« AnkstesnisTęsti »
happiest and surely deserving so to be, as he seems to have both the desire and the power, in a very remarkable degree, of diffusing happiness around him. Still
, many of his most cheerful essays are plainly written under the pressure of anxiety for himself or his friends; and it is to us quite wonderful to witness the self-sustaining power that supports him at all times. The saddest calamity that can befall the poetes that which Coleridge so eloquently describes, seems to have spared Hunt. His imagination seems never to have been paralyzed by the realities of life. With what great beauty does Coleridge describe this state of mind, in which all its faculties seem, if not destroyed, discrowned and obscured :
66 There was a time when though my path was rough,
The joy within me dallied with distress,
Whence fancy made me dreams of happiness :
But, oh! each visitation
My shaping spirit of imagination.
But to be still and patient all I can;
From my own nature all the natural man.
This was my sole resource, my only plan :
COLERIDGE: Dejection, an Ode. We had intended concluding our paper with these lines by Coleridge ; but beautiful as they are, we wish for our readers and ourselves some relief from their dreadful melancholy; and it is fairer to our author to give a few lines of his own, written in his own cheerful and hoping spirit :
“ Fancy 's the wealth of wealth, the toiler's hope,
The poor man's piecer out, the Art of Nature
The English Universities.
ART. VII.- Report of the Adjourned Debate in the House of
Commons on the English Universities. July 18, 1850. In our last Number we discussed the Scottish Universities, their condition and prospects: we are now about to speak of those of England. The few allusions which we then made to the latter were merely such as seemed necessary for the sake of contrast, and need in no way prejudice an independent consideration of them now on a larger scale. Academical establishments are, indeed, so closely connected with the other institutions of a country, and with the general state of feeling of which these institutions are at once the result and the cause, that they cannot well be surveyed, except from a peculiarly national and local point of view. The English Church, the English press, the habits of English society, in a word the English character, are all so many reasons why we should reserve the ancient seats of English learning for our distinct and separate regard. Our plan leads us, on the present occasion, to treat of them exclusively, as if there were no others in existence; to examine their relation to England and Englishmen, without taking into account any countervailing influence which may be at work in other parts of the empire, so that some kind of compromise and harmony may perhaps be required, in order to adjust our estimate of the general aspect of the higher education in Great Britain. Such an adjustment we cannot now promise. We must leave it to the thoughtful candour of the reader. The position of the University question in England is of a nature which may well engross all our attention during the space which we can command, and those who follow us are not likely to complain that the sphere occupied is too narrow to admit of deep or extensive interest. We may add, that our facts will, in many cases, be borrowed from Oxford alone, but that their general import will be found to affect Cambridge no less, the past and present fortunes of the two Universities, as compared with other educational bodies, being substantially the same, while there is no ground for supposing that any future circumstances in affecting the one will leave the other untouched.
It is of course necessary that our survey should be in some measure historical. A national institution, to be properly comprehended, must be contemplated in more than one stage of its development; and the peculiar circumstances of the English Universities, so far from making them an exception to the rule, only bring them more unmistakably under its operation. We have nothing to do, however, with mere antiquarianism, or a minute scrutiny of dates and events, useful as such researches are, and essential as a ground-work for inquiry. In profiting by the discoveries of others, our study has not been to add to them, nor is it our business needlessly to repeat them. We can but attempt a sketch of their results, describing so much of the past as may serve to illustrate the present, and perhaps, though this is more than usually uncertain, give us some assurance for the future.
Passing over the origin of the English Universities, which, like that of most things in the world that command our respect and sympathy, is involved in somewhat mythical obscurity, let us look at them as they existed during the three centuries previous to the Reformation. It is at the beginning of that period that we first hear of them under that name—a name which is nothing more than the legal term for a corporation, as being a collection of individuals; while unincorporated they had been called studia generalia, places for teaching all branches of learning. Each of the Universities is thus a body presided over by a Chancellor, and having the power of conferring degrees in the several Faculties. These degrees are both certificates of proficiency and licenses to teach. Whatever may have been the case formerly, they have by this time acquired a technical significance. The voluntary system has been superseded by something more regular and organized. The titles of Bachelor, Master, and Doctor have come to mark distinct ranks in each Faculty. None but graduates can teach; and all graduates are bound to teach ; the Bachelors reading lectures under the auspices of their superiors, as a sort of exercise for themselves, the Masters and Doctors being the full instructors of the students. This compulsory régime gradually becomes modified to suit the general convenience. The laws of demand and supply make it possible to relax the obligation by abridging the period of teaching, or, in academical language, of regency, required from each Master or Doctor. All are not wanted to be teaching always, or even for a considerable time together. Some are willing to take more of their share of work; others are equally anxious to take less; and the division of labour begins to operate. The time of necessary regency is made shorter and shorter ; at last, though nominally continued, its labours are made dispensable altogether, the voluntary regents being relied on for the performance of all necessary duties. The élite of these volunteers are finally secured to the University by another innovation. Up to this point the regents had been supported by fees from the students, at first, perhaps, varying in amount, but afterwards, at least during the times with which we are at present concerned, authoritatively fixed. Such a mode of payment, however regulated, must still have been rather precarious; and the object of the new boon was to diminish this evil, Early History.
171 Certain sums are guaranteed to certain men, in consideration of lectures to be delivered on the various subjects of knowledge. These salaries seem to have been derived from various sourcesthe bounty of the government, or of private individuals, taxes on the pupils instructed, taxes on the regents exempted from the duty of instructing; but the general effect was the same, to give the lecturer a permanent income, and thus retain the services of efficient men. The authorities whom we have been able to consult afford us no nieans of judging of the time when this guarantee first began to be made. No permanent foundation of the kind appears to have been established at Oxford or Cambridge till the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century; a time at which various other developments had taken place; but there may very well have been occasional benefactions at an earlier date, so as to constitute the existence of salaried lecturers a feature in the University system, as it showed itself in the days of its fullest activity. Once introduced, they soon outstripped the competition of the unsalaried regents, drawing off their pupils, and engrossing the title of Professors, which bad been originally shared by all teachers within the academical precincts. No positive check, however, was placed on the educational tendencies of the ordinary graduates, After the time of their necessary regency was expired, they were still allowed to lecture if they were so minded. The limited number of schools or public lecture-rooms may have operated as a kind of restriction : still, in Oxford at least, accominodation must have been sufficiently extensive to take in other classes than those of the regular professors, if the latter bore any proportion to the professorial staff existing after the Reformation. Moreover, the importance of all regents, as such, is emphatically recognised in the constitution of each University. Each has two Houses of Assembly, of which that of the regents is the upperthe House, in fact, of the working residents; and it possesses apparently a kind of veto on the proceedings of the other, which
a mainly consists of those whose regency is past.
Hitherto we have been speaking of the educators; we now come to the students. These no doubt would originally fock to the Universities from the mere love of learning, hoping in time to become teachers themselves. So long as teaching was compulsory on graduates, Oxford and Cambridge must have been large training schools. Afterwards as their scope became enlarged, they would admit pupils who wished to pass through the course as a preparation for practical life. A degree was a license not only to teach but to practise in the particular Faculty in which it was conferred. Others would come up without any special views at all, because it was thought right that they should be instructed in the liberal arts. So we find noblemen and even princes of the blood sent up to have the benefit of the curriculum. In the early beginning of a University, the students would, of course, lodge wherever they could. Before long, however, the lecturers would naturally wish to have some general control over the living of their pupils and future associates. Houses would naturally spring up, occupied solely by undergraduates, with a graduate as principal. These were called Halls, existing under the shadow of the University, but not absolutely dependent on it; rented according to an agreement between the owners and the academical officers, and subject to academical visitation, but otherwise democratical in their constitution; the scholars choosing their own principal, and the Chancellor having no power to refuse his sanction to the establishment. Three hundred halls are said to have existed in Oxford towards the commencement of the 14th century. We do not find that the principals of the halls had of necessity anything to do with the instruction of their boarders. A century earlier a statute had been passed, obliging all students to attach themselves to the lectures of some one doctor or master-an infringement of the perfect freedom which must have subsisted at first; but there restraint seems to have stopped. Probably with the rise of the professors a further restriction came in,—that making attendance at certain specified lectures the passport to a particular degree; this, however, would merely mark the further growth of the University system. Yet it must not be inferred that no premium was placed on the Halls. The University gradually began to discountenance all unattached students (chamber dekyns, as they were called); and early in the 15th century, it was enacted, that every one must belong to some authorized residence. Thus the University system appears complete—a democratic community with a chief magistrate, carrying out the work of education, providing salaries for its more distinguished teachers, while not rejecting the competition of volunteers, compressing the irregular energies of its own members by stricter discipline and a more defined organization, yet in all its changes adding to its original capabilities as a national seminary, and to its acquired independence as a corporate body.
But the academical world acknowledged the existence of another element, of which we have as yet made no mention. It was not coeval with the University, but it was introduced soon after the educational republic had begun to constitute itself, and at the time when the constitution was effected, it had become a most important estate of the realm. A resident in Oxford or Cambridge, in the days of Edward I., if asked to enumerate the resources of his University, would have dwelt with peculiar plea