Page images



Whilst pale Tisiphone, come fresh from hell,
Driving before her Pestilence and Fear,
Her ministers of vengeance to fulfil
Her dread commission, rages all abroad,
And lifts herself on ruin day by day
More and more high. The hollow banks resound,
The winding streams and hanging hills repeat
Loud groans from ev'ry herd, from ev'ry fold
Complaintive murmurs; heaps on heaps they fall,
There where they fall they lie, corrupt and rot
Within the loathsome stalls, fill'd and dam'd up
With impure carcasses, till they perform
The necessary office and confine •
Deep under ground the foul offensive stench;
For neither might you dress the putrid hide,
Nor could the purifying stream remove,
The vigorous all-subduing flame expel
The close incorporate poison; none essayed
To shear the tainted fleece, or bind the wool,
For who e'er dar'd to clothe his desp’rate limbs
With that Nessean garment, a foul sweat,
A vile and lep'rous tetter bark'd about
All his smooth body, nor long he endur'd,

But in the sacred fire consum'd and died.' A great and heavy affliction now befell my parents and my, self. A short time before my holidays in autumn, my father and mother came to town, and brought my eldest sister Joanna with them, a very lovely girl, then in her seventeenth year. She caught the smallpox, and died in the house of the Reverend Doctor Cutts Barton, Rector of Saint Andrew's, Holborn, who kindly permitted my father to remove thither, when she sickened with that cruel disease. She was truly most engaging in her person, and, though much admired, her manners were extremely modest, and her temper mild and gentle. When I first visted her, after the symptoms of the disease were upon her, she told me she was persuaded she had caught the smallpox, and that it would be fatal to her. Her augury was too true; it was confluent, and assistance was in vain; the regimen then followed was exactly contrary to the present improved method of treating that disease, which, when it had kept her in torments for eleven days, having effectually destroyed her beauty, finally put an end to her life. My father, who tenderly loved her, submitted to the afflicting dispensation in silent sadness, never venting a complaint; my mother's sorrows were not under such control, and as to me, devoted to her as I had been from my cradle, the shock appeared to threaten me with such consequences, that my father resolved upon taking me out of town immediately, and we went down to our abode at Stanwick, a sad and melancholy party, while Mr. Ashby, my father's nephew, stayed in town and attended the body of his lamented cousin to the grave. My surviving sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, the elder of whom was six years younger than myself, had been left in the country; the attentions, which these young creatures had a claim to, the consolatory visits of our friends, and the healing hand of time by degrees assuaged the keenness of affliction, and patient resignation did the rest.

The alarm, which my father had been under on account of my health upon my sister's death, and the abhorrence he had conceived of London since that unfortunate event, determined him against my return to Westminster, and though another year, which my early age might well have dispensed with, was recommended by Dr. Nichols, and would most probably have been so employed with advantage to my education, yet the measure was taken, and, though only in my fourteenth year, I was admitted of Trinity College in Cambridge. There were yet some months of the vacation unexpired, and that I might pass this time at home with the more advantage, my father prevailed upon a neighboring clergyman, the Reverend Mr. Thomas Strong, to reside with us and assist me in my studies. A better man I never knew; a brighter scholar might easily have been found; yet we read together some few hours in every day, and those readings were almost entirely confined to the Greek Testament: there I had a teacher in Mr. Strong well worthy of my best attention, for none could better recommend by practice what he illustrated by precept, than this exemplary young man. He some time after married very happily, and resided on his living of Hargrave in our neighborhood universally respected, and I trust it is not amongst my sins of omission ever after to have forgotten his services, or failed in my attention to him.

When the time came for me to commence my residence in College, my father accompanied me and put me under the care of the Reverend Doctor Morgan, an old friend of our family, and a senior fellow of that society. My rooms were closely adjoining to his, belonging to that staircase which leads to the chapel bell; he was kind to me when we met, but as tutor I had few communications with him, for the gout afforded him not many intervals of ease, and with the exception of a few trifling readings in Tully's Offices, by which I was little edified, and to which I paid little or no attention, he left me and one other pupil, my friend and intimate, Mr. William Rudd, of Durbam, to choose and peruse our studies as we saw fit. This dereliction of us was inexcusable, for Rudd was a youth of fine talents and a wellgrounded scholar. In the course of no long time, however, Doctor Morgan left college, and went to reside upon his living of Gainford, in the bishopric of Durham, and I was turned



over to the Reverend Doctor Philip Young, professor of oratory in the University, and afterwards Bishop of Norwich; what Morgan made a very light concern, Young made an absolute sinecure, for from him I never received a single lecture, and I hope his lordship's conscience was not much disturbed on my account, for, though he gave me free leave to be idle, I did not make idleness my choice.


His studies—His habits--His style of reading—A present of books—Doctor

Richard Walker-Disputation-Ill-health-Advantages of the system of instruction at Cambridge-Collectanea—Plan of reading—Mason's ElfridaPolitics—Change of life—Excursion York—Elegiac verses--Candidate for a fellowship-Appointed Lord Halifax's private secretary-Sketch of Halifax -Dr. Crane-Cumberland goes to London-John Pownall-Visit to the Duke of Newcastle-Bishop of Peterborough-Charles Mason-Cumberland's examination for a fellowship His success—His competitors-His course of life in London-Not fitted for public life-Demagogues—Charles TownshendLord and Lady Halifax-Ambrose Isted–Mr. Eskins-Jeffrey-Richard Reynolds-Poem on India-Death of Lady Halifax-Her character-Cumberland's father removes to Fulham-His popularity-Bishop Sherlock—Mrs. Sherlock-Richard Glover-Bubb Dodington-Cumberland's visit to-Character of—Henry Fox-Alderman Beckford-Lay-fellowship at Trinity College—The banishment of Cicero-Praised by Warburton-Recommended to Garrick by Lord Halifax-Garrick's refusal to put it on the stage-Cumberland's marriage.

In the last year of my being under graduate, when I commenced Soph, in the very first act that was given out to be kept in the mathematical schools, I was appointed to an opponency, when at that time I had not read a single proposition in Euclid; I had now been just turned over to Mr. Backhouse, the Westminster tutor, who gave regular lectures, and fulfilled the duties of his charge ably and conscientiously. Totally unprepared to answer the call now made upon me, and acquit myself in the schools, I resorted to him in my distress, and through his interference my name was withdrawn from the act; in the mean time I was sent for by the master, Doctor Smith, the learned author of the well-known Treatises upon Optics and Harmonics, and the worthy successor to my grandfather Bentley, who strongly reprobated the neglect of my former tutors, and recommended me to lose no more time in preparing myself for my degree, but to apply closely to my academical studies for the remainder of the year, which I assured him I would do.

As I did not belong to Mr. Backhouse till I bad commenced Soph, but nominally to those who left me to myself, I had hitherto pursued those studies that were familiar to me, and indulged my passion for the classics, with an ardor that rarely knew any intermission or relief. I certainly did not wantonly misuse my



time, or yield to any even of the slightest excesses, that youth is prone to : I never frequented any tavern, neither gave nor received entertainments, nor partook in any parties of pleasure, except now and then in a ride to the hills, so that I thank God I have not to reproach myself with any instances of misconduct towards a generous father, who at this tender age committed me to my own discretion and confided in me. I look back therefore upon this period of my life with a tranquil conscience; I even dwell upon it with peculiar delight, for within those maternal walls I passed years given up to study and those intellectual pure enjoyments, which leave no self-reproach, whilst with the works of my ancestors in my hands, and the impression of their examples on my heart, I flattered myself in the belief that I was pressing forward ardently and successfully to follow them in their profession, and peradventure not fall far behind them in their fame. This was the great aim and object of my ambition; for this I labored, to this point I looked, and all my world was centred in my college. Every scene brought to my mind the pleasing recollection of times past, and filled it with the animating hope of times to come: as my college duties and attendances were occu. pations that I took pleasure in, punctuality and obedience did not put me to the trouble of an effort, for when to be employed is our amusement, there is no self-denial in not being idle. If I had then had a tutor, who would have systematized and arranged my studies, it would have been happy for me; but I had no such director, and with my books before me (poets, historians and philosophers), sate down as it were to a cæna dubia, with an eager, rather than a discriminating, appetite; I am now speaking of my course of reading from my admission to my commencing Soph, when I was called off to my academical studies. In that period my stock of books was but slender, till Doctor Richard Bentley had the goodness to give me a valuable parcel of my grandfather's books and papers, containing his correspondence with many of the foreign literati upon points of criticism, some letters from Sir Isaac Newton, a pretty large body of notes for an edition of Lucan's Pharsalia, which I gave to my uncle Bentley, and were published under his inspection by Dodsley, at Mr. Walpole's press, with sundry other manuscripts, and a considerable number of Greek and Latin books, mostly collated by him, and their margins filled with alterations and corrections in his own hand, neatly and legibly written in a very small character. The possession of these books was most gratifying and acceptable to me; some few of them were extremely rare, and in the history I have given in 'The Observers' of the Greek writers, more particularly of the Comic Poets now

« PreviousContinue »