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little way. With him he continued two years', and then rose to be under the care of Mr. Hunter, the head-master, who, according to his account, 'was very severe, and wrong-headedly
He used (said he) to beat us unmercifully; and he did not distinguish between ignorance and negligence ; for he would beat a boy equally for not knowing a thing, as for neglecting to know it. He would ask a boy a question ; and if he did not answer it, he would beat him, without considering whether he had an opportunity of knowing how to answer it. For instance, he would call up a boy and ask him Latin for a candlestick, which the boy could not expect to be asked. Now, Sir, if a boy could answer every question, there would be no need of a master to teach him.'
It is, however, but justice to the memory of Mr. Hunter to mention, that though he might err in being too severe, the school of Lichfield was very respectable in his time? The late Dr. Taylor, Prebendary of Westminster, who was educated under him, told me, that he was an excellent master, and that his ushers were most of them men of eminence; that Holbrook, one of the most ingenious men, best scholars, and best preachers of his age, was usher during the greatest part of the time that
I'This was the course of the 1 say no man has passed through this school which I remember with plea way of education but must have sure; for I was indulged and caressed seen an ingenuous creature expiring by my master; and, I think, really ex with shame, with pale looks, beseechcelled the rest.' Annals, p. 25. ing sorrow and silent tears, throw up
Johnson said of Hunter:-'Abat its honest eyes and kneel on its ing his brutality, he was a very good tender knees to an inexorable blockmaster;' post, March 21, 1772. Steele head to be forgiven the false quantity in the Spectator, No. 157, two years of a word in making a Latin verse.' after Johnson's birth, describes these Likely enough Johnson's roughness savage tyrants of the grammar was in part due to this brutal treatschools. *The boasted liberty we ment; for Steele goes on to say talk of,' he writes, “is but a mean *It is wholly to this dreadful practice reward for the long servitude, the that we may attribute a certain hardimany heartaches and terrors to which ness and ferocity which some men, our childhood is exposed in going though liberally educated, carry about through a grammar-school. ... No them in all their behaviour. To be one who has gone through what they bred like a gentleman, and punished call a great school but must remember like a malefactor, must, as we see it to have seen children of excellent does, produce that illiberal sauciness and ingenuous natures (as has after which we see sometimes in men of wards appeared in their manhood); letters.
Johnson was at school'. Then came Hague, of whom as much might be said, with the addition that he was an elegant poet. Hague was succeeded by Green, afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, whose character in the learned world is well known?. In the same form with Johnson was Congreve}, who afterwards became chaplain to Archbishop Boulter, and by that connection obtained good preferment in Ireland. He was a younger son of the ancient family of Congreve, in Staffordshire, of which the poet was a branch. His brother sold the estate. There was also Lowe, afterwards Canon of Windsor.'
Indeed Johnson was very sensible how much he owed to Mr. Hunter. Mr. Langton one day asked him how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in which, I believe, he was exceeded by no man of his time; he said, “My master
' Johnson described him as 'a certain pledge of his pardon. Lord peevish and ill-tempered man,' and Campbell in his Lives of the Chief not so good a scholar or teacher as Justices, ii. 279, says :—Hunter is Taylor made out. Once the boys celebrated for having flogged seven perceived that he did not understand boys who afterwards sat as judges in a part of the Latin lesson ; another the superior courts at Westminster time, when sent up to the upper at the same time. Among these master to be punished, they had to were Chief Justice Wilmot, Lord complain that when they “could not Chancellor Northington, Sir T. Clarke, get the passage,' the assistant would Master of the Rolls, Chief Justice not help them. Annals, pp. 26, 32. Willes, and Chief Baron Parker. It
2 One of the contributors to the is remarkable that, although Johnson Alkenian Letters. See Gent. Mag. and Wilmot were several years classliv. 276.
fellows at Lichfield, there * Johnson, post, March 22, 1776, seems to have been the slightest describes him as one who does not intercourse between them in after get drunk, for he is a very pious man, life ; but the Chief Justice used frebut he is always muddy.'
quently to mention the Lexicogra* A tradition had reached Johnson pher as “a long, lank, lounging boy, through his school-fellow Andrew whom he distinctly remembered to Corbet that Addison had been at the have been punished by Hunter for school and had been the leader in a idleness.” Lord Campbell blunders barring out. (Johnson's Works, vii. here. Northington and Clarke were 419.) Garrick entered the school from Westminster School (Campbell's about two years after Johnson left. Chancellors, v. 176). The schoolAccording to Garrick's biographer, house, famous though it was, was Tom Davies (p. 3), “Hunter was an allowed to fall into decay. A writer odd mixture of the pedant and the in the Gent. Mag. in 1794 (p. 413) sportsman. Happy was the boy says that it is now in a state of who could slily inform his offended dilapidation, and unfit for the use of master where a covey of partridges either the master or boys.' was to be found; this notice was a
whipt me very well. Without that, Sir, I should have done nothing. He told Mr. Langton, that while Hunter was flogging his boys unmercifully, he used to say, 'And this I do to save you from the gallows.' Johnson, upon all occasions, expressed his approbation of enforcing instruction by means of the rod'. 'I would rather (said he) have the rod to be the general terrour to all, to make them learn, than tell a child, if you do thus, or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't ; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other?'
When Johnson saw some young ladies in Lincolnshire who were remarkably well behaved, owing to their mother's strict discipline and severe correction}, he exclaimed, in one of Shake speare's lines a little varied,
'Rod, I will honour thee for this thy duty*.' * Johnson's observation to Dr.
1752, says :- Pray let my godson Rose, on this subject, deserves to be never know what a blow or a whiprecorded. Rose was praising the ping is, unless for those things for mild treatment of children at school, which, were he a man, he would at a time when flogging began to be deserve them ; such as lying, cheatless practised than formerly: ‘But ing, making mischief, and meditated then, said Johnson) they get nothing malice.' Chesterfield's Misc. Works, else : and what they gain at one end, they lose at the other.' BURNEY. Johnson, however, hated anySee post, under Dec. 17, 1775. thing that came near to tyranny in
2 This passage is quoted from Bos the management of children. Writing well's Hebrides, Aug. 24, 1773. Mr. to Mrs. Thrale, who had told him Boyd had told Johnson that Lady that she had on one occasion gone Errol did not use force or fear in against the wish of her nurses, he educating her children ; whereupon said :-“That the nurses fretted will he replied, “Sir, she is wrong,' and supply me during life with an adcontinued in the words of the text. ditional motive to keep every child,
Gibbon in his Autobiography says: as far as is possible, out of a nurse's -“The domestic discipline of our power. A nurse made of common ancestors has been relaxed by the mould will have a pride in overphilosophy and softness of the age : coming a child's reluctance. There and if my father remembered that are few minds to which tyranny is he had trembled bef
not delightful ; power is nothing but parent, it was only to adopt with his as it is felt, and the delight of supeson an opposite mode of behaviour.' riority is proportionate to the resistGibbon's Works, i. 112. Lord Ches ance overcome.' Piossi Letters, ii. 67. terfield writing to a friend on Oct. 18, 4 'Sword, I will hallow thee for this
Johnson a King of men.
That superiority over his fellows, which he maintained with so much dignity in his march through life, was not assumed from vanity and ostentation, but was the natural and constant effect of those extraordinary powers of mind, of which he could not but be conscious by comparison; the intellectual difference, which in other cases of comparison of characters, is often a matter of undecided contest, being as clear in his case as the superiority of stature in some men above others. Johnson did not strut or stand on tip-toe: He only did not stoop. From his carliest years his superiority was perceived and acknowledged'. He was from the beginning "Avať åròpôv, a king of men. His schoolfellow, Mr. Hector, has obligingly furnished me with many particulars of his boyish days?: and assured me that he never knew him corrected at school, but for talking and diverting other boys from their business. He seemed to learn by intuition ; for though indolence and procrastination were inherent in his constitution, whenever he made an exertion he did more than any one else. In short, he is a memorable instance of what has been often observed, that the boy is the man in miniature : and that the distinguishing characteristicks of each individual are the same, through the whole course of life. His favourites used to receive very liberal assistance from him ; and such was the submission and deference with which he was treated, such the desire to obtain his regard, that three of the boys, of whom Mr. Hector was sometimes one, used to come in the morning as his humble attendants, and carry him to school. One in the middle stooped, while he sat upon his back, and one on each side supported him ; and thus he was borne triumphant. Such
thy deed.' 2 Henry VI, act iv. sc. 10. ever welcome. The children in the John Wesley's mother, writing of the family, perhaps offended with the way she had brought up her children, rudeness of his behaviour, would freboys and girls alike, says:— When quently call him the great boy, which turned a year old (and some before) the father once overhearing said :they were taught to fear the rod, and "You call him the great boy, but take to cry softly; by which means they my word for it, he will one day prove escaped abundance of correction a great man. Hawkins's Johnson, they might otherwise have had.' Wesley's Journal, i. 370.
2 See post, March 22, 1776 and 1 There dwelt at Lichfield Johnson's visit to Birmingham in gentleman of the name of Butt, to Nov. 1784. whose house on holidays he was
Johnson's tenacious memory.
a proof of the early predominance of intellectual vigour is very remarkable, and does honour to human nature. Talking to me once himself of his being much distinguished at school, he told me, 'they never thought to raise me by comparing me to any one; they never said, Johnson is as good a scholar as such a one; but such a one is as good a scholar as Johnson ; and this was said but of one, but of Lowe; and I do not think he was as good a scholar,
He discovered a great ambition to excel, which roused him to counteract his indolence. He was uncommonly inquisitive; and his memory was so tenacious, that he never forgot any thing that he either heard or read. Mr. Hector remembers having recited to him eighteen verses, which, after a little pause, he repeated verbatim, varying only one epithet, by which he improved the line.
He never joined with the other boys in their ordinary diversions: his only amusement was in winter, when he took a pleasure in being drawn upon the ice by a boy barefooted, who pulled him along by a garter fixed round him; no very easy operation, as his size was remarkably large. His defective sight, indeed, prevented him from enjoying the common sports; and he once pleasantly remarked to me, ‘how wonderfully well he had contrived to be idle without them. Lord Chesterfield, however, has justly observed in one of his letters, when earnestly cautioning a friend against the pernicious effects of idleness, that active sports are not to be reckoned idleness in young people; and that the listless torpor of doing nothing, alone deserves that name'. Of this dismal inertness of disposition, Johnson had all his life too great a share. Mr. Hector relates, that he could not oblige him more than by sauntering away the hours of vacation in the fields, during which he was more engaged in talking to himself than to his companion.'
Dr. Percy’, the Bishop of Dromore, who was long intimately acquainted with him, and has preserved a few anecdotes concerning him, regretting that he was not a more diligent collector,
1 "You should never suffer your sitting still in a chair in total inaction; son to be idle one minute. I do not it makes boys lazy and indolent.' call play, of which he ought to have Chesterfield's Mise. Works, iv. 248. a good share, idleness; but I mean 2 The author of the Reliques.