A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

GEORGE GROTE, Greek historian, philosopher, educationalist, and politician, was born at Clay Hill, near Beckenham in Kent, on November 17, 1794. His grandfather, Andreas Grote, originally a merchant of Bremen, migrated to London, and was one of the founders of the banking house of Grote, Prescott and Company (January, 1766). His eldest son, George (by a second marriage), became the husband of Selin

Peckwell, descended on her mother's side from the old Huguenot family of the De Blossets, who, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, had left their home in Touraine.

George Grote the historian, the eldest son of George Grote and Selina Peckwell, inherited not only the common-sense and business capacity of the Bremen banker, but also to some extent that virile Huguenot spirit the infusion of which into British families so often produced splendid results in all departments of intellectual and commercial activity. Selina Grote was a woman of strong character and ambition. She it was to whom Grote owed his earliest training. Before he went, in his sixth year, to Sevenoaks Grammar-school, he had learned from her not only reading and writing, but also the rudiments of Latin. At Sevenoaks he made steady progress with his work, and in his tenth year was sent to Charterhouse, where Dr. Raine was at the time headmaster. It is a curious coincidence that, among many fellow-scholars since become famous, he should there have met Connop Thirwall, whose history of Greece his own was eventually, to some extent at least, to supersede. During the six years which he spent at Charterhouse he acquired a profound interest in Greek and Roman literature, an interest which never waned throughout his long life of varied activity. His father, sceptical of the advantages of a University career, took him from school at the age of sixteen, and put him into the bank. The mechanical routine of his daily life only confirmed him in his ardour for knowledge, and he entered upon a steady course of private reading. In order that his studies might not be confined to the literature of his own tongue, he acquired a working knowledge of German, Italian, and French. During this period he not only studied his favourite classical authors, but also plunged into history, political science, and philosophy.

In the winter of 1814-15 he first made the acquaintance of Miss Harriet

-xxi-

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