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acted throughout life according to the new principles which he had adopted.
HENRY KIRKE WHITE was born at Nottingham, March 21,
1785. This celebrated poet, like many other men of genius, was of humble origin. His father was a butcher at Nottingham, and he was designed by him to carry the basket, loaded with meat, to his customers. But Henry's spirit was too aspiring for this ignoble employment; and this, united with his mother's ambition, procured him a classical education. Mr. Blanchard, master of the Classical Academy, Nottingham, has been accused of not discerning his talents. But in a school consisting of upwards of a hundred boys, which we know he then conducted, it was perhaps impossible to discover the peculiar genius of every pupil. The usual routine of tasks were of course required of Henry, and it is very possible that the dry grammatical exercises which he had to perform, were not very agreeable to him.
The earliest instruction has often produced a good and salutary impression upon the minds of children, which has been felt even to maturer years. This was the benefit wbich Henry derived, at the age of four years, from Mrs. Garrington, his school-mistress. Henry, in his poem on Childhood, makes mention of her prudence and kindness with affectionate veneration.
There was a teacher at Mr. Blanchard's, who, with more spite than penetration, pronounced an ill-natured opinion of Henry, as a stupid, obstinate boy; but the lampoons which Henry immediately wrote upon him and the other teachers, were pointed with such wit and humour, that they completely proved the falsehood of the calumny.
The irksome confinement of school, to a boy whose taste for the sublime and beautiful led him to meet the approach of day, may be easily conceived; and his feelings are expressively pictured in his little poem 'On being confined to School. The clear meanderings of the majestic Trent, the expansive and flowery meadows which form its banks, the hanging groves of Clifton which overshadow the stream, and the woods of Cotgrave, which crown its abrupt and sloping hills, all form scenes where his muse delighted to wander ; and amidst them, the writer of these pages has often met Henry.
Here, with the meditations of a hermit, he often wandered at early morn, at sunny noon, or when the evening shades arose. And I can never retrace those wellknown scenes without fancying I hear the whisper of his friendly spirit :
Far from the scene of gaiety and noise,
And there on mossy carpet listless laid. Henry was only six years old when he first was sent to Mr. Blanchard's Academy, Nottingham. Here he was instructed in the rudiments of writing, arithmetic, and French. He remained in this classical establishment till he was eleven years old; at which age, it is said, he wrote a theme for every boy in his class, consisting of fourteen. The master commended every one of them, but upon Henry's he bestowed a very high en. comium.
Some dispute with Mr. Blanchard, or a mother's fondness, or a principle of economy, to save expense, removed Henry from this academy, to be a domestic
pupil of Mr. Shipley, the writing-master of Mrs. White's seminary for young ladies. As might be expected, under the particular and kind attention of this worthy man, Henry's talents developed themselves. It has been often observed, that the best mode of study is to let every one pursue the track of knowledge which his own genius prefers. Henry, now left to the uninterrupted pursuit of his favourite subjects at his own hours, soon found sufficient employment for all his time in reading works on almost every
subject, and exercising his talents on topics which his fancy preferred. Mr. Shipley could not but soon appreciate the superior abilities of a youth of such application; and by every attention, assisted his progress in the Latin language. Having arrived at the age of fourteen, Henry was put to the stocking-loom, for the purpose of learning the nature of the hosiery business, the staple trade of the town, for which his friends intended him. But his mounting spirit found a difficulty in lowering itself to this degrading employment. He seems to have complained of the degradation in the lines commencing,
• Thee do I own the prompter of my joys.' Dissatisfied with an occupation merely manual, and desirous of an employment, as he said, “to occupy his brains,' his mother articled him to Messrs. Coldham and Enfield, attorneys, and town-clerks of Nottingham. Yet in the midst of the pressing engagements of an attorney's office, he contrived to devote a portion of his time to the acquisition of considerable knowledge in the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian languages; in astronomy and music; and learned to play the piano-forte.
At this early age he was admitted a member of a literary society in Nottingham, and distinguished himself one evening at their meeting, by lecturing extempore a full hour on genius : upon which the members unanimously elected him their professor.
In a letter to his brother Neville, we find an instance of Henry's extempore powers in the art of poetry. A friend had doubted these powers, upon which Henry thus addressed him:
• Yet ah! thy arrows are too keen, too sure,' &c.
At the age of fifteen, he gained the prize of a silver medal, offered by the editors of the Monthly Preceptor, for the best translation of a passage in Horace: and at sixteen, they voted him a pair of twelve-inch globes for an imaginary Tour from London to Edinburgh.. These literary distinctions introduced him to Capel Lofft, Esq. and Mr. Hill, who encouraged him, in 1802, to publish his Clifton Grove, and other poems.
His advancement at the bar, to which he had aspired, seemed prohibited by a natural deafness, which appeared immoveable. He now therefore turned his thoughts and wishes to the banks of the Cam, and hoped that his little work might, by its sale, raise him a sum of money to assist him to pass through the University. But these hopes were all blasted by the malignant criticisms of the Monthly Review. Mr. Southey, with a generous hand, staunched the wound made by their barbed arrows, and encouraged him to venture a second edition, and cffered his assistance in the publication.
While Henry was groping his way to knowledge, and forming his plans to reach the University, he was introduced to the Rev. Mr. Dashwood, curate of St.
Mary's, Nottingham, who much encouraged him, and made him some presents.
About this time, his religious sentiments underwent a great revolution. He became a Christian from conviction, and maintained the faith which once he had opposed.
The method which he adopted, of translations and re-translations back into the original of Cicero and Cæsar, proved admirably useful in bringing him in a short time into the habit of easy and elegant Latin composition, by which he acquired great credit at the University.
Henry's hopes of going to Cambridge became now very faint, and he entertained the idea of relinquishing his studies. But a recommendation of him having been drawn up and presented to the Elland Society, formed for the assistance of deserving students through the University, he was induced to persevere. This Society examined him with scrupulous severity, and pronounced their high esteem of his abilities; but hesitated in accepting him, on account of some supposed natural defect in his utterance.
He was, however, introduced to Mr. Robinson of Leicester, and, by Mr. Dashwood, to Mr. Simeon of Cambridge; and through these gentlemen, Mr. Wilberforce also took him under his patronage.
Henry therefore now renewed his literary pursuits, and after about six months of interrupted application, entered, according to his earnest wish, the University of Cambridge. Here, by the elegance of his Latin compositions, he soon gained honour and reputation; and had the satisfaction, by the end of the year, to gain sufficient prizes to enable him to disburthen his