Графични страници
PDF файл

impertinence, to which equality gave no right; that he was by nature what he called a raff, and detestable on that account, but not for his lower rank.

To these sentiments I deferred with admiration, and still more, when upon my hinting a fear of interruption hereafter to our friendship, from the difference of our situations, he assured me that friendship depended upon similarity of feeling, not of fortune—the thing was impossible.

Oh! how I loved him for this, and more than ever admired his elegant aristocratic look of superiority, and, as it were, of fashion (though of that I then knew nothing), when accompanied and set off by such beautiful sentiments !

Foljambe had, however, a most extraordinary warmth and vigour in all his thoughts and conceptions, whatever they were, and whether in opinions, feelings, or conduct, could never be neutral. His regard for me seemed a passion, especially after the attempt to thwart it in the school, and he more than once said, that if ever he came into possession of Bardolfe Castle, he would make it over to me as one of its rightful heirs. Could I help loving him ? Our school discipline proceeded, and I hope I

may say with profit. The mightiest of schoolmasters or (as he loved to be called), the Archi Didaskalos of Yorkshire, viewed our progress with pleasure, and I must do him the justice to say, he was as willing as able to promote it.

Being so young, our inquisitiveness about every thing, but particularly as to the operations of the mind, made him call us moral philosophers in embryo; and on me in particular, from a warm eulogy I pronounced upon Socrates, in one of our themes, he bestowed the


name of that illustrious person. This, whether from derision or envy, was converted into a nickname, which stuck by me at school, and followed me to college.

With all the drawbacks, however, which I have mentioned, Sedbergh was to me a place of happiness, unequalled by any other which afterwards cherished

The acquisition, or at least the foundation, of those stores for the mind, which education gives, and which produce a proud equality, often a superiority, in him who possesses them to the owners of millions without them; the cultivation of a friendship, that balm of comfort to all, but especially to a decayed gentleman, and which I was sure would last for ever; the hopes, the frolics, and even the carelessness of youth, which never looks gloomily on futurity, and always possesses in idea whatever it chooses to wish for; all these were enjoyments, not the less felt, because perhaps, at the time, not well understood.

But there were others of a more distinct and commoner character and sadly, on that very account, undervalued), which it is still a delight to me to remember. Yet are they what many fine, though generally upstart, people might characterize as rude and vulgar. The pleasure, however, which we take in them is nothing but natural, for they are nature's pleasures. I mean such as arise from our supposed ability to supply our own natural wants.

Hence my satisfaction in digging a few feet of earth, dignified with the name of garden, and pleasing my imagination by its elegance, or its actual profit from culinary produce.

What delight I experienced from adding a bunch of radishes, or a plate of mustard and cress of my own raising, to our coarse, but well-relished supper! It

realized what I had perhaps read in the morning in my Virgil, of the old Corycian :

' Regum æquabat opes animis, seraque revertens

Nocte domum, dapibus mensas onerabat inemptis !"* Were the ambitious pursuits of the world that en. gaged me afterwards more happy ? I fear to answer.

That I may not however describe myself a mere hungry peasant, alive only to bodily sense, let me mix a little sentiment with my enjoyments—for sentimental I had become in no small degree.

My garden pleased me more from the gold and velvet, with which nature (dear and elegant nature) clothed its crocus, its wall-flower, and

Polyanthus of unnumbered dyes, The yellow wall-flower stained with iron brown," than even the luxuries of the evening banquet. How little, I said even then, do such pleasures depend upon; how superior indeed are they to all that wealth (of which however I had none to make the comparison) can command !

With this garden I felt fully equal to my richer friend. My delight was also in the heat of the day to lie, Horace in hand, at the foot of a great elm, that stood before the school-house door, and with him, proud of my classics, to exclaim,

Libet jacere, modo sub antiqua illice,

“ Modo in tenaci gramine.” But on the approach of evening, happinsss was perfect, when I wandered down a romantic dell, lis

* How execrably translated by Dryden, though he was glorious Jolin.”

“For late returning home he slept at ease,

And wisely deemed the wealth of monarchs less,
The little of his own, because his own did please.”

tening to the call, not of earliest, but latest birds, nestling for the night in the green and perfumed hedges. There I always lingered, with I know not what fantasies, except that they were always pleasing, until I was lost in twilight, and the school curfew summoned me to my own nest.

These simple scenes, and the reflections they prompted, all soothing to a mind vividly sensible to the charms of nature, were deliciously enhanced by my now for the first time meeting with the “Minstrel."

O! how I devoured its descriptions, particularly one stanza which I thought ought to be written in goldcertainly, in my then frame of mind, it was golden to


“ Oh how canst thou renounce the boundless store,
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields ;

The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;

All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,

All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of heaven,

O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven !" Perhaps all this may be uninteresting to the bulk of those who may open these memoirs; perhaps I may be laughed at—no matter, let them laugh that win.

The impressions of this sort of poetry, combined with the habits I have described, are almost as green as ever in my recollection, though at the distance of nearly half a century. The ramage of the birds is still in my ears, and still a feast to my memory, for the world has scarcely deadened it, though the sense itself is gone.

But it is only in “the morn and liquid dew of youth” that we can taste the true flavour of this ambrosial food.




O! when my eyes did see Olivia first,
Methought she purg'd the air of pestilence.

SHAKSPEARE.— Twelfth Night.
Fair Excellence, if, as your form declares,
You are divine, be pleased to instruct me,
How you will be worshipt.

Dryden's Tempest.

The pleasures I have described were always shared by Hastings, who seemed to enjoy them at least as much as myself; so that we talked sentiment by the hour, upon the nothingness of ambition, and the inanities of the world. Friendship, we both agreed, was the only real good, and this we really enjoyed.

Judge then my grief, when his father having, as he thought, sufficiently trained him in the simplicities of life, now held it necessary to initiate him in the mysteries of that higher society to which he naturally belonged, and in which he was hereafter to move. Foljambe therefore announced to me, with emotions certainly of regret, though not unmingled with satisfaction, that he was to remove directly to Eton, his father's chariot and four having in fact been sent for him; and he leaped into it, as I thought, with too much alacrity ; though perhaps I thus felt, only because,

« ПредишнаНапред »