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LIFE OF DR. PALEY.
As it is one design of these memoirs to seek occasions where the subject of them may speak for himself, so it may be worth while to begin, where such biographical sketches usually do begin, with some short account of the family from which Dr. Paley used to boast his origin. No man was more ready on all occasions to value real merit of any kind, or in any condition; and though he never treated the pride of ancestry with contempt, he neither had, nor thought he could have, any pretensions to be jealous of his rank in society. It will be found in the following pages a striking part of his character, that he not only was perfectly clear from any uneasiness in this respect, or any consciousness of his own importance, that he never therefore was forward to assume importance beyond the most private character ; but that he never refused to allow it to others who deserved it, whatever might be their station, nor ever indulged in any but the most cheerful satisfied view of all conditions. He praised what was good in every thing, he passed over good-humouredly what was weak, he was ever on the watch for the best and most cheering prospects, and equally ready to point out to others the advantages and peculiar felicities of their situation. It was with such views as this that he always expressed bimself fully satisfied with his own lot, and showed himself satisfied by the great pleasure he took in reflecting upon his rise in life. It is gratifying to his family and intimate friends, to recollect the amusement he both felt and afforded in giving what are called family anecdotes; and it is no less useful, as showing how far such a character may be modified, if not moulded, by the accidental circumstances of time, place, and early habits. He used to speak much of one of his great uncles, who kept a hardware stall, on market days, at Settle, in Craven, from the vicinity of which place his
family sprung; and who, on being directed by a witty neighbour to make a common sewing needle in value less than one farthing, not only did so with great diligence and simplicity, but gravely charged half-a-crown for a very bungling piece of workmanship. Another kinsman of his, who kept a little grocer's shop in the same town, and whom he took great delight in assisting to make, or perhaps to wrap up, tobacco, was held out to his own family as a model of perseverance and industry, because he separated two pounds of black and white pepper which had accidentally been mixed, and went thirty-six times (as he used to calcalate) into his shop for a farthing.
On his finding it necessary to assume what he used to call his dignity in later life, and having occasion for his armorial bearings, he used to mention with great glee the circumstance of his arms being found on what might probably have passed for a piece of grandeur in his family in early times, on a tankard belonging to an elder branch, to which the family estate at Lancliffe at present belongs; but with a mischievous pertinacity in maintaining the low origin of his family, he used to take every opportunity of insisting that even this tankard was bought at a sale. “ Thus," said he, when, subdean of Lincoln, he was in company where family and family arms were more than sufficiently attended to, was I sporting away with the arms of the Lord knows who, and famous blazing arms they were.” To which he added, 6 this I take to be the history of many coats of arms we see now-ddays." Being still in want of a crest, which this same family plate denied to him, he humorously proposed, or was highly pleased with the suggestion of a malt-shovel, from its suitableness with what he supposed the only trade of the family, as there still exists upon the premises belonging to the estate a large malt-kiln. This, however, was kept perhaps equally for the convenience of the neighbourhood, as it was usual on many larger estates to afford the tenants the use of a malt-kiln ; and in justice to his ancestors, this might serve rather to aggrandize their state than make them into maltsters. There are a few local circumstances connected with the name, which might have given him an opportunity of speaking of its antiquity at least, without having recourse to the Heralds' Office, but he was better satisfied to take it as he found it. These recollections, however, afforded amusement for many an hour with his family. With a district so singular in the romantic wildness of its scenery, compared with much of the surrounding country, but more singular, at least in his early days, for
the almost characteristic independence and simplicity of its inhabitants, his associations seemed entirely pleasurable; but it might be because he had often afterwards an opportunity of renewing his early impressions at a time when other scenes and objects had drawn his atte ntion, and when he might be forcibly struck with the difference, rather than, as has been represented, “ from his feeling himself most at home, because the unworn asperities of his nature, as they excited the least surprise, so gave the least offence.”a The esteem with which he was always received, and the cordiality of his welcome, made him sensible that the worth and integrity of his friends in Craven were far too valuable to make him attend at all to any “reciprocal accommodations of mere manner, or any comfortable feeling of being set loose from the restrictions of polished society." He was little inclined either there or any where else to lay much stress on those little particularities of private life, which serve to annoy or to please inferior minds, but few were more attentive to time, place, and situation.
Inferences drawn from the recollection of early days are not much to be relied on for indicating any thing of character ; except they lead to some prevailing tendency which unconsciously arises from early habits; and it is not inaptly observed b that the cast of his character might be derived from his connexion with the place almost of his nativity. As far as it was “ locus Græcâ comitate et provinciali parsimoniâ mixtus, et bene compositus," he certainly was much indebted to it. The originality also of his character, as well as his bold independence in thinking and acting, might be partly owing to the manners of the place. But for the line of life marked out for him, for much of his force and aptness of expression, for many of his private habits, which materially influenced his public character, for his dislike of any sacrifice of his time and occupations to the mere etiquette of life, for his economy on a plan, for his clever and often ridiculous calculation upon the wants and necessities of a family, for his observation upon the minutiæ of life, for his almost parsimonious habits in what regarded himself, and for his liberal and even profuse way of dealing with the wants of others, we may find some account in what he used often to relate of bis father and mother; though as few families are without their peculiar secrets,
Quarterly Review. VOL. I.
• Meadley, Appendix A, 2d edition.