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rately subsisting, but sunk into the desks; the bright, punctually-washed morning fingers, darkening gradually with another and another inkspot! What a world of little associated circumstances, pains, and pleasures, mingling their quotas of pleasure, arise at the reading of those few simple words,—“Mr. William Bird, an eminent writer, and teacher of languages and mathematics, in Fetter Lane, Holborn ! ”
Poor Starkey, when young, had that peculiar stamp of old-fashionedness in his face which makes it impossible for a beholder to predicate any particular age in the object. You can scarce make a guess between seventeen and seven and thirty. This antique cast always seems to promise ill-luck and penury. Yet it seems he was not always the abject thing he came to. My sister, who well remembers him, can hardly forgive Mr. Thomas Ranson for making an etching so unlike her idea of him when he was a youthful teacher at Mr. Bird's school. Old age and poverty-a lifelong poverty, she thinks-could at no time have so effaced the marks of native gentility which were once visible in a face otherwise strikingly ugly, thin, and careworn. From her recollections of him, she thinks that he would have wanted bread before he would have begged or borrowed a halfpenny. “If any of the girls,” she says, “who were my schoolfellows, should be reading, through their aged spectacles, tidings, from the dead, of their youthful friend Starkey, they will feel a pang, as I do, at having teased his gentle spirit.” They were big girls, it seems—too old to attend his instructions with the silence necessary; and, however old age and a long state of beggary seem to have reduced his writing faculties to a state of imbecility, in
those days his language occasionally rose to the bold and figurative ; for, when he was in despair to stop their chattering, his ordinary phrase was, “ Ladies, if you will not hold your peace, not all the powers in heaven can make you.” Once he was missing for a day or two : he had run away. A little, old, unhappy-looking man brought him back, --it was his father,-and he did no business in the school that day, but sat moping in a corner, with his hands before his face; and the girls, his tormentors, in pity for his case, for the rest of that day forbore to annoy him. “I had been there but a few months,” adds she, “when Starkey, who was the chief instructor of us girls, communicated to us a profound secret,—that the tragedy of 'Cato' was shortly to be acted by the elder boys, and that we were to be invited to the representation.” That Starkey lent a helping hand in fashioning the actors, she remembers; and, but for his unfortunate person, he might have had some distinguished part in the scene to enact. As it was, he had the arduous task of prompter assigned to him, and his feeble voice was heard clear and distinct, repeating the text during the whole performance. She describes her recollection of the cast of characters, even now, with a relish. Martia, by the handsome Edgar Hickman, who afterwards went to Africa, and of whom she never afterwards heard tidings ; Lucia, by Master Walker, whose sister was her particular friend ; Cato, by John Hunter, a masterly declaimer, but a plain boy, and shorter by the head than his two sons in the scene, &c. In conclusion, Starkey appears to have been one of those mild spirits, which, not originally deficient in understanding, are crushed by penury into dejection and feebleness. He might have proved a useful ad
junct, if not an ornament, to society, if Fortune had taken him into a very little fostering ; but, wanting that, he became a captain,-a by-word,and lived and died a broken bulrush.
T A FTER a careful perusal of the most apSAE proved works that treat of nobility, and
of its origin in these realms in particular, He we are left very much in the dark as to the original patent in which this branch of it is recognized. Neither Camden in his “Etymologie and Original of Barons,” nor Dugdale in his “ Baronage of England,” nor Selden (a more exact and laborious inquirer than either) in his “Titles of Honour,” afford a glimpse of satisfaction upon the subject. There is an heraldic term, indeed, which seems to imply gentility, and the right to coat armour (but nothing further), in persons thus qualified. But the sinister bend is more probably interpreted by the best writers on this science, of some irregularity of birth than of bodily conformation. Nobility is either hereditary or by creation, commonly called patent. Of the former kind, the title in question cannot be, seeing that the notion of it is limited to a personal distinction which does not necessarily follow in the blood. Honours of this nature, as Mr. Anstey very well observes, descend, moreover, in a right line. It must be by patent,
then, if anything. But who can show it? How comes it to be dormant ? Under what king's reign is it patented ? Among the grounds of nobility cited by the learned Mr. Ashmole, after “Services in the field or in the Council Chamber,” he judiciously sets down “Honours conferred by the sovereign out of mere benevolence, or as favouring one subject rather than another for some likeness or conformity (or but supposed) in him to the royal nature;” and instances the graces showered upon Charles Brandon, who, “in his goodly person being thought not a little to favour the port and bearing of the king's own majesty, was by that sovereign, King Henry the Eighth, for some or one of these respects, highly promoted and preferred.” Here, if anywhere, we thought we had discovered a clue to our researches. But after a painful investigation of the rolls and records under the reign of Richard the Third, or “Richard Crouchback," as he is more usually designated in the chronicles,—from a traditionary stoop or gibbosity in that part, -we do not find that that monarch conferred any such lordships as here pretended, upon any subject or subjects, on a simple plea of “ conformity” in that respect to the “royal nature.” The posture of affairs, in those tumultuous times preceding the battle of Bosworth, possibly left him at no leisure to attend to such niceties. Further than his reign, we have not extended our inquiries; the kings of England who preceded or followed him being generally described by historians to have been of straight and clean limbs, the “natural derivative,” says Daniel,' “of high blood, if not its primitive recommendation to such ennoblement, as denoting
History of England, “Temporibus Edwardi Primi et sequentibus."