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an incorrigible dunce at my book; a report which, under correction, I must think had some degree of injustice in it, as it was impossible for me to learn a book I was never allowed to open: in this period of my education I took little food and less sleep, so that whilst I shot up in stature after the manner of my progenitors, who were a tall race of men, I. grew as gaunt as a greyhound; but having abundantly more spirit than strength, and heing voted by the great boys to be what is called true
I was singled out as a kind of trial-cock, and pitted against every new comer to make proof of his bottom in fair' fighting, tbough I may safely say I never turned out upon a quarrel of my own making in all my life. "Notwithstanding all these honours, which I obtained from my colleagues, I will not attempt to disguise froin you that I left the school in disgrace, being expelled by the master, when head of my boarding house, for not supporting my authority over the petty boys belonging to it, who, I must confess, were jutt then not in the most orderly and correct state of discipline.
My father, whose maxim it was never to let trifles vex him, received me with all the good humour in life, and admitted me of the university of Oxford : here I was overjoyed to find, that the affair of the expulsion was so far from having prejudiced my contemporaries against me, that I was resorted to by numbers whose time hung upon their hands, and my rooms became the rendezvous of all the loungers in the college: few or no schernes were set on foot without me, and if a loose guinea or two was wanted for the purpose, every body knew where to have it: I was allowed a horse for my health's sake, which was rather delicate, but I cannot say my health was much the better for him, as I never mounted
his back above once or twice, whilst my friends kept himn in exercise morning and evening, as long as he lasted, which indeed was only till the hunting season set in, when the currier had his hide, and his flesh went to the kennel. I muft own I did not excel in
my academical exercises, save that of circumambulating the colleges and public buildings with strangers, who came to gaze about them for curiosity's sake; in this branch of learning I gained such general reputation, as to be honoured with the title of Keeper of the Lions : neither will I disguise the frequent jobations I incurred for neglect of college duties, and particularly for non-attendance at chapel, but in this I should not perhaps have been thought so reprehensible, had it been known that my surplice never failed to be there, though I had rarely the credit of bearing it company.
My mother died of a cold she caught by attending soine young ladies on a water-party before I had been a month in the world; and my
father never married again, having promised her on her deathbed not to bring a step-dame into his family whilst I survived: I had the inisfortune to lose him when I was in my twenty-second year; he got his death at a country canvass for Sir Harry Osier, a very obliging gentleman, and nearly related to our family: I attended my father's
grave, on which melancholy occasion, such were the lamentations and be wailings of all the servants in the house, that I thought it but a proper return for their affection to his memory, to prove myself as kind a master by continuing them in their several employs : this however was not altogether what they meant, as I was soon convinced every one amongst them had a remonstrance to make, and a new demand to prefer : the butler would have better perquisites, the footman wanted to be out of livery, the scullion de
corpse to the
manded tea-money, and the cook murmured about kitchen-stuff.
Though I was now a single being in the world, my friends and neighbours kindly took care I should not be a solitary one! I was young indeed, and of small experience in the world, but I had plenty of counsellors ; some advised me to buy horses they wanted to sell, others to sell horses they wanted to buy : a lady of great taste fell in love with two or three of my best cows for their colour; they were upon her lawn the next day : a gentleman of extraordinary vertue discovered a picture or two in my collection that exactly fitted his pannels : an eminent improver, whom every body declared to be the first genius of the age for laying out grounds, had taken measures for transporting my garden a mile out of my sight, and floating my richest meadow grounds with a lake of muddy water: as for my mansion and its appendages, I am persuaded I could never have kept them in their places, had it not been that the several projectors, who all united in pulling them down, could never rightly agree in what particular spot to build them up again: one kind friend complimented me with the first refusal of a mistress, whom for reasons of economy he was obliged to part from ; and a neighbouring gentlewoman, whose daughter had perhaps stuck on hand a little longer than was convenient, more than hinted to me that miss had every requisite in life to make the married state perfectly happy.
In justice however to my own discretion, let me say, that I was not hastily surprized into a serious measure by this latter overture, nor did I ask the young lady's hand in marriage, till I was verily persuaded, by her excessive fondness, that there were no other means to save her life. Now whether it was the violence of her passion before our marriage, that gave some shock to her intellects, or from what other cause it might proceed, I know not, certain however it is, that after marriage she became subject to very odd whims and caprices; and though I made it a point of humanity never to thwart her in these humours, yet I was seldom fortunate enough to please her ; so that, had I not been sure to demonstration that love for me was the cause and origin of them all, I might have been so deceived by appearances as to have imputed them to aversion. She was in the habit of deciding upon almost every action in her life by the interpretation of her dreams, in which I cannot doubt her great skill, though I could not always comprehend the principles on which she applied it; she never failed, as soon as winter set in, to dream of going to London, and our journey as certainly succeeded. I remember upon our arrival there the first year after our marriage, she dreamt of a new coach, and at the same time put the servants in new liveries, the colours and pattern of which were circumstantially revealed to her in sleep: sometimes, (dear creature !) she dreamt of winning large sums at cards, but I am apt to think those dreams were of the sort, which should have been interpreted by their contraries : she was not a little fond of running after conjurors and deaf and dumb fortune-tellers, who dealt in figures and cast nativities; and when we were in the country my barns and outhouses were haunted with gypsies and vagabonds, who made sad havoc with our pigs and poultry: of ghosts and evil spirits she had such terror, that I was fain to keep a chaplain in my house to exorcise the chambers, and when -business called me from home, the good man condescended so far to her fears, as to sleep in a little closet within her call in case she was troubled in the night; and I must say this for my friend, that if there is any trust to be put in flesh and blood, he was a match for the best spirit that ever walked : she had all the sensibility in life towards omens and prognostics, and though I guarded every motion and action that might give any possible alarm to her, yet my unhappy awkwardnesses were always boding ill luck, and I had the grief of heart to hear her declare in her last moments, that a capital oversight I had been guilty of in handing to her a candle with an enormous winding-sheet appending to it, was the immediate occasion of her death and my irreparable misfortune.
My second wife I married in mere charity and compassion, because a young fellow, whom she was engaged to, had played her a base trick by scandialously breaking off the match, when the wedding clothes were bought, the day appointed for the wedding, and myself invited to it. Such transactions ever appeared shocking to me, and therefore to make up her loss to her as well as I was able, I put myself to extraordinary charges for providing her with every thing handsome upon our marriage: she was a fine woman, loved shew, and was particularly fond of displaying herself in public places, where she had an opportunity of meeting and mortifying the
young man who had behaved so ill to her : she took this revenge against him so often, that one day to my great surprize I discovered that she had eloped from me and fairly gone off with him. There was something so unhandsome, as I thought, in this proceeding, that I should probably have taken legal measures for redress, as in like cases other husbands have done, had I not been diverted from my purpose by a very civil note from the gentleman himself, wherein he says That being a younger son of little or no fortune, he hopes I am too much of a gentleman to think of resorting to the vexatious