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Home's play of Douglas; which, however, contains nothing worthy of notice, except, perhaps, the accuracy of orthography, language, and blank verse metre, 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 be used to sit at his aunt's table arranging his geographical cards, and recognising by their shape at a glance the different counties of the dissected map of England.
He long retained a grateful remembrance of the miscellaneous books to which he had access 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 student 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 labours, to read his indignation, when fourteen years old,“ at the numerous boasts which are everywhere to be met with in the Latin 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 of too short a duration to exercise much 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 birthplace 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 which he paid 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 through 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 to 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 he 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 was 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 to 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
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, 1809, 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
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