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Whár Hunt 7./1•28 /72 73
“ What I consider as the peculiar value of the following work, is the quantity it contains of Johnson's conversation, which is universally acknowledged to have been eminently instructive and entertaining."-BOSWELL.
“ Dr. Johnson's conversations, in Boswell's Life, is much better than his published works: and the fragments of the opinions of celebrated men, preserved in their letters, or in anecdotes of them, are justly sought after as invaluable, for the same reason,"-BALDWIN'S LONDON MAGAZINE.
DR. JOHNson began to learn Latin with Mr. Haw. kins, usher, or under-master of Lichfield school ; "a man,” said he,“ very skilful in his 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 severeand wrong-headedly severe. 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 reglecting 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 ques. tion, there would be po 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 be. ing 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 Mr. Boswell, 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 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, afterward bishop of Lincoln, whose character in the learned world is well known. In the same form with Johnson was Congreve, who afterward became chaplain to archbishop Boulter, and by this connexion 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, afterward canon of Windsor."
Indeed Johnsou 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, perhaps, he was exceeded by no man of his time: he said, “My master whipped 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 terror 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 em ation, and comparisons of sup iority, you lay the foundation of lastiug 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 inother's strict discipline and severe correction, he exclaimed, in one of Shakspeare's lines, a little varied,
“ Rod, I will honour thee for this thy duty."
At a subsequent period, he observed to Dr. Rose, “ There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there ; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other.”
He thus discriminated, to Dr. Percy, bishop of Dromore, his progress at his two graminar schools : “ At one I learned much in the school, but little from the master; in the other, I learned, much from the master, but little in the school.”
After leaving school, he remained at home two years before he went to college. What he read durivg this period, was not works of mere amusement -"not voyages and travels, but all literature, sir, all ancient writers, all manly; though but little Greek --only some of Anacreon and Hesiod : but in this