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(With a Portrait.) We open our juvenile portrait-gallery this year by introducing our young readers and friends to one of the most celebrated names occurring in the history of English literature, and which places them, as they will soon perceive, in the midst of events whose influence extends even to our own days, and which seems to be as far from losing its power as
With the legal and antiquarian controversies of the time of Charles I., he was intimately associated ; the greatest importance was attached to his opinions, and his works are still quoted, not only as illustrating the extent of his antiquarian researches, but as possessing an almost decisive authority on the subjects to which they refer. To our legal literature his contributions were large and valuable; and for this, as well as for his strong attachment to the principles of constitutional liberty, his name will always stand on the roll of English worthies.
He was born, December 16th, 1584, at Salvington, a hamlet in the parish of West Tarring, in the county of Sussex ; Tarring being about two miles from Worthing. His father was, what was called, a small farmer, who, because of his love for music, and skilful performance on the violin, was called “the minstrel.” The cottage in which Selden was
Vol. VII. Second Series.
born still remains, as also some traces of a Latin distich, said to have been composed by him when he was about ten years old, and carved by him, most probably at the same time, on the inside of the lintel :
Gratus, honeste, mihi ; non claudar, inito, sedebis :
Fur, abeas ; non sum facta soluta tibi. Thou art welcome to me, honest friend; I will not be closed, enter, and thou shalt be seated. Thief, keep away; I shall not be
open to thee.
He received the rudiments of learning at the Free Grammar School, Chichester. His industry and progress are shown by the fact of his writing Latin verses at such an early age. He went to Oxford, entering at what then was Hart-Hall, when he was fourteen. Little is recorded of him during the four years
he spent there, but that little represents him as being a hard, plodding student, not wasting his time in pleasure, nor attaching importance to personal decorations. He was neither idle, nor what in modern phrase would be called a dandy.
As he had decided on the practice of law, he entered himself at Clifford's-Inn, in 1602, and in 1604 removed to the Inner Temple.
Early in life he was introduced to the celebrated antiquary, Sir Robert Cotton, for whom he is said to have copied records. It may be supposed that it was this circumstance which gave him that bias in favour of the study of antiquities to which he devoted so much time, and for which he became subsequently so celebrated. In the pursuit of knowledge he was untiring. It was his pleasure as well as his business, and was thus the means of keeping him back from those diversions which, however they may presently amuse the mind, both enfeeble it, and turn it aside-divert it--from employments of true importance. He associated with men who loved study not less than he did, and who became, in after-life, as celebrated as himself. He never appears to have distinguished himself by eloquence; but his memory was richly stored; and by the habits of examination and comparison which he early formed, his judgment became increasingly