London – Southend – Bristol
I had not long finished my schooling, such as it was, when, being uncomfortable at home from family disagreements, I determined upon facing the world, and played the fool by running away. Making for Southend forthwith, that small bathing place, it was my intention to deliver public readings and recitations from Shakespeare, Milton and Byron. I may have been fifteen; it was a piece of assumption, but, although it paid, I have forever excused and comforted myself by attributing this action to that fatal silver star and the belongings and begettings of such puerile tomfoolery. Other such presumptions followed, and, I forget by what route and under what circumstances I found myself, at the age of sixteen in the good City of Bristol.
A literary quack, one Dr. Hamilton, had advertised a lecture on the Hamiltonian System, whereby his pupils would be enabled to master any of the dead or living languages within a period of from three to six months, and he had formed several classes of students in Clifton and Kingsdown. The Assembly Rooms in Prince’s Street was the locus in quo upon this occasion; the attendance was great, including myself among the number of his auditors, and the result, nil; as regard to the lecturer; for I had taken it upon myself to question the learned doctor, and upon his answers to move a resolution declaratory of the absurdity of his pretensions. Kingsdown got no further instruction and the people were subjected to no further imposition. This was my debut at Bristol as a public man unattached.