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A short Autobiography of Guy C. Hawkins

[In connection with the Guy C. Hawkins papers begun in this issue of Historic Leaves, the following short autobiographical scrap may be of interest. We are indebted to Mrs. Alice E. Lake for this contribution.]

It is a melancholy pleasure to look back upon those who have passed away, who exist in our memories, as the relics of departed joys, and who yet make up a part of the countless ligaments which bind us to life. The changes of a short transitory life are matters of little moment except to the individuals themselves, unless the example is a warning or pattern to those who come after us.

I was born and bred in a village of New England contiguous to the capital, the son of a farmer of some property, formerly an officer in the army of the Revolution. The individuals composing this community were in a comparative equality, for although a part were owners of the soil and others but tenants and laborers, yet industry gave all an independent support, and the children of the whole mingled together in the same free school.

Educated thus, I imbibed a domestic spirit, which has held by me through life. For in my early days I discovered that in my own happy country there was a leaven of aristocracy working [27] in the veins of the showy and fashionable part of the community, independent of that natural superiority which grows out of acknowledged integrity and intelligence.

The first nineteen years of my life were spent with my father and brother in the cultivation of the soil. During this period I had gone through the course of a common English education, had something of a taste for reading, and was acquainted with some of the best English authors. This period I consider the holiday of my existence. Blessed with parents who had watched over me from my infancy with unceasing kindness, surrounded with equals who had grown up with me from the cradle, divested of cares and anxieties which cling to us in maturer life, I scarcely had a wish unsatisfied.

At this period one of my brothers had engaged in mercantile pursuits, and I united my fortune with his. I spent one year in the Southern states and then returned to the metropolis of New England, and for thirteen years continued my commercial operations. We were not engaged in foreign trade, but our transactions in the productions of the Southern states and in the manufactories of our own were extensive.

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