Page images
PDF
EPUB

4

munificent RADCLIFFE*. He was elected April 8, 1751; the Governors of the school allowing him a yearly income of one hundred and twenty pounds, and subjecting him to the payment of his ushers out of his own purse. Here he found the number of his scholars much increased; nor did he remit the most unwearied attention to his duty.

An endeavour to embalm the memory of a deserving man by a plain and artless delineation of his character will, I trust, never be thought unseasonable. It is not my intention to attempt a portrait of him from an abstracted idea of uncommon excellences. I am eager to speak the language of truthếto describe him as he really was, without partiality or predilection.

With respect to his literary attainments, he was equal to most of his contemporaries. His knowledge was not merely confined to those books, which are usually introduced into our schools. He thoroughly understood the poets, the orators, the historians, the philosophers, and the critics of

* John Radcliffe, M. D. the founder of the Radcliffe Library at Oxford, was born at Wakefield in 1650. In his answer to a letter written by the noted Obadiah Walker, who endeavoured to withdraw him from the Church of England, he thus expresses himself: “ Having been born a Protestant at Wakefield, and sent from thence in that persuasion to Oxford, where during my continuance I had no relish for absurdities, I intend not to change my principles and turn Papist in London.”

Greece and Rome. He had explored their wri. tings with accuracy and precision.

His philological and grammatical acquirements were the result of painful and rigid researches. The appellation of · Little Aristophanes *,' for he was small of stature, was given to him from the encomium with which Dr. Bentley honoured him, after a severe examination of his proficiency in the works of that poet. The writer of this Memoir recollects with pleasure the happy flow of expression, with which he interpreted the select Comedies of the Athenian Dramatist. When the divine Odes of Pindar were before him, he seemed to be full of the enthusiastic fervor, which inflamed the Theban Bard. With Demosthenes he was all energy and vehemence. He sweetly moralised with Plato, as if walking along the flowery banks of Ilissus. With Isocrates he conversed, mild and gentle as the dew on the tender grass. With Longinus he assumed the dignity of an en

Previously to the admission of Mr. Clarke at Trinity College, a page of the Greek Text, with the Scholia, was placed before him. He explained the whole with the utmost perspicuity, elegance, and ease. Dr. Bentley immediately presented him with a valuable edition of the Comedies of Aristophanes; telling him, at the same time, in language peculiar to himself, that “no scholar in Europe understood them better, one person only excepted

lightened master of criticism, breathing the very spirit of sublimity.

Among the writers of modern Latinity, he preferred Vida in poetry, and Erasmus in prose. In the Poems of the Bishop of Alba he discovered the original genius of Maro: in the works of Erasmus, whom we may truly denominate • the Morning Star of Learning,' he saw and admired the native beauties of the Roman Orator.

It was one of his employments, to begin the mornings of the three first days in each week with explaining to his scholars a select portion in the Version of the LXXII, and another in the Greek New Testament. Hence they became familiarised, in their more tender years, to the language of the sacred penmen. Many of them, intended for the Church, in conformity to his advice continued to dedicate a brief portion of every day to the careful perusal of the Scriptures, and the regular use of an interleaved Bible for the insertion of incidental remarks and illustrations. If this plan of study were universally adopted in our public schools, might it not enable the candidates for orders to acquit themselves with superior credit * ? But I have digressed from my subject.

* A most useful work, calculated to promote the religious instruction of youth, has been lately republished by the Bishop of Chester, and dedicated by his Lordship to the Schoolmasters

in

When we travel from our homes, vacant intervals of time necessarily occur—at an inn, or at the house of a friend. Conversation is pleasing and instructive: but the hour of retirement will intervene. The excellent person, of whom I now write, eagerly desirous of improvement, and “ never less alone than when alone,” was always furnished with books fitted for the pocket. These little volumes, the delightful companions of his leisure, afforded him continual employment. He may be said, literally, to have perused them by day and by night. Hence he retained an intimate and habitual knowledge of the best writers. And this method he strongly recommended to his pupils, whom on their departure from school, he usually presented with an Elzevir, or some similar edition of a favourite classic. Let not this be thought too trifling a circumstance to be noticed. Mr. Dodwell, one of our most learned writers, adopted this system.

in his diocese: I mean, Alexander Nowell's Lesser Catechism. Christianæ Pietatis prima Institutio. Ad Usum Scholarum Latinè scripta. Editio nova Annotatiunculis aucta. Oxonii, 1795. [It has recently gone through another edition.]

It is required of the scholars, who succeed to the exhibitions founded by Lady Elizabeth Hastings, that from their first admission at Queen's College, Oxford, they shall spend one hour every morning in the study of the Holy Scriptures, and write their own explications of such particular places and passages of Holy Scripture, as their tutors may think proper to appoint, and which they are directed to call for at proper times.

“ For this end he carried with him, in his journeys, the Hebrew Bible in four volumes, the Greek New Testament, and the Common Prayer accordingly. For the same purpose he had Thomas à Kempis, St. Augustine's Meditations, and other books of the like nature and size."

The predominancy of pride tends peculiarly to corrupt the human heart. It is, indeed, incompatible with the Christian character. Mr. John Clarke was the sweet exemplar of humility and condescension. When occasionally he held an interview with one of inferior condition in life, they conversed with each other like good Mr. Hooker and his parish clerk, “ who never talked together but with their hats on, or their hats off, both at the same time.” He accommodated himself with equal affability and kindness to all. Whatever inequality of rank might subsist among his scholars, he observed no other discrimination than that which was adjusted by the rule of a most impartial equity. The modest and diligent young man ever experienced his fostering favour. And so gentle withal was his disposition, as to render the path of science smooth and easy, even to those who were less attentive. But if unfortunately the exertion of magisterial authority became necessary, as the expanse of the ocean does not always remain unruffled, he assumed the aweful dignity of a superior determined to restrain

« PreviousContinue »