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Teaching by lecture, as at Edinburgh, may make men scholars, if they think proper; but instructing by examination, as at Oxford, will make them so often against their inclination.
Edinburgh only disposes the student to receive learning; Oxford often makes him actually learned.
In a word, were I poor, I should send my son to Leyden or Edinburgh, though the annual expense in each, particularly in the first, is very great. Were I rich, I would send him to one of our own universities. By an education received in the first, he has the best likelihood of living; by that received in the latter, he has the best chance of becoming great.
We have of late heard much of the necessity of studying oratory. Vespasian was the first who paid professors of rhetoric for publicly instructing youth at Rome. However, those pedants never made an orator.
The best orations that ever were spoken were pronounced in the parliaments of King Charles the First. These men never studied the rules of oratory.
Mathematics are, perhaps, too much studied at our universities. This seems a science to which the meanest intellects are equal.* I forget who it is that says, "All men might understand mathematics, if they would."
The most methodical manner of lecturing, whether on morals or nature, is, first rationally to explain, and then produce the experiment. The most instructive method is to show the experiment first; curiosity is then excited, and attention awakened to every subsequent deduction. Hence it is evident, that in a well formed education, a course of history should ever precede a course of ethics.
The sons of our nobility are permitted to enjoy greater liberties in our universities than those of private men. I should blush to ask the men of learning and virtue who preside in our seminaries, the reason of such a prejudicial distinction. Our youth should there be inspired with a love of philosophy; and the first maxim among philosophers is, that merit only makes distinction.
Whence has proceeded the vain magnificence of expensive architecture in our colleges ? Is it that men study to more advantage in a palace than in a cell? One single performance of taste or genius confers more real honors on its parent university, than all the labors of the chisel.
Surely pride itself has dictated to the fellows of our colleges the absurd passion of being attended at meals, and on other public occasions, by those poor men who, willing to be scholars, come in upon some charitable foundation. It implies a contradiction, for men to be at once learning the liberal arts, and at the same time treated as slaves; at once studying freedom, and practicing servitude.
"This is partly true, but not to the extent which is implied in our author's general asser. tion. The elements of the science may certainly be acquired without any extraordinary share of intellect; but surely distinguished proficiency in the higher branches of mathematics implies something more than the industrious efforts of the “meanest intellects." Gold. smith himself was a very indifferent mathematician; and this will perhaps account suffciently for his attempt to underrate the importance of the science, and his wish to consider its acquisition as the despicable triumph of plodding mediocrity.-Bohn.
For a full and able discussion of the claims of mathematics in a course of liberal studies sce Sir William Hamilton's Miscellanies.
THOUGHTS ON EDUCATION AND CONDUCT.
OPINION ON HIS OWN EDUCATION, JOHNSON bimself began to learn Latin with Mr. Hawkins, usher, or under master of Litchfield school, “A man (said he) very skillful in his little way."With him he continued two years, and then rose to be under the care of Mr Hunter, the head-master, who, according to his account, "was very severe, and wrong-headedly severe. He used (said he) to beat us unmercifully; and he did not distinguish between ignorance and negligence; for he would beat a boy cqually for not knowing a thing, as for neglecting to know it. He would ask a boy a question; and if he did not answer him, he would beat him, without con sidering whether he had an opportunity of knowing how to answer it; for in. stance, he would call upon a boy and ask him in Latin for a candlestick, which the boy could not expect to be asked. Now, Sir, if a boy could answer every question, there would be no need of a master to teach him."
Johnson, however, was very sensible how much he owed to Mr. Hunter Mr. Langton one day asked him how he acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in which he was thought not to be exceeded by any man of his time. lle said, “My master whipt me very well. Without that, Sir, I should have done nothing." He also told Mr. Langton, that while Hunter was flogging his boys unmercifully, he used to say, "And this I do to save you from the gallows." Johnson, upon all occasions, expressed his approbation of enforcing instruction by means of the rod. “I would rather have the rod the general terror of all, to make them learn, than tell a child, if you do thus, or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect that terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sis. ters hate each other."
INFLUENCE OF EDUCATION. He allowed very great influence to education. “I do not deny but there is some original difference in minds; but it is nothing in comparison of what is formed by education. We may instance the science of numbers, which all minds are equally capable of attaining; yet we find a prodigious difference in the powers of different men, in that respect, after they are grown up, because their minds have been more or less exercised in it; and I think the same cause will explain the difference of excellence in other things, gradations admitting always some difference in the first principles."
SCHEME* FOR THE CLASSES OF A GRAMMAR SCHOOL. "When the introduction, or formation of nouns and verbs, is perfectly mas. tered, let them learn
Corderius, by Mr. Clarke, beginning at the same time to translate out of the introduction, that by this means they may learn the syntax. Then let them proceed to
Erasmus, with an English translation, by the same author.
The second class learns Eutropius and Cornelius Nepos, or Justin, with the translation.
N. B. The first class gets for their part every morning the rules which they have learned before, and in the afternoon learns the Latin rules of the nouns and verbs.
They are examined in the rules which they have learned every Thursday and Saturday.
The second class does the same whilst they are in Eutropius; afterwards their part is in the irregular nouns and verbs, and in the rules for making and scallning verses. They are examined as the first.
The third class learns Ovid's Metamorphoses in the morning, and Cæsar's Commentaries in the afternoon.
Practice in the Latin rules till they are perfect in them; afterwards in Mr, Leed's Greek Grammar. Examined as before.
Afterwards they proceed to Virgil, beginning at the same timo to write themes and verses and to learn Greek; from thence passing on to Horace, &c. as shall seem most proper.”
SCHEME FOR THE STUDIES OF A STUDENT FITTING FOR THE UNIVERSITY. "I know not well what books to direct you to, because you have not in, formed me what study you will apply yourself to. I believe it will be most for your advantage to apply yourself wholly to the languages, till you go to the University. The Greek authors I think it best for you to read are these :
Attic and Doric. Thus you will be tolerably skilled in all the dialects, beginning with the Attic, to which the rest must be referred.
In the study of Latin, it is proper not to read the latter authors, till you are well versed in those of the purist ages; as Terence, Tully, Cæsar, Sallust, Ne. pos, Velleius Paterculus, Virgil, Horace, Phædrus.
The greatest and most necessary task still remains, to attain a habit of ex. pression, without which knowledge is of little use. This is necessary in Latin, and more necessary in English; and can only be acquired by a daily imitation of the best and correctest authors."
STUDY OF GREEK AND LATIN. "Dr. Johnson and I one day took a sculler at the Temple stairs, and set out for Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. JOHNSON. "Most certainly, Sir; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Nay, sir, it is wonderful what a difference learning makes upon people even in the common intercourse of life, which does not appear to be much connected with it.” “And yet (said Mr. B.) people go through the world very well, and carry on the business of life to good advantage, without learning." J. “Why, Sir, that may be true in cases where learning can not possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learning as if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors.” He then called to the boy, " What would you give, my lad, to know about the Argonauts?" "Sir, (said the boy,) I would give what I have." Johnson was much pleased with the answer, and we gave him a double fare. The Doctor then turning to Mr. B. said, “Sir, a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge.”
* Mr Croker in his edition of Boswell's Johnson-characterizes this scheme as a "Crudo Sketch," and doubts whether it contains Dr. Johnson's mature and general sentiments OD even the narrow branch of education to which it refers.
VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE TO THE WORKING CLASSES. To Mr. Langton when about to established a school upon his estate, it had been suggested, that it might have a tendency to make the people less industrious. "No, sir, (said Johnson.) While learning to read and write is a distinction, the few who have that distinction may be the less inclined to work; but when everybody learns to read and write, it is no longer a distinction. A man who has a laced waistcoat is too fine a man to work; but if everybody had laced waistcoats, we should have people working in laced waistcoats. There are no people whatever more industrious, none who work more than our manufacturers; yet they bave all learnt to read and write. Sir, you must not neglect doing a thing immediately good, from fear of remote evil, from fear of its being abused. A man who has candles may sit up too late, which he would not do if he had not candles; but nobody will deny that the art of making candles, by which light is continued to us beyond the time that the sun gives us light, is a valuable art, and ought to be preserved."
On another occasion he said, “Where there is no education, as in savage countries, men will have the upper hand of women. Bodily strength, no doubt contributes to this, but it would be so, exclusive of that; for it is mind that always governs. When it comes to dry understanding, man has the better."
Mr. Boswell observed, that he was well assured, that the people of Otaheite who have the bread tree, the fruit of which serves them for bread. laughed heartily when they were informed of the tedious process necessary with us to have bread;—plowing, sowing, harrowing, reaping, threshing, grinding, baking. JOHNSON. “Why, sir, all ignorant savages will laugh when they are told of the advantages of civilized life. Were you to tell men who live without houses, how we pile briek upon brick, and rafter upon rafter, and that after a house is raised to a certain height, a man tumbles off a scaffold, and breaks his neck, he would laugh heartily at our folly in building; but it does not follow that men are better without houses. No, sir (holding up a slice of a good loaf) that is better than the bread tree."
Goldsmith once attempted to maintain, perhaps from affectation of paradox, " that knowledge was not desirable on its own account, for it often was a source
of unhappiness.” “Why, sir, (said Johnson) that knowledge may in some cases produce unhappiness, I allow. But upon the whole, knowledge, per se, is certainly an object which every man would wish to attain, although perhaps, he may not take the trouble necessary for attaining it. Much might be done if a man put his whole mind to a particular object. By doing so, Norton made himself the great lawyer that he was allowed to be,"
He one day observed, "All knowledge is of itself of some value. There is nothing so minute or inconsiderable, that I would not rather know it than not. In the same manner, all power of whatever sort, is of itself desirable. A man would not submit to hem a ruffle of his wife, or his wife's maid; but if a mere wish could obtain it, he would rather wish to be able to hem a ruffle." PUBLIC SCHOOLS (THE GREAT BOARDING SCHOOLS) AND PRIVATE TUITION AT
HOME COMPARED. Of education at the Public Schools, Johnson displayed the advantages and disadvantages in a luminous manner; but his arguments preponderated much in favor of the benefit which a boy of good parts might receive at one of them.
"At a great school there is all the splendor and illumination of many minds; the radiance of all is centered in each, or at least is reflected upon each. But we must own that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one. For at a great school, there are always boys enough to do easily, who are sufficient to keep up the credit of the school; and after whipping being tried to no purpose, the dull or idle boys are left at the end of the class, having the appearance of going through the course, but learning nothing at all. Such boys may do well at a private school, where constant attention is paid to them, and they are watched. So that the question of public or private education is not properly a general one, but whether one or the other is best for my son."
At another time he said, “There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one ond end they lose at the other." Yet more, he observed, was learned in public than in private schools, from emulation; "there is the collision of mind with mind, or the radiance of many minds pointing to one center."
REFINEMENTS AND NOVELTIES IN EDUCATION. "I hate by-roads in education. Education is as well known, and has long been as well known, as ever it can be. Endeavoring to make children prematurely wise is useless labor. Suppose they have more knowledge at five or six years than other children, what use can be made of it? It will be lost before it is wanted, and the waste of so much time and labor of the teacher can never be repaid. Too much is expected from precocity, and too little performed. Miss
- was an instance of early cultivation; but in what did it terminate? In marrying a little Presbyterian parson, who keeps an infant boarding school, so that all her employment now is,
"To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer.” She tells the children, 'this is a cat, and that is a dog with four legs and a tail ; see there! you are much better than a cat or a dog, for you can speak.' I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage his attention; because you have done a great deal when you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He'll get better books afterward."