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• O fearful meditation! when, alack,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid ? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back,
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid ?
ou ask me, my dear Atholl, to write those chapters of my
biography which will throw a light upon the reasons that have induced me to quit the world, and to alienate myself from the faith of my fellow-countrymen. Often in the calm solitude of my present retreat
To rake up
have I intended employing my leisure hours in sketching the most prominent features of my autobiography; but as often as I have commenced have I desisted. the painful memories of the past, and once more to make public facts which had better be forgotten, seemed on closer consideration to be fruitlessly reopening an old wound. De mortuis nil nisi bonum was the motto that stared me in the face, and made me throw down my pen in disgust before I had written fifty lines. Your letter, however, places the subject before me in a new light, and I hasten to execute your wish. Perhaps if the story of my life fail in adorning a tale, it may succeed in pointing a moral—at least, I hope so.
I shall sketch with but a hasty hand my earlier years. All that is of interest in my career begins with that acquaintanceship which has led to results so strange and solemn. My father, as you know, was a clergyman of an old Devonshire family, and held one of the best livings in the county; but he lived up to the extent of his income, and, like many of his brethren, made no provision for the future. He was cold and haughty, full of prejudices and odd fancies. Proud of his old name and family position, he limited his circle of acquaintances to those who were either his superiors or equals among
the gentry of the neighbourhood. He preached occasionally on Sunday, whilst his curates read prayers and visited the poor. With the exception of these hebdomadal discourses and the most attentive hospitalities offered to the archdeacon and occasionally to the bishop of his diocese, his clerical duties sat lightly upon him. He was keenly fond of sport of all kinds; was an excellent shot, rode well to hounds, and was as enthusiastic a fisherman as only a Devonshire man can