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of Mr. John Baker, an opulent tradesman, residing in Cannon Street, London. She was a woman of great piety and extensive information, and discharged the duties which devolved upon her with so much prudence, affection, and delicacy, that many years elapsed before John Mason Good discovered, with equal surprise and regret, that she was not actually his mother. She had one child, a daughter, who is still living, and resides at Charmouth.
Shortly after his second marriage, Mr. Good was invited to take the pastoral charge of a congregation at Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire, to which place he in consequence removed with his family. But he did not remain there much more than a year. IIis elder brother John dying unmarried, and without having made a will, the patrimonial property and the business at Romsey passed, by that event, into his hands; so that it became necessary for him to quit Wellingborough, and reside in Hampshire. His first thoughts were to carry on the shalloon manufacture, with the assistance of his late brother's superintendent of the works, until one of his sons should be old enough to take the business. But he soon found that this class of occupations drew him too much from his favourite pursuits; and disposed of “the concern” to some individual accustomed to business, and able to conduct it advantageously.
He then resolved to devote his time to the education of his own children: no sooner was this determination known, however, than he was earnestly importuned by relatives and friends, and by many of the gentlemen, clergy, and other ministers in the neighbourhood, to associate their children with his. After much
deliberation, he at length determined to engage an assistant of extensive knowledge and sound principles, and to take the general superintendence of a few pupils, fixing the maximum at sixteen in number, including his own sons. Thus, a desire to preserve his children from the more obvious evils of public schools, and to supply them with the advantage of select associates, placed him in a sphere of employment, but not of heavy or anxious labour, with a happy competency, and in the immediate vicinity of the sweetly variegated scenery of the New Forest; fond of rural enjoyments, fond of domestic life, fond of acquiring and of communicating knowledge, fond of select and intelligent society, fond of benevolent exertion, blest with the confluence of these streams of delight, and to a high degree proving that the elegant delineation of the author of the “Seasons” is as exquisite in real life as it is touching in poetry.
Oh! speak the joy, ye whom the sudden tear
This piece of family detail will not, I trust, be thought incongruous with my general narrative, since it shews that the subject of it commenced his studies in a seminary conducted by his father. Here he, in due time, made a correct acquaintance with the Latin, Greek, and French languages; and soon evinced a remarkable desire to drink deeply of the springs of
knowledge and pleasure which they laid open to him. Among the books placed in the hands of the boys, besides those usually employed in classical instruction, were most of the publications of Mr. Mason, mentioned in a preceding note: and it was a great object with Mr. Good, not merely to excite in the minds of his pupils a fondness for general reading, but to explain to them the best modes of abridging and recording, in common-place-books, upon the plan recommended by Mr. Locke, the most valuable results of their daily researches. His own common-place-book, to which I have already adverted, is an excellent proof of the utility of these repositories; and those of his son, from some of which I shall have occasion to make extracts, serve equally to shew how successfully his pupils adopted the plan.
They who remark in how many instances apparently slight circumstances give the essential determination to character; who recollect, for example, the fact that both the father and the husband of Michael Angelo's nurse were stone-masons, and that the chisel which she often put into his infant hands as a plaything, served to create the bent of genius which issued in the sculptures of that admirable artist-or who are aware how much the poetic inspiration of the excellent Montgomery was nurtured by the early perusal of Cowper's Poems, the only work of taste and imagination which he was allowed to read while at Fulneck school-will not fail to notice what various particulars concurred in the arrangements for John Mason at this susceptible age, to implant in his mind those principles of thought, and feeling, and action, which, ultimately exfoliated, produced that character in maturity which it
is our object to pourtray. From Mr. Mason's “Rules for Students," and from the example of his father, he learnt that these “five things are necessary: a proper distribution and management of his time; a right method of reading to advantage; the order and regulation of his studies; the proper way of collecting and preserving useful sentiments from books and conversation; and the improvement of his thoughts when alone :" from Mr. Mason's Essays on “the Principles of Harmony," the illustrations in which are selected with much taste and judgment, he early acquired a relish. for easy and mellifluous versification : from the example of his parents, and from that of Mr. Mason, which they taught him to contemplate with veneration, he imbibed the persuasion that universal knowledge did not obstruct the road to eminence in any one pursuit; and a conviction equally strong, though not so invariably in operation, that true piety was susceptible of a happy union with talent and genius: and, superadded to all this, the localities of Romsey enkindled in his bosom a love for rural scenery and rural pleasures, which he never lost.
Thus, in one of his poems, written a few years after he quitted the domestic dwelling and the neighbouring regions, productive of so much genuine happiness,-after describing the sweet-flowing river, the bridge then new, the lawns, and glens, and vistas of Lord Palmerston's seat at Broadlands, the ecstacy with which he engaged in the game of cricket and other athletic exercises, he exclaims, with that sigh of retrospection which is often as natural to an individual just starting into manhood as to one who feels himself sliding into the vale of years, –
Ah! scenes belov'd! to purer days decreed,
Where Hoyle* at times, at times where Horace sway’d. That felicitous alternation of study and exhilarating exercise, however, to which our young aspirant here adverts, was not, in the first instance, at all congenial with his own taste and wishes. Such was the delight with which he pursued his studies of every kind, that it occasioned an entire absorption of thought; so that when he was little more than twelve years of age, his habit of hanging over his books had produced a curyature in his back, equally unfavourable to his growth and his health. His father, anxious to remove this evil, earnestly besought him to join with his fellow students in their various games and sports; and ere long he engaged in these also with his characteristic ardour, and became as healthful, agile, and erect, as any of his youthful associates.
* The writer who first digested the laws of the game of cricket.