« AnteriorContinuar »
nor can the most signal success relieve immediate | pilgrim, who walks the grand tour on foot, will want. Our Saxon ancestors had but one name for form very different conclusions.* wit and witch. I will not dispute the propriety of To see Europe with advantage, a man should uniting those characters then, but the man who, appear in various circumstances of fortune, but the under the present discouragements, ventures to experiment would be too dangerous for young men. write for the stage, whatever claim he may have to There are many things relative to other counthe appellation of a wit, at least he has no right to tries which can be learned to more advantage at be called a conjuror.
home; their laws and policies are among the From all that has been said upon the state of our number. theatre, we may easily foresee whether it is likely The greatest advantages which result to youth to improve or decline; and whether the free-born from travel, are an easy address, the shaking off muse can bear to submit to those restrictions which national prejudices, and the finding nothing ridicuavarice or power would impose. For the future, lous in national peculiarities. it is somewhat unlikely, that he whose labours are The time spent in these acquisitions could have valuable, or who knows their value, will turn to the been more usefully employed at home. An edustage for either fame or subsistence, when he must cation in a college seems therefore preferable. at once flatter an actor and please an audience. 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. CHAPTER XII.
Both are erroneous.
Learning is most advanced in populous cities, On Universities.
where chance often conspires with industry to pro
mote it: where the members of this large univerINSTEAD of losing myself in a subject of such sity, if I may so call it, catch manners as they rise, extent, I shall only offer a few thoughts as they study life not logic, and have the world for corresoccur, and leave their connexion to the reader. pondents.
We seem divided, whether an education formed The greatest number of universities have ever by travelling or by a sedentary life be preferable. been founded in times of the greatest ignorance. We see more of the world by travel, but more of New improvements in learning are seldom human nature by remaining at home; as in an in- adopted in colleges until admitted every where firmary, the student who only attends to the disor- else. And this is right; we should always be ders of a few patients, is more likely to understand cautious of teaching the rising generation uncerhis profession than he who indiscriminately exam- tainties for truth. Thus, though the professors in ines them all.
universities have been too frequently found to opA youth just landed at the Brille resembles a pose the advancement of learning; yet when once clown at a puppet-show; carries his amazement established, they are the properest persons to diffrom one miracle to another; from this cabinet of fuse it. curiosities to that collection of pictures: but won There is more knowledge to be acquired from dering is not the way to grow wise.
one page of the volume of mankind, if the scholar Whatever resolutions we set ourselves, not to only knows how to read, than in volumes of antikeep company with our countrymen abroad, we quity. We grow learned, not wise, by too long a shall find them broken when once we leave home. continuance at college. Among strangers we consider ourselves as in a
This points out the time at which we should solitude, and it is but natural to desire society. leave the university. Perhaps the age of twenty.
In all the great towns of Europe there are to be one, when at our universities the first degree is found Englishmen residing either from interest or generally taken, is the proper period. choice. These. generally lead a life of continued The universities of Europe may be divided into debauchery. Such are the countrymen a traveller three classes. Those upon the old scholastic esis likely to meet with.
tablishment, where the pupils are immured, talk This may be the reason why Englishmen are all nothing but Latin, and support every day syllo thought to be mad or melancholy by the vulgar gistical disputations in school philosophy. Would abroad. Their money is giddily and merrily spent not one be apt to imagine this was the proper eduamong sharpers of their own country; and when cation to make a man a fool? Such are the unithat is gone, of all nations the English bear worst versities of Prague, Louvain, and Padua. The that disorder called the maladie de poche. second is, where the pupils are under few restric
Countries wear very different appearances to travellers of diflerent circumstances. A man who * In the first edition our author added, Haud inexpertus is whirled through Europe in a post-chaise, and the loquor ; for be travelled through France etc. on foot.
tions, where all scholastic jargon is banished, where Teaching by lecture, as at Edinburgh, may mako they take a degree, when they think proper, and men scholars, if they think proper; but instructing live not in the college but the city. Such are Ed- by examination, as at Oxford, will make them so inburgh, Leyden, Gottingen, Geneva. The third often against their inclination. is a mixture of the two former, where the pupils are Edinburgh only disposes the student to receive restrained but not confined; where many, though learning; Oxford often makes him actually learnnot all of the absurdities of scholastic philosophy ed. are suppressed, and where the first degree is taken In a word, were I poor, I should send my son to after four years' matriculation. Such are Oxford, Leyden or Edinburgh, though the annual expense Cambridge, and Dublin.
in each, particularly in the first, is very great. As for the first class, their absurdities are too ap- Were 1 rich, I would send him to one of our own parent to admit of a parallel. It is disputed which universities. By an education received in the first, of the two last are more conducive to national im- he has the best likelihood of living; by that receivprovement.
ed in the latter, he has the best chance of becoming Skill in the professions is acquired more by prac-great. tice than study; two or three years may be suffi We have of late heard much of the necessity of cient for learning their rudiments. The universi- studying oratory. Vespasian was the first who ties of Edinburgh, etc. grant a license for practising paid professors of rhetoric for publicly instructing them when the student thinks proper, which our youth at Rome. However, those pedants never universities refuse till after a residence of several made an orator. years.
The best orations that ever were spoken were The dignity of the professions may be supported pronounced in the parliaments of King Charles the by this dilatory proceeding; but many men of learn- First. These men never studied the rules of oraing are thus too long excluded from the lucrative tory. advantages which superior skill has a right to ex Mathematics are, perhaps, too much studied at pect.
our universities. This seems a science to which Those universities must certainly be most fre- the meanest intellects are equal. I forget who it quented which promise to give in two years the is that says, “All men might understand matheadvantages which others will not under twelve. matics if they would.”
The man who has studied a profession for three The most methodical manner of lecturing, wheyears, and practised it for nine more, will certainly ther on morals or nature, is first rationally to exknow more of his business than he who has only plain, and then produce the experiment. The studied it for twelve.
most instructive method is to show the experiment The universities of Edinburgh, etc. must certain- first; curiosity is then excited, and attention awaly be most proper for the study of those professions kened to every subsequent deduction. Hence it is in which men choose to turn their learning to pro- evident, that in a well formed education a course fit as soon as possible.
of history should ever precede a course of ethics. The universities of Oxford, etc. are improper for The sons of our nobility are permitted to enjoy this
, since they keep the student from the world, greater liberties in our universities than those of which, after a certain time, is the only true school private men. I should blush to ask the men of of improvement.
learning and virtuc who preside in our seminaries When a degree in the professions can be taken the reason of such a prejudicial distinction. Our only by men of independent fortunes, the number youth should there be inspired with a love of phiof candidates in learning is lessened, and conse- losophy; and the first maxim among philosophers quently the advancement of learning retarded. is, That merit only makes distinction.
This slowness of conferring degrees is a rem. Whence has proceeded the vain magnificence of nant of scholastic barbarity. Paris, Louvain, and expensive architecture in our colleges? Is it that those universities which still retain their ancient men study to more advantage in a palace than in a institutions, confer the doctor's degree slower even cell? One single performance of taste or genius
confers more real honours on its parent university The statues of every university should be consi- than all the labours of the chisel. dered as adapted to the laws of its respective gov Surely pride itself has dictated to the fellows of ernment. Those should alter as these happen to our colleges the absurd passion of being attended at fluctuate,
meals, and on other public occasions, by those poor Four years spent in the arts (as they are called men, who, willing to be scholars, come in upon in colleges) is perhaps laying too laborious a foun-some charitable foundation. It implies a contradation. Entering a profession without any previ- diction, for men to be at once learning the liberal ous acquisitions of this kind, is building too bold a arts, and at the same time treated as slares ; at once superstructure.
studying freedom, and practising servitude.
It is this difference of pursuit which marks the CHAPTER XIII.
morals and characters of mankind; which lays the The Conclusion.
line between the enlightened philosopher and the Every subject acquires an adventitious import-half-taught citizen; between the civil citizen and ance to him who considers it with application. He illiterate peasant; between the law-obeying peasant finds it more closely connected with human happi- and the wandering savage of Africa, an animal less ness than the rest of mankind are apt to allow; he mischievous indeed than the tiger, because endued sees consequences resulting from it which do not with fewer powers of doing mischief. The man, strike others with equal conviction;and still pursuing the nation, must therefore be good, whose chiefest speculation beyond the bounds of reason, too fre- luxuries consist in the refinement of reason; and quently becomes ridiculously earnest in trifles or reason can never be universally cultivated, unless absurdity.
guided by taste, which may be considered as the It will perhaps be incurring this imputation, to link between science and common sense, the medideduce a universal degeneracy of manners from so um through which learning should ever be seen by slight an origin as the depravation of taste; to as- society. sert that, as a nation grows dull, it sinks into de- Taste will therefore often be a proper standard, bauchery. Yet such probably may be the conse- when others fail, to judge of a nation's improvequence of literary decay; or, not to stretch the ment or degeneracy in morals. We have often no thought beyond what it will bear, vice and stupidity permanent characteristics, by which to compare are always mutually productive of each other. the virtues or the vices of our ancestors with our
Life, at the greatest and best, has been compared own. A generation may rise and pass away withto a froward child, that must be humoured and out leaving any traces of what it really was; and played with till it falls asleep, and then all the care all complaints of our deterioration may be only is over. Our few years are laboured away in va- topics of declamation or the cavillings of disappointrying its pleasures; new amusements are pursued ment: but in taste we have standing evidence; we with studious attention; the most childish vanities can with precision compare the literary performanare dignified with titles of importance; and the ces of our fathers with our own, and from their exproudest boast of the most aspiring philosopher is cellence or defects determine the moral, as well as no more, than that he provides his little play-fellows the literary, merits of either. the greatest pastime with the greatest innocence. If, then, there ever comes a time when taste is Thus the mind, ever wand
se- so far depraved among us that critics shall load ment, when abridged of happiness on one part, every work of genius with unnecessary comment, endeavours to find it on another; when intellectual and quarter their empty performances with the pleasures are disagreeable, those of sense will take substantial merits of an author, both for subsistence the lead. The man who in this age is enamoured and applause; if there comes a time when censure of the tranquil joys of study and retirement, may shall speak in storms, but praise be whispered in in the next, should learning be fashionable no long- the breeze, while real excellence often finds shiper, feel an ambition of being foremost at a horse-wreck in either; if there be a time when the Muse course; or, if such could be the absurdity of the shall seldom be heard, except in plaintive elegy, as times, of being himself a jockey. Reason and ap- if she wept her own decline, while lazy compilations petite are therefore masters of our revels in turn; supply the place of original thinking; should there and as we incline to the one, or pursue the other, ever be such a time, may succeeding critics, both we rival angels, or imitate the brutes. In the pur- for the honour of our morals, as well as our learnsuit of intellectual pleasure lies every virtue; of ing, say, that such a period bears no resemblance sensual, every vice.
Ito the present age!
Or Flavia been content to stop
At triumphs in a Fleet-street shop. Written and spoken by the Poet Laberius, a Roo had her eyes forgot to blaze!
man Knight, whom Cæsar forced upon the Or Jack had wanted eyes to gaze! stage. Preserved by Macrobius.*
0! but let exclamations cease, What! no way left to shun th’ inglorious stage,
Her presence banish'd all his peace. And save from infamy my sinking age!
So with decorum all things carried; Scarce half alive, opprest with many a year,
Miss frown'd, and blush'd, and then was married.
Yet in a man 'twas well enough.
The honey-moon like lightning flew,
The second brought its transports too;
A third, a fourth, were not amiss,
The fifth was friendship mix'd with bliss: No more my tities shall my children tell,
But, when a twelvemonth pass'd away, The old buffoon will fit my name as well;
Jack found his goddess made of clay; This day beyond its term my fate extends,
Found half the charms that deck'd her face For life is ended when our honour ends.
Arose from powder, shreds, or lace;
But still the worse remain'd behind,
That very face had robb'd her mind. THE DOUBLE TRANSFORMATION;
Skill'd in no other arts was she,
But dressing, patching, repartee;
And, just as humour rose or fell,
By turns a slattern or a belle. SECLUDED from domestic strife
'Tis true she dress'd with modern grace, Jack Book-worm led a college life;
Half naked at a ball or race; A fellowship at twenty-five
But when at home, at board or bed, Made him the happiest man alive;
Five greasy night-caps wrapp'd her head. He drank his glass, and crack'd his joke,
Could so much beauty condescend And freshmen wonder'd as he spoke.
To be a dull domestic friend? Such pleasures, unallay'd with care,
Could any curtain lectures bring Could any accident impair?
To decency so fine a thing ? Could Cupid's shaft at length transfix
In short, by night, 'twas fits or fretting; Our swain, arrived at thirty-six ?
By day, 'twas gadding or coquetting. O had the archer ne'er come down
Fond to be seen, she kept a bevy To ravage in a country town!
Of powdered coxcombs at her levoe;
The 'squire and captain took their stations, *This translation was first printed in one of our anthor's And twenty other near relations: earliest worka. “ The Present State of Learning in Europe,” Jack suck'd his pipe, and often broke 12m10. 1759; but was omitted in the second edition, which ap. A sigh in suffocating smoke; peared in 1774.
This and the following poem were published by Dr. Golu. While all their hours were past between smith in his volume of Ewys, which appeared in 1765.
Insulting repartee or spleen.
Thus as her faults each day were known,
Now, to perplex the ravellid noose,
The glass, grown hateful to her sight,
Poor madam now condemn'd to hack
But let us not proceed too furious,
Imprimis, Pray observe his hat,
In the next place, his feet peruse,
Lastly, vouchsafe t' observe his hand,
Now to apply, begin we then ;-
And here my simile almost tript,
A NEW SIMILE
IN THE MANNER OF SWIFT.
Long had I sought in vain to find A likeness for the scribbling kind: The modern scribbling kind, who write, In wit, and sense, and nature's spite: Till reading, I forget what day on, A chapter out of Tooke's Pantheon, I think I met with something there To suit my purpose to a hair.