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On a visit to Oxford, three-and-twenty years after he had left it, he waited on the master of his old college, Dr. Radcliffe, who received him very coldly. Johnson at least expected that the master would order a copy of his Dictionary, now near publication ; but the master did not choose to talk on the subject, and never asked Johnson to dine, or even to visit him, while he stayed at Oxford. After he had left the lodgings, Johnson said to Mr. Warton, who had accompanied him, “ There lives a man who lives by the revenues of literature, and will not move a finger to support it. If I come to live at Oxford, I shall take up my abode at Trinity." They then called on the Rev. Mr. Meeke, one of the fellows, and of Johnson's standing. Here was a most cordial greeting on both sides. On leaving him, Johnsou said, “I used to think Meeke had excellent parts, when we were boys together at the college ; but, alas !
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!'
“I remember, at the classical lecture in the hall, I could not bear Meeke's superiority, and I tried to. sit as far from him as I could, that I might not hear him construe. About the same time of life, Meeke was left behind at Oxford to feed on a fellowship, and I went to London to get my living : now, sir, see the difference of our literary characters !"
As they were leaving the college, he said, “ Here I translated Pope's Messiah, Which do you thiuk is the best line in it? My own favourite is, « Vallis aromaticas fundit Saronica nubes.'”,
Warton told him, he thought it a very sonorous hexameter ; but did not tell him it was not in the Virgilian style.
He much regretted that his first tutor was dead, for whom he seemed to retain the greatest regard. He said, “ I once had been a whole morning sliding in Christ Church meadows, and missed his lecture in logic. After dinner, he sent for me to his room. I expected a sharp rebuke for my idleness, and went with a beating heart. When we were seated, he told me he had sent for me to drink a glass of wine with hini, and to tell me he was not angry with me for missing his lecture. This was, in fact, a most severe reprimand. Some more of the boys were then sent for, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon.”
At another time Johnson expatiated on the advantages of Oxford for learning. There is here, sir, such a progressive emulation : the students are anxious to appear well to their tutors; the tutors are anxious to have their pupils appear well in the college; the colleges are anxious to have their students appear well in the university; and there are excellent rules of discipline in every college. That the rules are sometimes ill observed, may be true but is nothing against the system. The members of an university may, for a season, be unmindful of their duty. I am arguing for the excellence of the institution." - On Boswell's observing to him that some of the modernlibraries of the university were more commo. dious and pleasant for study, as being more spacious and airy, he replied, “Sir, if a man has a mind to
prance, he must study at Christ Church and All Souls."
Somebody found fault with writing verses in a dead language, maintaining that they were merely arrangements of so many words; and laughed at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, for sending forth collections of them, not only in Greek and Latin, but even in Syriac, Arabic, and other more unknown tongues. JOHNSON. “I would have as many of these as possible : I would have verses in every language that there are the means of acquiring. Nobody imagines that a university is to have at once two hundred poets; but it should be able to show two hundred scholars. Pierce's death was lamented, I think, in forty languages. And I would have had at every coronation, and every death of a king, every gaudium, and every luctus, university verses, in as many languages as can be acquired. I would have the world to be thus told, Here is a school where every thing may be learned.""
Boswell introduced the topic, which is often ignorantly urged, that the universities of England are too rich; so that learning does not flourish in them as it would do if those who teach had smaller salaries, and depended on their assiduity for a great part of their income. Johnson. “ Sir, the very reverse of this is the truth : the English universities are not rich enough. Our fellowships are only sufficient to support a man during his studies to fit him for the world ; and, accordingly, in general, they are held no longer than till opportunity offers of getting away. Now and then, perhaps, there is a fellow who grows old in his college ; but this is against his will, unless he be a man very indolent indeed. A hundred a year is reckoned a good fellowship, and that is no more than is necessary to keep a man decently as a scholar. We do not allow our fellows to marry, because we consider academical institu. tions as preparatory to a settlement in the world. It is only by being employed as a tutor, that a fel. low can obtain any thing more than a livelihood, To be sure a man who has enough without teaching, will probably not teach: for we would all be idle if we could. In the same manner, a man who is to get nothing by teaching, will not exert himself. Gresham college was intended as a place of instruction for London; able professors were to read lectures gratis; they contrived to have no scholars; whereas, if they had been allowed to receive but sixpence a lecture from each scholar, they would have been emulous to have had many scholars. Every body will agree that it should be the interest of those who teach to have scholars; and this is the case in our universities. That they are too rich is certainly not true; for they have nothing good enough to keep a man of eminent learning with them for his life. In the foreigu universities a professorship is a high thing : it is as much almost as a man can make by his learning; and therefore we find the most learned men abroad are in the universities. It is not so with us. Our universities are impoverished of learning by the penury of their provi. sions. I wish there were many places of a thousand a year at Oxford, to keep first-rate men of learning froin quittivg the university." Undoubtedly, if this were the case, literature would have a
still greater dignity and splendour at Oxford, and there would be grander living sources of instruction.
Talking of the education of children, Boswell asked him what he thought was best to teach first. JOHNSON. “Sir, it is no matter what you teach them first, any more than what leg you shall put into your breeches first : sir, you may stand disputing which is best to put in first, but in the mean time your breech is bare. Sir, while you are considering which of the two things you should teach your child first, another boy has learned them both.”
Going in a boat from the Temple to Greenwich, Boswell asked Dr. Johnson 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 learuing makes upon people even in the common intercourse of life, which does not appear to be much counected with it.” Boswell. “And yet people go through the world very well, and carry on the business of life to good advantage, without learning.” JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, that may be true in cases where learning cannot possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learuing, 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 his answer, and we gave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to Boswell, said, “ Sir, a de