I attribute many of the disasters and miseries of my life. I was not cal. culated for a narrow neighbourhood, its provincial habits, and its petty intrigues; I was soon singled out like a struck deer, to be pursued and hunted down; and when, in a work of fiction, I laid open a little of the character of my persecutors, in pictures too delicate and general to give any just cause of offence, this slight retribution was charged as an unpardonable crime.
I never visited the Continent till I took a short trip to Brussels and Waterloo, in September, 1816. Two years afterwards I came
to Paris and Switzerland, and have been in Italy, or at Geneva, ever
and now, in my old age, my local attachments are completely effaced. A residence on the Continent is, in various important respects, far preferable to England. I think John Bull very greatly over-estimates his own good qualities as well as as his own advantages ; nor does his wealth do him all the good he supposes. A foreigner takes his plan below his means, and is, generally, in this respect, far more at his ease than an Englishman; he does not sacrifice so much to senseless show of establishments and equipages ; and though there is a species of hospitality which habit has made necessary to an Englishnian, and which, therefore, recompenses the cost, it is not only not necessary to others, but is fatiguing rather than pleasant to them. The political governments on the Continent are, no doubt, many of them bad; but I wish to refrain from mixing politics with literature, or the morality of private life, especially party politics, which are always coarse, vulgar, and deceitful : it is in the looks and the comforts of the peasantry, that the superiority of Eng. land over the Continent is to be found. The police of every city of Europe which I have seen, is far better than that of England. English literature is fashionable abroad, but its superiority may rationally be questioned; it excels in piquancy and fantasticality, if these be recommendations.
• An Englishman, from robust exercise, from grosser food, and from a cold climate, is less spiritual than the people of southern Europe: when he has genius, and exerts it, it is more deep and grand; but all the lighter literature, especially of biography, memoirs, and literary history, is better done by the Italians and French.'
Vol. I. pp 25-9. ! On my father's death, my mother, who was left with a good jointure, and a large disposable fortune, retired to Canterbury; and eighteen months afterwards took a lease from Lord Dudley of a mansion a mile from the town, which had been the seat of the famous admiral Sir George Rooke, whose son married Lord Dudley's aunt, and died issueless. It was a pleasant and respectable old house; and there, in the autumn of 1782, I wrote my earliest sonnets, which mý classical friend, who now presides over the common law of England, made nie correct, with a severity little suited to my natural haste and carelessness. I added others, written at the same place in the autumns of 1783 and 1784, and published them in March, 1785. I find nothing in them which I would wish to alter or recall
. I never varied but iwo words in any subsequent edition, "askest thou" instead of " nskostthou,” as too harsh, which necessitated the omission of a monosyllabic epithet: and “ store to strew??: instead of “ treasure strew,” in the sonnet on Echo and Silence, to cure the ellipsis of" to.” I did not altogether belong to a poetical family, though my eldest sister wrote verses with facility, and had most of the popular English poets by heart. My brother had known Gray, the poet, who had shown great attention to him at college, and he was therefore proud of talking of him ; but this was an accidental rather than an interent taste; he had not enough of deep energy to relish him truly; he liked little piquant things, such as epigrams, which are properly called by Edward Phillips - the fag.end of poetry,” and which almost always sacrifice truth to a point. Martial was my aversion, even at school. I do not love to turn serious things into a jest ; it hardens the heart. Indeed I was always either reprobated, railed at, or ridieuled for my gravity
. I had always a turn for genealogy; but I think it was not till the spring of 1783 that I paid much attention to the technicalities of heraldry. I persuade myself that I remember the very day. It was a fitful April morning when we took a long walk to visit Lord Cowper's decayed mansion, called the Moat, on the Sandwich road, about a mile and a half from Canterbury, standing in an old walled park. It was an half-timbered house, many centuries old, and had been the residence of Lord-Keeper Finch. Over the spandrils of the chimney. piece of the largest room were various arms and quarterings, I think all of the Finch family, which struck my attention ; I noted their forms; and as I supposed the quarterings to be those of old Kentish families, I set myself to work, as soon as I came home, to search them out by such books as I then had. It was a day when the changing appearances of the sky, with showers of rain, had made an impression on my fancy, and set my imagination to work; and it took the turn of arraying forth feudal manners and the images of chivalrous times. The fit continued some time upon me, and I made great progress in this study. The jester is welcome to bis laugh ; nor do I suppose that his laugh will be at all turned aside by being reminded that Gray and young Chatterton were adepts in heraldic: knowledge : it is a key to intelligence among ancient buildings, castellated and ecclesiastic, for there it is a language.
. I do not think that I was happy at this period; my mind was full of projects and wild ambitions; and I attempted too many things which I had not strength to execute; and which always ended, therefore, in the destruction of my self-complacence. A month after the publication of my poems, which was in March, 1785, I'met with a dreadful accident in my chambers in the Temple, by cutting the tendons of the fingers of one of my hands, which, in pulling down a window, had burst through a pane of glass. The most dreadful pains ensued; my arm was inflamed to the shoulder ; I was a fortnight without sleep, and then the whole systein of my frame began to be affected, even to the opposite extremities. I was removed to my sister's house in Wimpole Street, or Harley Street; then my opposite ancle became paralytic, and I could not walk: the surgeon was puzzled; old Dr. Heberden was called in: I grew worse and worse, with many strange symptoms. As I lay half-lifeless on a sofa one morning in May, with a frame convulsed in every part, and spirits which required to be cheered, Mr. Maxwell, my brother-in-law (a man of great talent and elegant literature), brought me in a bundle of Reviews, and showed me, with benevolent triumph, Maty's Review of my Sonnets. Faint as I was, it gave me a glow such as nothing else of my literary (concerns has ever since given me. I languished till July, and then was removed for sea-air to Dover,
where, in the early part of autumn, I at length recovered. I was then in my twenty-third year.
• My faculties never recovered till I wrote Mary de Clifford, in the autumn of 1791, an interval of six years. During that dark period I was a mere genealogist and heraldic antiquary; my ambition for the higher pursuits of literature was totally oppressed, and almost extinguished; I lost that self-estimation, without which nothing good can be done; my shyness did not diminish ; but the energies that belonged to me gathered inward in masses, and turned to morbid gloom. I lived two years and a half in Hampshire; the third I came to London, where I bought a house in a new street. I spent the autumn of 1789 in an excursion into Leicestershire and Derbyshire, with my friend and fellow-collegian, Shaw, the historian of Staffordshire ; and returning the end of September, I visited the Chandos vault, and took notes of the coffin-plates at Cannons. When I arrived at my house in London, intelligence came the next morning to me, that the Duke of Chandos died at Tunbridge Wells, the day and nearly the hour I had spent in the vault at Cannons ! I little thought then what vexations, and cost, and injuries, that event was to bring upon us.' Vol. I.
pp. 53-59. • I never in my life had much ambition of a large acquaintance, and never the manners to procure it. The effects of my original shyness, which has always been a real misfortune to me, still adhere to me; and when I think I am neglected, I am reproached with a coldness and reserve of manner, which is construed to be the inost repulsive pride and contempt; and then, when I begin to be at ease, I have a frankness which is as indiscreet as my shyness is forbidding.
• In truth, I have an irritation about me, which age, if it a little abates, by no means calms as it ought to do. I am apt to be too passive at first, and when roused, too violent; I cannot contradict at all, or I do it too decidedly. It never was in my nature to do any thing with moderation : I never, therefore, come out of company
selfsatisfied; and for this reason frequently make a resolution to avoid it, and often do decline it.' Vol. I. pp. 98, 9.
• I have had griefs which cannot have bad any concern with faults of my own.
If ever I hint complaint, my good-natured friends are ready to remind me, that " I only reap the fruit of the seeds of my own sowing." I may have sown seeds of which the seed has been bitter ; but the fruits I allude to were certainly never of my own sowing. I admit that I never had a grain of worldly, serpentine wisdom or prudence; but I have been pursued by merciless malignities, to which my franknesses, my indiscretions, my faults (if the world will have it so), could never give a plausible pretext......... I have had singular foes to contend with in a variety of directions. Many of them have been busy, secret, and unappeasable. Even persons have incessantly persecuted me, to whom I know not that I have given the smallest cause of offence......... Envy and jealousy are ferocious and busy in proportion as their sphere of action is narrow, They are no where therefore so mischievous as where they are provin.