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WILLIAM WHITEHEAD.

BORN 1715.—DIED 1785.

WILLIAM WHITEHEAD was born in Cambridge. « It would be vain," says his biographer, Mason, the poet,“ to conceal that he was of low extraction; « because the secret has been more than once “ divulged by those who gain what they think an “ honest livelihood by publishing the lives of the « living; and it would be injurious to his memory; “ because his having risen much above the level of “ his origin bespeaks an intrinsic merit, which mere

ancestry can never confer. Let it then be rather « boasted than whispered, that he was the son of a “ baker.” This is really making too much of a small thing. Every day certainly witnesses more wonderful events, than the son of a tradesman rising to the honours of a poet laureate, and the post of a traveling tutor. Why Mason should speak of the secret of his extraction being divulged, is difficult to conceive; unless we suppose that Whitehead was weak enough to have wished to conceal it; a suspicion, however, which it is not fair to indulge, when we look to the general respectability of his personal character, and to the honest pride which he evinced, in voluntarily discharging his father's debts. But, with all respect for Whitehead, be it observed, that

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the annals of “ Baking" can boast of much more illustrious individuals having sprung from the loins of its professors.

His father, however, was a man of taste and expenditure, much above the pitch of a baker. He spent most of his time in ornamenting a piece of ground, near Grantchester, which still goes by the name of Whitehead's Folly; and he left debts behind him at his death, that would have done honour to the prodigality of a poet. In consequence of his father dying in such circumstances, young Whitehead's education was accomplished with great difficulty, by the strictest economy on his own part, and the assistance of his mother, whose discharge of duty to him he has gratefully recorded. At the age of fourteen, he was put to Winchester school, upon

the foundation. He was there distinguished by his love of reading, and by his facility in the production of English verse; and, before he was sixteen, he had written an entire comedy. When the Earl of Peterborough, accompanied by Pope, visited Winchester school, in the year 1733, he gave ten guineas, to be distributed in prizes among the boys. Pope prescribed the subject, which was · Peterborough,' and young Whitehead was one of the six who shared the prize money. It would appear that Pope had distinguished him on this occasion, as the reputation of his notice was afterwards of advantage to Whitehead when he went to the university. He also gained some applause at Winchester for his powers of act.

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