Extracts from Autobiography - At six ocbck on the snowy morning of
February rst, 1770. I beheld the li ht of the world at the Damside,
in the Parish of 8 t. hlary, in the suburbs of the ancient city of
Carlisle. I was a pcsor little tender being scarce worth the
trouble of rearing, and was the youngest of nine children, born of
parents getting up in years, who with all their kindred had been
kept in bondage by poverty, hard labour and crosses. At an early
age I was placed in a Charity School, supported at that time by the
Dean and Chapter of Carlisle for the Education of children only.
Having studied my letters. the see-saw drone of the Primer and
waded through the Reading-Made-Easy. and Dyches Spelling Book I was
now turned over to a long, lean, needy Pretender to Knowledge. He
devoted much time to angling. and I was always selected to
accompany him in those fishing expeditions, It was during those
summer excursions that an attachment to rural scenery first stole
over my mind. A love of nature grew in me from this period to
manhood and such has been the influence of this passion for nature,
that it has been the dearest wish of my heart to creep into
retirement in the declining ears of my life, and strike the strings
of my feeble garp in the shades of peace. From this teacher I was
removed by my parents to the Quakers School, under Mr. Isaac Ritson
a very learned and ingenious man. At the age of 10 years, I left
school to try to earn a little to assist my father who was n w very
inhrm. I was employed as a Calico Printer undu my brother and my
wages one and sixpence a week were presented to my beloved father.
From infancy I was fond of drawing, especially animals, and to this
amusementmy evenings were chiefly devoted. For a self-taught artist
my early efforts b afforrI evidence of industry, but they are
devoid of anythin indicative of genius. My next change was to e
bound apprentice to a pattern drawer with Messrs. T. Lash ahd Co.,
Dmton Holme near Carlisle where I enjoyed dI the happiness an
industrious apprentice can ho e for being with every mark of
esteem. W R l e here b I e i t n u g r ntereda t m ed y thoughts to
music, and as from childhood a love opfo rrtuurnailt ielisf e o f h
a s d p e g n r d o in w g n twheit hS ambbe, a t 1 h lmeto r s e
li p e sfpeewci a o l Y y - In summer with friends in some
neighbouring village. It was on paying a welcome visit at a friends
house that I was first smitteu with female charms. Picture to
yourself a hffident o u t h in his sixteenth year ddaily pouring
out the sigs of a sincere heart for an artless cottager sornmvl at
youger than myself. She was aU my thoughts by day, And aU my dreams
by night., t church she drew my attention from the preacher. On her
I could have gazd my soul away, and I have a thousand times fancied
to myself our joining handa at the Hymeneal altar. Whatever I had
had of worldly possessions I would gladly have bestowed upon her.
When - in London. where 1 had obtained employment before the
expiration of my appren ticeship, my first attempt at poetical
composition was made in a song called Lncy Grey, which with some
others . as afterwards set to music and sung at the Vauxhall...
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