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ACCOUNT OF HIS EARLY DAYS AT SCHOOL, BY MR. GRINFIELDHIS RELIGIOUS TRAINING HIS CLASSICAL AND MATHEMATICAL COLLEGE-DELAY IN ENTERING THE
My friend Cornelius, with his two brothers, was committed, about the age of seven, to the tuition of an eminently pious and gifted master, the Rev. John Simons, LL.B., Rector of Paul's Cray,
The brief sketch contained in the present chapter was drawn up several years ago by the Rev. Edward Grinfield, M. A., formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge. He was one of Mr. Neale's earliest friends; and furnishes, consequently, some particulars which no one else could have, with equal advantage, communicated. His account, glancing afterwards beyond the college days of his friend, even to near the period of his death, anticipates in a slight degree the contents of the two other portions of Memoir contained in the third and fourth chapters. From a similar circumstance the closing part of the third chapter extends (although with brevity) as far as to the date of the close of the fourth chapter. Had it been considered very essential to present facts in chronological order, it would not have been difficult to break into parts the three memorial sketches furnished respectively by Mrs. Neale, Mr. Grinfield and myself, so as to blend them into one continued series. But as each one of the above-named parties writes in the first person, and each in a style different from the rest, however practicable such a rearrangement of the materials might have been, it manifestly could not be regarded as either necessary or advantageous.-EDITOR.
in Kent. His eldest brother, Benjamin, entered into the business of his father; and, being originally designed for the same, Cornelius also was removed from Paul's Cray in his fifteenth year, shortly after my acquaintance with him had commenced; having been myself, about that time, sent from Clifton to the same place of education. This was towards the close of the year 1804. The strong bent of nature in him, however, and the clear indications of superior genius, determined his parents, in compliance with the just advice of his preceptor, to relinquish the design of engaging him in a line of life from which he was averse, and to continue his classical education with his brother Samuel, who professedly studied for the ministry. I still remember the keen regret expressed in his letters to me during this temporary banishment from his beloved rural rambles and poetical amusements, to the circle of St. Paul's Church Yard, and the noisy scenes of monotonous business. Those letters were chiefly filled with the pastoral effusions of his infant muse, and evidenced his perfect abstraction from "the busy hum" of the city. I remember also the joy with which, like a bird set free from captivity, he returned to the studious retirement now endeared to him the more by this lamented separation. It was henceforth decided that he should pursue his studies for the University; and ere long he was allotted a place, in association with his brother Samuel, another fellow-student and myself; a select, and senior detachment from the rest of the pupils, enjoying
the privilege of a separate study, and more familiar intercourse with Mr. Simons and his family.
Our tutor was a man in whom Christian piety, characterised by great fervour and spirituality, was combined with a remarkable degree of ardent sensibility, rich imagination, and cultivated taste. He watched over our studies with a parental kindness and Christian carefulness; and while he led us on through the paths of classical adornment with a kindling spirit all his own, he disciplined us" line upon line" "line upon line" in the Sacred Writings, by his morning and evening expositions, by his frequent remarks in conversation, his Scripture examinations on Sunday evenings, and especially the daily habit of our writing a short religious exercise on the portion of Scripture expounded by him in the morning prayers. Thus we received an education not less religious than literary; nor is it possible to calculate the ultimate benefit that will be found to have resulted from such tuition and example to those who enjoyed it; especially as contrasted with the moral injury they would have sustained by having been thrown into the generality of schools, so marked by neglect of the great study!
The situation and scenery conspired to fan the flame: our daily rambles together amidst the meditative quietness of the surrounding fields and groves, especially our favourite ScadburyWood, with Milton, Shakspeare, Pope, or Cowper in our hands when we were together, unless when, in a solitary stroll, we either conned over Virgil and Horace, or indulged in poetical com
positions of our own-these habits confirmed that strong predilection at once for poetry, and for rural retirement, which my friend manifested through life; while the happy influence of his early and long-continued instructions in religion had a late, indeed, but a sudden and a triumphal resurrection, as from the dead.
Here his fine mind gathered rich and rapid accessions of beauty and vigour. He "drank deep of the Pierian spring," both in his native and in ancient lore. Few have been ever more completely at home in the choicest treasures of poetry, and few have ever become more enthusiastic idolaters, in particular, of Shakspeare. History also had an early share in his studious predilections.
I remember that at one time during these years of useful study and happiness, his mind was evidently visited and impressed by solemn convictions of a religious kind. For some months he appeared much more grave and thoughtful than he had hitherto been; his native gaiety and playful jocularity subsided into an air of penitential depression, and I observed him statedly engaged with serious reading. But his reserve kept him from disclosing to any individual his inward feelings on a subject so sacred and delicate. Those feelings, though powerful at that season, were transitory, and declined amidst the growing pressure of literary pursuits; the good seed of the word was choked by "the lust of other things," and became unfruitful. Many years were to pass away in a kind of intellectual
idolatry, before those convictions should return in transforming energy.
During the last year of his stay with Mr. Simons, he devoted himself with increasing vigour to those mathematical and classical studies, which qualified him so successfully for his approaching career at Cambridge. It was during this year that he composed the beautiful stanzas, entitled "Scadbury," in which he takes a reluctant leave of that long-endeared haunt, and anticipates with regret the "envious cloister, silent cell, and studious gown."
I had preceded him at College about a year. His arrival renewed our pleasant intercourse, with an interest heightened by the separation. The rapid succession of his studies, now chiefly mathematical, suspended his poetical amusements almost entirely during his residence at St. John's. Yet he breathed a moment from the severity of Newton, to welcome his beloved mother's birthday with its accustomed tribute from year to year.
As an academic, he was a pattern of moral purity and regular diligence; neither trusting to his extraordinary talents as a substitute for steady exertion, nor denying himself those moderated recreations in society and exercise which equally preserve the vigour of the body and of the mind. His associates were few; the most intimate and valued were Jowett, Rippingall, and Gray, besides his brother Samuel and myself. Each of them entered the sacred ministry, followed therein by himself last, as by "one born out of due time."