« PreviousContinue »
fciuch for his Constitution, which was but weakly, thought an easy Trade would be better for him; and so bound him (1714) Apprentice to his Fatherin-law, Robinsoni the Taylor, at Buckingham.
It was about two Years after (1716) he was Prentice, that he first happened to get an imperfect Accidence and Grammar, and about three Quarters of a Littleton'* Dictionary, into his Possession. From the first Moment of so great an Acquisition, he was reading whenever he could; and as they would scarce allow him any Time from his Work by Day, he used to procure Candles as privately as he could, and indulge himself in the violent Passion he had for reading, for good Patt of the Nights. He wanted greatly to learn Latin; why, does not appear: For he himself does not remember any other Reason for it at present, than that he might be able to read a few Latin Epitaphs in their Church. However that be, this Pursuit of his was soon interrupted (1717), by the-Small pox coming into Buckingham, and growing so violent there, that his Friends sent him to Tring-grove; and, in the Hurryj his Books were left behind him; At the Grave, he was employed in keeping his Uncle's Sheep j and speaks of that Occupation in as high a Stile of Happiness,- as the Romance-writers talk of their Arcadian Swains: But what made it so happy to him was, as he himself expresses it, " that he "could lie under a Hedge, and read all Day «« long." His Study here consisted only of The Praftice cf Piety., the Whole Duty of Alan, and
Vol. II. Z Manges: JMauger's French Grammar. These he read over and over so often, that he had them almost al] by Heart; and has a great deal of them still. He stayed there a Year and a Quarter j and on his Return to Buckingham (1719), he was highly delighted at feeing his old Friend the Latin Grammar again; and immediately renewed his Acquaintance with it. In this second Attempt of his for Latin, he was assisted by some of his Play-fellows among the Boys at the Free-school- at Buckingham, He would do any thing that was in his power to serve them, if they would tell him the Englijh of such Words, or such Rules in bis Grammar, as,he found the most difficult to understand: And by such flow and laborious Means, enabled himself to read a good Part of a Latin Testament which he had purchased, and a Cæsar's Commentaries that had been given him, before he was out of his Apprenticeship.
Soon after he was out of his Time, he married (1721) i and had Horace and a Greek Testament added to his Books, by the Goodness of a Gentleman for whom he was at work. As he could not bear to have a Book in his Hands, th t he could not read; he no sooner received the Latter, than he resolved to learn Greek r And that very Evening,, communicated his Design to a young Gentleman, with whom he was acquainted; who gave him a Greek Grammar, and prom fed to assist him as ur as he could in his Design. Hill used to teach him tofilh; and he uled to help on Hill in his first
great great Difficulty of acquiring the Greek Language: And when he lost that Friend, which he did very foon, for he died very young, he had the good Fortune to be assisted, much more materially, by another.
In the mean Time, as his Wife proved a very good Breeder, he found it necessary to do something to add to his Income; and therefore set up for a School-master [A] (1724), as well as a Taylor, and had so good Success^ that he had generally upwards of fifty Scholars, for the fix or seven Years that he practised it. However, there were some Difficulties sliat he met with, in his new Employ. He had scarce been in it half a Year, when a Lad well advanced in another School, returned home to Buckingham to go to his. In the first Conversation, Mr. Hill found, that this new Scholar of his was got to Decimal Fractions; whereas he himself was but lately entered, and that but a little way, into Division. This was a terrible Embaraflment, at first; but Mr. Hill took the following Method of disentangling himself from it; he set his young Man to copying out the Tables of decimal Fractions, from Wingate; which engaged him for about fix Weeks: And in the mean Time, he himself applied so hard to his Arithmetic, that he made himself Master of decimal Fractions, before that Time was expired; but to do this he was fofeed to sit up the greatest Part of every Night in the Interval. Another cafe,
\t\ F*r Reading, Writing, and Arithrtietic,
Z 2 that that gave him a good deal of Trouble, was one of his Scholars being attacked by some popish Neighbours, (1726) in order to make a Convert of him. This Mr. Hill could not suffer; and was led by it into a Paper War with [/] one of their Priests, which continuing for near two Years, without any other Success than saving his Scholar; for as to the two Combatants, they disputed on, as usual, without any manner of Conviction on either Side.
About two Years after Mr. Hill had lost his first Wife (1730) he married his second. She was a Widow, and was looked upon as a Fortune, for she brought him a great many Goods: But not long after they were married, he found his Goods continually decreasing, one thing after another, and himself involved in several Debts, which she had contracted. She was a bad Woman in all Respects; and he suffered so much from her and her Extravagances, that before they had lived two Years together, the Debts she had brought upon him obliged him to resolve to quit Buckingham; and to travel and work about the Country, in his Business as a Taylor and Stay-maker. He set out for his Travelson an Easter-day (1732); as indeed there was but one Day in any Week, that he could set out on j and stayed at different Towns, in several Counties, according as Business offered, and his own Safety would permit.
[;] A Man of considerable Character among them, and supposed to be a Bishop; who lived, at that Time, with Sir 7'icmas Tiredmortih.
Some Time before he set out, he was seized with a violent Passion for learning Hebrew; for which he can give no other Reason, than that he had seen several Quotations in that Language, in an Englijh Book of Controversy [if], which he had been studying for some Time. How very laborious a Thing must it be, to pursue one's first Sudies in any Language or Science, without a single Friend to give one any Advice! And how unavoidable often to lose one's Way, in such unknown Paths, without a Guide? The Grammars he had for the three first Years of this Pursuit, were none of the best; they helped him but poorly: His consulting with some trawling Jews, that he happened to meet with in his Wanderings, was to very little Purpose; and there was one Difficulty [I] in particular, a Solution of which he had been hunting after for the greatest Part of that Time, without receiving any Help either from his Books, or other Enquiries. A Pursuit so tedious, andvso often baffied, at last quite tired out even his Patience; and one Day, in a Mixture of Passion and Despair, he parted with the Books he had hitherto used to assist him (1735)1 as weak and insufficient Friends. However, this proved only a bidden Gust of Passion; and his fettled Eagerness for conquering the Hebrew Language soon returned again, and grew as strong as ever upon him.
[*] The Wprlu of Mr. Wtmft, formerly one of the Prebends of Durham.
[/] The Differences of .pronouncing the two Vowels so tSke C*eetz and Cjtmetf-catufb,
Z 3 Some.