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timely performance of his exercises, por to have blemished them with inaccuracies ; for “ he was never kn'own to have been corrected at school, unless for talking and diverting other boys from their business.” Indeed, such was the superiority of his talents above those of his companions, that three of the boys, of whom Mr. Hector was sometimes one, are said to have assembled submissively every morning, to carry him triumphantly upon their shoulders to school. This ovation is believed by Mr. Boswell to have been an honour paid to the early predominance of his intellectual powers alone ; but they who remember what boys are, and who consider that Johnson's corporeal prowess was by no means despicable, will be apt to suspect that the homage was enforced, at least as much by awe of the one, as by admiration of the other,
After having resided for some months at the house of his cousin, Cornelius Ford, who assisted him in the classics, he was, by his advice, at the age of fifteen, removed to the school of Stourbridge in Worcestershire, of which Mr. Wentworth was then master, whom he has described as “a very able man, but an idle man, and to me unreasonably severe. Yet he taught me a great deal.” He seems to have been there in the double capacity of a scholar and usher, repaying the learning he acquired from his master, by the instruction he gave to the younger boys. Parson Ford he has described in his “ Life of Fenton," as “ a clergyman at that time too well known, whose abilities, instead of furnishing convivial merriment to the voluptuous and the dissolute, might have enabled him to excel among the virtuous and the wise.”
He thus discriminated to Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, his progress at his
two grammar-schools : “ At one I learnt much in the school, but little from the master; in the other I learnt much from the master, but little in the fchool.”
He remained at Stourbridge little more than a year, and then returned home, where he pursued his ftudies ; but not upon any regular plan. Of this method of attaining knowledge, he seems ever after to have entertained a favourable opinion, and to have recommended it, not without reason, to young men; as the surest means of enticing them to learn. What he read was not works of mere amusement? d. They were not voyages and travels, but all literature, all ancient authors, all manly; though but little Greek, only some of Anacreon and Hesiod. But in this irregular manner; I had looked into a great many books, which were not commonly known at the universities, where they feldom read any books but what are part
into their hands by their tutors ; so that when I came to Oxford, Dr. Adams told me I was the best qualified for the university that he had ever known come there."
He had already given several proofs of his poetical genius, both in his school exercises, and in other occasional compofitions. Of these Mr. Boswell obtained a considerable collection from Mr. Wentworth, the son of his master, and Mr. Hector, his school-fellow; of which he has preserved fome translations from Homer, Virgil, Horace, &c. Unfortunately the communications of Mr. Wentworth are not distinguished from those of Mr. Hector. Such a precaution would have enabled us to have distinguished with certainty the efforts of the boy, from the production of riper years. His translation of the first eclogue of Virgil, is not so harmonious as that from the sixth book of Homer; and both are inferior in this respect to
those which he has made of the Odes of Horace. Indeed, in the style and manner of versification used in the last; and in some other of his juvenile pieces, he seems to have made little alteration in his more experienced days; and it must be added, that in point of smoothness, little improvement could have been made.
After a residence of two years at home, Mr. Andrew Corbet, a gentleman of Shropshire, undertook to support him at Oxford, in the character of a companion to his son, one of his school-fellows; “ though, in fact,” says Mr. Boswell, upon the authority of Dr. Taylor, “ he never received any assistance whatever from that gentleman.” He was accordingly entered a Commoner at Pembroke College, Oxford, October 31. 1728, being then in his nineteenth year.
On the night of his arrival at Oxford, his father, who had, anziously accompa