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reasonable, because they may be necessary. Such have been the punishments used by the schoolmaster accused. · No scholar has gone from him either blind or lame, or with any of his limbs or powers injured or impaired. They were irregular, and he punished them; they were obstinate, and he enforced his punishment. But, however provoked, he never exceeded the limits of moderation, for he inflicted nothing beyond present pain; and how much of that was required, no man is so little able to determine as those who have determined against him—the parents of the offenders. It has been said, that he used unprecedented and improper instruments of correction. Of this accusation the meaning is not very easy to be found. No instrument of correction is more proper than another, but as it is better adapted to produce present pain without lasting mischief. Whatever were his instruments, no lasting mischief has ensued; and therefore, however unusual, in hands so cautious they were proper. It has been objected, that he admits the charge of cruelty, by producing no evidence to confute it. Let it be considered, that his scholars are either dispersed at large in the world, or continue to inhabit the place in which they were bred. Those who are dispersed cannot be found; those who remain are the sons of his persecutors, and are not likely to support a man to whom their fathers are ene
mies. If it be supposed that the enmity of their fathers proves the justice of the charge, it must be considered how often experience shows us, that men who are angry on one ground will accuse on another; with how little kindness, in a town of low trade, a man who lives by learning is regarded; and how implicitly, where the inhabitants are not very rich, a rich man is hearkened to and followed. In a place like Campbell-town it is easy for one of the principal inhabitants to make a party. It is easy for that party to heat themselves with imaginary grievances. It is easy for them to oppress a man poorer than themselves; and natural to assert the dignity of riches, by persisting in oppression.??
Upon the same subject, Mr. Boswell also observed, “ It is a very delicate matter to interfere between a master and his scholars; nor do I see how you can fix the degree of severity that a master may use.”—Johnson. “Why, Sir, till you can fix the degree of obstinacy and negligence of the scholars, you cannot fix the degree of severity of the master. Severity must be continued until obstinacy be subdued and negligence be cured.”
A young man being mentioned, who was uneasy, from thinking that he was very deficient in learning and knowledge, J. said, “ A man has no reason to complain who holds a middle place, and has many below him; and perhaps he has not six
of his years above him; perhaps not one. Though he may not know any thing perfectly, the general mass of knowledge that he has acquired is considerable. Time will do for him all that is wanting."
“ Idleness (said Johnson) is a disease which must be combated; but I would not advise a rigid adherence to a particular plan of study. I myself have never persisted in any plan for two days together. A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good. A young man should read five hours in a day, and so may acquire a great deal of knowledge*.”
Goldsmith once attempted to maintain, perhaps from an 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 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.
for attaining it. Much might be done
To a man (as Mr. Boswell justly remarks) of vigorous intellect and arduous curiosity like Johnson's, reading without a regular plan may be beneficial; but even such a man must submit to it, if he would attain a full understanding of any of the sciences.
if a man would 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 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.”
To Mr. Boswell (while studying at Utrecht) he gave the following advice:
“ You will, perhaps, wish to ask what study I would recommend. I shall not speak of theology, because it ought not to be considered as a question whether you shall endeavour to know the will of God. I shall, therefore, consider only such studies as we are at liberty to pursue or to neglect; and of these I know not how you will make a better choice, than by studying the civil law, as your father advises, and the ancient languages, as you had determined for yourself; at least resolve, while you remain in any settled residence, to spend a certain number of hours every day amongst your books. The dis. sipation of thought of which you complain, is nothing more than the vacillation of a mind sus
pended between different motives, and changing its direction as any motive gains or loses strength. If you can but kindle in your mind any strong desire, if you can but keep predominant any wish for some particular excellence or attainment, the gusts of imagination will break away without any effect upon your conduct, and commonly without any traces left upon the memory.
“ There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man first to hope, and then to believe, that Nature has given him something peculiar to himself. This vanity makes one mind nurse aversions, and another actuate desires, till they rise by art much above their original state of power; and as affectation, in time, improves to habit, they at last tyrannise over him who at first encouraged them only for show. Every desire is a viper in the bosom, who, while he was chill, was harmless but when warmth gave him strength, exerted it in poison. You know a gentleman, who, when first he set his foot in the gay world, as he prepared himself to whirl in the vortex of pleasure, imagined a total indifference and universal negligence to be the most agreeable concomitants of youth, and the strongest indication of an airy temper and a quick apprehension. Vacant to every object, and sensible of every impulse, he