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had been brought into the family. In her last illness she called her children round her, and told them that it mattered little what happened to them when she was gone, provided they were good. She left eight, of whom one died in a few months; and the others, four sons amd three daughters, all grew up to do honour to the good principles in which they were educated. On their mother's death they fell to the care of her friend and cousin, Mary Mitchell, who had lived with her from childhood, and continued with her on her marriage, and who now took the management of Thomas Rogers's house at Newington Green.
The eldest son Daniel, was sent to Cambridge, and intended for a barrister; the second, Thomas, was taken as a clerk into the banking-house; and Samuel, on leaving school, wished to be sent to the Dissenting College at Warrington, and to be a Dissenting Minister. He was led to this choice by his admiration of Dr. Price, who lived next door but one to his father, and preached at the Meeting House on the Green. But his father wished for him in his business, and took him as a clerk to Cornhill with his brother Thomas.
Samuel's health at this time was not good; he was troubled with weak eyes. Hence he was sent every summer to spend rather a long holiday at the sea-side, sometimes at Margate, and sometimes at Brighton, for the benefit of sea-bathing. These visits gave him time for reading. Goldsmith's poems were among those upon which he formed his taste. Johnson's writings were always in his hands. Gray's poems received his warm admiration. He had not gained much classical
knowledge at school. He had a moderate acquaintance with Latin and French, with little or none of Greek or Mathematics. But he had read most of the English authors; he had gained an early taste for Poetry, and for the beauties of style in Prose writing; and it was not long before he made his first attempts at authorship.
In 1780 his father was engaged in the political whirl of a contested election at Coventry, and afterwards in Parliament to retain his seat on a petition against his return. Samuel was then on his duties as a clerk in the banking-house; but he was at the same time putting down some of his thoughts upon paper, and making up his mind to offer them to a publisher. In the beginning of 1781, when eighteen years old, in admiration of Johnson's Rambler, he sent a short literary essay to the Gentleman's Magazine. It was entitled The Scribbler, and printed with his initials S. R. at foot. It was followed in the same year by seven others. They had no great merit, but they mark the early date of his ambition to be an author. They mark also that he had already learned the highest use of writing, that it was to bring about a love of goodness. A man may devote his whole life,' says the Scribbler, 'to the attainment of knowledge, he 'may read all the books that have ever been written, 'study all the systems that have ever been formed; 'yet all his reading and all his study will amount to 'no more than this—that Virtue alone is productive ' of true felicity.' And he closes the series with these
words: A man's happiness does not depend on his
situation; it depends on himself; and he who has 'reduced his passions to obedience may fear no reverse 'of fortune; prosperity cannot intoxicate, adversity 'cannot depress him; he resembles the oak that con'tinues firm and erect, whether the sun shines or the 'storm batters.' He looked forward every month to the day of these papers appearing, with boyish eagerness. As the Magazine reached him in the morning, it was brought into his bedroom before he was out of bed; and month by month, as he cut its wet pages and found that the publisher had decided that his essay was deserving of publication, he was more and more fixed in his purpose to be an author.
His enthusiasm for literature and his respect for authors were such that he wished to call upon Dr. Johnson, who was then an old man, and at the height of his reputation. Accordingly he and his friend William Maltby entered Bolt Court, Fleet Street, for that purpose. One of them had his hand upon the great man's knocker. But their courage failed them, and the young admirers of literary genius returned home without venturing to ask for an interview. Dr. Johnson died in 1785.
In 1786 Mr. Rogers printed his first volume of poetry, entitled 'An Ode to Superstition, with some other Poems.' The other poems were‘To a Lady on the Death of her Lover,' 'The Sailor,' 'A Sketch of the Alps at Daybreak,' and 'A Wish.' In the Ode the powers and evils of Superstition are pointed out calmly and philosophically. The examples are all drawn from distant lands or bygone times. The Poet only hints
at the intolerance of his own day, when he adds at the close his hope for the future, and his belief that Reason will at last triumph over the rack and wheel of her old enemy:
'Canst thou, with all thy terrors crowned,
Truth will at last give us the blessings of piety and peace:
'Her touch unlocks the day-spring from above,
'And lo! it visits man with gleams of light and love.
He had written other verses before these, but he did not think them good enough to be made public. This small volume he published without his name, from a natural doubt whether it would be favourably received. The longer Poem, the Ode, would be put in comparison with those of Collins and Gray. But his fears were groundless. His poems were at once noticed with praise in the Monthly Review; he had no further anxiety about their fate, and he owned himself the author among his literary friends. The Critic begins: 'In these pieces we perceive the hand of an able 'master;' and adds: 'He has exhibited the striking 'historical facts with the fire and energy proper to 'Lyric poetry;' and 'The rest of the pieces have the same character of chaste and classical elegance.' Such praise was most encouraging and most useful to a young author in his twenty-third year. He did not know the writer of the Review, nor was he known to
But he afterwards learnt that it was Dr. Enfield who had held out the helping hand to his little volume; and fifty years later he had the pleasure of hearing from Mrs. Kinder, Dr. Enfield's daughter, the manner in which the admiring critic read the Ode to his family.
In 1788 his brother Thomas died. Thomas was eighteen months older than himself. They were daily companions both at home and in the Banking-house, where they were in partnership with Mr. Welch and their father, and they dined every day together at the table of Mr. Olding, who lived over the business. Their elder brother, Daniel, had left home for Cambridge and Lincoln's Inn; their younger brother, Henry, was a boy at school. Hence the death of Thomas made a great change in the daily life of Samuel the survivor, and he became the friend and adviser upon whom the father relied for help in all matters of business. He thus speaks of Thomas's death, and describes his character in the 'Pleasures of Memory':
'Oh thou! with whom my heart was wont to share
'Grant me like thee, whose heart knew no disguise,
'Whose blameless wishes never aimed to rise,