« PreviousContinue »
under the care of a Mr. Shipley, who soon discovered that he was a boy of quick perception, and very admirable talents; and came with joy, like a good man, to relieve the anxiety and painful suspicions of his family.
While his school-masters were complaining that they could make nothing of him, he discovered what Nature had made him, and wrote satires upon them. These pieces were never shown to any, except his most particular friends, who say that they were pointed and severe. They are enumerated in the table of Contents to one of his manuscript volumes, under the title of School-Lampoons; but, as was to be expected, he had cut the leaves out and destroyed them.
One of his poems written at this time, and under these feelings, is preserved.
And woo the muse's gentle power,
In upfrequented rural bower.
But, ah! such heav'n-approaching joys
Will never greet my longing eyes;
Still will they cheat in vision fine,
Yet never but in fancy shine.
Oh, that I were the little wren,
That shrilly chirps from yonder glen!
Oh, far away I then would rove,
To some secluded bushy grove;
There hop and sing with careless glee,
Hop and sing at liberty ;
And till death should stop my lays,
Far from men wonld spend my days.
About this time his mother was induced, by the advice of several friends, to open a Ladies Boarding and Day School, in Nottingham, her eldest daughter having previously been a teacher in one for some time. In this she succeeded beyond her most sanguine expectations, and Henry's home comforts were thus materially increased, though it was still out of the power of his family to give him that education, and direction in life, which his talents deserved and required.
It was now determined to breed him up to the hosiery trade, the staple manufacture of his pative place, and at the age of fourteen he was placed in a stocking-loom, with the view, at some future period, of getting a situation in a hosier’s warehouse. During the time that he was thus employed, he might be said to be truly unhappy; he went
to his work with evident reluctance, and could not refrain from sometimes hinting his extreme aversion to it: but the circumstances of his family obliged them to turn a deaf ear*. His mother, however, secretly felt that he
* His temper and tone of mind at this period, when he was in his fourteenth year, are displayed in this extract, from an address to Contemplation.
THEE do I own, the prompter of my joys,
The soother of my cares, inspiring peace ;
And I will ne'er forsake thee.-Men may rave,
And blame and censure me, that I don't tie
My ev'ry thought down to the desk, and spend
The morning of my life in adding figures
With accurate monotony; that so
The good things of the world inay be my lot,
And I might taste the blessedness of wealth :
But, Oh! I was not made for money getting;
For me no much respected plum awaits,
Nor civic honour, envied For as still
I tried to cast with school dexterity
The interesting sums, my vagrant thoughts
Would quick revert to many a woodland haunt,
Which fond remembrance cherish'd, and the pen
Dropt from my senseless fingers as I picturd,
In my mind's eye, how on the shores of Trent
I erewhile wanderd with my early friends
In social intercourse. And then I'd think
How contrary pursuits had thrown us wide,
One from the other, scatter'd o'er the globe;
They were set down with sober steadiness,
Each to his occupation. I alone,
was worthy of better things; to her he spoke more openly: he could not bear, he said, the thought of
A wayward youth misled hy Fancy's vagaries,
Remain'd unsettled, insecure, and veering
With ev'ry wind to ev'ry point o'th compass.
Yes, in the Counting House I could indulge
In fits of close abstraction ;--yea, amid
The busy bustling crouds could meditate,
And send my thoughts ten thousand leagues away
Beyond the Atlantic, resting on my friend.
Aye, Contemplation, ev'n in earliest youth
I woo'd thy heavenly influence! I would walk
A weary way when all my toils were done,
To lay myself at night in some lone wood,
And hear the sweet song of the nightingale.
Oh, those were times of happiness, and still
To mémory doubly dear; for growing years
Had not then taught me man was made to mourn ;
And a short hour of solitary pleasure,
Stolen from sleep, was ample recompence
For all the hateful bustles of the day.
My op'ning mind was ductile then, and plastic,
And soon the marks of care were worn away,
While I was sway'd by every novel impulse,
Yielding to all the fancies of the hour.
But it has now assum'd its character,
Mark'd by strong lineaments, its haughty tone,
Like the firm oak, would soouer break than bend.
Yet still, oh Contemplation! I do love
To' indulge thy solemn'musings; still the same
With thee alone I know to melt and weer,
In thee alone delighting. Why along