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during his later days, of frittering by rust.–Vacuity and irritation were its alternate shades.
From taste he derived neither amusement nor occupation, for of taste he never had a tincture :- placed amidst the most delicious scenes of England, he thought of nothing but turning his own portion of them to emolument; and, from the society of the
mild Arcadians' of his neighbourhood and their admirers, his vigorous and reasoning faculties could draw little of intelligence or entertainment. Meanwhile, as interest engaged one half of his attention, ambition continued to absorb the other; and to the last year perhaps of his life he pursued, though by means peculiar to himself, the great object of a translation, with all the assiduity of a supple candidate for promotion, who never places himself out of the minister's sight, and never omits the duty of a bow at the levee. Conscious of great talents, which, however, were greatly over-rated by their possessor, he formed the scheme of bullying ministers into a translation, while it was his peculiar misfortune, in the prosecution of this hopeless project, to encounter a man equally haughty and impracticable with himself, and of talents far superior.
But it is time to enter upon this unparalleled work, and to pursue the life of Richard Watson, bishop of Landaff, under his own direction. He was born in the month of August, in the year 1737, at Heversham, a delightful village in the Bottom of Westmoreland, the son of Watson, schoolmaster of that place, whom, in his epitaph, the bishop has rather coldly described as ludimagister haud inutilis. He was, indeed, of no use to his son, who was born after the father was sixty, and, by his resignation of the school, fell into fat inferior hands. The northern schools, which teemed with boys destined to the University of Cambridge, were then at a very low ebb, and the entire inattention to versification, together with its 'cer tain accompaniment, ignorance of classical quantity, cannot but give us a very high idea of the vigour, comprehension, and industry of those young men who were afterwards able to surmount these disadvantages, and to meet on equal ground the highly polished sons of Eton and Westminster in their respective colleges. This was the trying situation of Watson; and the first symptom of that constitutional arrogance which impelled him to despise whatever he had not attained breaks forth very conspicuously in the account which he gives of himself on this occasion :
'It has fallen to my lot not only to be obliged to write, but to speak Latin; and, having never been taught to make Latin or Greek verses, it cost me more pains to remember whether a syllable was long or short, than it would have done to comprehend a whole section of Newton's Principia. My mind, indeed, recoiled from such inquiries. What imports it, I used to say to myself, whether Cicero would have
said, fortuito or fortuito ?-Areopăgus or Areopāgus ?---And yet I was forced to attend to such things; for an Eton or a Westminster schoolmaster would properly bave thought meanly of a man who did not know them. My hands have shaken with impatience and indignation, when I have been consulting Ainsworth or Labbé about a point, which I was sure of forgetting in a month's time. I found it difficult to impress upon my memory rules of prosody which I had acquired a coniempt for; nor did this contempt arise so much from ignorance of the subject (for I had, after leaving school, taken great pains not to be igporant of it) as from the undue importance which was given to it.'
We give this as a characteristic trait of his temper as well as attainments, or rather non-attainments, at the time when he came forth an awkward, overgrown, unmannered boy, from the obscurity and rudeness of a northern school, into the elegance and splendour of that magnificent college, of which he was destined to become one of the first ornaments in his time. So suddenly and violently transplanted, many young men have been tempted to despair of any competition with rivals prepared and hardened by the discipline of great schools; but Watson was of a temper not to be dismayed: he felt his own real powers, he thought them greater than they were; he grasped with a strong hand the abstruse and invigorating subjects of study which he found prescribed, and quickly perceived his feeble competitors, the sons of art and elegance, the balancers of points and particles, distanced in the race. By one of those instances of academical intrigue, which subsequent regulations have rendered more difficult, Watson was deprived of the first honour to which, by general acknowledgement, he was entitled at his degree. This he bore in mind, and amply revenged upon the rival college, which he knew to be the author of the wrong.
With respect to the subsequent years of his life, our limits will only permit us to add, that he was elected, in due course, fellow of his college, then assistant, and afterwards head tutor ; that in these periods he served the office of moderator for the university four. times, and that in the meanwhile he had a constant supply of private pupils. All these circumstances are material to our purpose, in their direct bearing on the future character of the man, and on our estimate of the extent and depth of those acquirements, which seemed to be demanded for the difficult and exalted situation to which he subsequently rose in the university. . .
Mr. Watson, among other qualities, which certainly contributed to his advancement in life, possessed a happy coufidence in himself, and an opinion of his own fitness for any situation to which he should think proper to aspire, though totally ignorant at the time of every qualification requisite to the discharge of its functions. He had also the faculty of infusing the same opinion of himself into others. To this felicity of temper and constitution he was indebted
for his next situation at Cambridge. On the 19th of November, '1764,' he informs us, “I was unanimously elected, by the senate assembled in full congregation, professor of chemistry. At the time this honour was conferred upon me I knew nothing at all of chemistry, had never read a syllable on the subject, nor seen a single experiment in it. Whether the confidence of the electors, or the modesty of the candidate, in this appointment were most to be admired we shall for the present leave undecided; and pass on to the year 1767, during which our professor had been laboriously and ardently preparing for the discharge of his new function:
In this,' says he, and the two following years I read chemical lectures to very crowded audiences. I now look back with a kind of terror' (indeed he has reason) at the application I used in the younger part of my life. For months and years together I frequently read public lectures in Trinity College, beginning at eight o'clock in the morning, spent four or five hours with private pupils, and five or six more in my laboratory every day, besides the incidental business of the Sophs' School. Had so much pains and time been dedicated to Greek and Hebrew, and to what are called learned subjects, what tiresome collation of MSS. what argute emendations of text, what jejune criticisms, what dull dissertations, what ponderous logomachies might have been produced, and left to sleep on the same shelves with bulky systems of German divinity in the libraries of universities !
This is both unfair and imprudent-unfair, as it describes the result of pertinacious study in criticism as fit to be exercised only by a dunce; and imprudent, as it supposes, by implication, that dunce to be himself.
Watson lived to see in his own college the rise and fall of a luminary to whose critical lucubrations he ought to have bowed with reverence. Were the pursuits of Porson or even of Porson's followers to be stigmatized as tiresome collations of MSS. argute emendations of texts, dull dissertations and ponderous logomachies ? Where, when he wrote this strange paragraph, was the candour and liberality of which he was wont to make so great a parade and how, had he lived to see the day when this attack upon verbal criticism came forth, night the late memorable Greek professor have retorted upon the squalid chemist who sallied from his furnace
- ardentis massa fuligine lippusto blacken all that was elegant and ornamental in ancient literature!
Besides, the professor of chemistry, according to his own acknowledgment, had by this time directed his aspiring eye to another object, which he very premnaturely and unexpectedly attained-the regius professorship of divinity. And with this view, a man either of modesty or prudence might have reflected that some knowledge beyond that of a school-boy in Greek, and that of a
mere abecedarian in Hebrew, had in former times been considered as necessary accomplishments for a divinity professor; and the time was to come when with all his subterfuges and all his front, he was sometimes taught to feel that this radical deficiency could neither be supplied by mother-wit nor by subsequent acquirements. The period at which Watson appeared in the University of Cambridge may justly be regarded as the Augustan age of that university; the physics of Des Cartes had just before given place to the sublime geometry of Newton; the metaphysics of human nature, as taught by Locke, had supplanted Aristotle, and the old scholastic theology had been superseded in the schools by a set of rising and enlightened divines under a learned and candid professor. It was certainly to the advantage of the academical studies that the higher algebra was not yet invented, and that the study of philosophy in general was not hitherto pushed so far as either to engross or to exhaust the understanding of the academical youth. A due place was also allowed and required for classical pursuits, while the purest writers of antiquity were studied, not so much for the purpose of consuminating the knowledge of points and metres, as of acquiring the noblest ideas of morals and politics in the clearest and most elegant language. Precisely at this period arose a constellation of young men eminently qualified both by the force of their understandings and by the elegance of their taste, to avail themselves of these advantages, and the names of Hurd and Powell, of Balguy and Ogden, are never heard by those who knew them or know their books, without the associated ideas of all that is clear in ratiocination, profound in research, and beautiful in language. As they disappeared from the scene, abstract mathematics began to prevail in the University, the equilibrium of study was destroyed, the liberal and manly system of education which had produced so many men of business and of the world, as well as of science, gradually disappeared; while the rewards which became necessary as stimuli to the higher acquirements of classical literature, tended to urge on the pursuits of difficult and recondite minutiæ in criticism, as inapplicable in one way to any practical purpose of life, as the obscurities of Waring's Miscellanea Analytica in another. The effects of this declension are but too visible at present in a hard, dry, 'exsuccous' style of writing, which has long since superseded, excepting in one or two solitary instances, the Attic graces of the last generation. At the period when this declension was taking place, the subject of this memoir began to be distinguished in Cambridge, arrogating every thing for his favourite mathematics, and looking down with insolent disdain on every elegant pursuit; yet, by an inconsistency apparent to every one but himself, he was then aspiring to a chair occupied by a master of latinity and ancient literature, while the other regius professorships were filled
by Plumtree, who spoke the idiom of Terence, and by Halifax, who had transfused into his style the more flowing graces of Cicero. Another impediment to any serious or systematic preparation for the theological chair was the habit of taking private pupils, which, however favourable to the present interests or future fortunes of the tutor, has, from its commencement, had a most pernicious effect upon the general learning of the University. But to the pursuit of this system the attractions are almost irresistible. Between the public tutor and the pupil there still continue some remains of distance and reserve, which prevent the formation of intimate friendship; but in private tuition, the tutor has a fair chance of uniting himself in the closest bands of attachment and familiarity with some future statesman, or some wealthy patron, by whom he may expect to be placed in a situation of independence, if not of dignity. To such a connexion with Mr. Luther, our author himself was indebted for the basis of his fortune, well earned indeed by many active exertions of the most zealous friendship.
But it is obvious that under such a system the interests of literature must give way to private expectations. The tutor moves round and round, year by year, in the narrow circle of academical institution, and he whose time and attention are absorbed by teaching can never learn. He leaves the University at forty with the attainments of twenty, and the intention of Fellowships, which was, to retain the most deserving young men in their several colleges, with full leisure and opportunity for study till they should be of standing for the higher degrees, is wholly defeated. This course it was that made all the learned men of the last two centuries; and it is the abandonment of this course, together with a tedium of all future exertion, frequently induced by the excessive application of the first three years of academical study to abstract science, which, under the present narrow and exclusive system, leaves the greater part of fellows of colleges at the point whence they ought to have set out, questionists for life.
Each of these remarks applies to the case of Mr. Watson, as a candidate for the theological chair. The professor of chemistry was only master of arts, and not of standing for the degree of doctor in divinity, when, to the infinite loss of the university, Dr. Rutherforth, the regius professor, died. This was a thunderstroke, and seems to have produced in the young and wholly unqualified expectant, with all the native arrogance of his temper, a momentary fit of diffidence. "I had,' says he, for years determined in my own mind to endeavour to succeed Dr. Rutherforth, provided he lived till I was of proper age and fully qualified for the undertaking. His premature and unexpected death quite disheartened me. I knew as much of divinity as could reasonably be expected froin a man whose course of studies had been