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however, no especial burden was imposed on Thomas. It was first in his position as major-general of his brother's army, and secondly as absolute monarch of the kingdom of Gombroon, that he suffered the worst terrors and anxieties. The two boys went every morning to a private tutor's house and returned in the afternoon, on one or both of which occasions a fight invariably took place with the boys of a neighbouring factory, chiefly carried on with stones, and, as it would appear from its bloodlessness, at a safe distance. These military operations were of course under the control of the elder brother, who directed Thomas's movements upon the flank or rear of the enemy, sometimes planting him in ambush and sometimes as a corps of observation, as the exigencies of the case required. Arriving at home, he issued a bulletin of the engagement, which was read with much ceremony to the housekeeper. Sometimes this document announced a victory, and sometimes a defeat; but the conduct of the major-general was criticised without reference to the result. Now he was decorated with the Bath, and now he was deprived of his commission. At one time his services merited the highest promotion, at another he behaved with a cowardice that seemed inexplicable, except on the supposition of treachery.' Once he was drummed out of the army, but 'restored at the intercession of a distinguished lady' (the housekeeper to wit). In these singular vicissitudes of fortune two whole years were passed; but, extraordinary as is the air of reality which De Quincey has thrown around this description, it is even less wonderful than the picture of his own feelings as king of the island of Gombroon, threatened, not remotely, with annexation, by the superior potentate his brother. 'How, and to what extent,' my brother asked, 'did I raise taxes on my subjects?' At this question the model young prince was staggered. He abhorred taxation of all kinds. But then he knew that, if he said as much, his ambitious neighbour would jump to the conclusion that he had no standing army-an idea which he felt would be fatal to his own independence. But though he evaded this particular difficulty, a shocking discovery was in store for him. In an evil hour his brother became acquainted with Lord Monboddo's theory of the human race; and he presently announced the fact that the inhabitants of Gombroon had not yet worn off their tails. This was a hideous piece of intelligence. As absolute ruler, Thomas might at once issue an edict compelling his people to sit down six hours every day, 'and so make a beginning, or he might dress them in the Roman toga, as the best means of hiding their appendages. But either alternative left the great fact untouched that he was king of a nation of B 2


Caudati, and he continued plunged in the profoundest melancholy throughout the remainder of his reign.

At the expiration of two years his brother's proficiency with his pencil caused him to be transferred to the house of the celebrated academician, Mr. de Loutherbourg, where he died of typhus fever at the age of sixteen. Being no longer under the necessity of protecting his subjects from the neighbouring potentate of Tigrosylvania, the monarch of Gombroon laid aside his crown, and retired into private life. The ensuing four years, i. e. from his eighth year to his twelfth, were marked by no incidents particularly worthy of commemoration, except the removal of his family from Greenhays to Bath, and his own entrance at the Bath Grammar School. Here he made numerous enemies by the superiority of his Latin verses: and he was ultimately removed from the school, primarily, indeed, in consequence of an accident, but, secondarily, because his mother was unwilling that he should hear so much of his own merits. From Bath he went to another school, at Winkfield, in Wiltshire, which he left in the spring of the year 1800, for the purpose of accompanying a young friend of his own age, Lord Westport, and his tutor, on a tour in Ireland. This chapter of his Autobiography he has headed with 'I enter the world;' and as the period of this excursion coincided with that period of life when the boy is passing into the youth, and when it requires but the influence of society, and especially female society, to arouse in him the first faint consciousness of coming manhood, we doubt not that the summer of this year did constitute an epoch in De Quincey's life which justifies the title conferred upon it. He arrived in Dublin in the month of June, and was present at the final act of the old Irish Parliament, namely, its sitting to hear the Royal assent to Bills of the last Session read out; among which the Bill for the Union was included. He has recorded his impressions of this event in a very interesting passage, and especially his surprise at the absence of any loud demonstrations of public feeling either within or without Parliament. On leaving Dublin he passed three months at the seat of Lord Altamont,* Lord Westport's father, in the county of Mayo, where he visited all the scenes of the later Irish Rebellion under Humbert, of which, as well as of the earlier rising in the same year, he has left a most animated and concise account. He returned to England in the month of October, and on board the packet made acquaintance with a young lady, the sister of Lady Errol, who inspired him with his

* Afterwards Marquis of Sligo.


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first ideas of the passion of love. She had gallantly taken his part when some rather vulgar people on board had thought to propitiate Lord Westport by snubbing his untitled companion; and when afterwards he expressed his gratitude, she blushed at the warmth of his expressions. This blush was a revelation— like the flower which spoke to Columbus of approaching land; and from that moment the idea of returning to school became intolerable unto him. Such, however, was his destiny, rendered all the more cruel by the circumstances which immediately preceded it. On arriving in England he found letters directing him to join his sister at Laxton, the Northamptonshire seat of Lord Carbery, where his future destination till he should be old enough for one of the Universities would be communicated to him. Lord Carbery had married an early friend of De Quincey's mother, a very beautiful girl, now only in her twenty-sixth year, and inclined to be religious. Staying in the house as her guests were a Lord and Lady Massey, represented to Thomas on his arrival as a species of Cymon and Iphigenia. Lord Massey was a heavy and half-educated, but not unintelligent, Irish lord, whose dormant faculties had been aroused by marriage with a lovely young wife about Lady Carbery's age, but who rather languished at Laxton for want of male companionship after dinner; Lord Carbery being detained from home. Now what was the task that awaited the boy of fifteen on joining this aristocratic circle? Lady Carbery sent for him on the moment of his arrival, and confided her difficulties to his ear. He must aid in the good work of polishing the noble Cymon; he must take him in hand after dinner, talk to him with ease and condescension, but so as not to show his own superiority too much, and keep the bottle circulating pleasantly for the traditional two hours. All this our precocious philosopher undertook without diffidence, and accomplished, as he affirms, with success. But this was not all. Lady Carbery, as we have said, was inclined to be religious, and ere long we find the ex-schoolboy of Winkfield installed as tutor in theology to a beautiful dame of twenty-six. He startled her, he says, with the depth and novelty of his views. She feared she had never understood the Bible. For that purpose, said her new Mentor, Greek was indispensable, and Greek it was determined they should learn. Lexicons and New Testaments were procured from Stamford, and in a very short time the fair pupil read Greek with facility. Finding his task, no doubt, an uncommonly agreeable one, Mr. Tom forthwith proposed to take the lady through Herodotus. He drew such a picture of the vivacious and mercurial Athenian,' &c. &c., that his mistress was fascinated by the idea, and consented to exchange the hard and spirit-breaking


problems of Geneva for the beautiful myths and summer theology of Greece. But, alas for human joys! In the midst of these pleasant dreams the knocking at the gate' is heard. Lord Carbery has returned from Ireland. Greek is thrown aside as a graceful folly; and the luckless lad who, for two months, had been the condescending cultivator of a middle-aged lord, and the daily instructor of a pretty woman, suddenly wakes up and finds himself again a schoolboy. His guardians had determined that he should be sent to the Manchester Grammar School, in the hopes of his obtaining one of their University exhibitions. And thither accordingly in the December of 1800 we find him wending his way, in sorrow and rebelliousness of spirit.

At this, his last school, De Quincey had two evils to contend with. The first was his too keen appreciation of the society which he had now lost; the second was an impaired digestion, consequent on the want of exercise. The first of these would probably have disappeared altogether, had it not been for the prostration of mind occasioned by his physical ailment, which was in turn aggravated by the injudicious treatment of an ignorant apothecary. His period of misery was lightened by one gleam of comfort in the shape of a visit to Manchester by Lady Carbery. But after her departure his melancholy increased to such a height that, finding all remonstrances with his guardians ineffectual, he resolved to elope from the school. They of course did not feel justified in removing him until he had completed the term of residence required for succession to a scholarship, and so defeating the very object for which he had originally been placed there. He, on the contrary, with youthful indifference to money, resolved that his seventeenth birthday (August, 1802), should not find him at school. The final result was, that one fine morning in July he quietly let himself out of the Headmaster's house, consigned his trunk to the carrier, and set forth on foot for Chester, where his mother now lived at a house called St. John's Priory.

If his own language can be trusted, De Quincey must have left Manchester with as much scholarship as would do credit to the sixth form boys of our best public schools. Four years earlier he had beaten at Latin verses young men upon the wing for Cambridge, and he had given subsequent proof of his proficiency in that accomplishment; while shortly after the present date we find him gravely weighing the propriety of writing a Greek remonstrance to the Bishop of Bangor in return for some fancied insult at the hands of that learned prelate.* He tells us, in fact,

* Dr. Cleaver, Principal of Brasenose, a great Greek scholar.

in so many words, that he wielded the Greek language with preternatural address for varying the forms of expression, and for bringing the most refractory ideas within the harness of Grecian phraseology.' If this were really the case, it is a pity that his guardians did not comprehend the full value of the accomplishment. A lad with this power of composition was under no necessity of ruining his liver at Manchester for the sake of forty pounds a year: either Oxford or Cambridge would have welcomed him with open arms. For although the distinction which De Quincey himself draws between the knowledge and the command of a classical language is in itself just, if not expressed by exactly the most appropriate words, yet it is one hardly realised by the Universities in their purely classical examinations. It is barely possible that a candidate who composed the most vigorous and idiomatic Greek or Latin should do his other papers so badly as to place himself second on the list. Whether it be considered that the comprehensive scholarship which De Quincey expresses by the word 'knowledge' is more fitly acquired in an after period of life, or whether it be thought that the 'natural sensibility,' of which alone he tells us that good composition is the test, points to a higher order of mind than philosophical research, we cannot say ; but sure we are that even at the present day, and much more fifty years ago, a youth of seventeen who outstripped all competitors in the four kinds of composition might calculate with certainty on the best scholarships in Oxford.

At Chester De Quincey found residing with his mother his maternal uncle, a Captain Penson, of the Bengal establishment, and by a temporary arrangement, to which the efforts of the old soldier were mainly conducive, he received a weekly allowance of a guinea to enable him to execute his cherished purpose of a pedestrian tour in Wales. He spent the autumn of 1802 in the indulgence of this fancy, dining sumptuously for sixpence, sometimes sleeping on the hillside, and sometimes in a crack hotel, and, in his own words, sailing alternately upon the high-priced and the lowpriced tack.' By degrees, however, he grew tired of this mode of life. The weather became less favourable to pedestrians; the want of books began to make itself felt; and finally, imagining that he could borrow money in London on the strength of his pecuniary expectations, he took the resolution of hiding from his guardians in the metropolis till they should cease to have any further control over his movements. Mounting the Holyhead mail at Shrewsbury one dark November night, he was carried forward to the scene of fancied freedom and enjoyment at the rate of six miles and a half an hour, and reached London, after a journey of twenty-eight hours, with the address of a money-lender and some


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