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“ and handsomely illustrated from history; “ and indeed through the whole composi« tion there appears to be an indignant dis“ dain of vice, and such zeal for reformation, as must have had a powerful effect upon your hearers. &c.
Under the care of this excellent man he continued till the age of ten, when he was sent to Durham, in order to be placed under the immediate direction of his uncle, the Rev. Thomas Walker, minister of the dissenting congregation at that place, a gentleman of considerable eminence in his profession, but who, from the freedom of his speculative opinions, seems to have been considered by some of his contemporary ministers as entertaining unsound and heterodox tenets. The presbyterians had not yet altogether emancipated themselves from the errours and religious prejudices, which in former times had so strongly marked the character of their
and many of those controverted points, the truth of which cannot be clearly established upon
aný express revelation of Scripture, but which had been formerly considered as essential articles of faith, were still in some measure regarded as the necessary terms of admission to a ministerial communion. That simple and rational conception of christianity, which admits of nothing as essential to the office of a christian minister but a belief in it's divine origin, and a practical adherence to it's precepts, and which regards all other disputed doctrines as the speculations of fallible men, as mere human inventions altogether foreign to it's genuine meaning and simplicity, had not yet superšeded the use of those particular creeds and confessions of faith, which were deemed to contain whatever was sound and orthodox in christian belief. From the influence of these contracted notions of religion he was happily freed in having his education intrusted to the care of his uncle, who impressed no bias on his mind in favour of any particular tenets, but left it wholly free to adopt those opinions, which should be the result of a rational, manly, and impartial inquiry. b4
: In this situation he was part cularly fortunate ; for, independently of the advantage that he derived from the constant superintendence of his uncle, he was regularly sent to the grammar-school of that town, then in the highest celebrity as a place of classical education. Mr. Dongworth, the head master of this seminary, was a person of extraordinary endowments, and possessed of every natural and acquired talent, that could conciliate affection, or command respect. Though exacting at all times the greatest deference to his authority, yet his system was rather to conciliate by a kind and liberal treatment, than to 'awe into submission by the terrours of magisterial severity. But the highest panegyric that can be passed upon his character is the universal esteem and veneration, in which he was held by his scholars. No time could efface from the mind of Mr. Walker a sense of his numerous excellencies, and to the latest period of his life he uniformly dwelt upon his memory with the fondest recollection; and with a warmth of attachment, that bor
dered upon enthusiasm, he has often de. clared, that he anticipated with pleasure the time, when he should again be reunited with him in another world. The influence of a man thus loved and honoured must have operated with the most beneficial effect upon the minds of his pupils. At a period of life the most prone to imitation, before usurping prejudices and inveterate habits have
yet established their dominion, there is a natural propensity to the prevailing sentiments and manners of those with whom we associate; and particularly where we are taught to look up to them as our instructors, and the objects of our imitation. The benefit which society derives, therefore, from the exertions of an individual thus qualified for the arduous task of education, is altogether incalculable ; for the influence which is thus early obtained over youth is never perhaps wholly obliterated; in some measure therefore he may be regarded as the parent of their minds, as the modeller of their fu- , ture lives.
There is a curious epistle, which he wrote
to his father shortly after his arrival ar Durham, complaining of a want of constancy in his pursuits, and how much his attention to his school duties had been diverted by that propensity to novelty, so natural to the ardour of youthful minds. This, like all the rest of his early productions, bears the strongest marks of a vigorous and active mind, and evinces a maturity of capacity and judgment, that might almost enable him to rank with those literary phænomena, whose precocity of intellect and attainments have excited so much curiosity and astonishment.
“You will no doubt," says he, “ be sufficiently satisfied of the natural inconstanсу of
your son, and how impossible it is “ for him ever to continue steadfast to any “one employment, when you see how like “ a rebel I have shook off the yoke of “ Hogarth and other celebrated painters, “ after it had begun to grow tolerably easy to
me, and willingly entered into the service “ of the Muses, a service which preys upon my thoughts night and day without inter