Imágenes de páginas

1772. (with a loud voice.) “Şir, I am not saying that you could live in friendship
Ætat. 63.

with a man from whom you differ as to some point: I am only saying that
I could do it. You put me in mind of Sappho in Ovid.”

Goldsmith told us, that he was now busy in writing a natural history, and,
that he might have full leisure for it, he had taken lodgings at a farmer's
house, near to the six mile-stone, on the Edgeware-road, and had carried down
his books in two returned post-chaises. He said, he believed the farmer's
family thought him an odd character, similar to that in which the Spectator
appeared to his landlady and children : he was The Gentleman. Mr. Mickle,
the translator of “ The Lusiad," and I, went to visit him at this place a few
days afterwards. He was not at home; but having a curiosity to see his apart-
ment, we went in and found curious scraps of descriptions of animals, scrawled
upon the walls with a black lead pencil.

The subject of ghosts having been introduced, Johnson repeated what he had told me of a friend of his, an honest man and a man of sense, having asserted to him that he had seen an apparition. Goldsmith told us, he was assured by his brother, the Reverend Mr. Goldsmith, that he also had seen one. General Oglethorpe told us, that Pendergrast, an officer in the Duke of Marlborough's army, had mentioned to many of his friends that he should die on a particular day. That upon that day a battle took place with the French; that after it was over, and Pendergrast was still alive, his brother officers, while they were yet in the field, jestingly asked him where was his prophecy now. Pendergraft gravely answered, “ I shall die, notwithstanding what you fee.” Soon afterwards there came a shot from a French battery, to which the orders for a cessation of arms had not yet reached, and he was killed


the spot. Colonel Cecil, who took possession of his effects, found in his pocketbook the following folemn entry:

[Here the date.] “ Dreamt-or + Sir John Friend meets me.” (here the very day on which he was killed was mentioned.) Pendergrast had been a witness against Sir John Friend, who was executed for high treason. General Oglethorpe said, he was in company with Colonel Cecil when Pope came and enquired into the truth of this story, which made a great noise at the time, and was then confirmed by the Colonel.

On Saturday, April 11, he appointed me to come to him in the evening, when he said he should be at leisure to give me some assistance for the defence




4 Here was a blank, which


be filled thus:-" told by an apparition ;"- the writer being probably uncertain whether he was asleep or awake when his mind was impreffed with the folemn presentiment with which the fact afterwards happened so wonderfully to correspond.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

of Hastie, the schoolmaster of Campbelltown, for whom I was to appear in the House of Lords. When I came, I found him unwilling to exert himself. I pressed him to write down his thoughts upon the subject. He said, “ There's no occasion for my writing. I'll talk to you.” He was, however, at last prevailed on to dictate to me, while I wrote as follows:

“ The charge is, that he has used immoderate and cruel correction. Correction, in itself, is not cruel; children, being not reasonable, can be governed only by fear. To impress this fear, is therefore one of the first duties of those who have the care of children. It is the duty of a parent; and has never been thought inconsistent with parental tenderness. It is the duty of a master, who is in his highest exaltation when he is loco parentis. Yet, as good things become evil by excess, correction, by being immoderate, may become cruel. But when is correction immoderate? When it is more frequent or more severe than is required ad monendum et docendum, for reformation and instruction. No severity is cruel which obstinacy makes necessary; for the greatest cruelty would be to desist, and leave the scholar too careless for instruction, and too much hardened for reproof. Locke, in his treatise of Education, mentions a mother, with applause, who whipped an infant eight times before she had subdued it; for had she itopped at the seventh act of correction, her daughter, says he, would have been ruined. The degrees of obstinacy in young minds are very different; as different must be the degrees of persevering severity. A stubborn scholar must be corrected till he is subdued. The discipline of a school is military. There must be either unbounded licence or absolute authority. The master who punishes, not only consults the future happiness of him who is the immediate subject of correction; but he propagates obedience through the whole school, and establishes regularity by exemplary justice. The victorious obstinacy of a single boy would make his future endeavours of reformation or instruction totally ineffectual. Obstinacy, therefore, must never be victorious. Yet, it is well known, that there sometimes occurs a fullen and hardy resolution, that laughs at all common punishment, and bids defiance to all common degrees of pain. Correction muit be proportioned to occasions. The flexible will be reformed by gentle discipline, and the refractory must be subdued by harsher methods. The degrees of scholastick, as of military punishment, no stàted rules can ascertain. It must be enforced till it overpowers temptation ; till stubbornness becomes flexible, and perverseness regular. Custom and reason have, indeed, set some bounds to scholastick penalties. The schoolmaster inflicts no capital punishments ; nor enforces his edicts by either death or mutilation. The civil law has wisely determined,



Ætat. 63.

that a master who strikes at a scholar's eye shall be considered as criminal. But punishments, however severe, that produce no lasting evil, may be just and reasonable, because they may be necessary. Such have been the punishments used by the respondent. 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 the respondent 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 enemies. If it be supposed that the enmity of their fathers proves the justice of the charge, it must be considered how often experience shews 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 Campbelltown 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. The argument which attempts to prove the impropriety of restoring him to his school, by alledging that he has lost the confidence of the people, is not the subject of juridical consideration ; for he is to suffer, if he must suffer, not for their judgement, but for his own actions. It may be convenient for them to have another master; but it is a convenience of their own making. It would be likewise convenient for him to find another school; but this convenience he cannot obtain. The question is not what is now convenient, but what is generally right. If the



[ocr errors]

people of Campbelltown be distressed by the restoration of the respondent,
they are distressed only by their own fault; by turbulent passions and unrea- Ætat. 73.
sonable desires ; by tyranny, which law has defeated, and by malice which
virtue has surmounted.”

“ This, Sir, (said he,) you are to turn in your mind, and make the best
use of it you can in your speech.”

Of our friend Goldsmith he said, “ Sir, he is so much afraid of being unnoticed, that he often talks merely left you should forget that he is in the company.” Boswell. “ Yes, he stands forward.” Johnson. " True, Sir; but if a man is to stand forward, he should wish to do it not in an aukward pofture, not in rags, not so as that he shall only be exposed to ridicule.” Boswell. “ For my part, I like very well to hear honest Goldsmith talk away carelessly.” JOHNSON. “Why yes, Sir; but he should not like to hear himself.”

On Tuesday, April 14, the decree of the Court of Session in the schoolmaster's cause was reversed in the House of Lords, after a very eloquent speech by Lord Mansfield, who shewed himself an adept in school discipline, but I thought was too rigorous towards my client. On the evening of the next day I supped with Dr. Johnson, at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in the Strand, in company with Mr. Langton and his brother-in-law, Lord Binning, I repeated a sentence of Lord Mansfield's speech, of which, by the aid of Mr. Longlands, the solicitor on the other side, who obligingly allowed me to compare his note with my own, I have a full copy : “My Lords, severity is not the way to govern either boys or men.” “Nay, (said Johnson,) it is the

way to govern them. I know not whether it be the way to mend them.”

I talked of the recent expulsion of six students from the University of Oxford, who were methodists, and would not desist from publickly praying and exhorting. Johnson. “Sir, that expulsion was extremely just and proper. What have they to do at an University who are not willing to be taught, but will presume to teach ? Where is religion to be learnt but at an University ? Sir, they were examined, and found to be mighty ignorant fellows.” Boswell. “ But, was it not hard, Sir, to expel them, for I am told they were good beings?” Johnson. “Sir, I believe they might be good beings; but they were not fit to be in the University of Oxford. A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden.” Lord Elibank used to repeat this as an illustration uncommonly happy.

Desirous of calling Johnson forth to talk, and exercise his wit, though I should myself be the object of it, I resolutely ventured to undertake the defence of convivial indulgence in wine, though he was not to-night in the Сс с



Ætat. 63.

most genial humour. After urging the common plausible topicks, I at last had recourse to the maxim, in vino veritas; a man who is well warmed with wine will speak truth. Johnson. “Why, Sir, that may be an argument for drinking, if you suppose men in general to be liars. But, Sir, I would not keep company with a fellow who lyes as long as he is fober, and whom you must make drunk before you can get a word of truth out of him.”

Mr. Langton told us he was about to establish a school upon his estate, but it had been suggested to him, that it might have a tendency to make the people less industrious. Johnson. “ No, Sir. While learning to read and write is a distinction, the few who have that distinction may be the less inclined to work: but when every body 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 every body 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 have 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 fit 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 fun gives us light, is a valuable art, and ought to be preserved.” Boswell. “ But, Sir, would it not be better to follow Nature ; and go to bed and rise just as Nature gives us light or with-holds it ?" JOHNSON. “No, Sir; for then we should have no kind of equality in the partition of our time between sleeping and waking. It would be very different in different seasons and in different places. In some of the northern parts of Scotland how little light is there in the depth of winter !”

We talked of Tacitus, and I hazarded an opinion, that with all his merit for penetration, shrewdness of judgement, and terseness of expression, he was, too compact, too much broken into hints, as it were, and therefore too difficult to be understood. To my great satisfaction Dr. Johnson fanctioned this opinion. « Tacitus, Sir, seems to me rather to have made notes for an historical work, than to have written a history .

[ocr errors]

s Mrs. Piozzi, in her “ Anecdotes,' p. 261, has given an erroneous account of this incident, as of many others. She pretends to relate it from recollection, as if she herself had been present; when the fact is, that it was communicated to her by me. She has represented it as a personality, and the true point has escaped her.

6 It is remarkable, that Lord Monboddo, whom on account of his resembling Dr. Johnson in foine particulars, Foote called an Elzevir edition of him, has, by coincidence, made the very fame remark. Origin and Progress of Language, vol. iiia ad edit. p. 219.


« AnteriorContinuar »