« VorigeDoorgaan »
ture," says he, "is not the essential requisite of the modern academic, I am yet persuaded that Cambridge and Oxford, however degenerated, surpass the fashionable academies of our metropolis, and the gymnasia of foreign countries. The number of learned persons in these celebrated seats is still considerable; and more conveniences and opportunities for study still subsist in them, than in any other place. There is, at least, one very powerful incentive to learning
I mean the genius of the place. This is a sort of inspiring deity, which every youth of quick sensibility and ingenious disposition creates to himself, by reflecting that he is placed under those venerable walls where a Hooker and a Hammond, a Bacon and a Newton, once pursued the same course of science, and from whence they soared to the most elevated heights of literary fame. This is that incitement which Tully, according to his own testimony, experienced at Athens, when he contemplated the portico where Socrates sat, and the laurel-grove where Plato disputed. But, there are other circumstances, and of the highest importance, which make our colleges superior to all places of education. These institutions, though somewhat fallen from their primary simplicity, are such as influence, in a particular manner, the moral conduct of their youths; and, in this general depravity of manners and laxity of principles, pure religion is no where more strongly inculcated. English universities render their students virtuous, at least by excluding all opportunities of vice; and, by teaching them the principles of the church of England, confirm them in those of true Christianity." I had reached nearly the end of my observations on Mr. Gibbon, before the sentiments of Dr. Johnson occurred to my mind. I am too discreet, too honest, and perhaps too proud, to be intentionally guilty of plagiarism from any writer whatsoever. But, I am too ingenuous to
dissemble the sincere and exquisite satisfaction that I feel, upon finding that my opinions, and even my own words, on the encouragement of learning, the preservation of morals, and the influence of religion, correspond so nearly with the opinions and the words of such an observer as Dr. Johnson, upon such a question as the merits of the English universities.
513. Literary Merit.
By the testimony of such a man as Johnson, impertinence must be abashed, and malignity itself must be softened. Of literary merit, as we all know, he was a sagacious, but a most severe judge. Such was his discernment, that he pierced into the most secret springs of human actions; and such was his integrity, that he always weighed the moral characters of his fellow creatures in the "balance of the sanctuary." He was too courageous to propitiate a rival, and too proud to truckle to a superior.
514. Johnson's Funeral.
In a letter from Charles Burney, the younger, to Dr. Parr, dated Dec. 21. 1784, he says, "Yesterday I followed our ever to be lamented friend, Dr. Johnson, to his last mansion: Non omnis moriar - multaque pars mei vitabit Libitinam' — should be engraven on his stone. He died with the same piety with which he lived; and bestowed much pains during his last illness in endeavouring to convince some of his friends, who were in doubt, about the truth of the Christian religion. He has left behind him a collection of small Latin compositions in verse. They are principally translations of collects and Greek epigrams. He was followed to the Abbey by a large troop of friends. Ten mourning coaches were ordered by the executors for those invited.
Besides these, eight of his friends or admirers clubbed for two more carriages, in one of which I had a seat. But the executor, Sir John Hawkins, did not manage things well, for there was no anthem or choir service performed - no lesson — but merely what is read over every old woman that is buried by the parish. Surely, surely, my dear Sir, this was wrong, very wrong. Dr. Taylor read the service-but so-so. (1) He lies nearly under Shakspeare's monument, with Garrick at his right hand, just opposite the monument erected not long ago for Goldsmith by him and some of his friends.”
515. Parr on Johnson's Churchmanship.
It is dangerous to be of no church," said Dr. Johnson who believed and revered his Bible, and who saw through all the proud and shallow pretences of that which calls itself liberality, and of that which is not genuine philosophy.
516. Parr on Johnson's Death.
He was a writer, in whom religion and learning have lost one of their brightest ornaments, and whom it is not an act of adulation or presumption to represent as summoned to that reward, which the noblest talents, exercised uniformly for the most useful purposes, cannot fail to attain.
517. Greek Accents. (2)
Dr. Johnson, in his conversation with Dr. Parr, repeatedly and earnestly avowed his opinion, that accents
(1) [Dr. Parr, in a letter to Dr. Charles Burney, written in Nov. 1789, says, "Did you go to Sir Joshua Reynolds's funeral? I hope he had a complete service, not mutilated and dimidiated, as it was for poor Johnson at the Abbey, which is a great reproach to the lazy cattle who loll in the stalls there."]
(2) [Communicated by Dr. John Johnstone.]
ought not to be omitted by any editor of Greek authors, or any modern writers of Greek verse, or Greek prose.
518. Bishop Pearce. (1)
That Dr. Parr obtained, at an early period, a place in the good opinion of Dr. Johnson, appears from the circumstance, that to his powerful recommendation Dr. Parr was chiefly indebted for his appointment to the mastership of the Norwich Grammar School. Indeed, he has often been heard to speak of their friendly interviews, even before that time; of which one instance occurs to me. This was in 1777, when Bishop Pearce's "Commentary, with Notes, on the Four Gospels was published, to which the well-known "Dedication," written by Dr. Johnson, was prefixed. Calling soon afterwards upon him, Dr. Parr mentioned that he had been reading, with great delight, his dedication to the king. 66 My dedication!" exclaimed Dr. Johnson, "how do you know it is mine? "For two reasons," replied Dr. Parr: "the first, because it is worthy of you; the second, because you only could write it."
519. Johnson's Monument.
When it was determined to erect a monument of Johnson in St. Paul's Cathedral, the task of composing the inscription was assigned, by the public wish and voice, to Dr. Parr; who, however, on its first proposal, shrank with awe from the arduous undertaking. In writing to a friend, he thus expresses himself : — "I must leave this mighty task to some hardier and some abler hand. The variety and the splendour of Johnson's attainments, the peculiarity of his character, his private virtues, and his literary publications, fill me with confusion and dismay, when I reflect on the confined Parr [Nos. 518. and 519. from "<Field's Memoirs of Dr,
and difficult species of composition, in which alone they can be expressed on his monument."
On another occasion, speaking on the same subject "I once intended to write Johnson's Life; and I had read through three shelves of books to prepare myself for it. It would have contained a view of the literature of Europe: and,” — making an apology for the proud consciousness which he felt of his own ability —" if I had written it," continued he, "it would have been the third most learned work that has ever yet appeared." To explain himself, he afterwards added, “The most learned work ever written, I consider Bentley 'On the Epistles of Phalaris;' the next, Salmasius On the Hellenistic Language." On a third occasion, describing the nature of his intended work, and alluding to Boswell, he said, "Mine should have been, not the drippings of his lips, but the history of his mind."
520. Imitations of Juvenal. (1)
Dr. Parr spoke with unbounded favour of Johnson's imitations of Juvenal. The lines in the third satire,
"Tanti tibi non sit opaci,
Omnis arena Tagi, quodque in mare volvitur aurum,
he was fond of quoting, with Johnson's amplification of the sentiment:
"But thou, should tempting villany present
All Marlborough hoarded, or all Villiers spent,
(1) [This and the two next articles are from "Recollections of Dr. Parr, by a Pupil" (the late Charles Marsh). — New Monthly Mag. vol. xvii.]