witnessed against me in a manner more natural perhaps than just.

This lady, an old maid, of good family, but very

small fortune, was fond of going to Brighton and other fashionable places in the season ; and she found it convenient always to lodge up two pair of stairs. She had various excuses for this. Sometimes it was that she wished to be near her sister, my mother, but could not find any other lodging in the neighbourhood; sometimes (indeed for the most part) because she so loved the high air, and a wider sea prospect. I was about nine years old when I heard her once talking in this way, and in my discretion I exclaimed, Aunt, how can you say so, when you

told papa

that you were ashamed of two pair of stairs, and only did not go lower because you could not afford it?"

This got me the appellation of “ foolish monkey,” and a box on the ear, which was anything but in jest, though she tried to make it appear so. I got the character of a sharp little fellow

company; but upon her death, a year afterwards, we found my name struck out of her will, and the little she had to leave was bequeathed to my brother, a child in petticoats.

I was too young to understand, much less to care for, this revenge; but it increased, if it did

among the

not originate, the disposition I had to investigate real motives, when only ostensible ones appeared.

At school I found out boys' characters before they were aware of it. They had their revenge, for I had no thought of concealing mine. I know not whether this was because I was honest; but I was too indolent to be anything else.

My father was rich, and a Seigneur du Village. I was his heir, and the tenants and servants, nay many of the little country gentlemen in the neighbourhood, courted me. But I soon knew who noticed me from concealed motives, who from real good will.

I was early an admirer of the sex, and notwithstanding my hint of common sense (I did not positively assert it), was often duped by them. Indeed to escape this dupery was the most difficult thing I ever had to contend with.

My father had a horror of a public school, and indeed of any early acquaintance with the world; that is, he would say, with vice and hypocrisy, particularly in London. I was placed therefore under the tuition of a clergyman in the country. But will any man believe that my penetration was ever worth a farthing, when, at sixteen, I was very nearly taken in by a down-cast look, a sigh, and a sort of tremor whenever our hands touched,

in a cunning hussy, my tutor's niece, ten years older than myself?

We were to be sure, only friends; but she was fond of reading the character of Helen to me, in “ All's well that Ends well," and would call me Bertram, especially when I once took leave of her to go

home for a vacation. She read on that occasion, with a peculiar emphasis which did not pass unnoticed, the pretty passage,

“ In his bright radiance, and collateral light

Must I be comforted, -not in his sphere." Our parting therefore was tender; she cried much, and her eyes were very red. But I heard her laugh as I rode off; which set me thinking; and afterwards I was told by a maid, with whom she had quarrelled, that her tears and red eyes were occasioned by a quantity of lavender water which she had put into them on purpose. I never told her this, for


father afterwards removed me, and I never returned. My father had discovered the whole secret, such as it was ; but never told me he knew it, nor assigned it as a reason to my tutor for leaving him; on the contrary, he said it was in order to send me to Glasgow for a year, previous to my going to Oxford : which, as I never was sent to Glasgow, I thought very odd.


· Let me, however, do my father justice. He was not an insincere man, but good-naturėd almost to a weakness, and did not like to hurt my tutor. To be sure my tutor wondered at my being' kept at home, instead of going to Glasgow; but luckily no explanations took place between them.

I have' mentioned that my father, like many others, had notions of his own as to the' education of his children; and his fear of the corruptions of the world made him so timorous, that he would scarcely let me read the best of all books, those that treat of human life and manners. All plays but tragedies, all satirists, and the livelier periodical essays, such as the World and Connoisseur, were banished, and Addison allowed alone, on account of the preponderance of his serious matter. From newspapers, except the County Chronicle and other matter-of-fact publications, I was strictly kept; and as to any acquired notions of the existing world, I was almost a sheet of white paper.

This, however, could not continue. My rank and expectations obliged my father to do that which he would willingly have avoided. I was sent to college ; and an entire new world opened to me.

At first I was quizzed as the rarest freshman ever seen.

I was imposed upon, humbugged, and laughed at. But only at first. My

shrewdness showed itself, and was respected. In fact, my curiosity about characters made people a little afraid ; and in truth I had enough to do. The pride and jealousy of tutors; the blown-up self-consequence of heads of houses ; the complacency of clerical dandies; the insolence of fellow commoners (especially of the nouveaux riches); these formed an admirable contrast to, the subserviency of tuft hunters and other subordinates, who had their way to make, either in college, or the world.

The strivings of these last to obtain a common bow or nod of recognition from the first, were highly amusing. But it often cost them dear; for the bow and nod were sometimes forgotten, and one man, the particular intimate of a nobleman in college, fretted himself into a decline, because his noble friend did not notice him in London. i Yet motives were never avowed, at least not real ones; and I observed that wherever there were two that prompted any particular conduct, the weakest was always the one put forward. . * A reverend prebendary, in a cathedral town, once amused me much. He complained that the stalls in the chapel were cold ; and being a great invalid, of a high family, he used all his interest on a vacancy, to become dean,-merely for his

« ForrigeFortsett »