Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A young boy's books

John Randolph, born in 1773, described his boyhood reading:

One of the first books I ever read was Voltaire's Charles XII.; about the same time, 1780-1, I read the Spectator; and used to steal away to the closet containing them. The letters from his correspondents were my favorites. I read Humphrey Clinker, also; that is Win's and Tabby's letters, with great delight, for I could spell at that age, pretty correctly. Reynard, the Fox, came next, I think; then tales of the Genii and Arabian Nights. This last, and Shakespeare, were my idols. I had read them with Don Quixote, Gil Bias, Quintus Curtius, Plutarch, Pope's Homer, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver, Tom Jones, Orlando Furioso, and Thomson's Seasons, before I was eleven years; also, Goldsmith's Roman History, 2 vols., 8 vo., and an old history of Braddock's war.

From an 1819 letter to a young relative which is signed, I have scribbled at a great rate. Do thou likewise.

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