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TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN,
BY JOHN LAWSON, D. D.
of ERASMUS SMITH, Esquire.
Videmus quid deceat, non affequimur. Cicero de Orat.
THE SECOND EDITION.
M DCC LIX.
Most Reverend, the Right Hon.
&c. the Governors of the Schools of ERASMUS Smith, Efq;
HE Wisdom of our Ancestors thought
fit to establish Professors, and injoin
publick Lectures to be delivered in all Seats of Learning, as Means highly conducive to the right Instruction of Youth: The End which they were deemed to answer, obtained Place in all Countries, and have been held in general Esteem almost down to the present Times. But in late Days, at least among us, a Dislike of this Institution hath been insensibly growing up, and seemeth now pretty widely to prevail : It being in the Nature of Mankind to become tired of old Customs, and seek after new InvenA
tions, mistaking too often meer Change for Improvement.
It is likely indeed, that this Institution doth not now answer the good Purposes it might, and actually did. Mismanagement may have crept in : For render a Thing unfashionable, it must decline. But we ought not to charge on the Design Abuses thereof, nor confound the Effect with its Cause. Thus, general Disregard occasions Failure in Execution ; but that Failure should not be alledged as an Argument to justify this Disregard; although, when established, it keepeth up and encreaseth it. Negligence is at first the Effect of Contempt, afterwards a Cause.
I WOULD not however be understood to afsert, that this Plan of Instruction is perfect, that all Objections offered against it are groundless. On the contrary, it is urged with much Shew of Reason and some Truth; “ That the conti“ nued Discourse of a Professor, however judi
ciously composed, cannot convey fufficient
Knowledge of any Art or Science; to the « Attainment of which Care, Attention, and " the Slowness of gradual Progress are necessa“ ry. That this essential Defect hath farther
an evil Tendency, accustoming young Per“ sons to content themselves with such super“ ficial Knowledge as they can glean up from
hearing loose general Essays, and to consider " this as a competent Fund of Learning ; from “ whence usually spring Conceit and Pedantry.”
If we were to trace up the Dillike of this Article of Academic Education to its Source, I fear, that we should find it closely connected with, or rather a Branch of somewhat, more momentous, of a Prejudice against the Whole; a Plant, the Seeds of which have been of late industriously fown in the Mind, have taken Root, and been artfully cherished there ; until at Length it hath grown to mighty Size and Strength, extending its Branches far and near; and hath well nigh covered the Land.
And yet, upon weighing the Matter, one is at a Loss to assign for this Aversion
tolerable Appearance of Reason. Setting aside Revelation, are there any Writings, which present Goodness in so amiable a Light, which recommend the noblest and most generous Virtues, Justice, Friendship, the Love of our Country and of Mankind, in so warm and strong a Manner, as the Volumes transmitted to us from A 2