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Christian Sacrifice.- Abbott's works.-America 350
* The names of his former Rugby pupils, where not otherwise specified, are
marked with a *.
THOMAS AR NOL D, D. D.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.
THOMAS ARNOLD, seventh child and youngest son of William and Martha Arnold, was born on June 13th, 1795, at West Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, where his family had been settled for two generations, their original residence having been at Lowestoff, in Suffolk.
His father, who was collector of the customs at Cowes, died suddenly of spasm in the heart, on March 3rd, 1801. His two elder brothers, William and Matthew, died, the first in 1806, the second in 1820. His sisters all survived him, with the exception of the third, Susannah, who, after a lingering complaint in the spine, died at Laleham, in 1832.
His early education was confided by his mother to her sister, Mrs. Delafield, who took a great pride in her charge, and directed all his studies as a child. In 1803 he was sent to Warminster school, in Wiltshire, under Dr. Griffiths, with whose assistant master, Mr. Lawes, he kept up his intercourse long after
they had parted. In 1807 he was removed to Winchester, where, having entered as a commoner, and afterwards become a scholar of the college, he remained till 1811, a passage of his life not without interest, both from the strong Wykehamist feelings which he always cherished, and also from the advantage with which, during his head-mastership at Rugby, he recurred to his knowledge, there first acquired, of the peculiar constitution of a public school, and to his recollections of the tact in managing boys shown by Dr. Goddard, and the skill in imparting scholarship which distinguished Dr. Gabell, who were successively lead masters of Winchester during the period of his stay there.
He was then, as always, of a shy and retiring disposition, but his manner as a child, and till his entrance at Oxford, was marked by a stiffness and formality the very reverse of the joyousness and simplicity of his later years; his family and schoolfellows both remember him as unlike those of his own age, and with peculiar pursuits of his own; and the tone and style of his early letters, which have been for the most part preserved, are such as might naturally have been produced by living chiefly in the company of his elders, and reading, or hearing read to him before he could read himself, books suited to a more advanced age.
Both as a boy and a young man he was remarkable for a tendency to indolence, amounting almost to a constitutional infirmity; and though his after-life will show how completely this was overcome by habit, yet he often said that early rising was a daily effort to him, and that in this instance he never found the truth of the usual rule of all things being made easy by custom. With this, however, was always united great occasional energy; and one of his schoolfellows gives it as his impression of him that “he was stiff in his opinions, and utterly immoveable by force or fraud, when he had made up his mind, whether right or wrong."
It is curious to trace the beginnings of some of his later interests in his earliest amusements and occupations. Those who know the love of naval and military affairs which is so apparent in the latest chapters of his Roman History, and in the latest friendship which he formed in his maturer years, will be amused by the first indications of it in the impression produced upon him by living at the Isle of Wight in the time of the war, and in his childish sports of rival fleets, and acting the battles of the Homeric heroes as he learned them from Pope's translation of the Iliad, which he used to repeat with great delight. He was from his earliest years exceedingly fond of ballad poetry, which his Winchester schoolfellows used to learn from his repetition before they had seen it in print; and his own compositions as a boy all ran in the same direction. A play of this kind, in which his schoolfellows were introduced as the dramatis personæ, and a long poem of “Simon de Montfort,” in imitation of Scott's Marmion, procured for him at school, by way of distinction from another boy of the same name, the appellation of Poet Arnold. And the earliest specimen of his composition which has been preserved is a little tragedy, written before he was seven years old, on “ Piercy Earl of Northumberland,” suggested apparently by