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THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.
Thomas Arnold, seventh child and youngest son of William and Martha Arnold, was born on June 13th, 1795, at West Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, where his family had been settled for two generations, their original residence having been at Lowestoff, in Suffolk.
His father, who was collector of the customs at Cowes, died suddenly of spasm in the heart, on March 3rd, 1801. His two elder brothers, William and Matthew, died, the first in 1806, the second in 1820. His sisters all survived him, with the exception of the third, Susannah, who, after a lingering complaint in the spine, died at Laleham, in 1832.
His early education was confided by his mother to her sister, Miss Delafield, who took an affectionate pride in her charge, and directed all his studies as a child. In 1803, he was sent to Warminster school, in Wiltshire, under Dr. Griffiths, with whose assistant master, Mr. Lawes, he kept up his intercourse long aster they had parted. In 1807, he was removed to Winchester, where, having entered as a commoner, and afterwards become a scholar of the college, he remained till 1811. In after life he always cherished a strong Wykehamist feeling, and during his head-mastership at Rugby, often recurred to his knowledge there first acquired, of the peculiar constitution of a public school, and to his recollections of the tact in managing boys shown by Dr. Goddard, and the skill in imparting scholarship which distinguished Dr. Gabell, who during his stay there were succes sively head masters of Winchester.
He was then, as always, of a shy and retiring disposition, but his manner as a child, and till his entrance at Oxford, was marked by a stiffness and formality the very reverse of the joyousness and simplicity of his later years ; his family and school, fellows both remember him as unlike those of his own age, and with peculiar pursuits of his own; and the tone and style of his early letters, which have been for the most part preserved, are such as might naturally have been produced by living chiefly in the company of his elders, and reading, or hearing read to him before he could read himself, books suited to a more advanced age.
Both as a boy and a young man he was remarkable for a difficulty in early rising, amounting almost to a constitutional infirmity ; and though his after life will show how completely this was overcome by habit
, yet he often said that early rising was a daily effort to him, and that in this instance he never found the truth of the usual rule that all things are made easy by custom. With this, however, was always united great occasional energy; and one of his schoolfellows gives it as his impression of him that "he was stiff in his opinions, and utterly immoveable by force or fraud, when he made up his mind, whether right or wrong."
It is curious to trace the beginnings of some of his later interests in his earliest amusements and occupations. He never lost the recollection of the impression produced upon him by the excitement of naval and military affairs, of which he naturally saw and heard much by living at the Isle of Wight, in the time of the war; and the sports in which he took most pleasure, with the few playmates of his childhood, were in sailing rival fleeis in his father's garden, or acting the battles of the Homeric heroes, with whatever implements he could use as spear and shield, and reciting their several speeches from Pope's translation of the Iliad. He was from his earliest years exceedingly fond of ballad poetry, which his Winchester schoolfellows used to learn from his repetition before they had seen it in print; and his own compositions as a boy all ran in the same direction. A play of this kind, in which his schoolfellows were introduced as the dramatis personæ, and a long poem of " Simon de Montfort," in imitation of Scott's Marmion, procured for him at school, by way of distinction from another boy of the same name, the appellation of Poet Arnold. And the earliest specimen of his comporition which has been preserved is a little tragedy, written before he was seven years old, on “ Piercy Earl of Northumberland," suggested apparently by Home's play of Douglas; which, however, contains nothing worthy of notice, except, perhaps, the accuracy of orthography, language, and blank' verse meire, in which it is written, and the precise arrangement of the different acts and scenes.
But he was most remarked for his forwardness in history and geography. His strong power of memory, (which, however, in later years depended mainly on association) extending to the exact state of the weather on particular days, or the exact words and position of passages which he had not seen for twenty years, showed itself very early and chiefly on these subjects. One of the few recollections which he retained of his father was, that he received from him, at three years old, a present of Smollett's History of England, as a reward for the accuracy with which he had gone through the stories connected with the portraits and pictures of the successive reigns; and at the same age he used to sit at his aunt's table arranging his geographical cards, and recognising by their shape at a glance the diferent counties of the dissected map of England.
He long retained a grateful remembrance of the miscellaneous books to which he had arcess in the school library at Warminster, and when, in his Professorial chair at Oxford, he quoted Dr. Priestley's Lectures on History, it was from his recollection of what he had there read when he was eight years old. At Winchester he was a diligent siudent of Russell's Modern Europe; Gibbon and Mitford he had read twice over before he left school; and amongst the comments on his reading and the bursts of political enthusiasm on the events of the day in which he indulged in his Winchester letters, it is curious, as connected with his later labors, to read his indignation, when fourteen years old, " at the numerous boasts which are every where to be met with in the Litin writers.” “I verily believe," he adds, " that half at least of the Roman history is, if not totally false, at least scandalously exaggerated : how far different are the modest, unaffected, and impartial narrations of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.”
The period both of his home and school education was too short to exercise niuch influence upon his after life. But he always looked back upon it with a marked tenderness. The keen sense which he entertained of the bond of relationship and of early association,-not the less from the blank in his own domestic recollections occasioned by his father's death, and his own subsequent removal from the Isle of Wight,-invested with a peculiar interest the scenes and companions of his childhood. His strong domestic affections had acted as an important safeguard to him, when he was thrown at so early an age into the new sphere of an Oxford life; and when, in later years, he was left the head of the family, he delighted in gathering round him the remains of his father's household, and in treasuring up every particular relating to his birth-place and parentage, even to the graves of the older generations of the family in the parish church at Lowestoff, and the great willow tree in his father's grounds at Slattwoods, from which he transplanted shoots successively to Laleham, to Rugby, and to Fox How. Every date in the family history, with the alteration of hereditary names, and the changes of their residence, was carefully preserved for his children in his own handwriting, and when in after years he fixed on the abode of his old age in Westmoreland, it was his great delight to regard it as a continuation of his own early home in the Isle of Wight. And when, as was his wont, he used to look back from time to time over the whole of this period, it was with the solemn feeling which is expressed in one of his later journals, written on a visit to the place of his earliest school-education, in the interval between the close of his life at Laleham, and the beginning of his work at Rugby. “Warminster, January 5th . I have not written this date for more than twenty years, and how little could I foresee when I wrote it last, what would happen to me in the interval. And now to look forward twenty years—how little can I guess of that also. Only may He in whose hands are time and eternity, keep me evermore his own; that whether I live, I may live unto Him; or whether I die, I may die unto Him; may He guide me with his counsel, and after that receive me to glory, tlırough Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
In 1811, in his 16th year, he was elected as a scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; in 1814, his name was placed in the first class in Litteræ Humaniores; in the next year he was elected Fellow of Oriel College ; and he gained the Chancellor's prize for the two University Essays, Latin and English, for the years 1815 and 1817. Those who know the influence which his college friendships exercised over his after life, and the deep affection which he always bore to Oxford, as the scene of the happiest recollections of his youth, and the sphere which he hoped io occupy with the employments of his old age, will rejoice in the possession of the following record of his under-graduate life by that true and early friend, to whose timely advice, protection, and example, at the critical period when he was thrown with all the spirits and the inexperience of boyhood on the temptations of the University, he always said and felt, that lie had owed more than to any other man in the world.
LETTER FROM MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE.
Heath's Court, September, 1843.
MY DEAR STANLEY,
When you informed me of Mrs. Arnold's wish that I would contribute to your memoir of our dear friend, Dr. Arnold, such recollections as I had of his career as an under-graduate at Oxford, with the intimation that they were intended to fill up that chapter in his life, my only hesitation in complying with her wish arose from my doubts, whether my impressions were so fresh and true, or my powers of expression such as to enable me to do justice to the subject. A true and lively picture of him at that time would be, I am sure, interesting in itself; and I felt certain also that his Oxford residence contributed essentially to the formation of his character in after life. My doubts remain; but I have not thought them important enough to prevent my endeavouring at least to comply with her request; nor will I deny that I promise myself much pleasure, melancholy though it may be, in this attempt 10 recall those days. They had their troubles, I dare say, but in retrospect they always appear to me among the brightest and least chequered, if not the most useful, which have ever been vouchsafed to me.
Arnold and I, as you know, were under-graduates of Corpus Christi, a college very small in its numbers, and humble in its buildings, but to which we and our fellow-students formed an attachment never weakened in the after course of our lives. At the time I speak of, 1909, and thenceforward for some few years, it was under the Presidency, mild and inert, rather than paternal, of Dr. Cooke. His nephew, Dr. Williams, was the vice-president, and medical fellow, the only lay fellow permitted by the statutes. Retired he was in his habits, and not forward to interfere with the pursuits or studies of the young men. But I am bound to record not only his learning and good taste, but the kindness of his heart, and his readiness to assist them by advice and criticism in their compositions. When I wrote for the Latin Verse prize, in 1810, I was much indebted to him for advice in matters of taste and Latinity, and for the pointing out many faults in my rough verses.
Our tutors were the present Sedleian Professor, the Rev. G. L. Cooke, and the lately deceased President, the Rev. T. Bridges. Of the former, because he is alive, I will only say that I believe no one ever attended his lectures without learning to admire his unwearied industry, patience, and good temper, and that few if any quitted his pupil room without retaining a kindly feeling towards him. The recent death of Dr. Bridges would have affected Arnold as it has me: he was a most amiable man; the affectionate earnestness of his manner, and his high tone of feeling, fitted him especially to deal with young men ; he made us always desirous of pleasing him; perhaps his fault was that he was too easily pleased; I am sure that he will be long and deeply regretted in the University.
It was not, however, so much by the authorities of the college that Arnold's character was affected, as by its constitution and system, and by the residents whom it was his fortune to associate with familiarly there. I shall hardly do justice to my subject unless I state a few particulars as to the former, and what I am at liberty to mention as to the latter. Corpus is a very small establishment, -twenty fellows and twenty scholars, with four exhibitioners, form the foundation. No independent members