Page images



It fell to my lot to sustain the misfortune of losing my parents at an early stage of my life, and though at that period I was little sensible of the calamity,' every succeeding year brought with it a poignancy which increased until I arrived at maturity, when, as I began to feel my independence, it forsook me, and finally left upon my mind a sensation of indifference towards myself, and a disinclination to sympathize with the feelings of others. In comparing my situation and circumstances with those around me, I found a void that I could not fill. There was a chasm caused by the breaking up of filial and parental affection that nothing, now connected with me, could close ; and the happiness in which I saw others placed with regard to their relatives, and the strong interest which each of these seemed to feel in the concerns of the others, created a disappointment that rankled in my heart, and at length produced the evil passion of envy, ultimately terminating in misanthropy. At

[ocr errors]

school, I believe, though not looked upon as a good-natured boy, I was never considered a dull one; indeed, I took delight in acquiring a mental superiority over those, who, in other respects appeared to be more happy than myself, and I had the satisfaction of frequently hearing my talents envied, though not so often as my unsocial and gloomy spirit contemned. In this manner I passed my boyhood, neither loving, nor beloved, for I had nothing in my disposition to excite affection, and there were none whose kindness to me prompted even a feeling of regard. A promise had been long given by an old friend of my father, who was a man in power, that if my inclination led me to the church, I should be provided with a living. This induced my easy guardians to grant an allowance from my small patrimony for the purpose, and I was placed in the University, where my unsocial habits induced me to become diligent, that I might have a pretence for avoiding society, and that I might better inspire those with respect

who were inclined to treat my manners with contempt ;


many were the instances in which I made myself dreaded by the scorner, and to be courted even by the wise. Here, however, after a residence of two years,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

my views suddenly changed. There was too much sameness in a student's pursuits at College to captivate me. I had no ties to bind me to the quietness of a domestic life, and my nature had asperities which collision and contact with the world could only rnb down; so, as the armies of England were now encamped on the fields of Spain, I resolved to join them. To this effect I wrote to my guardians, who, after some feeble attempts to turn me from my purpose, at length acquiesced, and a commission was procured for me in one of the Foot Regiments, which I was immediately ordered to join. No sooner had I got on board the transport, and cleared the channel, than a new light seemed to break upon my mind : I breathed more freely,

the scene was new and fresh, — I had fallen in among men of enterprize and courage, and their spirit seemed to possess me. however, only a fit of intoxication, the effect of a succession of novelties upon a young mind, which, after the first impression, required a greater and more powerful stimulant to produce it. After a little time I was avoided as one whose spirit was uncongenial; whose disposition assimilated not with others, and I was left

This was,

a prey to an inward reflection, feeding itself upon the wayward thoughts of a dissatisfied and discomforted mind. From these gloomy fits of abstraction, I was at length roused upon entering at midnight the mouth of the Tagus, and surveying by a cloudless moon the churches, palaces, convents, and houses, mingled together above the eye, reflecting both a double light and casting a double shade from their snow-white walls; it was, however, after the sun had risen that these noble objects appeared in greater beauty, when

" Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes

In variegated maze of mount and glen.
Ah me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen
To follow half on which the


dilates Thro' views more dazzling unto mortal ken

Than those whereof such things the bard relates, Who to the awe-struck world unlock'd Elysian gates?


The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown’d,
The cork trees hoar that clothe the craggy steep,
The mountain-moss by scorching skies embrown'd,
The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weeps
The tender azure of th' unruffled deep,
The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,
The torrents that from cliff to valley leap,

The vine on high, the willow branch below
Mix'd in one mighty scene with varied beauty glow."

As soon as I landed, I was ordered to join the reserve of the army, where, for a length of time, in common with others, I underwent that necessary probation of drill and exercise without which I was unqualified to consider myself a soldier, or to enter upon the duties of that calling. From the tedium of elementary preparation, however, I was in due course of time emancipated, and sent up further into the country to join my regiment, when I was at once launched into the ocean of military life, in which, from the necessity of continual intercourse with others, good fellowship and obliging demeanour became in some measure unavoidable to me; and at the same time the novelties of my station in addition to those which broke in upon me on all sides, from the differences of manner and appearance of the people of the country, had the effect of softening the asperities of my nature, and led me to look upon mankind in a different point of view, from that in which I had ever before regarded them. The relative difference of situation between myself and my associates here, and in England, was also less striking. We were all on the same level in outward circumstances, - we had each to encounter nearly the same in

« PreviousContinue »