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To my Literary Associates.
"No more-I'll hear no more- -Begone and leave me;" your persuasions-your arguments-your intreaties-your menaces-all, all are ineffectual. I have conducted you in safety and honor to the termination of your first half-year's labor, and though I have corrected all your imperfect manuscripts, ye are so full of your own conceit that ye have never allowed me more room for self-display than what an occasional note or trifling desultory observation, printed in brevier at the bottom of the page afforded. But I am determined either to open your second volume or to resign my editorial authority. Can ye say that I am incompetent? Must ye not acknowledge ye would be a mere nothing without me? Have not your most happy passages received their last finish from my superior judgment? Are they not worthy of perusal only through my emendations? Yet ye would now, with base ingratitude, obscure the glory of your benefactor, and sink him to the level of your meanest ministers. Ye tell me that to fulfil my original stipulation, to amend your writings and revise your proofs, would afford me more than sufficient employment-of this there can be no doubt; ye have hitherto only amused yourselves, and I am re
VOL. II.-NO. I.
A History of Ourselves.
solved not to have all the drudgery without any of the enjoyment. I will write. Why should I be confined to the mechanism of correction? I will no longer be your slaveyour tool. I am determined to write, and that as I chuse, and whenever I chuse.
To my Gentle Readers.
My pencil finished the sketch of the life of Mr. Atkinson at my suggestion, my friend the Philanthropist published a short memoir of his eccentricities-X. Y. Z. has with my aid amused himself and the public by the actor's adventuresyet not one has attempted to give a memoir of my life, though certainly more deserving of general notice than any I have mentioned, whether it be considered as a source of amusement from its vicissitudes, or of profit from its example. And my fellow-laborers now refuse to indulge my vanity, as they style it; but my benevolence shall not be restrainedI will no longer be accessary to such an act of injustice as the detention of a history replete with instruction to others, and honor to myself-a history as well recommended as Locke's Essay, by the nobility of its subject, and the utility of its publication.
An autobiographist has many difficulties to contend with, the least of which would deter a man of less than extraordinary courage. From the nature of man, it is to be expected that he will not enlarge on his own defects, but rather represent every transaction in the most favorable light; and hence the most innocent self-partiality draws down the sneer of scepticism on his assertions. It would, therefore, be desirable that every personage, male or female, who intends to edify the world by his memoirs, should prevail on some friend to execute the task; but circumstances prevent me from profiting by my own advice, and though the proverb says that self-praise is no praise-though fifty years ago my writing-master often technically desired me not to blow the trumpet of self-commendation, I can give many valid excuses for whatever laudatory expressions I shall bestow on myself in the subsequent pages. I will only mention one. I have been obliged to praise myself, as no other person would do it for me.
Thereby meaning those unlucky persons who may chance to purchase his book, or those stupid gentlemen who can patiently peruse it.
A History of Ourselves.
It must not be expected that this history shall be conducted in that regular manner in which Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon arranged their facts. I claim every liberty which any historical writer of genius from the beginning of time to the present day, from Sanchoniathon and Berosus to Lingard and McGregor, has ever legitimated in the world of letters: nor will I be restrained by any other rules than those which it would înconvenience me to break. 1 think such a caution necessary, as this may perhaps fall into the hands of some downright Fadladeen, who would read with the Inquisitor in one hand and Blair in the other.
To all who may inquire my reasons for sending these memoirs into the world, I might mention the pleasure we feel in the evening of a well-spent life, ere we have sunk beneath the clouds that await our approach to the horizon, in looking back on all the benefits we have conferred in our course, with glory to ourselves and satisfaction to all around I might mention the great advantage of laying good examples before the rising generation. I might give many other forcible reasons; but I will only answer that I wish to write, and that I could not fix on a more convenient subject, where both facts and opinions are supplied by experience.
As it is my intention to trace my progress from infant imbecility to the present time in which I have reached the climax of honor, being unanimously chosen editor of this very valuable book, I must imitate the famous Mr. Shandy, and commence my history with an account of my father and mother. Nor need I blush to borrow an idea from him, particularly as I can prove that every word he wrote can be found in the writings of his predecessors, insomuch that his merit is only equal to that of a tailor who uses the same materials that were used forty years ago, and merely changes the fashions.
By the bye-if Locke were alive, I could here give him a proof of the whimsical association of ideas, or rather that language assists the memory. This word fashion reminds me of a story which I met in Camden's Remains, which I transcribe that my reader may be as much amused as I was myself.
"Sir Philip Calthorpe purged John Drakes, the shoemaker of Norwich, in the time of Henry VIII. of the proud humor which our people have to be of the gentleman's cut. This knight bought on a time as much fine French tawny cloth as would make him a gown, and sent it to the tailor's
A History of Ourselves.
to be made. John Drakes, a shoemaker of that town, coming to the said tailor's, and seeing the knight's gown-cloth lying there, liking it well, caused the tailor to buy him as much of the same cloth, and price to the same intent; and further bade him to make it of the same fashion that the knight would have his made of. Not long after, the knight came to the tailor's, that he might take measure of his gown, and perceiving other like cloth lying there, asked the tailor. whose it was. Quoth the tailor, It is John Drakes', the shoemaker, who will have it made of the self-same fashion that your's is made of.' 'Well,' said the knight, in good time be it. I will have mine made as full of cuts as thy shears can make it.' It shall be done,' said the tailor.' Whereupon because the time drew near, he made haste to finish both their garments. John Drakes had no time to go to the tailor's till Christmas day, for serving the customers, when he hoped to have worn his gown: perceiving the same to be full of cuts, he began to swear at the tailor for the making his gown after that sort. I have done nothing,' quoth the tailor, but what you bade me; for as Sir Philip Calthorp's garment is, even so have I made your's.' By my latchet,' quoth John Drakes, I will never wear gentlemen's fashions again!"
If I wished to pursue the ideas which this story conjures up, I would now make some very sensible and weighty remarks on the vicissitudes of states and empires, and notice the great improvement of British manufactures; or I might give an ample description of the manners and customs of the sixteenth century; or a moral dissertation on the vanity and weakness of human nature so well pourtrayed in the knight and the shoe-maker; but it is time to return to my parents..
My father was a native of Connemara in the West of Ireland, and was lineally descended from Con of the hundred battles, one of the most celebrated and most indefatigable of the Milesian kings. Very little, however, of this hero's martial spirit was inherited by the peaceful and degenerate Arth Diarmuid Mac Con Mac Cuidh O'More, who could meanly condescend to leave his few paternal acres, the scanty rem, pant of his ancestors' principality, and anglicising his name into the more modern appellation of Dermot Cudmore, esq. become an inhabitant within the walls of a trading Bristol colony, satisfied to exchange the imaginary honors of Irish princedom for the comfortable and solid benefits of a resis
A. History of Ourselves..
dence in the then flourishing city of Dublin. One of his country neighbors, a shrewd sensible farmer, of the sept of the O'Bradys, had impressed him with the necessity of this visit to the capital to retrieve his shattered fortunes; and the result of their consultations was a determination that he should endeavor to gain by a matrimonial connection such an increase of property as would enable him to assert his dignity with becoming extravagance. His friend Brady gave him two letters of introduction, which were of singular efficacy in settling his future destiny and pursuits; one to a very reputable professional gentleman, who exercised the honorable and lawful calling of an auctioneer in Meath-street-the other to a very industrious literary man, who on Sundays and holydays, assisted at St. Luke's church in the capacity of clerk, while on the dies profesti he plied the busy shuttle till twilight spread her sober mantle over the heavens, and the shades of evening were closing around him; too thrifty, however, to lose an hour in idleness, or, perhaps, anxious to serve the Muses in even the humblest capacity, he had appointed the bell that toll'd the evening hour of seven as the signal for the attendance of the children, male and female, of the neighboring nobility and gentry, at a school, where for a trifling weekly stipend he undertook to instruct them according to the most approved methods in the Classics, (vulgo, Latin and Greek,) French, English, History, Geography, Writing, Plane Geometry, Plane and Spherical Trigonometry, Algebra, Conic Sections, Mensuration, Navigation, Algebra, Fluxions and Stenography! and though he knew very little about any of these beyond their names, he had contrived to scrape together, during his long practice at his several avocations, a very comfortable independence.
Such were the friends who received my father, Dermot Cu ore, esq. on his arrival in Dublin, with marked politeness. Their attentions were returned with that warmth of heart which characterises every genuine Irishman. Nor would they allow him to remain at the inn, each party insisting on his acceptance of hospitality for a month; and at the end of that time he was accommodated at the pawnbroker's house, on such terms as precluded the possibility of inconvenience to him, or loss to his friendly entertainer.
Mr. Cross, the auctioneer, was already far advanced in years, but Mr. Brown, the schoolmaster, was about thirtyfour, nearly of the same age as my father, and was consequently received into his most secret confidence. He advised