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I had two elder brothers, one of whom was lieutenant-colonel to an English regiment of foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famous Colonel Lockhart, and was killed at the battle near Dunkirk against the Spaniards. What became of my second brother I never knew, any more than my father or mother knew what became of me.
It was New-year's day; but there was no snow, no bitter cold wind, no beggars shivering in their scanty clothing, none of the scenes of poverty which those accustomed only to an English winter might expect to cast a gloom over the enjoyment of the day. It was a bright sunny morning, every leaf sparkling with dew-drops; groups of neatly-dressed people were to be seen flocking in from the country in every direction; and though the air was fresh enough to incline them to walk briskly along, their hands were not hidden away in muffs and coat-pockets, but were ready for the friendly shake which, with "all the good wishes of the season," awaited them at every step.
My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into his chamber, where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upon this subject. He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wandering inclination, I had for leaving father's house and my native country, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind.