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otherwise than by calling to his assistance that cogent coadjutor, and most determined determinator of all subtle and refractory spirits-brandy!!
I will now proceed, or rather return, to my regular narrative.
Being christened, I was of course somewhat raised in the scale of society; I mean according to the estimation and most accredited and best received opinions of all good men; but I really knew very little or nothing of my own advancement, till three or four years afterwards, when I became old enough to relish the taste of a large plum-bun, given me by one of my godfathers, Mr. Brooks, already spoken 'of. · This gentleman, a good-humoured, liberal man, was something more than a mere nominal sponsor and promoter of the duties of Christianity; he kindly took care to remind me; every Christmas, of the holiness of the festival, by sending mo what in that part of the country is generally called a “ Yule bun.” This was a huge plum cake 'whose weight was every year apportioned to my increasing size and strength, being just what I could contrive to carry.
From this time I began to conceive highly of matters like these, and felt that christenings, god-fathers and plum-buns, were great blessings, and most excellent, most righteous things.
The first school to which I was sent was kept by a most respectable old lady, one Dame Jessop. She was a kind hearted woman, but being old, somewhat wrinkled, and a good deal wiser than many of her neighbours, she was consequently supposed by many to have the power of witchcraft. A simple neighbour of her's, one Sally Hart, who kept a shop in the same street, had been for some weeks indisposed ; and, at a loss to account for it, her sagacious friends or acquaintance, (equally wise,) raised a report that her illness was caused by the wicked influence of some old witch; accordingly the usual safeguards were provided; a horse-shoe nailed on the threshhold of the door; and several other forms and ceremonies observed, which were thought prudent, nay, in a certain degree necessary, on all such occasions. At that time the common people were always on the alert to look out for and believe stories of a marvellous or supernatural tendency; then, when any person was supposed to be suffering under the influence of witchery, they did not seek far for the cause of it. Dame Jessop living in the same street was one of the first suspected, and, on hearing of it, she went immediately to the shop of the said Sally Hart, and spoke to the following effect : “ I come to have a little conversation with you, on a subject wherein my name has been mentioned; but, you perceive, I come without a broomstick, and have dared to cross the horse-shoe on the threshbold of your door; do you believe the ridiculous reports that have been raised against me?”— Sally Hart immediately replied that she did not credit them; but confessed that many of her neighbours had often spoken to her on the subject, but she did not listen to such idle stories.
“I am glad” said the old Dame, to find that you have the good sense not to believe in such folly : tell your idle gossipping neighbours, that instead of talking of me they had better think of the duties they owe to themselves and their families : otherwise, tho' I am no witch, I can easily foretel that they who circulate such tales will prove in the end as weak and worthless as they are at present ridiculous: ” so saying, the good old Dame re-crossed the horse-shoe and tottered home,
On my first going to the school of this respectable old Dame, she put a horn-book into my hands, and I, by chance, caught a glance at her ferrula.
I did not know the use of either, but, as the book was the prettiest, it pleased me most; nay, I soon began to dislike the ferrula, and discovered that my school-fellows were much of the same opinion : wishing to be a good boy, and being often told I really was one, I thought the ferrula, as well as the rod, quite superfluous, and, as far as regarded myself, absolutely unnecessary. They were both generally to be seen lying on a shelf, close by the side of the old dame; and whenever I or my companions were inclined to play and laugh, instead of looking at our books, if we happened to cast our eyes towards the old dame or her shelf, we were in an instant awed into silence, and our eyes if not our thoughts again turned to the books before us resuming our tasks with apparent diligence, a silent composure of demeanour and all possible tokens of profound respect. The said horn-book had some little painted ornament or gilt finery about it. The book struck my fancy, and at the end of the week permission was given to take it home with me, to look over the contents during my holiday. I was
thought a good boy for doing so, and studious to display my acquirements, I showed my now book to the whole family.
The next day, looking at my lesson, it was pointed out to me by my mother, that the letter C stood for cake and P for plum-pudding; and, lo! (by way of practical illustration) at dinner time they both appeared on the table. This certainly was a most happy elucidation of the meaning of letters, and of their real worth and great utility. All the deep-learned, big-wigged pedants in Christendom, could never have devised a more simple method of teaching the alphabet than this ;-great A and big-bellied B, are pretty readily impressed on the minds of youth ; but C is a stumbling-block, till the tyro is taught that C stands for cake and for cherries, and P for pies, for plums and for pudding. The great difficulties are then soon got over, soon swallowed, almost as soon as the articles that serve to implant them in the memory: and with excellent reason too! The proverb says "pudding's good to settle love ! ” and why not equally good in settling literature as well as love ?-I have great reason to think that my prevailing taste for letters, was established in the manner here stated. Many scribblers would be ashamed to give so humble an origin to their acquired tastes and inclinations. Many writers, to account for their literary propensities, might perhaps say that they were highly elevated by Homer: pleased with Pindar ; charmed very much by Virgil ; in love with Ovid; and so on through the whole range of Greek and Latin mythology. Then again
descending to English, they might state that they had mounted with Milton; soared with Shakespeare ; were delighted with Dryden, and most wonderfully pleased with Pope ; and so run on in a long line of alliteration till they sunk down at last,—an immeasurable distance !-to the poetasters and prolific scribblers of the present day. Thus, as before observed, thus many writers who aim at or assume dignity, might possibly pretend to account for their first love of learning. But notions of dignity are here laid aside or kept in view only so far as a wish to avoid faults of a contrary nature, and of more importance.
My first love of Letters is thus sufficiently explained, a passion as strong as the love of life, and it will probably be as lasting; for, without the enjoyment generally derived from books, life itself would not be very desirable, or at all events would not with me be an object of much solicitude.
As mother's milk may lead the way to drinking ;
Such are my ideas as to the first impressions ! But whether any of our ideas are, or are not, innate, let philosophers like Locke discover if they can, and if they please most amply discuss. It was maintained by that learned man (as well as original thinker) that all the ideas we possess are acquired by time and experience. This at first might seem a very simple matter; but Locke had many powerful opponents, and he was (though brought up amongst the most learned of his day), obliged to write two tolerably large