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represents, on the 26th May, 1795. There also both his parents were born. His mother was the daughter of a Dissenting minister, Mr. Thomas Noon, who had officiated as minister of an Independent congregation in Reading for thirty-three years, and died three days previous to the birth of his grandson. His father, who was a brewer in the same town, where he brought up a family of eight children (all of whom, with their mother, still live), was also religious after the form of faith professed by Mr. Noon, and in that he educated his eldest son, Thomas Noon Talfourd. After a tour of the infant schools, finding in each some small stepping-stone to knowledge, the youthful Independent was sent to the Protestant Dissenters' Grammar-School at Mill-hill. he remained two years, and thence went to the public grammar-school at Reading under Dr. Valpy, where he learned to prefer the doctrines of the Church of England to the austerer faith of his fathers, and to cherish a love (not "heavy as frost," though "deep almost as life ") for that glorious product of the intellect and imagination of man, the Drama, which was prohibited at home as sinful. It was perhaps not less early in life that he imbibed strong political feelings in favour of the cause of reform, and aspirations for freedom ordinarily characteristic of the enthusiasm and generosity of youth. His first venture in print was, we believe, a poem addressed to Sir Francis Burdett on his liberation from the Tower, which was published in an evening newspaper, the "Statesman," then edited by Mr. Fenwick, "the Bigod of Elia ;" and to this paper he afterwards contributed various outpourings of juvenile Radicalism in prose and verse.

It was not long after this, and while yet at school at Reading, that he was encouraged by some friends, willing perhaps to inculcate in him a belief that the world was not "too old to be romantic," to publish a little volume, which he entitled "Poems on various Subjects," including a poem on the Education of the Poor; an Indian tale; and the Offering of Isaac, a sacred drama-which Mr. John Valpy printed, and Longman published-the author then being in his sixteenth year. The first of these poems was written at Mill-hill, on the occasion of a visit to that establishment by the once well-known Joseph Lancaster. The young poet is not sparing of his incense; he has no misgiving about the grandeur of his idol; he offers his homage to the schoolmaster of that day with all the freedom and fervour of a grateful worshipper, and, let us add, in lines as melodious as the feeling that inspired them was ardent and unquestioning. Howard, Newton, Chatham, Milton, are rapturously apostrophized in turn-Shakspeare is of course religiously passed over-impassioned tributes are offered to the hero, Nelson for example,

"Who by his own prevents a nation's grave;" and much musical commiseration, many kindly and gentle sympathies, are expressed for the lot of the millions who pine in ignorance,

"Think but to err, and only live to die."

In the same spirit as this composition, and containing also many passages of youthful eloquence and melodious expression, are specimens of a didactic poem on the "Union and Brotherhood of Mankind," with other pieces that awaken in the reader's mind the idea of a religious Rogers, and show that, young as he was, and inauspiciously educated

for poetical ends, his love of the muse was as strong as his devotion to morals and his sense of piety. Nor should we omit to mention, that his natural modesty was not less conspicuous on this occasion than his other qualities; for though under sixteen when the volume was published, and much younger perhaps when the pieces were composed, he does not set forth the fact in his preface-" claims no particular indulgence by a statement of his youth and inexperience, but leaves his publication to stand or fall by its own intrinsic merit"-making no excuse for it, as he thinks that which needs an excuse had better be consigned to oblivion."

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In the following year he left school, with the intention of studying the law, and in the hope of enabling himself to do so by the recompense of literary exertions. His poem on "Education" had introduced him to Mr. Joseph Fox, a gentleman who had made some splendid sacrifices in the cause of education, and from whom he procured a letter of introduction to Mr. Brougham, at that time occupying " chambers in the King's-bench Walk." The introduction to this distinguished person was successful; he entered with great kindness into the plans of the young poet, politician, and moralist, gave him advice both in person and by letter, and encouraged him to persevere in his project of working his way to the bar by literary labour. Following the same well-judged advice, Mr. Talfourd became, in April, 1813, the pupil of Mr. Chittynow to be called "Sen.," then in the vigour of life, and enjoying a most extensive practice. The pupilage was for the term of four years.

Mr. Talfourd's literary labours had now commenced. In the interval between his quitting school and entering Mr. Chitty's office, he composed "An Appeal to the Protestant Dissenters of Great Britain," on behalf of the Catholics, which was published early in 1813, in the first number of the "Pamphleteer." Emancipation never had a more ardent, scarcely a more eloquent or discriminating advocate. Many passages bear the stamp of close and powerful reasoning; others are evidences no less striking of a quick and subtle apprehension, and scarcely a sentence but denotes the easy play of an imagination equally graceful and vigorous. We do not hesitate to rank this and other essays written about the same time-that is, when Mr. Talfourd was something under rather than over eighteen-among the most remarkable testimonies of great and rare powers, with which the youth of genius ever enriched its country's literature. The style and manner are frequently those of a young mind eager to express itself with freedom and volubility; too intent, perhaps, on displaying the brilliancy of its resources, and throwing about its treasures of ornament and imagery with more prodigality than judgment; but the speculations opened up, and the mode of reasoning pursued, the clear and strong understanding of an intricate question, and the forcible illustration of it by home-arguments, are often far in advance of the years at which, in this instance, the power of the writer was developed. Among these performances we may mention, in addition to the pamphlet on the Catholic question, a critical examination of some objections taken by Cobbett to the Unitarian Relief Bill, in which the fearlessness and dexterity of the assault upon so powerful and practised a politician is "pretty to see;" and "Strictures on the right, expediency, and indiscriminate denunciations of Capital Punish

ment, with Observations on the true nature of Justice, and the legitimate design of Penal Institutions"-an attempt of a still higher kind, and still more admirably accomplished, exhibiting singular powers of study, a noble sense of the highest moral purposes, a keen insight into the workings of society, a familiar knowledge of the arguments of previous writers, no common tact in adapting and combining them, and great original powers of reason and fancy crowning the whole as a work deserving to be classed with the best treatises on that fruitful and important subject. We have also read, as the fruits of Mr. Talfourd's early years, two other excellently written articles—“ Observations on the Punishment of the Pillory," and " An Appeal against the Act for Regulating Royal Marriages. But neither these nor the foregoing have we time or space to criticize minutely.

The production, however, which we commenced by alluding to, the "Estimate of the Poetry of the Age," published in May, 1815, just as its author was reaching his twentieth year, we cannot so hastily pass by. It is on a purely literary subject, and therefore better adapted to our purpose. Until "Ion" appeared, this was the only production to which Mr. Talfourd had given his name. He has referred to it in his sketch of the life of his friend Lamb; and any one of the literary party to whom the friendship of Lamb introduced him-Wordsworth, Godwin, Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt, Procter, Coleridge, Knowles, &c.. might have been justly proud to refer to the season of his youth, could he have pointed to such noble fruits of his boyish fancies, sentiments, sympathies, and emotions. Its author, however, remembers it most likely for no other reason, and derives no other gratification from the remembrance, than that it contains one of the first decided recognitions of the genius of Wordsworth, and fixes the writer of it as one of the boldest as well as the earliest asserters of a poetical supremacy which has in later years been universally, though silently, acknowledged. It will be interesting to the reader to hear, from the evidence of a few sentences, not only how truly Talfourd thought, but how expressively he recorded his thoughts upon the writings of Wordsworth almost a quarter of a century ago-how his poetical mind, even in its boyhood, saw what was hidden from the ungifted eye of vulgar criticism-and proclaimed, when the general ear was deaf, the mastery of that music which has since won its way into thousands of hearts, and lingers there" long after it is heard no more." The young reviewer of the poetical genius of that time approaches other poets with love and admiration, indeed-with the reverence of one who is conscious of all that belongs to their divine art, having a poetical affinity with themselves-yet with something of the confidence of a critic and an inquirer. He dissects without shrinking the poetical philosophy of Southey and Scott, Byron and Moore, Crabbe and Campbell; but observe with what an air of timid yet intense homage he approaches the portals of that sublime temple in which Wordsworth holds his sole and simple state.

"To the consideration," he says, "of Mr. Wordsworth's sublimities we come with trembling steps, and feel, as we approach, that we are entering upon holy ground. At first, indeed, he seems only to win and to allure us, to resign the most astonishing trophies of the poet, and humbly to indulge among the beauties of the creation the sweetest and the lowliest of human affections. We soon, however, feel how faint an

idea of his capacities we have entertained by classing him with the loveliest of descriptive poets, and how subservient the sweetest of his domestic pictures are to the grandeur of his lofty conceptions." "He has enlarged the resources of the mind, and discovered new dignities in our species. The most searching eyes observe in his productions a depth of thought which they are unable to fathom-eminences rising far into an imaginative glory which they cannot penetrate. Above all others he has discerned and traced out the line by which the high qualities of intellectual greatness are intimately united with the most generous exertions and the holiest principles of moral goodness. His perceptions of truth, derived as they are from the intuitive feelings of his heart, are clear and unclouded, except by the shadows which are thrown from the vast creations of his fancy. Set before him the meanest and most disgusting of all earthly objects, and he immediately traces the chain by which it is linked to the great harmonies of nature-sweeps through the most beautiful and touching of all human feelings, in order to show their mysterious connexion-and at last enables us to perceive the union of all orders of animated being, and the universal workings of the Spirit that lives and breathes in them all." "His theories may rather be regarded as prophetic of what we may be in a loftier state of being, than as descriptive of what we are on earth. No man of feeling ever perused his nobler poems for the first time without finding that he breathed in a purer and more elevated region of poetical delight than any which he had before explored. To feel for the first time a communion with his mind is to discover loftier faculties in our own."

We cannot appropriate sufficient space for any passage calculated to exhibit the full power of this "youthful and wise "criticism; we have quoted a sentence or two only to show the enthusiastic feeling of the critic, the boldness with which he anticipated public opinion, and the elegance of his overflowing style.

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We resume our sketch of Mr. Talfourd's professional progress. While in Mr. Chitty's office he assisted that gentleman to a considerable extent (as we learn from an acknowledgment in the preface) in his voluminous work on the criminal law. The four years of pupilage having expired in April, 1817, Mr. Talfourd started himself as a special pleader, and soon succeeded so far as to be independent of assistance from home, which up to this time he had required. He had now a fair share of business as a pleader, and what was not less desirable, a market for all his literary productions. The "Retrospective Review," and the Encyclopedia Metropolitana," were at this time the principal sources of his literary income. To the latter he contributed (besides some papers of a merely historical character) the articles on Homer," on "The Greek Tragedians," and on "The Greek Lyric Poets." This last article, we may be permitted to say, rendered good service to the then, and many of the present, readers of the " New Monthly," for it was the cause of his introduction to Mr. Colburn. The paper having been abridged and published as original in this identical magazine, Mr. Talfourd remonstrated, and the result of this was, not a quarrel, but an alliance, which existed in unbroken harmony for twelve years. The contributions of Mr. Talfourd during these years were of course considerable; especially at first, for, in the year 1820, he wrote a great portion of every number, and enjoyed each month a perfect honeymoon of


criticism; celebrating his friends the poets in rapturous prose, and rendering himself, we doubt not, more and more a monthly essential to the admiring reader. His contributions in later years were less frequent; but he regularly supplied the dramatic article during the time we have mentioned. The elegance, fervour, and acuteness of these criticisms we need not dwell upon. The critic always delighted to "do his spiriting gently," yet contrived to touch the very heart of dramatic mystery. He seemed to visit the theatre for pleasure only, and to criticise its characteristics in the same spirit; and yet he went to the root, and laid bare with a masterly hand the principles as well as the practice of the art. Mr. Talfourd also evinced his old sympathy with "romance," by writing for Mr. Colburn, in 1826, the memoir of Mrs. Radcliffe, which is prefixed to her posthumous works.

Having practised for nearly four years as a pleader, Mr. Talfourd was called to the bar on the 10th February, 1821, by the society of the Middle Temple, and joined the Oxford Circuit and Berkshire Sessions. His friends at Reading had now an opportunity of testifying their estimation of his character and talents. But the source of his first professional successes was Oxford, where he early obtained a lead in important causes. His business having gradually extended through the circuit, he retired from session, exactly at the expiration of twelve years from his first appearance there, and determined on taking the coif. Having, upon application, received Lord Brougham's assent, he in Hilary Term, 1833, was called to the degree of Serjeant. Since that period he has chiefly confined his practice to the Circuit and the Court of Common Pleas. Among the few exceptions to this rule must be mentioned two occasions on which Mr. Serjeant Talfourd especially distinguished himself,-the defence of the proprietors of the "True Sun" in the King's Bench, which produced from him a burst of eloquence not inferior to the noblest achievements of Erskine, and the defence of "Tait's Magazine " against the action of Richmond, in the Exchequer.

For some years after being called to the bar, Mr. Talfourd derived from his literary labours considerable accessions to his income. Many contributions were received and admired in the "Edinburgh Review and the "London Magazine;" and he also found time for editing "Dickson's Guide to the Quarter Sessions." His attachment to the theatre was still cherished, not merely by taste, but by the active part which he took in negotiating on behalf of Miss Mitford-whose residence near Reading had led to an intimacy early in life-for the production of her several tragedies. Still he had not at this time the smallest idea of writing for the stage. In the preface to the unpublished edition of "Ion " its author has described the progress of that noble drama. This statement does not appear to have been sufficiently published to repress extravagant reports as to the time devoted to its composition. Rumour has fixed this sometimes at a quarter, sometimes at half a century. The play was sketched eight or nine years ago, but nothing beyond a speech or two was written until the begining of 1833. Remembering, then, that faint heart never won the fair lady, in Heaven yclept Melpomene, Mr. Talfourd allowed his genius fair play, and at the end of 1834 the drama was read privately to a few of his friends. Their judgment led to its being printed for private circulation their judgment also elicited its author's assent to

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