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This lady, his grand-daughter, descended from so worthy an ancestor, was afterwards wedded to Mr. Atherstone whose talents (as displayed in many poetical works that have altained great and deserved popularity) are too well known to need eulogium in these pages. His writings have given him a place in the first rank of our living poets. I return to Mr. Pearson.
In "Season's Almanack" and also in "Moore's" he would not only describe the configurations of the Planetary world, buthe would conjure too! He would foretell the events of this Sublunary Globe and foresee that in England a certain old fellow who called himself " Poor Robin" and who had the audacity to style himself "Knight of the Burnt Island" would be quarrelled with and violently abused by one Francis Moore, Physician. While Mr. Moore knew and could plainly foretell that this very old Fellow, Poor Robin, would abuse him in his next Almanacks! Well, out they came and there, sure enough, the whole prophecies were literally fulfilled, just as this learned Conjuror, Mr Francis Moore, had foretold. Lots of abuse and ludicrous remarks were lavishly bestowed by " Poor Robin" on the fortune-telling faculties and wonder-working wisdom of his rival! the sooth-saying and all-knowing almanack maker! Readers on each side were well entertained by the mock quarrel, and very few were aware that both combatants fought with the same quill! So earnestly occupied was the mind of Mr. Pearson, by these literary encounters, and in so spirited a manner did he support them, that his grand-daughter often trembled for the result, and sometimes did that by
stratagem, which she could not effect by persuasion! In all these whimsical sparrings, as well as in his fiercest fights, the old gentleman was his own bottle-holder! The more frequently he dipt his pen in ink, the more frequently he swigged at the black bottle before him! Till those with him, who knew him best, began to fear that this witty wag, this sly old fox, who laid traps for others, might at last be caught in his own gin! In consequence of this his grand-daughter would observe the fit moment, and while he was intent on writing, she'd steal away his favorite black bottle, and substitute one of the same appearance, filled with water. The mind of the old gentleman was so thoroughly absorbed in his subject, that he would often continue writing and drinking: without discovering the trick that had been played on him. But any finesse of this kind was sure of winning wit from him, and therefore was worth gambling for! Let it further be observed, that though gin may be very good when it produces good jests, yet, on the other hand, genuine wit, though mixed with mere water, is much better than brandy, though tempered with the strongest balderdash. Mr. Pearson was too wise to drink to excess; he never touched any thing but what was good, and his wit, like his spirit, was always of the best quality. But now, though with reluctance, I must leave the pleasantry of Mr. Pearson and his writings, and return again to the regular course of my narrative; that is, as far as rambling incidents can be brought within the bounds of something like consistency. I was still in my native town, Bingham; still fond of reading and of obtaining any kind of information that fell in my way: while at school I devoured the books usually provided there ; the Spectators, Tatlers, and various prose writings of Addison, Sir Richard Steele, and others, their friends and assistants: Then the poetry of Pope, Gay, Dr. Young, Milton, Butler, Thomson, Dean Swift, &c. in short every book that came in my path. I was charmed with any, and all of them! As yet, the Dramahad not fallen into my hands so frequently as works of the above description: I had seen a few of the periodical magazines, but the first London newspaper I ever read, was, the "English Chronicle." About this time, Dr. Graham was making a noise in London! I remember reading an epilogue in the above paper, said to be spoken at one of the Theatres, I think, by the then Miss Young. I have never seen or heard of the epilogue since that time, but I remember two or three lines that formed a portion of it. Alluding to Graham, it stated
Papers and Memorandums.
By this time, I trust, my readers are sufficiently well acquainted with the style and fashion wherein I have chosen to present these motley memoirs to the world. I have treated them, perhaps, somewhat unceremoniously, but I trust the heartiness of my feelings will excuse all manner of informality in the expression of them. I must confess myself wholly unpractised in the mysteries of the craft, and thus docked of at least half the advantages enjoyed by those who are well versed in the tricks of authorship, who can frame long sentences out,of nothing, expand a grain of sense into a statute bushel of words, and in fact who remind one very forcibly of the glass-blower who can spin a thread of a thousand miles in length out of a pair of spectacle glasses or a dandy's pocket mirror. If I have not learned these arts, let it not be deemed a crime in me, and if I have too much omitted or compressed, let it be excused, inasmuch as the only source to which I can resort for a supply of material is the treacherous one of memory.
When, in my travellings through the many faced regions of the past, I greet the forms and images of my youth, I feel as one long estranged from the place of his birth, who, after the lapse of many years, returns to the scenes of his happy days. He knows the hill and the valley and the rivulet, the oak that is the child of centuries the spire and the church with the two melancholy old yews, around which he had so often gambolled in the gaiety of childhood; he acknowledges, with a tear of delight, the unfrequented groves of green ash or elm, and here and there, cottages that early acquaintance had made palaces to him; these he recognizes and joyously greets, even though time had flung his mantle over them and though the gardens, and the fields, and the hedges, may have put off the hue and vesture they once wore, and are become as it were strangers to his eyes. So is it with me. When I survey the various scenes of the past, I instantly recognize those objects that in their nature are most unchangeable, and here and there one of those more minute, which have been spared by some chance, while things around them have vanished. These I transfer to the pages of my note book, and who can wonder if they be desultory and very unequal in their importance.
Fashion, the most fickle of a fickle world, in former times so ordered it, that, to please, a work must have been composed with strict attention to order and argument. Not so now. Order is often disregarded in works that aim not at the awful title of a treatise. Memoirs and Biographies especially, should be so arranged, or rather disarranged, that they fatigue not the