The Percy Anecdotes:
Come hither, boy, and clear thy open brow;
Yon summer clouds now like the Alps, and now
A ship, a whale, change not so fast as thou.' ROGERS.
The Boy King|
Alexander the Great
Cato of Utica
Noble Brotherly Contest
Pupil of Zeno
Youths of Iomsburg
Charles IX. of France
Wages like a King's
Choice of an Imperial Heir
Sagacity of a Negro Boy
Charles the Twelfth
King Edward the Sixth
Amyott, Bishop of Auxerre
How to ask for a Penny
Abbe de Rance
Presence of Mind
The Learned Child of Lubeck
Sir Philip Sydney
Secret Well Kept
The Mural Crown
Prince Henrys Son of James I
A Lesson to Kings
Lopez de Vega
William Henry Ireland
The Poor Governess
Force of Bad Example
'He never told a Lie.'
Princes of Brunswick
Heroism and Affection
The Ettrick Shepherd
Maria de Souza and her Sons
Henry IV. of France
Wit by the Wayside
Christina, Queen of Sweden
The Admirable Crichton
The Scotch Sappho
The Great Conde
The Duke of Berwick
Ignorance of Fear
Madame de Stael Holstein
Robert Charles Dallas
Education in the Fifteenth Century
Charles VI. of France
Sal. Pavy, the Actor of Old Men
Frederick the Great and his Nephew
Sir Edmund Saunders
Deaf, Dumb, and Blind American Girl
Sir William Jones
The Elgin Family
The Philosopher Outdone
Teaching a Cow
Lord Francis Villiers
Boy and Highwayman
Royal Family of Britain
Swearing Nobly Reproved
An Apt Version
The Marquis Hospital
Honesty - the Best Policy
Louis XIII. of France
Henry Kirke White
Alexander and La Harpe
The Juvenile Artist
James Mitchell, Blind, Deaf, and Dumb Boy
Thomas Williams Malkin
Capture of Paris
The Boy King.
ASTYAGES, King of the Medes, dreamed that while he was yet alive, the child of which his daughter Mandane was then pregnant, was raised to a throne; this so troubled him with fears for the safety of his crown, that he caused the infant as soon as born to be delivered to Harpagus, with strict orders to have it destroyed. Harpagus, willing to shift the sin of so cruel a deed from himself, entrusted the execution of it to the herdsman of Astyages; but the herdsman's wife happening at the very time to be delivered of a still-born child, she prevailed on her husband to substitute the living for the dead infant When Cyrus (for such was the boy's name) grew up, he was particularly distinguished among his playmates, for his boldness and intelligence, and as an honour justly due to super-eminent merit, they conferred on him the title of KING. Cyrus put the rush crown on his head with all the confidence of one who was entitled to a real one. He proceeded to appoint one playmate to be his prime minister; another to be his chamberlain; a third to be his sword-bearer; so many to be of his privy council; and so many to be his guards. One of these boy subjects, the son of a nobleman, called Artembaris, happening to disobey some of the royal commands, Cyrus ordered him to be seized by his guards, and soundly flogged. The lad, as soon as at liberty, ran home to his father, and complained bitterly of the treatment he had received. The father repaired to Astyages and showing him the bruised shoulders of his son, 'Is it thus, O King!' said he 'that we are treated by the son of thy bondsman and slave?' Astyages sent for the herdsman, and his supposed son; and addressing the latter, sternly said, 'How darest thou, being the son of such a father as this, treat in so vile a manner the son of one of my court?' 'Sire,' answered Cyrus, with firmness, 'I have done nothing unto him but what was fit. The country lads (of whom he was one) chose me for their King in play, because I seemed the most worthy of that dignity, but when all the rest obeyed my commands, this boy alone regarded not what I said. For this was he punished; and if on this account I have merited to suffer any punishment, I am here ready to suffer it.' While Cyrus spoke, Astyages was so struck with the family resemblance of the boy's features, that he was tempted to make some particular enquiries of the herdsman; and pressed him so hard, that he at last extorted from him a confession of the truth. Dismissing them for the present Astyages went and consulted the Magi on the discovery he had made, revealing to them at the same time the purport of the dream which had given such trouble to his mind. The Magi, ingenious in behalf of humanity declared that in their opinion, all that the dream imported had been already realized, by the circumstance of Cyrus having played the King in sport. This interpretation hilled the fears of Astyages, he became reconciled to the boy's existence, and after acknowledging him as his grandson, sent him into Persia to his father.
But mark the sequel! Ere many years had elapsed, Cyrus stimulated the Persians to revolt, overcame Astyages, his grandfather, and united the empire of the Medes to that of the Persians.
In a visit which Cyrus made to his grandfather, shortly after his royal descent was recognised, Astyages was much charmed with his sprightliness and wit, and gave a sumptuous entertainment on his account, at which there was a profusion of everything that was nice and delicate. All this exquisite cheer and magnificent preparation, Cyrus looked upon with great indifference. 'The Persians,' said he to the [king, 'have a much shorter way to appease their hunger; a little bread and a few cresses with them answers the purpose.' Sacras, the king's cupbearer, displeased Cyrus; and Astyages praising him on account of the wonderful dexterity with which he served him, 'is that all, sir?' replied Cyrus: 'if that be sufficient to merit your favour, you shall see I will quickly obtain it, for I will take upon me to serve you better than he.' Immediately Cyrus was equipped as a cupbearer, and very gracefully presented the cup to the king, who embraced him with great fondness, saying, 'I am mightily well pleased, my son; nobody can serve with a better grace; but you have forgot one essential ceremony, which is that of tasting.' 'No,' replied Cyrus, 'it was not through forgetfulness that I omitted that ceremony.' 'Why, then,' said Astyages, 'for what reason did you omit it?' 'Because I apprehended there was poison in the liquor.' 'Poison, child! how could you think so?' 'Yes, poison, sir; for not long ago, at an entertainment you gave to the lords of your court, after the guests had drank a little of that liquor, I perceived all their heads were turned; they sung, made a noise, and talked they did not know what, you yourself seemed to have forgot that you were a king; and they that they were subjects; and when you would have danced, you were unable to stand.' 'Why,' says Astyages, 'have you never seen the same thing happen to your father?' 'No, never,' says Cyrus. 'What then? how is it with him when he drinks?' 'Why, when he has drank, his thirst is quenched; and that is all.'
Alexander the Great.
The celebrated quarrel between Macedon and Persia, we are told, originated in Alexander's refusing to pay the tribute of golden eggs, to which his father had agreed. 'The bird that laid the eggs has flown to the other world,' is reported to have been the laconic answer of the Macedonian prince to the Persian envoy, who demanded the tribute. After this, Darab (Darius) sent another ambassador to the court of the Grecian monarch whom he charged to deliver to him a bat, a tall, and a bag of very small seed, called Gunjad. The bat and ball were meant to throw a ridicule on Alexander's youth, being fit amusement for his age; the bag of seed was intended as an emblem of the Persian army, being innumerable. Alexander took the bat and ball into his hand, and said, 'This is the emblem of my power, with which I strike the ball of your monarch's dominion and this fowl (he had ordered one to be brought) will soon show you what a morsel your numerous army will prove to mine. The grain was instantly eat up; and Alexander gave a wild melon to the envoy, desiring him to tell his sovereign what he had heard and seen, and to give him that fruit, the taste of which would enable him to judge of the bitter fare which awaited him.
Cato of Utica.
Plutarch mentions a singular instance of the early manifestation of that bold and fearless spirit which distinguished this illustrious Roman. The Italian allies of Rome having demanded admission to the privilege of citizenship, Pompedius Silo, one of their deputies for urging this claim, was a guest at the house of Drusus, the maternal uncle of Cato; and in a jocose manner asked young Cato to recommend his suit to his uncle. The child was silent, but expressed by his looks that he had no inclination to comply with the request. Pompedius renewed his solicitations, but was unable to prevail. At length he took up the infant Cato in his arms, and carrying him to the window, threatened to throw him over ii he persisted in his refusal. But fear was as unavailing as entreaty. Pompedius, on letting him down in the room, exclaimed, 'What an happiness it is for Italy that thou art but a child! for if thou wert of age, we should not have a single vote.'
At the age of fourteen, Cato was introduced by his tutor, Sarpedon; to the house of Sylla, the Dictator, which on account of the proscriptions and cruelties of that tyrant, was a scene of torture and of blood. When the youth observed the heads of several noble victims who had been murdered, carried out, and the by standers secretly sighing at the horrid spectacle, he asked his tutor, 'Why nobody killed such a tyrant?' 'It is,' replied he, 'because he is still more feared than hated.' Cato exclaimed, 'Oh that I had a sword that I might kill him, and deliver my country from slavery!'
Notwithstanding the youthful sternness of Cato's character, he was not unsusceptible of tender emotions, nor destitute of kind affections. Never was fraternal love stronger than that which he bore to his brother Caepio.
When anyone asked him whom he loved best he would answer, 'My brother Caepio.' And when farther asked whom next he most loved he would repeat, 'Caepio;' and so to each successive question of the same sort, till his interrogators ceased to inquire any farther. As he grew to manhood he gave many strong confirmations of his brotherly attachment. He never supped without Caepio; never went any journey without him; never even walked in the market-place without him.
'And wheresoe'er we went, like Juno's swans,
Still we went coupled, and inseparable.'
When Caepio was at length cut off by death, grief seemed to triumph over all Cato's philosophy. Tears flowed profusely down his cheeks, while he embraced the dead body, and he fell into a state of dejection and melancholy, from which it was a long time ere he recovered.
Noble Brotherly Contest.
The Emperor Augustus having taken Adiatoriges, a Prince of Cappadocia, together with his wife and children, in war, and led them to Rome in triumph, gave orders that the father and the elder of the brothers should be slain. The ministers of execution on coming to the place of confinement, inquired which was the eldest? On this there arose an earnest contention between the two young princes, each of them affirming himself to be the elder that by his own death he might preserve the life of his brother. When they had continued this heroic and fraternal emulation for some time, the afflicted mother with much difficulty prevailed on her son Dytentus that he would permit his younger brother to die in his stead, hoping that by him she might still be sustained. When Augustus was told of this example of brotherly love, he regretted his severity, and gave an honourable support to the mother and her surviving son.
'I have seen
When after execution, judgment hath
Repented o'er his doom.'
When Cicero and his brother Quintus were proscribed by the second triumvirate of Rome, they endeavoured to make their escape to Brutus in Macedon. They travelled together some time, when they recollected that they were not furnished with the money necessary for the voyage; it was therefore agreed that Cicero should hasten to the coast to secure their passage, while Quintus returned home to make more ample provision. The return of Quintus was soon known, and his house filled with soldiers and assassins; but he so effectually concealed himself that the soldiers could not find him. Enraged at their disappointment, they put his son to the torture, in order to make him discover the place of his father's concealment; but the young Roman was proof against the most dreadful torments. A sigh, and sometimes a groan, escaped him; and in proportion as his agonies increased was his fortitude strengthened. Quintus was not far off, and heard the stifled sighs and groans of his son expiring in tortures to save his father's life. He could bear no longer; but rushing from his concealment, presented himself to the assassins, and with tears entreated that they would put him to death, but spare the innocent child, whose generous conduct would meet with the highest approbation and reward from the triumvirate. But the monsters in whose breasts pity or a generous feeling had never entered, answered that they both must die - the father because he was proscribed, and the son for concealing his father. A contest now arose between the father and his son, who should suffer first. The misery of surviving each other even for a single moment was however spared them, and they were both beheaded at the same instant.
When Alexander the Great was on one occasion sacrificing to the gods, one of the noble youths who waited upon him was so severely burnt by a piece of hot coal which fell upon his arm from the censor he carried, that the smell of the scorched flesh affected all who stood by. Yet the boy shrunk not; he exhibited no symptom of pain, but kept his arm immovable, lest by shaking the censer he should interrupt the sacrifice, or by his groaning should give Alexander any disturbance.
A Campanian lady, who was very rich, and fond of pomp and show, being on a visit to Cornelia, the illustrious mother of the Gracchi displayed her diamonds and jewels somewhat ostentatiously, and requested that Cornelia would let her see her jewels also. Cornelia dexterously turned the conversation to another subject, to wait the return of her sons, who were gone to the public schools. When they returned, and had entered their mother's apartment, she, pointing to them, said to the lady, 'These are my jewels; the only ornaments I admire.'
When Themistocles was a boy, he was once on returning from school met by Pisistratus. 'Stand out of the way,' said the master of Themistocles, 'and give place to the prince.' 'What!' replied the boy boldly, 'has he not room enough?'
Pupil of Zeno.
A youth named Eretrius was for a considerable time a follower of Zeno. On his return home, his father asked him what he had learned? The boy replied, that would hereafter appear. On this, the father being enraged, beat his son; who bearing it patiently, and without complaining, said, This have I learned - to endure a parent's anger.'
Chevalier Boucicaut the younger, a native of Toledo, when not seventeen years old, was at the battle of Rosbecque with Charles VI.; and having presented himself to engage a Fleming of extraordinary stature, the latter contemptuously struck his battle-axe from his hand, saying, 'Go suck, child! the French are in great want of men, since they send children to battle.' On which, young Boucicaut drawing his dagger, and nimbly rushing under his adversary's arm, stabbed him through his cuirass, exclaiming at the same time, 'So, do the children of your country play in this fashion?'
Youths of Iomsburg.
'I'll not disgrace my innocence by fear,
Lest I the saving of my life repent;
I'll rather bear than merit punishment.'
EARL OF ORRERY'S MUSTAPHA. There is a northern tradition that Harold, King of Denmark, founded a city which he called Iomsburg, and sent thither a colony of young Danes, under the command of Palinatokes. This leader forbade his followers, even in the most imminent danger, to pronounce the word fear, he would have his people fight and die without yielding. Some youths from Iomsburg having attacked a Norwegian lord, were, after a very obstinate contest, made prisoners, and condemned to death. Far from dreading it, they contemplated it with joy, and the first of them said with all unmoved countenance, 'Why should I not share the same fate as my father? he died, and so must I.' A warrior, named Thorkill, asked the second what he thought? He answered that he knew the laws of Iomsburg too well, to speak a word at which his enemies might rejoice.' A third gave for answer to the same question, 'That he rejoiced at his honourable death, and infinitely preferred it to a shameful life like that of Thorkill.' The fourth spoke still more plainly; 'I suffer death with pleasure, and the hour is agreeable to me.' The fifth and sixth died while bidding their enemies defiance. At last came the seventh, who was a youth of great beauty. When Thorkill asked him if he feared death, he answered, "No: I suffer it willingly, because I have fulfilled the highest duties in life and have seen all those die before me, whom I would have been sorry to survive.'
Charles IX. of France.
This prince was only ten years of age when he was crowned. His mother, Catherine de Medicis, mentioning her apprehension that the fatigue of the ceremony might be perhaps too much for him, he replied, 'Madam, I will very willingly undergo as much fatigue, as often as you have a crown to bestow upon me.' When the Constable de Montmorenci died, the young prince, then only seventeen, did not immediately name another person to that high office, saying, I will carry my own sword in future.' And to his mother, who wished to keep him under her own direction he said, 'That he would no longer be kept in a box, like the old jewels of the crown.'
Wages like a King's.
In one of the journeys of Louis XI. of France, he went into the kitchen of an inn where he was not known, and observing a lad turning a spit, asked his name, and what he was. The lad, with great simplicity, answered, that his name was Berringer; that he was not indeed a very great man, but that still he got as much as the King of France. 'And what my lad, does the King of France get?' said Louis. 'His wages,' replied the boy, 'which he holds from God, and I hold mine from the king.' Louis was so pleased with this answer, that he took the boy with him, and gave him a situation to attend on his person.
Choice of an Imperial Heir.
Kang Hi was one of the most illustrious princes that ever sat on the throne of China. He came to the throne in 1661, and from his earliest life exhibited that ardour of mind so well suited to the difficult task of governing. When the Emperor Cham-Chi, his father, was on his death bed, he assembled his children together to fix upon a successor to the throne. On asking his eldest son if he should like to be emperor, he answered, that he was too weak to support so great a burden. The second made a similar answer. But when he put the question to young Kang Hi, who was not quite seven years of age, he replied, Give me the empire to govern, and you shall see how I will acquit myself.' The emperor was much pleased with this bold and simple answer. 'He is a boy of courage,' said Cham-Chi. 'Let him be emperor.'
Sagacity of a Negro Boy.
Philip Thicknesse tells the following amusing story of a little negro boy in the West Indies. His master finding him a child of good parts, often conversed familiarly with him; but whenever he committed a fault, gave him a note to carry to the overseer of the plantation, in which he directed that he should be whipped. The boy perceiving the constant and unpleasant consequence of carrying a bit of paper to the overseer, took a favourable occasion to question his master about it, asking him why at such times, and such only the overseer should beat him with so much severity? The master informed him that the paper talked so and so to the overseer, because he was idle, and neglected to work. 'Why, masse,' said the boy, 'I never see you work.' 'Not with my hands, 'tis true,' replied the master; 'but I work with my head, which is a much greater labour than yours.' The next time the boy was sent with a note to the overseer, he threw it away: and on his master enquiring of him what the other had said, 'Nothing at all,' rejoined the boy; 'I did not go to him, having this time worked with my head too.'
The great Turenne, in his youth, was much pleased with the character of Alexander, as delineated by Quintus Curtius. His ambition was fired by the heroic actions of that conqueror; and he took particular pleasure in reading and relating them to others. On these occasions, his whole gesture became more animated than usual; his eyes sparkled, and his imagination being inflamed, he overcame the natural difficulty he had in speaking. An officer one day took the liberty to tell him, that his favourite historian was no better than a writer of romances, which touched the young viscount to the quick. The duchess, his mother, made a sign to the officer to persist: the dispute grew warm; Turenne fell into a passion; left the company abruptly; and privately sent the officer a challenge, which, in order to divert the duchess, was accepted. The next day the young viscount went out of town, under the presence of hunting; and Turenne arriving at the spot of rendezvous, there found a table ready spread. As he stood wondering what this preparation could mean, his mother appeared, accompanied by the officer, and told her son she was come to be second to the gentleman with whom he was to fight. The sportsmen came up, breakfast was served, peace concluded, and the duel changed into a hunting match.
When Turenne was only ten years old, his governor missed him, and after seeking some time, length found him asleep on a carmon, which he seemed to embrace with his little arms as far as he could reach. When he was asked why he had chosen such a couch, he answered, 'That he intended to have slept there all night, to convince his father that he was hardy enough to undergo the fatigues of war; though the old duke had often persuaded him to the contrary.'
A Quaker residing at Paris, was waited on by four of his workmen in order to make their compliments, and ask for their usual new year's gifts. 'Well, my friends,' said the Quaker, 'here are your gifts; choose fifteen francs or the bible.' 'I don't know how to read,' said the first, 'so I take the fifteen francs.' 'I can read,' said the second, 'but I have pressing wants.' He took the fifteen francs. The third also made the same choice. He now came to the fourth, a young lad of about thirteen or fourteen. The Quaker looked at him with an air of goodness. 'Will you too take these three pieces, which you may obtain at any time by your labour and industry?' 'As you say the book is good, I will take it, and read from it to my mother,' replied the boy. He took the bible opened it, and found between the leaves a gold piece of forty francs. 'The others hung down their heads, and the Quaker told them he was sorry they had not made a better choice.
Charles the Twelfth.
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, when scarce seven years old, being at dinner with the queen, his mother, was handing a bit of bread to his favourite dog, when the hungry animal snapping at it too greedily, bit his hand in a dreadful manner. The wound bled copiously; but our young hero, without crying, or appearing to take any notice of what had happened, wrapped his hand in the napkin to conceal his misfortune. The queen perceiving that he did not eat, asked him the reason; he thanked her, and replied, that he was not hungry. The party thought he was ill, and repeated their solicitations, but all in vain although he was now grown pale with loss of blood. An officer who attended at table at last perceived the cause, for Charles would sooner have died than betrayed his dog; which he knew intended no injury.
Quintus Curtius was one of the first books put into Charles's hands: and on being asked what he thought of its hero, Alexander the Great, he replied' 'Oh, how I wish to be like him!' 'Why, sir,' replied his tutor, 'your majesty forgets then, that he died at thirty-two years of age.' 'Well, surely he lived long enough, when he had conquered so many kingdoms.'
King Edward the Sixth.
Hooker says of this prince, 'that though he died young, he lived long, for life ifs action;' and Cardan, in his once celebrated work, 'De Genituris,' thus describes the youthful Edward, with whom he had several conversations upon the subject of some of his works, particularly on that, 'De Rerum Vanitate.'
'The child was wonderful in this respect that at the age of fifteen he had learned, as I was told, seven different languages. In that of his own country, that of France, and the Latin language, he was perfect; so much so, that when only seven years old, he wrote two letters in the latter language to his godfather, Archbishop Cranmer. In the conversations that I had with him (when he was only fifteen years of age) he spoke Latin with as much readiness and elegance as myself. He was a pretty good logician, he understood natural philosophy and music, and played upon the lute. The good end the [earned had formed the highest expectations of him, from the sweetness of his disposition and the excellence of his talents. He had began to favour learning before he was a great scholar himself, and to be acquainted with it before he could make use of it.'
In the British Museum there is a book of Exercises made by this prince, in English, Latin, and Greek, with the name of King Edward subscribed to each of them, in the language in which it was written. And Bishop Burnet has preserved in his History of the Reformation, a diary of his life, which this prince kept, and a discourse about the Reformation of Abuses, which would have done no discredit to an old statesman. He always had a particular regard for the Holy Scriptures, and was much offended when he saw one of his attendants place a bible on the floor and step upon it, for something that was out of his reach.
While this extraordinary personage was a boy at school, he was much subject to fits of hypochondria. One day, when lying melancholy upon his back in bed, a spectre, as he thought, approached him, and told him that he would live to be the greatest man in the kingdom. Old Mr. Cromwell, when informed of this phantasy of his son's, was very- angry, and desired his master to correct him severely. This however produced no effect. Oliver persisted in the truth of his story, and would often mention it, though his uncle told him 'it was too traitorous a thing to be repeated.'
From school he was sent to Sidney College, Cambridge, where Winstanley tells us he met with an incident which gave great strength to his boyish prepossession. The play of Lingua, by Anthony Brewer, happened to be acted, and Oliver performed a part in it. The substance of the piece is a contention among the Senses for a crown which Lingua had concealed, in order that they may exercise their respective powers in finding it. The part allotted to young Cromwell was that of Tactus, or Touch; who having obtained the contested coronet, makes this spirited speech:-
'Roses and bays, pack hence! this crown and robe
My brows and body circles and invests;
How gallantly it fits me! Sure the slave
Measur'd my head who wrought this coronet!
They lie that say complexions cannot change!
My blood's ennobled, and I am transform'd
Into the sacred temper of a king!-
Methinks I hear my noble parasites
Styling me Caesar or Great Alexander.
Licking my feet,' &c.
Cromwell is said to have felt the whole part so warmly, and more especially the speech now quoted, that it was the first thing which really fired his soul with ambition, and excited him from the possession of an imaginary throne, to stretch his views to the conquest of a real one.
Amyott, Bishop of Auxerre.
As Henry II. of France was making a progress through his kingdom, he stopped at a small inn in Berri to sup. After supper, a youth sent in to his majesty a copy of Greek verses. The king being no scholar, gave them to his chancellor to read, who was so pleased with them, that he desired the boy who wrote them to be brought in. On enquiry, he found him to be one Amyott, the son of a mercer in the town. The chancellor recommended to his majesty to take the lad to Paris, he did so, and made him tutor to his children. Charles IX. to whom Amyott had been preceptor, having read that Charles V. had made his tutor, Adrian, a Pope, said that he would do as much for his tutor, and the post of Great Almoner of France being vacant, he gave him that honourable office. He afterwards conferred on him the bishopric of Auxerre.
Jean Baptiste Lully, the celebrated musician, was born of obscure parents at Florence but discovering in his infancy a propensity to music, a Cordelier undertook to teach him to play on the guitar, an instrument then much in use in Italy and France. When only ten years of age, young Lully became page to Mademoiselle de Montpensier: but this lady taking a dislike to his appearance, which was far from promising, assigned him a situation in her kitchen, as under scullion. The genius of Lully was not thus to be subdued, and in the moments of his leisure from the kitchen he used to scrape on a wretched violin which he had been able to procure. This became known to the princess, and he was soon restored to that character, as a musician, from which his figure had a short time before banished him as a page.
Charles II. who was very fond of music, perceiving genius in many of the children of the Chapel Royal, encouraged them to try to compose pieces by themselves. Many of the children composed anthems and services which would do honour to mature age, particularly John Blow, afterwards Doctor in Music, who attracted the notice of the king by his talents and was asked by him if he could imitate a little duet of Carissimi to the words 'Dite 0 Cieli.' Blow modestly answered he would try, and composed in the same measure, and the same key, that fine song, 'Go, perjured Man;' and afterwards he composed another little inferior, to the words, 'Go, perjured Maid.'
How to ask for a Penny.
It has often been said, that the Members of the Society of Friends are possessed from their youth of more than an ordinary share of acuteness. The following fact may serve as a proof of this assertion:- Some time ago, Mr. ---, a most respectable ironfounder, of Birmingham, discovered that his son, a boy of five years of age, was accustomed to ask those gentlemen who came to his house, to give him money; and immediately extorted a promise from him, under a threat of correction, that he would not do so any more. The next day Mr., his father's partner, called, and the boy evaded a breach of his promise by saying, 'Friend, cost thou know any one who would lend me a penny, and not require it of me again?'
Abbe de Rance.
The Abbe de Rance, afterwards a celebrated monk of La Trappe, made such a rapid proficiency in Greek, that at the age of twelve he translated Anacreon, and published it with learned notes. He was very little older when he was appointed to a considerable benefice. Some persons at court murmuring at the advancement of so young an Abbe, Caussin, the Jesuit, was directed by the king to examine him. When the little Abbe came to court Caussin had Homer lying before him, and desired De Rance to read a passage which casually presented itself. The boy read it immediately in French; the Jesuit could not credit such an extraordinary facility, but thought he had looked at the Latin version printed in the same page, and covering the Latin with his gloves, was surprised to hear the lad explain the Greek as before. The Jesuit astonished, exclaimed, 'Habeos lynceos oculos:' 'You have lynx eyes, my son, for you can see through a pair of gloves.'
Presence of Mind.
In the insurrection headed by Wat Tyler, Richard the Second owed the preservation of his life to his intrepidity and presence of mind. In the meeting at Smithfield, when the insurgents saw their leader fall by the sword of the Lord Mayor Walworth, they drew their bows to revenge his fall. Richard, then only fourteen years of age, galloped up to the archers, and exclaimed, 'What are you doing, my lieges? Tyler was a traitor; come with me, and I will be your leader.' Wavering and disconcerted, they followed him into the fields at Islington, and falling on their knees, begged (or mercy. This monarch gave several other proofs of his courage at an early age.
The Learned Child of Lubeck.
In a German work published some years ago at Lubeck and Gottingen, there is the following singular, we may almost say incredible, account of a child, whose precocity of talents exceeds anything of the kind we have met with.
Christian Henry Heinksen was born at Lubeck, February 6, 1721. He had completed his first year, when he already knew and recited the principal facts contained in the five books of Moses, with a number of verses on the creation. In his fourteenth month he knew all the history of the Bible, in his thirtieth month, the history of the nations of antiquity, geography, anatomy, the use of maps, and nearly eight thousand Latin words before the end of his third year, the history of Denmark, and the genealogy of the crowned heads of Europe. In his fourth year, he acquired the doctrine of divinity, with the proofs from the Bible, ecclesiastical history; the institutions; two hundred hymns, with their tunes; eighty psalms; entire chapters of the Old and New Testaments; fifteen hundred verses and sentences from the ancient Latin classics; almost the whole Orbis Pictus of Comnenius, from which he had derived all his knowledge of the Latin tongue; arithmetic, and history of the European empires and kingdoms. He could point out in the maps whatever place he was asked for, or had passed through in his journeys, and relate all the ancient and modern historical anecdotes relating to it. His stupendous memory caught and retained every word he was told, his ever active imagination used, at whatever he saw or heard, instantly to apply, according to the laws of association of ideas, some examples or sentences from the Bible, geography, profane or ecclesiastical history, the Orbis Pictus, or from the ancient classics. At the court of Denmark, he delivered twelve speeches, and underwent public examination on a variety of subjects, especially the history of Denmark. He spoke German, Latin, French, and Low Dutch, and was exceedingly good-natured and well-behaved, but of a most tender and delicate constitution, never ate any solid food, but chiefly subsisted on nurse's milk. He was celebrated, says this account, all over Europe, under the name of the Learned Child of Lubeck, and died June 27, 1725, aged four years, four months, twenty days, and twenty-one hours, after having displayed the most amazing proofs of intellectual talent.
Sir Philip Sydney.
'When I was yet a child, no childish play
To me was pleasing; all my mind was set
Serious to learn and know, and thence to do
What might be public good: myself I thought
Born to that end, born to promote all truth,
All righteous things.'
Sir Philip Sydney was one of the brightest ornaments of Queen Elizabeth's court. In early youth, he discovered the strongest marks of genius and understanding. Sir Fulk Greville, Lord Brook, who was his intimate friend, says of him, 'though I lived with him, and knew him from a child, yet I never knew him other than a man, with such steadiness of mind, lovely and familiar gravity, as-carried grace and reverence above greater years. His talk was ever of knowledge; and his very play tended to enrich his mind.'
The Archduke Charles was originally destined by his family- to the ecclesiastical state. Joseph II. being in Italy in 1776, went to visit his brother Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany. To flatter the warlike spirit of the emperor, the attendants of the young princes augmented their playthings with a complete military equipment. The prince, who was most pleased with these toys, was the Archduke Charles, then five years of age. On the second day after the arrival of the emperor, the grand master found the young prince at the door of the illustrious traveller with a sword on his side, and a fusil on his shoulder, standing in the ranks of the body guard. 'What are you doing there, my prince?' said the grand master. 'I am guarding my uncle,' calmly replied the archduke. The emperor, coming out of his cabinet, took his nephew in his arms, and said, in embracing him, 'Very well, my young friend, I cannot be guarded better than by my own people; in the mean time I wish to recompence your zeal; and in the hope of making you one day a great general, I now appoint you Colonel Proprietor of the Regiment of Lorraine.' This regiment has ever since belonged to him: it has given proofs of the greatest attachment, and received marks of solicitude and kindness.
When the frigate La Tribune was wrecked off Halifax, in November, 1798, the whole ship's crew perished, with the exception of four men, who escaped in the jolly boat, and eight others, who clung to the main and foretops, The inhabitants of the place came down in the night opposite to the point where the ship struck, and approached so near as to converse with the people on the wreck. The first exertion which was made for their relief, was by a boy of no more than thirteen years of age, from Herring Cove, who ventured off in a small skiff by himself, about eleven o'clock the next day. With great exertions, and at extreme risk to himself, he ventured to approach the wreck, and backed in his little boat so near to the fore-top as to take off two of the men, for the boat could not with safety hold any more. He rowed them triumphantly to the Cove, and had them instantly conveyed to a comfortable habitation. After shaming, by his example, older persons, who had larger boats, the manly boy put off again in his little skiff; but with all his efforts he was unable to reach the wreck a second time. His example, however, was soon followed by other boats of the Cove, and by their joint exertions the whole of the remaining survivors were saved.
Admiral Drake, when a young midshipman, on the eve of an engagement, was observed to shake and tremble very much: and being asked the cause, he replied, 'My flesh trembles at the anticipation of the many and great dangers into which my resolute and undaunted heart will lead me.'
In the year 1538, there were born, at Basil twin brothers, who proved so like to each other, that it was extremely difficult, even to those who knew them best, to distinguish between them. Nor was the resemblance greater externally, than it was in regard to their inward dispositions. If one fell sick, the other was so too; if one began to have a pain in the head, the other would presently feel the like; if one was asleep or sad, the other could not hold up his head or be merry; and so many other things.
A similar extraordinary affinity is related by Zuingerus to have occurred in the case of twin-brothers, the sons of Petrus Apostolius, a senator of Mechlin. Even the mother of these boys often erred in distinguishing between them.
Fulgosius records an instance of resemblance which, though it did not include the outward appearance, is even more remarkable than either of the cases now mentioned. It is that of Medardus and Gerardus, twin-brothers and Frenchmen. They were born on the same day, both of them were preferred to the Episcopal dignity, the one to the See of Rhotomage, and the other to that of Noviodunum, on the same day; and they both died on the same day.
We are told by Pliny, that a merchant slave-seller sold to Marcus Antonius, the triumvir two very beautiful boys as twins, such was their great resemblance to each other, although the one was born in Asia, and the other beyond the Alps. When the fraud was soon afterwards betrayed by the difference in the language of the boys, Antonius was angry at the slave-seller, and sending for him, demanded why he had made him pay two hundred sesterces for twins, when they were not so? The dealer answered that, that was the very reason why he had sold them at so dear a rate. 'For,' said he, 'it is no wonder if twin-brothers, the offspring of the same parents, should resemble one another, but that there should be any found born as these were, in distant countries, so like in all respects as they are, is indeed a rare and wonderful thing.'
An eminent preacher of the present day, when a boy, committed some offense, for which his father decreed as a punishment, that he should be excluded from the family table on Christmas-day. When the young delinquent saw the vast culinary preparations made for the feast from which he was debarred, he was moved less with envy, than with a contempt for the sort of punishment which had been imposed on him; but mixing in his disposition a good deal of the satiric with the serious, he resolved not to be without his joke on the occasion. He contrived to obtain secret access to a veal pasty, on which the cook had exhausted all her skill, and carefully taking off the cover, so as to avoid any mark of fracture or disturbance, he took out the greater part of the meat, and filling up the dish with a quantity of grass, replaced the cover as it was.
The company met, and the dish was served up to them in this state; it fell to the lot of the young wag's father to break up the pie, and his surprise on doing so may be more easily conceived than described. Stirring the grass about in a fit of rising indignation, his fork encountered a small slip of paper, on taking out which, he read on it these words: 'All flesh is grass.'
Secret Well Kept.
It was originally customary for the senators of Rome to take their sons along with them into the senate. On one occasion Papyrius Praetextatus having accompanied his father thither, heard an affair of great importance discussed the determination of which was deferred till the following day, the strictest injunctions being given, that in the meantime no one should divulge a syllable of the matter in hand. When young Papyrius went home his mother asked him, 'What the fathers had done that day in the senate?' He answered, 'that it was a secret which he could not disclose.' The curiosity of the lady was only the more stimulated by this denial, and she pressed the boy so hard, that to get rid of her importunities, he was driven to make use of the following pleasant fiction. 'It was,' said he, 'debated in the senate, which would be more advantageous to the commonwealth, man should have two wives, or that one woman should have two husbands?' The lady, wonderfully stirred by this singular piece of information, instantly left the house, and told what she had discovered to a number of ladies, among whom the projected change in their condition was discussed with no small degree of vehemence and alarm.
Having so deep an interest in the decision of the question, they thought it but right that the senate should know their feelings respecting it, and next day accordingly they went in e' body, and surrounding the doors of the senate, cried out with vast clamour, 'That rather than one man should marry two women, one woman should marry two men.' The senators were in great astonishment at this strange cry, and sent out to know what the women meant? On this, young Papyrius stepped forth, and told them what his mother had desired to know, and how he had contrived to answer her. The senators were much amused with the youth's explanation; and after sending away the women, with an assurance that nothing was at present intended to be done in the affair to which they alluded, they marked their sense of young Papyrius's wit and secrecy, by passing an order, that in future no son of a senator should be admitted to their meetings, Papyrius excepted.
The Mural Crown.
The first among the Romans who was honoured with the mural crown, was Manlius Capitolinus. When he was as yet not more than sixteen years of age, he had won the spoils of two enemies; and he lived to gain no less than thirteen civic garlands, and thirty other military rewards. It was this Manlius who defended and preserved the capitol, when the Gauls had almost become the masters of it; and hence it was he received the surname of Capitolinus.
Prince Henrys Son of James I.
Prince Henry the son of James I. (of England), who perished in his eighteenth year, possessed all the elements of an heroic and military character. Had he lived to ascend the throne, the days of Agincourt and Cressy would have revived, and Henry IX. have rivalled Henry V., whom he resembled in his features. This youth has furnished the subject of an interesting volume: and in the British Museum there is a MS. narrative, written by one who was an attendant on the prince's person from the age of three to thirteen years, a time of life when but few children can furnish anything worth relating about themselves.
The first time he went to the town of Stirling to meet the king, observing on the road a stack of corn, it fancifully struck him as similar in shape to the top he used to play with. 'That's a good top,' said he. 'Why do you not then play with it?' answered one of his attendants. 'Set you it up for me and I will play with it.' This is just the fancy we might expect in a lively child, with a shrewdness in the retort above its years.
Being questioned by a nobleman whether after his father, he had rather be King of England or Scotland, he asked which of them was best. Being answered 'England,' 'Then,' said the Scottish-born prince, 'would I have both.' At another time on reading this verse in Virgil:-
'Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur,'
the boy said he would use that verse for himself, with a slight alteration, thus:
'Anglus Scotusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur'
Even in the most trivial circumstances his bold and martial character displayed itself. Eating in the king's presence a dish of milk, the king asked him why he ate so much child's meat? 'Sir, it is also man's meat.'
Once taking up strawberries with two spoons when one might have sufficed, he gaily exclaimed, 'The one I use as a rapier, and the other as a dagger.'
The bickerings between the prince and his tutor, Adam Newton, are amusing. When Newton, wishing to set an example to the prince of heroic exercises one day practiced the pike, but with little skill, the prince taunted him on his failure. Newton obviously lost his temper, and observed 'that to find fault was an evil humour.' 'Master, I take the humour of you.' 'It becomes not a prince,' observed Newton. 'Then,' retorted the young prince, 'cloth it worse become a master.'
The tutor once irritated at losing a game at which he was playing with the prince said, 'I am meet for whipping boys.' 'You vaunt then,' retorted the prince, 'that which a ploughman or cart-driver can do better than you.' 'I can do more,' said the tutor, 'for I can govern foolish children' On this the prince who in respect for his tutor would not carry the jest further, rose from the table, and in a low voice said to these near him, 'He had need be a wise man that could do that.'
A musician having played a voluntary in presence of the prince, was requested to play the same again. 'I could not for the kingdom of Spain,' said the musician; 'for this were harder than for a preacher to repeat, word by word, a sermon that he had not learned by rote.' A clergyman standing by observed that he thought a preacher might do that. 'Perhaps, rejoined the young prince, 'for a bishopric.'
One of his servants having cut the prince's finger, and sucking out the blood with his mouth, the young prince said to him pleasantly, 'If, which God forbid! my father, myself, and the rest of his kindred, should fail, you might claim the crown, for you have now in you the blood royal.'
In one of the prince's excursions into the country, having stopped at a nobleman's house, the prince's servants complained that they had been obliged to go to bed supperless, through the parsimony of the house, which the little prince at the time of hearing seemed not to notice. The next morning, the lady of the house coming to pay her respects to him, found him turning a volume that had many pictures in it, one of which was a painting of a company sitting at a banquet; this he shewed her. 'I invite you madam, to a feast.' 'To what feast?' she asked. 'To this feast,' said the boy. 'What, would your highness give me but a painted piece?' Fixing his eye on her, he said, 'No better, madam, is found in this house.' There was a point in this ingenious reprimand, far excelling the wit of a child.
Such are a few of the anecdotes of a prince who died in early youth, gleaned from a contemporary manuscript, written by an eye and ear witness. They are trifles, but trifles consecrated by their genuineness, and by the rank of the individual to whom they relate.
'Unus Pellaeon juveni non sufficit orbis,
Estuat infelicae angusto limitie mundi.'
Alexander the Great hearing Anaxarchus, the philosopher, discoursing, and showing that, according to the sense of his master, Democritus, there were innumerable worlds. 'Alas!' exclaimed he, 'what a miserable one am I, that I have not subdued so much as one of all these!'
'Altho' to write be lesser than to do,
It is the next deed, and a great one too.'
While Thucydides was yet a boy, he heard Herodotus recite his histories at the Olympic Games, and is said to have wept exceedingly. The 'Father of Historians,' observing how much the boy was moved, congratulated his father, Clorus, on having a child of such promise, and advised him to spare no pains in his education. The result showed how just Herodotus was in his anticipations. The young Thucydides lived to be one of the best historians Greece ever had.
'Hush, pretty boy, thy hopes might have been better
'Tis lost at dice what ancient velour won
Hard, when the father plays away the son!' YORKSHIRE TRAGEDY.
Joannes Gonzaga having lost at dice a large sum of money, his son Alexander, who was present, could not help heaving a deep sigh. Gonzaga observing this, said to the byestanders, 'Alexander the Great hearing of a victory that his father had gained, is reported to have shown himself very sad at the news as fearing that there would be nothing left for him to conquer, but my son Alexander is afflicted at my loss, as fearing that there will be nothing left for him to lose.' 'Yes,' replied the youth, smartly, 'and had Philip lost his all, Alexander would never have had the means of conquering anything.'
A Lesson to Kings.
'It is the curse of kings to be attended
By slaves that take their humours for a warrant
To break into the bloody house of life
And on the winking of authority
To understand a law, to know the meaning
Of dang'rous majesty; when perchance it frowns
More upon humour than advis'd respect.
The King of Ashantee having in the midst of a number of his courtiers expressed a strong dislike to a wealthy captain of his nation, the elder of his linguists, or counsellors, always responsive to the nod of their master, said 'If you wish to take his stool from him, we will make the palaver' (i.e. pick a quarrel with him). But Agay, a young lad, who on account of his extraordinary sagacity, or mother-wit and a fearless promptness in saying whatever he thought, had been recently added to the number of these linguists, instantly sprang up, exclaiming, 'No, king, that is not good; that man never did you any wrong; you know all the gold of your subjects is yours at their death, but if you get all now, strangers will go away and say, only the king has gold, and that will not be good. Let them say, the king has gold, all his captains have gold, and all his people have gold. Then your country will look handsome, and the bush people (people of the woods) will fear you.'
Lopez de Vega.
The youth of the most prolific writer that ever existed, could scarcely fail to be distinguished by much that is remarkable. At five years of age Lopez could read Spanish and Latin fluently;, and even make verses which he exchanged with his schoolfellows for pictures and other trifles. At the age of twelve, he was master of the Latin tongue, and of the art of rhetoric, could dance and fence with ease and dexterity, and before he had reached his fifteenth year, he had written several pastorals, and made his first dramatic essay with a comedy entitled, 'La Pastoral de Jacinto. He continued to the end of his life to cultivate poetry with such an inconceivable facility, that a play of more than two thousand verses, intermixed with sonnets, tercites, and octaves, often cost him no more than one day's labour. He is said to have actually produced the amazing number of eighteen hundred comedies, and four hundred autos sacramentales; in all, two thousand two hundred pieces! Of these about three hundred have been published, in twenty-five quarto volumes. No poet during his lifetime ever enjoyed so much glory. Whenever he appeared In the streets, the people assembled round him in crowds, and hailed him by the title of the Prodigy of Nature.
William Henry Ireland.
Mr. Ireland has furnished a striking instance of the misapplication of youthful talents, and certainly never did any man suffer more severely for his duplicity. This young man whose literary fraud furnished the counterpart to that of Chatterton, when only sixteen years of age forged a series of papers which he ascribed to the immortal Shakespeare; and so successfully managed was the imposition, that he nor only imposed upon his own father, but on several literary gentlemen, who prided themselves much on their critical acumen, as will appear by the following certificate.
'We, whose names are hereunto subscribed have, in the presence, and by the favour of Mr. Ireland, inspected the Shakspeare papers, and are convinced of their authenticity.
|Samuel Parr||Rev. I. Scott|
|Thomas Burgess||John Pinkerton|
|John Byng Thomas||Hunt|
|James Bindley Henry||James Pye|
|Herbert Croft||Rev. N. Thornbury|
|Somerset||Jonn. Hewlett, Translator of old Records|
|Isaac Heard, King of Arms||Garter, Common Pleas Office Temple|
|R. Valpy||Mat. Wyatt|
|James Boswell John||Frank Newton.'|
After fabricating a great number of papers, which he attributed to Shakspeare and his contemporaries, Ireland presumed so far as to write a tragedy, which he said was by the great dramatist, and even succeeded in having it represented at Drury Lane Theatre. It was called Vortigern and Rowena, and was condemned. To Mr. Malone, who had always denied the authenticity of the papers, the public were principally indebted for the detection of the fraud; and Ireland afterwards acknowledged it in a curious work, entitled, 'Confessions of W. H. Ireland.'
John Philip Barretier, was born at Schwabach, January 19, 1721. At the age of nine years he was master of five languages. The French, German, and Latin, he learned almost at the same time, by conversing in them indifferently with his father, who was a Calvinistic minister. The Greek and Hebrew he acquired by reading the holy scriptures in their original languages, accompanied with a translation. In his eleventh year he not only published a learned letter in Latin? but also translated the Travels of Rabbi Benjamin from the Hebrew into the French, and added notes and remarks so replete with judgment and penetration, that they seem the work of a man long accustomed to study and reflection, rather than the production of a child. At fifteen, the fame of his learning and writings attracted the notice of the King of Prussia, who sent for him to court. In his journey thither he passed through Halle, where he so distinguished himself in his conversation with the professors of the University, that they offered him the degree of Doctor in Philosophy. He drew up on the same evening some positions in philosophy and mathematics, which next day he defended with so much wit, spirit, and strength of reason, to a crowded auditory, that the whole University was delighted and amazed. On his arrival at Berlin, the king honoured him with peculiar marks of distinction. He sent for him every day during his stay there, and recommended to him the study of modern history, and those parts of learning which are of use in public transactions and civil employments, declaring that such abilities, properly cultivated, might exalt him in ten years to be the greatest minister of state in Europe. The young philosopher, not dazzled with the prospect of such high promotion, answered, 'That he was too much pleased with science and quiet, to leave them for such inextricable studies, or such harassing fatigues.' The king, though not pleased with his declaration, presented him on his departure with two hundred crowns.
From Berlin, Barretier went back to Halle where he pursued his studies with his usual application and success, till his nineteenth year? when his health began to decline, and continued to waste away for eighteen months and ten days, when he lost the use of his limbs. He then prepared for death without fear or emotion, and on the 5th of October, 1740, resigned his soul into the hands of his Creator with confidence and tranquillity.
'O what a noble mind was here o'erthrown!'
The wayward, neglected, and unfortunate Thomas Chatterton, whose premature talents and attainments, whose boundless invention and invincible industry, enabled him to rush naked into the amphitheatre of life, and sustain a brilliant part, though his spectators were contemptuous and cold, did not give very early promise of great talents. Until he was five years old, he was considered a dull child, incapable of improvement, but a singular circumstance gave him the first impulse His eye was caught by the animated capitals of an old folio music book that lay in the room. He delighted to gaze on these letters; and the mother watching the concurrence of opportunity, took advantage of this passion to initiate him in his alphabet. It is more than probable that this circumstance, together with his being taught to read out of a black letter bible, had great influence in giving that peculiar turn to the imitation of antiquities which he afterwards displayed.
Chatterton's first poetical production was at the age of eleven years. It was a satire directed against a man who turned methodist preacher from mercenary motives; it displays a considerable degree of humour and facility of versification. At twelve years of age he paraphrased the ninth chapter of Job, together with some chapters of Isaiah, and wrote a satire on his upper master. At the age of fourteen he was articled to an attorney; and it was while he was in this situation that he fabricated those poems of Rowley, which excited so warm a controversy in the literary world for a period of more than thirty years. He had not reached his sixteenth year, when he first commenced this literary fraud by writing poems on slips of old parchment, which he found at the office, in the style of the fifteenth century, and so successful was his imitation, that the literati and the antiquaries were long divided in opinion as to their being genuine or spurious. About this time he wrote other poems, which would not disgrace poets of a more mature age.
At the age of-seventeen, Chatterton ventured to London; and in one month his literary contributions were so ingenious and ample, that he sustained the reputation of five periodical works the London, Gospel, Town and Country, and Court and City, Magazines, and the Political Register; and yet with industry like this, poverty pressed hard upon him, his load of misery became every day less tolerable, and at last triumphed over his fortitude. Many a day did he fast, and often had no other meal than a halfpenny roll and water. At length he drank the fatal cup, and perished in his eighteenth year:
'No brother, sister, friend, no parent nigh,
To soothe his pangs, or catch his parting sigh;
Alone, unknown, the Muses' darling dies,
And with the vulgar dead unnoted lies.'
Sigismund Maxim. Wilh. Otto von Praun, the son of a captain of cavalry in the Austrian service, was born at Tyrnau in Hungary, on the 1st of June, 1811. When but an infant, he showed a singular desire for instruction, and in his second year he had acquired such a readiness in the knowledge of his letters, in reading, and in deciphering prints of subjects from general and natural history, that on the first of November, 1813, when but two years and five months old, he was deemed qualified to enter the second form of the principal national school of Tyrnau. Having attended the school about ten months, on the 26th of August, 1814, he was examined with the rest of the pupils; and bore away the highest prize from seventy of his juvenile competitors, in reading and writing German, in Hungarian orthography, his catechism, and drawing. On the examination of the I7th of March, 1815, this child, who had then attained the age of three years and three quarters, was again pronounced the greatest proficient among the one hundred and twenty-four pupils of his form, in reading the German, Hungarian, and Latin languages, in arithmetic, and his catechism. This infant prodigy has excited still greater attention, from the extraordinary and more rapid progress he ha, made in music. From his second year he had studied the violin with so much success, that after the examination of the I7th of March, he astonished those who were assembled to hear him, namely, the magistracy, all the teachers of the principal national schools, and a number of amateurs of music, with taking the leading part in a duet and trio of Pleyel's. This he repeated on the 13th of April following, at a party given by Prince Schwartzenburgh at Tyrnau, before a numerous circle of nobility. Nor is the progress he has made in acquiring foreign languages, fencing, and drawing, inferior to his other advancements. During the summer of 1815, this boy gave a public concert at Vienna, where the astonishment and admiration of all present were unbounded; the produce of it he bestowed on the Invalid Fund.
The Poor Governess.
The widow of a clergyman who kept the grammar school at Plympton, on the decease of her husband, opened a boardingschool for young ladies, but having few friends, was unable to make a sufficiently reputable appearance at their accustomed balls. The daughter of a neighbour, an only child, and then a very young girl, felt for the poor governess's pitiable insufficiency in the-article of finery, and being unable to help her from her own resources, devised the means by which it might be done. Having heard of the great fame of Sir Joshua Reynolds, his character for generosity and charity, and recollecting that he had formerly belonged to the Plympton school, she, without mentioning it to her companions, addressed a letter to Sir Joshua whom she had never seen, stating the forlorn condition of the poor governess's wardrobe, and begged the gift of a silk gown for her. Very shortly after, silks of different patterns, sufficient for two dresses, reached the astonished governess, who was wholly unacquainted with the compassionate means that had procured her so welcome a present.
Force of Bad Example.
At the height of the revolutionary mania in France, there was one spectacle which, if it did not exceed all the other spectacles of that era of horror in atrocity, exceeded them all in singularity. It has not, we believe, obtained a place in history, but it is due to the history of human nature, that it should be rescued from among the mass of useless fragments which are hurrying down the stream of time. Troops of boys were to be seen in different parts, in regular martial array, they were armed, some with small firelocks, and others with pistols and swords; they were divided, after the manner of their seniors, into opposite parties, whose bone of contention was seldom anything more than the ordinary school one, 'Of which is the stronger?' They had a great many skirmishes, fought several pitched battles, and not a few of them were dangerously wounded. The mimic strife would, however, have been incomplete without one more exalted characteristic. They paraded the streets, bearing the heads of cats, &c., upon long poles; and to such a pitch did they carry their emulation of the transactions of the great world around them, that they actually hung up of their companions, who was accused of stealing fruit from a woman of the Halle du Ble. He was cut down by some passengers in time to save his life. The Committee of Police published an ordnance on the subject, directed to the fathers of families, but the sanguinary mania of the boys did not entirely abate, till the fathers themselves returned to reason and to moderation.
It was so natural for Dr. Watts, when a child, to speak in rhyme, that even at the very time he wished to avoid it, he could not. His father was displeased at this propensity, and threatened to whip him If he did not leave off making verses. One day, when he was about to put his threat in execution, the child burst out into tears, and on his knees said-
'Pray, father, do some pity take,
And I will no more verses make.'
Florian's earliest years were passed in shooting birds all day, and reading every evening an old translation of the I lied; whenever he got a bird remarkable for Its size of plumage, he personified It by one of the names of his heroes, and raising a funeral pyre, consumed the body; collecting the ashes in an urn, he presented them to his grandfather, with a narrative of his Patroclus or Sarpedon.
Admiral Earl Howe, when a youth, served on board the Burford, Captain Lushington. This vessel made an unsuccessful attack on the town of La Guita, in which the captain was killed. The attempt having failed, a court-martial was held relative to the conduct of the Burford. Young Howe was particularly called upon for his evidence. He gave it in a clear and collected manner, till he came to relate the death of his captain. He could then proceed no further; but burst into tears, and retired.
'He never told a Lie.'
Mr. Park, in his 'Travels through Africa,' relates that a party of armed Moors having made a predatory attack on the flocks of a village at which he was stopping, a youth of the place was mortally wounded in the affray.
The natives placed him on horseback, and conducted him home, while his mother preceded the mournful group, proclaiming all the excellent qualities of her boy, and by her clasped hands and streaming eyes, discovered the inward bitterness of her soul. The quality for which she chiefly praised the boy formed of itself an epitaph so noble, that even civilized life could not aspire to a higher. 'He never,' said she with pathetic energy' 'never, never, told a lie.'
When the Robbers of Schiller was first performed at Fribourg, in the Brisgaw, the youth of that city, moved almost to madness by the ardent and awful scenes which it pourtrayed, formed the wild design of imitating the hero of the play and his companions. They bound themselves in a confederacy, by the most solemn oaths, to betake themselves to the woods, and live by rapine and plunder, or, as they termed it, to become the exterminating angels of heaven. Fortunately, the plot was discovered by one of the tutors finding a copy of the confederacy, written, it is said, with blood. The parties were all secured, and the future representation of The Robbers was prohibited in Fribourg. Such terrible impressions are a wonderful tribute to the energy of Schiller's pen, which, like Rousseau's, may be said to burn the paper.
Hogarth's youth was rather unpromising. He was bound apprentice to a mean engraver of arms on plate; but did not remain long in this occupation, before an accidental circumstance discovered the impulse of his genius, and that it was directed to painting. One Sunday he set out with two or three companions on an excursion to Highgate. The weather being hot, they went into a public house, where they had not been long before a quarrel arose between two persons in the room, one of whom struck the other with a quart pot, and cut him very much. Hogarth drew out his pencil, and produced an extremely ludicrous picture of the scene. What rendered this piece the more pleasing was, that it exhibited an exact likeness of the man, with the portrait of his antagonist, and the figures in caricature of the persons gathered round him.
'From the gay sire, whose trembling hand
Could hardly buckle on his brand;
To the raw boy, whose shaft and bow
Were yet scarce terror to the crow:
Each valley, each sequester'd glen,
Muster'd his little horde of men.'
This poetical description, given by Mr. Scott, of the gathering of the Clan Alpin, in Balquhidder, by the order of Roderick Dhu, was realized on a far greater scale, and in the prosecution of a nobler purpose, in the Tyrol, during the late war' Not only the women engaged in the great cause, and guarded the prisoners that were taken, but the little children, whose age would not permit them to bear arms, still lingered about the ranks of their &there, and sought by any little offices to render themselves useful in the common cause. One of these, a son of Speckbacher, a Tyrolese leader, and the companion of Hofer, a boy of ten years of age, followed his father into the battle, and continued by his side in the hottest fire. He was several times desired by his father to retire: at length, when he was obliged to obey, he ascended a little rising ground, where the balls from the French struck, and gathering them in his hat, carried them to such of his countrymen as he understood were in want of ammunition.
Princes of Brunswick.
The two Princes of Brunswick (sons of the late duke) were from their earliest years, boys of what the French call tres grande esperance. They were resident in England from the age of eight to twelve years.
After the battle of Leipsic, a subscription was set on foot throughout England, for the benefit of the suffering widows and orphans. It was no sooner known to the princes, then living at Vauxhall, than they agreed between themselves unknown to their preceptor, to give all their pocket money, and a hoard of old foreign coin, which they had been some time in accumulating, in aid of the fund. This resolved upon, they requested their tutor to take a ride to Mr. Ackermann's, where the subscriptions were deposited; and upon their arrival there, to his no small astonishment and admiration, they pulled out the bag in which the treasure had been kept, and requested it might be conveyed to Mr. Ackermann, with the observation, 'that it was all they had to give.' So singular a mark of generosity and patriotism in children, both under twelve years of age, has perhaps been seldom equalled.
'Fate can strike but one;
Reproach cloth reach whole families.'
When the universal resentment against Mrs. Brownrigg, of infamous memory, was at its height, and her two younger children were doomed to feel their parent's guilt in the destitute state in which they were left, the eldest, a dejected, modest, and pretty boy, under fourteen years of age, applied to Mr. Lacy, a painter, of Fetter Lane, to entreat that he would employ him; pleading, with artless eloquence, the ruin his little sister of five years of age was doomed to, if he could not, by his labour and industry, support and keep her out of the workhouse, promising at the same time the utmost diligence and good behaviour, if he would be so good as to employ him Mr. Lacy, moved with compassion and the lad's generous motives, immediately took him into his service, strictly forbidding all his servants on pain of dismissal, to reproach the boy on account of his family.
Frederick the Great one day ringing his bell, but nobody coming, he opened the door of the ante-chamber, and found his page sleeping on a chair. In going to awaken him, he saw a written paper hanging out of his pocket. This excited the king's curiosity and attention: he drew it out, and found it to be a letter from the page's mother, wherein she thanked her son for his kind assistance in sending part of his wages; for which heaven would certainly reward him, if he continued faithful to his majesty. The king immediately fetched a rouleau of ducats, and slipped it with the letter, into the page's pocket. Soon after he rang the bell and awoke the page, who made his appearance. 'Surely you have been asleep,' said the king. The boy stammered part of an excuse, and part of a confession, and putting his hand in his pocket found, to his surprise, the roll of ducats. He drew it out, pale and trembling, but unable to speak a syllable. 'What is the matter?' said the king. 'Alas! your majesty,' said the page, falling on his knees, 'my ruin is intended: I know nothing of this money.' 'Why,' said the king, 'whenever fortune does come she comes sleeping; you may send it to your mother with my compliments, and assure her I will provide for you both.' This scene has produced a comedy by Professor Engle, entitled, 'The Noble Youth.'
The father of Handel had destined him to the study of the law, but he evinced very early a propensity to music, which nothing could restrain. He was strictly forbidden to touch any musical instrument; but notwithstanding this injunction he found means to get a clarichord privately conveyed to a room at the top of the house, to which he constantly stole when the family were asleep. While he was yet under seven years of age, he went with his father to the Court of Saxe-Weisenfels, to the prince of which his half-brother was valet-de-chambre. His father had refused to let young Handel accompany him, but he followed the chaise on foot, and by his entreaties was taken into the chaise and carried to court. Here, playing one day on the organ in the church after the service was over, he attracted the notice of the duke, who induced the father to suffer him to study music. At the age of nine years he began to compose the church service for voices and instruments, and from that time actually composed a service every week, for three years successively. When only fourteen he went to Berlin, where Buononcini, a leading composer attached to the Opera, affected a contempt for so mere a child as Handel; and to put his talents to the test, composed a cantata in the chromatic style difficult in every respect, and such as he thought would puzzle even a master; but Handel treated the composition as a trifle, and executed it at once with a truth and accuracy that was astonishing. Before he had reached his fifteenth year Handel had composed three operas, the first Almeria, which was performed at Hamburgh thirty nights successively; Florinda and Nerone, the other two, were equally successful. He now by his talents and industry was enabled to yield some assistance to his mother, who was left a widow. By the persuasions of the Prince of Tuscany, he was induced to go to Florence, where he was received with the most marked attention by the court. Here, when still only eighteen years of age, he composed the opera of Rodrigo, for which he received one hundred sequins and a service of plate. The following year he went to Venice, where he was first discovered at a masquerade, while playing on a harpsichord in his visor. Scarlatri was there, and affirmed, 'it was either the little Saxon, or the devil.' While at Venice he composed, in three weeks, the opera of Agrippa, which was played twentyseven nights without interruption. The theatre almost at every pause resounded with shouts and acclamations Vive il caro Sassone. Such was the early success of this immortal composer, who died possessed of an ample fortune, acquired solely by his talents.
It is related of Torquato Tasso, the immortal author of 'Jerusalem Delivered,' that he spoke plain when only SIX months old. At the age of seven years he understood Latin and Greek, and composed several verses. At the age of nine he was condemned to death by Charles the Fifth, as was also his father, who was secretary to the Prince of Salerno, but both saved themselves by flight. The infant poet wrote a poem on their disgrace, in which he compared himself and his father to Ascanius flying with AEneas. Tasso was now sent to Padua to study law: and before he had attained his twelfth year, he had finished his course of rhetoric, poetry, logic, and ethics. At the age of seventeen he had received his degrees in philosophy, law, and divinity, and published his poem of Rinaldo, which was the precursor of the work which has rendered him immortal. His 'Jerusalem Delivered' was commenced at the age of twenty two.
Like Mozart, Haydn gave strong manifestations of his taste for music, even in infancy. His father, who had some knowledge of music, used to play the harp to his wife's singing, while the infant Haydn imitated a violin and bow with two pieces of wood, and thus took part in this quiet family concert.
When of sufficient age, he was placed among the choir boys in the cathedral of Vienna. His duties as a singer occupied only two hours in the day, but Haydn practiced in general sixteen, and sometimes eighteen hours. He was wont to speak in rapturous-terms of the delight he received from the combinations of sound; even when he was playing with his companions, he was never able to resist the harmony of the organ in the cathedral. Haydn now began to think of composition, but could not obtain lessons from any of the able professors of Vienna. He was thus thrown on his own resources, yet still despaired not. He bought an old treatise on harmony at a stall; and, devoting himself to the study of it with all the zeal of genius, speedily acquired a mastery of the principles of the art, and ere long became one of its brightest ornaments.
Hugo Grotius, at the age of eight years, is said to have composed verses which an old poet would not have disavowed. At the age of fifteen he maintained theses in philosophy, mathematics, and jurisprudence with great applause. The following year he went to France, where he attracted the notice of Henry IV. On his return to his own country, he pleaded his first cause at the age of seventeen, having previously published Commentaries on Capella and Aratus. When only twenty-four years of age, he was made Advocate-General of Rotterdam.
In September, 1789, a little boy, about five years old, the son of a man named Freemantle, in St. Thomas's Church-yard, Salisbury, being at play by the dam of the town mill, fell into the water; his sister, a child of nine years of age, with an affection that would have done honour to riper years, instantly plunged in to his assistance. They both sunk, and in sight of their mother! The poor woman, distracted with horror at the prospect of instant death to her children, braved the flood to save them: she rose with one under each arm, and by her cries happily brought her husband, who instantly swam to their assistance, and brought them all three safe ashore.
The accounts of this admirable composer's early proficiency in music are almost incredible. He began the piano at three years of age, his first delight was almost scientific; he used to spend his first hours in looking for thirds, and felt charmed with their harmony. At five years old he began to invent little pieces of such ingenuity that his father used to write them down. He was a creature of universal sensibility, a natural enthusiast, from his infancy fond, melancholy, and tearful. When scarcely able to walk, his first question to the friends who took him on their knee was, whether they loved him, and a negative always made him weep. His mind was all alive; and whatever touched it made it palpitate throughout. When he was taught the rudiments of arithmetic, the walls and tables of his bed-chamber were found covered with figures. But the piano was the grand object of his devotion. At six years old this singular child commenced with his father and sister (two years older than himself) one of those musical tours common in Germany, and performed at Munich before the Elector, to the great admiration of the most musical court on the continent. His ear now signalized itself by detecting the most minute irregularities in the orchestra; but its refinement was almost a disease: a discord tortured him; he conceived a horror of the trumpet, except as a simple accompaniment; and suffered from it so keenly that his father, to correct what he looked on as the effect of ignorant terror, one day desired a trumpet to be blown in his apartment. The child entreated him not to make the experiment, but the trumpet sounded. Mozart suddenly turned pale, fell on the floor, and was going into convulsions, when the trumpeter was sent out of the room.
When only seven years old he taught himself the violin; and thus, by the united effort of genius and industry, mastered the most difficult of all instruments. From Munich, he went to Vienna, Paris, and London. His reception in the British metropolis was such as the curious give to novelty, the scientific to intelligence,, and the great to what administers to stately pleasure. He was flattered, honoured, and rewarded. Handel had then made the organ popular, and Mozart took the way of popularity. His execution, which on the piano had astonished the English musicians was, on the organ, brought in aid of his genius, and he overcame all rivalry. On his departure from England, he gave a farewell concert, of which all the symphonies were composed by himself This was the career of a child nine years old! With the strengthening of his frame, the acuteness of his ear became less painful; the trumpet had lost its terrors for him at ten years old; and before he had completed that period, he distinguished the dedication of the Church of the Orphans at Vienna by the composition of a mass, motets, and a trumpet duet, and acted as director of the concert. This detail of years is minute; but who will object to reckoning the steps by which genius climbs to fame' Mozart had now traversed the great kingdoms of the earth, and seen all that could be strewn to him of European wealth and regal grandeur. He had yet to see the kingdom of European genius. Italy was an untried land, and he went at once to its capital. He was present at the Miserere, which seems to have been then performed with an effect unequalled since. The singers had been forbidden to give a copy of the score. Mozart bore it away in his memory, and wrote it down. This is still quoted among musicians as a miracle of remembrance; but it may be more truly quoted as an evidence of the power which diligence and determination give to the mind Mozart was not remarkable for memory what he did, all men may do: but the same triumph is to be purchased only by the same exertion. The impression of this day lasted during life; his style was changed, he at once adopted a solemn reverence for Handel, whom he called 'The Thunderbolt,' and softened the fury of his inspiration by the taste of Boccherini. He now made a grand advance in his profession, and composed an opera, Mithridates, which was played twenty nights at Milan.
Heroism and Affection.
In January, 1760, some gentlemen, who had been out shooting, on their return to Stirling, shot a bird near the bridge, which fell upon a sheet of Ice in the river, a short distance from the bank. Two boys, one sixteen and the other fourteen years of age, saw the bird fall, and the eldest attempted to get it, but the ice broke under him, and he went to the bottom before he had time to implore the assistance of his companion. The youngest boy no sooner saw his comrade's danger, than without waiting to strip off his clothes, he plunged into the river, dived to the bottom, and got hold of him, but encumbered by his clothes was unable to bring him up. Determined however, to save his companion if possible he immediately came out, stripped off his clothes, and went in a second time; but in this attempt he was equally unsuccessful, as the other boy was by this time so fixed in the mud, that all his strength was insufficient to disengage him; and benumbed with cold, it was with difficulty he saved himself. When he got out he had part of his companion's hair in his mouth, having, among other efforts, thus endeavoured to save him. What a noble instance of heroic perseverance!
A little girl, of five years of age, was equally fond of her mother and grandmother. On the birthday of the latter, her mother said to her 'My dear, you must pray to God to bless your grandmamma, and that she may live to be very old.' The child looked with some surprise at her mother, who perceiving it, said, 'Well, will you not pray to God to bless your grandmamma, that she may become very old?' 'Ah, mamma!' said the child, 'she is very old already, I will rather pray, that she may become young.'
Dr. Goldsmith was always plain in his appearance; but when a boy he had suffered so much from the small-pox, that he was considered particularly ugly. When he was about seven years old, a fiddler, who reckoned himself a wit, happened to be playing in Mr. Goldsmith's house. During a pause between two sets of country dances, little Oliver surprised the party by jumping up suddenly, and dancing round the room. Struck with the grotesque appearance of the ill-favoured child, the fiddler exclaimed, 'AEsop!' and the company burst into laughter; when Oliver turned to them with a smile, and repeated the following couplet:
'Heralds proclaim aloud, all saying
See AEsop dancing, and his monkey playing.'
In the year 1757, the Antelope, commanded by Captain Hood, engaged two French men-of-war off Brest. During the engagement, a young gentleman on board the Antelope, only sixteen years of age, while gallantly assisting on the quarter-deck, had both his legs shot off, and was carried below to the surgeon. Hearing the ship's crew cheering, he flourished his hand over his head, and with his latest breath uttered an huzza to the honour of the British navy.
This celebrated painter was indebted to Dr. Walcott (Peter Pindar), who found him labouring in a saw-pit, for first bringing him forward. When he was first heard of, his fame rested on a very humble foundation. He was asked what he had painted to acquire him the village reputation he enjoyed? His answer was, '1 ha' painted Duke William from the signs; and stars, and sich like things, for the boys' kites.' Walcott told him, some time after,, that he should paint portraits as the most profitable employment. 'So I ha'; I ha' painted farmer so and so, and neighbour such a one, &c., wi' their wives, and their eight or ten children.' 'And how much do you receive?' 'Why farmer so and so, said it were but right to encourage genus, and so he 8a' me half-a-guinea!' 'Why, sir, you should get at least half-a-guinea for every head.' Oh, na'! that winna do; it would ruin the country.' So strikingly humble and characteristic were the first steps of Opie.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan gave almost no promise in his childhood of those splendid talents by which he was afterwards distinguished. When about seven years of age, he was committed, along with his brother, to the care of Mr. Samuel Whyte, who with these two boys commenced an academy which afterwards became celebrated. When Mrs. Sheridan carried the boys to the house of Mr. Whyte, she took occasion to advert to the necessity of patience in the arduous profession which he had embraced; adding, 'these boys will be your tutors in that respect; I have hitherto been their only instructor, and they have sufficiently exercised mine; for two such impenetrable dunces I never met with.'
It was the illustrious Samuel Parr who, when under twenty years of age, and an undermaster at Harrow school, first discovered the latent genius of Sheridan, and by judicious cultivation, ripened it into maturity.
Cowper, in his 'Memoirs of his Early Life,' gives an affecting instance of that mental enthralment which boys of sensitive parts are too often doomed to suffer in public schools, from the arrogance and cruelty of their senior schoolmates. 'My chief affliction,' he says, 'consisted in my being singled out from all the other boys, by a lad about fifteen years of age, as a proper object upon whom he might let loose the cruelty of his temper. One day, as I was sitting alone on a bench in the school, melancholy, and almost ready to weep at the recollection of what I had already suffered, and expecting at the same time my tormentor every moment, these words of the Psalmist came into my mind: "I will not be afraid of what man can do unto me." I applied this to my own case, with a decree of trust and confidence in God that would have been no disgrace to a much more experienced christian. Instantly I perceived in myself a briskness of spirits and a cheerfulness which I had never before experienced, and took several paces up and down the room with joyful alacrity - His gift in whom I trusted. Happy would it have been for me, if this early effort towards the blessed God had been frequently repeated by me, but, alas! it was the first and last instance of the kind between infancy and manhood. The cruelty of this boy, which he had long practiced in so secret a manner that no person suspected it was at length discovered. He was expelled from the school, and I was taken from it.'
The Ettrick Shepherd.
James Hogg, popularly known by the name of the Ettrick Shepherd, one of the greatest peasant poets that Scotland ever produced, could neither read nor write at the age of twenty. He passed a youth of poverty and hardship, but it was the youth of a lonely shepherd, among the most beautiful pastoral valley in the world. His haunts were among scenes
'The most remote and inaccessible By shepherds trod.'
Living for years in this solitude, he unconsciously formed friendships with the springs, the brooks, the caves, the hills, and with all the more fleeting and faithless pageantry of the sky, that to him came in the place of those human affections, from whose indulgence he was debarred by the necessities that kept him aloof from the cottage fire, and up among the mists on the mountain top. For many years, he seldom saw 'the human face divine,' except on the Sabbath morn, when he came down from the mountains to renew his weekly store of provender.
To this youth of romantic seclusion, we may ascribe the fertility of his mind in images of external nature, images which are dear to him for the recollections which they bring, for the restoration of his early life. These images he has at all times a delight in pouring out, and in all his descriptions they are lines of light or strokes of darkness, that at once captivate the imagination, and convince US that the sunshine, or the shadow, had travelled before the poet's eye.
During the middle ages superstition was so prevalent, that many charters began with these words: 'As the world is now drawing near to a close.' And an army marching under the Emperor Otho I. was so terrified by an eclipse of the sun, which they conceived announced this consummation, that they dispersed hastily on all sides. The religious ignorance of the middle ages sometimes burst out in ebullitions of epidemical enthusiasm still more remarkable. In 1211, a multitude, amounting as some say, to ninety thousand, chiefly composed of children, and commanded by a child, set out for the purpose of recovering the Holy Land. They came for the most part from Germany, and reached Genoa without harm. But finding there the sea, an obstacle which their imperfect knowledge of geography had not anticipated, they soon dispersed in various directions. Thirty thousand arrived at Marseilles, where part were murdered, many starved, and the rest sold to the Saracens.
A boy, of the name of John Young, now (1819) residing at Newton-upon-Ayr, in Scotland, constructed a singular piece of mechanism, which attracted much notice among the ingenious and scientific. A box, about three feet long by two broad, and six or eight inches deep, had a frame and paper covering erected on it, in the form of a house. On the upper part of the box are a number of wooden figures, about two or three inches high, representing people employed in those trades or sciences with which the boy is familiar. The whole are put in motion at the same time by machinery within the box, acted upon by a handle like that of a hand organ. A weaver upon his loom, with a fly-shuttle, uses his hands and feet, and keeps his eye upon the shuttle, as it passes across the web. A soldier sitting with a sailor at a public-house table, fills a glass, drinks it off, then knocks upon the table, upon which an old woman opens a door, makes her appearance, and they retire. Two shoemakers upon their stools are seen the one beating leather, and the other stitching a shoe. A clothdresser, a stone-cutter, a cooper, a tailor, a woman churning, and one teasing wool, are all et' work. There is also a carpenter sawing a piece of wood, and two blacksmiths beating a piece of iron the one using a sledge, and the other a small hammer; a boy turning a grindstone, while a man grinds an instrument upon it; and a barber shaving a man, whom he holds fast by the nose with one hand.
The boy was only about seventeen years of age when he completed this curious work; and since the bent of his mind could be first marked, his only amusement was that of working with a knife, and making little mechanical figures, this is the more extraordinary as he had no opportunity whatever of seeing any person employed in a similar way. He was bred a weaver, with his father; and since he could be employed at the trade, has had no time for his favourite study, except after the work ceased, or during the intervals, and the only tool he ever had to assist him was a pocket knife. In his earlier years he produced several curiosities on a similar scale, but the one now described is his greatest work, to which he devoted all his spare time during two years.
Almost all the distinguishing features of Franklin's character in life may be traced to his childhood. He was in his earliest days shrewd and artful, industrious and persevering, and of habits most economical. The stories of his recommending his father to say grace over a whole barrel of beef at once, and of his disgust with a favourite whistle, the moment he found he had paid too dear for it, are well known. When at school (which was only between the age of eight and ten years), Franklin soon distinguished himself among his playfellows by his strength and address, and he was generally the leader in all their schemes. Their great delight was fishing for minnows; and as their constant trampling had made the edge of the pond a quagmire, Franklin's active mind suggested the idea of building a little wharf for them to stand upon. Unluckily a heap of stones was collected, at no great distance, for building a new house; and one evening Franklin proposed to his companions to make free with them after the workmen were gone home. The project was approved, and executed with great industry; but the next morning the stones were missed and inquiry was made, and the consequence was a complaint against the boys. Franklin pleaded, in excuse, the utility of the work, but his father wisely took the opportunity of inculcating the excellent maxim, that what is not honest, cannot be useful.
Maria de Souza and her Sons.
'All may have.
If they dare try, a glorious life or grave.'
When the Dutch West India Company attempted to gain a footing in the Brazils they committed all those cruelties which have ever marked their progress when they have commenced a new colony. Among those who opposed them, Alaria de Souza, one of the noblest women of the provinces, distinguished herself. In the action before Nazareth, her son Estevam Velho, fell. Already in this war she had lost two other sons, and her daughter's husband; when the tidings of the fresh calamity arrived, she called her two remaining sons, one of whom was fourteen years of age, the other a year younger, and said to them, 'Your brother Estevam has been killed by the Dutch today; you must now, in your turn, do what is the duty of honourable men in a war wherein they are required to serve God, and their King, and their country. Gird on your swords, and when you remember the sad day in which you girt them on, let it not be for sorrow, but for vengeance; and whether you revenge your brethren, or fall like them, you will not degenerate from them nor from your mother.' 'Give us our swords,' exclaimed the heroic youths, 'we will revenge the death of our brothers, or perish like them.' Maria de Souza then sent her sons to Mathias, the governor of the fort, requesting that he would rate them as soldiers. The children of such a stock could not degenerate, and they lived to prove themselves the worthy inheritors of its heroism and renown.
Among the American Indians, one of the first lessons they inculcate on their children, is duty to their parents and respect for old age; and there is not among the most civilized nations any people who more strictly observe the duty of filial obedience. A father need only to say, in the presence of his children, ' I want such a thing done; I want one of my children to go on such an errand; let me see who is the good child that will do it.' This word good operates as it were by magic, and the children immediately vie with each other to comply with the wishes of their parent. If a father sees an old decrepid man or woman pass by' led along by a child, he will draw the attention of his own children to the object by saying, 'what a good child that must be, which pays such attention to the aged! That child indeed looks forward to the time when it will likewise be old!' Or he will say, 'May the Great Spirit who looks upon him, grant this good child a long life!'
Pascal when only eleven years of age, wrote a treatise on sounds. At twelve, he had made himself master of Euclid's Elements without the aid of a teacher. When only sixteen, he published a treatise on Conic Sections, which Descartes was unwilling to believe could have been produced by a boy of his age. When only nineteen, he invented the arithmetical instrument or scale for making calculations.
The French newspapers of August, 1760, gave an account of a boy only five years of age, whose precocity of talent exceeded even that of Pascal himself. He was introduced to the assembly of the Academy of Montpelier, where a great number of questions were put to him on the Latin language, on sacred and profane history, ancient and modern, on mythology, geography, chronology, and even philosophy, and the elements of the mathematics; all which he answered with so much accuracy, that the academy gave him a most honourable certificate.
One day when Gustavus was only between five and six years of age, he was running among bushes, his preceptor, to deter him, told him to beware of some large snakes which infested them. He unconcernedly answered 'Then give me a stick, and I will kill them. His courage was tempered with the most noble generosity. A peasant bringing him a small pony, the young prince said to him, 'I will pay you immediately, for you must want money,' and pulling out a little purse of ducats, he emptied it into the peasant's hand.
At twelve, he spoke and wrote Latin, German, Dutch, French, and Italian, with the same fluency and correctness as the Swedish, besides understanding Polish and Russian.
Cowley losing his father at an early age, was left to the care of his mother. In the window of their apartment lay Spenser's 'Fairy Queen' in which he very early took delight to read till, by feeling the charms of verse, he became as he relates, irrecoverably a poet. 'Such,' says Dr. Johnson, 'are accidents which sometimes remembered, and perhaps sometimes forgotten, produce that particular designation of mind, and propensity for some certain science or employment, which is commonly called Genius.' Cowley might be said to 'lisp in numbers,' and gave such early proofs, not only of powers of language, but of comprehension of things, as to more tardy minds seem scarcely credible. When only in his thirteenth year, a volume of his poems was printed, containing, with other poetical compositions, 'The Tragical History of Pyramus and Thisbe,' written when he was ten years old, and 'Constantia and Philetus,' written two years after. And while still at school, he produced a comedy, of a pastoral kind, called 'Love's Riddle,' though it was not published till he had been some time at Cambridge.
Henry IV. of France.
Henry IV. of France was educated in a very different manner from the princes of the present age. He was brought up in a castle at Beam, which was situated among the mountains; his father would not suffer him to be clothed differently from other children of the country, and accustomed him to climb the rugged rocks, nourished him with brown bread, beef, cheese, and ale, and often made him walk out with his head and feet bare even in the severest seasons. Henry, by being thus early inured to hardships, was enabled to go into the army at an age that few other princes quit the nursery. Before he was sixteen, he was at a battle of the Huguenots, where he betrayed the utmost impatience to be in the midst of the action, and to signalize himself; but he was only permitted to be a spectator on account of his youth. In the next engagement, his intrepidity and courage could not be restrained, and scarcely equalled; in spite of the prayers and entreaties of his officers, he exposed his person to as much danger as the common soldier. By this means he not only inspired his men with admiration and love for his person, but was the means of infusing courage throughout the whole army, who were animated by his example.
Wit by the Wayside.
In the neighbourhood of Hoddam Castle, Dumfriesshire, there is a tower called Repentance. A pleasant answer of a shepherd's boy to Sir Richard Steele, found on the name of this tower, is related. Sir Richard having observed a boy lying on the ground, and very attentively reading his Bible, asked if he could tell him the way to Heaven? 'Yes sir,' answered the boy, 'you must go by that tower.'
This great man from his infancy exhibited a strong inclination for painting, and made so rapid a progress in it, that he is said, at the age of fourteen, to have been able to correct the drawings of his masters, Domenichino and Ghirlandajo. When he was an old man, one of these drawings being strewn to him, he modestly said, 'In my youth I was a better artist than I am now.'
Christina, Queen of Sweden.
Christina, daughter of the great Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and of Maria Eleonora, of Brandenburg, was born on the 18th of December, 1626. During the pregnancy of the queen, her mother, it was predicted by the astrologers, whose pretensions were at that time held in high estimation, that to Gustavus a son was about to be born, destined to maintain the glory of his father This prediction, added to some other circumstances, misled the women who attended the queen on her delivery, to misrepresent the sex of the child. Gustavus, on being informed of the mistake by Catherine, his sister, smilingly replied, 'to us, however, thank God, this girl I trust will prove not less valuable than a boy. She has already, by deceiving us; given a presage of her ingenuity.'
Gustavus attached himself to the child, which he carried about with him in all his journeys. Christina, when about two years of age, was taken by her father to Calmar, the governor of which hesitated whether to give the king the usual salute, lest the infant should be terrified by the noise of the cannon. Gustavus being consulted, exclaimed, after a moment's pause, 'Fire! the girl is the daughter of a soldier, and should be accustomed to it betimes.' The salute being given, the princess clapped her hands, and in her infantine language cried, 'More! more!' Delighted with her courage, Gustavus afterwards caused her to be present at a review. 'Very well,' said he, perceiving the pleasure she took in the military show, 'you shall go, I am resolved, where you shall have enough of this diversion.' Gustavus was prevented by death from fulfilling his promise. Christina laments in her memoirs, that she had not the happiness of learning the art of war under so great a master.
The tears which she shed at parting with her father, when about to proceed on his German expedition, were regarded by the superstitious as omens of misfortune. She had been taught a complimentary address which she was to repeat to Gustavus at parting. Absorbed in thought, the monarch appeared abstracted while his daughter performed her lesson; the child observing his inattention, pulled him by the sleeve, and began again to repeat the address. The king, affected by her perseverance, burst into tears caught her in his arms, and after holding her in silence some moments to his breast, delivered her to an attendant.
After the death of Gustavus, the states of Sweden assembled, where the marshal of the diet proposed the coronation of Christina, in conformity to a decree, by which the female posterity of Charles IX., the father of Gustavus, were declared capable of succeeding to the throne 'Who is this Christina?' exclaimed Lacken, a member of the order of peasants. 'Let us see her; let her be brought to us.' The marshal retiring, returned with the young princess in his arms. The peasant coming up to her, considered her attentively. 'Yes,' cried he aloud; 'this is she herself she has the nose, the eyes, and the forehead of Gustavus: we will have her for our queen.' Christina, who was immediately seated upon the throne and proclaimed queen, appeared from that moment to take a pleasure in the royal dignity.
The Admirable Crichton.
Although the progress of Crichton in his studies during the early period of his youth cannot now be very satisfactorily traced, yet to prove that it must have been of unequalled rapidity, it is only necessary to state his attainments before he had reached his twentieth year. He had gone through the whole circle of the sciences, and could speak and write to perfection in twelve different languages. Nor had he neglected the ornamental branches of education; for he had likewise improved himself in riding, dancing, and singing, and was a skilful performer on all sorts of instruments. He appears to have first visited Paris when about the age of eighteen, and of his transactions at that place the following account is given. He caused six placards to be fixed on all the gates of the schools, halls, and colleges of the university, and on all the entrances to the houses of the most renowned literary characters in that city, inviting all those who were well versed in any art or science to dispute with him in the college of Navarre that day six weeks, when he would meet them, and be ready to answer in any art or science, and in any of these twelve languages, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French Italian, English, Dutch, Flemish, and Sclavonian; and this either in verse or prose, at the discretion of the disputant.
Crichton, during the intermediate time, appeared to devote his whole attention to feats of arms, field sports, or domestic games, but when the day appointed arrived, he appeared in the college of Navarre, and acquitted himself most successfully in the disputation, which lasted from nine o'clock in the morning till six at night. At length the president, after extolling him highly for the many rare and excellent endowments which God and nature had bestowed upon him, rose from his chair and accompanied by four of the most eminent professors of the university, gave him a diamond ring and a purse full of gold, as a testimony of their respect and admiration. The whole exhibition ended with repeated acclamations and cheers from the spectators. The young disputant was henceforward called the 'Admirable Crichton.'
The Scotch Sappho.
Catherine Cockburn, whose poetical productions procured her the name of the Scotch Sappho, but who is better known to posterity by her able 'Defence of the Essay on the Human Understanding,' and other metaphysical lucubrations, was the youngest daughter of Captain David Trotter, a native of Scotland, and a naval officer in the reign of Charles 11. On the death of her father, who fell a victim to the plague at Scanderoon, she was still a child. She had given an early indication of genius by some extempore verses on an accident which, passing in the street, excited her attention. Several of her relations and friends happened to be present upon the occasion, among whom was her uncle, a naval commander. This gentleman, greatly struck by such a proof of observation, facility, and talent, in a child, observed with pleasure the father of Catherine (who possessed a peculiar taste for poetry) would have witnessed, had he been living, this unpremeditated effusion. Catherine, by application and industry, made herself mistress of the French language without any instructor, she also taught herself to write. In the study of the Latin grammar and logic, she had some assistance; of the latter she drew up an abstract for her own use. In 1693, being then only fourteen ears of age, she addressed some lines to Mr. Devil Higgons, on his recovery from sickness. In her seventeenth year she produced a tragedy entitled Agnes de Castro, which was acted with applause at the Theatre Royal in 1696; and published, but without her name, the following year, with a dedication to the Earl of Dorset; and when she wrote her 'Defence of the Essay on the Human Understanding,' she was no more than twenty-two years of age. Mr. Locke himself was pleased to say of this defence, in a letter to the fair author, 'You have hereby not only vanquished my adversary, but reduced me also absolutely under your power, and left no desire more strong in me than that of meeting with some opportunity to assure you with what respect and submission I am,' &c.
At the battle of Camperdown, a gallant little midshipman on board the admiral's ship, went below to be dressed for a wound he had received in the cheek. Finding one of the sailors under the hands of the surgeon, 'Pray go on with that poor man's dressing, sir,' said the youthful hero; 'he has lost a limb; I have only got a slap in the face.' The gash was deep, and the blood was gushing from it in torrents into the poor boy's mouth while he spoke.
Mr. Harriott, late magistrate of the Thames Police, was in his youth midshipman on board a ship of war lying at New York. A poor girl, whose mother kept a tavern at St. John's, Newfoundland, had been enticed away by an officer who brought her to England, and then deserted her. She passed over to Ireland, where she had some relations, but determined to return to America, and went in a brig filled with Redemptioners, that is, persons who redeem the price of their passage by the sale of their services for a certain term of years. This poor girl came to market for sale, when Mr. Harriott was there; and relating her unhappy tale, he purchased her from the captain, and sent her in a schooner to Newfoundland, where he afterwards went himself, and was welcomed with tears of gratitude by the mother and the daughter.
The Great Conde.
It has been remarked that most great generals have become so by degrees, but that the Prince of Conde was born a general, and that the art of war in him appeared to be a natural instinct. His inclination for the profession of arms showed itself from his childhood, and his favourite authors were Caesar, Plutarch and Polybius. At eight years old he understood Latin, and at eleven wrote a treatise on rhetoric. At fourteen years of age he was perfect in all the warlike exercises, and at sixteen formed a kind of military academy, which consisted of eighteen young men of family, who employed themselves in the arts of drawing, gunnery, and fortification, with unremitting ardour. At the age of fourteen we have an instance of his promptitude in obeying the will of his father, given in a letter which strongly indicates his early propensities, as well as his filial respect. He was excessively fond of the chase; and his father fearing lest this passion should divert him from his studies, expressed a wish that he would lessen the number of his hounds. The following was the prince's reply;
'DOMINE MI PATER, - Si plures canes alui, quam necessitas ad venandum requireret, aut voluptas, eam culpam ignosces primo ardori venationis quo abripiebar; est enim communis omnium error qui vehementius aliqua diligere incipiunt, ut multa sine delectu conquirant, quae postea sua sponte abjiciant, nondum in me ego hanc errorem cognoveram: at postridie quam illius litteris tuis fui admonitus praeter novem quos servari per te licebat, dimisi altos omnes. Ita mihi statim ea fastidio sunt quae tibi non placent; ita nulli rei meus amor inhaerebat nisi tuae voluntati: feceram hic scribendi finem cum venit ad me D. de Beaujeu, Legionem meam, potius tuam quinque cohortibus augeri dixit, oravitque, ut unius cohortis vexillum committeram nepoti cui nomen, de Basseuil: opinor, cum avunculos ejus duos jam elegeris in Legionibus meis duces, eorumque fidem ac virtutem probaveris, nepoti cohortis unius signum non negabis. Ea sum valetudine quam tibi precibus optat.
'Domine mi Pater,
'Servus Humillimus et Filius
'Biturgibus, 23 Decemb. 1635.'
The Duke of Berwick.
The great Duke of Berwick appeared rather to have inherited the talents of his uncle the Duke of Marlborough, than those of King lames H., whose illegitimate son he was. From his earliest age he gave the most striking proofs of a sound judgment. He was remarkably taciturn, and was observed never to join in sports with the rest of his companions. At the age of fourteen he entered a volunteer into the service of the emperor at Vienna; and notwithstanding the dissipated, luxurious life which young officers in the imperial service then led, he remained uncorrupted by their vices. Simple in his dress, his diet, and his manners, he executed without murmuring those commands which he disapproved in secret, and never arrogated to himself the right of censuring his superiors.
When in his sixteenth year, the siege of Breda afforded him several opportunities for displaying his courage; but his humanity was so shocked at the brutality of the soldiers, who on the city being taken by storm, put to death men, women, and even infants at the breast, that he traversed from post to post, to stop the effusion of blood, and remonstrated with those he could not command.
At the age of seventeen, he was made a Colonel of Cuirassiers; and so particularly distinguished himself on the attack of the famous bridge of Esseck, that he received the thanks of the Duke of Lorraine. When in his eighteenth year, he was made Marechal-de-Camp by the Emperor of Germany. It was in this period of his life that the revolution broke out in England, when the Duke of Berwick hastened to assist and support the royal cause. At the battle of the Boyne, he displayed the most undaunted courage; and at the head of 3000 horse continually harassed the Prince of Orange's army. At the siege of Limerick, he gave that prince such a warm reception when the counterscarp was assaulted, that William was repulsed with the loss of 12,000 men, and obliged to renounce the undertaking. In a subsequent campaign in the Netherlands under the Duke of Luxemburg, he fell into an ambuscade, and was carried to the tent of the Brigadier-General Churchill, who affectionately embraced him, and soon after obtained his liberty. It was in the course of these campaigns that Luxemburg and Berwick sent such a number of standards and ensigns to Paris, that the Prince of Conti called them the upholsterers of Notre-Dame, the church where these trophies were displayed.
Ignorance of Fear.
A child of one of the crew of His Majesty's ship Peacock, during the action with the United States' vessel, Hornet, amused himself with chasing a goat between decks. Not in the least terrified by destruction and death all around him, he persisted, till a cannon ball came and took off both the hind legs of the goat, when seeing her disabled, he jumped astride her, crying, 'Now I've caught you.' This singular anecdote is related in a work called 'Visits of Mercy, being the Second Journal of the stated Preacher to the Hospital and Almshouse in the City of New York, by the Rev. E. S. Ely.'
It is related of this successful general and able politician, that when a boy he was uncommonly active, but extremely unlucky. An exception to his juvenile bad luck is well remembered at Drayton, where he went to school, and plagued the town's people not a little with his playful extravagancies. One day they were much alarmed at seeing young Clive climb up the spire of the turret, and seat himself with great composure astride the weathercock. After displaying a few antic tricks, to show his courage and dexterity, he came down with as much agility as he had ascended, and without encountering the slightest accident.
All who beheld the boy were filled with wonder at his perilous daring, though it does not appear to have occurred to anybody, as being what it certainly was, a strong omen of his aspiring genius, and future rise in life. He was regarded indeed as a very arch youth; but of too unsteady a temperament to promise success in any course of life which should depend on his own perseverance. It was this consideration probably that induced his father to get him recommended, on his leaving school, to the Directors of the East India Company; in whose service he went in the capacity of a writer to India. It appears that there also he was considered as a person but indifferently qualified to get forward by his own abilities. How much he subsequently belied all these anticipations, it is unnecessary to relate.
Lord Nelson was, from his infancy, remarkable for his disinterestedness and intrepidity When at school at North Walsham, the master, the Rev. Mr. Jones, had some remarkably fine pears, which his scholars had often wished for; but the attempt to gather them was in their opinion so hazardous, that no one would undertake it: when Horatio, on seeing all his companions staggered, came forward and offered to brave the danger. He was accordingly lowered down from their dormitory by some sheets tied together, and thus at considerable risk, secured the prize, but the boldness of the act was all that the young adventurer regarded; for on being hauled up again, he shared the pears among his schoolfellows, without reserving any for himself; and added, I only took them because every other boy was afraid.
It is also related of him, that at an earlier period, and when he was quite a child, he strayed from his grandmother's house at Hilborough, after birds'-nests, with a cow-boy. The dinner hour arriving without his appearance, the alarm of the family became very great, for they apprehended that he had been carried off by the gipsies. Search was instantly made in various directions; and at length he was discovered, without his companion, sitting with the utmost composure by the side of a stream which he had been unable to pass 'I wonder, child,' exclaimed the old lady, on seeing him, 'that hunger and fear did not drive you home.' 'Fear never came near me, grandmamma!' replied the infant hero.
Another anecdote is related strikingly characteristic of that inflexible honour which marked the subsequent actions of Nelson. When the brothers William and Horatio were once going to school on their ponies, William, who did not much like the journey, having advanced a short distance from his father's gate, and found that a great deal of snow had fallen, returned with his brother to the parsonage, and informed Mr. Nelson, 'that the snow was too deep to venture.' 'If that be indeed the case,' replied the father, 'you certainly shall not go; but make another attempt and I will leave it to your honour. If the road should be found dangerous, you may return; yet remember, boys, I leave it to your honour!' They accordingly proceeded; and although various difficulties presented themselves which offered a plausible reason for their return home, Horatio was proof against them all, exclaiming, 'We have no excuse! Remember, brother, it was left to our honour.'
When Nelson was only fourteen years of age, he accompanied the expedition for discovering a north-west passage, commanded by the Hon. Captain Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave. Horatio went on board the Carcass, as captain's cockswain. In this perilous enterprise, young Nelson particularly distinguished himself. Speaking of it in his memoir, written many years afterwards, he says, 'When the boats were fitting out to quit the two ships blocked up in the ice, I exerted myself to have the command of a four-oared cutter raised upon, which was given me, with twelve men; and I prided myself in fancying I could navigate her better than any other boat in the ship.'
Another anecdote, which occurred while the vessels were in the Polar Sea, though well known, is too characteristic to be omitted. Among the gentlemen on the quarter-deck of the Carcass, who were not rated midshipmen, there was, besides young Nelson, a daring shipmate to whom he had become' attached. One night, during the mid-watch, it was concerted between them, that they should steal together from the ship, and endeavour to obtain a bear's skin. Nelson, in high spirits, led the way over the frightful chasms in the sea, armed with a rusty musket. It was not, however, long before the adventurers were missed by those on board, and as the fog had come on very thick, the anxiety of the captain and his officers was very great. Between three and four in the morning the mist somewhat dispersed, and the hunters were discovered at a considerable distance attacking a large bear. The signal was instantly made for their return; but it was in vain that Nelson's companion urged him to obey it. He was at this time divided by a chasm in the ice from his shaggy antagonist, which probably saved his life, for the musket had flashed in the pan, and their ammunition was expended. 'Never mind,' exclaimed Horatio, 'do but let me get a blow at the fellow with the butt end of my musket, and we shall have him.' His companion finding that entreaty was in vain, regained the ship. The captain, seeing the youth's danger, ordered a gun to be fired to terrify the enraged animal. This had the desired effect, but Nelson was obliged to return without his bear. On reaching the ship, he was reprimanded by Captain Lutwidge, who desired to know what motive he could have for hunting a bear? 'Sir,' replied Nelson, 'I wished to kill the bear, that I might carry his skin to my father.'
This eminent lawyer's superiority of abilities was very early manifested both at school and at college. They extorted submission from his equals and impressed his seniors with respect. The following anecdote is told of him. Having been absent from chapel, or committed some other offense which came under the cognizance of the dean of the college, who, though a man of wit, was not remarkable for his learning, the dean set Thurlow, as a task, a paper in the Spectator to translate into Greek. This he performed extremely well, and in a very little time; but instead of carrying it up to the dean, as he ought to have done, he took it to the tutor, who was a good scholar, and a very respectable character. At this the dean was exceedingly wroth, and had Mr. Thurlow convened before the Masters and Fellows to answer for his conduct. Thurlow was asked what he had to say for himself? He coolly, perhaps improperly, replied, 'That what he had done proceeded not from disrespect, but from a feeling of tenderness for the dean; he did not wish to puzzle him!' The dean, greatly irritated, ordered him out of the room, and then insisted that the Masters and Fellows ought immediately to expel or rusticate him. This request was nearly complied with, when two of the Fellows, wiser than the rest observed, that expelling or rusticating a young man for such an offense, would perhaps do much injury to the college, and expose it to ridicule; and that as he would soon quit the college of his own accord to attend the Temple, it would be better to let the matter rest, than irritate him by so severe a proceeding. This advice was at length adopted.
Thurlow was not forgetful of the kindness which he experienced on this occasion. When he rose to the woolsack, he procured for one of the gentlemen who recommended lenient measures, the Chancellorship of the Diocese of Lincoln.
Such was the consciousness with which Thurlow felt his towering abilities, that long before he was called to the bar, he often declared to his friends that he would one day become Chancellor of England, and that the title he would take for his peerage would be LORD THURLOW, of THURLOW.
The following extract from a letter written by Lady Hughes, who took a passage to the West Indies on board the Boreas frigate, when commanded by Lord Nelson, will show the manner in which the young men in that ship were trained, and gradually inured to hardihood and enterprise, by their parental commander. 'It may reasonably be supposed, that among the number of thirty, there must have been timid spirits as well as bold. The timid he never rebuked; but always wished to show them he desired nothing that he would not instantly do himself. And I have known him say, 'Well, sir, I am going a race to the mast head, and beg I may meet you there.' No denial could be given to such a request, and the poor little fellow instantly began to climb the-shrouds. Captain Nelson never took the least notice in what manner it was done; but when they met in the top, spoke in the most cheerful terms to the midshipman; and observed, "How much any person was to be pitied, who could fancy there was any danger, or even anything disagreeable, in the attempt."'
Miss Logan, the author of a volume of poems printed at York some years ago, and not very extensively circulated, first discovered a predilection for the muse at an early age, and gave a very remarkable instance of the power of her memory. When she had nearly attained her fourth year, Pope's' Essay on Man' happening to lie on the window, it was taken up, and the first line read aloud: 'Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things;' to which the child very archly added, 'To low ambition, and the pride of kings;' and thus suggested the attempt at teaching her the whole essay. The effort was so completely successful, that on her birth-day in the following February, when she completed her fourth year, she repeated the whole four epistles to a neighbouring clergyman, who came on purpose to hear her, almost without making a single mistake.
Madame de Stael Holstein.
This distinguished lady was remarkable, even in her childhood, for an attentive observation of everything around her. She was a writer from her earliest youth. She composed eulogies and portraits, and at the age of fifteen she made extracts from the 'Spirit of Laws,' with remarks. Madame Rilliet, who has written an account of the infancy of Madame de Stael, with whom she was very intimate, describes her at the age of eleven, as not engaging in the usual sports of children, but inquiring of those of her age what lessons they had learned, and what foreign languages they were acquainted with; and when she had been at a play, she also wrote down the subject of the pieces, with remarks. She used to sit by the side of her father, M. Necker, and was always much noticed by those who visited him, particularly the Abbe Raynal, who would converse with her as if she had been fiveand-twenty. When her father had a party of friends, she was always very attentive to their conversation. 'She uttered not a word,' says Madame Rilliet; 'yet she seemed as if speaking in her turn, all her flexible features displayed so much expression. Her eyes followed the looks and motions of those who spoke; you would have said, she seized their ideas before she heard them. She was mistress of every subject, even politics, which at that time had become one of the leading topics of conversation.'
The idea of giving pleasure to her parents, was with Madame de Stael a motive most extraordinarily powerful from her infancy. Thus, for instance, when only ten years old observing their great admiration of Mr. Gibbon, the historian, she thought it her duty to marry him (and what his person was is well known) that they might be enabled constantly to enjoy a conversation so agreeable to them. This match she seriously proposed to her mother.
Robert Charles Dallas.
'Wonder writes the tale.'
ODE TO WELLINGTON.
The poetical biography of Britain presents no instance of early excellence more remarkable, than the living one to whom public fame, as well as private esteem, has called upon us to dedicate these Anecdotes of Youth. If we turn over the earlier works of our poets, from Chaucer to Byron, if we examine more especially those of Cowley and Chatterton, two of the most eminent instances of juvenile poetical talent of which this country can boast, we shall meet with nothing more astonishing than the effusions of Robert Charles Dallas, the youngest son of Sir George Dallas, Bart.
The melody of verse seems to have come as naturally to this blossom of our age, as speech itself. While as yet no more than seven years of age, his infant hands are said to have been familiar with the lyre; and ere he had reached thirteen, he had presented to the world a volume of poems, which have challenged the admiration even of criticism itself!
The earliest productions in this published collection are stated to have been written at the age of eleven; but we have been told by a gentleman of eminence in the literary world, that he remembers having heard young Dallas, when less than nine years of age, recite with great sweetness and force of diction, some pretty verses, founded on the story of Phaeton, which he had written about a year before. The pieces which stand in the published collection first in point of date, are two eulogies one on his nephew, George Parker, son of the late gallant Sir Peter Parker, Bart.; the other on his own brother George, who mortally wounded himself while crossing a hedge in shooting, and died under the agonies of a lockjaw. The young author has strikingly exemplified in these pieces the justness of the poetical canon,
--'si vis me flere dolendum est Primum tibi.'
His heart appears to have felt more deeply on these occasions, than on any other which inspired his muse, and in none has he been more felicitous in depicting what he felt. The reader cannot have a more striking proof of the genius of the author, than by an example or two selected from these elegies.
FROM THE ELEGY ON HIS NEPHEW.
'The little flow'r with placid eye
That loves to gaze on beauty's grave,
And seems to mourn with fragrant sigh,
The charms of him no charms can save
Beneath the waving cypress gloom
Shall still adorn this sacred spot
And e'en in death its latest bloom
Shall sweetly breathe, Forget me rot.'
FROM THE: ELEGY ON HIS BROTHER.
"Oh deign, blest shade! though now enshrined on high,
My muse to favour from the ethereal sky!
Let one kind glance, one heav'nly smile, approve
This frail memorial of a brother's love;
Whose numbers, weak, in mournful cadence flow,
To soothe the anguish of parental woe
To dry the drops that dim a father's eyes
And hush a mother's deep bewailing sighs;
To ease the pang that rends thy brother's heart
From whence, till death, thy image ne'er shall part;
To shrine thy mem'ry with her early lays,
And stamp thy virtue deathless as thy praise.
In a person of any age, the elegant simplicity of diction, and perfect propriety of conception, which distinguish these verses, would be deserving of commendation, but when we take into account that they are the production of a boy not more than eleven years of age - that they are but the blossoms of a flower which has yet 'to bring forth its fruit in due season,' it is impossible not to wonder while we admire
The next production of young Dallas was dramatic - a tragedy, in three acts, entitled Saluzzo; or the Tyrant Punished. A favourable specimen of this drama is given in the published collection; but some remarkable circumstances connected-with it are not before the public eye; and trusting not to offend the modesty which withheld them, we shall beg leave to supply them, from an authority on which we have every reason to place the fullest reliance.
After the play had been composed, the young author being on a visit during the holidays, at the house of a friend of his father's, in Hampshire, obtained permission to have it privately acted. The principal character he undertook himself. The subordinate ones were to be performed by young relations and friends. The parlour of the house he converted, with great ingenuity, into a little theatre, having curtains, scenes, stage doors, &c.; manager, prompter, actor, and author: young Dallas was all these at once, and as yet not twelve years of age.
'Conceive,' says the friend to whom we are indebted for these particulars, 'a little boy, not four feet nine inches high, who never received the slightest dramatic instruction, a stranger to declamation, who never heard Kemble, Kean, nay, who never saw a tragedy, nor faced a company to deliver a speech, as I am well assured was the case, deeming himself equal to playing the first character in a play of his own composition, and fearlessly undertaking it, as if intuitively conscious of his powers, and marshalling the whole dramatic personae himself. When the curtain drew up, he had not spoken five sentences, before he evinced his extraordinary powers. His voice, his air, his tread of the stage, but above all the ease and grace of his action, surprised every one. There was nothing of the discipline or art in his acting; it was wild untutored infant nature; his whole soul was in the business, and having written the character he was representing, he was master of all its shades, and gave with ease, life and majesty to the image of his little brain. The passions seemed to move at his command, and were all expressed with a grace an artlessness, and a truth, that were perfectly captivating.'
The play of Saluzzo, in which young Dallas thus eminently distinguished himself, cannot be said to be a regular or correct performance, such as may hereafter be expected from- the riper years of the author: but as the daystar of a brilliant promise, we know of nothing to which we can compare it in our own language: for in truth we do not recollect of any composition of this kind emanating from a British boy at so early an age.
The 'Battle of Waterloo," and 'Ode to Wellington,' were also written during his twelfth year; and it is by these pieces that his infant fame as an author has been chiefly established. Considered merely with respect to their mechanical structure, they are very astonishing productions for a youth; the expressions are everywhere clear, and well defined; the diction clear and harmonious; and the metre as uniformly complete as it is skilfully diversified. But they have merits of a yet higher order to justify the applause which they have elicited. They display a wide range of thought; a luxuriant abundance of imagery and a rich tone of virtuous, yet impassioned feeling.
The 'Ode to Wellington,' in particular, will for ever stand a lasting monument of the genius of its author. It is bold, grand, harmonious; its magnitude is in unison with the grandness of its theme. Felicities of expression everywhere occur, which nothing but the truest poetic fervour could have inspired; and not unfrequently bursts of moral sentiment, which would do honour to the maturest age
If the poems have a defect, it is that of exuberance, the common fault; but Quintilian tells us, he 'always augured best of those pupils whose compositions had something to spare.'
The last of young Dallas's published productions is a specimen of another tragedy, called Richard Coeur de Lion, written at the age of twelve years and a half. It was composed, we have heard, after having seen, for the first time in his life, a tragedy acted: the
Apostate of Shiel; and when we reflect on the inferior character of the piece which first introduced him to a knowledge of the acted drama' end on the vast applause which was nevertheless showered upon it by the public (bewitched doubtless by that tragic enchantress, who personated the heroine of the piece, and whose recent retirement from public life into the circle of domestic joys, must have struck dismay into the heart of more than one Baevius,) we may easily imagine how much a mind strongly disposed to dramatic composition, and so teeming with all the capabilities of excelling in it, as that of young Dallas, must have been roused to a consciousness of its own strength, infant as it was, and how much it may have been tempted to essay something more truly worthy of public distinction.
The subject which young Dallas has selected for this second dramatic effort is very happily chosen: it would seem as it before learning had made him familiar with Aristotle, his mind had intuitively - reached his dramatic rules. What hero more popular, yet more unfortunate, than Richard? What reverse of fortune more truly the effect of the individual's own indiscretion, or better calculated to awaken those passions in tragedy, Pity and Admiration? The subject at the same time is one of peculiar difficulty, since it belongs only to the most experienced, as well as the most cultivated, taste and talent, to do justice to the lofty velour and heroic cast of mind which distinguished the heroes of the crusading age. To attempt a tragedy on such materials was a great daring; but to succeed even to the extent this youth has done, in the published specimen before us, may be regarded as a pledge of future excellence, which it requires no spirit of prophecy to foretell, he will (if happily spared) yet amply redeem.
Since this volume of poems has been written, young Dallas, we understand, has entered Harrow School. He had previously, we have been informed, been well grounded in the preliminary branches of education, by the Rev. Edward Lloyd, of Peterley House, Great Missenden, Bucks, whose preparatory school has long possessed a high reputation, as well in that county, as with the heads of our principal colleges.
In the winter of 1790, as a number of boys were skating on a lake in a remote part of Yorkshire, the ice happened to break at a considerable distance from the shore, and one of them unfortunately fell in. No house was near, where ropes or the assistance of more aged hands could be procured, and the boys were afraid to venture forward to save their struggling companion, from a natural dread, that where the ice had given away, it might give way again, and involve more of them in jeopardy. In this alarming emergency, one of them, of more sagacity than the rest, suggested an expedient which for its scientific conception, would have done honour to the boyhood of a Watt or an Archimedes. He might probably remember having seen, that while a plank placed perpendicularly on thin ice will burst through the same plank, if laid horizontally along the ice, will be firmly borne, and afford even a safe footing: and applying with great ingenuity and presence of mind, the obvious principle of this difference to the danger before them, he proposed to his companions that they should lay themselves flat along the ice in a line one behind another, and each push forward the boy before him, till they reached the hole where their playmate was still plunging, heroically volunteering to be himself the first in the chain. The plan was instantly adopted; and to the great joy of the boys, and their gallant leader, they succeeded in rescuing their companion from a watery grave, at a moment when, overcome by terror and exertion, he was unable to make another effort to save himself Reader, excuse a tear of gratitude. The name of the boy saved was - REUBEN PERCY.
Education in the Fifteenth Century.
In the fifteenth century, one of the principal modes of education in use was, for children to reside in the houses of bishops and nobility, where they were instructed in learning, while they at the same time occasionally filled up the retinue of their masters. Pace, the friend of Erasmus, and one of the principal restorers of letters in England, imbibed the rudiments of learning in the palace of Langton, Bishop of Winchester; and Croke, one of the first restorers of the Greek language, in that of Archbishop Warham. Sir Thomas More, too, was educated as a page with Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, about 1490, who was so struck with his genius that he would often say at dinner, 'this child here waiting at table is so very ingenious, that he will one day prove an extraordinary man '
William Postel, a celebrated French writer of the sixteenth century, was only eight years of age when he lost his father and mother, who died of the plague. Want and misery driving him from his native village, La Dolerie, at this early age he commenced the profession of schoolmaster in the village of Pontoise. Here he continued until his fourteenth year, when borne with a passion for letters, which neither thirst, hunger, nor fatigue could subdue he collected the little money he had been able to save, and set out for Paris in the pursuit of knowledge. On his arrival in the capital, he almost wished himself back in the circle of the rustics he had deserted, whom he now looked upon as the happiest people upon earth. He could read nothing but avarice, dissipation, and hypocrisy in every countenance he met. Young as he was, however, he knew he would be laughed at if he returned, by those who deemed themselves wiser than others, because they happened to be more fortunate in the enjoyment of the good things of this life. He was resolved at all events, that the malicious gratification of that sordid race of beings should not be gratified at his expense. He hired a garret and as every day made his little less, he passe] his moments in digesting plans to recruit the consumption of his slender purse. One morning when he thought he had hit on one that would immediately snatch him from the jaws of despair, he started in a transport of pleasure out of bed; but this transport was of momentary duration; for, alas! some unrelenting thief had stolen his clothes, and all the money he possessed along with them. He was going to throw himself out of the window, but an early sense of religion arrested the impulse of the moment, and admonished him that, if deserted by man, he was not deserted by Heaven. He sunk into his wretched bed; the sudden transition from the bright hope he had indulged, to the most dreadful misfortune and disappointment, brought on a dysentery, and he was obliged to be conveyed to the hospital, where he remained two years before he recovered his strength. As soon as he was able to walk, he quitted Paris. Poverty, which chased him full in view, drove him to the necessity of gleaning during the harvest time in Beausse. His industry furnished him with the means of purchasing a plain suit of clothes, and he hastened back to Paris; he now became a servitor in one of the Colleges of the University: and so rapid was his progress, that he had soon acquired almost universal knowledge. Francis I., touched with hearing that so much merit was struggling with indigence, sent him to the East, whence he brought many valuable MSS.; and on his return, he was rewarded with the chair of Professor of Mathematics and Languages, with several other considerable appointments.
Gassendi, who flourished in the middle of the seventeenth century, exhibits one of the most striking instances of the precocity of the human intellect. 'At the age of four years,' says Bernier, 'he used to declaim his little sermons; at the age of seven, he used to steal away from his parents, and spend a great part of the night in observing the stars. This made his friends say, that he was born an astronomer. At this age, he had a dispute with the boys of the village, whether the moon or the clouds moved: to convince them that the moon did not move, the: look them behind a tree, and made them take notice that the moon kept its situation between the same leaves, whilst the clouds passed on. This early disposition to observation induced his parents to cultivate his talents; and the clergyman of his village gave him the first elements of learning. His ardour for study became then extreme; the day was not long enough for him, and he often read a good part of the night by the light of the lamp that was burning in the church of the village, his family being too-poor to allow him candles for his nocturnal studies. He often took only four hours' sleep in the night. At the age of ten, he harangued his bishop in Latin, (who passed through Gassendi's village, on his visitation) with such ease and spirit, that the prelate exclaimed, 'That lad will one day or other be the wonder of his age!'
The modest and unassuming conduct of Gassendi gave an additional charm to his talents. He complained,' says St. Evremond, 'that Nature had given such a degree of extent to our curiosity and such very narrow limits to our knowledge. This, he assured me, he did not say to mortify the presumption of any person, or from an affected humility, which is a kind of hypocrisy. He did not pretend to deny but that he knew what might be thought on many subjects, but he dared not venture to affirm that he completely understood any one. He was in general silent, never ostentatiously obtruding upon others either the acuteness of his understanding, or the eloquence of his conversation; he was never in a hurry to give his opinion before he knew that of the persons who were conversing with him. When men of learning introduced themselves to him, he was contented with behaving to them with great civility, and was not anxious to surprise their admiration. The entire tendency of his studies was to make himself wiser and better; and to have this intention more constantly before his eyes, he had inscribed all his books with these words, Sapere aude.'
Charles VI. of France.
The father of this monarch, Charles V., having shown him when he was quite a child his crown richly set with diamonds, and his helmet of steel, asked him which he preferred. Charles replied that he would rather have the helmet. He expressed the same inclination on his coming to the throne; for on seeing on one table the insignia of royalty and the crown jewels that had belonged to his father, and on the other his sword, his corselets, and his shield, 'I prefer,' said he, 'my father's arms to his treasure.'
The instances of early excellence on the stage are less numerous than in almost any other department; for although in an early period of its history an attempt was made at novelty by the introduction of the children of the Chapel Royal on the stage, 'in the hope,' as Shakspeare says, of making the boys 'carry it away;' yet we have but one instance of a boy's extraordinary talents among them In later years Garrick conceived the idea of instituting a regular school for actors and actresses; and several promising children, and chiefly those of performers, were accordingly selected, and certain appropriate plays prepared for the purpose of introducing them Yet two alone of all these candidates attained any reputation, and but one of the whole group (Miss Pope) exhibited any talents at a riper age.
William Henry West Betty, known by the name of the Young Roscius, is certainly the most striking instance of precocious excellence in the scenic art. He was in his eleventh year when he first saw a play, Pizarro, the part of Elvira performed by Mrs. Siddons. With this character he was captivated: he repeated her speeches, imitated her manner, copied her accents, and studied her attitudes From this moment the drama became his chief study, the master passion of his soul, and he frankly informed his father 'that he should die if he were not permitted to become a player.' The darling passion of a darling son was gratified; young Betty was introduced to Mr. Atkins the manager of the theatre at Belfast, an] on the 1st of August, 1803, when yet a child of eleven years and eleven months old, he appeared for the first time in the character of Osman, in the tragedy of Zara. He next sustained the parts of Rolla, Young Norval, and Romeo. From Belfast, young Betty went to Cork, where he received onefourth of the receipts of the house, and a clear benefit. He next visited Glasgow in 1804, where he played with great success for fourteen nights, and then visited Edinburgh. Here he received a highly flattering letter from the late ingenious Lord Meadowbank, on his talents; and in his personation of Young Norval, drew from the venerable author of the tragedy a declaration, that he was 'the genuine offspring and son of Douglas.'
From Edinburgh, the 'Young Roscius' proceeded to the country which had given him birth, and after appearing at Worcester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, &c., he was engaged at Covent Garden Theatre for twelve nights, at fifty guineas a night, and a clear benefit; while he agreed to perform at Drury Lane during the intervening nights, an arrangement unprecedented in the history of the stage. Here he continued to perform for some time in his favourite characters, which he gradually extended, until they amounted to no less than fourteen. It would be impossible to describe the enthusiasm which he excited, it seemed an epidemic mania; at the doors of the theatre where he was to perform for the evening, the people crowded as early as one o'clock; and when the hour of admittance came, the rush was so dreadful, that numbers were nightly injured by the pressure. One hundred pounds per night were now given to Young Betty, and he soon quitted the stage with a large fortune accumulated at a period in life when other boys are only on the point of entering a public school.
Sal. Pavy, the Actor of Old Men.
Ben Jonson has perpetuated the memory and talents of one of the children of Queen Elizabeth's Chapel, named Sal. Pavy, who died in his thirteenth year, and was so admirable an actor of old men, that the poet in his epitaph on him says, the Fates thought him one, and therefore cut his thread of life. The following is the epitaph:-
Weep with me, all you that read
This little story;
And know, for whom a tear you shed
Death's self is sorry.
'Twas a child that so did thrive
In grace and feature,
As heaven and nature seem'd to strive
Which own'd the creature
Years he number'd scarce thirteen,
When fates turn'd cruel;
Yet three fill'd zodiacs had he been
The stage's jewel:
And did act (what now we moan)
Old men so duly
As, sooth, the Parcae thought him one,
He play'd so truly:
So, by error to his fate,
They all consented.
But viewing him since, (alas! too late)
They have repented;
And have sought (to give new birth)
In baths to steep him:
But being so much too good for earth,
Heaven vows to keep him.
A relish for simple melody has with most individuals been the first step in the attainment of musical taste, and a perception of the pleasure of harmony has been a slow and gradual acquirement. In a few instances, however, where an extraordinary ear for music has been early manifested, the power of discriminating harmony has so rapidly followed a taste for melody, as almost to have appeared coeval with it. This was remarkably the case with Mozart, of whom we have already given some notice; and not less so in that of a gentleman of our own country, now living, whose early history, distinguished by a wonderful prematurity of musical taste and skill, has fortunately been preserved by Dr. Gurney. At the age of only eighteen months, Master Crotch showed a decided preference for the pleasure of music, by deserting his playthings, and even his food, to listen to it; and when only two years old, and unable to speak, in order to induce his father to play his favourite tunes, the child would touch the key note on the organ; or if that was not enough, he would play two or three of the first notes of the air. At the age of two years and three weeks, he had taught himself to play the first part of God save the King on the organ. In the course of a few days he made himself master of the treble and the second part; and the day after attempted the bass, which he performed correctly, with the exception of a single note. In about two months after this period, he was able to play several passages from voluntaries, which had only been once performed in his hearing by the organist of the Cathedral at Norwich. About the same time he was capable of making a bass to any melody which he had recently caught by his ear. At the age of only two years and a half, he was able to distinguish at a distance, and out of sight of the instrument, any note that was struck upon it, within half a note, which Dr. Burney observes is beyond the power of many old and skilful performers. Another wonderful premature attainment, was his being able to transpose into the most extraneous and difficult keys whatever he pleased, and to contrive an extemporary bass to easy melodies, when performed by another person on the same instrument. From that time to the present he has continued to advance in reputation, and is now, we believe, considered as the most scientific musician that Great Britain can boast.
When the present heir of the noble house of Wentworth was a boy, he generally spent the whole of his allowance of pocket-money as rapidly as most boys do, but happily in a very different manner. One day he asked a confidential servant of the family for a loan of money: this the man evaded, until he could get the consent of the noble earl, his father, deeming it highly improper to advance the money without his knowledge. When Earl F. was acquainted with the circumstance, he questioned the servant as to the manner in which his son spent the very liberal sum that was allowed him; and not being able to get a satisfactory answer, authorized him to lend his son the money, on condition that he was informed what was done with it. When the young lord heard the terms on which the servant offered to lend him the money, he was very reluctant to acquiesce in the conditions, but no sooner was he put in possession of it, than he hastened to a mercer, and laid out the whole sum in blankets and flannels, which were distributed to several poor women, whom his lordship said he had observed almost naked abroad, and without any covering at home, during the most inclement season of the year. It was then ascertained by the servant, that this had been the way in which his lordship had been in the habit of spending his pocket-money; and when his father heard of it, the means of his son to do good were no longer limited to the restrictions of a boy's pocket-money.
In 1812, the attention of the philosophical world was attracted by the most singular phenomenon in the history of the human mind, that perhaps ever existed. It was the case of a child under eight years of age, who, without any previous knowledge of the common rules of arithmetic, or even the use and power of the Arabic numerals, and without giving any particular attention to the subject, possessed, as if by intuition, the singular faculty of solving a great variety of arithmetical questions by the mere operations of the mind, and 'without the usual assistance of any visible symbol or contrivance.'
The name of the child was Zerah Colburn, who was born at Cabut, Vermont, in the United States, on the 1st of September, 1804.
In August, 1810, although at that time not six years of age, he first began to show those wonderful powers of calculation, which have since so much astonished every person who has witnessed them. The discovery was made -by accident. His father, who had not given him any other instruction than such as was to be obtained at a small school established in that unfrequented and remote part of the country, (and which did not include either writing or arithmetic,) was much surprised one day to hear him repeating the products of several numbers. Struck with amazement at this circumstance, he proposed a variety of arithmetical questions to him, all of which the child solved with remarkable facility and correctness. The news of this infant prodigy soon circulated throughout the neighbourhood, and persons came from distant parts to witness so singular a circumstance. The father, encouraged by the unanimous opinion of all who came to see him, was induced to undertake the tour of the United States with his child: and afterwards to bring him to England, where he exhibited his astonishing powers before thousands in the metropolis. It was correctly true as stated of him, that he would not only determine, with the greatest facility and despatch, the exact number of minutes or seconds contained in any given period of time, but would also solve any other question of a similar kind. He would tell the exact product arising from the multiplication of any number, consisting of two, three, or four figures, by any other number, consisting of an equal number of figures: or any number consisting of six or seven places of figures being proposed, he would determine with equal expedition and ease all the factors of which it is composed. This singular faculty consequently extended not only to the raising of powers, but also to the extraction of square and cube, roots of the number proposed: and likewise to the means of determining whether it be a prime number (a number incapable of division by any other number), for which case there does not exist at present any general rule amongst mathematicians.
On one occasion, this child undertook, and completely succeeded in raising the number 8 progressively up to the sixteenth power and in naming the last result, viz. 281,474,976, 710,656, he was right in every figure. He was then tried as to other numbers, consisting of one figure; all of which he raised (by actual multiplication, and not by memory) as high as the tenth power, with so much facility and despatch, that the person appointed to take down the results was obliged to enjoin him not to be so rapid. He was asked the square root of 106,929;; and before the number could be written down, he immediately answered, 327. He was then required to name the cube root of 268,336,125; and with equal facility and promptitude he replied, 645. One of the party requested him to name the factors which produced the number 247,483, which he immediately did, by mentioning 941, and 236, which are the only two numbers that will produce it. Another gentleman proposed 171,393, and he almost instantly named the only factors that would produce it. He was then asked to give the factors of 36,083: but he immediately replied that it had none: which in fact was the case, as it is a prime number. One gentleman asked him how many minutes there were in forty-eight years; and before the question could be written down, he answered it correctly, and instantly added the number of seconds contained in the same period.
No information could be gained from the child of the method by which he effected such astonishing results, although it appeared evident that he operated by certain rules known only to himself.
During the war between Turkey and Austria in 1788, a Turkish man and boy loading a waggon with hay were surprised by a foraging party of Austrians. The boy, only twelve years of age, defended himself with great bravery on the top of the waggon with two pistols; when his powder and ball were expended, he still made a noble resistance with a scythe, and wounded two huzzars very dangerously. At this moment the horses took fright, the waggon was overturned, and the man and boy much injured. Both of them had their legs fractured, which, when examined by a surgeon, made the man shed tears with pain; but the boy bore all with the fortitude of an ancient Roman, and reproached his companion for betraying his sufferings before the 'Christian dogs,' as they called the Austrians.
When George, the son of Sir George Staunton, was at the age of twelve, page to the Embassy to China, he was much noticed by the old Emperor of that country for his knowlege of the Chinese language, and was presented by him with a yellow silken purse a mark of great distinction. On his return to England, he was on the deck of the Lion with his father, Sir George, who imagining that a French man-of-war was going to engage them, desired his son in Latin (the language in which they then always talked together) to go down below deck. Mi Pater nunquam to deseram - 'My father, I will never forsake you,' was the spirited and affectionate reply.
In the war with France previous to the Revolution, an English drummer, not more than fifteen years of age, having wandered from his camp too near the French lines, was seized and brought before the French commander. On being asked who he was by the general, he answered, 'A drummer in the English service.' This not gaining credit, a drum was sent for, and he was desired to beat a couple of marches, which he accordingly did. The Frenchman's suspicion being however, not quite removed, he desired the drummer to beat a retreat. 'A retreat, sir?' replied the youthful Briton, 'I don't know what that is.' This answer so pleased the French officer, that he dismissed the drummer, and wrote to his general, commending his spirited behaviour.
Louis Pajot, a drummer in a French battalion of volunteers, was at the age of fifteen years in some of the hottest affairs between the French army of the North, and the Allies, in 1792 arid 1793, especially in that before Valenciennes; out of twenty drummers who beat the charge on the latter occasion, nineteen were killed, Pajot alone survived, but severely wounded in the leg; notwithstanding which, he continued beating the charge till the enemy were routed, which was not till about four hours after he had been wounded.
The individual to whom mathematicians are indebted for the biquadratic mode of analysis, was a boy at school when he made this important discovery. Lewis Ferrara born at Bologne about the year 1520, studied under the celebrated Cardan, who having had a problem given him for solution, gave it to his pupil as something to exercise his ingenuity. The boy in searching after the solution, discovered the biquadratic method, the announcement of which equally surprised and delighted his master. Cardan published the method, and assigned the invention to its real author; and but for this liberal conduct of the master, the pupil might have been unknown to posterity. At the age of eighteen, he was appointed a tutor in arithmetic, and was equal to the task of disputing with the most distinguished mathematicians of his age. He was afterwards appointed Professor of Mathematics at Bologne, where he died in 1565.
History represents the Duke of Burgundy as displaying in infancy all the symptoms of a perverse nature. Invincible obstinacy, a revolting pride, irascible propensities, and the most violent passions, are described as its odious features, joined, however, with a great capacity for acquiring all kinds of knowledge. 'He was born terrible,' says St. Simon, 'his behaviour made all who beheld him tremble.' Such was the Duke of Burgundy, when committed to the tuition of the celebrated Fenelon. By various means happily combined, by a continued series of appropriate and pertinent observations, by gentleness and by unremitting attention, the preceptor at length succeeded in gradually breaking the violent character of his pupil, and rendering him equally eminent for worth and for learning. At the age of ten, we are told that the prince wrote Latin with elegance, and translated the most difficult authors with an exactness and felicity which surprised the best judges. He was perfectly master of Virgil, Horace, and the Metamorphoses of Ovid; and was sensible of the beauty of Cicero's Orations. At eleven, he read Livy throughout, and began a translation of Tacitus, which he afterwards finished. The Abbe' Fleury attesting these facts, says, that his mind was of the first order, and that he was not contented with superficial know ledge, but sought to penetrate to the bottom of everything. Great pains were also taken with regard to his religious education; and one of the, biographers of Fenelon closes the relation of various circumstances that respect the attainments of this young prince, by asking, 'What must we think of instructors, who were able to store the mind of a youth of fourteen with all that is essential in religion, whether we regard its doctrines or its history, with all that most enchants in mythology, and which supplies the principal subjects of literature and the fine arts; and with all the leading facts of ancient and modern history?' 'It was not easy,' says Fleury, 'to find in the whole kingdom not merely a gentleman, but any man better informed than the prince.'
Frederick the Great and his Nephew.
Frederick the Great was so very fond of children, that the young princes, his nephews, had always access to him. One day, writing in his cabinet, where the eldest of them was playing with a ball, it happened to fall on the table; the king threw it on the floor, and wrote on; presently after, the ball again fell on the table; he threw it away once more, and cast a serious look on the young child, who promised to be more careful, and continued his play. At last, the ball unfortunately fell on the very paper on which the king was writing, who being a little out of humour, put the ball in his pocket. The little prince humbly begged pardon, and entreated to have his ball again, which was refused. He continued some time praying for it in a very piteous manner, but all in vain. At last, grown tired of asking, he placed himself before his majesty, put his little hand to his side, and said, with a menacing look and tone, 'Do you choose, sire, to restore the ball or not?' The king smiled, took the ball from his pocket, and gave it to the prince, with these words: 'Thou art a brave fellow; Silesia will never be retaken whilst thou art alive.'
Sir Edmund Saunders.
This judge, who was Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench in the reign of Charles II., rose from the lowest origin. Roger North, son of the Lord Keeper North, who personally knew him, says, 'His character and his beginning were equally strange. He was at first no better than a beggar boy, if not a parish foundling, without known parents or relations. He had found a way to live by obsequiousness (in Clement's Inn, as I remember), and courting the attorney's clerks for scraps. The extraordinary obedience and diligence of the boy made the society willing to do him good. He appeared very ambitious to learn to write; and one of the attorneys got a board knocked up at the window, on the top of a staircase: and that was his desk, where he sat and wrote after copies of court and other hands the clerks gave him. He made himself so expert a writer, that he took in business, and made some pence by hackney writing, and thus by degrees he pushed his faculties and fell to form, and by books that were lent him, became an exquisite entering clerk; and by the same course of improvement of himself, an able counsel first in special pleading, then at large; and after he was called to the bar, had practice in the King's Bench Court equal to any there.' North adds, 'As to his ordinary dealing, he was honest as the driven snow was white. As for his parts none had them more lively than he, an] while he sat in the Court of King's Bench, he gave the rule to the general satisfaction of the lawyers.'
It is not a little remarkable, that John Ludwig, the Saxon peasant, was dismissed from school when he was a child, after four years ineffectual struggle to teach him the common rules of arithmetic. He spent several subsequent years in common country labour; but at length an accidental circumstance roused his ambition, and he became expert in all the common rules, and mastered vulgar fractions by the help of an old school book, in the course of a single year. He afterwards taught himself geometry, and raised himself, by the force of his abilities and perseverance, from obscurity to fame.
Deaf, Dumb, and Blind American Girl.
The following interesting account appeared in an American paper of the year 1817:-
I heard a benevolent lady mention the name of Julia Brace, a girl about eleven years old, living in the vicinity of Hartford, who is afflicted with the triple calamity of blindness, deafness, and dumbness, having lost the senses of sight and hearing by the violence of a typhus fever, at the age of four years. On visiting her, I learned the following facts and little anecdotes, which I relate for your amusement.
Her form and features are regular and well proportioned. Her temper is mild and affectionate. She is much attached to her infant sister; often passes her hand over the mouth and eyes of the child, in order to ascertain whether it is crying, and soothes its little distresses with all the assiduity and success of a talkative or musical nurse. All objects which she can readily handle she applies to her lips, and rarely fails in determining their character. If anything is too large for examination in this way, she makes her fingers the interpreters of the texture and properties, and is seldom mistaken. She will beat apples or other fruit from the tree, and select the best with as much judgment as if she possessed the faculty of sight. She often wanders in the field and gathers flowers, to which she is directed by the pleasantness of their odour. Her sense of smelling is remarkably exquisite, and appears to be an assistant guide with her fingers and lips.
A gentleman one day gave her a small fan. She inquired of her lips what it was, and on being informed, returned it to the gentleman's pocket. The mother observed that Julia already possessed one fan: she probably thought that another would be superfluous. The gentleman gave the same fan to a neighbouring girl, whom Julia was in the habit of visiting. She went a few days after to visit her companion, whose toys she passed under the review of her fingers and lips, and among other things the fan, the identity of which she instantly discovered, and again restored to the pocket of the gentleman, who happened to be present.
She feels and admires mantlepiece ornaments, and never breaks nor injures the most brittle furniture, even in a strange room.
A gentleman once made several experiments, with a view of satisfying himself whether she really had the discernment which she was reported to possess. Among other arts for effecting his object, he pretended to carry away her infant sister. She immediately detected the cheat, by ascertaining that his umbrella remained on the table. She then went out of the door, and picked the head of a large thistle in full bloom, brought it in, smelling it as she came, and offered it to the gentleman, apparently as a nosegay.
He reached out his hand; but instead of giving it, she archly pricked his hand, by way of retort for his freedom in testing her sagacity.
Sir William Jones.
Sir William Jones having lost his father when he was three years old, the care of his education devolved upon his mother, who appears to have been eminently qualified to direct and superintend it, more particularly in his infant years. In consequence of her attention, he was in his fourth year able to read distinctly and rapidly any English book, and with a view to the cultivation of his memory (which afterwards became so retentive) she caused him to learn and repeat some of the most popular speeches in Shakspeare and the best of Gay's Fables. In the close of his seventh year he was placed at Harrow School, where he remained two years, until having fractured his thigh bone, he was obliged to return home. After an absence of twelve months, young Jones returned to school; and although his classical studies had been interrupted, he was placed in the class to which he would have attained if no interruption had occurred. In his twelfth year he was removed to the upper school. At this time a circumstance occurred which afforded signal evidence of the strength and tenaciousness of his memory. His schoolfellows proposed to amuse themselves with the representation of a play; and, at his recommendation, the Tempest was selected; but not being able to procure a copy, he furnished them with it from his memory, and in the exhibition he performed the part of Prospero. As he advanced in the school, his diligence increased, and he commenced the study of the Greek language. At this time he translated into English verse several of the epistles of Ovid, and all the pastorals of Virgil; and he composed a dramatic piece on the story of Meleager, which he denominated a tragedy; and which during the vacation was acted by some of his most intimate schoolfellows, the part of the hero being performed by himself. At school he wrote the exercises of many boys in the two superior classes, and those in his own class were happy to become his pupils. At Harrow he invented a political play, in which Dr. Bennet, Bishop of Cloyne, and the celebrated Dr. Parr, then at Harrow School, were his principal associates. They divided the fields in the neighbourhood of Harrow according to a map of Greece, into states and kingdoms, each fixed upon one as his dominion, and assumed an ancient name. Some of their schoolfellows consented to be styled Barbarians, who were to invade their territories and attack their hillocks, which were denominated fortresses. The chiefs vigorously defended their respective domains against the incursions of the enemy; and in these imitative wars, the young statesmen held councils, made vehement harangues, and composed memorials, all doubtless very boyish, but calculated to fill their minds with ideas of legislation and civil government. In these unusual amusements Jones was ever the leader. His reputation was at this early period of his life so extensive that he was often flattered by the inquiries of strangers under the title of the great scholar.
Admiral Campbell, who died in the year 1790, was when a boy bound apprentice to the master of a Scotch coasting vessel; and while in this service the vessel was boarded by a king's officer, then on the impress service, who, as usual, took out every person except the master and his apprentice.
Among those who were taken was the mate of the vessel, who happened to have a wife and family, in consequence, his distress was so great that he wept like a child. The man's situation affected young Campbell to such a degree that he entreated the officer to take him instead of the mate. 'Aye, my lad, that I will!' exclaimed the king's officer, 'for I would much rather have a boy of spirit than a blubbering man. Come along. On this circumstance being related to the commander of the king's ship, on board which young Campbell was put, it pleased him so much that he put him on the quarter-deck immediately. From that time his promotion was rapid, and he became Vice-Admiral of the Red Squadron.
The Italian dramatist Goldoni, gave early indications of his humorous character, as well as his invincible propensity to those studies which have rendered his name so celebrated. His father perceiving that the darling amusement of his son was dramatic performances had a small theatre erected in his own house in which Goldoni, while yet an infant, amused himself, with three or four of his companions, by acting comedies. Before he was sent to school, his genius prompted him to become an author. In the seventh and eighth year of his age, ere he had scarcely learned to read correctly, all his time was devoted to perusing comic writers, among whom was Cicognini, a Florentine little known in the dramatic world. After having well studied these, he ventured to sketch out the plan of a comedy, which needed more than one eye-witness of great probity, to verify its being the production of a child. He afterwards ran away from school with a company of players, and though educated for the bar, he quitted it for the profession of an actor and a dramatic writer, and so numerous were his productions, that they extended to no less than thirty-one octavo volumes!
The Elgin Family.
Lord Kaimes relates a pleasing anecdote of two boys, the sons of the Earl of Elgin, who were permitted by their father to associate with the poor boys in the neighbourhood. One day the earl's sons being called to dinner a lad who was playing with them said that he would wait till they returned. 'There is no dinner for- me at home,' said the poor boy. 'Come with us, then,' said the earl's sons. The boy refused, and when they asked him if he had any money to buy dinner, he answered, 'No!' When the young gentlemen got home, the eldest of them said to his father, 'Papa, what was the price of the silver buckles you gave me?' 'Five shillings,' was the reply. 'Let me have the money, and I'll give you the buckles again.' It was done accordingly; and the earl inquiring privately, found that the money was given to the lad who had no dinner.
The American boy Zerah Colburn, whose astonishing talents at calculation we have already noticed, appears to have been since surpassed by George Bidder, the son of a labouring peasant in Devonshire. Bidder began to exhibit his astonishing powers at an early age; and when not more than twelve, the following question was proposed to him at the Stock Exchange, which he answered in the short space of one minute.
If the pendulum of a clock vibrates the distance of nine inches and three quarters in a second of time, how many inches will it vibrate in the course of seven years, fourteen days, two hours, one minute, and fifty-six seconds, each year of three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, forty-eight minutes, and fifty-five seconds? Answer: two thousand one hundred, and sixty-five millions, six hundred and twenty-five thousand, seven hundred and forty-four inches, and three quarters. In miles, thirty-four thousand, one hundred and seventy-eight miles, four hundred and seventy-five yards, two feet, and three quarters of an inch.
In the spring of 1819, a little girl about eleven years old appeared at the Royal Exchange, and made some very extraordinary calculations. Several gentlemen asked her some intricate questions, and while they were calculating it, she gave a correct answer. She was asked to multiply 525,600 by 250; which she answered in one minute, 131,400,000. A second question was, how many minutes there are in forty-two years? Answer, 22,075,200.. She was next desired to multiply 525,000 by 450; answer, 236,250,000. Several other questions equally difficult were put, all of which she answered very correctly. It is remarkable that the girl could neither read nor write. She stated herself to be the daughter of a weaver, living in Mile-End New Town, of the name of Heywood.
The Philosopher Outdone.
A learned philosopher being very busy in his study, a little girl came to ask him for some fire. 'But,' says the doctor, 'you have nothing to take it in,' and as he was going to fetch something for that purpose, the little girl stooped down at the fire-place, and taking some cold ashes in one hand, she put live embers on them with the other. The astonished doctor threw down his books, saying 'With all my learning, I should never have found out that expedient.'
Teaching a Cow.
A gentleman riding near his own house in Ireland, saw a cow's head and fore-feet appear at the top of a ditch, through a gap in the hedge on the road side, he heard a voice alternately threatening and encouraging the cow; he was induced to ride up close to the scene of action, when he saw a boy's head appear behind the cow. 'My good boy,' said he, 'that's a fine cow.' 'Och, that she is,' replied the bay 'and I am taching her how to get her own living, plase your honour.'
The gentleman did not precisely understand the meaning of the expression, and had he directly asked for an explanation, would probably have died in ignorance, but the boy proud of his cow, encouraged an exhibition of her talents; she was made to jump across the ditch several times, and this adroitness in breaking through fences was termed 'getting her own living.' Thus, as soon as a cow's education is finished, she may be sent loose into the world to provide for herself; turned to graze in the poorest pasture, she will be able and willing to live upon the fat of the land.
This eminent practical philosopher and astronomer was born in a humble station at Keith, a small village in Scotland, in the year 1710. He learned to read by merely listening to the instructions which his father communicated to an elder brother. He was afterwards sent for about three months to the grammar school at Keith; and this was all the scholastic education he ever received. His taste for mechanics appeared when he was only about seven or eight years of age, by means of a turning lathe and a knife, he constructed machines, that served to illustrate the properties of the lever, the wheel, and the axle. Of these machines, and the mode of their application, he made rough drawings with a pen and wrote a brief description of them. Unable to subsist without some employment, he was placed with a neighbouring farmer, and occupied for some years in the care of his sheep. In this situation he commenced the study of astronomy, devoting a great part of the night to the contemplation of the heavens; while he amused himself in the day time with making models of spinning wheels, and other machines which he had an opportunity of observing. By another farmer, in whose service he was afterwards engaged' he was much encouraged in his astronomical studies and enabled by the assistance that was afforded him in his necessary labour, to reserve part of the day for making fair copies of the observations which he roughly sketched out at night. In making these observations, he lay down on his back, with a blanket about him and by means of a thread strung with small beads, and stretched at arm's length between his eye and the stars, he marked their positions and distances. The master who thus kindly favoured his search after knowledge recommended him to some neighbouring gentlemen, one of whom took him into his house, where he was instructed by the butler in decimal arithmetic, algebra, and the elements of geometry! Being afterwards deprived of the assistance of this preceptor, he returned to his father's house, and availing himself of the information derived from Gordon's 'Geographical Grammar,' he constructed a globe of wood, covered it with paper, and delineated upon it a map of the world; he also added the meridian ring, and horizon, which he graduated; and by means of this instrument, which was the first he had ever seen, he came to solve all the problems in Gordon. His father's contracted circumstances obliged him again to seek employment, but the service into which he entered was so laborious as to affect his health. For his amusement in this enfeebled state, he made a wooden clock, and also a watch, after having once seen the inside of such a piece of mechanism His ingenuity obtained for him new friends and employment suited to his taste, which was that of cleaning clocks, and drawing patterns for ladles' needlework, and he was thus enabled not only to supply his own wants, but to assist his father. Having improved in the art of drawing, he was induced to draw portraits from the life with Indian ink on vellum. This art, which he practiced with facility, afforded him a comfortable subsistence for several years, and allowed him leisure for pursuing those favourite studies, which ultimately raised him into eminence.
Lord Francis Villiers.
This gallant youth, the son of the Duke of Buckingham, who was assassinated by Felton, took up arms in the cause of Charles I., and served under the Earl of Holland. The king's troops were defeated, and Lord Francis, then in his nineteenth year, disdaining to accept quarter from the rebels, placed his back against a tree, and in this position defended himself with great velour, until cut to pieces by overpowering numbers.
This great physiologist was in his youth more addicted to the muses than to those graver studies which illustrate] his riper years. At ten, he wrote a satire against his preceptor, who had been selected for the office on account of his sufferings in the cause of religion, and was a severe task-master. He remained under this tutor till he was thirteen years old, when his father died. The family were left in narrow circumstances; the tutor was dis missed, and young Haller sent to a boarding-school. One of his comrades, whose father was a physician at Bienne, invited Haller to accompany him home for the holidays. Here he was surrounded with books of anatomy and acquired from them that physiological taste which gave the master direction to his future pursuits. It was not, however, without some struggle that the love of verse yielded that ascendancy; and on one occasion, upon an alarm of fire being given, the young stranger was seen hurrying out of the house with an armful of manuscript poetry, as the most precious thing he had to save. The pieces in this collection were mostly of the same description as the satire on his preceptor, and it is recorded to his honour, that about a year after, when his judgment became more matured, he felt so sensibly how unamiable it was in a boy to exercise his ingenuity in exposing the faults and follies of men, that he voluntarily committed to the flames the whale of that collection, which he had shortly before been so anxious to preserve from the same element.
Haller in after life was tempted on several occasions to resume the lyre; he even published a volume of poems, but the merit they possess would scarcely authorise us to say, as Pope did of Mansfield,
'How sweet an Ovid was in Haller lost.'
Boy and Highwayman.
A boy having sold a cow, at the fair at Hereford, in the year 1766, he was way-laid by a highwayman, who at a convenient place demanded the money; on this the boy took to his heels and ran away; but being overtaken by the highwayman, who dismounted, he pulled the money out of his pocket and strewed it about, and while the highwayman was picking it up, the boy jumped upon the horse and rode home. Upon searching the saddle bags, there were found twelve pounds in cash, and two loaded pistols.
The fellow pupils of this great painter used in a sarcastical way to call him the Ox, on account of his extraordinary laborious habits, but the prophecy of his master, Annibal Caracci, proved true of him afterwards: 'That the Ox, by his labour, would make his ground so rich, that painting would be fed by what it produced.'
It is recorded of this gallant admiral, that when he parted with his father on first going to sea, the latter exhorted him to behave well, adding, that 'he hoped to live to see him a captain.' 'A captain!' replied the boy. 'Sir, if I did not think I should come to be an admiral, I would not go at all.'
The celebrated Antonio Magliabechi, who was librarian to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and was so much distinguished for his retentive memory and extensive bibliographical knowledge, was born of parents so poor, that they thought themselves happy in getting him into the service of a man who sold herbs and fruit. Here, though he did not know one letter from another he took every opportunity to pore over the leaves of some old books that served for waste paper, declaring that he loved it above all things. A neighbouring bookseller, who observed this, took him into his service. Young Magliabechi soon learned to read, and his inclination for reading be came his ruling passion, and a prodigious memory his distinguishing talent. He read every book that came into his hands; and retained not only the sense of what he read, but often all the words, and the very manner of spelling, if peculiar. To make trial of the force of his memory, a gentleman lent him a manuscript he was going to print. Some time after it was returned, the gentleman came to him, and said he had lost the manuscript, requesting Magliabechi to recollect what he could of it; on which, it is said, he wrote the whole without missing a word, or- even varying the spelling.
If there have been some poets who have 'lisp'd in numbers' at an earlier age than Pope, none ever reached so early perfection. His education until his twelfth year was confined to four successive priests. 'This,' says the, 'was all the teaching I ever had; and God knows it extended a very little way.' When he had done with the priests, he took to reading with great eagerness and soon dipped into a great number of the English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. This he did without any design, but that of pleasing himself; but he gained the knowledge of the languages, by hunting after the stories in the several poets he read. He followed everywhere as his fancy led him, and was like a boy gathering flowers in the woods and fields just as they fell in his way. In these rambles through the poets, wherever he met with a passage or story that pleased him more than ordinary, he used to endeavour to imitate it, or translate it into English; and this gave him the first turn for imitations, in which he was afterwards so successful. When he was very young, he wrote part of a tragedy; and afterwards an entire one, founded on the very moving story in the Legend of St. Genevieve. When he was about twelve, he wrote a kind of play, which he got acted by his schoolfellows; it was a number of speeches from the Iliad, tacked together with verses of his own. Soon after, he began an epic poem, 'Alcander, Prince of Rhodes.' He wrote four books towards it, of about a thousand verses each, and kept the copy by him, until advised to burn it by the Bishop of Rochester, a short time before he went abroad. 'I endeavoured,' said Pope, 'in this poem, to collect all the beauties of the great epic writers into one piece; there was Milton's style in one part, and Cowley's in another; here the style of Spenser imitated, and there that of Statius; here Homer and Virgil, and there Ovid and Claudian.'
At the age of fourteen, Pope produced the alterations from Chaucer's Wife of Bath, and the Translation of Sappho to Phaon; the Pastorals, at sixteen; and the 'Essay on Criticism,' at nineteen. All these poems will be read with admiration, as long as a taste for true poetry exists. Of the merits of his Pastorals, the most ample testimony was given as soon as they were published. Mr. Walsh, the best critic of the age, speaking of them, says, 'The author seems to have a particular genius for this kind of poetry, and a judgment which much exceeds his years. He has taken very freely from the ancients, but what he has mixed of his own with theirs, is no way inferior to what he has taken from them. It is not flattery to say, that Virgil had written nothing so good at his age.' And Lord Lansdowne about the same time, mentioning the youth of our poet, says, that 'if he goes on as he has begun in this pastoral way, as Virgil first tried his strength, we may hope to see English poetry vie with the Roman.'
In the north of England, owing to the cheapness of living, education is obtained at a much cheaper rate than in the southern counties. Hence it arises, that there are several boarding schools, to which boys are sent in great numbers from London, and sometimes from America and the West Indies. To one of these schools a boy was sent from the United States, about thirty years ago, under rather mysterious circumstances. He was well supplied with clothes; the expense of his board and education for two years in advance were paid, and an allowance of pocket-money placed at the discretion of the tutor; there was also an intimation given, that before the two years were expired, a second advance of money would be made; but there was not the slightest reference to any person in England, nor even the means of tracing the transatlantic connexions of the boy. He was then about twelve years of age, and of a most sweet and agreeable disposition, which endeared him to everybody in the school. Two years elapsed, during which he rapidly improved an education which appeared to have been much neglected. No accounts arrived from his friends; | another year passed, during which the tutor had anxiously waited the expected remittance: but in vain. He knew not to whom to apply, and the boy could give him no assistance. The tutor, though at the head of a respectable boarding-school, had a large family, and was poor, he could not bear the idea of turning the boy from school, and yet he could not afford to keep him. He then delicately intimated to him, that he should remain six months longer, and if at the end of that period no intelligence arrived from his friends, it would then be necessary for him to think of some means of employment, assuring him of his best endeavours to serve him. The six months passed ever, and still no relief. Poor H-, for such was the boy's name, must now be doomed to some servile employment. His schoolfellows were no sooner acquainted with the circumstance, than they sent a deputation to the tutor, entreating him still to suffer their friend and much-loved schoolmate to remain at school, and offering to give up the whole of their pocket-money towards reimbursing him. The tutor was affected by so generous an offer on the part of his scholars, and declared, that could he but receive one half of the usual charge of board and education, he would be satisfied. Then commenced a struggle among the boys who should be first in their subscription. Their little alls were collected,: and many who had no -money, sold the instruments of their amusement to contribute to this benevolent and praiseworthy object. On the approaching vacation, the boys related the circumstance of poor H-'s misfortunes to their friends, and then received additional means of serving him. For two years was he thus kept at school; when his father, who had long been in India, and had entrusted his son to his agent, returned to England, paid the generous tutor all his demands, and being a man of considerable wealth and influence, was enabled to repay many of the boys for their kindness, by providing them with mercantile situations in London.
This excellent painter, whose premature and lamentable death has excited so strong and so general a sympathy, evinced almost from his, cradle a predilection for the art in which he became so distinguished. When only five years old, he was never without a pencil in his hand; and when the rest of the family went to the theatre, or to other amusements, his sole delight was to be left at home with implements for drawing, and permission to use them. In his very childhood, when pressed not to think of the arts, as an unprofitable profession, he exclaimed, 'Mother, I do not want riches, I intend to paint for fame and glory.' When only fifteen years of age, he discovered a capacity of the highest order; and in the following year he commenced his professional career, which terminated when he was receiving its highest honours.
Royal Family of Britain.
Few princes, or perhaps few individuals, have been more judiciously educated, than the Royal Family of England. Their education was conducted on the principle of utility, as well as elegance. A spot of ground in the garden at Kew was dug by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and his brother, the Duke of York, who sowed it with wheat, attended the growth of their little crop, weeded, reaped, and harvested it. They thrashed out the corn, and separated it from the chaff, and were thus early brought to reflect, from their own experience, on the various labours and attention of the husbandman and farmer.
The Prince of Wales was always remarkable for an acuteness of observation and a readiness of reply. When a boy, he was one day very anxious to go to a juvenile masquerade, given by the Countess of ---: but he was at this time rather indisposed, and the physician in attendance strongly endeavoured to dissuade him from it, on account of endangering his health. The prince was inflexible, declaring there could be no danger, as he would go in a domino, and not take any part in the masquerade. The physician remonstrated strongly, and at length declared, that if his Royal Highness did go, he could nod! answer for his life. The prince instantly replied, in the words said to have been used on a more serious occasion by Rabelais, 'Well, doctor, you know, 'Beati sunt illi qui moriuntur in DOMINO.
During the Duke of Clarence's first trip to sea as a midshipman, on board the Prince George of go guns, Admiral Digby, he had some difference with Mr. Sturt, a brother midshipman (now Member of Parliament for Bridport). His highness bravely condescended to waive his dignity, and fight his opponent seaman's fashion over a chest: but Mr. Sturt, being older in years, was the better man, and therefore declined a mode of contest which could not fail to be to the disadvantage of his antagonist. His highness, struck with the generosity of Mr. Sturt, proffered his hand, and a reconciliation took place, which ripened into the closest friendship. His highness was heard afterwards repeatedly to declare, that had Sturt been a poor man's sloe, and continued in the navy, he would have solicited preferment for him in preference to himself
The first actual service in which this prince was engaged, was when Lord Rodney captured the Spanish fleet, commanded by Langara. On this occasion, when the English admiral's boat was manned to bring Langara on board, his Royal Highness was the first stripped to his shirt, and at the oar: a circumstance which struck the Spanish admiral so forcibly, that he involuntarily exclaimed
'That nation must be invincible, where kings' sons condescend to perform the office of common sailors.'
It is a singular coincidence, that the-two individuals who have been most celebrated for their attempts to extend the knowledge of animal nature, should have been both natives of Scotland, and that each should have been put to a coarse mechanical employment - John Brown to the trade of a weaver, and John Hunter to that of a carpenter or wheel-wright.
Young Brown early discovered uncommon talents. His aptitude for improvement induced his parents, after having fruitlessly bound him apprentice to a weaver, to change his destination. He was accordingly sent to a grammar school, where he studied with great ardour and success. Indeed, he was at that time regarded as a prodigy, and his application was so intense, that he was seldom without a book in his hand. The means of his education were raised by his own industry, and he became a reaper of corn, to procure for himself the means of improvement. With the price of such labour he put himself to school, where his abilities and ardour attracted the notice of his master, and procured him the place of assistant. He first directed his studies to divinity, but soon changed that for physic, in which he afterwards became so eminent, as to found a system, called, in honour of him, 'The Brownian System.'
Swearing Nobly Reproved.
Prince Henry, the son of James II., of whose boyish days we have already given some notice, had a particular aversion to the vice of swearing, and profanation of the name of God. When at play, he was never heard to do so; and on being asked why he did not swear at play as well as others? he answered that he knew no game worthy of an oath. The same answer he is said to have given at a hunting-match. The stag, almost quite spent, crossed a road where a butcher was passing with his dog. The stag was instantly killed by the dog, at which the huntsmen were greatly offended, and endeavoured to irritate the prince against the butcher; but his highness answered, coolly, 'True, the butcher's dog has killed the stag, and how could the butcher help it?' They replied, 'that if his father had been so served, he would have sworn so as no man could have endured. 'Away!' cried the prince, 'all the pleasure in the world is not worth an oath.'
Amongst the most distinguished individuals who have been educated at Eton school, may be justly ranked the Right Hon. George Canning. He was one of the senior scholars in 1786, and this epoch has been considered by some as the Augustan age of that institution; but others, better acquainted with the history of the times, will perhaps be inclined to think that the days of the Storers, the Carlisles, and the Foxes, have a previous, as well as a superior, claim to the distinction.
The period which boasted of a Canning, was however marked by one circumstance, which distinguished it from every other: that of publishing a literary periodical work, supported almost exclusively by the talents of the scholars. It was on Monday, the 6th of November, 1786, that the first paper of the 'Microcosm' appeared, which continued to be published in weekly numbers until Monday July 30, 1787, when it closed, in consequence of the sudden death of Gregory Griffin, Esq. the editor. From his last will and testament we learn, that all the principal papers were written by George Canning; John Smith afterwards of King's College, Cambridge Robert Smith; John Frere; Joseph Mellish; B. Way; and Mr. Littlehales.
This work was highly creditable to young men of fifteen or sixteen years of age, both as to the talent with which it was conducted, and to the degree of application required amidst the seductions of juvenile enjoyments on one hand, and the laborious duties enforced in a great school on the other. The papers written by Mr. Canning, who was then in his fifteenth year, were twelve in number, and bore the signature B. These were mostly of a humorous or satirical cast. At the end of one of the papers (No. V.) were prefixed some verses, entitled, 'The Slavery of Greece;' which give a very favourable specimen of Mr. Canning's early poetical talents. We quote the opening passage:-
'Unrivall'd Greece! thou ever-honour'd name
Thou nurse of heroes, dear to deathless flame,
Though now to worth, to honour all unknown,
Thy lustre faded, and thy glories flown:
Yet still shall Memory with reverted eye
Trace thy past worth, and view thee with a sigh.
Thee Freedom cherish'd once with fostering hand,
And breath'd undaunted velour through the land;
Here the stern spirit of the Spartan soil,
The child of Poverty inur'd to toil.
'Here lov'd by Pallas, and the sacred Nine,
Once did fair Athens' towering glories shine.
To bend the bow, or the bright faulchion wield,
To lift the bulwark of the brazen shield,
To toss the terror of the whizzing spear
The conqu'ring standard's glittering glories rear,
And join the madding battle's loud career.'
An Apt Version.
The late Or. Adam, Rector of the Grammar School, Edinburgh, was supposed by his scholars to exercise a strong partiality for such as were of patrician descent, and on one occasion was very smartly reminded of it by a boy of mean parentage, whom he was reprehending rather severely for his ignorance - much more so than the boy thought he would have done, had he been the son of a right honourable, or even of a plain Baillie Jarvie. 'You dunce!' exclaimed the rector, 'I don't think you can even translate the motto of your own native place, of the gude town of Edinburgh. What, sir, does 'Nisi Dominus frustra,' mean?' 'It means, sir,' rejoined the boy smartly, 'that unless we are lords' sons, we need not come here.'
A Russian was travelling from Tobolsk to Beresow. On the road he stopped one night at the hut of an Ostiack.
In the morning, on continuing his journey, he discovered that he had lost his purse, containing about one hundred roubles. The son of the Ostiack, a boy about fourteen years of age, found the purse while out hunting; but instead of taking it up, he went and told his father, who was equally unwilling to touch it, and ordered the boy to cover it with some bushes. A few months after, the Russian returned, and stopped at the same hut, but the Ostiack did not recognise him. He related the loss he had met with. The Ostiack listened very attentively; and when he had finished, 'You are welcome,' said he; 'here is my son, who will show you the spot where it lies; no hand has touched it, but the one which covered it, that you might recover what you had lost.'
Two boys chanced in a vacant hour to stray into the kitchen of a public-house. They found a large blazing fire, and a box containing, as appeared by the inscription, a Welch fairy, but no living creature besides. The boys, eager to view the dwarf, but by no means willing, or perhaps able to pay for the sight, began to consult how they should contrive to get her out. Had they possessed the strength and agility of Phaedrus's eagle, they would probably have taken his method of opening inclosures. But they had no wings. The lock too being on the inside, they could not force the door; what could they do? They hit on a stratagem, which might have done honour to Polyaenus. By joint efforts of strength, they moved the box so very near the fire, that the dwarf, from the increased heat, was obliged to open the door, and favour them, grafts, with her wished-for presence.
The first work which interested the curiosity of this great dramatist, whose tragic end has recently caused so much affliction to the friends of letters and humanity, was a collection of tales from different languages, called 'Evening Hours.' The story of Romeo and Juliet, which forms the subject of one of them so deeply affected his sensibility, that he was inclined to ascribe it to the preference which he ever after gave to pathetic stories. 'Don Quixote' next engaged and delighted his fancy; but the incomparable romance of Robinson Crusoe' appears, above all others, to have afforded him the most earnest and deep-felt pleasure. At the early age of six years, he composed verses, and soon after a little dramatic dialogue.
The event, however, which gave the most decisive turn to his genius, was his first visit to the theatre. The play was Klopstock's Death of Adam, and the performance overwhelmed him with a tide of emotions which he had never experienced before. From that evening, the bent of his mind was settled; his chief amusements consisted in boyish attempts to imitate the representations of the stage; and so catching was his example, that almost every boy at Weimar had, like him, his Lilliputian theatre and puppets.
The preceptor under whose charge he was placed, devoted an hour every Saturday to poetry; when such of the scholars as had composed anything of their own, read it from the rostrum; and such as did not write verses usually recited some piece which they had themselves selected from the works of celebrated authors. On one of these occasions, young Kotzebue produced a ballad, which obtained great approbation from the master
This was followed by several essays of the same sort; but although these effusions exhibited spirit and elegance, they were destitute, as he himself acknowledges, of originality; indeed the first endeavours of all genius consist of imitations.
The celebrated Goethe, the author of Werter, being a frequent visitor at his mother's house, was struck with the intelligence of young Kotzebue, and treated him with marked and amiable indulgence. In his little piece of the Brethren, which was first performed at a private theatre, Kotzebue performed the part of the postilion; and was laughably mortified because nobody took any notice of the justice with which he presumed he had acted the character.
At the age of sixteen he was sent to the college of Jena, where he made considerable progress in Latin and French, particularly the latter. The students had a private theatre, and Kotzebue had the satisfaction of being soon enrolled on the list of its actors. It does not, however, appear that he was ever eminent as a performer. In this, as much as in other respects, the Shakspeare of Germany (as Kotzebue is called) appears to have strictly resembled the great dramatist whose mantle is supposed to have fallen upon him.
From Jena, he went for some time to Duisburg, where he organised a juvenile company of dramatic amateurs, and obtained permission from the holy brotherhood of the Minorites, to perform a translation of Sheridan's Rivals in the cloister of their convent. While at Duisburg, he wrote a little drama, called the Ring, and a romance in the style of Werter. The latter was, in his own opinion, not inferior to the original; and possessed with this notion, he sent it to Weigland, the bookseller at Leipsic. But the bibliopole was unfortunately quite impenetrable to the merits of the piece, and had actually the Gothism to return the young aspirant for answer, that he might have the MS. back again, on repaying the sum which the carriage of it had cost! Such was the result of M. Kotzabue's first adventure in the republic of letters, to which he afterwards contributed more perhaps than any man of his age.
The Marquis Hospital.
This ornament to French science was a geometrician almost from his childhood. One day, being at the Duke of Rohan's, some able mathematicians were speaking of a problem of Pascal, which appeared to them extremely difficult; young Hospital ventured to say that he believed he could solve it. The company were surprised at what appeared to them presumption in a boy of fifteen, for he was then no more; and one of them said, in a sort of braggart tone, that if he could, he would give him the choice of the best book in his library. The boy accepted the challenge, and in a few days after presented the solution, and claimed the promised prize; which, it need scarcely be added, was most cheerfully awarded him.
'A little body with a mighty heart.'
Since the period when the good fortune of Master Betty called forth a host of young Roscii and Rosciae, and the green-room was in danger of being converted into a nursery, the tide of public feeling has run violently against the exhibition of children on the boards of our great theatres. If, however, any circumstance was likely to make the public not only tolerate, but approve of the theatrical performances of children, it must be in the production of a piece suited to their tender years, and when talents are displayed, such as those of Miss Clara Fisher.
This child was born on the 14th of July, 1811, and from her earliest infancy, exhibited an uncommon share of intellect. When an infant in arms, she took so much delight in music, that when certain tunes were played, the pleasure she felt was most striking, while on the other hand, when any air to which she had taken a dislike was attempted to be introduced, she would cry and oppose the performance of it by every means in her power; an instance of acuteness of ear and taste rarely to be met with in an infant.
The first impulse for the stage that little Clara felt, was on seeing Miss O'Neill perform the character of Jane Shore. After her return from the theatre, she began to show what impression Miss O'Neill's performance had made upon her mind, by imitating all she had seen that great mistress of the passions so recently exhibit, but infant-like, she blended the madness of Alicia, with the tenderness and distress of Jane Shore. These actions in a child under four years of age, naturally excited pleasure and surprise in the family circle, and the applause bestowed by some private friends seemed to fix in her infant mind a love for the stage. Some time after, she saw a comic dance at the Olympic Theatre, which gave her much pleasure, and the next evening her eldest sister accidentally playing the tune on the pianoforte, she, to the surprise of all, went through the dance correctly in the steps, and with all the action and grimace she had witnessed in the clown the night before.
The first appearance of Miss Fisher on the stage, was at Drury Lane Theatre, on the 10th of December, 1817, in Garrick's little comedy of Lilliput, to which many songs had been added, and the whole remodelled by Mr. D. Corri, whose pupils sustained the principal characters in the piece. The part of Lord Flimnap was assigned to Miss Clara Fisher, who astonished the audience by her extraordinary and various talents. 'The staid gravity of her countenance,' said one of the diurnal critics, 'the solemnity of her utterance, and the studied precision of her walk, convulsed the audience with laughter. She afterwards, assisted by her young friends, who sustained the minor parts of the drama, supported the character of Richard the Third, from the tent scene to the death of the tyrant, and evinced a knowledge of the text, and an acquaintance with stage effect, really surprising. She finally, in the character of a Countryman, sang a comic song with a great deal of archness and humour.
After playing for some time at Drury Lane, Miss Clara Fisher was engaged at Covent Garden, and appeared in the pantomime of Harlequin Gulliver, performing the character of Richard III., in which she had been so successful at the rival house. Some parts of her performance in this character were such as deserve a more than cursory notice. The manner in which she read the letter in the tent scene, the sarcastic smile that accompanied her handing it to the messenger, as she repeated the lines,
'Jockey of Norfolk, be not too bold; For Dickon, thy master, is bought and sold;'
and then as she turned away, on saying,
"A weak invention of the enemy:'
was such as deservedly to draw down the most loud and reiterated acclamations.
The infant heroine has since visited some of the principal theatres in the kingdom, and sustained, with unrivalled success, the characters of Richard III., Shylock, Douglas, Bombastes, &c.
Honesty - the Best Policy.
A nobleman travelling in Scotland, about six years ago, was asked for alms in the High Street of Edinburgh, by a little ragged boy. He said he had no change, upon which the boy offered to procure it. His lordship, in order to get rid of his importunity, gave him a piece of silver, which the boy conceiving was to be changed, ran off for the purpose. On his return, not finding his benefactor whom he expected to wait, he watched for several days in the place where he had received the money. At length, the nobleman happened again to pass that way; the boy accosted him, and put the change he had procured into his hand, counting it with great exactness. His lordship was so pleased with the boy's honesty, that he placed him at school, with the assurance of providing for him.
The illustrious champion of the Gothic ages, Du Guesclin, Lord High Constable of France, possessed a person by no means favoured by nature. He said of himself, when he was very young, 'I am indeed very ugly; I shall never be a favourite with the ladies; but I trust I shall make myself feared by the enemies of my sovereign.' From his earliest youth he breathed nothing but battles and feats of activity. 'There never was a more unlucky boy in the world,' said his mother, 'than my son.
He is always wounded in some way or other; his face is always full of scars; he is constantly beating, and being beaten.'
In the times in which Du Guesclin lived, the nobility were often assembled to give fetes to the ladies. His father and many other courtiers published a tournament, to which they invited all the accomplished cavaliers in France and England. Young Du Guesclin observed with great pleasure the preparations that were making for the tournament, when his father in consideration of his very early years, ordered him to stay in his chateau, and on no account whatever to follow him to Rennes. Soon after he was set out, young Du Guesclin quitted the castle in disguise, and placed himself among the spectators of this brilliant ceremony. Observing, however, a relation of his, who had retired from the engagement, unhorsed, he followed him to the inn, and with tears in his eyes entreated him to lend him his horse and armour. Having, with some difficulty, effected his purpose, he performed such wonders at the tournament that the prize was adjudged him; this he offered to the chevalier who had accoutred him, for the honourable distinction which he obtained. This, however, the latter refused, and brought the young hero to his father, who embraced him amidst the applauses of the spectators.
Le Brun is one of the instances of that early designation of talent which sometimes takes place in the minds of children. From the age of four years, he began to draw with a piece of charcoal upon the walls of his father's house. M. Seguier seeing him thus employed at a very early age, and observing something marked and peculiar in his countenance, took him under his protection, and offered him means to go on regularly with the art of painting.
Le Brun possessed much of that enthusiasm which animates the efforts and increases the raptures of the artist. Some one said before him, of his well-known picture of the Magdalen, 'that the contrite beautiful penitent was really weeping.' 'That,' said he, 'is perhaps all that youcan see; I hear her sigh.'
A singular circumstance attended the childhood of Dr. John Leland, the celebrated controversialist. In the sixth year of his age, he was seized with the smallpox, which proved of so malignant a kind, that his life was despaired of, and when, contrary to all expectation, he recovered, he was found deprived of his understanding and memory, the use of which it was much feared would never have been restored. This state of stupidity continued for near twelve months. His former ideas seemed all quite expunged, and though before the distemper he had been taught to read, all was entirely forgotten, and he was obliged to begin with the letters, as if he had never known them before. But although he could never recover the remembrance of what had happened before his sickness, he discovered now a quick apprehension and strong memory and made the most rapid progress in his studies. His great memory never forsook him, and was so amazing, that he was often called a walking library.
Louis XIII. of France.
This prince, from his earliest years, had an aversion to reading, which he preserved to the last moment of his life. This was perhaps owing to the folly of his tutors, who had not sufficiently attended to his inclinations, and to those of boys of his age. They taught him the history of his own country, by making him read Fauchet's Antiquities, a book very dully written, and full of tedious dissertations. His mother, Mary de Medicis, in hopes of conquering his aversion to reading, made M. de Souvre, his tutor, one day give him a pretty severe flagellation. To this the prince submitted with great reluctance, and a few days afterwards observing his mother salute him with great respect, he said to her, 'My good mother, I wish in future you would not curtsey so very low, but give me less flagellation.
The father of Dermody, who was a schoolmaster at Ennis, in Ireland, is said to have employed his son, when only in his ninth year, in the situation of Greek and Latin assistant at his own school; and to increase the wonder, we are told that he had written as much genuine poetry at ten, as either Cowley, Milton, or Pope had produced at nearly double that age. At ten, too, he ran away to Dublin, where he acquired the patronage of a Dr. Houlton, in whose house he resided about ten weeks, giving astonishing proofs of his acquaintance with the Greek and Roman classics, and producing poetical translations ad aperturam libri. This gentleman, when obliged himself to leave Dublin, gave him some money, which he soon spent and wandered through the streets without a settled home, until he found an asylum with a scene-painter belonging to the theatre. The scene-painter introduced him to the players, and some attempts were laudably made by them to place him in a situation where he might prosecute his studies, but the depravity of his disposition appears to have been as early wonderful as his poetical talents. Dermody's first publication was a small volume of poems, written in his thirteenth year, and printed in 1792. He published another volume in 1800, and a third in 1801. As a poet, however, he cannot be allowed to rank high. With a happy ear for versification, he gives us only common ideas, and common images variously supplied.
The unfortunate George Moreland gave very early indications of his genius, he used to draw objects on the floor; and when his father, who was a painter on crayons, stooped to pick up the scissors or the crayons which appeared on the floor, the laugh was often enjoyed against him. These, and a thousand other monkey tricks, made George the favourite child; his father saw the germs of future excellence in his own favourite art, and at the age of fourteen he had him apprenticed to himself for seven years, during which his I application was incessant. His days were devoted to painting, his summer evenings to reading, and those of winter to drawing by lamplight. It was during this period that he gained nearly his whole knowledge, acquired correctness of eye, with obedience of hand and those principles which laid the foundation of his future excellence.
Henry Kirke White.
This youthful bard, whose premature death was so sincerely regretted by every admirer of genius, manifested an ardent love of reading in his infancy; it was a passion to which everything else gave way. 'I could fancy,' says his eldest sister, 'I see him in his little chair, with a large book upon his knee, and my mother calling, "Henry my love, come to dinner," which was repeated so often without being regarded that she was obliged to change the tone of her voice before she could rouse him.' When he was about seven, he would creep unperceived into the kitchen to teach the servant to read and write, and he continued this for some time before it was discovered that he had been thus laudably employed. He wrote a tale of a Swiss emigrant which was probably his first composition, an] gave it to this servant, being ashamed to show it to his mother. 'The consciousness of genius,' says Mr. Southey, 'is always at first accompanied with this diffidence; it is a sacred, solitary feeling. No forward child however extraordinary the promise of his childhood, ever produced anything truly great.'
When Henry was about eleven years old he one day wrote a separate theme for every boy in his class, which consisted of about twelve or fourteen. The master said he had never known them write so well upon any subject before, and could not refrain from expressing his astonishment at the excellence of Henry's own. At the age of thirteen he wrote a poem, 'On being Confined to School one pleasant Morning in Spring,' from which the following is an extract:
'How gladly would my soul forego
All that arithmeticians know
Or stiff grammarians quaintly- teach,
Or all that industry can reach,
To taste each morn of all the joys
That with the laughing sun arise
And unconstrained to rove along
The bushy brakes and glens among;
And woo the muse's gentle power,
In unfrequented 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.'
The parents of Henry were anxious to put him to some trade; and when he was in his fourteenth year he was placed at a stocking loom, with the view at some future period of getting a situation in a holier's warehouse; but the youth did not conceive that nature intended to doom him to spend seven years of his life in folding up stockings, and he remonstrated with his friends against the employment. His temper and tone of mind at this period, when in his fourteenth year, are displayed in the following extract from an address to contemplation.
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 may be my lot
And I might taste the blessedness of wealth.
But, oh! I was not made for money getting.'
* * * *
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 cherished: and the pen
Dropt from my senseless fingers as I pictured
In mind's eye, how on the shores of Trent
I erewhile wander'd with my early friends
In social intercourse.'
'Yet still, O. Contemplation! I do love
T' indulge thy solemn musings still the same
With thee alone I know how to melt and weep,
In thee alone delighting. Why along
The dusty track of commerce should I toil,
When with an easy competence content
I can alone be happy: where with thee
I may enjoy the loveliness of nature
And loose the wings of Fancy? Thus alone
Can I partake of happiness on earth
And to be happy here is man's chief end,
For to be happy he must needs be good.'
Young White was soon removed from the room to the office of a solicitor, which was a less obnoxious employment. He became a member of a literary society in Nottingham, and delivered an extempore lecture on genius: in which he displayed so much talent, that he received the unanimous thanks of the society and they elected this young Roscius of oratory their professor of literature. At the age of fifteen, he gained a silver medal for a translation from Horace; and the following year, a pair of globes, for an imaginary tour from London to Edinburgh. He determined upon trying for this prize, one evening when at tea with his family; and at supper he read to them his performance. In his seventeenth year he published a small volume of poems, which possessed considerable merit. Soon after he was sent to Cambridge, and entered St. John's College, where he made the most rapid progress. But the intensity of his studies ruined his constitution, and he fell a victim to his ardent thirst for knowledge. He died about I two years after, aged twenty-one, leaving behind him several poems and letters, which gave earnest of the high rank he would have attained in the republic of letters, had his life been spared.
This once celebrated comedian is said to have owed his advance in life to a singular incident. When very young, he was pot-boy at a public-house in the neighborhood of Covent Garden. A gentleman came in late one evening, and after taking some refreshment, sent Shuter to call a hackney coach for him. On reaching home, the gentleman missed his pocketbook, and suspecting he had left it in the coach, the number of which he did not know, he hastened the next morning to the house from which it had been ordered, and inquired of Shuter if he knew the number of the coach. Poor Shuter could neither read nor write, and was totally unskilled in numerals; but he knew the signs by which his master scored the quarts and pints of porter which were drank at his house, and these were fortunately sufficient to express the number of the coach, he therefore readily replied to the gentleman's inquiry, by saying 'Two pots and a pint (771).' This to the gentleman was unintelligible, till the landlord explained its meaning. The coachman was summoned, and the pocket-book recovered. This acuteness of the boy so pleased the gentleman that he immediately placed him in school, and became his patron through life.
Alexander and La Harpe.
The attachment of the present Emperor of Russia to his preceptor, La Harpe, is well known; it was rather filial than that of a pupil, his greatest delight was in his society, and he would cling round his neck in the most affectionate embraces, by which frequently his clothes were covered with powder. 'See, my dear prince,' La Harpe would say, 'what a figure you have made yourself.' 'Oh, never mind it,' Alexander replied; 'no one will blame me for carrying away all I can from my dear preceptor.' One day he went to visit La Harpe, as was his custom, alone: the porter was a new servant and did not know him; he asked his name, and was answered Alexander. The porter then led him into the servants' hall, told him his master was at his studies, and could not be disturbed for an hour The servants' homely meal was prepared, and the prince was invited to partake of it, which he did without affectation. When the hour was expired, the porter informed La Harpe that a young man of the name of Alexander had been waiting some time, and wanted to see him. 'Shew him in.' But what was La Harpe's surprise to see his pupil! he wished to apologize; but Alexander placing his finger on his lips, said, 'My dear tutor do not mention it; an hour to you is worth a day to me; and besides, I have had a hearty breakfast with your servants, which I should have lost, had I been admitted when I came.' The poor porter's feelings may be better imagined than described; but Alexander, laughing, said, 'I like you the better for it; you are an honest servant, and shore is an hundred roubles to convince you I think so.
The following anecdote is related as a fact, by Madame de Genlis, in her admirable work of the 'Little Emigrants.'
'One morning when we came to the mill, we did not find Lolotte, who was in the fields; while we were waiting for her, my father and I conversed with the miller's wife. I had brought several playthings for Lolotte; and the miller's wife laughing, told me that they would not please her so well as a little flour. "How?" said I. She replied, "For three weeks Lolotte has cared for nothing but heaping up flour; every morning she comes to beg some of my husband, who gives her a handful: besides this, she invents a thousand little schemes to get some from me; and when she sees me in a good humour, or when I caress her, I am sure she is going to say, "Give me a little flour." The other day we had made some muffins, and I carried one to her; her first movement was to take it: and then she considered, and said, "Keep your muffin, and give a little flour." "This is odd," said my father; "and what does she do with all this flour?" "She has asked us for a large sack," replied the miller's wife, "and there she puts it: the sack is by her bedside, and it must now be almost full." During this conversation I said nothing; but reflecting upon it, and perfectly knowing Lolotte, I guessed the cause. I remembered that I had often come to see her with M. and Madame d'Ermont: that we had frequently spoken of France before her; that M. d'Ermont had mentioned the scarcity of bread, and had said, that the counter-revolution would be effected by famine. I doubted not but Lolotte's store of flour had some connexion with this: but lest I might be deceived, I kept silence. At last Lolotte returned from her walk: after having embraced us, she sat upon the knee of my father, who did not fail to question her with regard to the flour. Lolotte blushed, and evaded answering by saying we would laugh at her; but when she was closely pressed to explain herself, I saw her countenance take that moving expression which it always has when she is going to cry, and then she said with a broken voice, "It is because I knew that very soon there would be no more bread in France, and I want to send a provision of flour to my nurse Caillett."'
The Juvenile Artist.
Mr. William Blake, who attained considerable eminence as an artist, had, very early in life, the ordinary opportunities of seeing pic tures in the houses of noblemen and gentlemen, and in all the king's palaces. He soon improved such casual occasions of study by attending sales at Langford's, Christie's, and other auction rooms. At ten years of age, he was put to a drawing-school, where he soon attained the art of drawing from casts in plaister of the various antiques. His father bought for him the Gladiator, the Hercules the Venus de Medicis, and various heads hands, and feet. He also supplied him with money to purchase prints; when he immediately began his collection, frequenting the shops of the print-dealers, and the sales of the auctioneers. Langford called him his little connoisseur, and often knocked down to him a cheap lot, with friendly precipitation. He copied Raphael and Michael Angelo Martin Hernskerck, and Albert Durer, Julio Romano, and the rest of the historic class, neglecting to buy any other prints, however celebrated. His choice was for the most part contemned by his youthful companions, who were accustomed to laugh at what they called his mechanical taste. At the age of fourteen he fixed on the engraver of Stuart's Athens and West's Pylades and Orestes for his master.
In the early part of his apprenticeship with Basire, he was employed in making drawings from old buildings and monuments, and occasionally, especially in winter, in engraving from those drawings. This occupation led him to an acquaintance with those neglected works of art called Gothic monuments. There he found a treasure which he knew how to value. The monuments in Westminster Abbey were among his first studies. The principal of those which surround the chapel of Edward the Confessor, he drew in every point he could catch, frequently standing on the monument, and viewing the figures from the top. The heads he considered as portraits, and all the ornaments appeared as miracles of art to his gothicised imagination. Such was the occupation of Blake when a young apprentice, and the drawings which he made in his holiday hours at this period he afterwards engraved. They were published, and would not have reflected disgrace on artists of double his age and experience.
James Mitchell, Blind, Deaf, and Dumb Boy.
About seven years ago, Professor Stewart read to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a paper containing a singular account of a boy born blind and deaf The name of the boy was James Mitchell, the son of a clergyman in the' county of Nairn, in Scotland. His chief pleasures are derived from taste and smell. He finds amusement also in the exercise of touch, and has often employed himself for hours in gathering from the bed of a ever, round and smooth stones, which he afterwards arranged in a circular form, seating himself in the midst of the circle. He explored by touch a space of about two hundred yards round the parsonage, to every part of which he walked fearlessly and with out a guide; and scarcely a day elapsed in which he did not cautiously feel his way into ground which he had not before explored. In one of these excursions, his father with terror observed him creeping along a narrow wooden bridge, which crossed a neighbouring river, at a point where the stream was deep and rapid. He was immediately stopped; and to deter him from the repetition of such perilous experiments, he was once or twice plunged into the river, a punishment which had the desired effect.
When a stranger arrives, his smell immediately informs him of the circumstance, and directs him to the place where the stranger is whom he proceeds- to survey by the sense of touch. In the remote situation where he resides male visitors are most frequent, and therefore the first thing he generally does, is to examine whether or not the stranger wears boots; if he does wear them, he immediately goes to the lobby, feels for and accurately examines his whip; then proceeds to the stable and handles his horse with great care, and with the utmost seeming attention. The servants were instructed to prevent his visits to the horses of strangers in the stable, and after his wishes in this respect had been repeatedly thwarted, he had the ingenuity to lock the door of the kitchen on the servants, in the hope that he might accomplish unmolested his visits to the stable.
Having appeared to distinguish, by feeling, a horse which his mother had sold a few weeks before, the rider dismounted to put his knowledge to the test: and the boy immediately led the horse to his mother's stable, took off his saddle and bridle, put corn before him, and then withdrew, locking the door, and putting the key in his pocket.
In 1811, when this poor boy was in his sixteenth year, he lost the guidance of his father. His feelings on the occasion are somewhat variously represented. Some of his relations represent him as betraying the liveliest sense of his irreparable loss, but the testimony of his sister and of Dr. Gordon appears to prove, that attention, curiosity, and wonder, were excited by the novelty of the outward circumstances, rather than that he felt those sentiments which presuppose some conception of the nature of the change which had occurred in the state of his parent.
He had previously amused himself with placing a dead fowl repeatedly on its legs, laughing when it fell:- but the first human dead body which he touched was that of his father, from which he shrunk with signs of surprise and dislike. He felt the corpse in the coffin; and on the evening after the funeral, he went to the grave, and patted it with both his hands; but whether from affection, or imitation of the act of beating down the turf after the grave was closed, his sister could not determine. For several days, he returned repeatedly to the grave, and regularly attended every funeral that afterwards occurred in the same churchyard.
On one occasion, shortly after his father's death, discovering his mother was unwell and in bed, he was observed to weep. At another time, soon after, a clergyman being in the house, on a Sunday evening, he pointed to his father's Bible, and then made a sign that the family should kneel.
The boy's only attempts at utterance, are the uncouth bellowings by which he sometimes labours to vent that violent anger to which his situation seems prone. His tears are most commonly shed from disappointment in his wishes; but they sometimes flow from affectionate sorrow. He displays by boisterous laughter his triumph at the success of contrivances to place others in situations of ludicrous distress.
His sister has devised some means for establishing that communication between him and other beings, from which nature seemed for ever to have cut him off. By various modifications of touch, she conveys to him her satisfaction or displeasure at his conduct; which is not only the means of communication, but the instrument of some moral discipline. To supply its obvious and great defects, she has had recourse to a language of action, representing those ideas which none of the simple natural signs cognizable by the sense of touch could convey. When his mother was from home, his sister allayed his anxiety for her return by laying his head gently down on a pillow once for each night that his mother was to be absent; implying, that he would sleep so many times before her return.
Diderot alludes to a case like that of Mitchell, and the Abbe de L'Epee had anticipated the possibility of such a misfortune. But no account of any being, doomed from birth to a privation so complete, both of sight and hearing, has hitherto been discovered in the records of science, unless we accept that of the American girl noticed in a preceding part of this work, and which appears to have been unknown to Professor Stewart, but who was four years of age before she united such accumulation of misfortune as that which distinguishes the case of poor Mitchell.
The following additional anecdote of him has been recently communicated by his sister to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
'There is a point of land leading from Nairn, (the town where he lives) along the side and to the mouth of the river, and which with high tide is overflowed by the sea, where there are boats frequently left fastened to something for the purpose. He had been in the habit, it seems, of going down to these boats; and had that day gone down and stepped into one of them as usual. Before he was aware, however, he was afloat, and completely surrounded with water. Had he remained quietly there until the tide ebbed, he probably would not have been in any danger; but instead of that, upon perceiving his situation, he undressed himself, and plunged into the sea, seemingly with the intention of attempting to drag the boat with his clothes to land. Finding that, however, impracticable, he next attempted returning to the boat, but failed in getting into it, and with his struggling upset it; and there is not a doubt but he must have perished, had not some salmon-fishers been most providentially employed within sight of him, and rowed to his assistance. By the time they reached him, he was nearly exhausted by his exertions; and having been repeatedly completely under water, was so benumbed with cold, that they were obliged to strip themselves of what clothes they could spare, and put on him, his own being quite wet from the upsetting of the boat. They then very humanely brought him home, carrying him great part of the way, until he recovered strength and warmth sufficient to enable him to walk. 'It is curious enough,' says his intelligent sister, 'to observe the sagacity displayed in some of his actions. His shoes were found with a stocking and a garter stuffed into each of them, and his tobacco-pipe in his coat pocket, rolled up in his neck-cloth. The shoes (having got them on new that morning) were the only articles he discovered any anxiety to recover; and these he seemed much delighted with upon their being restored to him, they having been found when the tide ebbed. His first action when I met him, upon being brought home, was to pull off a worsted night-cap, and give it to me with rather an odd expression of countenance. The men had been obliged to put it upon him, his hat having shared the fate of his clothes in the boat, and he certainly made a most grotesque appearance altogether, which he seemed to be in some degree aware of, as after getting on a dry suit of his own clothes, he frequently burst out a laughing during the evening, although upon the whole he appeared graver and more thoughtful than usual.'
'Oft before his infant eyes would run
Such forms as glitter in the muse's ray,
With orient hues unborrowed of the sun.' GRAY.
When Blacket, whose poetical 'Remains,' have been given to the world by Mr. Pratt, was about twelve years of age, he was particularly anxious to go to the play. A youthful friend had called on him to solicit his company to see Kemble play Richard III. at Drury Lane, but Blacket's brother refused him permission on account of the wetness of the season, fearing he might catch cold. After supplicating in vain for a long time, he hit upon an expedient which had the desired effect. He addressed a few verses to him, which pleased his brother so highly, that he instantly gave him leave to go, and the money to defray his expenses. From this period, Blacket dated his passion for the drama, and admiration of Shakspeare.
Thomas Williams Malkin.
It is easy to conceive that the partialities of a parent, who may have the happiness to possess a child of precocious talent, may induce him to dwell on the trivial fond records with too much minuteness, and if he becomes the biographer, to write with a fervour unrestricted by the limits of calm investigation. Whether such an observation may not be applied to Dr. Malkin, who in 'A Father's Memoirs of his Child,' has related facts so astonishing, we will not say, but certainly he has furnished abundance of evidence to prove the extraordinary talents of his son.
Thomas Williams Malkin was two years old before he began to talk, but he was familiar with the alphabet almost half a year sooner. Before he could articulate when a letter was named, he immediately pointed to it with his finger. From the time when he was two years old, and the acquisition of speech seemed to put him in possession of all the instruments necessary to the attainment of knowledge, he immediately began to read, spell, and write, with a rapidity which can scarcely be credited but by those who were witnesses of its reality. Before he was three years old, be had taught himself to make letters first in imitation of printed books, and afterwards of handwriting, and that without any instruction, for he was left to chalk out his own pursuits of this nature. On his birthday, that when he attained the age of three years, he wrote a letter to his mother with a pencil, and a few months afterwards he addressed others to some of his relatives.
At the age of four, he had learnt the Greek alphabet, and had advanced so far in Latin as to write an exercise every day with a considerable degree of accuracy. Before he had reached his fifth year, he not only read English with perfect fluency, 'but,' says his father, 'understood it with critical precision.' He had acquired a happy art in copying maps with neatness and accuracy, an amusement to which he was very partial, he had also made copies from some of Raphael's heads, so much in unison with the style and sentiment of the originals, as to induce connoisseurs to predict, that if he were to pursue the arts as a profession, he would one day rank among the most distinguished of their votaries.
When he was in his seventh year, he wrote fables, and made one or two respectable attempts et poetical composition; but the most singular instance of a fertile imagination, united with the power of making all he met with in books or conversation his own, yet remains behind. This was the idea of a visionary country called Allestone, which was so strongly impressed on his own mind, as to enable him to convey an intelligible and lively transcript of its description. Of this delightful territory, he considered himself as king. He had formed the plan of writing its history, and had executed detached parts of it. Neither did his ingenuity stop here; for he drew a map of the country, giving names of his own invention to the principal mountains, rivers, cities, seaports, villages, and trading towns. This map, in whatever light it is viewed, is a- very remarkable production Considerable part of the history he wrote in a number of letters and tales, in which he displays a most fertile imagination. This was one of the last efforts of his genius, for this youthful prodigy of learning died before he attained the seventh year of his age.
A little boy seeing two nestling birds pecking at each other, inquired of his elder brothel what they were doing. 'They are quarreling,' was the answer. 'No,' replied the child, 'that cannot be, they are brothers.'
'Rex humili, potens.' HORACE
Born of obscure but honest parents, Frederic de Schiller had to contend with adversity from his very infancy. Scarcely had he passed this helpless age, when his father obtained his admission into the military academy at Stutgard. It was there he explored the first elements of science, but the instruction he received was more apt to crush the germ of his poetical genius, than to ripen it into maturity. Several years were thus spent in the strictest military discipline, uncheered by any amusement; and it is probable that the severity with which his youth was treated, increased the naturally melancholy disposition of his mind. At this period he found means to procure the works of the immortal Shakspeare; and the dark and strong shadows that give expression to the pictures of this poet, the affecting situations of his heroes, his bold and energetic language, and those beautiful passages where his eloquence becomes a torrent that no obstacle can resist, were so congenial to the feeling soul of young Schiller that Shakspeare soon engrossed all his admiration, and was his favourite author
Treading incessantly the visionary fields where the perusal of Shakspeare's plays had wafted his imagination, Schiller, willing to pay a nobler tribute to that poet than that of a barren admiration, resolved to imitate him and in a burst of inspired enthusiasm, composed the first scene of his Robbers, a tragedy in five acts. Our young bard was scarcely twenty, when the wish of seeing his production acted, led him to Manheim, where it was accepted by the directors of the stage, and represented with the highest applause and general approbation. Soon after, the Robbers was played in every city of Germany but when Schiller returned to Stutgard, he was informed that the imprudent step of which he had been guilty, forbade his re-admission into the academy. From this period the fame of Schiller as a dramatic writer was established.
The father of the present Lord Abingdon, who was remarkable for the stateliness of his manners, one day riding through a village in the vicinity of Oxford, met a lad dragging a calf along the road; who, when his lordship came up to him, made a stop, and stared him full in the face. His lordship asked the boy if he knew him. He replied, 'Ees.' 'What is my name?' said his lordship. 'Why, Lord Abingdon,' replied the lad. 'Then why don't you take off your hat?' 'So I will' sur,' said the boy, 'if ye'll hold the calf.'
The immediate successor of the unfortunate Louis XVI. bore only for a short time the title of King of France, without having ever exercised the august franchise of sovereignty; he died in the dungeons of the temple, when he was no more than ten years and a few months old.
Some writers have inferred, that the life of such a child could present few circumstances worthy of remembrance, but if we may credit the memoirs which have appeared since the restoration of his family to the throne of France, there never was a prince of the house of Capet who gave at so early an age a brighter promise of doing justice to its ancient motto-
'Bonte et Valeur.'
From the anecdotes which are related of him, we shall select a few of the most striking:
Every morning the dauphin, while yet a child, was in the habit of ranging through the gardens of Versailles, and collecting the fairest flowers, to deposit on his mother's toilet before she arose. When bad weather prevented him on any occasion from gathering his usual morning bouquet, he would say mournfully 'Alas! how sorry I am! I have done nothing to-day for my mamma.'
On one of the anniversaries of his mother's birth, the king (Louis XVI.) expressed a wish to the dauphin, that he would present his mother with an extraordinary bouquet, and accompany it with some compliment of his own composing. 'Papa,' replied the prince, 'I have a beautiful evergreen in my garden. I would wish nothing better than that, for both my bouquet and my compliment. In presenting it to mamma, I will say to her, My dear mamma, may you resemble that flower.'
One day, in a fit of absence, he had mingled some marigolds (the emblems of care) in a bouquet which he designed for the queen. Perceiving his mistake at the moment of presenting it, he hastily plucked out the ominous flowers, saying, 'Ah, mamma, you have enough of cares beside.'
In his repartees, he showed an uncommon degree of point and archness. When reading his lesson one day, he fell into a hissing tone; his preceptor, the Abbe d'Avaux, corrected him; the queen also joined her reproaches. 'Mamma,' replied the prince, 'I say my lesson so ill, that I hiss myself.'
On another occasion, when in the Jardin de Bagatelle, carried away by his vivacity, he threw himself on a bed of roses. 'I ran to him,' said Mr. Hue. "Sir," said I, "are you aware that one of these thorns may put out your eyes, or tear your face?" He rose, and regarding me with an air as noble as decided replied, '"Thorny ways, sir, lead to glory."'
A regiment of young boys was formed at Paris, under the name of the Regiment du Dauphin, the dauphin was its colonel; and it was often admitted to exercise before him in a small garden of the Tuileries appropriated to his use. In order to fulfil the duties of his colonelship well, he was constantly with a little musket on his shoulder, making himself familiar with all the manual evolutions, and on one occasion, when going out to walk;, was for carrying his musket abroad with him. The officer of the national guard, who was in attendance, said, 'Sir, since you are going out, pray surrender me your musket.' The dauphin refused indignantly. The Marchioness of Tourville, his governess, being informed of the circumstance, reprimanded the dauphin for his indiscretion. 'If,' replied the spirited youth, 'he had asked me to give him the musket, it would have been well; but to ask me to surrender it!' He could add no more; a rising flood of indignation choked his utterance.
At another time, when playing at quoits with an officer of the national guards, the officer gained the match, and exclaimed exultingly, 'Ah! I have conquered the dauphin.' Piqued at the expression, the prince replied with warmth of temper. The affair being reported to the queen, she reprimanded the dauphin for having so far forgot himself. 'I feel,' said the prince, 'that I have done wrong But why did he not satisfy himself with saying that he had won the match? It was the word conquored which put me beyond myself.'
Louis, desirous of knowing the progress which his son had made in geographical knowledge, conducted him one morning to some distance from Rambouillet; and on arriving in the open country, his majesty delivering a compass into the hands of the dauphin, said, 'Now, my boy, take what road you please, I will take another; and let us meet before night at the old Chateau.' The prince began wandering about the fields (watched all the while by some persons of the court in the disguise of peasants,) he stopped often, as if in difficulty; but though he passed several countrymen, he put questions to none of them. Every now and then he had recourse to his compass, as his only counsellor; and at last, after five hours of turning and winding, he presented himself at the gates of Rambouillet. Louis welcoming him with open arms exclaimed, 'Ah, my boy! I thought we had lost you.' 'What, papa!' answered the prince; 'did you think that my heart would not turn to THEE, as surely as the needle turns to the north?'
On the fatal 11th of December, when Louis was called before the bar of the National Convention, the dauphin, who sometimes prevailed on his father to play at picquet with him, pressed his majesty very much to sit down to a game with him. The king, notwithstanding his distracting situation, could not refuse. The dauphin lost every time, and twice he could not get beyond the number sixteen. 'Every time,' said the prince, in some chagrin, 'that I get to the point sixteen, I am sure to lose the game." The king made no answer; but the singular coincidence between these words and his own melancholy destiny, is said to have made an impression on him which he never forgot.
Fenelon, afterwards Archbishop of Cambray, distinguished himself so much at the College of Plessis, that they suffered him to preach, at the age of fifteen, a sermon, which had an extraordinary success. - A similar circumstance is recorded of Bossuet, who at the same age, preached before the most brilliant assemblage in Paris and with the greatest applause. It is added, that Bossuet was allowed only a few moments to think upon the subject that he was to discuss.
In March, 1779, Napoleon, the son of Carlo Buonaparte, a lawyer of Corsica, being then in his tenth year, was sent to the school of Brienne, in Champagne, which was superintended by some of the holy fathers, called Minims. Of a silent and stern disposition, prone to solitude and meditation, he seemed as if cast by nature for the rigid order of life imposed by the rules of the establishment. Each pupil was locked up by himself at night in a cell, the whole furniture of which consisted of a girth bed, an iron water pitcher and bason; yet gloomy as this seclusion was, young Napoleon preferred retiring to it during the intervals of scholastic exercise, to joining with his schoolmates in their usual sports and amusements. At a later period, he was wont to prosecute his solitary studies in a little garden, which he had contrived to enclose for his own exclusive use, by prevailing on some of the scholars to assign to him the shares allotted to them, and adding these to his own. It has been told of him at this period, that-on one occasion when the other schoolboys were thrown into great consternation by the explosion of a fire-work which they were engaged in preparing, and when some of them, in their haste to get out of the way of the danger, broke through into the territory of the young solitaire, he seized his garden tools, and attacking the invaders, drove them with equal spirit and nonchalance back into the midst of the peril from which they were seeking to escape. In consequence of these cold and forbidding features in his character, he soon acquired the nickname of the Spartan, which he retained during his residence at Brienne
The branch of study to which Napoleon directed his almost undivided attention, was mathematics. He paid but little attention to the languages, and still less to the elegant arts; nay, even in writing he is said to have taken so little pleasure, as to neglect it almost entirely; whence it has arisen, that we never hear of any paper written by him in his riper years, without a note of wonder either at his illegibility, or its legible incorrectness, both in character and ortheopy.
With a book of mathematics or history - Euclid or Plutarch - in his hand, his great delight was to shut himself up in his little garden, to walk and to meditate. His mind seemed for a long time to disdain all lower occupations and less important studies; but a desire for action at last broke in upon his repose, and he had no sooner mixed with his schoolfellows for this purpose, than he began to act the part of the incipient general among them, taught them the military exercise, and instituted for their usual sports the combats of the Roman circus, and the evolutions of the Macedonian phalanx. His schoolfellows began now to testify an uncommon desire of respect and attachment towards him; they felt, and were the first to pay tribute to that fascinating, or rather commanding, influence, which was afterwards so principal a means of raising him to empire and renown.
In the hard winter of 1783, Napoleon conceived the idea of constructing a little fort of snow. With the assistance of some of his most zealous comrades, and with no other instruments than the ordinary garden tools, he perfected a complete quadrangle, defended at the corners by four bastions, the walls of which were three feet and a half high. So well was it executed, that some remains of it were in existence many weeks afterwards. While it lasted, nothing but sieges and sallies were the order of the day.
Some of his leisure hours he employed in writing a poem on the liberty of his native country, Corsica. It was constructed on the idea, that the genius of his country had appeared to him in a dream, and putting a poignard in his hand, had called on him for vengeance. The effort appears to have been an abortive one, since beyond the bare mention of the piece, nothing more of it is recorded.
After he had passed five years in this academy, the Royal Inspector, on his annual examination, found him so well informed in the art of fortification, that he removed him to the ecole militaire at Paris, where he arrived on the 17th of October, 1784. Here young Napoleon was under the direction of able and meritorious officers, and found excellent teachers in all the arts and sciences, particularly those connected with war. In the mathematics he had the celebrated Monge for his preceptor; and benefited so much by his instructions' that on passing his first examination, after joining the school, he was placed as an officer in the corps of engineers.
While yet a cadet, he went on one occasion to witness the ascent of a balloon in the Champ de Mars. Impelled by an eager curiosity, he made his way through the crowd, and unperceived entered the inner fence which contained the apparatus for inflating the silken globe. It was then very nearly filled, and restrained from its aerial flight by the last cord only; when Napoleon requested the aeronaut to permit him to mount the car in company with him. This, however, was refused, from an apprehension that the feelings of the boy might embarrass the experiments; on which Buonaparte stated to have exclaimed, 'I am young, it is true, but fear neither the powers of earth nor of air!' sternly adding, 'Will you let me ascend?' The erratic philosopher sharply replied, 'No, sir, I will not; I beg that you will retire.' The little cadet, enraged at the refusal, instantly drew a small sabre, which he wore with his uniform, cut the balloon in several places, and destroyed the curious apparatus which the aeronaut had constructed with infinite labour and ingenuity for the purpose of his experiment.
Such was the last notable act of the boyhood of Napoleon Buonaparte: it would seem as if on the verge of manhood, he had in this one adventure prefigured the whole of that extraordinary career which he afterwards run; as the clouds aspiring, as the air trackless; its only object to ascend; its only rudder the whirlwind; a vapour its impulse; downfall its destiny.
On Napoleon Buonaparte's return from the Island of Elba, the parents of a boy who had been remarkably attached to the emperor in his exile, presented a petition for their son, and enclosed in it the following verses, which he then, in his eighth year, had composed upon the occasion. The writer was favoured with a copy of them from the boy himself.
CHANSON A L' AIR CHARLES VII.
'Il faut combattre, l'empereur l'ordonne,
Nous obeirons a ses lois,
Pour conserver sa couronne,
Nous chasserons tous les rois.
Allons! enfans de la patrie,
Jurons tous a notre empereur,
De lui bien conserver la vie (bis)
Avec lui n'ayons jamais peur.' (bis)
Napoleon received the petition with complaisance, and observed to a by-stander, 'Que sera donc cet enfant a trente ans si a huit il a fait ceci.'
Capture of Paris.
When Paris was attacked in 1814, by the allied armies, the Parisian artillery placed on the heights of Montmartre was served by the pupils of the Polytechnic school, who were principally from twelve to fifteen years old. They of course were inexperienced in war: yet they rivalled in ardour the veterans with whom they associated; and their well-directed fire filled the approaches to the positions with the dead bodies of the enemy. Thus transformed into disciples of war, they served the batteries with all the enthusiasm of velour, and never shrunk from their post whilst it could be retained. Several hundred of these youths fell in the dreadful conflict.
The Emperor of Austria, with his two daughters and his grandson, the King of Rome, being on a visit at Schoenbrun, in July, 1816, wished to see a young lion which the Princess of Wales had presented to his Imperial majesty. The lion being very young, was nursed by two goats: on the approach of the archduchesses, one of the goats came forward in a menacing attitude. Young Napoleon seeing this, ran to the goat, took hold of her horns, and said very deliberately to his aunt, 'Vous pouvez passer maintenant, me tante, n'ayez pas peur, je la retiens.' The emperor was extremely pleased with the infantile spirit of his grandson, and said to him, 'That is well, my boy, I like you for that, for I see you choose the right way where there is danger.'
The Percy Anecdotes: