Page images
PDF
EPUB

tion and utility, third and fifth chapters. More might be said, and the same things might be better said, but my argument seems to me to go to the bottom, and to cut up the fallacy by the roots. It has had a rapid sale. Before it had been out a fortnight, Parker told me

a second edition must be immediately begun. This is now nearly finished_hardly any alterations, only a few corrections in point of language, and one or two points about the first examination set right. I am heartily glad to find that your opinions coincide with my own upon the main question. The more I think on it, the more am I convinced that, to exercise the mind of the student is the business of education, rather than to pour in knowledge. Hence, things made easy appear to me to defeat the end of education, especially if a living instructor is at hand to explain away the little difficulties which the student's efforts are unable to conquer. It is also the business of education to make young men read over and over the same things, multum, non multa. Few people now-a-days read the same book twice. I read with great interest your list of projects. I do not wonder that you feel, with Nisus

Aut pugnam, aut aliquid jamdudum invadere magnum

Mens agitat mihi, nec placidâ contenta quiete est. When a person suggests a work about which he has been considering, it never excites in another's mind exactly what he expects. The mere title cannot at once call up the topics which have been familiar to the other's thoughts, and he fancies it often barren and dry, when to the other it seems rich and plentiful. Such may be the case with some of your projected inquiries. I wish we had a good history of Greek literature traced from the age of Pericles to the latter days of the Alexandrian school. This would require larger libraries ; but, if you entered upon it, some things would strike you as you went along quite sufficient to occupy your mind as a distinct inquiry. I am no friend

REMARKS OF LORD GRENVILLE.

39

to fixed plans. If a man is well read and well disciplined, he will find a subject open to him in a very different light after he has studied it attentively, and he strikes out pur suits for himself e re natâ. Read any original works about times or things not now generally known, and I will answer for it you will see something to be done that will fill up all your time.'

The following letter from Lord Grenville contains much valuable remark, and no unmeaning compliment:

Camelford House, Feb. 15, 1810. Sir,

Nothing but the pressure of other avocations could have prevented me from sooner thanking you for the publication which you had the goodness to send me. So able a vindication of the character of the university, and, what is still more important, of the cause of truth and learning, could not but be highly acceptable to me. And, if my wishes do not deceive me, your perspicuous statement of the course and direction of the studies pursued at Oxford is likely to be of permanent and extensive benefit, in the elucidation of a subject very generally misapprehended. The Edinburgh reviewers would think me quite hardened in the prejudices of my youth if they heard me avow, that even you have allowed more weight than is in my judgment due to the popular objections against cultivating with unceasing assiduity the habit of composition, and particularly in Latin verse. Language, as is now well understood, is the best instrument, not of reasoning only, but of thought. The strength and health, therefore, of the mind must, as you have well illustrated it by the case of bodily exercises, be best promoted by that practice which gives most facility, grace, and precision in the use of that instrument; nor would it be difficult to show, either by the same analogies of bodily exercise, or by close and philoso

phical reasoning, that such faculties are more readily and more certainly improved by composition in verse than in prose, and in a dead language delivered down to us in models of classic excellence, rather than in that which is of daily and familiar use. I am well aware that I am only urging the same opinions which you have yourself expressed. But I carry them, perhaps, still further than you appear to do; and, instead of regretting the prevalence, lament the comparative disuse of those very things which these critics consider as most evidently superfluous.

Allow me once more to repeat my thanks to you, and to assure you of the high regard and esteem with which I am, &c., &c.

GRENVILLE

While thus energetically battling with one set of reviewers, Mr. Copleston was at the same time entering into literary engagements with the more friendly critics of the south, as appears from a letter to his father, dated 13th January, 1811.

* The employments which have detained me here are various. One of them is that which you guess-a contribution to the Quarterly Review. Much communication has passed between me and the editor (Gifford) on that subject. I never saw him; but in consequence of our having common friends, and frequently corresponding, our style is that of strict friendship. He has sent me several things to examine and report upon, most of which I have had to reject as unfit. The duty of the editor of such a work I now perceive is more fatiguing and vexatious than I had ever even imagined.'

What he adds in the latter part of the same letter may serve to illustrate still further the active vigour of his mind.

THE PRÆLECTIONES ACADEMICÆ.

41

Next Sunday fortnight I have to appear in the university pulpit, and the week after with my poetry lecture in the schools. With all these more important cares upon my mind, I have not been able to repress my curiosity about the Bullion Committee Report, which has given rise to a swarm of pamphlets. Of these, the most intelligent and satisfactory by far is Huskisson's. The view which he gives of a subject universally talked of, and almost universally misunderstood, is correct and luminous in the highest degree, and at the same time so elementary as to require no previous reading on the subject-only close attention. My conviction that you will be interested in the work is founded partly on the interest which I remember you took in Malthus's book,-a work which, like all others of merit, is gradually and progressively establishing itself upon the ruins of ancient and vulgar prejudices.'

This year–1812–Mr. Copleston read his last lecture as Poetry Professor, having held the appointment for the usual decennial period. The collected series, under the title of Prælectiones Academicæ, appeared the year following, and were dedicated to Lord Grenville. The whole character and circumstances of that dedication are so honourable to the memory both of author and patron, that I cannot allow myself to pass on without some further notice of it. When applying the term patron to Lord Grenville in this connexion, I would not seem to do so with any degree of ungracious reserve; but certainly it is matter of just remark that Mr. Copleston neither at any time sought, nor at any time received, from the nobleman whom he delighted to honour, any patronage, in the meaner

sense of the word. He received what was infinitely more valuable—the sincere and confidential regards of one, who measured others by his own high standard of mind and character, rather than by outward circumstances. The points of moral and intellectual superiority which, in Mr. Copleston's opinion, so eminently qualified Lord Grenville for the chancellorship, are expressed in the latter part of this dedication with so much force and beauty, and it must be added, against Lord Grenville's graceful disclaimer) with so truthful a spirit, that I must indulge myself in a quotation.

Having briefly mentioned Lord Grenville's political acts and merits, he proceeds thus :

• Verum hæc alii narrabunt. Mihi certe satis erat vel in privatis tuis moribus ac studiis quod me ad hoc consilium capiendum impelleret. Noveram enim te maximâ humanitatis ac literarum laude floruisse, quamdiu hîc adolescentiam agebas : Noveram te jam animo atque ætate firmiorem, postquam ad gravissima reipublicæ munera evectus esses, literis tamen fuisse, quantum pateretur istius vitæ ratio, impensè deditum. Nihil ex juventute tuâ communis illa seculi labes et corruptela ad se traxerat. Nihil unquam ineptiis, nihil voluptatibus, nihil desidiæ datum.

Quippe ita in negotiis versandum decreveras, ut otio dignitatem comparares : ita otio fruendum, ut aliquid semper inde ad publicam utilitatem ederes.

Atque hæc quidem famæ-honori tuo inserviebant ingenium, eloquentia, eruditæ antiquitatis cognitio, bonæ artes et literarum lumen. Majus autem illud fuit, quod domi elucebat, summa vitæ innocentia et morum sanctitas. Vale, vir ornatissime, diu Oxoniensibus tuis et decori sis et exemplo.'

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »