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off all connexion with Ashburton, and where his godfather lived; but “the women of Brixham,” says he, “who travelled to Ashburton twice a-week with fish, and who had known my parents, did not see me without kind concern, running about the beach in a ragged jacket and trowsers.”

They often mentioned him to their acquaintances at Ashburton ; and the tale excited so much commiseration in the place, that his godfather at last found himself obliged to send for him home. At this time he wanted some months of fourteen. He proceeds with his own story as follows :

« After the holidays I returned to my darling pursuit-arithmetic : my progress was now so rapid that in a few months I was at the head of the school, and qualified to assist my master (Mr E. Furlong) on any extraordinary emergency. As he usually gave me a trifle on those occasions, it raised a thought in me that, by engaging with him as a regular assistant, and undertaking the instruction of a few evening scholars, I might, with a little additional aid, be enabled to support myself. God knows, my ideas of support at this time were of no very extravagant nature. I had, besides, another object in view. Mr. Hugh Smerdon (my first master) was now grown old and infirm : seemed unlikely that he should hold out above three or four years ; and I fondly flattered myself that, notwithstanding my youth, I might possibly be appointed to succeed him. I was in my fifteenth year when I built these castles : storm, however, was collecting, which unexpectedly burst upon me, and swept them all away.

“On mentioning my little plan to Carlile, he treated it with the utmost contempt ; and told me, in his turn, that, as I had learned enough, and more than enough, at school, he must be considered as having fairly discharged his duty (so, indeed, he had); he


added, that he had been negotiating with his consin, a shoemaker of some respectability, who had liberally agreed to take me without a fee as an apprentice. I was so shocked at this intelligence that I did not remonstrate ; but went in sullenness and silence to my new master, to whom I was soon after bound*, till I should attain the age of twenty-one.”

Up to this period his reading had been very limited, the only books he had perused, beside the Bible, with which he was well acquainted, having been a blackletter romance, called Parismus and Parismenes, a few old magazines, and the Imitation of Thomas á Kempis. “ As I hated my new profession,” he continues, “ with a perfect hatred, I made no progress in it ; and was consequently little regarded in the family, of which I sank by degrees into the common drudge : this did not much disquiet me, for my spirits were now humbled. I did not, however, quite resign my hope of one day succeeding to Mr Hugh Smerdon, and therefore secretly prosecuted my favourite study at every interval of leisure. These intervals were not very frequent ; and when the use I made of them was found out, they were rendered still less so. I could not guess the motives for this at first ; but at length I discovered that my master destined his youngest son for the situation to which I aspired.

“ I possessed at this time but one book in the world : it was a treatise on algebra, given to me by a young woman, who had found it in a lodging-house. I considered it as a treasure ; but it was a treasure locked up ; for it supposed the reader to be well acquainted with simple equations, and I knew nothing of the matter. My master's son had purchased · Fenning's Introduction :' this was precisely what I wanted —but he carefully concealed it from me, and I was

My indenture, which now lies before me, is dated the 1st of January, 1772.VOL. III.


indebted to chance alone for stumbling upon his hiding-place. I sat up for the greatest part of several nights successively, and, before he suspected that his treatise was discovered, had completely mastered it. I could now enter upon my own ; and that carried me pretty far' into the science. This was not done without difficulty. I had not a farthing on earth, nor a friend to give me one : pen, ink, and paper, therefore, (in despite of the flippant remark of Lord Orford,) were, for the most part, as completely out of my reach as a crown and sceptre. There was, indeed, a resource ; but the utmost caution and secrecy were necessary in applying to it. I beat out pieces of leather as smooth as possible, and wrought my problems on them with a blunted awl ; for the rest, my memory was tenacious, and I could multiply and divide by it to a great extent.”

No situtaion, it is obvious, could be more unfavourable for study than this ; and yet we see how the eager student succeeded in triumphing over its disadvantages, contriving to write and calculate even without paper, pens, or ink, by the aid of a piece of leather and a blunted awl. Where there is a strong determination to attain an object, it is generally suffcient of itself to create the means ; and almost any means are sufficient. We mistake in supposing that there is only one way of doing a thing, namely, that in which it is commonly done. Whenever we have to prove it, we find how rich in resources is Necessity ; and how seldom it is that, in the absence of the ordinary instrument, she has not some new invention to supply its place. This is a truth which studious poverty has often had experience of, and been all the better for experiencing ; for difficulties so encountered and subdued not only whet ingenuity, but strengthen a man's whole intellectual and moral character, and fit him for struggles and achievements

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in after life from which other spirits less hardily trained turn away in despair.

At last, however, Gifford obtained some alleviation of his extreme penury. He had scarcely, he tells us, known poetry even by name, when some verses, composed by one of his acquaintances, tempted him to try what he could do in the same style, and he succeeded in producing a few rhymes. As successive little incidents inspired his humble muse, he produced several more compositions of a similar description, till he had got together about a dozen of them.

says he, nothing on earth was ever so deplorable ;" but such as they were they procured him not a little fame among his associates, and he began at last to be sometimes invited to repeat them to other circles. “ The repetitions of which I speak,' he continues, “were always attended with applause, and sometimes with favours more substantial ; little collections were now and then made, and I have received sixpence in an evening. To one who had long lived in the absolute want of money, such a resource seemed a Peruvian mine : I furnished myself by degrees with paper, &c., and, what was of more importance, with books of geometry and of the higher branches of algebra, which I cautiously concealed. Poetry, even at this time, was no amusement of mine: it was subservient to other purposes ; and I only had recourse to it when I wanted money for my mathematical pursuits.”

But even this resource was soon taken from him. His master, having heard of his verse-making, was so incensed both at what he deemed the idleness of the occupation, and especially at some satirical allusions to himself, or his customers, upon which the young poet had unwisely ventured, that he seized upon and carried away all his books and papers, and even prohibited him in the strictest manner from ever again

repeating a line of his compositions. This severe stroke was followed by another, which reduced him to utter despair. The master of the free school to whom he had never resigned the hope of succeeding, died, and another person was appointed to the situation, not much older than Gifford, and who, he says, was certainly not so well qualified for it as himself.

I look back,” he proceeds, “ on that part of my life which immediately followed this event with little satisfaction; it was a period of gloom, and savage unsociability : by degrees I sunk into a kind of corporeal torpor ; or, if roused into activity by the spirit of youth, wasted the exertion in splenetic and vexatious tricks, which alienated the few acquaintances which compassion had yet left me.”

But his despondency and discontent seem to have gradually given way to the natural buoyancy of his disposition ; some evidences of kindly feeling from those around him tended a good deal to mitigate his recklessness ; and, especially as the term of his apprenticeship drew towards a close, his former aspirations and hopes began to return to him. He had spent, however, nearly six years at his uncongenial employment, before any decided prospect of deliverance opened upon him. “In this humble and obscure state,” says he,“ poor beyond the common lot, yet flattering my ambition with day dreams which perhaps would never have been realized, I was found, in the twentieth year of my age, by Mr William Cookesley,-a name never to be pronounced by me without veneration. The lamentable doggrel which I have already mentioned, and which had passed from mouth to mouth among people of my own degree, had by some accident or other reached his ear, and given him a curiosity to inquire after the author."

Mr Cookesley, who was a surgeon, and not rich, having learnt Gifford's history from him

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