Imatges de pàgina

two dispositions seem to be naturally connected with each other; for you have probably remarked, that most proud men are addicted to anger, and that most passionate men are also proud. Be this as it may, I can confidently assure you, that if an attempt is not made to subdue those uneasy propensities now when your temper is flexible, and your mind easy of impression, they will most infallibly prove the bane and torment of your whole life. They will not only destroy all possibility of your enjoying any happiness yourself, but they will produce the same effect on those about you; and by that means you will deprive yourself both of the respect of others, and the approbation of your own heart, -the only two sources from which can be derived any substantial comfort, or real enjoyment.

It is, moreover, a certain principle in morals, that all the bad passions, but especially those of which we are speaking, defeat, in all cases, their own purposes, –a position which appears quite evident, on the slightest examination. For what is the object which the proud man has constantly in view? Is it not 10 gain distinction, and respect, and consideration among mankind ? Now, it is unfortunately the nature of pride to aim at this distinction, not by striving to acquire such virtues and talents as would really entitle him to it, but by laboring to exalt himself above his equals by little and degrading methods; by endeavoring, for example, to outvie them in dress, or show, or expense, or by affecting to look down, with haughty superciliousness, on such as are inferior to himself only by some accidental advantages for which he is no way indebted to his own merit. The consequence of this is, that all mankind declare war against him; his inferiors, whom he affects to despise, will hate him, and consequently will exert themselves to injure and depress him; and his superiors, whom he attempts to imitate, will ridicule his absurd and unavailing efforts to invade what they consider as their own peculiar province.

If it may with truth be said, that a proud man defeats his own purposes, the same may, with equal certainty, be affirmed of a man who gives way to violence of temper. His angry invectives, his illiberal abuse, and his insulting language, produce very little effect on those who hear him, and who, perhaps, only smile at his infirmities; but who can describe the intolerable pangs of vexation, rage, and remorse, by which the heart of a passionate man is successively ravaged ? Alas! it is himself alone for whom the storm is pent up, who is torn by its violence, and not those against whom its fury is meant to be directed.—Letter to a Pupil.

FOREIGN TRAVEL AND RESIDENCE AT A UNIVERSITY. We seem divided, whether an education formed by traveling or by a sedentary life be preferable. We see more of the world by travel, but more of human nature by remaining at home; as in an infirmary, the student, who only attends to the disorders of a few patients, is more likely to understand his profession, than he who indiscriminately examines them all.

A youth just landed at the Brille resembles a clown at a puppet show; carries his amazement from one miracle to another; from this cabinet of curiosities to that collection of pictures: but wondering is not the way to grow wise.

Whatever resolutions we set ourselves not to keep company with our countrymen abroad, we shall find them broken when once we leave home. Among strangers we consider ourselves as in a solitude, and it is but natural to desire society.

There is more knowledge to be acquired from one page of the volume of man. kind, if the scholar only knows how to read, than in volumes of antiquity. We grow learned, not wise, by too long continuance at college.

This points out the time in which we should leave the university. Perhaps the age of twenty-one, when at our universities the first degree is generally taken, is the proper period.

The universities of Europe may be divided into three classes. Those upon the old scholastic establishment, where the pupils are immured, talk nothing * put Latin, and support every day syllogistical disputations in school philosophy. Would not one be apt to imagine this was the proper education to make a man a fool? Such are the universities of Prague, Louvain, and Padua. The second is, where the pupils are under few restrictions, where all scholastic jargon is banished, where they take a degree when they think proper, and live not in the college, but the city. Such are Edinburgh, Leyden, Gottingen, Geneva. The third is a mixture of the two former, where the pupils are restrained, but not confined; where many, though not all, the absurdities of scholastic philosophy are suppressed, and where the first degree is taken after four years' matriculation. Such are Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin.

As for the first class, their absurdities are too apparent to admit of a paral. lel. It is disputed which of the two last are more conducive to national improvement.

Skill in the professions is acquired more by practice than study; two or three years may be sufficient for learning their rudiments. The universities of Edinburgh, &c., grant a license for practicing them when the student thinks proper, which our universities refuse till after a residence of several years.

The dignity of the professions may be supported by this dilatory proceeding; but many men of learning are thus too long excluded from the lucrative advantages, which superior skill has a right to expect.

Those universities must certainly be most frequented, which promise to give in two years, the advantages which others will not under twelve.

The man who has studied a profession for three years, and practiced it for nine more, will certainly know more of his business than he who has only studied it for twelve.

The universities of Edinburgh, &c., must certainly be most proper for the study of those professions in which men choose to turn their learning to profit as soon as possible.

The universities of Oxford, &c., are improper for this, since they keep the student from the world, which, after a certain time, is the only true school of improvement.

When a degree in the professions can be taken only by men of independent fortunes, the number of candidates in learning is lessened, and, consequently, the advancement of learning retarded.

This slowness of conferring degrees is a remnant of scholastic barbarity. Paris, Louvain, and those universities which still retain their ancient institutions, confer the doctor's degree slower even than we.

The statutes of every university should be considered as adapted to the laws of its respective government. Those should alter as these happen to fluctuate.

Four years spent in the arts, (as they are called in colleges,) is perhaps laying too laborious a foundation. Entering a profession without any previous ac juisitions of this kind, is building too bold a superstructure.

Countries wear very different appearances to travelers of different circumstances. A man who is whirled through Europe in a post-chaise, and tho pilgrim who walks the grand tour on foot, will form . very different conclusions *

To see Europe with advantage, a man should appear in various circumstances of fortune; but the experiment would be too dangerous for young men.

There are many things relative to other countries which can be learned to more advantage at home; their laws and policies are among the number.

The greatest advantages which result to youth from travel, are an easy address, the shaking off national prejudices, and the finding nothing ridiculous in national peculiarities.

The time spent in these acquisitions could have been more usefully employed at home. An education in a college seems therefore preferable.—Present state of Polite Learning. 1759.

CHARACTERISTICS OF DIFFERENT UNIVERSITIES. We attribute to universities either too much or too little. Some assert that they are the only proper places to advance learning; while others deny even their utility in forming an education. Both are erroneous.

Learning is most advanced in populous cities, where chance often conspires with industry to promote it; where the members of this large university, if I may so call it, catch manners as they rise; study life, not logic, and have the world for correspondents.

The greatest number of universities have ever been founded in times of the greatest ignorance.

New improvements in learning are seldom adopted in colleges until admitted everywhere else. And this is right: we should always be cautious of teaching the rising generation uncertainties for truth. Thus, though the professors in universities have been too frequently found to oppose the advancement of learning, yet, when once established, they are the properest persons to diffuse it.

* In the first edition our author added, Haud inespertus loquor ; for he traveled through France, &c., on foot. In his sketch of Baron Holberg, he gives an example of the advantages which may be derived by even a poor student from foreign travel.

* This was. perhaps, one of the most extraordinary personages that has done honor to the present century. His being the son of a private sentinel did not abate the ardor of his am. bition, for he learned to read, though without a master. Upon the death of his father, being left entirely destitute, he was involved in all that distress which is common among the poor, and of which the great have scarcely any idea. However, though only a boy of nine years old, he still persisted in pursuing his studies, traveled about from school to school, and begged his learning and his bread. When at the age of seventeen, instead of applying himself to any of the lower occupations, which seem best adapted to such circumstances, he was resolved to travel for improvement from Norway, the place of his birth, to Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. He lived there by teaching French, at the same time avoiding no opportunity of improvement that his scanty funds could permit. But his ambition was not to be restrained, or his thirst of knowledge satisfied, until he had seen the world. Without money, recommendations, or friends, he undertook to set out upon his travels, and make the tour of Europe on foot. A good voice, and a trifling skill in music, were the only finances he had to support an nndertaking so extensive ; so he traveled by day, and at night sung at the doors of peasants' houses to get himself a lodging. In this manner, while yet very young, Holberg passed through France, Germany, and Holland ; and coming over to England, took up his residence for two years in the university of Oxford. Here he subsisted by teaching French and musie, and wrote his universal history, his earliest, but worst performance. Furnished with all the learning of Europe, he at last thought proper to return to Copenhagea, where his ingenious productions quickly gained him that favor he deserved."

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 assertion. 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 sufficiently 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 see Sir William Hamilton's Miscellanies.



Gathered from his Conversations reported by Boswell.


JOHNSON himself began to learn Latin with Mr. Hawkins, usher, or undermaster 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. He 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 supe. riority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other."


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."

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