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timidity; so that, before he grew up to manhood, he was as fearless as a man ought to be. I know not any one, in whose fortitude I could have confided more, on any perilous emergency. Several times I have seen him in danger; once particularly in Yarmouth roads, when every person on board our vessel, every person at least who was on the upper deck, imagined it was on the point of foundering. I took him by the hand, made him swallow a glass of wine; and, on looking at him, saw his countenance perfectly undismayed, and I believe more composed than any other in the ship. He was then in his sixteenth year.
It was also supposed by some, as he was often seen walking alone, or with me, and seldom or never with more than one companion, that he must be of an unsocial disposition. The reverse was his character; he was social, chearful, and affectionate, and by those friends who thoroughly knew him, beloved even to enthusiasm. In his choice of friends, indeed, he was not hasty. For in discerning characters he was, as already observed, singularly perspicacious; and the slightest appearance of immorality, vanity, pedantry, coarse manners, or blameable levity, disgusted him; though he shewed his disgust by silence only, or withdrawing from the company.
He had a passion for visiting places that had been remarkable as the abodes of eminent men, or that re.
any memorials of them; and, as in this I resembled him, we often walked together on what he called classick ground. "Vestminster Abbey, in the neighbourhood of which we lived several months, was a favourite haunt of his, and suggested many images and meditations. He had wandered in the bowers of Twickenham, and amidst the more majestick scenes of Blenheim and Windsor. At Oxford, where we passed some time, he met with many interesting objects and attentive friends. He kissed (literally he did so) the grave-stone which covers the dust of Shakespear at Stratford; and sat in the same chimney-corner, and in the same chair, in which tradition tells that the immortal bard was wont to sit. He once or twice visited the village, the house, and even the chamber (near Coltsworth in Lincolnshire) in which Sir Isaac Newton is said to have been born. The last time he and I were in Cambridge, I gratified him with a sight of those apartments in Pembroke Hall, which were once honoured with the residence of my memorable and long-lamented friend Mr. Gray; of whom he was a warm admirer, thinking him the greatest poetical genius that Britain had produced since Milton. He composed an ode inscribed “ To “ the genius of Gray," of which I find among his papers a few stanzas; but far the greater part is irrecoverably lost. This ode I think he wrote, or planned, while we were passing some time in 1787 at Windsor; where, from the terrace, he had a view of Stoke church, in which Gray is buried, and towards which I often found him directing his eyes.
When his curiosity was raised with respect to any work of art, he always wished to make himself master of at least the theory of it. In his early days he was skilled in various sorts of legerdemain ; but left it off entirely, as trifling in itself, and ostentatious in the performance. One evening of his thirteenth year, he and I arrived in Newark on Trent, just as an exhibition of fire-works was beginning in the market-place. It was indeed a magnificent spectacle, and the first of the kind he had seen. He immedi. ately resolved to study fire-works; and, finding in London a systematick book on the subject, applied to it so successfully, that, for several years after, he would now and then exhibit in that way, for the amusement of his friends.
Among his Latin memorandums, there is a resolution“ never to engage in games of chance.” Cards he detested; as destructive of time at least, if not of money; which in him I thought the more remarkable, as he had, when a boy, learned (I know not how) to play at what is called quadrille, and some other games. In those days he often urged me to play at cards, saying, he was sure it would amuse me. I told him, I had several times attempted quadrille ; but that, of the directions given me, some I could never understand, and some I could never re. member. He begged leave to write a few directions: and I gave him leave; being curious to know, how a lad of eleven years of age would acquit himself in respect of style, and the arrangement of his matter. He brought me two treatises, (still extant) one of quadrille, the other of back-gammon, written with a propriety, perspicuity, and correctness, that very agreeably surprised me. I could not help telling him, as was true, that I understood them much better than any oral information I had ever received on those subjects.
There is another fashionable recreation, to which he could not reconcile his mind, the reading of romances. The time employed in that way he held to be lost. Don Quixote, however, Robinson Crusoe, and Cecilia, he read with pleasure, and began, but could not get through, Gil Blas. Hearing that an acquaintance of his had almost had his brain turned with The Adventures of Roderick Random, he had the curiosity to ask for that book, but quickly laid it aside, and would never afterwards resume it. To amuse some hours of languor, in the commencement of his last illness, I advised him to look into Fielding; and he read Tom Jones, and, I think, Amelia. He gave that author no little praise for his humour, for the very skilful management of his fable, the variety and contrast of his characters, and, with a few exceptions,
for the beautiful simplicity of his style: but still the time spent in reading it was lost; and there was more danger from the indelicacy of particular passages, than hope of its doing good by the satire, the moral sentiments, or the distributive justice dispensed in winding up the catastrophe.
I wish I could have given specimens of his talent in writing letters: but it happens, that most of those I have of his contain circumstances of private business, which ought not to be made publick. His epistolary style was correct, easy, and simple, and, like his conversation, seasoned with that unaffected and playful humour in which he so greatly excelled. I am loth to part with my subject.
-Juvat usque morari Et conferre graduin
VIRG. VI. 487.
But some may think, enough has been said ; though there are a few, who know that the subject is by no means exhausted.
gave no direc
About the disposal of his papers
he tions : being, I suppose, prevented, either by his thinking them unworthy of notice, or by his unwillingness to pain me by speaking of his dissolution. Nothing else could have prevented him : for he and I always lived on terms of the most unreserved and familiar intimacy.