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MEMOIRS

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CHAPTER I.

INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD AT LAVENHAM.

Jane, their second daughter, was born September 23, 1783, while her parents resided in London. From her birth, and during the first two years of infancy, her constitution seemed so delicate, and her health so precarious, that it was hardly expected she would survive that critical period. But happily, before she had completed her third year, Mr. Taylor removed with his family into the country, and from that time she appeared to take a new possession of life; and soon acquired the bloom and vivacity of perfect health.

His engagements as an artist being such as allowed him to reside at a distance from London, Mr. Taylor gladly availed himself of this liberty to establish his fast-increasing family where the same means

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would procure a much larger amount of comfort than in London; and where health, and all the best enjoyments of life are much more likely to be secured. It was in the summer of the year 1786, that

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father and mother, with their two little girls, removed to Lavenham in Suffolk. Ann, the eldest, was then in the fifth, and Jane in the third

year of her age; and were therefore able to enjoy with their parents the simple pleasures and extended comforts of their new habitation. Accustomed as she had been to the narrow bounds, and to the many restraints of a London house, Jane's spirits broke forth with unusual emotions of pleasure amid the ample space, and the agreeable objects that now surrounded her.

Very soon after her removal to the country, Jane displayed, not merely a healthy vivacity and childlike eagerness in the amusements provided for her by her fond parents, but an uncommon fertility of invention in creating pleasures for herself :— It was evident to those who observed her, that, even from her third or fourth year, the little girl inhabited a fairy land, and was perpetually occupied with the imaginary interests of her teeming fancy. “I can remember,” says her sister, “that Jane was always the saucy, lively entertaining little thing -- the amusement and the favourite of all that knew her. At the baker's shop she used to be placed on the kneadingboard, in order to recite, preach, narrate, &c. to the great entertainment of his many visitors. And at

Mr. Blackadder's she was the life and fun of the farmer's hearth. Her plays, from the earliest that I can recollect, were deeply imaginative; and I think that in · Moll and Bet-The Miss Parks' - The Miss Sisters'-—' The Miss Bandboxes,' and · Aunt and Niece,' which I believe is the entire catalogue of them, she lived in a world wholly of her own creation, with as deep a feeling of reality as life itself could afford. These lasted from the age of three or four, till ten or twelve. About the latter time her favourite employment, in play time, was whipping a top; during the successful spinning of which she composed tales and dramas, some of which she afterwards committed to paper. She would spend hours in this kind of reverie, in the large unfurnished parlour, at our own house at Lavenham. But I think I may say that the retiring character of her mind -a morbid sensibility towards things and persons without, as well as much refined feeling, operated to prevent a due estimate being formed of her talent, till much later in life. I need not tell

you, that they were never made a show of to any body. But timid as she was in and about herself, she had the courage of enterprize in the service of those she loved;— she was, you know, the presenter of every petition for holidays and special favours, and the spirited foremost in every youthful plan.”

This early and unusual activity of the imagination Jane afterwards lamented. " I do believe,” she says, " that this habit of castle-building is very injurious

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