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side in trembling expectation that each hour would be my last. Of the various and frequent disorders of my childhood my own recollection is dark, nor do I wish to expatiate on so disgusting a topic. Suffice it to say, that while every practitioner, from Sloane and Ward to the chevalier Taylor, was successively summoned to torture or relieve me, the care of my mind was too frequently neglected for that of my health; compassion always suggeste an excuse for the indulgence of the master or the idleness of the pupil; and the chain of my education was broken as often as I was recalled from the school of learning to the bed of sickness.
As soon as the use of speech had prepared my infant reason for the admission of knowledge, I was taught the arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic. So remote is the date, so vague is the memory, of their origin in myself, that, were not the error corrected by analogy, I should be tempted to conceive them as innate. In my childhood I was praised for the readiness with which I could multiply and divide, by memory alone, two sums of several figures : such praise encouraged my growing talent; and had I persevered in this line of application, I might have acquired some fame in mathematical studies.
After this previous instruction at home, or at a dayschool at Putney, I was delivered at the age of seven into the hands of Mr John Kirby, who exercised about eighteen months the office of my domestic tutor. His own words, which I shall here transcribe, inspire in his favour a sentiment of pity and esteem.--"During my abode in my native county of Cumberland, in quality of an indigent curate, I used now and the in a summer, when the pleasantness of the season invited, to take a solitary walk to the sea-shore, which lies about two miles from the town where I lived. Here I would amuse myself, one while in viewing at large the agreeable prospect which surrounded me, and another while, confining my sight to
nearer objects, in admiring the vast variety of beau. tiful shells thrown upon the beach; some of the choicest of which I always picked up, to divert my little ones upon my return. One time among the rest, taking such a journey in my head, I sat down upon the declivity of the beach with my face to the sea, which was now come up within a few yards of my feet; when immediately the sad thoughts of the wretched condition of my family, and the unsuccessfulness of all endeavours to amend it, came crowding into my mind, which drove me into a deep melancholy, and ever and anon forced tears from my eyes.” Distress at last forced him to leave the country. His learning and virtue introduced him to my father ; and at Putney he might have found at least a temporary shelter, had not an act of indiscretion again driven him into the world. One day reading prayers in the parish church, he most unluckily forgot the name of king George; his patron, a loyal subject, dismissed him with some reluctance, and a decent reward; and how the poor man ended his days I have never been able to learn. Mr John Kirkby is the author of two small volumes ; the Life of Automathes (London, 1745,) and an English and Latin Grammar (London, 1746 ;) which, as a testimony of gratitude, he dedicated (November 5, 1745) to my father. The books are before me; from them the pupil may judge the preceptor; and, upon the whole, his judgment will not be unfavourable. The grammar is executed with accuracy and skill, and I know not whether any better existed at the time in our language; but the life of Automathes aspires to the honours of a philosophical fiction. It is the story of a youth, the son of a shipwrecked exile, who lives alone on a desert island from infancy to the age of manhood. A hind is his nurse; he inherits a cottage, with many useful and curious instruments; some ideas remain of the education of his two first years; some arts are borrowed from the beavers of a neighbouring lake; some truths
are revealed in supernatural visions. With these helps, and his own industry, Automathes becomes a selftaught though speechless philosopher, who had investigated with success his own mind, the natural world, the abstract sciences, and the great principles of mora. lity and religion. The author is not entitled to the merit of invention, since he has blended the English story of Robinson Crusoe with the Arabian romance of Hai Ebu Yokhdan, which he might have read in the Latin version of Pocock. In the Automathes I cannot praise either the depth of thought or elegance of style; but the book is not devoid of entertainment or instruction; and among several interesting passages I would select the discovery of fire, which produces by accidental mischief the discovery of conscience. A man who had thought so much on the subjects of language and education was surely no ordinary preceptor; my childish years, and his hasty departure, prevented me from enjoying the full benefit of his lessons; but they enlarged my knowledge of arithmetic, and left me a clear impression of the English and Latin rudiments.
In my ninth year, (January 1746,) in a lucid interval of comparative health, my father adopted the convenient and customary mode of English education; and I was sent to Kingston-upon-Thames, to a school of about seventy boys, which was kept by Dr Wooddeson and his assistants. Every time I have since passed over Putney common, I have always noticed the spot where my mother, as we drove along in the coach, admonished me that I was now going into the world, and must learn to think and act for myself. The expression may appear ludicrous, yet there is not in the course of life a more remarkable change than the removal of a child from the luxury and freedom of a wealthy house to the frugal diet and strict subordination of a school; from the tenderness of parents, and obsequiousness of servants, to the rude familiarity of his equals, the insolent tyranny of his seniors, and the
rod perhaps of a cruel and capricious pedagogue. Such liardships may steel the mind and body against the injuries of fortune ; but my timid reserve was astonished by the crowd and tumult of the school; the want of strength and activity disqualified me for the sports of play-field; nor have I forgotten how often in the year forty-six I was reviled and buffeted for the sins of my Tory ancestors. By the common methods of discipline, at the expense of many tears and some blood, I purchased the knowledge of the Latin syntax : and not long since I was possessed of the dirty volumes of Phædrus and Cornelius Nepos, which I painfully construed and darkly understood. The choice of these authors is not injudicious. The lives of Cornelius Nepos, the friend of Atticus and Cicero, are composed in the style of the purest age; his simplicity is elegant, his brevity copious; he exhibits a series of men and manners; and with such illustrations as every pedant is not indeed qualified to give, this classic biographer may initiate a young student in the history of Greece and Rome. The use of fables or apologues has been approved in every age from ancient India to modern Europe. They convey in familiar images the truths of morality and prudence ; and the most childish under. standing (I advert to the scruples of Rousseau) will not suppose either that beasts do speak, or that men may lie. A fable represents the genuine characters of animals; and a skilful master might extract from Pliny and Buffon some pleasing lessons of natural history, a science well adapted to the taste and capacity of children. The latinity of Phædrus is not exempt from an alloy of the silver age; but his manner is concise, terse, and sententious: the Thracian slave discreetly breathes the spirit of a freeman ; and when the text is sound, the style is perspicuous. But his fables, after a long oblivion, were first published by Peter Pithou, from a corrupt manuscript. The labours of fifty editors confess the defects of the copy, as well as the value of the original; and the school-boy may
have been whipt for misapprehending a passage which Bentley could not restore, and which Burman could not explain.
My studies were too frequently interrupted by sick. ness; and after a real or nominal residence at Kingston school for near two years, I was finally recalled (December 1747) by my mother's death, which was occasioned, in her thirty-eighth year, by the consequences of her last labour. I was too young to feel the importance of my loss; and the image of her person and conversation is faintly imprinted in my memory. The affectionate heart of my aunt, Catherine Porten, bewailed a sister and a friend; but my poor father was inconsolable, and the transport of grief seemed to threaten his life or his reason. I can never forget the scene of our first interview some weeks after the fatal event; the awful silence, the room hung with black, the mid-day tapers; his sighs and tears; his praises of my mother, a saint in heaven; his solemn adjuration that I would cherish her memory and imitate her virtues; and the fervour with which he kissed and blessed me as the sole surviving pledge of their loves. The storm of passion insensibly subsided into calmer melancholy. At a convivial meeting of his friends, Mr Gibbon might affect or enjoy a gleam of cheerfulness; hut his plan of happiness was for ever destroyed : and after the loss of his companion, he was left alone in a world, of which the business and pleasures were to him irksome or insipid. After some unsuccessful trials, he renounced the tumult of London and the hospitality of Putney, and buried himself in the rural, or rather rustic, solitude of Buriton; from which, during several years, he seldom emerged.
As far back as I can remember, the house, near Putney-bridge and the church-yard, of my maternal grandfather, appears in the light of my proper and native home. It was there that I was allowed to spend the greatest part of my time, in sickness or in health, during my school vacations and my parents'