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l>y that connection 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, afterwards Canon of Windsor,"
Indeed Johnson was very sensible how much he owed to Mr. Hunter. Mr. Lang ton one day asked him how he had acqnired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in which, 1 believe, he was exceeded by no man of his time; he said, "My master whipt me very well. Without that, Sir, 1 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 occasious, 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 wipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting 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 mother'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."
That superiority over his fellows, which he maintained with so much dignity in his march through life, was not assumed from vanity and ostentation, but was the natural and constant effect of those extraordinary powers of mind, of which he could not but be conscious by comparison; the intellectual difference, which in other cases of comparison of characters, is often a matter of undecided contest, being as clear in his case as the superiority of stature in some men above others. Johnson did not ttrut or stand on tip-toe; he only did not stoop. From his earliest years, his^superiority was perceived and acknowledged. He was from the beginning hvai, arcpHv, e king of men. His schoolfellow, Mr. Hector, has obligingly furnished me with many particulars of his boyish days; and assured me that he never knew him corrected at school, but for talking and diverting other boys from their business. He seemed to team by intnition; for though indolence and procrastination were inherent in his constitution, whenever he made an exertion he did more than any one else. In short, he is a memorable instance of what has been often observed, that the boy is the man in miniature: and that the distingnishing characteristics of each individual are the same, through the whole course of life. His favourites used to receive very liberal assistance from him; and such was the submission and deference with which he was treated, such the desire to obtain his regard, that three of the boys, of whom Mr. Hector was sometimes one, used to come in the morning as his humble attendants, and carry him to school. One in the middle stooped, while he sat upon hit back, and one on each side supported him; and thus he was borne trinmphant. Such a proof of the early predominance of intellectual vigour is very remarkable, and does honour to human nature.—Talking to me once himself of his being much distinguished ut school, he told me, " they never thought to raise me by comparing me to any one; they never said, Johnson is as good a scholar as such a one; but such a one is as good a »cholar as Johnson; and this was said but of one, but of Lowe; and I do oot think he was as good a scholar."
He discovered a great ambition to excel, which roused him to counteract his indolence. He was uncommonly inquisitive; and his memory was so tenacious, that he never forgot any thing that he either lie ird or read. Mr. Hector remembers having recited to him eighteen verses, which, after a little pause, he repeated verbatim, varying only one epithet, by which he improved the line.
He never joined with the other boys in their ordinary diversions: bis only amusement was in winter, whea he took a pleasure in being drawn upon the ice by a boy bare footed, who pulled him along by a garter fixed round him: no very easy operation, as his size was remarkably large. His defective sight, indeed, prevented him from enjoying the common sports; an.I he once pleasantly remarked to me, "how wonderfully well he had contrived to be idle without them." Lord Chesterfield, however, ha* justly observed in one of his letters, when earnestly cautioning a friend against the pernicious effects of idleness, that active sports are not to be reckoned idleness in young people; aud that the listless torpor of doing nothing, alone deserves that name. Of this dismal inertness of disposition, Johnson had -ill his life too greut a share. Mr. Hector relates, that " he could not oblige him more than by sauntering away the hours of vacation in the fields, during which he was more engaged in talking to himself than to his companion."
Dr. Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, who was long intimately acquainted with him, and has preserved a few anecdotes concerning him, regretting that he was not a more diligent collector, informs me, that "when a boy he was immoderately food of reading romances of chivalry, and he retained his fondness fur them through life; so that (adds his Lordship) spending part of a summer at my parsonage-house in the country, he chose for his regular reading the old Spanish romance of Fllixmarte Of HmcAMA, in folio, which he read quite through. Yet I have heard him attribute to these extravagant fictions that unsettled turn of mind which prevented him ever fixing in any profession."
After having resided for some at the house of his uncle, Cornelins Ford, Johnson was at the age of fifteen, removed to the school of Stourbridge, in Worcestershire, of which Mr. VVentworth was then master. This step was taken by the advice of his cousin, the Rev. Mr. Ford, a man in whom both talents and good dispositions were disgraced by licentuousness, but who was a very able judge of what was right. At this school he did not receive so much benefit as was expected. It has been said that he acted io the capacity of an assistaut to Mr. Wentworth, in teaching the younger boys. "Mr. Weutwortb (he told me) was a very able man, but on idle man, and to me very severe; but I cannot blame him much. 1 was then a big boy; he saw I did not reverence him; and that he should get no honour by me. I had brought enough with me to carry me through; and all I should get at his school would be ascribed to my own labour, or to my former muster. Yet he taught me a great deal."
He thus discriminated, to Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, his progress at his two grammar-schools. "At one, 1 learned much in the school, but little from the master; in the other, I learned much from the master, but little in the school."
The Bishop also informs me, that " Dr. Johnson's father, before he was received at Stourbridge, applied to have him admitted as a scholar and assistant to the Rev. Samuel Leu, M. A., head master of Newport school, in Shropshire; (a very diligent good teacher, at that time in high reputation, under whom Mr. Hollis is said, in the Memoirs of his Life, to have been also educated.) This application to Mr. Lea was not successful: but Johnson had afterwards the gratification to hear that the old gentleman, who lived to a very advanced age, mentioned it as one of the most memorable events of his life, that " he was very near having that great man for his scholar."
He remained at Stourbridge little more than a year, and then he returned home, where he may be said to have loitered, for two years, in a state very unworthy his uncommon abilities. He had already given several proofs of his genins, both in his school-exercises and other occasional compositions. Of these I have obtained a considerable collection, by the favour of Mr. Wentworth, son of one of his masters, and of Mr. Hector, his schoolfellow and friend; from which I select the following; specimens:
Translation of Virgil. Pastoral I.
Now, Tityrus, you, supine and careless laid,
Those blessings, friend, a deity bestow'd,
My admiration only I expresl,
Here I, though faint myself, must drive my goatt,
Trantlation of Horace. Book I. Ode xxii.
The man, my friend, whose conscious heart
With virtue's sacred ardour glows.
Nor taints with death th* envenom'd dart.
Nor needs the guard of Moorish bows:
Though Scythia's icy cliffs he treads,
Or horrid Afric's faithless sands;
Or where the fam'd Hydaspes spreads
His liquid wealth o'er barbarous lands.
For while by Chloe's image cbarm'd,
Too far in Sabine woods I stray'd;
Me singing, careless and unarm'd,
A grizly wolf surprised, and fled.
No savage more portentous stain'd
Apulia's spacious wilds with gore ,
No fiercer Juba's thirsty laud,
Dire nurse of raging lions, bore.
Place me where no soft summer gal«
Among the quivering branches sighs;
Where clouds condens'd for ever veil
With horrid gloom the frowoing skies:
Place me beneath the burning line,
A clime deny'd to human race;
I'll sing of Chloe's charms divine.
Her beav'nly voice, and beauteous face.
Translation of Horace. Book II. Ode ix.
CioiDi do not always veil the skies.
The wise experienced Grecian sage
Mourn'd not Antilochus so long:
Nor did King Priam's hoary age
So much lament his slaughter'd son.
Leave off, at length, these woman's sighs,
Augustus' numerous trophies sing;
Repeat that prince's victories,
To whom all nations tribute bring.
Niphates rolls an humbler wave,
At length the undaunted Scythian yields,
Content to live the Roman's slave,
And scarce forsakes his native fields.
Translation of part of the Dialogue between Hector and Andromache ; from
To a Young Lady on her Birth-bat.