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other children, who had precisely as sufficient grounds for anticipations of prosperity and honour. The first thing that I can remember in my
childhood is, that I early acquired a taste for poetry; and I have still in mind some of my juvenile effusions, which my mother often rewarded with sugar-plums, but my father with birch. My chief delight was in the “Poet's corner” of a newspaper; but I considered a Review by no means contemptible reading. At length, in order to check this propensity to poetry, which my father considered at best a very useless accomplishment, he determined on sending me to school. Long and eloquently did my
mother plead for at least a respite for her dear Bartle (for so was I called for shortness); powerfully did she urge that proper care was not taken of the little darlings; and movingly did she expatiate on the change they must undergo when separated from mamma : to all which my father briefly answered, “ that he hoped I was no chicken," and ended this part of the dispute by quoting
“Home-keeping youths have ever homely wit:" upon which, my mother, having an infinite respect for the authority of Shakspeare, immediately withdrew her opposition.
The next point, and that of no inconsiderable importance, was, to what school I should be sent : my mother proposed the Charter-house; but whether that I might be in the vicinity of my namesake, , the Fair, I will not take upon myself to determine. But my
father being resolved that, in his family at least, the Salique law should remain in force, asserted his prerogative, and resolved upon sending me to Eton. Now it so happened, that my mother had a perfect horror of Eton, for the following reasons. In the first place, she had a particular dread of my sleeping in damp sheets, which she thought must be the case in so low a situation. To this, objection the first, my father only answered by an emphatic “Pshaw!" The second objection was against the fagging system ; in discussing which, my mother enlarged upon the tyranny of the upper boys, whom the microscopic mind of Mr. Mortimer, the curate of the parish, had magnified into Neros and Domitians. My father was about to answer this objection, by saying, that it was common to all public schools, when he was interrupted by an exclamation of “Oh, and the water too !" coming from my mother, who was so carried away at the thoughts of this most terrible of terrors, that she
could no longer arrange her arguments in systematic order, but, as is usual in cases of hydrophobia, gave vent to what was passing in her mind by convulsive starts and sudden ejaculations : “Oh, and the water too !” cried she. “And the boats and the bathing! To bathe—to swim-perchance to drown ! Oh, Bartle ! Bartle!” | After the first paroxysm was over, she appeared to be sinking into a state of torpid quiescence, upon which, my father, fearing lest she should faint, imprudently discharged a glass of water in her face: a relapse instantly took place ; the former exclamations were renewed with increased violence for the space of ten minutes, after which time they gradually sunk into an angry expostulation with my father, on the cruelty of exposing his child to the gulphs and whirlpools of the Thames. At length, my father seeing affairs in this state, ended the discussion by leaving the room, and in about two hours, a post-chaise drove up to the door. . My mother had by this time learnt resignation, and dismissed me with an injunction, which, in the excess of her affection, differed little from the Irish caution, that a man should never go into the water till he can swim." In short, I came to Eton, where I have now continued five years ; and, in answer to the objections of my mother, I can say, with gratitude, that Mater Etona has been no step-mother to me; that I never yet encountered a miniature. Nero, or Caligula ; and that I hope shortly to be able to show, that I can “keep my head above water” in more senses than one.
But in my present undertaking, there is one gulph in which I fear to sink; and that gulph is Lethe. There is one stream which I dread my inability to stem—it is the tide of Popular Opinion. I have ventured, and, no doubt, rashly ventured,
“Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
At present, it is hope alone that buoys me up; for more substantial support I must be indebted to my own exertions; well knowing that, in this land of literature, merit never wants its reward : that such merit is mine, I dare not presume to think ; but still, there is something within me that bids me hope that I may be able to glide prosperously down the stream of public estimation ; or, in the words of Virgil,
Celerare viam rumore secundo."
With hopes like these, however they may be
founded, I, being minded to secure for myself eternal fame, do hereby declare to the world my determination to take up the trade of authorship. If Grub-street is redolent of the Muse's odours--- if poets crowd the sacred haunts of St. Giles's--if the soil of Birmingham is fertile in the flowers of eloquence--if Manchester spins cotton and poems, or, according to the ancient fashion,
“ tenui deducta poemata filo". why may not I, being at least nurtured in a more happy climate, and under more favourable circumstances, follow the example of my forefathers and predecessors, of Griffin, and Grildrig, and Courtenay --tread in the path which they have trodden-take upon myself the part which they have acted—though I cannot boast of the same excellencies, or hope for the same commendations ? Surely when the trio of the Lakes inundates Great Britain with the creatures of their imaginations-of all sorts, and of all sizes --prose and versem(much more prose indeed than poetry)---most formidable in appearance, and by no means less so to the luckless wight who attempts 4 closer examination--surely, I say,
may venture forth, in a moderate size and a humble dress, pledging myself, if I meet with a discouraging