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THE TABLE BOOK.
The resources of my mother were very scanty. nately she determined to prosecute my father's They arose from the rent of three or four small business ; for which purpose she engaged a fields, which yet remained unsold. With these, couple of journeymen, who, finding her ignorant however, she did what she could for me; and as of every part of it, wasted her property, and emsoon as I was old enough to be trusted out of her bezzled her money. What the consequence of sight, sent me to a schoolmistress of the name of this double fraud would have been, there was no Parret, from whom I learned in due time to read. opportunity of knowing, as, in somewhat less I cannot boast much of my acquisitions at this than a twelvemonth, my poor mother followed school; they consisted merely of the contents of my father to the grave. She was an excellent the “Child's Spelling Book :" but from my woman, bore my father's infirmities with patience mother, who had stored up the literature of a and good humour, loved her children dearly, and country town, which, about half a century ago, died at last, exhausted with anxiety and grief amounted to little more than what was dissemi more on their account than her own. nated by itinerant ballad-singers, or rather, I was not quite thirteen when this happened ; readers, I had acquired much curious knowledge my little brother was hardly two; and we had of Catskin, and the Golden Bull, and the Bloody not a relation nor a friend in the world. Every Gardener, and many other histories equally in- thing that was left, was seized by a person of the structive and amusing:
nime of Carlile, for money advanced to my My father returned from sea in 1764. He mother. It may be supposed that I could not had been at the siege of the Havannah; and dispute the justice of his claims; and as no one though he received more than a hundred pounds else interfered, he was suffered to do as he liked. for prize money, and his wages were consider. My little brother was sent to the alms-house, able; yet, as he had not acquired any strict whither his nurse followed him out of pure affechabits of economy, he brought home bui a tri- tion : and I was taken to the house of the person fing sum. The little property yet left was there I have just mentioned, who was also my godfore turned into money; a trifle more was got father. Respect for the opinion of the town by agreeing to renounce all future pretensions to (which, whether correct or not, was, that he had an estate at Totness ;* and with this my father amply repaid himself by the sale of my mother's set up a second time as a glazier and house effects) induced him to send me again to school, painter. I was now about eight years old, and where I was more diligent than before, and more was put to the freeschool, (kept by Hugh Smer successful. I grew fond of arithmetic, and my don,) to learn to read, and write and cipher. master began to distinguish me; but these Here I continued about three years, making a golden days were over in less than three months most wretched progress, when my father fell sick
Carlile sickened at the expense; and, as the and died. He had not acquired wisdom from pecple were now indifferent to my fate, he his misfortunes, but continued wasting his time looked round for an opportunity of ridding himin unprofitable pursuits, to the great detriment self of a useless charge. He had previously of his business. `He loved drink for the sake of attempted to engage me in the drudgery of society, and to this he fell a martyr; dying of husbandry. I drove the plough for one day to a decayed and ruined constitution before he was gratify him ; but I left it with a firm resolution forty. The town's-people thought himn a shrewd to do so no more, and in despite of his threats and sensible man, and regretted his death. As and pronuises, adhered to my determination. In
I never greatly loved him ; I had not this, I was guided no less by necessity than will. grown up with him; and he was too prone to During my father's life, in attempting to clamber repulse my little advances to familiarity, with up a table, I had fallen backward, and drawn it coldness, or anger. He had certainly some
after me: its edge fell upon my breast, and I reason to be displeased with me, for I learned never recovered the effects of the blow; of little at school, and nothing at home, although he which I was made extremely sensible on any would now and then attempt to give me some
extraordinary exertion. Ploughing, therefore, insight into his business. As impressions of any was out of the question, and, as I have already kind are not very strong at the age of eleven or said, I utterly refused to follow it. twelve, I did not long feel his loss; nor was it a
As I could write and cipher, (as the phrase subject of much sorrow to me, that my mother is,) Carlile next thought of sending me to Newwas doubtful of her ability to continue me at
foundland, to assist in a storehouse. For this school, though I had by this time acquired a purpose he negotiated with a Mr. Holdsworthy love for reading:
of Dartmouth, who agreed to fit me out. I left I never knew in what circumstances my mother Ashburton with little expectation of seeing it was left : most probably they were inadequate to again, and indeed with litile care, and rode with her support, without some kind of exertion, espe- my godfather to the dwelling of Mr. Holdscially as she was now burthened with a second worthy. On seeing me, this great man observed child about six or eight months old. Unfortu- with a look of pity and contempt, that I was
“ too small," and sent me away suficiently
mortified. I expected to be very ill received by . This consisted of several houses, which had been
my godfather, but he said nothing. He did thoughtlessly suffered to fall into decay, and of which the rents had been so long unclaimed, that they could
not however choose to take me back himself, not now be recovered, unless by an expensive litigation. but sent me in the passage-boat to Totness, from
whence I was to walk home. On the passage, sent a man and horse to bring me to Ashburton ; the boat was driven by a midnight storm on the and desiring me to set out without delay. My rocks, and I escaped almost by miracle.
master, as well as myself, supposed it was to My godfather had now humbler views for me, spend the holydays there ; and he therefore and I had little heart to resist any thing. He made no objection to my going. We were, proposed to send me on board one of the Tore however, both mistaken. bay fishing-bouts ; I ventured, however, to re Since I had lived at Brixham, I had broken monstrate against this, and ahe matter was com off all connection with Ashburton. I had no repromised by my consenting to go on board a lation there but my poor brother, * who was yet coaster. A coaster was speedily found for me too young for any kind of correspondence ; and at Brixham, and thither I went when little more the conduct of my godfather towards me, did than thirteen.
not entitle him to any portion of my gratitude, or My master, whose name was Full, though a kind remembrance. I lived therefore in a sort gross and ignorant, was not an ill-natured, of sullen independence on all I had formerly man; at least, not to me: and my mistress used known, and thought without regret of being me with unvarying kindness ; moved perhaps by abandoned by every one to my fate. But I had my weakness and tender years. In return, I not been overlooked. The women of Brixham, did what I could to requite her, and my good who travelled to Ashburton twice a week with will was not overlooked.
fish, and who had known my parents, did not Our vessel was not very large, nor our crew see me without kind concern, running about the very numerous. On ordinary occasions, such as beach in a ragged jacket and trousers. They short trips to Dartmouth, Plymouth, &c. it con mentioned this to the people of Ashburton, and sisted only of my master, an apprentice nearly never without commiserating my change of conout of his time, and myself: when we had to go dition. This tale, often repeated, awakened at further, to Portsmouth for example, an additional length the pity of their auditors, and, as the next hand was hired for the voyage.
step, their resentment against the man who had In this vessel (the Two Brothers) I continued reduced me to such a state of wretchedness. In nearly a twelvemonth ; and here I got acquaint a large town, this would have had little effect; ed with nautical terms, and contracted a love but in a place like Ashburton, where every refor the sea, which a lapse of thirty years has port speedily becomes the common property of but little diminished.
all the inhabitants, it raised a murmur which my It will be easily conceived that my life was a godfather found himself either unable or unwilllife of hardship. I was not only a "shipboy on ing to encounter : he therefore determined to the high and giddy mast,” but also in the cabin, recall me; which he could easily do, as I wanted where every menial office fell to my lot : yet if some months of fourteen, and was not yet I was restless and discontented, I can safely bound. say, it was not so much on account of this, as of All this, I learned on my arrival ; and my my being precluded from all possibility of read, heart, which had been cruelly shut up, now ing; as my master did not possess, nor do I opened to kinder sentiments, and fairer views. recollect seeing during the whole time of my After the holydays I returned to my darling abode with him, a single book of any descrip- pursuit, arithmetic: my progress was now so tion, except the Coasting Pilot.
rapid, that in a few months I was at the head of As my lot seemed to be cast, however, I was the school, and qualified to assist my master not negligent in seeking such information as (Mr. E. Furlong) on any extraordinary emerpromised to be useful ; and I therefore fre,
gency. As he usually gave me a trifle on those quented, at my leisure hours, such vessels as
occasions, it raised a thought in me, that by endropt into Torbay. On attempting to get on gaging with him as a regular assistant, and board one of these, which I did at midnight, I undertaking the instruction of a few evening missed my footing, and fell into the sea. The scholars, I might, with a little additional aid, be foating away of the boat alarmed the man on
enabled to support myself. God knows, my deck, who came to the ship's side just in time to see me sink. He immediately threw out several ropes, one of which providentially (for I # Of
my brother here introduced for the last time, I was unconscious of it) intangled itself about me, must yet say a few words. He was literally, and I was drawn up to the surface, till a boat
The child of misery baptized in tears ; could be got round. The usual methods were and the short passage of his life did not belie the taken to recover me, and I awoke in bed the melancholy presage of his infancy. When he was seven next morning, remembering nothing but the
years old, the parish bound him out to a husbandman
of the name of Leman, with whom he endured incredihorror I felt, when I first found myself unable ble hardships, which I had it not in my power to alle to cry out for assistance.
viate. At nine years of age he broke his thigh, and I This was not my only escape, but I forbear to
took that opportunity to teach him to read and write.
When my own situation was improved, I persuaded him speak of them. An escape of another kind was
to try the sea ; he did so; and was taken on board the now preparing for me, which deserves all my Egmont, on condition that his master should receive notice, as it was decisive of future fate. his wages. The time was now fast approaching when On Christmas day (1770) I was surprised by
I could serve him, but he was doomed to know no
favourable change of fortune: he fell sick, and died at a message from my godfather, saying that he had Cork.
THE TABLE BOOK.
ideas of support at this time were of no very hatred, I made no progress in it; and was conextravagant nature. I had, besides, another ob- sequently little regarded in the family, of which ject in view. Mr. Hugh' Smerdon (my first I sunk by degrees into the common drudge : master) was now grown old and infirm; it this did not much disquiet me, for my spirits seemed unlikely that he should hold out above were now humbled. I did not however quite three or four years; and I fondly flattered my resign the hope of one day succeeding to Mr. self that, notwithstanding my youth, I might Hugh Smerdon, and therefore secretly prosepossibly be appointed to succeed him. I was in cuted my favourite study, at every interval of iny fifteenth year, when I built these castles : a leisure. storm, however, was collecting, which unex These intervals were not very frequent; and pectedly burst upon me, and swept them all when the use I made of then was found out, away.
they were rendered still less so. I could not On mentioning my little plan to Carlile, he guess the motives for this at first; but at length treated it with the utmost contempt; and told I discovered that my master destined his youngme, in his turn, that as I had learned enough, est son for the situation to which I aspired. and more than enough, at sehool, he must be I possessed at this time but one book in the considered as having fairly discharged his duty; world: it was a treatise on algebra, given to me (so, indeed, he had ;) he added, that he had by, a young woman, who had found it in a been negotiating with his cousin, a shoemaker lodging-house. I considered it as a treasure ; of some respectability, who had liberally agreed but it was a treasure locked up; for it supposed to take me without a fee, aş an apprentice. I the reader to bę well acquainted with simple was so shocked at this intelligence, that I did equation, and I knew nothing of the matter, not remonstrate ; but went in sullenness and My master's son had purchased Fenning's Introsilence to my new master, to whom I was soon duction : this was precisely what I wanted; but after bound,* till I should attain the age of he carefully concealed it from me, and I was twenty-one.
indebted to chance alone for stumbling upon his The family consisted of four journeymen, two hiding-place. I sat up for the greatest part of sons about my own age, and an apprentice some several nights successively, and, before he suswhat older. In these there was nothing re pected that his treatise was discovered, had markable; but my master himself was the completely mastered it, I could now enter strangest creature !--He was a Presbyterian, upon my own ; and that carried me pretty far whose reading was entirely confined to the into the science. small tracts published on the Exeter Contro This was not done without difficulty. I had versy. As these (at least his portion of them) not a farthing on earth, nor a friend to give me were all on one side, he entertained no doubt one: pen, ink, and paper, therefore, (in deof their infallibility, and being noisy and disputa. spite of the flippant remark of Lord' Orford,) cious, was sure to silence his opponents; and be were, for the most part, as completely out of my came, in consequence it, intolerably arrogant reach, as a crown and sceptre. There was in. and conceited. He was not, however, indebted deed a resource ; but the utmost caution and solely to his knowledge of the subject for his tri
secrecy were necessary in applying to it. I umph: he was possessed of Fenning's Dictionary, beat out pieces of leather as smooth as possible, and he made a most singular use of it. His custom and wrought my problems on them with a was to fix on any word in common use, and then blunted awl: for the rest, my memory was to get by heart the synonym, or periphrasis by tenacious, and I could multiply and divide by it, which it was explained in the book ; this be
to a great extent. constantly substituted for the simple term, and Hitherto I had not so much as dreamed of as his opponents were commonly ignorant of his poetry: indeed I scarcely knew it by name; meaning, his victory was complete.
and, whatever may be said of the force of naWith such a man I was not likely to add ture, I certainly never "lisp'd in numbers.” I mnch to my stock of knowledge, small as it was; recollect the occasion of my first attempt : it is, and, indeed, nothing could well be smaller. At like all the rest of my non-adventures, of so unthis period, I had read nothing but a black letter important a nature, that I should blush to call romance, called Parismus and Parismenus, and the attention of the idlest reader to it, but for a few loose magazines which my mother had the reason alleged in the introductory parabrought from South Molton. With the Bible, graph. A person, whose name escapes me, had indeed, I was well acquainted; it was the undertaken to paint a sign for an ale-house : it favourite study of my grandmother, and reading was to have been a lion, but the unfortunate it frequently with her, had impressed it strongly artist produced a dog. On this awkward affair, on my mind; these then, with the Imitation of one of my acquaintance wrote a copy of what Thomas à Kempis, which I used to read to my we called verse : I liked it; but fancied I mother on her death-bed, constituted the whole could compose something more to the purpose: of my literary acquisitions.
I made the experiment, and by the unanimous As I hated my new profession with a perfect suffrage of my shopmates was allowed to have
succeeded. "Notwithstanding this encourage• My indenture, which now lies before me, is dated
ment, I thought no more of verse, till another the 1st of January, 1772.
occurrence, as trifling as the former, furnished
me with a fresh subject : and thus I went on, been long shut to kindness, but the sentiment till I had got together about a dozen of them. was not dead in me: it revived at the first enCertainly, nothing on earth was ever so deplor- couraging word ; and the gratitude I felt for it, able : such as they were, however, they were was the first pleasing sensation which I had talked of in my little circle, and I was some ventured to entertain for many dreary months. times invited to repeat them, even out of it. I Together with gratitude, hope, and other pasnever committed a line to paper for two reasons; sions still more enlivening, took place of that first, because I had no paper; and secondly uncomfortable gloominess which so lately posperhaps I might be excused from going fur- sessed me: I returned to my companions, and ther; but in truth I was afraid, as my master by every winning art in my power, .strove to had already threatened me, for inadvertently make them forget my former repulsive ways. hitching the name of one of his customers into á In this I was not unsuccessful; I recovered rhymne.
their good will, and by degrees grew to be The repetitions of which I speak were always somewhat of a favourite. attended with applause, and sometimes with My master still murmured, for the business of favours more substantial : little collections were the shop went on no better than before : I connow and then made, and I have received six- forted myself, however, with the reflection that pence in an evening. To one who had long my apprenticeship was drawing to a conclusion, lived in the absolute want of money, such a re when i determined to renounce the employment source seemed a Peruvian mine : I furnished for ever, and to open a private school. myself by degrees with paper, &c., and what In this humble and obscure state, poor bewas of more importance, with books of geome- yond the common lot, yet flattering my ambitry, and of the higher branches of algebra, tion with day-dreams, which, perhaps, would which I cautiously concealed. Poetry, even at never have been realized, I was found in the this tiine, was no amusement of mine : it was twentieth year of my age by Mr. William subservient to other purposes; and I only bad Cookesley, a name never to be pronounced by recourse to it, when I wanted money for my ma me without veneration. The lamentable dogthematical pursuits.
gerel which I have already mentioned, and But the clouds were gathering fast. My which had passed from mouth to mouth among master's anger was raised to a terrible pitch, by people of my own degree, had by some accident my indifference to his concerns, and still more or other reached his ear, and given him a cu-. by the reports which were daily brought to him riosity to inquire after the author. of my presumptuous attempts at versification. It was my good fortune to interest his beI was required to give up my papers, and when nevolence. My little history was not untincturI refused, my garret was searched, and my ed with melancholy, and I laid it fairly before little hoard of books discovered and removed, him: his first care was to console ; his second, and all future repetitions prohibited in the which he cherished to the last moment of his strictest manner.
existence, was to relieve and support me. • This was a very severe stroke, and I felt it Mr. Cookesley was not rich : his eminence most sensibly; it was followed by another se in his profession, which was ihat of a surgeor, verer still ; a stroke which crushed the hopes [ procured him, indeed, much employment; but had so long and so fondly cherisher, and re in a country town, men of science are not the signed me
to despair. Mr. Hugh most liberally rewarded : he had, besides, a very Smerdon, on whose succession I had calculated, numerous family, which left him little for the died, and was succeeded by a person not much purposes of general benevolence : that little, older than myself, and certainly not so well however, was cheerfully bestowed, and his acqualified for the situation.
tivity and zeal were always at hand to supply I look back on that part of my life which im- the deficiencies of his fortune. mediately followed this event, with little satis On examining into the nature of my literary faction ; it was a period of gloom, and savage attainments, he found them absolutely nothing: unsociability : by degrees I sunk into a kind of he heard, however, with equal surprise and coporeal torpor; or, if roused into activity by pleasure, that amidst the grossest ignorance of the spirit of youth, wasted the exertion in sple- books, I had made a very considerable pregress r.etic and vexatious tricks, which alienated the in the mathematics. He engaged me to enter few acquaintances whom compassion had yet into the details of this affair , and when he left me.
So I crept on in silent aiscontent, learned that I had made it in circumstances of uufriended and unpitied ; indignant at the pre- peculiar discouragement, he became sent, careless of the future, an object at once of warmly interested in my favour, as he now saw apprehensiou and dislike.
a possibility of serving me. From this state of abjectness I was raised by The plan that occurred to him was naturally young woman of my own class. She was a that which had so often suggested itself to me. neighbour ; and whenever I took my solitary There were indeed several obstacles to be overwalk, with my Wolfius in my pocket, she usu come; I had eighteen months yet to serve ; my aily came to the door, and by a smile, or a short handwriting was bad, and my language very inquestion, put in the friendliest manner, endea- correct; but nothing could slacken the zeal of voured to solicit my attention. My heart had this excellent man; he prociired a few of my
poor attempts at rhyme, dispersed them amongst I became capable, however, of reading Latin his friends and acquaintance, and when my and Greek with some degree of facility, tbat name was become somewhat familiar to them, gentleman employed all my leisure hours in set on foot a subscription for my relief. I still translations from the classics; and indeed I preserve the original paper ; its title was not scarcely know a single school-book, of which I very magnificent, though it exceeded the most did not render some portion into English verse. sanguine wishes of my heart: it ran thus, A Among others, JUVENAL engaged my attention, Subscription for purchasipg the remainder of or rather my master's, and I translated the tenth the time of William Gifford, and for enabling Satire for a holyday task.
Mr. Smerdon was him to improve himself in Writing and English much pleased with this, (I was not undelighted Grammar." Few contributed more than five with it myself,) and as I was now become fond shillings, and none went beyond ten-and-six- of the author, he easily persuaded me to propence: enough, however, was collected to free ceed with him; and I translated in succession me from my apprenticeship,* and to maintain the third, the fourth, the twelfth, and, I think, me for a few months, during which I assiduously the eighth Satires. As I had no end in view attended the Rev. Thomas Smerdon.
but that of giving a temporary satisfaction to At the expiration of this period, it was found my benefactors, I thought little more of these, that my progress (for 1 will speak the truth in than of many other things of the same nature, modesty) had been more considerable than my
which wrote from time to time, and of which patrons expected : I had also written in the in I never copied a single line. terim several little pieces of poetry, less rugged, On my removing to Exeter College, however, I suppose, than my former ones, and certainly my friend, ever attentive to my concerns, advised with fewer anomalies of language. My precep me to copy my translation of the tenth Satire, tor, too, spoke favourably of me; and my bene and present it, on my arrival, to the Rev. Dr. factor, who was now become my father and my Stinton, (afterwards Řector,) to whom Mr. Tayfriend, had little difficulty in persuading my pa lor had given me an introductory letter: I did trons to renew their donations, and to continue so, and it was kindly received. Thus encoume at school for another year. Such liberality raged, I took up the first and second Satires, (I was not lost upon me; I grew anxious to make mention them in the order they were translated,) the best return in my power, and I redoubled when my friend, who had sedulously watched my diligence. Now, that I am sunk into indo my progress, first started the idea of going lence, I look back with some degree of scep- through the whole, and publishing it by subticism to the exertions of that period.
scription, as a scheme for increasing my means In two years and two mouths from the day of of subsistence. To this I readily acceded, and my emancipation, I was pronounced by Mr. finished the thirteenth, eleventh, and fifteenth Smerdon, fit for the University. The plan of Satires: the remainder were the work of a opening a writing school had been abandoned much later period. almost from the first; and Mr. Cookesley look When I had got thus far, we thought it a fit ed round for some one who had interest enough time to mention our design; it was very geneto procure me some little office at Oxford. This rally approved of by my friends; and ou the person, who was soon found, was Thomas Tayfirst of January, 1781, the subscription was lor, Esq. of Denbury, a gentleman to whom I opened by Mr. Cookesley at Ashburton, and by had already been indebted for much liberal and myself at Exeter College. friendly support. He procured me the place of So bold an undertaking so precipitately anBib. Lect. at Exeter College ; and this, with nounced, will give the reader, I fear, a higher such occasional assistance from the country as opinion of my conceit than of my talents ; neiMr.
Cookesley undertook to provide, was thought ther the one nor the other, however, had the sufficient to enable me to live, at least, till I had smallest concern with the business, which origitaken a degree.
nated solely in ignorance: I wrote verses with During my attendance on Mr. Smerdon I had great facility, and I was simple enough to written, as I observed before, several tuneful imagine that little more was necessary for a trifles, some as exercises, others voluntarily, translator of Juvenal! I was not, indeed, un(for poetry was now become my delight,) and conscious of my inaccuracies : I knew that they not a few at the desire of my friends.p. When were numerous, and that I had need of some
friendly eye to point them out, and some judi
cious hand to rectify or remove them: but for The sum my master received was six pounds. + As I have republished one of our old poets, it may
these, as well as for every thing else, I looked be allowable to mention that my predilection for the
to Mr. Cookesley, and that worthy man, with drama began at an early period. Before I
his usual alacrity of kindness, undertook the I had written two tragedies, the Oracle and the Italian. laborious task of revising the whole translation.
My qualifications for this branch of the art may be easily appreciated; and, indeed, I cannot think of them
My friend was no great Latinist, perhaps I was without a smile. These rhapsodies were placed by
the better of the two; but he had taste and my indulgent friend, who thought well of them, in the hands of two respectable gentlemen, who undertook to convey them to the manager of :I am ignorant bers, and when subsequent events enabled me to renew of their fate. The death of Mr. Cookesley broke every them, I was ashamed to inquire after what was most link of my connection with the majority of subscri probably unworthy of concern.