some unexplained way to elude so long as he lived.
In October, 187, he left school for St. John's College, Cambridge
He was already, we are told, a fair Latin scholar, and had made some progress in mathematics.
The earliest books we hear of his reading were Don Quixote
, Gil Blas
's Travels, and the Tale of a Tub; but at school he had also become familiar with the works of some English poets, particularly Goldsmith
, of whose poems he had learned many by heart.
What is more to the purpose, he had become, without knowing it, a lover of Nature in all her moods, and the same mental necessities of a solitary life which compel men to an interest in the transitory phenomena of scenery, had made him also studious of the movements of his own mind, and the mutual interaction and dependence of the external and internal universe.
Doubtless his early orphanage was not without its effect in confirming a character naturally impatient of control, and his mind, left to itself, clothed itself with an indigenous growth, which grew fairly and freely, unstinted by the shadow of exotic plantations.
It has become a truism, that remarkable persons have remarkable mothers; but perhaps this is chiefly true of such as have made themselves distinguished by their industry, and by the assiduous cultivation of faculties in themselves of only an average quality.
It is rather to be rioted how little is known of the parentage of men of the first magnitude, how often they seem in some sort foundlings, and how early an apparently adverse destiny begins the culture of those who are to encounter and master great intellectual or spiritual experiences.
Of his disposition as a child little is known, but that little is characteristic.
He himself tells us that he was ‘stiff, moody, and of violent temper.’
His mother said of him that he was the only one of her children about