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during her month of supreme authority, it was fortunately discovered that the coachman's wife was provided with baby linen on her own account, of superior dimensions, and it was taken possession of accordingly.
Whether this opportune provision was the result of her having constantly before her eyes the gigantic backs of our fat coach-horses and their capacious cloths, I cannot pretend to say; but I have no doubt that this borrowing of swaddling clothes from the equine department of the household had the effect of imbuing me with a decided predilection for the stables. Indeed, from this circumstance, the coachman's wife was pleased to regard me as a part of the stable establishment, and almost as a child of her own, the loan of her baby's clothes having invested her with the character of a sort of foster-mother ; so that my communication with her and her husband and the horses were of a more frequent and familiar nature than would otherwise have been permitted. How this familiarity with the stable-yard affected my fortunes will be seen in the sequel.
There was another accident that attended my first introduction to the world, which must not be omitted. My father who, with many excellent qualities, was rather careless and forgetful in money matters, had forgotten to provide himself with some of the current coin of the realm to represent the doctor's fee, which, on such occasions, from praiseworthy and immemorial custom, is always considered a ready-money transaction. He was obliged, therefore, to borrow the needful from the apothecary; that is to say, he would have borrowed it, but the apothecary had nothing about him but phials and potions; so that the doctor for that time was obliged to go without his fee, which the nurse declared was “ unlucky."
“ tick" the second. To the superstitious this beginning of life on borrowed capital might have been considered omingus of my future destiny.
But it is proper for the better understanding of this history, that I should say a few words more of the character of my father; for moral, like physical diseases, cannot be correctly understood, without taking into account “ hereditary dispositions.” It is a delicate point, I am aware, for a son to treat of; but important as it is to cherish the feelings of filial respect and duty, truth is more important still.
My excellent parent was a most honourable man, and possessed of many good qualities, but I must own that he had one failing; he was disregardful of money. It was in vain that primitive copy-books had told him to “take care of the pence, and the pounds would take care of themselves ;" he had a sovereign contempt for taking care of the pence and the pounds too. And he gave away his money as freely as he spent it. In opposition to that most useful maxim, which teaches that “ money makes money,” he constantly acted on the principle that it was a sort of duty on the part of those who had money, to distribute, and not to hoard it; adopting, I presume, on this point, the aphorism of the learned Bacon, that " money is like muck, of no use unless it be spread."
Well, it must be confessed that my worthy father spread it about in all directions; lending to the embarrassed, giving to the indigent, and bestowing it on all sorts of charities, without strictly reckoning the proportions of his donations in relation to his capital and income. Now, as I have said, this, in my opinion, was a failing, and was calculated to imbue his children with” false ideas of the economy of money ; and I, for one, came to inherit, as it were, the loose notions of its value and its uses which I observed to be domestically prevalent from my childhood. I was
brought up in the habit of considering money as a something to be spent, without having its duty impressed on me by precept and example, that it was a something also to be earned; and especially that it must be earned before it can be spent. I have had occasion in my experience through life, to observe, that there is an unhappy class, unfortunately too numerous in these days, who insist on the convenience of the practice of spending the money first and procuring it afterwards. However, I shall have to speak more of these matters by-and-by. I must first relate my youthful adventures.
There was one anecdote, however, which I must not omit to mention, as it is a curious circumstance, and tends to illustrate the fatality to which I have already alluded as being attached to my existence ; my very name was borrowed from the heathen vocabulary. The reason of this may
be best explained by the following dialogue which took place between my father and mother shortly after I had gladdened the paternal mansion by my arrival.
CHAP. III. “My dear," began my mother to my father, as he sat by her bed-side talking over such family affairs as he judged it suitable to discourse on to an invalid, " it's very odd ; but I can't for my life decide on a name for baby. It worries me night and day!”
“I thought you had decided long ago," said my father. “So I had ; but then I had the idea it would be a girl, and it's a boy, so that the hunting for a name is to begin all over again!"
- Suppose you call him by my name,” suggested my father ; “it's usual, isn't it?"
“Good heavens! my dear, how can you think of such a thing! What! call the poor little dear • Jenkin ;' it would be a cruelty to the poor child to let him be Jenkined all the days of his life. Think of what you have suffered yourself !"
“ That's very true," replied my father, feelingly.
“ Haven't l'always been obliged to call you by your surname,” continued my mother," although it seems unnatural sometimes to do it; but how could I call you'Jenkin ?”
My father was silent ; although a man may be afflicted with a cacophonous name, he doesn't like to have the charge of it brought too pointedly against him.
“ I always think,” resumed my mother, " that it's more affectionate in a family to call one's husband by his Christian name; although some think it is not so stylish ?”
“ Well,” said my father, with a slight shade of testiness in his tone; “there are plenty of names to pick and choose from. Call him any thing you like-only have done with it.”
“ Well, then, do you propose a name; poor little fellow, he seems quite wretched without one! No one knows what to call him."
“ Suppose we say William," said my father.
you say to John ?"
6. What do
“ It's as bad as the others ; it always comes to Jack, and that sounds to my ears so horrid vulgar. Besides, somehow one's footman is always called John; and then that's always awkward and makes confusion. To be sure, we can make one's servant change his name to any one that doesn't interfere with one's own; but really,” continued my mother, getting excited and a little angry at the difficulty, “there ought to be a law to prevent the common people from using the same names as ourselves! Why don't you go into parliament, my dear, and propose something of the sort?"
“ A seat in parliament is an expensive thing to purchase, my dear,” replied my father, “ there's our neighbour, Trentham, his borough cost him five thousand pounds besides the beer; to say nothing of the bore of making speeches at the election, and calling the rascals that you buy with your money, Worthy and independent electors,' and so forth. But this has nothing to do with finding a name for our boy. The after all, will be to call him Jenkin.” “ I would rather die!" said my mother, “What, do you
think that poor innocent boy would be able to do with such a name as Jenkin tacked to him all the days of his life? No! Tom, Jack, Dick, Bill -any name but that! I should never be able to look him in the face after such an infliction !"
“What the devil!” my father began ; but, checking himself immediately, in consideration of my mother's delicate condition; “For Heaven's sake, my dear," he resumed, “ choose for yourself. Here," he continued, taking a prayer-book from a shelf, and blowing the dust off it ; " here's the list of them all ; I will read them through from top to bottom, and you can stop me when you come to one that
like.” “I don't like any of them,” replied my another, pettishly ; " they are all so common; I should like our boy to have some name to distinguish him from ordinary people ; something uncommon."
There was a print of Leander crossing the Hellespont opposite the bed, for which my father had a great affection from its having been long in the family, but which my mother abominated, as it always gave her the idea, as she insisted, of catching cold ; but on this occasion it was the fortunate means of bringing the matrimonial discussion to a conclusion. My father and mother had both fixed their eyes on it musingly.
The exigency of the case, perhaps-for the difficulty of finding a name unpolluted by vulgar appropriation threatened to leave me without any name at all-inspired my father with a bright idea.
“What do you say,” said he, “to Leander ? That's a classic name.” “ And uncommon,” said my mother.
“I never heard any one called by that name before, certainly,” said my father, “ but it's a well-sounding name, at any rate.”
“ You don't think it would be considered indelicate ?” said my mother, turning her eyes to the picture, doubtingly. “ Not a bit,” said my father; our boy, though he may
bear the name of the hero, won't go about in the streets in that style."
“Well;" said my inother, hesitatingly; "if you don't think there's any thing improper in it —”
“Nonsense,” said my father; “it's as good a name as any other, for that matter; so, if you're content, let it be so settled.”
And so it was settled ; and with the joint consent of the consulting parties, the hero of the present memoirs was, with the proper ceremonies, named Leander ; differing from that celebrated enthusiast, however, in one particular, that whereas the ancient hero passed much of his time, by all accounts, in a cold bath, his namesake passed most of his life in hot water.
I shall pass over the time between infancy and that stage of boyhood which qualified me for a public school, although there are many creditable anecdotes of my precocity and sagacity extant which could not fail to interest maternal bosoms. But I do violence to my own feelings, and suppress them. My reply to an invitation of my nurse to have a “bone" of a chicken, when I could just lisp, “ Yes—with some meat on it,” was certainly very clever, but I do not dwell on these points lest I should fatigue the general reader. There was a story of mine, also, about two gravel-carts, which, unlike the celebrated “story without an end,” which has received so large a share of popular approbation, had neither ending nor beginning, but which was considered so remarkable an indication of early genius, that I believe it was the main cause of confirming my father in his purpose of sending me to a public school, in order that my talents might have the opportunity of being properly developed. As to my saying, on the occasion of my wearing for the first time a splendid new beaver hat, with a feather and looped up in front, on an illumination night, when the bells were ringing joyfully, and the crowds of people were pleased to exercise their most sweet voices in loud huzzas, for they did not know exactly what ; I repeat, as to my saying, “What a fuss the people make about my new hat!" I consider that exclamation has received more applause than it deserved. But, as I said before, I shall pass over these matters, and proceed with the narrative of my school.experience, as the habits which I acquired there had so powerful an effect on the course of my after-life.
Neither shall I give more than a passing word to the fellowship which existed between me and a long-tailed pony, of which, through the interest of my friend the coachman, before I was eight years of
age. I became the acknowledged possessor. But I shall never forget the sorrow of the parting which necessarily took place between me and “Rory" when I was sent to Eton College, two years after. The parting from my father and mother I bore, as I was told to bear it, “like a man;" but the parting with the pony was a very different affair. I was convinced at the time that he felt it as much as I did. This was my “first grief;" however, I consoled myself gradually for the separation; and, I remember, I used to cherish the figure of Pegasus which adorned the title-page of an “Ovid's Metamorphoses” which I borrowed from a third-form boy, from the resemblance which I fancied it bore to my own pony ; and I attribute to the circumstance of that accidental illustration the decided predilection which I conceived for the poetry of the Latin classics. But the event of my introduction to public life at Eton is deserving of a separate chapter.
sort of compromise which I made with my mother, and I do not doubt helped considerably towards the facility of my departure, for the first time, from home. She was very much affected at the separation, not being quite reconciled to my being launched, at so tender an age, in the vortex of a public school ; and she was earnest in impressing on me the importance of never getting wet feet, as she had heard that the environs of Eton were of a marshy description; and of remembering always to put on my night-cap when I went to bed, an admonition which, I am sorry to say, I much neglected, as the said night-caps, having been expressly constructed for the occasion of a manly fashion, that is to say, shaped liked a sugar-loaf, with a white cotton tassel at the superior extremity, for what reason I have never been able to understand - I found them so convenient for keeping marbles in that they were always appropriated to that or similar uses. She particularly cautioned me, also, to take care not to sleep in a damp bed, a caution which was very proper, but which, in my case, was superfluous, insomuch as I do not remember that it ever mattered to me or affected my rest in the least, whether my sheets were damp or dry, for, in truth, I always made but one sleep of it-and never was able to “enjoy my bed,” as the saying is, for as soon as I laid my head on my pillow I fell fast asleep, and never woke till I had to get up the next morning-except on one occasion, when I was put in the black list, and had to ruminate on the anticipation of the very disagreeable consequence of the next morning; but of this I shall have to speak in its order.
My kind mother added to her verbal admonitions various reminiscences of home in the shape of a huge cake of a superior quality, and sundry pots of jam as substantial consolations. These matters, with my other luggage, were despatched the day before by the stage, and their appearance excited no little merriment among my new associates, and I was in danger of being complimented by the appellation of "mamma's boy, which it cost me three severe fights and some temporary damage to the bridge of my nose to get rid of.
At last, however, after repeated embraces, and a promise to be kept sacred on my part of writing home once a week, I was permitted to leave the paternal mansion, my father accompanying me on horseback the whole of the way, attended by the coachman, who had obtained special permission to take the place of one of the grooms in consideration of his attachment to my person.
As the distance was more than thirty miles, we dined on the road, although I must say, notwithstanding my outward appearance of fortitude, I had not much appetite, and the pony, the coachman said, was “off his feed.” However, the liberality of my father at the little village inn, about five miles from the college, formed a favourable introduction for me, of which I took advantage in after-times; but I must not anticipate.
All journeys must come to an end at last, as some one has sapiently observed, and so did ours ; but somehow, as my ride came nearer and nearer, my heart became fuller and fuller; and somehow I could not enjoy satisfactorily the picturesque scenery which my father pointed out to me in the neighbourhood of Windsor. The atmosphere appeared to me a little misty, and my pony went sluggishly, as if he, too, partook of my irresistible depression.