The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt: With Reminiscences of Friends and Contemporaries - Vol. 1

By Leigh Hunt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
SCHOOL-DAYS (continued.)
Healthy literary training of Christ-Hospital.--Early friendship.--Early love.--St. James's Park, music, and war.--President West and his house.--The Thornton family and theirs.--The Dayrells and first love. Early thoughts of religion.--Jews and their synagogues.--Coleridge and Lamb.--A mysterious school-fellow.--The greater mystery of the Fazzer.--Mitchell and Barnes.--Boatings, bathings, and Lady Craven.--Departure from school.

I AM grateful to Christ-Hospital for its having bred me up in old cloisters, far its making me acquainted with the languages of Homer and Ovid, and for its having secured to me, on the whole, a well-trained and cheerful boyhood. It pressed no superstition upon me. It did not hinder my growing mind from making what excursions it pleased into the wide and healthy regions of general literature. I might buy as much Collins and Gray as I pleased, and get novels to my heart's content from the circulating libraries. There was nothing prohibited but what would have been prohibited by all good fathers; and every thing was encouraged which would have been encouraged by the Steeles, and Addisons, and Popes; by the Warburtons, and Atterburys, and Hoadleys. Boyer was a severe, nay, a cruel master; but age and reflection have made me sensible that I ought always to add my testimony to his being a laborious, and a conscientious one. When his severity went beyond the mark, I believe he was always sorry for it: sometimes I am sure he was. He once (though the anecdote at first sight may look like a burlesque on the remark) knocked out one of my teeth with the back of a Homer, in a fit of impatience at my stammering. The tooth was a loose one, and I told him as much; but the blood rushed out as I spoke: he turned pale, and, on my proposing to go out and wash the mouth, he said, "Go, child," in a tone of voice amounting to the paternal. Now

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