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seated in his court at Westminster! When I learned thoroughly, and that the most essenthink of the saids and soforths, and the counts tial—the grammar of my mother-tongue. I of tautology that I scribbled over, of those had experienced the want of grammar
dursheets of seventy-two words, and those lines ing my stay with Mr. Holland, but I should two inches apart, my brain turns. Gracious never have encountered the study of it, had Heaven! if I am doomed to be wretched, it not been that accident placed me under a bury me beneath Iceland snows, and let me man wbose friendship extended beyond his feed on blubber: stretch me under the burn- interest. Writing a fair hand made me copying line, and deny me thy propitious dews; ist to General Debeig, the commandant of the nay,
if it be thy will, suffocate me with the garrison. I transcribed the famous correinfected and pestilential air of a democratic i spondence between him and the Duke of club-room, but save me from the desk of an Richmond, which ended in the good and galattorney! Mr. Holland always went out to lant old Colonel being stripped of the reward dinner, while I was left to be provided for by of his long and meritorious servitude. Being the laundress. It would be wronging the totally ignorant of grammar, I necessarily witch of Endor to compare her with this made many mistakes : the Colonel saw my hag, the only creature who deigned to enter deficiency, and strongly recommended study, into conversation with me. Except the name, and enforced his advice with a sort of injuncI was in prison, and this weird sister was my tion and a promise of reward in case of suckeeper. I never quitted this gloomy recess I procured a Lowth's Grammar, and except on Sundays, when I took a walk to applied myself to the study of it, not without St. James's Park, to feast my eyes with the some profit ; for, though it was a long time trees, the grass, and the water.
before I fully comprehended what I read, I “In one of these walks, I happened to fix read and studied with such attention that my eyes on an advertisement inviting all at last I could write without falling into any loyal young men who had a mind to gain very gross errors. I wrote the whole gramriches and glory, to repair to a certain ren- mar out two or three times; I got it by dezvous where they might enter his Majesty's heart; I repeated it every morning, every marine service. I was not ignorant enough evening; and when on guard, I imposed on to be the dupe of this military bombast, but myself the task of saying it all over once a change was what I wanted; besides, I every time I was posted sentinel. To this knew the marines went to sea, and my desire ! exercise of my memory I ascribe the retenfor that element had increased by my being tiveness of which I have since found it capapenned up in London. To avoid all possible; and to the success with which it was bility of being discovered, I went down to attended, the perseverance that has led to the Chatham and enlisted into the marines, as I acquirement of the little learning of which I thought; but the next morning I found my am master.” self before a captain of a marcbing regiment. Cobbett observes, “There is no situation When I told the captain (an Irisbman) that where merit is so sure to meet with reward, I thought myself engaged in the marines, as in a well-disciplined army; as those who • By St. Patrick, my lad,' said he, “and you command are obliged to reward it for their have had a narrow escape ;' and assured me own ease and credit. I was soon raised to that the regiment in which I had enlisted the rank of corporal, which brought me in a was at that moment serving in that tine, clear twopence additional
per flourishing, and plentiful country, Nova Sco: motion began to dawn, I became impatient to tia. As peace had then taken place, no great reach my regiment, and the happy day of haste was made to send off the recruits. I departure at last came. We set sail from remained upwards of a year at Chatham, Gravesend, and after a short and pleasant during which time I learnt my exercise, and voyage, arrived at Halifax, in Nova Scotia. took my turn in the duty of the garrison. When I bebeld the barren rocks at the enMy leisure time, a considerable portion of the trance of the harbor, I began to fear that the twenty-four hours, was spent, not in the dis- master of the vessel had mistaken his way. sipations common to such a life, but in read- Nova Scotia bad no other charm for me than ing and study. I subscribed to a circulating its novelty. Every thing I saw was newlibrary at Brompton, the greatest part of bogs, rocks, swanips, mosquitoes, and bullwhose books I read more than once over : frogs: thousands of captains and colonels novels, plays, history, and poetry, were all without soldiers, and of squires without stockread, and nearly with equal avidity. ings and shoes. In England, I never thought
" One branch of learning, however, I lot approaching a squire without a most re
diem. As pro
spectful bow, but in this new world, though I thing was also a great sum to me! I was as was but a corporal, I often ordered a squire tall as I am now, I bad great health and to bring me a glass of grog, and even to take great exercise; the whole of the money not care of my knapsack. After a short residence expended for us at market was lwopence a at St. John's, New Brunswick, the regiment week for each man. I remember, and well was ordered home in September, 1791, where I may, that upon one occasion, I, after all abit arrived on the 3d November, and on the solutely necessary expenses, bad on a Friday 19th of the next month I obtained my dis- made shift to have a halfpenny in reserve, charge, after having served not quite eight which I had destined for the purchase of a redyears, and passed through every rank from herring in the morning ; but when I pulled that of private to that of sergeant-major, off my clothes at night, so hungry then as to without being disgraced, confined, or even be hardly able to endure life, I found that I reprimanded! What the nature of my dis- had lost my halfpenny! i buried my head charge was, will appear from the following under the miserable sheet and rug, and cried testimonials:
like a child !" "By the Right Hon. Lord Edward Fitzge- His courtship and marriage he describes rald, commanding the 54th regiment, of which in the following words: “When I first saw Lieutenant-General Frederick is colonel : my wife, she was thirteen years old, and I
“. These are to certify, that the bearer was within a month of twenty-one. She was hereof, William Cobbett, sergeant-major in the daughter of a sergeant-major of artillery, the aforesaid regiment, has served honestly and I was the sergeant-major of a regiment and faithfully for the space of eight years, of foot, both stationed in forts near the city nearly seven of which he has been a non-com- of St. John's, New Brunswick. I sat in the missioned officer, and of that time he has been room with her for about an hour, in company five years sergeant-major to the regiment; but with others, and I made up my mind that having very earnestly applied for bis dis- she was the very girl for me. That I charge, he, in consideration of his good be thought her beautiful is certain, for that I had havior, and the services he has rendered the always said should be an indispensable qualiregiment, is hereby discharged. Given under fication; but I saw in her marks of that my hand, and the seal of the regiment, at sobriety of conduct which has been by far Portsmouth, this 29th day of December, the greatest blessing of my life. It was now 1791.
EDWARD FITZGERALD.' dead of winter, and the snow several feet on " The orders issued in the garrison of Ports- the ground, and the weather piercing cold. mouth, on the day of my discharge, were: It was my habit when I had done my morn
“• Portsmouth, 19th Dec., 1791. ing's writing to go out at break of day to “Sergeant-major Cobbett having most take a walk on a hill at the foot of which pressingly applied for his discharge, at Major our barracks lay. In about three mornings Lord Edward Fitzgerald's request, General after I had first seen her, I had, by an inviFrederick has granted it. General Frederick tation to breakfast with me, got up two has ordered Major Lord Edward Fitzgerald young men to join me in my walk, and our to return the sergeant-major thanks for his road lay by the house of her father and mobehavior and conduct during the time of his ther. It was hardly light, but she was out being in the regiment, and Major Lord Ed. on the snow scrubbing out a washing tub. ward adds his most hearty thanks to those of “That's the girl for me," said I, when we the General.'"
had got out of her hearing. From the day Cobbett generally spoke well of his mili- I first spoke to her, I never had a thought of tary life, but why he should have done so is her being the wife of any other man, and I the more extraordinary, as it appears that in formed my resolution to marry her as soon his time the soldiers were very inadequately as we could gain permission, and to get out fed. He adds, “to buy a pen or a sheet of of the army as soon as I could. At the end paper, I was compelled to forego some portion of about six months, our regiment was orderof food, though in a state of half starvation. ed to Frederickton, a hundred miles up the I had no moment of time that I could call river of St. Jobn, and the artillery was exmy own, and I had to read and to write pected to go off to England a year or two amidst the talking, laughing, singing, whis- before our regiment. The artillery went, and tling, and brawling of at least half-a-score of she along with them; and now it was that the most thoughtless of men. Think not I acted a part becoming a real and sensible lightly of the farthing that I had to give now lover. I had saved 150 guineas, the earnand then for ink, pen, or paper. That far- I ings of my early hours, in writing for the paymaster, the quartermaster, and others, in on the King of Spain, which was resented by. addition to the savings of my own pay. I his ambassador, Don Martinez de Yrugo, sent her all my money before she sailed; who commenced an action against Cobbett in and wrote to her to say, that if she found the Court of Philadelphia. And in the folher home uncomfortable, to hire a lodging lowing year our author was again accused of with respectable people, not to spare the libelling Justice Dallas, Jefferson, and others, money by any means, but to buy herself along with Dr. Rush, on which occasion he good clothes, and to live without hard work was fined 5,000 dollars, which was paid at till I arrived in England. At the end of once by some English gentlemen then resifour years, however, † came home, landed at dent in the United States, and Cobbett himPortsmouth, and got my discharge from the self removed to the State of New York. But army. I found my little girl a servant of all America was too small a community at that work at five pounds a year in the house of a period for the political genius of our author, Capt. Brisac, and, without hardly saying a who, having published his valedictory Ameword about the matter, she put into my rican publication, “ The Rushlight,” embarkhands the whole of my £150, unbroken. Ied for England June 1, 1800. In England, began my young marriage-days in and near | Cobbett began his public course as an apoloPhiladelphia. At one of those times, in gist for the policy of Pitt; but having been the middle of the hot month of July, I inalienably offended by that aristocratic genwas greatly afraid of fatal consequences to tleman, he seems to have commenced rather my wife for want of sleep. My wife said to on an independent footing, and soon fell into me, “I could
go to sleep now, if it were not his old American propensities of publishing for the dogs.' Down stairs I went, and out libels. In 1801, the Porcupine pamphlets I sallied in my shirt and trousers, and with we
were all collected and republished in iwelve out shoes and stockings, keeping 'em by volumes octavo, since which period we are stones two or three hundred yards from the not aware that any demand has been made house. I walked thus the whole night bare for a new edition. Up to the year 1803, footed, lest the noise of my shoes might Cobbett, so far as his opinions harmonized reach her ears; and I remember that the with either of the two political parties of Engbricks on the causeway were disagreeably hot land, was considered to be a Tory; but in to my feet. My exertions produced the de. that year a change came over his opinions, sied effect, it sleep of several hours was the and, as well as writing in opposition to the consequence, and at eight o'clock in the morn- leaders of the Cabinet, hé henceforth made ing I went to a day's business which was to no difference between Pitt and the Tory party. end at six o'clock in the evening. I used to It is impossible at the present time to appreget up, light her fire, boil her tea-kettle, ciate the power of Cobbett's pen as a satirist carry her up warm water in cold weather, and a political executioner of any
character take the child while she dressed herself and against which he fully arrayed himself. got the breakfast ready. My wife at one Whether he got the knowledge of human time was much afraid of thunder and light. nature by study or by intuition, he could unning, and wanted company; I knew well dertake any subject, and cauterize wounds thal my presence would not diminish the dan of every class; he was indeed a horrid masger, but I used to quit my business when I ter at laying open the nerves of the heart to perceived a thunder-storm approaching." vulgar inspection, and of handling them in There can be no doubt of the extraordinary such a manner as to produce the most intense tenderness of Cobbett for his wife, and it is suffering. Nor was it the Lord Plunketts or as much to his credit as it was to hers. the Attorney-Generals only of that period
In 1796, William Cobbett settled in Phila- that winced and roared aloud under the mordelphia, as a bookseller, to which he shortly tification of Cobbeti's pen; the whole body after added the publication of the Political of the Government could not drink its claret Censor, which had but a short existence, but nor enjoy its venison till it had imprisoned was followed by a daily paper, which the Cobbett for an offence that among the insipid author called Porcupine's Gazette ; wbich, and conventional passed for an unpatriotic owing to its terrific powers of satire and its action. They did this for bis manly and vehement and acrimonious personality, won noble sentiments when that Government great popularity from the less considerate flogged some of the local militia in the isle of class of readers. The author soon, however, Ely, under the guardianship of Hanoverian precipitated himself into difficulties, by pub- soldiers then stationed in England. This was lishing, in the pages of the Porcupine, a libel 1 in 1809; and Cobbett says: “The Attorney. VOL. XXXIIL-NO. III,
General Gibbs was set upon me; he haras. | cultural laborers; but owing to the effect sed me for nearly a year, then brought me of his own defence, the jury could not, or to trial, and I was, by Ellenborough, Grose, would not, agree to a verdict, which quashed Le Blanc, and Bailey, sentenced to two years' the trial. In the following year, Cobbett imprisonment in Newgate, to pay a fine to was elected M. P. for Oldham, which he the King of 1,0001., and to be held in heavy continued to represent till the close of his bail for seven years after the imprisonment. life. His appearance in Parliament excited During that captivity, Cobbett had to pay the greatest expectation of his friends, but the monstrous charge of twelve guineas à in this they were disappointed. Like many week for permission to live in a room apart other strong and vehement, but ill-disciplined from the felons for the whole of the two years; minds, Cobbett, when brought into collision that is, more than 1,2501. for the 104 weeks with the first men in the kingdom, as acute of the whole term. It is no wonder that the as himself, 'more skilful in debate, more prowrath of Cobbett against the Government fessionally ready at reply and repartee, able 'was implacable, and that the most moderate to talk as long as he could write, found himminded English men have designated this pe- self at a disadvantage; and the topics in riod of despotic rule as the blackest time that Parliament seldom suiting his vein, he made England had ever known since the Revolu- little or no impression in the House. It is tion of 1688. The fine to the King was paid true that he had many friends there, but the by Cobbett's friends, as was the case with the vast majority were his sworn enemies ; some 5001, which he was fined in 1804 for pub- on account of his views on the currency, lishing some libellous matter on the Irish others owing to his aversion to the GovernGovernment. When Cobbett was liberated ment, many for his strong leaning to the from jail, he was invited to a dinner at the working.men of England, and, perhaps, the Crown and Anchor Tavern, where, surround largest number, from the fact that he had by his friends, Sir F. Burdett, Major Cart- once himself been a thresher and a private wright, and Alderman Wood, with a great soldier, and that all his prosperity arose from number of others, he was congratulated on what they considered to be his ribald pen. his services to the country; and he was
With such a confederated host of opponents drawn bome by men in his carriage to Botley. arrayed against him-a man neither of mild
About this time, Cobbett reduced his Poli- language nor of a forgiving spirit, who had tical Register to twopence a number, which repulsed many of his friends by his extravacaused the circulation of it to increase to gances of opinion, his defects of temper, or about 100,000 numbers a week. This pub his ridicule of the rapidly-expanding mind of lication was vigorously continued till, fearful the age—it was no wonder that Cobbelt of the consequences on the suspension of the failed to exert much influence in Parliament. Habeas Corpus Act by Government, in 1817, When we turn to his written compositions, he was induced to go to America. He how. spread over a period of more than forty ever, when there, continued still his invete- years, and continued, without a week's abaterate and withering fire in the Register ; and, ment for loss of health, for occasional distaste, in 1819, when the suspension ceased, again or through absence from home, we become returned to England, had a triumphant recep better able to form a judgment of William tion in Clayton Square, Liverpool, and, cau- Cobbett than from an occasional speech, and tioned by 6,000 of the borough-reeves and that frequently on the wrong side, in the constables of Manchester against making a House of Commons. His Register, that bas public entrance into that town, he finally now shared the fate of many other periodiarrived at London. Cobbett had, in 1805, cal writings, and that is by far the most voattempted to get elected a member of Parlia- | luminous of all our author's compositions, ment, but was unsuccessful; in 1820, he would furnish the student of modern English made another effort to stand for Coventry, history with a political concatenation of the and in 1826, for Preston, but failed in both leading events, and, in addition, would also instances through the borough influence, supply him with some of the most lucid and which at that period, either by the Whigs or energetic articles that have issued from the the Tories, was irresistible. In 1829, Cobbett press. This magazine may be justly cited as made a lecturing tour through England, one of the most important agents in the eduwhich greatly increased his influence, and cation of the working-men of England; it enlarged indefinitely the sale of his works; nourished their fondness for reading and for and, in 1831, he was indicted for an alleged gardening, as well as for extreme political attempt to excite disaffection among the agri- dogmas, and for a brilliantly terse, but abusive and personal style. Lost, however, I against the manufacturers of Old England. though the Register as a whole may be to We hive greater pleasure in remembering the modern library, its occasional reading our author as one of the most energetic and will amply repay the trouble of perusal, and powerful writers of that political school will furnish, where the author's opinions have which for the last thirty years of his life ranot misled him, a better account of the his.ther tended to the right way than actually tory of the time than the newspapers of the entered within it. He was the recognized same period. His grammars, English, French, satirist of the Ellenboroughs and the Liverand Italian, though one of them bears the pools of his age, with all their unctuous and name of his son, have long been well known, energetic followers, whose state papers were rather than popular. His “Emigrant's Guide,” analyzed, and made lucid and ridiculous for his “Cottage Economy," his “Poor Man's the country bumpkins. He tortured their Friend,” his “Village Sermons,” and his grand speeches on his grammatical machines, “Rural Rides," have all been the fireside and tried their bombastic state maxims by companions of most of the cottagers in Eng- his course but strong logic. If the Prince land; they are remarkably alike in style, Regent spoke, he took his oratory to pieces, shrewd, sarcastic, nervous, tautologous, but and showed its weakness and its shams; lucid to a fault, and always energetic and poked him severely about the disgraceful thoroughly English. His“ Parliamentary state of his domestic history, and often threw History” is a work of a higher order, but into his merriment the mortifying aroma of having in it less originality, though equally the fine of £1,000 which he had paid for terse in style. The“ History of the Refor writing in behalf of the English militia that mation,” like several of the author's “ Lega- were brutally flogged in the isle of Ely. cies,” was the production of 'his prejudices, Judges often found their solemn sentences to and his strongly splenetic passion against the the grand juries turned in Cobbett's various clergy, who early indicated their passionate works into footballs, to be kicked about the aversion to the writings of Cobbeti. His ob- fields of England; and bishops and clergy: ject in the “ Reformation" was purely para- men, towards whom, as a class, Cobbett had doxical, viz., to prove that Popery was more the utmost aversion, were frequently set in uniformly the friend of the poor than Protest mortifying contrast with the doctrines of the antism, and that the wars of the Roses and New Testament, or even with the Liturgy of the Reformation had greatly reduced the the Common Prayer. Our author professed population of England, which Cobbett seri- to detest the whole body of political pensionously maintained was as great in 1650 as in ers, and there can be no doubt that it was 1825! There is probably the most intellect chiefly attributable to his pen that the Minual power that this writer ever displayed in istry were shamed into a more sparing use some of the pamphlets under the name of of this power of the Government; family “Peter Porcupine;" but as they were written cliques were hunted out of the blue-books, before the author's change of political opin their pretentious services were exposed, and ions, they will be found to be more racy and their superfluous wealth was often traced up saucily loyal than any of his later works ; to its ill-gotten sources. In short, there nor must it be forgotten that his letters to were no varieties of Englishmen that did not Lord Hawkesbury, on the Peace of Amiens, at some time figure in the Twopenny Trash, were generally admired by all parties, and or in the Political Register ; and the aptiwere even suid by the Swiss Müller to have tude of Cobbett in giving such nicknames to been the most eloquent things that had ever the men be bated, as Butt Smith and Sir appeared since the days of Demosthenes ! Joseph Surface to Sir Robert Peel, gave a But though those letters were written in be- dreaded pungency to these inflictions, which half of England, the mob broke his windows no doubt repressed the malicious tendencies because he would not illuminate them to cele- of many of the politicians. But there is great brate that same peace of Amiens.
reason to doubt whether Cobbett, though We shall not stay to describe the nonsense considered a reformer, loved such reform as that Cobbett wrote about his corn, the vari- other men saw practicable; for he seemed ous productions of his garden and of his always to work apart from the rest of the farm, his incomparable wife, and his won. Progressionists, and dreamed rather of raisderfully precocious children; his ridiculous ing a race of independent cottagers than of predictions about his gridiron, and the sys. moulding the nation of England into a free tem of paper money; and the countless quires and an independent people. Cobbett was the of abuse and rhodomontade that he published | advocate of cheap government, of low taxa