Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine: With Other Records of His Early Career in England & America

Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine: With Other Records of His Early Career in England & America

Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine: With Other Records of His Early Career in England & America

Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine: With Other Records of His Early Career in England & America

Excerpt

Everyone who knows his Cobbett enjoys writing about him, just as Cobbett always enjoyed writing about himself. He did it again and again, almost from the moment when he first began to write. The Political Register is full of scattered fragments of autobiography, mingled with political diatribes, sage advice about Swedish turnips or American trees, "rural rides" through the English countryside, or disquisitions on the vices of paper money. Advice to Young Men is fuller still; there are embedded the story of his courtship and almost fickleness, and a score of other reminiscences, chiefly of his earlier years. Even his "Rustic Harangues," delivered at great meetings of farmers and labourers, are full of such fragments; for Cobbett's way was to present himself to his audience as the flesh and blood embodiment of any cause he wished them to espouse, and his own adventures were his commonest illustrations of the point he was pushing home.

Cobbett's biographers have all drawn largely on this wealth of material presented to them by their subject; but I cannot find that certain of Cobbett's best autobiographical writings have ever, since his own lifetime, been re-printed separate or entire. The piece which stands first in this volume, The Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine, deserves to be read as a whole, and not merely in the extracts which the biographers supply. And it has seemed worth while to collect with it certain other writings of the same period of his career, so as to make a sort of Autobiography of William Cobbett up to the time of his return from America in 1800.

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