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in during the four days of examination, and on the morning of the sixth, out comes a catalogue of degrees, descending in the order of merit, from the Captain down to the last of the Apostles. By what microscopic powers is the examiner enabled to discriminate, with so much precision, minute gradations of difference in quantities of science, themselves almost, if not altogether, evanescent?
While these grand proceedings are going on, suppose a stranger introduced into the Senate-house. What an imposing spectacle ! Here are assembled a considerable portion of the choicest youth of Britain. Here, after devoting three years to study, in the chosen seat of philosophy, consecrated by the name of Newton, they are pouring forth their accumulated treasures of scientific lore, and developing the mysteries of nature and the universe. How noble the coup d'æil of the hall, worthy the army of young philosophers who occupy it! Behold them seated at their profound investigations, at tables strewed with pens and paper, that extend the whole length of the spacious hall, and exhibiting every variety of costume. Here what was once the purple gown of Trinity—there the ci-devant black of St. John's—here, through a glorious rent up the middle, disclosing the colour of its wearer's coat-there curtailed to the knees, like the old woman's petticoats, of whom the song goes here tagged with the remains of white lace, there with gold-here guarded with velvet, there in naked simplicity-all evircing the services they have seen, and the wear and tear of many an academic disputationillustrious rags !-true emblems of the virtues and science whieh they cloak. How cowed and humble, too, does the poor stranger look, when, hat in hand, he finds himself in a crowd of venerable persons—fathers, moderators, tutors, and examiners—pacing up and down the middle of the Senate-house, in flowing robes, and hoods of black and white, wearing all the tasselled cap, (the privilege of office) and looking, what they are, the presiding genii and midwives of philosophy. Then, what may those massive brass-bound books imply, that repose upon that green-covered table ? and what those awful figures, in petticoats ard tippets of black silk, (“ Horrible monsters,' hated by gods and men !”*) wanting but the mask for face, with two eye
“ With hideous accent, thrice he calls ; I know
The voice ill-boding, and the solemn sound.
" Ye Gods, avert
A And who is this monster with his man? Ask him, who, last night, lost his way, and wandered to B
Verbum sap. :-
Be circumspect; oft with insidious kien
holes therein, to be the very inquisitors of Mrs. Radcliffe's inquisition ? The departed great of other days are there, too, represented in marble. The laurelled Georges smile upon the scientific exertions of the British youth; and slim Mr. Pitt extends his arms towards them, as already pronouncing their panegyric. The stranger departs, rapt in admiration of a sight so national and august; and vows to offers his firstborn at the shrine of Alma Mater. But should he, not contented with the bare spectacle, in something like the words of the old ballad, inquire
“ For what are all these warriors met ?". let it not, for shame, be told him,
“ To hear an idle tale." But the truth is, this august assemblage is mainly convened for the despicable purposes we have endeavoured to expose ; since the candidates for honours are comparatively so few, as to be lost in the crowd, and sit, the greater part of them, in the gallery above, removed, like the gods of Drury, from the vulgar herd below.
It is always agreeable to have an opportunity of bolstering up one's own argument by some unexpected coincidence of opinion in a writer of such authority as the Quarterly Reviewer. On the present occasion, though we have not the felicity of being able to adduce the Reviewer, we can summon up a personage who will do quite as well; or, indeed, considering what an important part he, for many years, played in the drama in question, a great deal better--we mean,
Dr. Monk, Dean of Peterborough, late tutor of Trinity College, &c. In a letter addressed to the Bishop of Bristol, Master of Christ's, he puts a very pertinent question, which we wonder much he, or somebody else, never put before—“ Whether the moderate extent of mathematical knowledge required for a degree, be a reasonable claim to such a title ; or rather, whether the University is justifiable in giving this mark of its approbation, which generally serves as a passport into the liberal professions, to persons, the total of whose academical pursuits has not gone beyond this contemptible minimum of knowledge?” This was a bold interrogation certainly for the tutor of one college to put to the master of another, and is creditable to the good sense of both. But surely Dr. Monk needed not have asked of Dr. Kaye, what any
old lady, in the habit of hiring servants could have told him. “Certainly, Dr. Monk,” she would have said, “it is highly improper for ladies to give characters to servants, which they do not deserve—it is very wrong indeed!” And certainly it is an aggravated crime in Alma Mater to give diplomas to her sons, which admit them into law, physic, church, and even state, with very great advantages over other persons, without exacting from them in return, an adequate, or any thing like an adequate proof, of their being at all deserving of those advantages. Dr. Monk talks to so much purpose, that we shall even venture upon one or two sentences more:-“ I beg to be considered as not speaking with disrespect of the subjects themselves, which are now made the indispensable requisites for a bachelor's degree. The six books, [fourfour-with reverence-only four, arithmetic, the elements of Algebra, [only a small portion of them) are valuable branches of knowledge, and such as an University ought to encourage: although, with respect to Algebra, I cannot see the propriety (nor for that matter can we of exacting this, as a sine qua non, from persons who are not expected to carry their mathematical studies any further." We entertain for the subjects themselves," respect as high as Dr. Monk's; but for the manner in which they are studied by the Many at Cambridge, we have an infinite contempt; in which, if aught may be inferred from his expressions, he himself participates. But why should he consider it as in an especial manner left to the great University of Cambridge, to encourage the study of branches of knowledge, in which an ordinary mathematical teacher can make a boy of thirteen or fourteen a much greater proficient than the captain of the Many himself ? Surely the University of Cambridge might be expected to make a more vigorous and successful effort in promoting the scientific education of her students, than a solitary teacher on a third floor, paid with a paltry stipend of one guinea a-quarter.—“But it is obvious that this quantity of knowledge is far too small to furnish any thing like a reasonable occupation for ten terms, passed by the student in his university education.” How many years, sir, were you watching the workings of the system, before you saw this obvious circumstance? or, if you saw it from the beginning, why did you allow so many years to elapse before you cried out lustily against it? Haply, sir, had you cried out sooner, you might have rescued our unhappy selves from the ennui of three miserable, as well as unprofitable years—“ Except in very few cases, the whole may be acquired in less than a year; thus leaving two years and a half to be employed in a way of which the University exacts no account, which valuable period of time is too frequently squandered in idleness, or in unprofitable pursuits.” This is so hard a hit at Alma, that we wonder Dr. Monk who resided somewhere in her upper regions, was not himself hurt by the contusion.
But this brings us round to the question of responsibility, in which we differ toto cælo from Dr. Monk. In stating the question he proposes to discuss, he asks, very unnecessarily, “ whether we do produce all the good which it is in our power to effect, and which it is reasonable for the public to expect from an University education.” In this query he seems to acknowledge that the public is entitled to expect something—some result to the studies of three years, and an outlay of never less than 5001. or 6001. among even the poorest students. But now, gentle reader, attend to what follows, for there peeps forth the baneful error of Dr. Monk, and of every other Cambridge man, who has taken what they call honours—an error that involves two grand mistakes, each big enough to wreck a whole University. First, a mistake of the means for the end-of the pomp and pageantry of war for the war itself. Secondly, the mistake of believing that it is consistent with the rule of right to sacrifice the Many to the Few. “ Here we must be careful to separate two very distinct points for our consideration ; I mean the case of the young man who aspires to honours, and that of him whose views are bounded by the mere acquisition of a degree."-Whose views are so bounded? What parent but looks for something more for his son, even if the son look not for it himself? What tell you me of honours? Your sentence has no other meaning but this--that some men come to Cambridge to be educated, and some to be not educated that some aspire to the advantages of a more cultivated mind, and that the views of others are bounded by the acquisition of nothing. “ In students of the first description there is no doubt that extraordinary emulation is produced, and a corresponding proficiency secured; the views of the several colleges are in accordance with those of the University, [except at Magdalen—that worthy rival of All-Soul's*, where the son of a lord being master, is (or was) for requiring all the Fellows to be lords' sons,] and thus the emoluments of the place are bestowed on those who have deserved its honours.” [Here again we must put in a clause of exception against Pembroke and Emmanuel, where meritorious individuals have been excluded from the Fellowships they had fairly earned, because they presumed to be more devout than the Master and Fellows; or, by a threat of exclusion, have been constrained to forsake their religious pastors, and listen to the “cold and fizzenless clatter of morality," usually doled out from the pulpit of St. Mary's. ] “ But the fact is, that of the great numbers who resort thither for their education, the majority always find themselves unequal to strive, with any probability of success, for honorary distinctions."
We may discern in these extracts the symptoms of that perverted way of thinking, and that self-delusion, of which almost every Cambridge man of eminence partakes. In the first place it would seem as if the University of Cambridge deemed it her especial business to award honours to a few who are willing to strive for them, rather than to educate the mass of young men sent to her; as if honours, the incentives to learning, were the end, and education itself only the means, of acquiring them. The uninformed reader would hardly give credence to the universality and extent of this delusion; which virtually converts a seminary of education into a society for the mere encouragement of science. This will be made apparent to him when we come to discuss that section of graduates who go out of the University with honours.
In the second place, it follows, from this, that the Many are, and always have been, sacrificed without remorse, to the Few; and that the University of Cambridge, in which the English people imagine they possess a great instrument of education, has thought it became her, in that character, to devote her energies exclusively to the men of talent, industry, and ambition ;—the Few, who, even though she were annihilated to-morrow, would, notwithstanding, find those qualities equally efficacious; and totally, as we have seen, to neglect the majority, who not possessing those natural advantages in that high perfection, are, or ought to be, the peculiar objects of her care. The men of the first description here mentioned, whatever aids and facilities they may receive, are, in point of fact, themselves their best teachers are inde
* The qualification for Fellows at this most useless foundation is well known.Bene natus, bene vestitus, mediocriter doctus. One would have thought that the whim of founding a college for the encouragement of clean linen must have been singular in the world; yet we meet with something not unlike it, in the University of Mushed, where, in the Medressa Fazil Khan, founded by a person of that name, the law of the institution is, that three classes of people are to be excluded from the college, to witHindoos, because they are void of faith ; Mazunderanees, because they are quarrelsome; and Arabs, because they are very dirty. It is said that an unlucky Arab once applied to be admitted at this foundation, and upon being told the grounds on which his admission was prohibited, exclaimed, “ Now God be merciful to thy soul, Fazil Khan, for thou hast spoken the truth."- Fraser's Khorassan.
pendent, in a great measure, of systems and institutions and are therefore precisely the characters, for whom those systems and institutions should he least exclusively formed. Those, on the contrary, that especially require culture, (who, in every case, constitute the majority,) are the appropriate subjects of public education; the end of which surely is, not so much to cultivate the minds of a select few, as to diffuse information as widely as possible among the many, and to make all men, whether more or less favoured by nature, as accomplished as their several capacities will allow. To what a lamentable extent this, the main end of an University, is lost sight of and forgotten at Cambridge, is clear from the melancholy result of the Senate-house examination above described.
When, as we propose to do, we enter into an examination of the mode in which the classical studies are conducted there, this fact will appear in a point of view yet more glaring. How exclusively also the system of the Cambridge University is calculated for the benefit of a comparatively small portion of her students, will be equally apparent, when we come to scrutinize the effects of her graduated system of honours, her prizes, her“ empty" distinctions, and her “solid gain." In proof of what we urge, we may here, however, adduce one fact, which it will not require much room to state. Dr. Monk, however, deeply impregnated with those prejudices in favour of his University, which a long career at Cambridge, (which it would be unjust not to acknowledge to have been as beneficial to her as honourable to himself,) has naturally inspired him, is yet not so blind as to be unconscious of the monstrous blemishes in her constitution. Accordingly, the object of the letter,* from which we have extracted the above sentences, is to propose a remedy to the evil,and a scheme for dispensing to a greater proportion of the students, some of the benefits from which her devotion to a few had hitherto effectually excluded them. Measures have been accordingly taken—the utter inefficacy of which we shall think it also our duty to expose-but the discussions to which these projected improvements led, discovered the latent evil, and served to show the inveteracy and universality of those notions we complain of. The proposed innovations, it was clamorously urged“ would hurt the study of mathematics !” Here we see a specimen of the reigning delusion—the object of an University is made the study of mathematics, not the mental improvement of its students by means of that study. If that improvement could be carried further, and more extensively spread, by the adoption of other subjects of study, did it not argue a total blindness as to the real purpose of a place of education to object, that it would hurt the study of mathematics? Is not this saying, as plainly as words can express it, that Cambridge is merely a seat of science, not a seminary of education ? Again, as Dr. Monk with great truth remarks, the real apprehensions of those who dreaded injury to mathematical studies, applied only to the high wranglers,“ to those who pursue their researches with so much energy
* A Letter to the Right Rev. &c. the Bishop of Bristol, respecting an additional examination of Students in the University of Cambridge, &c. by Philograntus, alias Dr. Monk; who has thus been pleased to designate himself by a name, formed in dofiance of all analogy. We beg, however, the reader's attention to Philograntus's motto ;
“ Cuncti adsint, meritæque exspectent præmia palmæ.” The letter may be found in the Pamphleteer, No. 40.