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with all the attention a parent could bestow, it was often impossible to prevent children from receiving bad and improper impressions from servants and attendants. It was but just now,' said she, your • favourite, little Charles, told his brother, that if • be was a bad boy, he would be put into a black • box, carried to the church-yard, thrown into a
hole, and covered over with earth. After some observations on the bad tendency of representing death in frightful colours, she said, she had often been disposed to think the pocts to blame in this particular, who, by dwelling on all the circumstances attending our dissolution, and presenting them to the imagination in strong and lively colours, often leave an impression which reason is not able entirely to wear off. She instanced the well-known lines of Shakspeare :
" Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
In thrilling regions of thick-ribb'd ice;
' It is impossible,' said she, to read those lines • without being affected by them. Yet, were I to . • judge from my own feelings, I should think the • sentiment unjust. If to me,' continued she, steal. ing a glance at the picture of my friend, while an
involuntary tear half started in her eye, if to me • there be any thing terrible in death, it proceeds * from the thoughts of what I should leave, not s from the dread of what I should meet with.'
N° 88. SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 1986.
To the Author of the MIRROR..
SIR, My father was a farmer in a tolerably reputable situation. I was his eldest son; and, at the age of six years, I was sent to the parish-school, to be taught reading and writing. My father naturally made inquiries concerning my progress, and the schoolmaster gave him the most flattering accounts. After I had spent the usual time in learning to read and write, my master said it would be a pity to cut short a boy of my genius, and advised my father to allow me to remain a year or two longer at his school, that I might get a little Latin. This flattered my father's vanity, as it put his son in a situation to appear somewhat above that of the chil. dren of the neighbouring farmers. I was allowed to sit on the same bench at school with our land. lord's son, and I had sometimes the honour to be whipped for his faults. In studying Latin I spent three years. The account which my father re. ceived of my progress in that language, led him to follow my teacher's suggestion, to give me a little
Greek. Having gone thus far, the transition was easy ; it would be a pity, said our sanguine advisers, to lose all the knowledge I had got; with my application and my genius, if I prosecuted my studies, I might become a very learned, and a very great man. If I studied divinity (which was proposed), I might, in time, preach in the pulpit of the very parish in which my father lived ; nay, I might rise to be a Professor in the University, or become Moderator of the General Assembly of the church of Scotland.
I was accordingly entered a student in the University. My father considered my fortune as now made ; and my expectations were not inferior to his. But I soon found my situation at the university a very hard and uneasy one. My father had been able to supply me tolerably with necessaries at the parish-school; but to do this at the university, situated in a great and expensive town, was, above his power. I was obliged to walk about, therefore, with a shabby coat, and with an empty purse. I could not attend all the lectures I wished, for want of money to purchase admission, or to procure the necessary books. I now likewise found, that, far from being more knowing than my college companions, as my country schoolmaster flattered me would be the case, most of them knew more. than I did; they had been better taught, and had profited accordingly. Poverty, want of books, of friends, and of the other conveniencies of life, were not circumstances very well suited for the study of the beauties of Homer and Virgil, nor for making a progress in the abstract sciences ; but with all these difficulties, I gave such close and intense application, that I was able to pick up a good deal of learning, and my diligence drew the attention of some of the professors. By their interest I was recommended
to Mr. M- a, a gentleman of considerable fortune, who resided in the town where the university is situated, to be tutor to his children ; and accordingly he was pleased to engage me at the sa. lary of t. 20 a-year, with the additional advantage of living in his house. I now thought the world was all before me ; and every thing seemed to flatter me with present happiness and future exaltation. Out of my salary I hoped to afford to be better dressed, to buy more books, and to attend more lectures. I expected, from the knowledge I had acquired, to be able to make a figure in the company which re. sorted to Mr. M.'s. I doubted not that they would single me out as a prodigy of learning and genius; that, by their favour, I might be recommended to some lucrative or honourable place ; or, at least, that I should, by Mr. M.'s interest, be settled as a minister in some church, after having pleasantly spent a year or two in his family in attending to my pupils, from whose progress and improvement I expected equal pleasure and reputation. How these hopes have been answered, I proceed to informy
. When I entered into Mr. M.'s family, I found it was expected that I should not only attend to the studies of the eldest son, a lad of about fourteen, but that I was likewise to take care of all the younger children, consisting of no fewer than six. Some of these were to be taught to read; others, who were too young for that, I was to look after, and walk out with them when they went abroad, to keep them out of harmi's way, to prevent them from falling into a ditch, or being run down by a carriage. This I saw must occupy my whole time ; and every thought of reading for my own improvement was to be laid aside. But though in this manner, a temporary stop was to be put to my learning, I still flattered
myself I should make it up by the improvement and knowledge of the world I should acquire from the society and conversation at Mr. M.'s. But this expectation was as vain as the former. When there were strangers of distinction at the house, I was not allowed to sit at table, but was placed in a corner of the room with the younger children, where my province was to attend to what they eat, and to cut their meat for them. When the family were alone, or the guests were such as Mr. M. did not think necessary to treat with mich ceremony, I was permitted to sit at table ; but I soon found even when this was the case, that I was not per. mitted to talk there. Seldom, indeed, was there any conversation which was worth joining in; but when any occurred in which I ventured to join, what I said was received in such a manner, that I was obliged to resolve to be silent. If I threw in an observation which started a doubt of the justice of any thing that was said, I was considered as an impertinent conceited fellow, who had no right to express his doubts; if I endeavoured to support any opinion, I saw I was deemed officious and trouble. some. Mr. M. who, to the credit the world justly gave him for a great fortune, wished also to add the reputation, though without any pretensions, of learning, was afraid, when I opened my mouth, lest people should think that his son's tutor was more knowing than he; and, therefore, took care always to contradict me flatly, and with an air of superiority; and, sometimes, even made a joke on that awkwardness of manner, which it was impossible one in my situation could have escaped. You may judge what effect this treatment must have upon one who can relish the beauties of the classics, and has read many of the most eminent French and