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neoterism should be excited—especially when the whole complexion of the times is taken into account-does not appear extraordinary. And this question not unreasonably occurs to the mind at the same time—Has it not been in some degree overlooked, that fifty years ago one, at any rate, of our universities proved to the world that she had a power within herself capable of overcoming that vis inertiæ' which attaches, more or less, to all long-settled institutions-capable of effecting against that power very decided and fundamental changes? Was it not then seen that the leading of a few powerful minds sufficed, without any impulse from without, to bring about a revolution in academic life, not less distasteful to a great number in its beginning, than salutary in its results? I am not able to refer to any written sentiments of Dr. Copleston upon the subject of ' A Commission of Inquiry into the State of our Universities, nor would I venture to ascribe to him any precise opinion as to the expediency or propriety of such interference. But it would be wrong to withhold here what will be in the recollection of many of Dr. Copleston's friends—namely, that he would sometimes express freely and strongly his regrets, that some of our collegiate societies had not done more towards meeting the educational demands of
When Oxford was unjustly attacked as an ignorant and incompetent teacher of youth, she found her ablest defender in Dr. Copleston; but his candid mind refused to gloss over defects, which
a partisan-spirit might indeed plausibly excuse, but which could not, as he thought, be reconciled with impartial and enlarged views of duty. Those who are interested in this question of academical education, as at present renewed, will not fail to appreciate the extracts from the Replies which are given in the Appendix.
I insert here, as bearing upon the subject just noticed, an extract from a letter written by Dr. Copleston to his brother in 1825—
* When speaking of University expenses, it ought always to be observed that the mere college charges for rooms, diet, and instruction are seldom so much as 100l. a-year. The rest is just what a gentleman must spend wherever he is, provided he wishes to live as other gentlemen do. How absurdly they have been talking of late in Parliament on this subject, when discussing the project for London College. The expenses complained of are not those of a university. They are just what must arise from the fortunes of young men living together, not as boys, but as men; and if people of no fortune have the ambition to associate with the class above them, what right have they to object to the expenditure it involves? The same thing must occur in every other department of society. My own opinion is, that College expenses are less than when I was an under-graduate, and I am sure that the effect of strict sumptuary laws within its walls, is to drive many to engage in much larger expenses elsewhere.'
In the year 1800 Mr. Copleston was admitted to priest's orders, and instituted to the Vicarage of St. Mary the Virgin, a piece of preferment usually held by one of the resident fellows of Oriel, small in
point of revenue, and bringing with it little of parochial responsibility, yet desirable as an introduction to clerical duty. I shall have occasion to refer again to the following entry in the diary, and only notice it now, to show the accurate and methodical beginnings of one who was remarkable in after life for a munificent liberality: ‘Jan. 1, 1800. Upon settling accounts, found myself possessed of 211.'
No one, probably, had a greater contempt for money, regarded simply as a possession, than the late Bishop of Llandaff, while no one understood better the practice of a rational economy, or valued it more in others.
1802. To follow him on in his rising honourswe find him elected Poetry Professor when he had just completed the twenty-sixth year of his
age; and in the following October reading his inaugural lecture, the first of a series of thirty-five. It must be matter of regret that the whole plan of these lectures was not finally completed. Nevertheless, the ‘Prælectiones,' as they stand, will never cease to delight those who can appreciate clear development of principles, just criticism, discriminating delicacy of taste, and, perhaps, above all, Latinity of such pure and brilliant water, that when, in our recollections, we compare it with Ciceronian gems, it loses none of its lustre. No scholar will be likely to underrate the labour of a production so finished, and so richly illustrated; but it is interesting to hear what the author himself
says about it, in a letter written to his
friend, the Rev. J. Penrose, towards the close of his professional course. He thus expresses himself:—'My poetry lectures bring a greater trouble with them than you can well imagine. The search for apposite examples, after one's principles are well settled, is more laborious and harassing than any other employment I have yet engaged in. My own experience in this case has brought to my knowledge a circumstance in the constitution of my own mind, humiliating enough, although it probable others may not feel it to the same extent—that is, when I am reading through a book, with a view to catch examples illustrative of one principle, none present themselves to my mind which are applicable to another. Hence the labour of composing lectures is multiplied beyond all ordinary calculation; to which must be added, the constant secret persuasion, that by perseverance and further search something better might be found.'
A part of the following letter to his friend the Rev. W. N. Darnell bears upon this subject, and I therefore give it a place here:
Oriel College, Nov. 16, 1813. My dear Darnell,
How soon I may have the means of returning your MS. I don't know, probably not till Christmas, and I cannot wait so long without thanking you for the kind remembrance, and telling you how much I was pleased with the bagatelle. It is, I presume, lawful to use this word when speaking of the lighter effusions of a pen generally employed on higher themes. The poem is a very pretty thing of the
romaunt kind, a species of composition of which I apprehend the world will soon get tired, as they are nearly tired of the cow-stalls and ruinous alms-houses which have been of late the favourite subjects of the pencil. You, however, are free from any blame in chusing this style; the subject itself determined you, and could not have been treated well in any other. I admire the facility and flow of your diction; if there had been somewhat less of the antiquated phraseology I think it would have been still better. For instance, are wend and wimple of that class of words to which Horace's observation applies—Multa renascentur quæ jam cecidêre ? To simplicity and to some quaintness there can be no objection; but it may be doubted whether words that require a glossary are admissible into a new poem. On the subject of the picture I don't know what to say. With your request I am certainly much gratified, and inclined to comply, but sitting is no trifle. I have tried it twice, and was rather in hopes I was free for life. It is not likely that I shall be in town next (this) winter ; but if I am, you will not be out of my mind. I owe you thanks, also, for your favourable and friendly mention of my Prælections. The contents ought, as you say, to have been collected under one view. If I had been a ' book-maker, this would probably have been done. One never finds out such things except by experience. I wonder, indeed, that the printers did not suggest it, for I used to confer with them on all questions of technical arrangement; even the contents themselves they never suggested. I wrote them sudante pralo, and you have no conception what harassing work it was. If there is any part of the volume upon which I pique myself more than another, it is that. To be serious, however, I will mention my own favourite lecture, of which, if you do not approve, I shall be greatly disappointed. It is the thirtythird, On Antiquity and Prophecy, as materials for affecting