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WHEN a man does not begin to write the remembrances of his life until he has passed his eightieth year, it may very reasonably be imagined he has but little memory remaining for such an undertaking. I am consequently desirous to allude to the circumstances which induced me to make the attempt. I am also desirous to make my Preface a short one; but as prosiness is an almost inseparable attendant on old age, I must crave the indulgence of my readers if I become tedious. My seclusion from general society, which my years
and crippled condition have entailed upon me, has, I fear, made me much of an egotist; but those who know me, will, I feel assured, make allowance for me, and those who do not, will, I trust, accept my apology.
In the year 1846, it pleased the Almighty Disposer of events to visit me with much affliction, in the loss of two of my children, whilst a third became so seriously ill that he subsequently died.
In the month of March of the year following, as I was returning from the Philosophical Society's Rooms, I unfortunately trod on a piece of orangepeel, and fell with great violence on the pavement. I was immediately aware I had received a serious injury. My medical attendant, Mr. Fawcett, was soon with me, and after a painful examination it was discovered that my hip was dislocated.
At this period I was engaged in preparing for publication the “Poll” for th
for the Election of Chancellor, which had ended in the success of His Royal Highness Prince Albert. I endeavoured to proceed with my undertaking; but so great were my sufferings, that, notwithstanding excessive anxiety to complete the work satisfactorily, it was considered imperative that I should discontinue the employment; and the present Bishop of Chester, with Dr. Cartmell, now Master of Christ's College, pledged themselves to complete it for me. This pledge they redeemed so admirably, that not the slightest inaccuracy was discovered in the publication.
Long confinement to my bed in hot weather, and the total absence of all natural sleep, brought on a liver complaint, from a severe attack of which, under Divine Providence and the skilful treatment of my medical friends, I recovered. As the summer advanced, I was placed in my garden at an early
hour, and generally remained there all day. I had lingered so long for fresh air that I soon began to feel its good effects; and the beauty and fragrance of the flowers that surrounded me, and of which I was always passionately fond, tended to produce a resignation, and even a cheerfulness, which I believe contributed much to the restoration of my health.
The first time I left my garden after my accident, was to vote at the most important election that ever took place for the Representation of this University.
The candidates were
THE HON. CHARLES Ewan Law,
An attempt was made to reject Mr. Goulburn, ás being obnoxious to the Tractarian party, which at that time was beginning to raise its head.
At the close of the poll the numbers were
Feelings of gratitude prompt me to state that from Mr. Goulburn I had received, when under heavy affliction, so kind a letter, pointing out in
so forcible a manner the necessity of resignation to the Divine Will, that it was for some time my practice to read it over to calm and solace me, when I was almost ready to sink under the weight of my sufferings. The only return I could make was to be taken to the Poll as soon as it opened, to give him that vote which I had gratefully offered when I found he was to be opposed.
As the winter approached, my health again gave way. I was persuaded to try change of air, and Hastings was considered the most advisable spot for
The mildness of the climate, and the occasional society of some of my early friends, (whom I chanced to meet there,) benefited me considerably, and I returned to Cambridge at the end of four months.
During the following winter, I was again a great invalid, and for the most part confined to the house; I had consequently much time upon my hands, which had previously been devoted to active occupation. A friend calling on me one day, suggested that as I had through a long life been much associated with many of the leading members of the University, and had, in virtue of my office, been in the habit of meeting some of the most celebrated men of the age, it might afford me both occupation and amusement to write my Reminis
It was now that I regretted the destruction of all my memoranda (the occasion of which I have subsequently stated); I had not a scrap left to assist me, and I doubted whether my recollection would enable me to make much progress in such an undertaking. I consequently for a time abandoned the thought; but as the spring advanced, and my intervals of ease were of longer duration, I determined to attempt a description of the manners and habits prevalent in my early days, and which are so justly abhorrent to modern usages. Although unable to write much myself, I found but little difficulty in dictating to an amanuensis, and I was surprised to find the events of my Undergraduateship were so fresh in my recollection. My occupation has been frequently interrupted by attacks of illness, and my papers have in consequence been laid aside for many weeks at a time; but I have managed to put together a good many materials,— and should it please God to spare my life a few weeks longer, I hope to be able to arrange them for publication. My book will be, for the most part, composed of fragments; but they will, so far as they go, be a faithful description of times which I trust may never return.