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self childless, and this called to mind his bereave
My uncle, as I have before said, was a barrister; he was a man of some eminence in his calling, universally admired and beloved by all his brethren of the long robe. His wonted residence, owing to the nature of his profession, was in the centre of our great national metropolis; he had been an in-dweller in no other place since the light of his world had gone from him; but now that he was no longer an unconnected man, he ceased to regard his own convenience, and hired for the advantage of Frederick and myself, a country residence on the borders of shire, about twelve miles distant from the capital, being of opinion (as who is not?) that the seeds of a healthy constitution are more likely to be derived from the fresh air and the free exercise of the country, than from all the thousand metropolitan exhalations, which my uncle's god-father Mr. Bramble has celebrated in his admirable letters.
The village, wherein our new house was situated, for the sake of perspicuity, I shall call HEATHFIELD. And here I must pause to observe, that implicitly following the heart-breaking advice which a certain crabbed and envious critic once tendered to an ambitious student,-"Whenever you have written a sentence which you think
particularly excellent, be careful, young man, to blot it out," I have just expunged from this narrative a couple of my favourite chapters; the one containing the opinions of my uncle upon the allimportant subject of Education, and the other unfolding his views of Religion, and showing in what manner he led my brother and myself to a knowledge of the true creed: but there were so many excellent sentences in these two chapters, that I have thought it fit to destroy them at once, because had I blotted out all that I thought good in them, I should have obliterated the whole text.
As we advanced in years, my brother and I desisted not from our unnatural warfare. There seemed to be no more chance of our ever being reconciled than of parallel lines meeting one another, which every mathematician knows they have very little prospect of ever doing. I declare that it was no fault of mine. I stretched forth my hand, but my brother would not take it; I smiled upon him, and he turned aside in disgust; I spoke kindly to him, and he spat upon the ground.
Love and hatred recognize and are bound by no laws. I know not why my brother detested me, unless it was that he looked upon me as an interloper. Perhaps, having been born first, he regarded me as de trop, and not contented with
being the eldest, he desired also to be the youngestthe alpha and omega of the family, --the only one of his parents. Be it so: I neither defrauded him of his birth-right, neither took I away his blessing, nor supplanted him in any one thing but the affections of my Uncle Matthew, which I undesignedly appropriated to myself, though God knows, I would have shared them with my brother, had I possessed any control over the gift.
But Frederick was a sly boy, and he did all that he could to circumvent me, but with very indifferent success; for, as Shakspeare (than whom if I knew any better authority, I should quote it in this place) has observed in one of his inimitable tragedies,
"The Gods are just, and of our pleasant vices,
a quotation, the aptitude of which will immediately become evident, when I say that the very means which Frederick employed to worm himself into the good graces of my uncle, damned him most entirely in the estimation of that discriminating gentleman.
My brother was of a puritanical complexion, or rather he pretended to be so. Had he known how unbecomingly an austere deportment shows itself
in the person of a child, he would not have cast off, as worthless garments, all the natural graces of youth. But he was, at the same time, ignorant and designing; he forgot that the behaviour which adorns the man is disgusting when it characterizes the boy. He thought, by the sobriety of his demeanour and the unrelaxing gravity of his appearance, to establish his superiority over me, and to conciliate the good opinion of my uncle. To laugh, to play, or in any manner to disport himself, was an unseemly infraction of propriety which he scrupulously abstained from committing. He spoke in a low voice; he trod with a monotonous pace; he never deviated from the beaten paths of the strictest regularity, or yielded to any spontaneous excursions. Every thing that he did was premeditated; every word that he uttered passed through the sieve of investigation. He would contrive to be caught by my uncle reading the bible in solitude; and would spend his money upon tracts, which he would leave in all parts of the house, with his name written thereupon. He had the whole book of Proverbs by heart, and would utter more sage reflections than ever did Marcus Antoninus, Solomon, or the philosophical Sancho. Indeed, he was so exceedingly didactic, that every body in the village wondered how such great wisdom could have got into so little a head.
But my uncle was not to be played upon. He saw at once that Frederick was a designer; but had he, on the other hand, confided in the genuineness of his elder nephew's behaviour, he would not have applauded the boy for conduct which, to say the least of it, was unnatural and unbecoming. My brother outwitted himself, and saw, to his inexpressible chagrin, that I, who took no trouble in the least to ingratiate myself with any living creature, was the favourite, not only of my uncle, but of every one who entered the house.
And here, before I proceed any farther, I must congratulate myself that, not being engaged upon either a tragedy or a comedy, I am bound by no dramatic proprieties of time or place in this work ; so that, if I should purpose (as I have done) to transport the reader from Asia to Europe, "or to speak, though I am here, of Peru, and in speech digress from that to a description of Calicut,' am perfectly justified in so doing, by all the laws of historical composition. In like manner, with regard to unity of time, I may pass over as many years as I please, whenever it suits my convenience, making some half dozen words describe so many revolutions of the earth, a liberty which I
* Sir Philip Sydney's Defence of Poesie.