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I once more tasted at Dover the pleasures of reading and thinking; and the hungry appetite with which
by the best authorities. However, I still prefer the radical method of Scapula to this alphabetical one.
December 11th.]-I have already given an idea of the Gosport duty; I shall only add a trait which characterizes admirably our unthinking sailors. At a time when they knew that they should infallibly be discharged in a few weeks, numbers, who had considerable wages due to them, were continually jumping over the walls, and risking the losing of it for a few hours amusement at Portsmouth.
17th.]—We found old captain Meard at Alresford, with the second division of the 14th. He and all his officers supped with us, and made the evening rather a drunken one.
18th.]—About the same hour our two corps paraded to march off. They, an old corps of regulars, who bad been two years quiet in Dover castle; we, part of a young body of militia, two-thirds of our men recruits of foor months standing, two of which they had passed upon very disagreeable duty. Every advantage was on their side, and yet our superiority, both as to appearance and discipline, was so striking, that the most prejudiced regular could not have hesitated a moment. At the end of the town our two companies separated: my father's struck off for Petersfield, whilst I continued my route to Alton, ilito which place I marched my company about noon; two years, six months, and fifteen days, after my first leaving it. I gave the men some beer at roll-calling, which they re ceived with great cheerfulness and decency. I dined and lay at Harrison's, where I was received with that oldfashioned breeding which is at once so honourable and so troublesome.
23rd.)–Our two companies were discmbodied; mine at Alton, and my father's at Beriton. Smith marched them over from Petersfield: they fired three vollies, lodged the major's colours, delivered up their arms, received their money, partook of a dinner at the major's expense, and then separated with great cheerfulness and regularity. Thus ended the militia; I may say ended, since our annual assemblies in May are so very precarious, and can be of so little use. However, our serjeants and drums are still
i opened a volume of Tully'3 philosophical works is still present to my memory. The last review of my
kept up, and quartered at the rendezvous of the con.pany, and the adjutant remains at Southampton in full pay.
As this was an extraordinary scene of life. in which I was engaged above three years and a half from the date ef my commission, and above two years and a half from the time of our embodying, I cannot take my leave of it without some few reflections. When I engaged in it, I was totally ignorant of its nature and consequences. I offered because my father did, without ever imagining that we should be called out, till it was too late to retreat with honour. Indeed, I believe it happens throughout, that our most important actions have been often determined by chance, caprice, or some very inadequate motive. After our embodying, many things contributed to make me support it with great impatience :-our continual disputes with the duke of Bolton; our unsettled way of life, which hardly allowed me books or leisure for study; and, more than all, the disagreeable society in which I was forced to live.
After mentioning my sufferings, I must say something of what I found agreeable. Now it is over, I can make the separation much better than I could at the time. 1. The unsettled way of life itself had its advantages. The exercise and change of air and of objects amused me, at the same time that it fortified my health. 2. A new field of knowledge and amusement opened itself to me; that of military affairs, which, both in my studies and travels, will give me eyes for a new world of things, which before would have past unheeded. Indeed, in that respect, I can hardly help wishing our battalion had continued another year. We had got a fine set of new men; all our difficulties were over; we were perfectly well clothed and appointed; and, from the progress our recruits had already made, we could promise ourselves that we should be one of the best militia corps by next summer : a circumstance that would have been the more agreeable to me, as I am now established the real acting major of the battalion. But what I value most, is the knowledge it has given me of mankind in general, and of my own country in particular. The general system of our government, the methods of our several offices, the departments and powers of their re
Essay before its publication had prompted me to investigate the nature of the gods; my inquiries led me to the Histoire Critique du Manichéism of Beausobre, who discusses many deep questions of Pagan and Christian theology; and from this rich treasury of facts and opinions I deduced my own consequences, beyond the holy circle of the author. After this recovery I never relapsed into indolence; anò my example might prove, that in the life most averse to study, some hours may be stolen, some minutes may be snatched. Amidst the tumult of Winchester camp I sometimes thought and read in my tent; in the more settled quarters of Devizes, Blandford, and Southampton, I always secured a separate lodging, and the necessary books; and in the summer of 1762, while the new militia was raising, I enjoyed at Beriton two or three months of literary repose.* In
spective officers, our provincial and municipal administration, the views of our several parties, the characters, connections, and influence, of our principal people,- have been impressed on my mind, not by vain theory, but by the in: delible lessons of action and experience: I have made a number of valuable acquaintance, and am myself much better known, than (with my reserved character) I should have been in ten years, passing regularly my summers at Beriton, and my winters in London. So that the sum of all is, that I am glad the militia has been, and glad that it is no more.
* JOURNAL, May 8th, 1762.]—This was my birth-day, on which I entered into the twenty-sixth year of my age. This gave me occasion to look a little into myself, and consider impartially my good and bad qualities. It appeared to me, upon this inquiry, that my character was virtuous, incapable of a base action, and formed for generous ones; but that it was proud, violent, and disagreeable in society. These qualities I must endeavour to cultivate, extirpate, or restrain, according to their different tendency. Wit I have none. . My imagination is rather strong than pleasing ; my meinory both capacious and retentive. The shining qualities of my understanding are extensiveness and penetration ; but I want both quickness and exactness. As to
torming a new plan of study, I hesitated between the
'Εν δ' ανεηος τρησεν μέσον ισίον, αμφί δε κύμα
Ilias, A. 481. In the study of a poet who has since become the most intimate of my friends, I successively applied my situation in life, though I may sometimes repine at it, it perhaps is the best adapted to my character. I can command all the conveniences of life, and I can command too that independence (that first carthly blessing) which is hardly to be met with in a higher or lower fortune. When I talk of my situation, I must exclude that temporary one of being in the militia. Though I go through it with spirit and application, it is both unfit for and unworthy of me.
- Fair wind, and blowing fresh,
many passages and fragments of Greek writers; and among these I shall notice a life of Homer, in the Opuscula Mythologica of Gale, several books of the geography of Strabo, and the entire treatise of Longinus, which, from the title and the style, is equally worthy of the epithet of sublime. My grammatical skill was improved, my vocabulary was enlarged ; and in the militia I acquired a just and indelible knowledge of the first of languages. On every march, in every journey, Horace was always in my pocket, and often in my hand: but I should not mention his two critical epistles, the amusement of a morning, had they not been accompanied by the elaborate com. mentary of Dr Hurd, now bishop of Worcester. On the interesting subjects of composition and imitation of epic and dramatic poetry, I presumed to think for myself; and thirty close-written pages in folio could scarcely comprise my full and free discussion of the sense of the master and the pedantry of the servant.
After his oracle Dr Johnson, my friend sir Joshua Reynolds denies all original genius, any natural propensity of the mind to one art or science rather than another. Without engaging in a metaphysical or rather verbal dispute, I know by experience, that from my early youth I aspired to the character of an historian. While I served in the militia, before and after the publication of my Essay, this idea ripened in my mind; nor can I paint in more lively colours the feelings of the moment, than by transcribing some passages, under their respective dates, from a journal which I kept at that time.
BERITON, APRIL 14, 1761.
(In a short excursion from Dover.) “Having thought of several subjects for an historical composition, I chose the expedition of Charles VIII of France into Italy. I read two memoirs of Mr de Foncemagne in the Academy of Inscriptions, (tom.