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little piquant things, such as epigrams, which are properly called by Edward Phillips & the fag.end of poetry," and which almost always sacrifice truth to a point. Martial was my aversion, even at school. I do not love to turn serious things into a jest; it hardens the heart. Indeed I was always either reprobated, railed at, or ridiculed for my gravity.
. I had always a turn for genealogy; but I think it was not till the spring of 1783 that I paid much attention to the technicalities of heraldry. I persuade myself that I remember the very day. It was a fitful April morning when we took a long walk to visit Lord Cowper's decayed mansion, called the Moat, on the Sandwich road, about a mile and a half from Canterbury, standing in an old walled park. It was an half-timbered house, many centuries old, and had been the residence of Lord-Keeper Finch. Over the spandrils of the chimney. piece of the largest room were various arms and quarterings, I think all of the Finch family, which struck my attention: I noted their forms; and as I supposed the quarterings to be those of old Kentish families, I set myself to work, as soon as I came home, to search them out by such books as I then had. It was a day when the changing appearances of the sky, with showers of rain, had made an impression on my fancy, and set my imagination to work; and it took the turn of arraying forth feudal manners and the images of chivalrous times. The fit continued some time upon me, and I made great progress in this study. The jester is welcome to his laugh; nor do I suppose that his laugh will be at all turned aside by being reminded that Gray and young Chatterton were adepts in heraldic knowledge: it is a key to intelligence among ancient buildings, castellated and ecclesiastic, for there it is a language.
• I do not think that I was happy at this period; my mind was full of projects and wild ambitions, and I attempted too many things which I had not strength to execute; and which always ended, therefore, in the destruction of my self complacence. A month after the publication of my poems, which was in March, 1785, I met with a dreadful accident in my chambers in the Temple, by cutting the tendons of the fingers of one of my hands, which, in pulling down a window, had burst through a panę of glass. The most dreadful pains ensued; my arm was inflamed to the shoulder ; I was a fortnigbt without sleep, and then the whole systein of my frame began to be affected, even to the opposite extremities. I was removed to my sister's house in Wimpole Street, or Harley Street; then my opposite ancle became paralytic, and I could not walk: the surgeon was puzzled; old Dr. Heberden was called in: I grew worse and worse, with many strange symptoms. As I lay half-lifeless on a sofa one morning in May, with a frame convulsed in every part, and spirits which required to be cheered, Mr. Maxwell, my brother in law (a man of great talent and elegant literature), brought me in a bundle of Reviews, and showed me, with benevolent triumph, Maty's Review of my Sonnets. Faint as I was, it gave me a glow such as nothing else of my literary concerns has ever since given me. I languished till July, and then was removed for sea-air to Dover,
where, in the early part of autumn, I at length recovered. I was then in my twenty-third year.
• My faculties never recovered till I wrote Mary de Clifford, in the autumn of 1791, an interval of six years. During that dark period I was a mere genealogist and heraldic antiquary; my am. bition for the higher pursuits of literature was totally oppressed, and almost extinguished; I lost that self-estimation, without which nothing good can be done; my shyness did not diminish ;- but the energies that belonged to me gathered inward in masses, and turned to morbid gloom. I lived two years and a half in Hampshire; the third I came to London, where I bought a house in a new street. I spent the autumn of 1789 in an excursion into Leicestershire and Derbyshire, with my friend and fellow-collegian, Shaw, the historian of Staffordshire ; and returning the end of September, I visited the Chandos vault, and took notes of the coffin-plates at Cannons. When I arrived at my house in London, intelligence came the next morning to me, that the Duke of Chandos died at Tunbridge Wells, the day and nearly the hour I had spent in the vault at Cannons ! I little thought then what vexations, and cost, and injuries, that event was to bring upon us.' Vol. I. pp. 53–59.
• I never in my life had much ambition of a large acquaintance, and never the manners to procure it. The effects of my original shyness, which has always been a real misfortune to me, still adhere to me; and when I think I am neglected, I am reproached with a coldness and reserve of manner, which is construed to be the most repulsive pride and contempt; and then, when I begin to be at ease, I have a frankness which is as indiscreet as my shyness is forbidding.
* In truth, I have an irritation about me, which age, if it a little abates, by no means calms as it ought to do. I am apt to be too passive at first, and when roused, too violent; I cannot contradict at all, or I do it too decidedly. It never was in my nature to do any thing with moderation : I never, therefore, come out of company selfsatisfied; and for this reason frequently make a resolution to avoid it, and often do decline it.' Vol. I. pp. 98, 9.
• I have had griets which cannot have had any concern with faults of my own. If ever I hint complaint, my good-natured friends are ready to rensind me, that “ I only reap the fruit of the seeds of my own sowing." I may have sown seeds of which the seed has been bitter ; but the fruits I allude to were certainly never of my own sowing. I admit that I never had a grain of worldly, serpentine wisdom or prudence; but I have been pursued by merciless malignities, to which my franknesses, my indiscretions, my faults (if the world wilí have it so), could never give a plausible pretext......... I have had singular foes to contend with in a variety of directions. Many of them have been busy, secret, and unappeasable. Even persons have incessantly persecuted me, to whom I know not that I have given the smallest cause of offence......... Envy and jealousy are ferocious and busy in proportion as their sphere of action is narrow, They are no where therefore so inischievous as where they are provincial. The first limits from which a literary man, above all others, should escape, are provincial limits. Somerville is almost the only countrygentleman, of poets, who occurs to me: and he drank himself io death at a middle age from uneasiness. The mind is made for great things, and will not, except where it is weak or dull, bear the torpor and stagnation of rural ease; and still less the mean and petty pas-sions which are substituted to put it in motion. Without much corporeal exercise it is absolutely insufferable; and yet, much corporeal exercise is apt to oppress and palsy the intellect.
• In my latter days, I have a great desire of locomotion; and if the expense did not deter me, would spend my time in constantly moving (with proper equipages and accommodations) from country to country. Change of air gives elasticity to the worn frame; and change of images gives impulse to the exhausted mind. My hope in society is gone: my ambition is past; the openings of life are closed to me; all advantages, if any could come, would come too late ; neglect or persecution have clouded, or consumed, my days; my hair, rendered grey at thirty by early anxiety, is now as white as snow; and the furrows of my face betray the age of seventy, instead of the verge of sixty-two. I have endeavoured to keep my faculties and my heart always cheerful ; and never have. I, in my utmost sorrows, relaxed from literary occupation ;-but I have necessarily bad my attention distracted, and my powers enfeebled ; and could not undertake those high intellectual tasks to which my ambition and my taste led me. I admit that I have done a good deal of idle work, and a good deal of technical work. To me, on looking back, it is wonderful that, under the circumstances, I did any thing.'
7-9. • There is an uniform complaint of my gravity and my melancholy; and therefore I suppose it must be well founded. Not only my looks are said to be chill, but all my tales, and all their characters, are censured as mournful, and delighting, as it were, in affliction and misfortune. I paint the images which involuntarily haunt my mind, which dwell within me, and around me: I pride myself in avoiding every thing factitious. I know not what should early in life have given me this gloom; for my days of childhood were not days of sorrow or darkness : I did not begin to experience adversity till after the publication of my first poems. I believe, however, that persons of a certain imagination and a certain sensibility are always melancholy.
• I consider that the world has not been kind to me ; and I do not bear it with the surly, stern pride of Lord Byron. During my six years' absence on the Continent, I have reason to believe that I have been sometimes treated with unprovoked disrespect by the hireling part of the press. I do not deserve it of them. They who live by literature owe me something. To me they owe the extension of their property in their labours to the end of their lives, if they survive the term of twenty-eight years; and this is surely in many cases a boon. I myself have already survived that term eleven years in my first publication; and in Mary de Clifford I have survived it four years. The late Mrs. Elizabeth Carter survived her earliest publication sixty-seven years; so that in her case it would have extended her right the addition of thirty-nine years. I worked hard, and should (as most of the intelligent members of that parliament will allow) have carried my point for the amendment of the Copyright Act, in defiance of all the weight of the universities, had I not been cut short by the dissolution of the parliament in June, 1818. The professional part of the press, therefore, ought to spare me unmerited slights. But they may go on, if it answer their purpose in filling a piquant article, when they have a task to perform before they can receive their daily pay; or when they can gratify the enmity towards me of some one who can be of use to them, and whose smiles they are courting. Age has made me calm, and somewhat more resolute, and regardless of ungenerous or ignorant censure.
First or last, what is true and just will find its due place; and if it be not so, no praise or flattery will long keep it afloat. Let it be that I overestimate myself,- I injure no one but myself.
• If all those energies which still continue to burn on the verge of sixty-two are ill directed and useless,-if they are a vapoury flame which produces neither warmth nor light, but glimmers, and flashes, and struggles, like wet fuel on a cold hearth, surrounded by damps and blights,-the cost of toil and strength is all to me,-the annoy. ance nothing to others.
• When I look back beyond the six years I have passed out of England, it seems a long and countless age, and the distance so great, that I can scarcely see distinctly the point whence I set out. I can dever seriously and assuredly persuade myself that I shall see my native country again : perhaps my bones may rest there,—not as Lord Byron's have done, covered with glory, and intensely wept over by an awe-struck and idolizing people, but silently and without notice landed beneath the frown of that beetling and immortal cliff pictured by Shakspeare, and borne in humble obscurity a few short miles to the rustic church of the wooded hill which is separated but a few paces from the neglected chamber where the light of this world first beamed upon me. I do not remember that I have visited that cham. ber for forty years ; and it is almost as long since I slept iu the house. If I reach England once more, probably I shall never have spirits to look upon those scenes again. Vol. II. pp. 68–71.
• My temper and frame are too anxious and too irritable for such services : for nothing is more assuredly true, to persons of observation, and sagacious sense, and knowledge of the world, than that the primary essential of skill and success in business is sang-froid, reserve, and seeming command of temper. Nothing must be combated warmly; every thing that is meant to be resisted, must be seemingly conceded; and then the cunning conceder must wind round again imperceptibly to his point, and appearing to yield every thing, must not really yield even a particle. This is a mode of self-management which is as impossible to me, as it would be to command the winds. My countenance would betray me, if my words did not; I must say and even look what I think; I cannot suppress my instantaneous and
violent risings of heart, at every veiled artifice which I perceive, every subterfuge, every attempted concealment of opinion and purpose, and every insidious perversion of fact announced with pretensions to candour and frankness. Common business is but the conflict of, or with, shufflers and gamblers who play with loaded dice.
• Neither nature nor habits bave fitted me for these things. I am only fit for the calm of domestic society; for solitude, musing, reading, writing, and a short and quiet stroll in the open air. If these are proofs of want of talent, or of inutility to life, I must submit. In the course of my life, I have been drawn at times a good deal into the vortex of business ; but I have been as constantly its victim, as I have been engaged in it: the most stupid fellow always beat me ;and he beat me perhaps more easily in proportion to his stupidity : the sharp edge of my temper was always blunted, or turned back upon me, by his callousness.
I wish it had been my fate never to have mingled with the world; to have lived retired even in the most humble competence, where my passions could have been saved from irritation; where my pride could have been kept in calmness; and those daily and insulting mortifications, which I exert my most strenuous endeavours to raise myself above, but which either madden me, or sink me into despondence, could never have reached me. I now feel the irreversible conviction that I was not made for the bustle of society; and that every year I passed in it was but new entanglement of chains galling at the moment, and leaving incurable wounds. The utmost we can hope is peace; and where is peace to be found but in seclusion from the
passions and intrigues of mankind ; in lonely contemplation; and in air and exercise, to soothe the body and produce those deep slumbers which are so much better than life? One day of complacent and noble imagination is worth a year of the best pleasures of reality!
• Nothing in reality ever satisfies me,-or at least nothing which I find in society. All mankind seem mainly employed in mortifying, or deceiving, or robbing each other; and though they praise fantastic and charlatanic genius, pure and unsophisticated genius is the very prime object of their persecution. If I could do nothing but read a few of the very first poets, Latin, Italian, or English, and write uninterruptedly all the rest of the day, without encountering the prattle, the degrading gossip, the coldness, the frowns of the busy people who go about like evil spirits to destroy human happiness, I think I yet could recover my peace and self-complacence; and pass perhaps a few hoary years in integrity of mind. But almost all my unbroken and unmercenary exertions have been turned to poison ; and almost all my ardent love of literature has brought but slights, cavils, and perversions.' Vol. II. pp. 125—129.
• And now I must look round, and prepare for my own exit :-one more letter, and I have done. I shall have filled my allotted
space, and can claim no more. When I approach a close, I always ihink that I might have done much better than I have done; and I suppose that most sensitive minds think the same. I have omitted a great deal, and have not been so bold and open as I intended to be. I