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[307] Crusoe and the Incas of Peru, and looked into Shakespeare. He left school in 1810, with little Latin and no Greek, but he had studied Spence's Polymetis, Tooke's Pantheon, and Lempriere's Dictionary, and knew gods, nymphs, and heroes, which were quite as good company perhaps for him as aorists and aspirates. It is pleasant to fancy the horror of those respectable writers if their pages could suddenly have become alive under their pens with all that the young poet saw in them.1

On leaving school he was apprenticed for five years to a surgeon at Edmonton. His master was a Mr. Hammond, ‘of some eminence’ in his profession, as Lord Houghton takes care to assure us. The place was of more importance than the master, for its neighborhood to Enfield enabled him to keep up his intimacy with the family of his former teacher, Mr. Clarke, and to borrow books of them. In 1812, when he was in his seventeenth year, Mr. Charles Cowden Clarke lent him the ‘Faerie Queene.’ Nothing that is told of Orpheus or Amphion

1 There is always some one willing to make himself a sort of accessary after the fact in any success; always an old woman or two, ready to remember omens of all quantities and qualities in the childhood of persons who have become distinguished. Accordingly, a certain ‘Mrs. Grafty, of Craven Street, Finsbury,’ assures Mr. George Keats, when he tells her that John is determined to be a poet, ‘that this was very odd, because when he could just speak, instead of answering questions put to him, he would always make a rhyme to the last word people said, and then laugh.’ The early histories of heroes, like those of nations, are always more or less mythical, and I give the story for what it is worth. Doubtless there is a gleam of intelligence in it, for the old lady pronounces it odd that any one should determine to be a poet, and seems to have wished to hint that the matter was determined earlier and by a higher disposing power. There are few children who do not soon discover the charm of rhyme, and perhaps fewer who can resist making fun of the Mrs. Graftys, of Craven Street, Finsbury, when they have the chance. See Haydon's Autobiography, Vol. L p. 361.

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