Bust of John Passmore Edwards

The Autobiography of John Passmore Edwards

In a Lawyer's Office


The Passmore Edwards Library, Truro

I was taught no trade, and consequently became anxious about my future. My father having some business to do with Mr. H. S. Stokes, a well-known lawyer in Truro, and bearing that he wanted an under clerk, made application on my behalf to fill the post; and to this, when between nineteen and twenty years of age, I was appointed, at £10 a year salary.

After commencing my new duties, and while performing them, I walked every Monday morning from Blackwater to Truro, and carried my dinners-always Cornish pasties made by my mother-for the first three days of the week, and every Thursday she made and sent me three other pasties for the other three days of the week. Dining on cold pasties every weekday, and particularly when most of them were two or three days old, was not very appetising. I managed, however, with good bread and butter for my other meals, to enjoy good health.

I went on in this way for eighteen months, when Mr. Stokes, finding, I suppose, that I was either unfit for the situation, or that he had not enough for me to do, told me that he should not require my services any longer; and so ended an uninteresting portion of my life. Mr. Stokes was then, and for fifty years after, much and deservedly respected as lawyer, literary man, and county official. As poet he earned more than local fame, as his correspondence with Longfellow, Tennyson, and others testified. He, however, never bestowed on me, while I was in his office, a single smile, or gave me a word of encouragement. But when, more than forty years after, I provided public buildings in Cornwall, he more than once, on public occasions, referred in complacent language to our former connection.

April 18, 2005
Acknowledgement of contributions and  copyright
© Dean Evans 2003