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RICHARD WILLIAMS was the second son of Mr Rice Williams, of Dursley, Gloucestershire, and was born there on the 15th of May 1815.
From the first he evinced great tenderness of feeling; and very early he exhibited that ardent and affectionate disposition which distinguished him through life. But as he grew from infancy to boyhood, there were frequent outbreaks of a passionate temper, and his strong determination amounted to obstinacy. He gave no indication of piety ; but in the transparency and truthfulness of his character miglit be perceived the germ of future excellence. For if little can be hoped from a childhood where deceit is the constitutional sin, it is seldom that the boy attains to nothing noble, who, like Washington, “cannot tell a lie.”
Richard's first school was in Yorkshire; but he was soon brought back to Dursley, and placed under the care of the Rev. John Glanville, now the much-esteemed minister of Kingsland Tabernacle,
near Bristol. Mr Glanville says, “ I watched him closely, inasmuch as I thought I saw something in him which seemed to distinguish him from the mass of common boyhood. This induced me to give special attention to him, and, as far as I was able, to bring out and direct his powers. There was a character about him, even then, which indicated good in the future. .... He had mind,—not very well balanced, nor always easily controlled, but inquiring, earnest, persevering, and determined to · improve. He was diligent and painstaking in whatever engaged his attention or suited his tastes. His quickness and thoughtfulness shewed that he had abilities, which only required to be guided into proper
channel, to make him a useful man. He was intended and educated for secular employ, and he had an encouraging prospect before him, and many facilities for obtaining worldly prosperity. But he soon manifested a distaste for business; it was too monotonous and mechanical; he wanted something more exciting and intellectual. I was called upon to use my influence with him for the purpose of urging him to throw his energies more fully into the duties of his trade. This I did, both by writing and speaking; but it was of no use: he would be a doctor, and not a plane-manufacturer. All the money he could procure, and all the hours he could spare, were given to studies bearing on the medical profession. At length, he resolved to leave business, and sacrifice the solid gain for what
appeared to his friends the doubtful success of a professional course; and, in directing his attention to surgery, he had to encounter many difficulties, and to work against all sorts of disadvantage.”
We have always regarded it as the heroic incident in the history of the lamented Dr Hope, of London, that, with a strong repugnance to medical studies, but in deference to a father's wishes, he not only selected medicine as his pursuit, but prosecuted it so vigorously as to distance all his coevals. Gladly would we have recorded the converse achievement in the outset of our own hero's career: for we know not any finer feature of character than an intense dutifulness, nor any sublimer incident than the self-sacrifice to which dutiful feeling has prompted. At such noble acts of self-conquest we shall not arrive till somewhat later in this narrative; and meanwhile we must describe the subject of our biography as he was, and which is much the same as other ardent and impulsive young men have been.
An uncle in Westminster had acquired a reputation in making carpenters' planes, and his thriving business he bequeathed to his nephew, on condition that the profits of the first ten years should be shared with his sisters. It was a kind arrangement, and
young man a good opportunity to make his own fortune, and to provide for his father's family. But he had other aspirations. His older brother voyaged betwixt England and
India as the surgeon of the Walmer Castle and the Owen Glendower; and Richard, too, must needs be a surgeon. In his medical mania it is likely that he was haunted by the brilliant precedent of the Hunters, and, with youthful enthusiasm, he would recall the example of the young journeyman who quitted the carpenter's bench to become the prince of anatomists, and the collector of a world-famed
But Rhecce and Richard Williams were not destined to repeat the romance of William Hunter and his brother John. Rheece died at Madras, a generous and noble-hearted young man; ; and for Richard, God had provided some better thing than scientific reputation.
This professional bias was aided by a strong turn for letters. Our friend delighted in reading books, and sometimes dreamed of making them. And in a learned pursuit he doubtless reckoned on a large amount of literary leisure. This is frequently a mistake. A clergy man without a congregation, a barrister without briefs, and a physician without patients, have abundance of leisure; but, in that case, there is great danger of their ceasing to be literary. On the other hand, a minister who enters heartily into his work, a lawyer or a doctor who prospers in his practice, has as little time to spare for his own special likings as a manufacturer or a merchant; and, when the daily demand on his energies is answered, we question if he will retain an equal amount of zest and spirit. In other