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Parr often mentioned, was, that sufficient portions of Latin prose, especially in Cicero and Cæsar, were not read ; and another, that sufficient time was not devoted to the composition of prose in that language. These defects in the systems of other schools, no doubt, he was careful to remedy in his own; whilst he gladly adopted from them whatever he found worthy of approbation. Indeed, it would be great injustice not to add, that if he sometimes noticed errors, where errors he thought he saw, at the same time, he ever acknowledged, with generous pleasure, the merits of other teachers; and commended, with no niggardly praise, the well-devised plans of öther schools.
Dr Parr was a strenuous advocate for the practice of committing to memory large portions of Greek and Latin verses; and applauded, in this, as well as in other respects, the plan of Winchester School, where that practice has been long established, and carried to a great extent. It was his opinion, that by repeating passages, though not previously understood, a boy is incited by his own curiosity to explore, and is generally enabled by his own efforts to discover their meaning: that what is thus learnt by voluntary exertion, is learnt with more effect, and fixed with deeper impression on the memory; and that, by these means, the youthful mind gradually accumulates, in rich variety and abundance, stores of pleasing imagery, and sublime or beautiful expression.
Alluding to these exercises of the memory, Dr Munro mentions as an instance, that when he was first placed in the fifth form, he was ordered to get by heart, as a holiday task —and no slight task !—the third Olynthiac of Demosthenes, which he accomplished. He mentions further, as an established regulation of the school, that the first business of the morning appointed for the upper classes, was a repetition of the lesson said the evening before; and this entirely from memory-which must have often required an exertion of its powers equal to their full extent. In some cases, the repetition-lesson was fairly and faithfully performed; but in many, he confesses, the task was accomplished by the aid of sly glances on the open book, which the master held in his hands. Not unfrequently the artifice remained undiscovered; but sometimes, by the sudden closing of the book, it -was detected, and then—woe to the delinquent !
Devoted to the study of the noble languages of antiquity,
most of our great seminaries in England were formerly exposed to the just reproach of neglecting, and even despising, the language and the literature of their own country. For some considerable time, indeed, after the revival of letters, all the genius and taste and erudition which then existed, were to be found only in the volumes of the ancients; and most of the valuable works which subsequently appeared, were composed not in the vernacular language, but in Latin—the universal language, as it was long regarded, of learning. Under such circumstances, it is easy to account for, and in some measure to excuse, the contempt, which the scholars of that age usually poured upon their native tongue, and the entire exclusion of it from the prevailing system of education.
But when, in process of time, the use of Latin gave way to that of the living language of the country, even in the works of the learned, and when English literature itself became, from the number and the excellence of its writers, a just and important object of attention; still to contend, under these altered circumstances, that the study of English forms no proper or necessary part of the education of Eng. lishmen, is surely an absurdity which may well excite surprise. Yet so slow often is the progress of the plainest truths, and so strong the force of the grossest prejudices, that some ages elapsed before even that absurdity was generally perceived and acknowledged.
Among the first to discover, and to hold forth to public view, the strange error of excluding the vernacular language from the systems of public or private education, was the very learned prelate, Bishop Lowth; who not only opposed to it the strength of his reasoning and the weight of his authority, but also provided for it the practical means of correction, by publishing his excellent “Introduction to English Grammar," which first appeared in 1765. This is, indeed, an admirable work; possessing the rare merit of being at once philosophical and popular: a book, which the accomplished scholar peruses and admires, and which the youthful learner reads and understands. Almost, it may be said, from the date of that publication, and greatly in consequence of it, the study of the English language has assumed the place, to which it is entitled in every wise and well considered plan of English education.
It might easily be supposed that Dr Parr, scarcely less eminent as an English scholar and an English writer than as a man of classical learning, would not be slow to approve and to adopt so necessary and so important an amendment in the present system of education; and accordingly, it appears that much attention was devoted in Stanmore School to the cultivation of the English language, by the study of its grammar, and the perusal of its best writers, and especially by the frequent composition of English themes. For these last, questions proposed or approved by the tutor, were given on topics principally of history, either ancient or modern; of ethics, and sometimes even of theology; and before he dismissed the young writers to their task, in the course of an address of some length, in which all his own wonderful powers of speaking were displayed, he placed before them, in clear view and in full detail, the whole subject, on which they were required to think and to write. · "When he gave the upper boys a subject for a theme,” says Mr Beloe, “ he would descant upon the subject, in all its ramifications, for the best part of an hour, in a most amusing as well as instructive manner."-"Even his common discourse,” says Dr Monro, “always struck my youthful mind as possessing true and genuine eloquence; but when he gave out a thesis for an essay to his pupils, and expatiated upon it for their direction and assistance-in explaining the clear and comprehensive views which he took of every subject-his eloquence was indeed powerful and impressive." Flowing in a rapid stream, his language, as Dr Munro describes it, was rich, various, copious, always energetic, and often splendid ; bearing along with it, like a golden tide, the delighted and enraptured minds of his youthful audience. He was so exact in the choice, so correct in the application of his words; his sentences were so nicely constructed and highly polished, that no written composition could appear more finished. “In short, on such occasions,” says Dr Monro," he seemed to be a perfect master of oratory.”
The exercises, for which the youths of the upper classes were thus admirably prepared, usually occupied some of the leisure hours of every day, and especially of holidays; and the obligation to perform them was rigorously enforced. In the case of the younger boys written translations might sometimes be prescribed, but original composition was not re
quired. For no one ever exposed and ridiculed more pointedly than Dr Parr, the absurdity of demanding invention from those, by whom the materials for invention could not as yet have been collected.
In this manner, by the exertions of the tutor and the spirit of emulation in the pupils, a taste for English composition was excited with great effect, especially among the higher classes; and pleasing specimens of poetry, as well as prose, were produced, some of which have been published. It was no little encouragement to the lovers of English poetryshrinking back as they often did from the dry mechanism of Greek and Latin versification—to be released, as they occasionally were, from the task of composing hexameters and pentameters, on condition of producing a good copy of English verses. But the attempt was hazardous; because failure, in any considerable degree, was always followed by disgrace and punishment-punishment from the master, and, what to the generous mind is still harder to bear, disgrace among the scholars.
As the higher classes of Stanmore consisted of youths of more advanced age and more matured intellect, they were exempted to a certain extent, by special privilege, from the restraints properly imposed upon others. They had, therefore, with free permission, their morning breakfast-parties, and their evening conversation-parties; and sometimes, too, though without the knowledge of the master-which seems, it must be owned, to imply some want of due vigilance on his part—they had their more convivial meetings, which they called - Attic symposia.” Yet, even on these occasions, we are assured by Mr Maurice, one of their number, that "no intemperance, no indecorum, no rude or riotous mirth, ever disgraced the scholars of philosophy and of Parr!” Though highly social, these meetings, he tells us, were in their essential character literary. To stimulate to mental exertion by exciting rational curiosity, and encouraging free inquiry, was the object, as he states, proposed and pursued by “the accomplished young men” with whom, in consequence of the tutor's kind recommendation, though much their inferior in years, and in knowledge, he was permitted to associate.
Of course, the history, the oratory, and the poetry of Greece and Rome, would often afford to them interesting topics of debate; but more usually their choice was fixed, on subjects of English history and English literature. Sometimes, with all the ardor of youthful patriotism, they reviewed the great events, favorable to the progress of civilization and the arts and sciences among a people, once slightingly noticed as “ toto divisos orbe Britannos,” or contemptuously marked as “ Britannos hospitibus feros ;” and, especially, they celebrated in their harangues the great events, which contributed to the attainment or the establishment of the civil rights and liberties, so essentially connected with the true glory and prosperity of every country. The fine Alcaic fragment in praise of Harmodius and Aristogiton, the deliverers of Greece, was perpetually recited by them in the original language, and often translated into their own; and the same detestation, in which they held a Grecian or a Persian tyrant, they easily transferred to the tyrants of England. Sometimes, again, the merits of our inost distinguished writers were discussed; and Pope, Dryden and Swift, Addison and Johnson, Hume and Robertson, had each his respective partizans. The learned, the instructive, the elegant volumes of Gibbon had not made their appearance; or, no doubt, they would have received from the juvenile critics their full tribute of applause.
The literary discussions of his pupils were always encouraged by the approbation, if not sometimes sanctioned by the presence of the learned superintendent, himself, who so well knew how, on such occasions, to bend from his dignity, without degrading it, and to invite familiarity without losing his claim to respect. It is mentioned by Mr Maurice, that Dr Parr was accustomed to give to his senior pupils frequent invitations to join his own social literary parties. “When engaged in our lessons," says another of his pupils, Mr Hargrave, “ he assumed a magisterial gravity of manner; but, at other times, he conversed with us as friends, and frequently entertained us with the most amusing anecdotes.”
The kindly sympathies which adorn our nature, especially when combined with the higher talents which exalt it, are, in every form, a most pleasing object of contemplation; and it well deserves distinct and honorable mention, that, with some sternness of authority as a master, and with much se