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“ mission. The only satisfaction I can pro
pose to myself is, that you above all won't “ be angry with me, nay that
will even “ be pleased at my servitude, and beg my 66 mistress to lord it over me with more .
perious sway. I beg, father, that you 66. would accept kindly the first-fruits of a
genius yet unripe, and which perhaps may “ promise something better when at matu
rity. The letter enclosed I wrote.on purpose to show the natural wavering of my
mind, for which I have been often upbraid“ed by Mr. A.”
The enclosed letter, to which he alludes, was a poetical epistle to his father, in which, after enumerating the variety of objects. that had occupied his attention at different times, he observes that the Muses, willing to augment the number of their votaries, had at length retained him in their service, and had bound him fast with a chain, which it was his pleasure to wear. This epistle appears to be the first-fruits of his devotion at their shrine ; and though they had not yet him
any very sublinie
tion of their inspiration, yet he courted their aid with such assiduous zeal, as to merit from them a more grateful return.
His constancy in the end was not allowed to go unrewarded, for at an early age he could boast of a more than ordinary share of their protection; as a proof of which we refer the reader to a few of his imitations of the more celebrated odes of Anacreon*.
Though he seems to have presumed upon his father's approbation of this his last pursuit, yet it is certain, that it was regarded by some of his friends as nó very favourable symptom of his future attainments. Mr. A., the gentleman to whom he alludes in the last letter as having upbraided him for his -fickleness, in a letter to his father about the beginning of 1748 speaks of him in the following terms:
“ George has this day entered at the wri“ ting-school, and wants nothing but applio cation, to do well there, or at any other « school. I am spurring him up every day; « so that I believe he looks upon me as his
• See the Appendix.
“ continualtormentor. His greatest unhappi“ness is, that he is fond of every new thing, “ and as soon weary of it. Were it possible “ to bring him off this temper, and to fix “ him at any study, which would be to his “ advantage, I should not doubt his proficiency. I wish when
would “ talk to him pretty warmly on this head, “ for this is his failing, and it must be cor“ rected in time, if ever he make any progress
in any point of learning, otherwise 6 he will have a smattering in every thing, “ and in reality know nothing. I must own “ I cannot but respect him on account of his
parts, and could wish to see him make a
proper use of them. I am sensible that “ all his faults are owing to his natural tem
per, which has too much of spirit and vi“ vacity in it. I therefore believe, that harsh
usage would not do with him, as it might “ break his spirits, and make him indifferent “ about every thing: the best way
would be to recommend to him for his own interest
to leave off painting, poetry, and nonsense, “ which will never make him a halfpenny
“ richer or wiser, and to apply himself to « his school learning; and when he has any " vacant time, let him employ it in reading
history, or any other useful book, which may
be of service to bim afterward. Were you to do this yourself, it would have a
greater impression upon him, than any “ thing I could say. I should not have said “ so much, but that I find you intend to “ breed him a scholar."
What impression these fears made upon his father is uncertain. He continued to indulge his passion for poetry, though not with so much hindrance to his school duties as is here supposed : on the contrary, in a letter to his father in December 1748, a very flattering testimony to his proficiency is borne him by his uncle, who thus expresses himself:
“ I should be glad to know what your “ resolution is about George. As he has “ made such progress in school learning, I
hope you design to complete him as a “ scholar. Indeed it would be throwing away « all the money you have laid out upon him
“ not to do it. - - He is a boy of a very pro
mising genius and fine parts; and as a few
years more at his books would fit him for "public usefulness, I would have you by “all means put him forward. It will not only be doing him justice, but it will be
way of providing for him in “ the world. If he has his health, and his "application is in any degree answerable to parts,
I make no doubt but he will “ one day shine in a bookish profession; “ but in any other way of life (his particular
turn of mind considered) there is very a little reason to think he will make any
figure at all. I have a great desire, I con. “ fess, that George should apply himself to “ the study of divinity; in which
it may possibly be in my power, if God shall “ continue my life, to be assisting to him “ more ways than one.”
It was at this period, that his destination for the ministry was finally decided. In consequence of this, and of his uncle's removal to Leeds, having been chosen pastor of the Mill-hill meeting-house of that town,