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intend to take here, requesting the courteous reader to imagine nine years to have expired since the autobiographer and his brother left behind them the shores of Hindustan, the progress of which time will have brought me to my fourteenth year,a statement which I make in this place to save the reader from the trouble of a calculation.
At this period my uncle began to think about sending his nephews to school. Some parents and guardians would have dismissed us many years earlier; but Mr. Jerningham was not friendly to the system, which has so much obtained in late years, of teaching children to read a strange language before they are acquainted with their own; and he thought that the Eton Latin Grammar was at best but an indifferent horn-book. Whether he was right or not, I will not take upon me to determine; but, leaving such weighty speculations to much wiser people than myself, I will adhere to the matter of this history.
There is a popular prejudice against schoolmasters. A certain eminent living* philosopher has compared them to 'chimney-sweepers' and 'scavengers.' God forbid! I am certain that the individual, who presided over my education, bore no very striking resemblance to the gentlemen of
* Written in 1835.
the soot-bag or the dust-cart. He was an elegant scholar, and a worthy man; too wise to be a pedant, and too good to be a tyrant. If I had a decemviri of sons, Dr. R. should educate every one of them.
I rejoiced when my uncle spoke of school; and hope smiled pleasantly upon me. The reason of this I will explain, lest my feelings should be misinterpreted. Kind as was my Uncle Matthew, and considerate as he was in all his arrangements, I was, nevertheless, in the moral sense of these words, a solitary and companionless being. I had servants to attend upon me, masters to instruct me, a pony to ride upon, and free access to almost every house in the neighbourhood. I had books in abundance, I had multiform instruments of amusement; I had many and pleasant acquaintance, but I had no friend. My heart had long been yearning for one who could sympathize with, and understand, me;-a creature, to whom I might unburthen my soul, and pour out my imaginings in his presence, like water, from the deep well of my heart. My bosom laboured with a weight of uncommunicated thoughts,-of feelings too long pent up, which now were growing stagnant and unwholesome, "creaming and mantling like a standing pond," and diffusing throughout my soul a moral contagion, noxious, offensive, and deso
lating. I had long been dreaming of a friend; in the solitude of my past life, I had pictured to myself an ideal companion, and indulged in a visionary hope that, some day, such a blessing might be granted to me. I fancied that nothing could be more delightful than that beautiful "communion of souls" which I had read of in books, but which I knew not; and my poor heart eagerly panted for something that it might twine itself around, which it might embrace, and be embraced by in turn, receiving and communicating happiness. Such an union I looked for in vain at home, so I turned my thoughts inquiringly abroad.
"A jewel, my Amethus, a fair youth,
FORD's Lovers' Melancholy.
If the reader will transport his imagination to a large, yet comfortable-looking school-room, with ground-glass windows, white-washed walls, and an open sky-light in the ceiling, he may there see in his "mind's eye" the author of this autobiography traversing the carpetless floor, and looking the very picture of desolation. Alone, in the centre of a crowd, cold, weary, and strange, I knew not what was best to be done. I felt like a raw criminal, when he enters for the first time the common cell of a populous prison,-when all the old inmates of the dungeon crowd around the
unfortunate novice, helping, by their impertinent curiosity, to make the uneasiness of his situation a hundred times more galling than the wisdom of a merciful legislature has ever intended it to be.
I was about fourteen years of age when I entered Dr. R's establishment; tall, active, and, as nearly as can be, half-way between beauty and deformity. My inclinations were not pugnacious; at all times preferring peace to war, I would never fight for the pleasure of the thing, though I had stout notions upon the score of retaliation, and was not to be offended with impunity. In short, that I may not dwell too long upon my own qualities, I had some good ingredients in my composition, which were neutralized by a great many bad ones; but, amongst my school-fellows, who did not analyze my character, I was spoken of by the reading few as "a cleverish fellow enough," and by the rest as "a good sort of chap;" which means that I could take a flogging kindly, play at cricket with tolerable adroitness, lend money to a friend in distress, and climb over the walls of the play-ground.
Of my brother I am desirous of saying little, where his history is not mixed up with my own. I wish that he had never lived, or, living, that I had never known him. He was much better looking than myself, and, at the same time, much