Good humour in disputations.

[A.D. 1776.

rare.' JOHNSON. Nay, Sir, wherever a particular character or profession is high in the estimation of a people, those who are of it will be valued above other men. We value an Englishman highly in this country, and yet Englishmen are not rare in it.'

Mr. Murray praised the ancient philosophers for the candour and good humour with which those of different sects disputed with each other. JOHNSON. Sir, they disputed with good humour, because they were not in earnest as to religion. Had the ancients been serious in their belief, we should not have had their Gods exhibited in the manner we find them represented in the Poets. The people would not have suffered it. They disputed with good humour upon their fanciful theories, because they were not interested in the truth of them: when a man has nothing to lose, he may be in good humour with his opponent. Accordingly you see in Lucian, the Epicurean, who argues only negatively, keeps his temper; the Stoick, who has something positive to preserve, grows angry'. Being angry with one who controverts an opinion which you value, is a necessary consequence of the uneasiness which you feel. Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy'. Those only who believed in

'This alludes to the pleadings of a Stoic and an Epicurean for and against the existence of the Divinity in Lucian's Jupiter the Tragic. CROKER.

2.There is a time when every man is weary of raising difficulties only to task himself with the solution, and desires to enjoy truth without the labour or hazard of contest.' Johnson's Works, vi. 497. See ante, May 7, 1773, and post, April 3, 1779, where he says, 'Sir, you are to a certain degree hurt by knowing that even one man does not believe.' Hume, in his Essay Of Parties in General, had written:'Such is the nature of the human mind, that it always takes hold of every mind that approaches it; and as it is wonderfully fortified and corroborated by an unanimity of sentiments, so is it shocked and disturbed by any contrariety.' 'Carlyle was fond of quoting a sentence of Novalis :-"My conviction gains infinitely the moment another soul will believe in it." Saturday Review, No. 1538, p. 521. 'The revelation

Aetat. 67.]

Attacks on a man's belief.


revelation have been angry at having their faith called in question; because they only had something upon which they could rest as matter of fact.' MURRAY. 'It seems to me that we are not angry at a man for controverting an opinion which we believe and value; we rather pity him.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir; to be sure when you wish a man to have that belief which you think is of infinite advantage, you wish well to him; but your primary consideration is your own quiet. If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards. No, Sir; every man will dispute with great good humour upon a subject in which he is not interested. I will dispute very calmly upon the probability of another man's son being hanged; but if a man zealously enforces the probability that my own son will be hanged, I shall certainly not be in a very good humour with him.' I added. this illustration, ‘If a man endeavours to convince me that my wife, whom I love very much, and in whom I place great confidence, is a disagreeable woman, and is even unfaithful to me, I shall be very angry, for he is putting me in fear of being unhappy.' MURRAY. 'But, Sir, truth will always bear an examination.' JOHNSON. Yes, Sir, but it is painful to be forced to defend it. Consider, Sir, how should you like, though conscious of your innocence, to be tried before a jury for a capital crime, once a week.'

We talked of education at great schools; the advantages and disadvantages of which Johnson displayed in a luminous manner; but his arguments preponderated so much in favour of the benefit which a boy of good parts' might

introducing of new doctrines,' said Bacon, 'is an affectation of tyranny over the understandings and beliefs of men.' Bacon's Nat. Hist., Experiment 1000.


1 'We must own,' said Johnson, ‘that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one.' Boswell's Hebrides, Aug. 22, 1773. See ante, under Dec. 5, 1775. On June 16,



Education at great schools.

[A.D. 1776. receive at one of them, that I have reason to believe Mr. Murray was very much influenced by what he had heard today, in his determination to send his own son to Westminster school'. I have acted in the same manner with regard to my own two sons; having placed the eldest at Eton, and the second at Westminster. I cannot say which is best. But in justice to both those noble seminaries, I with high satisfaction declare, that my boys have derived from them a great deal of good, and no evil: and I trust they will, like Horace', be grateful to their father for giving them so valuable an education.

I introduced the topick, which is often ignorantly urged, that the Universities of England are too rich'; so that

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1784, he said of a very timid boy:-'Placing him at a public school is forcing an owl upon day.' Lord Shelburne says that the first Pitt told him that his reason for preferring private to public education was, that he scarce observed a boy who was not cowed for life at Eton; that a public school might suit a boy of a turbulent forward disposition, but would not do where there was any gentleness.' Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, i. 72.

''There are,' wrote Hume in 1767, ‘several advantages of a Scots education; but the question is, whether that of the language does not counterbalance them, and determine the preference to the English.' He decides it does. He continues:-'The only inconvenience is, that few Scotsmen that have had an English education have ever settled cordially in their own country; and they have been commonly lost ever after to their friends.' J. H. Burton's Hume, ii. 403.

He wrote to Temple on Nov. 28, 1789:-'My eldest son has been at Eton since the 15th of October. You cannot imagine how miserable he has been; he wrote to me for some time as if from the galleys, and entreated me to come to him.' Letters of Boswell, p. 314. On July 21, 1790, he wrote of his second son who was at home ill:'I am in great concern what should be done with him, for he is so oppressed at Westminster School by the big boys that I am almost afraid to send him thither.' Ib. p. 327. On April 6, 1791, he wrote :— 'Your little friend James is quite reconciled to Westminster.' Ib. p. 337. Southey, who was at Westminster with young Boswell, describes 'the capricious and dangerous tyranny' under which he himself had suffered. Southey's Life, i. 138.

'Horace, Satires, i. 6. 65–88.

Dr. Adam Smith, who was for some time a Professor in the Unilearning

Aetat. 67.] The English Universities.


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 an 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 institutions as preparatory to a settlement in the world. It is only by being employed as a tutor, that a fellow can obtain anything 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

versity of Glasgow, has uttered, in his Wealth of Nations [v. 1, iii. 2], some reflections upon this subject which are certainly not well founded, and seem to be invidious. Boswell.

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* Gibbon denied this. The diligence of the tutors is voluntary, and will consequently be languid, while the pupils themselves, or their parents, are not indulged in the liberty of choice or change.' Misc. Works, i. 54. Of one of his tutors he wrote:-' He well remembered that he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to perform.' Ib. p. 58. Boswell, post, end of Nov. 1784, blames Dr. Knox for 'ungraciously attacking his venerable Alma Mater. Knox, who



The foreign Universities.

[A.D. 1776.

true; for they have nothing good enough to keep of eminent learning with them for his life. In the foreign 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'.

was a Fellow of St. John's, left Oxford in 1778. In his Liberal Education, published in 1781, he wrote:-' I saw immorality, habitual drunkenness, idleness and ignorance, boastingly obtruding themselves on public view.' Knox's Works, iv. 138. The general tendency of the universities is favourable to the diffusion of ignorance, idleness, vice, and infidelity among young men.' Ib. p. 147. In no part of the kingdom will you meet with more licentious practices and sentiments, and with less learning than in some colleges.' Ib. p. 179. The tutors give what are called lectures. The boys construe a classic, the jolly young tutor lolls in his elbow-chair, and seldom gives himself the trouble of interrupting the greatest dunce.' Ib. p. 199. Some societies would have been glad to shut themselves up by themselves, and enjoy the good things of the cook and manciple, without the intrusion of commoners who come for education.' Ib. p. 200. 'The principal thing required is external respect from the juniors. However ignorant or unworthy a senior fellow may be, yet the slightest disrespect is treated as the greatest crime of which an academic can be guilty.' Ib. p. 201. The Proctors gave far more frequent reprimands to the want of a band, or to the hair tied in a queue, than to important irregularities. A man might be a drunkard, a debauchee, and yet long escape the Proctor's animadversion; but no virtue could protect you if you walked on Christ-church meadow or the High Street with a band tied too low, or with no band at all; with a pigtail, or with a green or scarlet coat.' Ib. p. 159. Only thirteen weeks' residence a year was required. Ib. p. 172. The degree was conferred without examination. Ib. p. 189. After taking it 'a man offers himself as a candidate for orders. He is examined by the Bishop's chaplain. He construes a few verses in the Greek Testament, and translates one of the articles from Latin into English. His testimonial being received he goes from his jolly companions to the care of a large parish.' Ib. p. 197. Bishop Law gave in 1781 a different account of Cambridge. There, he complains, such was the devotion to mathematics, that young men often sacrifice their whole stock of strength and spirits, and so entirely devote most of their first few years to what is called taking a good degree, as to be hardly good for anything else.' Preface to Archbishop King's Essay on the Origin of Evil, p. xx. 'According to Adam Smith this is true only of the Protestant

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