North American Scholar

LONG, George

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1800-11-04
  • Born City: Poulton
  • Born State/Country: Lancashire, England
  • Parents: James Long, a merchant, & wife.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1879-08-10
  • Death City: Chichester
  • Death State/Country: England
  • Married: Harriet Seldon and, subsequently, two others.
  • Education:

    B.A. Cambridge (Trinity Coll.), 1822.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof. anc. langs. U. Virginia, 1824-8; prof. Gk. U. London (now University Coll. London), 1828-31; prof. Lat., 1842-6; ed. Quarterly Journal of Education, 1831-5; Penny Encyclopedia, 1833-46; the letter "A" of Biographical Dictionary (London, 1842-4); reader jurisprud. & Civ. law at Inner Temple, 1846-9; joint ed. Bibliotheca Classica; class, mstr. Brighton Coll., 1849-71.

  • Publications:

    Tables of Comparative Etymology (Philadelphia, 1828); Introductory Lecture [on the Greek Language] Delivered in the University of London (Lonson, 1828); Herodotus (London, 1830-3; rev. ed., 1838, 1848, 1851); articles on Roman Law for Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (London, 1842); Two Discourses on Roman Law (London, 1847); Cicero's Cato Maior. . . Laelius . . . et Epistolae Selectae (London, 1853); Atlas of Classical Geography (London, 1854; rev. ed., 1874); Cicero's Orations, 4 vols. (London, 1851-8).

  • Notes:

    George Long, Thomas Jefferson's choice as first classicist for the University of Virginia and an expert on Roman Law, was brought to this country by Francis W. Gilmer along with four other Englishmen, all of whom were in their twenties, to form the nucleus of the faculty of the new institution. Long stayed four years, "eating corn-bread, and a Virginian in tastes and habits," he wrote, before he was called to be the first Professor of Greek at the University of London. Long is credited with reviving interest in Roman law in Britain and with being a teacher of rare gifts, beloved by students and colleagues, and praised by Matthew Arnold in his Essays and Criticisms. His stay in America was too short to be of similar consequence, but his authority is indirectly evident in the long career of his most important American pupil and his successor at the University of Virginia, Gessner Harrison, for he introduced Harrison, and thereby three generations of the best Southern students, to the principles of Bopp's Comparative Grammar and the historical method. Harrison said of him, "A man of marked ability and attainments, . . . scrupulously demanding accuracy in the results of inquiry, and scouting mere pretension, he aimed at and was fitted to introduce something better than what passed current as classical learning." In the words of H. B. Adams, having "fixed the standard of requirement of his classes at a higher point than was then known in this country," he left his post to the inexperienced Harrison, whom he advised for the rest of his career, principally in 1833 when he sent his former pupil the first volume of Bopp's Comparative Grammar.

  • Sources:

    H. B. Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia (Washington, 1888); P. A. Bruce, History of the University of Virginia (New York, 1921) vol. 2, passim; DNB:102-4; Cyclopedia of American Literature, ed. E. & G. Duyckinck (New York, 1856) 2:730; Thomas F. Fitzhugh, ed., The Letters of George Long (Charlottesville, 1917); Sandys, 430; W. P. Trent, English Culture in Virginia (Baltimore, 1889) 89-94.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.