Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/43

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ELIZA LESLIE.

through the usual course of military education, in the West Point Academy, was commissioned in the Engineers, and, with the rank of Major, is still attached to the army. My sister, Anna Leslie, resides in New York. She has several times visited London, where she was instructed in painting by her brother Charles, and has been very successful in copying pictures. My youngest sister, Patty, became the wife of Henry C. Carey, and never in married life was happiness more perfect than theirs.

To return now to myself. Fortunate in being gifted with an extraordinary memory, I was never in childhood much troubled with long lessons to learn, or long exercises to write. My father thought I could acquire sufficient knowledge for a child by simply reading “in book,” without making any great effort to learn things by heart. And as this is not the plan usually pursued at schools, I got nearly all my education at home. I had a French master, and a music master (both coming to give lessons at the house); my father himself taught me to write, and overlooked my drawing; and my mother was fully competent to instruct me in every sort of useful sewing. I went three months to school, merely to learn ornamental needle-work. All this was in London. We had a governess in the house for the younger children.

My chief delight was in reading and drawing. My first attempts at the latter were on my slate, and I was very happy when my father brought me one day a box of colours and a drawing-book, and showed me how to use them.

There was no restriction on my reading, except to prevent me from “reading my eyes out.” And indeed they have never been very strong. At that time there were very few books written purposely for children. I believe I obtained all that were then to be found. But this catalogue being soon exhausted, and my appetite for reading being continually on the increase, I was fain to supply it with works that were considered beyond the capacity of early youth a capacity which is too generally underrated. Children are often kept on bread and milk long after they are able to eat meat and potatoes. I could read at four years old, and before twelve I was familiar, among a multitude of other books, with Goldsmith’s