John Hodgson's Life
Birth — Family — Swindale — Rosgill — His first school — Hampton School — Westmorland schools — Rev. John Bowstead — Schoolboy days and studies — Schools in general — Professor Carlyle's offer— Schoolmaster at Matterdale — Geology — Schoolmaster at Stainton — At Sedgefield — Mainsforth and Mr. Surtees — Sedgefield — Holy Orders.
In addition to the interest felt by the general reader, the lovers of antiquarian and topographical research, now and hereafter, will have a characteristic anxiety to learn particulars of a writer who has furnished them with such a work as “Surtees's History of Durham.” With this paragraph the late Mr. Taylor of Witton-le-Wear commenced his Memoir * of Mr. Surtees of Mainsforth ; and with it I, also, preface the following account of the life and character of the late Historian of Northumberland, the Rev. John Hodgson ; with the hope of interesting in the course of its progress not merely the general reader, or the antiquary and topographer, but also the poet, the naturalist, the geologist, the experimental philosopher, and the parish priest. Not only was Mr. Hodgson a poet of considerable merit, and a county historian of the highest Written to accompany the Fourth Volume of Mr. Surtees's History of the County Palatine of Durham, which, at its author's death, was ready for publication. Mr. Taylor's memoir has since been reprinted by the Surtees Society in an octavo form, with numerous additions. For this second edition the author of the present undertaking had a melancholy pleasure in making himself responsible.
Mr. Hodgson was born at Swindale, in the parish of Shap, in Westmorland, on the 4th Nov. 1779; and was baptized at Shap nine days afterwards. His father was Isaac Hodgson, and his mother was Elizabeth, daughter of William Eawes, of West Sleddale, another hamlet in the same parish. Of this Isaac the more remote ancestors had been seated in Patterdale, and other places in the parish of Barton, which forms the margin of a large portion of the lake of Ulswater ; but his father had resided at Rosgill in the parish of Shap, to which he himself removed his family soon after the birth of John his eldest son. The Hodgsons were, as it appears, a numerous clan in that district, deriving their name from an early ancestor with the Christian name of Roger, of whose son (Roger's son) Hodgson is a corruption, through Hodge, a familiar name for Roger. Hodgson himself, in his after-years, frequently signed himself John FitzRoger, at length or by initials, in his communications to magazines or other periodical literature. Isaac Hodgson, the father, on whose memory the son always dwelt with the most affectionate regard, is described in the parish register, in connection with the baptism of his son, as a waller or stone-mason; and afterwards, in the same document, upon the baptism of his second child, as a slater. By his mother Elizabeth Rawes, or, as she was more frequently called, Betty, the subject of our memoir, one of a numerous family, having five brothers and four sisters, all of them younger than himself, was related to the Rev. William Rawes, M.A.; who had settled in the county of Durham, first as master of the school at Witton-le-Wear . It was this connection with Mr. Rawes, which, as we shall see afterwards, led in process of time to Mr. Hodgson's crossing Stainraore and becoming master of a parish school with a small endowment situated at Sedgefield, a place at no great distance from his cousin, who resided at Witton- le-Wear above mentioned. Of the valley of his nativity, Hodgson thus writes in after- years : “ Swindale, to me, wild and craggy as it is, was, and continues to be, in my remembrance and affections, one of the dearest spots upon earth. I knew every rock and frowning precipice in it, from the Druid's Stone to the black and precipitous front of Wallow Crag” In truth, as is generally the case with those who live at a distance from the place of their nativity, this little valley became towards the close of his life the subject of his thoughts by day and his dreams by night; and we shall see what efforts he made to revisit it at the very end of his days, when the least mental or bodily exertion gave him pain. When Hodgson was only seven or eight months old the parents of the boy quitted their habitation in Swindale, and moved a mile or two down the stream of the Lowther to Rosgill, where the Hodgsons had previously resided for two generations; and of Rosgill also we have his recollections towards the close of his life. “I had cousins in Swindale, and while I resided at Rosgill I used to gather shells of snails, the beautifully-banded helix nemoralis, on the limestone grounds about us, and carry these to my young friends there, who admired and preserved them as curiosities, because shells of that kind were not found in their own valley, on account, as it was supposed, of having no limestone in it” But at Rosgill the boy had other cares than those of gathering shells for the amusement of his cousins in Swindale. He was, as he informs us in his Journal of 1844, sent to school to Mrs. Jackson, a female relation, of whom he thus writes, giving at the same time his reminiscences of a very important event in his history, his becoming a pupil in the endowed Grammar School of Bampton, in the adjoining parish, in the seventh year of his age. “Mrs. Richardson, mother of Admiral Richardson of Hunger Hill near Bampton in Westmorland, was, as well as Mrs. Jackson, a cousin of my father. Mrs. Richardson died before I could well remember her. Both she and Mrs. Jackson were schoolmistresses here at Rosgill. They lived on the opposite side of the street to my father. I remember Mrs. Jackson very well ; for, stepping on a duck in the dark entrance into the school, she struck my face with her birch-rod so severely, that it made me black and blue; and my mother took me to Bampton, when I was about seven years old, and Mr. Bowstead examined me, and found me fit to enter into the Grammar School. I remember that Mrs. Jackson's stripes swelled so much, that I was not able, on the day of the sad accident, to go to the horseraces at Knipe Scar Head. Mrs. Richardson fixed her son in Mr. Bowstead's house, where he was educated till he went to the navy.” The counties of Westmorland, Cumberland, and that part of Lancashire on the north side of Morecambe Bay, have long been most remarkable for the number and high character of their endowed grammar schools, and for the zeal with which their small landed proprietors, or statesmen, as they were called, persevered in devoting one son at least out of their families to the profession of holy orders. The endowments of the schools were in general too small to encourage their masters in an indolent and discreditable neglect of duty; and the general character of the lads of the hills and dales for painstaking perseverance and emulation, in acquiring a sound education, afforded much, in the way of reward, to a zealous and conscientious teacher, who saw himself engaged in an honourable and fruit-bearing labour. On the subject of these schools, their history and utility, the reader is referred to Mr. Hodgson's own statements and opinions in his History of Westmorland in the “Beauties of England and Wales”, p. 41, a book of which somewhat will be said hereafter. At the commencement of the present century, and for some time before that period, the curates and incumbents of small benefices in the diocese of Durham were almost all of them West Country men, as they were called, many of them excellent classical scholars or mathematicians, or both, and most of them well versed in worldly wisdom, in its better acceptation; and further, from the economical way in which they had been brought up, able to live with respectability upon small incomes, realised, partly by the then scanty salary of a curacy, and occupation which they seldom failed to follow in their respective localities. The master of Bampton school, when the little seven years' old boy from Rosgill first entered within its walls, was the Rev. John Bowstead, a teacher then, and for many a long year afterwards, in the highest repute; and when such a man as this pronounced young Hodgson “fit” for his school, it is not unreasonable to suppose that certain indications of good natural talents had manifested themselves to the examiner. Mr. Bowstead, who had been himself educated at Wrea, near Carlisle, and had been appointed to the mastership of Bampton school in 1775, was in his after-years, as a fit recompence for a long life of painful and conscientious toil, rewarded by his nephew. Dr. James Bowstead, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, with a stall in Lichfield cathedral, and by Dr. Percy, Bishop of Carlisle, in 1832, with the rectory of Musgrave. He died in November 1841, in the 86th year of his age, having, as he boasted before his death in good Westmorian phraseology, “eddecated three hundert preests, I hev, at hev ee” Mr. Hodgson never forgot his obligations to this venerable man. In his History of Westmorland, in the “Beauties of England and Wales” he speaks of him in the year 1811 in terms of respect, as the author of several poems, as having presided over Bampton school for the last forty years, and as having “much gratitude due to him from his pupil” In 1814 he recommended his former master to be an honorary member of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle ; in the same year he presented to him in person, at Bampton, his History of Westmorland ; in 1825, he requested his acceptance of a snufbox with a Latin inscription, recording that year as the fiftieth of his mastership ; and, soon afterwards, he sent him a copy of his engraved portrait. Of Mr. Bowstead, one word more. He is described, so late as the year 1831, as fishing whole days on Hawes Water, and “a strange old man for talking” A very characteristic portrait of him was published soon after his death, which was much prized by his scholars. From the age of seven until he was about nineteen, Hodgson gives in his occasional reminiscences, not much information respecting his pursuits or studies. In the Ode to his mother, to be afterwards mentioned, he blames himself for spending many idle years at school. He was devotedly fond of fishing in the pure streams and lakes of his native valleys; and so late as the year 1834, having for a long time laid his rod aside, upon going out with his son William, the poor boy whom he soon afterwards followed to the grave, to fish in his own sparkling Hart, he says in his Journal that his “former fondness for angling would soon return if encouraged” The following anecdote from his own lips, late in life, proves that he also knew at that early period how to manage not only a rod but a gun. “My father,” says his son Richard, “told me that he knew the late Lord Ellenborough, when he was a boy at school. Mr. Law often came, when on the circuit, to Bampton ; and once Mr. Bowstead sent him -with that gentleman to shoot snipes at Bampton Mires, as the likeliest lad in the school to be of use. It was blowing full from the west, and Mr. Law went with his face to it, but could not kill a bird. My father told him he must not do so, but that he must begin with his back to the wind. He could not at first see the reason, but gave the gun to my father; who, when a snipe rose, waited till it turned to the wind and then shot it.” The fact is, that, from the nature of its feathers, the bird cannot fly with the wind, but turns to face it, ceasing for a while from its zig-zag motion ; and that is the time to shoot it. My informant proceeds to state that the future Lord Chief Justice was so pleased with the boy and his intelligence that he invited him to join him a few days afterwards at Appleby, during the Assizes; and, upon his appearing, placed him upon the bench near the judge. That Hodgson wasted, or considered that he had wasted, much valuable time in his schoolboy days would appear fiom the following reminiscences of this period of his life. They touch upon, painful subjects; but they are too important to be passed over in a faithful memoir of their writer. They speak of difficulties, and disadvantages, and privations, of which he evidently had abundance. “Antiquities, as a subject of research, I had from early life a love for, but I never walked in academic bowers. At Bampton, some books, at the age of fifteen or sixteen, came in my way, such as Whitehurst's Theory of the Earth, and Dr. Watson's Chemical Essays. I was delighted with them, but lost in them for want of means and guides — no classes to meet on such subjects-employed in drudgeries — penniless and forced to pay — idle too, and liked to fish and wander in a small district, and neglecting the difficulties of classical learning from want of being kept hard at work” And yet that he prosecuted his studies with more than usual zeal and success is certain. During this period he stored his mind with a considerable stock of classical learning, acquired more than a superficial knowledge of mathematics, and became a chemist, a botanist, and also a geologist to a certain extent; having, as he informs us in another place, had “his attention insensibly directed to this latter pursuit from a period which he could not exactly ascertain” In the School library he found Whitehurst's Theory of the Earth above mentioned, which, as he informs us in another part of his Journal, his imagination delighted to revel in, whenever he could escape from the intricacies of grammar, and the then to him unknown beauties of the ancient authors of Greece and Rome. “ At present” says he, in 1831, “I have very little recollection of the contents of the book, but that it made me fond of searching after different kinds of rocks and organic remains” and he informs us that “Bampton was a place peculiarly favourable for the study of the mountain limestone formation.” His passion for angling, in which he had “more delight than dexterity” led him up the sides of all the mountain streams and lakes in the neighbourhood, and familiarized his eye to their geological appearances. He became a frequenter of the Crosthwaite and Keswick Museums, and made many contributions to their treasures. An account of his geological proceedings during this early period is contained in a very remarkable letter to his son, written in 1831, and printed hereafter. But he was also a poet during his schoolboy days. The writer has heard him speak of his early compositions in verse — what schoolboy has not written odes and pastorals full of Damons and Phillises and sheep and goats ? “My father,” says he, “had an uncle, who lived in the parsonage house at Newchurch ; and I paid my first visit to him in the summer of 1792 or 1793, and he gave me a copy of Gray, which SCHOOLBOY DAYS AND STUDIES. first introduced me to the * Rural Sports' of that poet of nature” It is believed that none of the compositions are preserved of which this present of Gray may have been the origin. Of Hodgson's schoolboy days we have one anecdote, which indicates that, if he was in general intent upon the acquisition of knowledge, he was also not indifferent to the amusements of his schoolfellows. It was determined by the boys to perform in the school Home's Tragedy of Douglas; and to him was assigned the part of Old Norval, probably from his grave deportment, for which he was from his boyhood remarkable ; and from that day he was known in the school by the name of Old Norval. It is more than probable that the master, Mr. Bowstead, had something to do with the giving and keeping up of this appellation ; for the author was once informed, but whether by Mr. Hodgson or the late Mr. Birkett, of Kelloe, another most able Bampton scholar he does not remember, that Bowstead rejoiced in giving names to his scholars, founded upon some peculiarity, serious or ludicrous, for which he was always upon the look-out. But in the demeamour of one boy there was, for a long time, according to my informant, no tangible point for the master to lay hold of; until, on one unlucky day, he was caught riding upon the back of a large female pig, and kicking it violently with his heels. The master shouted for joy, and Pegasus was ever afterwards the name of the lad.
Hodgson has now reached his nineteenth year, having for at least twelve years enjoyed all the advantages of an excellent school. The general system of education, it must be admitted, was not then carried on in our country grammar schools to the same extent as it is now. Composition in Latin and Greek, whether in prose or verse, was at that time not much required in university examinations, and therefore it was not much cultivated in schools. Neither were the elegances of the ancient authors attended to, as they deserve, or any comparison instituted interlegendum between them and the classical authors of modern times on kindred subjects. In general he was accounted the best master who had the most intimate acquaintance with the ordinary rules of grammar, and whose head was the best dictionary. In the usual regular routine of the week a theme, generally in English, occasionally only in Latin, was set to the boys; and in doing this at Durham, Dr. Britton, in his day justly held to be a first-rate scholar, took care to tell his boys, that if, in its composition, they quoted scripture he would knock them down. Now and then a clever boy broke through such trammels, and took flight into the regions of taste and imagination. That Hodgson had been one of those was proved by his conversation in after-life, when in the society of scholars and gentlemen. His mind was evidently stored with the beauties of the classical authors, whether of Greece or Rome, and, before his memory failed him, he was apt, but not obtrusive or pedantic, in quotation from their writings. Here then was a youth eminently calculated to adorn a university, and become a sharer, in due time, in her honours and emoluments; but, unfortunately, means seem to have been wanting to enable him to take the first step in so honourable a career. “If Providence,” says he when writing to his wife from Oxford, in 1821, “had thrown a university life in my way, it does appear to me that such a life would have been best suited to the construction of my mind. But it has not been my lot to be sheltered under academic bowers ; and I have no right to repine that it has not been so” Exhibitions or other university advantages belonging to the school of Bampton there were none. It had produced such men as Gibson, the naturalist; Mill, the biblical scholar; Gibson, Bishop of London ; Gibson, provost of Queen’s ; and a long line of learned men who had been successful in the world in their day; but none of them had remembered the place of his education in a beneficial manner. Hodgson was-, therefore, compelled to move in a more humble sphere at home ; and at this very time, when he was in an unsettled state, an offer of employment was made to him, the particulars of which it may be well to give in his own words, as they are contained in a letter addressed by him to Sir .Walter C. Trevelyan, Bart., in 1843, two years before his death. “When I was at school at Bampton, forty-three years since, Professor Carlyle, then Chancellor of the diocese of Carlisle, was anxious that I should go with him, as his secretary, in the expedition he made with Lord Elgin, as Ambassador to the Ottoman court. I ardently wished to have been able to go ; but instead of sailing through the Hellespontus, and seeing Hosmus and Rbodope on the right of the Propontis, and Caucasus and Taurus on the left, I was content to become in that year (1799) the schoolmaster of Matterdale, in Cumberland It was how- ever very curious that, four years afterwards, the Professor was appointed chaplain of Bishop Barrington ; and I had to be examined by him at Newcastle, for deacon's orders”. The remainder of this very interesting letter belongs to a subsequent page of Mr. Hodgson's history. The reason why he failed in this ardent wish is not stated. To have accompanied such a man on such an expedition, was an employment for which he was peculiarly well qualified ; and the result might have placed him in a sphere more suited to his character and attainments. Dr. Carlyle was Arabic Professor in the University of Oxford, eminently skilled in the Oriental languages, and at that time engaged in collecting manuscripts from all quarters for a revised edition of the Greek Testament.
The village school at Matterdale, of which Hodgson became master on the 8th of June, 1799, as he elsewhere informs us, possesses a slender endowment of £11 per annum for educating poor children; and is situated in the narrow and picturesque valley of that name, terminating in the lake of Ulswater. Here it was that his geological pursuits began to assume a character, and lead him into courses of thought and reflection ; laying in his mind the foundation upon which he continued to build fabrics of geological results and discoveries during the remainder of his life. Before this period, even so early as 1794, he had been an observer of the structure of the rocks in his native vale and its neighbour- hood: now he is something more than a mere observer. He begins to make them the subject of his study, with such aids and assistances as fall in his way. His letter to his son in 1831, above referred to, and to be printed hereafter, gives a minute account of his proceedings in this department of science, at the period at which we have arrived; and in the same letter we have a curious incidental proof that he was upon the look-out also, at the same time, for subjects of archaeological interest. “In passing” says he, “over Moor-Duvoch, in 1800, I had observed a stone, which I then supposed had some characters upon it with which I was unacquainted. In walking from Askham to Pooley-bridge, in May 3, 1811, I was anxious to have a second sight of it, but sought it in vain”. In 1817 he was more successful. “I did not”; says he, “in this search forget to look for the stone that attracted my attention in 1800, and reached it soon; when I found it to be a large detached mass of grauwacke, showing its conglomerate origin in several rings and segments of circles, eaten by the weather into its surface, as sharply as if they had been cut with a sculptor’s chisel; and thus the long-encouraged vision of a Saxon or Latin inscription, in Runic or some other antique characters, evanished in a moment. But at Matterdale Hodgson did not long remain.
After what he calls ” a frightful summer and winter,” he became the master of another village school at Stainton, in the parish of Dacre, near Penrith, and here he was residing occupied in teaching the children of the village, when, in the beginning of the year 1801, upon the recommendation of his relation Mr. Eawes, at that time master of the school of Witton-le-Wear, and afterwards the well- known and highly respected master of Kepier School in Houghton-le- Spring, he was appointed to the mastership of the school of Sedgefield, in the county of Durham. Mr. Eawes, as it appears from his letter to Hodgson, dated on the 31st of January in the above year, had been solicited by Mr. (afterwards Lord) Barrington, the rector of Sedgefield, to recommend to him a proper person to take charge of his school, the emoluments of which, as it was stated, consisted of an endowment of about £18 or £20 per annum, with from twenty-five to thirty scholars at from 7s. 6d. to 10s, per quarter. Hodgson lost no time in making application for a situation so superior in point of income to any thing to which he had been accustomed; and on the 23rd of February following he received the appointment, and also a licence from the Bishop of Durham, a short time afterwards, to exercise his vocation. I find no traces of any subsequent intercourse, friendly or otherwise, between Hodgson and his relation Mr. Eawes, with the exception of a letter from the latter on the subject of the Felling subscription in 1812, and his acceptance of a sermon by Hodgson in a later year, and yet they lived at no great distance from each other, until the death of Eawes in 1827, in the 63rd year of his age. Hodgson has hitherto been acquainted only with his own native hills and dales ; and as such wild and romantic scenery as that of Westmorland and Cumberland has, in general, a tendency to fix a stamp and impress of independent character upon its youth, with that stamp he was strongly and honourably marked when he turned his face to the east, to cross Stainmore and settle as it were under another climate and in a new land upon the eastern coast of the island. He travelled by coach to Bowes, and thence walked by way of Witton-le-Wear to Sedgefield, with but few accompaniments. No coach had then begun to run in that direction, and when, during his residence at Sedgefield, he had afterwards occasion to visit his home from time to time, it was on foot that his journeys were made ; and he never failed to avail himself of such opportunities to add to his stock of geological, botanical, and antiquarian knowledge. The rocks of Stainmore and the vale of Tees, which lay in his way, afforded him an ample and novel field for observation, and his antiquarian zeal was excited by new objects, the Norman castles of Bowes and Barnard, and the monastic ruins of Eggleston. He did not then, however, or ever afterwards, forget his own Abana and Pharphar, the lakes and streams of his native valleys; or the majestic hills on which he had been accustomed to gaze from his boyhood. The memory of them never faded from his mind. He thus writes, after an interval of thirty years, when he had been long settled in Northumberland. ‘When I was at Alston, last summer (1830), I went with some friends, Sir J. E. Swinburne, his son-in-law Mr. Bowden, and Mr. Hedley of Chesterholme, to the top of Hartside (a high hill on the confines of Westmorland), to let my “aching sight” have a view of the “visions of glory” to be seen from thence. The new road led us in a wrong direction to have a prospect over Lowther and the Shap and Bampton fells, which I longed most to see : but I ran alone to an eminence, where I got a momentary glance of them all, and afterwards wrote the following lines”. For a further mention of these verses the reader is referred to the geological letter of 1831, printed in the sequel in its order of time. Hodgson had been scarcely two months settled at Sedgefield before he communicated to an old friend at Dalemain, near Stainton, an account of himself and his position in his new locality. The reply to this letter has been preserved; and it is very characteristic of its writer, who appears to have been a good hearty farmer, writing a neat hand, and overflowing with village news. We are all very glad to hear that you approve so well of your present situation, and hopes that, in time, it will turn to your advan- tage: although you are so much confined at present, it may be better afterwards. William Thompson began our school, the Monday after you left it, with about 25 scholars. 1 have seen your father twice, but had no time to have any discourse with him. All articles of living here continue extravagantly dear, and more so than when you left us. Senhouse has left off his writing, and has begun weaving, for present pastime. — — William Todd is a man of no small consequence. — — I desire you will not think anything about the contents of your former letter, as ^I can very well judge of your situation, and will always be very glad to hear from you, and hopes that you will not fail to come and see us when you come into this country, and heartily wish you all the prosperity that you can desire and deserve. William Fell's principles are upon the levelling system; his children do not know what the catechism means ; but, as a teacher, he is excellent for any young man going into trade — ^he is very changeable and wants to get rich in no time, which he does not yet find the way of doing. Mr. Percival's wheat looks well. Mr. Hasell's man Walter is to be married at Whitsuntide. &c. -= 1 have received of Lane. Thompson lOfi., and of Thos. Thompson, 45. 4rf. 1 am Sir, your most obed. serv, Edmund Bowman. It seems to be pretty clear that Hodgson had tabled with this talkative but hearty man, and that there was a money account between them, Hodgson being the debtor; but there is a frankness in the letter which must have removed any temporary uneasiness from his mind. At Sedgefield Hodgson was kindly received. Mr. Barrington was a nephew of the Bishop of Durham ; and his curates were Mr. Hollingsworth and Mr. Stopford. Mr. Hollingsworth had been, or was soon afterwards, a popular preacher in a proprietary chapel in London; but eventually he became Vicar of Haltwhistle Afterwards, in 1813, Viscount Barrington, upon the death of his brother. SEDGEFIELD. 15 whistle in Northumberland, and afterwards Rector of Boldon, both in the patronage of the Bishop of Durham. He died at Boldon in 1839. From this gentleman, as we shall see afterwards, Hodgson received much kind advice upon a trying occasion ; and at all times many proofs that in him he had a friend. To Mr. Stopford his obligations were still greater, and of a more durable kind. From him he received important help in the studies to which he had had no opportunity of paying attention at Bampton; and probably also the rudiments of Hebrew, a language which he afterwards cultivated with considerable success. Mr. Stopford had pupils of his own who were above the age of boyhood. To some of these, as it seems probable from letters before me, Hodgson gave instruction in mathematics; and with all of them he appears to have associated on a friendly footing, interesting himself in their studies, and benefiting from them in return. With many of these young men, for some time after they had gone to the university or out into life, he kept up a correspondence; and their letters, in reply to his, address him in the warmest terms of friendship and respect. With Mr. Stopford himself, his acquaintance ripened into friendship, and continued till the death of that gentleman in 1816 as Vicar of Brantingham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He had previously held the perpetual curacies of Kyloe and Lowick in North Durham. Whilst they were resident at Sedgefield, Hodgson and he, as we shall see afterwards, were upon the point of being employed in collating two Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, of high antiquity, with the most approved English edition. The rector too was not backward in appreciating Hodgson's deserts as a scholar, and in after-days, when all official connection between them had ceased, never failed to treat him and speak of him with kindness ; frequently inviting him to spend a few days with him at his house in the College in Durham during his residences as a prebendary. “Mr. Hodgson,” said Lady Barrington to him one day, during one of those visits, in the hearing of Mr. Surtees, “you look very unwell ; what can we do for you ?” “Lady Barrington” said he in reply, I thank you for your kindness; but, if I must tell the truth, 1 shall never be well again till I get back to my own quiet home. Your late hours destroy me” Of Hodgson's own scholars whilst he resided at Sedgefield, many seem to have come from a distance, some from Newcastle, for the benefit of his tuition ; and with one of them, Benjamin Braidley, a Sedgefield boy, of whom he had lost sight for many years, he was delighted towards the close of his life to enter into a correspondence, which will be noticed hereafter. Mr. Braidley's letter of May 1835, to be printed in the sequel in its order of time, gives the names and subsequent history of several other boys who had been his contemporaries in Hodgson's school. I have before me a book containing a few memoranda by Hodgson at this period, but they are of little importance to his personal history. They consist chiefly of scraps of original poetry in an unfinished state, extracts from poems by others, from John de la Bruyere's Characters of Theophrastus, Hume's History of England, &c. He informs us, in another place, that at this period he met for the first time with Boswell's Life of Johnson. Here also he appears to have been a member of a book-club, to which he pays 5s., and also of a friendly society, which costs him 10s. lOd. He has dealings with Christopher, a bookseller in Stockton, of whom he purchases Stillingfleet and Hooker, not forgetting a sermon case, in anticipation of a curacy in due time. In November 1801, the money affair with his Westmorland friend again distresses him ; and in reply to a letter on the subject, on the 21st of that month, Mr. Bowman once more writes to him in the same hearty way. His letter is dated on the 8th of December. “I beg of you,” says he, “not to think anything of what you mention in the first part of your letter ; as, I assure you, it is of so little consequence as not worthy of notice ; and when you come into this country will always be very glad to see you, and hopes you will not return without spending a little time with us, so long as it can be made agreeable, and can very readily forgive you for not seeing us again when here last. We are very sorry to hear of your bad health, and should recommend, if you could, not to confine yourself so much ; as it may lay a foundation of bad health that you may never recover. And I think you are right in pursuing the Church, as there is little doubt but in your situation you will in time gain preferment. Mr. Percival has been employed a good deal since you were here in watching his corn from the sparrows, in cutting, getting it in, and in thrashing it; which has produced eight bushels from one and a quarter peck of seed. The Miss Mounseys continue single” This letter informs us that Hodgson was at that time beginning to think of entering into holy orders. He is now approaching his twenty-third year, and his bad health was probably leading him to the conclusion that school confinement might send him to an early grave. An offer, however, is now made to him tempting him to enter into an engagement of a very different kind from either the one or the other, an offer which few persons in his situation, with a very limited income arising from a most trouble- some and confining occupation, and labouring besides under the most uncertain health, would not have gladly accepted. It may be as well to state the nature of this offer, and his reasons for declining it, in his own words. “Mr. Fishwick (of Newcastle) offered me at Sedgefield School a year as Director of the Lemmington Iron Works (near Newcastle) ; which I declined, as wishing to pursue a literary, rather than a mercantile life; though I believe that the chemical skill required in conducting a concern like that of Lemmington would have led me into inquiries and researches which would have been very delightful to me.” This memorandum is written beneath a note in the handwriting of another person, and in the following words: — “Mr. Fishwick of Newcastle has called upon Mr. Hodgson at Sedgefield; and, should Mr. Hodgson think anything further of the subject, he will please to send a line to Aubone Surtees, Esq. banker in Newcastle”; This offer, which proves that Hodgson's character, as that of a trustworthy person and of a scientific mind, was well-known and appreciated, was probably made to him by the recommendation of Mr. Aubone Surtees, a banker in Newcastle, who had imder Mr. Stopford's care sons, with whom Hodgson for a long time afterwards kept up an affectionate correspondence. It would appear from a letter before me, dated 16 December, (1801,) that, by way of amusing his leisure hours, Hodgson had now begun to turn his attention to topography, and that he had written to the Editors of the “Beauties of England and Wales”; a work then in a course of publication, to offer his services so far as the county of Durham was concerned. In his reply of the above date, Mr. E. W. Brayley regrets that he had not paid his correspondent a visit at Sedgefield during his personal survey of the remarkable places in the county* and solicits any information respecting Sedgefield and Hardwick (the only places in it which he had not seen), not contained in Hutchinson's History. This application led to an engagement in a later year, from which we have the “Northumberland” and “Westmorland” of that very useful publication. From Sedgefield, Mainsforth, which will for the future be a place of name and fame in the county, is distant only three or four miles; but it does not appear that there was at that time any intercourse between Mr. Surtees and Mr. Hodgson. Nor indeed, all circumstances considered, is it to be wondered at that the two should not have come into contact with each other. Surtees was then fresh from Oxford, and in full possession of no mean patrimonial estate. Hodgson was a poor youth, toiling hard in a village school. And yet what seeds of union there were between the two, and how those seeds grew up and flourished in after years!— both born in the same year, the one kind-hearted and generous to an extreme, the other, although a poor humble schoolmaster, a gentleman in thought and habit, stamped with the strongest impress of an honest and independent mind, the very man after Surtees's own heart; both deeply read in the best authors of Greece and Rome, both poets, both ardent admirers of nature and her operations, both, even then, in their very entrance into active life, laying plans for developing the history of their country. One thing is most certain, that if the two had fallen in each other's way, then, for their mutual pleasure and advantage, would have commenced the sincere friendship which it was left for an after-year to originate and cement. It was Hodgson's fate to outlive his friend, and deeply, as we shall see, did he lament his loss.
In 1802, Hodgson appears to have obtained a title for Holy Orders, as on the 1st of May in that year, I find the Bishop of Durham writing to him, and consenting to receive the signatures of the two Sedgefield curates, in addition to that of Lord Barrington, to his testimonials, as he was unknown to any beneficed clergyman in the neighbourhood. At the same time, and for the same object, his old friend and master Mr. Bowstead writes to him respecting a testimonial for that portion of the preceding three years during which he had resided within the diocese of Carlisle. The name of the curacy which he had obtained as a title does not appear, but it was probably that of Sedgefield itself, as may be inferred from a letter by Mr. Hollings worth to be hereafter noticed. This curacy would appear to have been suddenly obtained; and Hodgson as suddenly called upon to undergo the necessary examination. And now comes what Anthony k Wood, the Oxford Chronicler, would have termed a sad passage in his history. I have heard him say that the time was fixed by Lord Barrington without his knowledge, and that, being completely taken by surprise, he urged the necessity of a little delay for thought and preparation. But the day was appointed, and, his request not having been granted, he made his appearance to undergo the trial. The bishop's examining chaplain at that time was Dr. Burgess, prebendary of Durham and rector of Winston, a mild amiable man, and a consummate classical scholar, the Editor of Burton's Pentalogia, of Dawes's Miscellanea Critica, and of various theological works ; but well known for his strictness, and something more than strictness, in conducting his examinations. The Bishop of Durham had a prescribed set of books, with which he expected his candidates for Holy Orders to be acquainted; and so particular was his chaplain that, as we have been informed, he not only required the matter, but not un- frequently the very page of the book in which it was written, in reply to his questions. It was, besides, his habit to diverge from the prescribed path into unknown fields, with which it was no discredit to any young man to be unacquainted ; and so notorious had this strictness and this habit become, and such terror had it inspired, that, although in those days the Bishop of Durham held only one ordination in each year, yet, upon one occasion, only one candidate ventured to present himself for examination. In the year 1803, Mr. Barnes, the late vicar of Berwick-upon-Tweed, was, as the writer has heard from his own lips, the only person who appeared, and that for Deacon's Orders. Candidate for the priesthood there was none. The chaplain had heard of Barnes's classical reputation, and, by way of prelude to graver matters, introduced the subject of Bentley versus Boyle, on the Epistles of Phalaris. The conversation became animated; till at length the examiner said, “Mr. Barnes, I shall give you no further trouble”
Before such a man Mr. Hodgson, who, as we have said, had enjoyed no time for preparation, and was at all times timid even to excess, lost all confidence in himself, the moment he entered the room; and he was rejected. They who knew his character and the acuteness of his feelings can easily picture to themselves his state of mind when he returned to his school and its confinement, bowed down to the ground with disappointment. He had failed in the object on which he had long set his heart; he felt himself branded with disgrace; and he had before his eyes the dreary prospect of a continuance of that wretched state of health which the open-air duties of a parish might have alleviated, or even removed entirely. At this period his case was an unhappy one. His depressed feelings soon began to co-operate with his bodily infirmities ; and he almost immediately afterwards, what is not to be wondered at, appears to have formed a resolution to escape from Sedgefield, at whatever risk, regardless of consequences. But he consulted a friend, and that friend gave him good advice, which he wisely followed. From the Rev. N. J. HOLLINGSWORTH. “Dear Sir, Bath, Aug. 6, 1802. Accept my sincere thanks for your kind letter. 1 hope to see you at Sedgefield in about a fortnight. You will not, I hope, determine anything hastily with respect to your situation at Sedgefield, as, if even you should resolve to quit it (which will not I trust be the case), it would be advisable to delay this till a situation for your admission into Holy Orders may offer elsewhere. In the meantime you will, of course, profit by your improved state of health, in making such additional preparation as you may think requisite to qualify you for being a successful candidate in the diocese of Durham. 1 remain. Dear Sir, your obliged friend, N. H”
In December 1803, still anxious for a change of situation, he made inquiries respecting the second mastership of the Free Grammar School of Kirby Hill near Richmond, then vacant; but in consequence of a letter from the Rev. Thomas Jackson, a name never to be mentioned by the author without feelings of the deepest respect and gratitude, he declined any further application in that quarter. In the commencement of the following year, having been at last from continued bad health compelled to resign the school of Sedgefield, he accepted the mastership of that of Lanchester, a village about seven or eight miles to the west of Durham, the duties of which were lighter, and, besides, he had hopes of obtaining a curacy in the neighbourhood. In this expectation he was not disappointed.
Before many months had elapsed he was fortunate enough to obtain a nomination to the cure of Esh and Satley, to be held in conjunction with his school, and he rejoiced in the prospect now before him. Since his unfortunate attempt to obtain Holy Orders in 1802, much time had elapsed, and he had been making due preparation. During the latter period of his residence at Sedgefield, he had purchased from Christopher, a bookseller in Stockton, the works of Hooker and Stillingfleet, and he had no longer Dr. Burgess to be afraid of. That amiable and learned man had been raised to the bench of Bishops, and Dr. Carlyle, of whom we have above spoken, was appointed in his place. How Hodgson fared in his next attempt, he himself informs us in his letter to Sir W. C. Trevelyan, written in 1843, and already referred to in a preceding page. It was however very curious that, four years afterwards (that is after 1799) the Professor was appointed Chaplain of Bishop Barrington, and I had to be examined by him at Newcastle for Deacon's Orders ; after which he put into my hands two very ancient manuscript copies of the Greek Testament, and begged me to collate them with Wetstein's copy. He had several other copies, which he purchased in different Grecian monasteries. I thought our friendship was going to be firmly fixed for some time, but he died at Newcastle (in 1804) before I could be ordained. Your letter about Greece reminds me of these circumstances ; but my head, I fear, will not allow me to write another paragraph.'' In his Journal for 1841, Apr. 21, we find a further mention of these two precious manuscripts. One of them, it appears, was to be collated by Mr. Stopford, the curate of Sedgefield. After Dr. Carlyle’s death, they were given up to his executors.
Having passed his examination, upon a title to the sub-curacy of the chapelries of Esh and Satley, in the parish of Lanchester, Hodgson, armed with letters dimissory from the Bishop of Durham, was admitted into the order of Deacons by the Bishop of Carlisle, at Kose Castle, on the third day of June, 1804. I have heard him say that his journey to Carlisle was on foot, and, further, that, having neglected to take with him a gown for the ceremony, one was kindly lent to him by the Bishop (Dr. Vernon, afterwards Archbishop of York), with this good-natured wish, “Mr. Hodgson, this is the gown in which I myself was first ordained, and I hope it will be as lucky to you as it has been to me.” This same anecdote is told in Mr, Atkinson's short but pleasing memoir. From his account it would appear that Hodgson's want of a gown on the occasion arose from his having missed the coach in Newcastle, and his having, in consequence, been obliged to leave his small portmanteau behind him and make the best of his way on foot to the ceremony of the ordination. To anticipate his history for one year, it may be here stated that he was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (acting for the Bishop of Durham) in Durham Cathedral, on the 29th of September in the following year, and on the same title. Dr. Haggitt, one of the prebendaries of Durham, was his examiner on this occasion.