He was born in Abana, near the Black Sea, where his father was a bridge-keeper and his mother followed the despised profession of laying out the dead.
For this profession he was, both by capacity and tastes, utterly unfitted, and it was fortunate that, shortly after his graduation, he received an offer of a professorship of modern languages at Bowdoin College.
In 1810 the examen pro facultate docendi first made the profession of a schoolmaster independent of that of a minister of religion.
An act of 1697-1698, commonly called the Blasphemy Act, enacts that if any person, educated in or having made profession of the Christian religion, should by writing, preaching, teaching or advised speaking, deny any one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity to be God, or should assert or maintain that there are more gods than one, or should deny the Christian religion to be true, or the Holy Scriptures to be of divine authority, he should, upon the first offence, be rendered incapable of holding any office or place of trust, and for the second incapable of bringing any action, of being guardian or executor, or of taking a legacy or deed of gift, and should suffer three years' imprisonment without bail.
The Union of Horodlo also established absolute parity between the nobility of Poland and Lithuania, but the privileges of the latter were made conditional upon their profession of the Roman Catholic faith, experience having shown that difference of religion in Lithuania meant difference of politics, and a tendency Moscow-wards, the majority of the Lithuanian boyars being of the Greek Orthodox Confession.
His father, who was an attorney of substance, had a distaste still stronger for so vagrant a profession as letters were in that day.
Because, in the case of pirates, say, I should like to know whether that profession of theirs has any peculiar glory about it.
On his return in 1821 he added to his work the study of psychology, and that of Roman law, which he read with John Austin, his father having half decided on the bar as the best profession open to him.
Next year he began to practise, but without very brilliant results, for five years later he definitely abandoned the exercise of his profession on accepting the post of compiler of abstracts in the registrar-general's office.
For ten years he practised his profession with success, and with only casual interest in politics.