« 이전계속 »
clattering of sticks: and though a man might have strength sufficient to overcome a lion in single combat, he may run the risk of being devoured by an army of ants.
I am not insensible, that third nights are disagreeable drawbacks upon the annual profits of the stage. I am confident it is much more to the manager's advantage to furbish up all the lumber which the good sense of our ancestors, but for his care, had consigned to oblivion. It is not with him, therefore, but with the public I would expostulate ; they have a right to demand respect, and surely those newly revived plays are no instances of the manager's deference.
I have been informed that no new play can be admitted upon our theatres unless the author chooses to wait some years, or, to use the phrase in fashion, till it comes to be played in turn. A poet thus can never expect to contract a familiarity with the stage, by which alone he can hope to succeed; nor can the most signal success relieve immediate want. Our Saxon ancestors had but one name for a wit and a witch. I will not dispute the propriety of uniting those characters then; but the man who, under the present discouragements, ventures to write for the stage, whatever claim he may have to the appellation of a wit, at least he has no right to be called a conjuror.
From all that has been said upon the state of our theatre, we may easily foresee whether it is likely to improve or decline; and whether the freeborn muse can bear to submit to those restrictions which avarice or power would impose. For the future, it is somewhat unlikely, that he whose labours are valuable, or who knows their value, will turn to the stage for either fame or subsistence, when he must at once flatter an actor and please an audience.
INSTEAD of losing myself in a subject of such extent, 1 shall only offer a few thoughts as they occur, and leave their connection to the reader.
We seem divided, whether an education formed by travelling or by a sedentary life be preferable. We see more
of the world by travel, but more of human nature by remaining at home; as in an infirmary, the student, who only attends to the disorders of a few patients, is more likely to understand his profession, than he who indiscriminately examines them all.
A youth just landed at the Brille resembles a clown at a puppet-show; carries his amazement from one miracle to another; from this cabinet of curiosities to that collection of pictures but wondering is not the way to grow wise.
Whatever resolutions we set ourselves not to keep company with our countrymen abroad, we shall find them broken when once we leave home. Among strangers we consider ourselves as in a solitude, and it is but natural to desire society.
In all the great towns of Europe there are to be found Englishmen residing either from interest or choice. These generally lead a life of continued debauchery. Such are the countrymen a traveller is likely to meet with.
This may be the reason why Englishmen are all thought to be mad or melancholy by the vulgar abroad. Their money is giddily and merrily spent among sharpers of their own country; and when that is gone, of all nations the English bear worst that disorder called the maladie du poche.
Countries wear very different appearances to travellers of different circumstances. A man who is whirled through Europe in a post-chaise, and the pilgrim who walks the grand tour on foot, will form very different conclusions.*
To see Europe with advantage, a man should appear in various circumstances of fortune; but the experiment would be too dangerous for young men.
There are many things relative to other countries which can be learned to more advantage at home; their laws and policies are among the number.
The greatest advantages which result to youth from travel, are an easy address, the shaking off national prejudices, and the finding nothing ridiculous in national peculiarities.
The time spent in these acquisitions could have been more usefully employed at home. An education in a college seems therefore preferable.
* In the first edition our author added, Haud inexpertus loquor s for he travelled through France, &c. on foot.
We attribute to universities either too much or too little. Some assert that they are the only proper places to advance learning; while others deny even their utility in forming an education. Both are erroneous.
Learning is most advanced in populous cities, where chance often conspires with industry to promote it; where the members of this large university, if I may so call it, catch manners as they rise; study life, not logic, and have the world for correspondents.
The greatest number of universities have ever been founded in times of the greatest ignorance.
New improvements in learning are seldom adopted in colleges until admitted everywhere else. And this is right: we should always be cautious of teaching the rising generation uncertainties for truth. Thus, though the professors in universities have been too frequently found to oppose the advancement of learning, yet, when once established, they are the properest persons to diffuse it.
There is more knowledge to be acquired from one page of the volume of mankind, if the scholar only knows how to read, than in volumes of antiquity. We grow learned, not wise, by too long continuance at college.
This points out the time in which we should leave the university. Perhaps the age of twenty-one, when at our universities the first degree is generally taken, is the proper period.
The universities of Europe may be divided into three classes. Those upon the old scholastic establishment, where the pupils are immured, talk nothing but Latin, and support every day syllogistical disputations in school philosophy. Would not one be apt to imagine this was the proper education to make a man a fool? Such are the universities of Prague, Louvain, and Padua. The second is, where the pupils are under few restrictions, where all scholastic jargon is banished, where they take a degree when they think proper, and live not in the college, but the city. Such are Edinburgh, Leyden, Gottingen, Geneva. The third is a mixture of the two former, where the pupils are restrained, but not confined; where many, though not all, the absurdities of scholastic philosophy are suppressed, and where the first degree is taken after four years' matriculation. Such are Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin.
As for the first class, their absurdities are too apparent to admit of a parallel. It is disputed which of the two last are more conducive to national improvement.
Skill in the professions is acquired more by practice than study; two or three years may be sufficient for learning their rudiments. The universities of Edinburgh, &c. grant a licence for practising them when the student thinks proper, which our universities refuse till after a residence of several years.
The dignity of the professions may be supported by this dilatory proceeding; but many men of learning are thus too long excluded from the lucrative advantages, which superior skill has a right to expect.
Those universities must certainly be most frequented, which promise to give in two years, the advantages which others will not under twelve.
The man who has studied a profession for three years, and practised it for nine more, will certainly know more of his business than he who has only studied it for twelve.
The universities of Edinburgh, &c. must certainly be most proper for the study of those professions in which men choose to turn their learning to profit as soon as possible.
The universities of Oxford, &c. are improper for this, since they keep the student from the world, which, after a certain time, is the only true school of improvement.
When a degree in the professions can be taken only by men of independent fortunes, the number of candidates in learning is lessened, and, consequently the advancement of learning retarded.
This slowness of conferring degrees is a remnant of scholastic barbarity. Paris, Louvain, and those universities which still retain their ancient institutions, confer the doctor's degree slower even than we.
The statutes of every university should be considered as adapted to the laws of its respective government. Those should alter as these happen to fluctuate.
Four years spent in the arts, (as they are called in colleges,) is perhaps laying too laborious a foundation. Entering a profession without any previous acquisitions of this kind, is building too bold a superstructure.
Teaching by lecture, as at Edinburgh, may make men scholars, if they think proper; but instructing by exami
nation, as at Oxford, will make them so often against their inclination,
Edinburgh only disposes the student to receive learning; Oxford often makes him actually learned.
In a word, were I poor, I should send my son to Leyden or Edinburgh, though the annual expense in each, particularly in the first, is very great. Were I rich, I would send him to one of our own universities. By an education received in the first, he has the best likelihood of living; by that received in the latter, he has the best chance of becoming great.
We have of late heard much of the necessity of studying oratory. Vespasian was the first who paid professors of rhetoric for publicly instructing youth at Rome. However, those pedants never made an orator.
The best orations that ever were spoken were pronounced in the parliaments of King Charles the First. These men never studied the rules of oratory.
Mathematics are, perhaps, too much studied at our universities. This seems a science to which the meanest intellects "All men might
are equal.* I forget who it is that says, understand mathematics, if they would."
The most methodical manner of lecturing, whether on morals or nature, is, first rationally to explain, and then produce the experiment. The most instructive method is to shew the experiment first; curiosity is then excited, and attention awakened to every subsequent deduction. Hence it is evident, that in a well formed education a course of history should ever precede a course of ethics.
The sons of our nobility are permitted to enjoy greater liberties in our universities than those of private men. I should blush to ask the men of learning and virtue who preside in our seminaries, the reason of such a prejudicial
*This is partly true, but not to the extent which is implied in our author's general assertion. The elements of the science may certainly be acquired without any extraordinary share of intellect; but surely distinguished proficiency in the higher branches of mathematics implies something more than the industrious efforts of the "meanest intellects." Goldsmith himself was a very indifferent mathematician; and this will perhaps account sufficiently for his attempt to underrate the importance of the science, and his wish to consider its acquisition as the despicable triumph of plodding mediocrity.-B.