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to begin, or a general mode, by which it should be conveyed; the determination in both cases must be left to the discretion of parents, who ought to be the most competent to decide.
In this year of his life, Jones providentially escaped from two accidents, one of which had nearly proved fatal to his sight, the other to his life. Being left alone in a room, in attempting to scrape some soot from the chimney, he fell into the fire, and his clothes were instantly in flames: his cries brought the servants to his assistance, and he was preserved with some difficulty; but his face, neck, and arms, were much burnt. A short time afterwards, when his attendants were putting on his clothes, which were imprudently fastened with hooks, he struggled, either in play, or in some childish pet, and a hook was fixed in his right eye. By due care, under the directions of Dr. Mead, whose friendship with his family continued unabated after his father's death, the wound was healed; but the eye was so much weakened, that the sight of it ever remained imperfect.
His propensity to reading, which had begun to display itself, was for a time checked by these accidents; but the habit was acquired, and after his recovery he indulged it without restraint, by perusing eagerly any books that came in his way, and with an attention proportioned to his ability to comprehend them. In his fifth year, as he was one morning turning over the leaves of a Bible in his mother's closet, his attention was forcibly arrested by the sublime description of the angel in the tenth chapter of the Apocalypse, and the impression which his imagination received from it was never effaced. At a period of mature judgment, he considered the passage as equal in sublimity to any in the inspired writers, and far superior to any that could be produced from mere human compositions; and he was fond of retracing and mentioning the rapture rapture which he felt, when he first read it. In his sixth year, by the assistance of a friend, he was initiated in the rudiments of the Latin grammar, and he committed some passages of it to memory; but the dull elements of a new language having nothing to captivate his childish attention, he made little progress in it; nor was he encouraged to perseverance by his mother, who, intending him for a public education, was unwilling to perplex his mind with the study of a dead language, before he had acquired a competent knowledge of his native tongue.
At Michaelmas 1753, in the close of his seventh year, he was placed at Harrow School, of which the worthy and amiable Dr. Thackeray was then head master. The amusements and occupations of a school-boy are of little importance to the public ; yet it cannot be uninteresting, or uninstructive, to trace the progress of a youth of genius and abilities, from his earliest efforts to that proficiency in universal literature which he afterwards attained. During the two first years of his residence at Harrow, he was rather remarked for diligence and application, than for the superiority of his talents, or the extent of his acquisitions; and his attention was almost equally divided between his books and a little garden, the cultivation and embellishment of which occupied all his leisure hours. His faculties however necessarily gained strength by exercise; and during his school vacations, the sedulity of a fond parent was without intermission exerted to improve his knowledge of his own language. She also taught him the rudiments of drawing, in which she excelled.
In his ninth year, he had the misfortune to break his thigh-bone in a scramble with his school-fellows, and this accident detained him from school twelve months. After his relief from pain, how
ever, the period of his confinement was not suffered to pass in indolence; indolence; his mother was his constant companion, and amused him daily with the perusal of such English books, as she deemed adapted to his taste and capacity. The juvenile poems of Pope, and Dryden's Translation of the AEneid, afforded him incessant delight, and excited his poetical talents, which displayed themselves in the composition of verses in imitation of his favourite authors. But his progress in classical learning, during this interval, was altogether suspended ; for although he might have availed himself of the proffered instruction of a friend, in whose house he resided, to acquire the rudiments of Latin, he was then so unable to comprehend its utility, and had so little relish for it, that he was left unrestrained to pursue his juvenile occupations and amusements, and the little which he had gained in his two first years, was nearly lost in the third.
On his return to school, he was however placed in the same class which he would have attained, if the progress of his studies had not been interrupted. He was of course far behind his fellowlabourers of the same standing, who erroneously ascribed his insufficiency to laziness or dulness, while the master who had raised him to a situation above his powers, required exertions of which he was incapable, and corporal punishment and degradation were applied, for the non-performance of tasks, which he had never been instructed to furnish. But in truth he far excelled his school-fellows in general, both in diligence and quickness of apprehension; nor was he of a temper to submit to imputations, which he knew to be unmerited. Punishment failed to produce the intended effect; but his emulation was roused. He devoted himself incessantly to the perusal of various elementary treatises, which had never been explained nor even recommended to him; and having thus acquired principles, he applied them with such skill and success, that in a few months he not only recovered the station from which he had been been degraded, but was at the head of his class: his compositions were correct, his analysis accurate, and he uniformly gained every prize offered for the best exercise. He voluntarily extended his studies beyond the prescribed limits, and, by solitary labour, having acquired a competent knowledge of the rules of prosody, he composed verses in imitation of Ovid ; a task, which had never been required from any of the students in the lower school at Harrow.
The behaviour of the master to Jones, made an impression on his mind, which he ever remembered with abhorrence. Little doubt can be entertained, that he might have been stimulated to equal exertions, if encouragement had been substituted for severity, and instruction for disgrace. The accumulation of punishment for his inability to soar, before he had been taught to fly, (I use his own expression) might have rendered the feelings callous; and a sense of the injustice attending the infliction of it, was calculated to destroy the respect due to magisterial authority, and its influence over the scholar. It is a material and perhaps unavoidable defect in the system of education at public schools, that the necessity of regulating instruction by general rules, must often preclude that attention to the tempers and capacities of individuals, by which their attainments might be essentially promoted.
In his twelfth year, Jones was moved into the upper school. Of the retentive powers of his memory at this period, the following anecdote is a remarkable instance. His school-fellows proposed to amuse themselves with the representation of a play; and at his recommendation they fixed upon the Tempest: as it was not readily to be procured, he wrote it for them so correctly from memory, that they acted it with great satisfaction to themselves, and with . considerable entertainment to the spectators. He performed the
character of Prospero. ID His
His diligence increased with his advancement in the school: he now entered upon the study of the Greek tongue, the characters of which he had already learned for his amusement. His genius and assiduity were also displayed in various compositions, not required by the discipline of the school. He translated into English verse several of the epistles of Ovid, all the pastorals of Virgil, and composed a dramatic piece on the story of Meleager, which he denominated a tragedy; and it was acted, during the vacation, by some of his school-fellows with whom he was most intimate. In his own play, he performed the part of the hero.
A copy of this little composition, inaccurately transcribed by a relation, has been preserved; and to gratify that curiosity which the mention of it may have excited, I select from it the following lines:
Still Discord raves, Bellona fiercely storms,