whom she felt any anxiety,— for she was sure that he would be remarkable for good or evil.
Once, in resentment at some fancied injury, he resolved to kill himself, but his heart failed him. I suspect that few boys of passionate temperament have escaped these momentary suggestions of despairing helplessness.
‘On another occasion,’ he says, ‘while I was at my grandfather's house at Penrith
, along with my eldest brother Richard, we were whipping tops together in the long drawing-room, on which the carpet was only laid down on particular occasions.
The walls were hung round with family pictures, and I said to my brother, “Dare you strike your whip through that old lady's petticoat ” He replied, “No, I won't.”
“Then,” said I, “here goes,” and I struck my lash through her hooped petticoat, for which, no doubt, though I have forgotten it, I was properly punished.
But, possibly from some want of judgment in punishments inflicted, I had become perverse and obstinate in defying chastisement, and rather proud of it than otherwise.’
This last anecdote is as happily typical as a bit of Greek
mythology which always prefigured the lives of heroes in the stories of their childhood.
Just so do we find him afterward striking his defiant lash through the hooped petticoat of the artificial style of poetry, and proudly unsubdued by the punishment of the Reviewers.
Of his college life the chief record is to be found in ‘The Prelude.’
He did not distinguish himself as a scholar, and if his life had any incidents, they were of that interior kind which rarely appear in biography, though they may be of controlling influence upon the life.
He speaks of reading Chaucer
, and Milton
while at Cambridge
but no reflection from them