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much satisfaction in its acquirement, but who has walked through life humbly and obscurely-who has laboured with his own hands to earn his daily bread—who has endured the bitterest povertywho has been prostrated, for years, by chronic sickness—whose earliest lot was toil and indigence —and whose accumulations for the days when the small rewards of toil shall be no more are of the very scantiest amount? Such a man is the “Working Man' whose · Memoirs’ are now presented to the reader. We believe that these · Memoirs,' in their own degree, will interest as much as any other of the kind which deal not with striking adventures, but present a clear reflection of the mind of the writer, which is sincere. Gibbon truly says“ The public are always curious to know the men who have left behind them any image of their minds.
The student of
may derive a lesson or an example from the lives most similar to his own.” When Gibbon wrote his • Memoirs,' it was scarcely present to his view that every class of students would be a term of far wider application half a century after his own day than when the love of books was a rare distinction. One of his contemporaries wrote the life of a Staymaker, who had made himself a competent Greek
scholar, and was a wonder in those times. The same age produced its usual share of prodigies in the shape of rhymesters who had never been to school, who were patronized as foils to the rhymesters who had been to school. But such examples indicated nothing of the tendencies of a class. Had a Tailor written his Memoirs, who had nothing to record of marvellous adventure, nothing of precocious talent—who had never been patronized out of the proper performance of his duties—who had only to show how the humblest lot is not incompatible with literary tastes, with the love of the excellent, with cheerful thoughts reflected from the contemplation of nature, with tranquil musings derived from a familiarity with nature's best interpreters, and, above all, with a contented spirit founded upon deep and constant piety- if such a person had appeared with his Memoirs,' half a century ago, how utter would have been his neglect! Contempt would have been too much honour for him. But the circle is widened. He has now his own class of students to sympathise with him, and to cherish his lessons and examples.
The peculiar interest of these "Memoirs of a Working Man' is in the view which they present of the mode in which the mind of the writer has been formed, under the most adverse circumstances. He makes no claim to any extraordinary powers of understanding; he displays no unwonted energies. He is neither the “ village Hampden,” nor the “mute inglorious Milton," whose “destiny obscure was determined by his lot in life. Yet of him, as of many others now, who have kept the noiseless tenour of their way,” it cannot be said that
Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
That page has been unrolled to many an eye, in the midst of “chill penury;" and yet “ the genial current of the soul” has not been frozen. This, we believe, is a distinction which has only begun to be understood in our own day. It is not to be inferred that a man who diligently performs all the duties of the humblest calling is necessarily ignorant; or that if he reach some of the acquirements which were once held to belong to the noble, the wealthy, and the professionally learned, he must be discontented with his station, and become incapable of performing the offices by which he claims a share of the labour-fund, which is the only inhe
ritance of him and of his class. It is beginning to be felt that knowledge is the common property of the human family--the only property that can be equally divided without injury to the general stock. These · Memoirs of a Working Man’ were written, I believe, without the view of inculcating this principle; but one of my chief inducements to include them in this series is to add another to the few public examples of the blessings that directly, and independent of any collateral advantage, belong to the cultivation of a taste for reading and composition, amongst the great body of our fellow-men who pursue the most mechanical and laborious employments of society. The lesson to be taught by this little book is the same that was taught by “Mind amongst the Spindles,'-namely, “ that a strict and diligent performance of daily duties is no impediment to the exercise of those faculties, and the gratification of those tastes, which, whatever the world
may have thought, can no longer be held to be limited by station.”
The author of these · Memoirs' has not published them with his name. Nor does he mention the names of any persons with whom he has been brought into contact ; nor even of the two or three very creditable little works which he has previously
published. There can be no objection, however, for me to mention that he is the author of one of a series called The Guide to Trade,' published by Charles Knight and Co., and that in 1840 he was introduced to me by a gentleman well known in the world of letters and of art, as a highly deserving man carrying on a little business for himself as a tailor, with a dependent family, and struggling with the severest ill health. The Manual for the Apprentices to Tailors, which he then wrote, gave abundant proof of his technical skill. But this treatise also exhibited the rational and contented tone of mind with which the writer looked upon his own vocation in life. After offering some sound practical advice on the subject of morals and religion, he thus concludes :-“ If he [the apprentice] attends to these admonitions and counsels, he will ultimately find that, although he may not be able to command great wealth, or fame, or station, he will both acquire and enjoy what is far better than all these together-namely, good health, a peaceful and contented mind, a fair reputation, and in general as much money as will enable him to procure all the necessaries and many of the comforts of life. And should he at any subsequent time be enabled to become a master, he will be all