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with all the brightness and beauty of colour exhibited by the rainbow. He looked through the vista of futurity, and it was as pleasant to his mental eye as the lovely landscapes which graced the place of his nativity, were to his physical vision. He dreamed not of the possibility of his path of life containing so much as one solitary thorn; he pictured it to himself as a path which, from the beginning to the end, he would find strewed with flowers, soft to the feet, delightful to the eye, and fragrant to the smell.
And yet he had no independency on which to rely; he had not even a moderate competency to which he might look forward, as sure to afford him a refuge from want. He had been educated, and hitherto supported, on an annuity of 1201., which his mother received from Government, in virtue of her deceased husband having been an officer in the army. Being an only son, he was the idol of his mother's heart; every comfort which her means could procure was enjoyed by him; and in the north of Scotland, where provisions of all kinds, fuel, house-rent, &c., are exceedingly cheap, a little sum, with judicious management, can be made to go a great length. If even in England, where living is more expensive, Goldsmith's poor curate was passing rich with his forty pounds a year, it may easily be believed that, with three times that sum, Joseph Jenkins and his mother were able to make a highly respectable appearance in a remote part of Scotland. With the latter, however, the pension died; and, as she had lived up to her income, there was no expectancy for
The possibility of the death of the maternal parent, though he had been furnished with what ought to have proved a striking illustration of the uncertainty of life by the death, in his eighteenth year, of his father, seems never to have occurred to Joseph. It is passing strange, apart from the religious aspects of the question, that, at the very moment we are surrounded with the emblems of death, and when the graves of departed friends can scarcely be said to be closed on our view, we are not only insensible to those solemn considerations which are associated with the uncertainty of life, but even entirely overlook the fact that our death, and the deaths of surviving friends, must, sooner or later, succeed the dissolution of the friends that have gone before us. The author of “Night Thoughts” represents unreflecting man as considering himself immortal, while aware that all others are mortal. The observation admits of a more extended application. We often fondly fancy that the friends we most ardently love are immortal, as well as ourselves; or, which is practically the same thing, we forget that they, like the rest of mankind, must one day sicken and die, and vanish from our society and our sight.
But though the loss of Joseph's father, and the daily dissolution of others around him, never opened his eyes to the possibility of his mother's being some day suddenly snatched from him, and to the certainty of the event which happeneth to all, happening one day to her; his forgetfulness of that event did not defer it for even one little hour. She died within ten days of the twenty-fourth anniversary of his birth.
Thus thrown on his own resources, the question now forced itself, for the first time, on his serious attention- What was to be done to procure a livelihood ? He had, as has already been remarked, a taste for literary pursuits; he was a young man of accurate and varied information, and he possessed considerable facility in the art of composition; some of his manuscript productions had been highly commended by competent judges: and the upshot was, that his friends advised him to quit his native country, and try his fortune, as a literary man, in the great metropolis.
The advice was in accordance with his own private predilections; for he was proud of being considered a literary man, and very ambitious of acquiring the reputation of a successful author. He therefore resolved on repairing to London, and trusting for a subsistence to the produce of
He reached the metropolis in 1821, with twenty-five pounds in his pocket, which was all that remained of the proceeds of his mother's furniture, after discharging a variety of trifling debts which she owed, and providing himself with the needful supply of apparel.
Coming from a quiet, unpretending village, six hundred miles north of the metropolis, it may easily be imagined how much he was impressed with what he witnessed in London, as well as with the place itself. He was charmed with the novelty, and dazzled with the splendour, of what everywhere met his eye, as he passed along the great thoroughfares. Regent Street, however, possessed peculiar attractions to him. And here we may pause for a moment, though it will slightly interrupt the flow of the narrative, to make the observation, that not only no part of London, but nothing in Lon