Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

content without making its ministers submit to something more akin to professional training. When the clergy quit Oxford, the devoted city will indeed be abandoned to its doom. Possibly they may be induced to remain by the previous retirement of the other professions. The proportion of physicians who have received a University education is already far from overwhelming. The Inns of court will not long continue to grant extraordinary exemptions to residents in the University, or possessors of an academical degree. Perhaps the aristocracy, the titled and untitled proprietors, may be more constant, unless they are scared away by the abolition, already commenced in most colleges, of silk gowns and their attendant privileges, or infected by the industrial spirit, and led to seek special education for their own political and social duties. We are speaking not of existing facts, but of the issues to which they seem tending. At present the Universities have all the stability of a government which is maintained in its place by the accident of possession, and the equality of its pressure on the various contending parties; but the fluctuation of events may easily disturb the balance.

Having these forebodings of the future, it will not be wondered that we should look with mixed feelings on the brilliant academical ideals which present themselves to the fervid imaginations of other disciples of progress. It is not as though the only disappointment felt were that which naturally arises from consciousness that the practice must fall far short of the theory. Our conviction is that society is not so much moving even after an infinite distance behind the academical model held up to it, as taking a totally different course. So far as we can see, the inost visionary and the most prosaic schemes are alike thrown away. We have ourselves indulged in dreams of a great National University, which should be the fountain of all the theoretic knowledge of the country, and drawn up a constitution in which our idea would be fenced against every possible objection, by all manner of practical safeguards; but we feel that it would be useless to lay them before the public. Even the moderate anticipations of a sober-minded statesman like Sir George Grey, affect us with this sense of hopelessness. “ It appeared to him” (the newspaper reports of his speech tell us that it would be a great advantage for young men to be induced to remain at College for a longer period after taking their degree, than was the case under the present system. He could say for himself he had always regretted that he had not remained longer than he did at his college after taking his degree: and he was satisfied that much good would be done by inducing young men to protract their residence at College for the purpose of attending courses on general subjects after they had completed their course Anticipations of Sir George Grey.

199 on the more special subjects to which at present University education was mainly directed.” No doubt it would be so if all young men enjoyed Sir George Grey's other advantages. He is one of those favoured children of fortune who can afford such a retrospect. Bred up to the bar, he had no occasion to practise, but was able at once to enter on that career to which his connexions gave him a right to aspire ; and he is now Home Secretary. But the great majority of graduates, who like him, attain the highest University honours, have no such opportunities. If they remain at College after their degree, it is because they propose to engage in tuition, or because they have chosen the only calling in which at present a few years sooner or later make no difference—the clerical. Is Sir George Grey himself, or are the honourable gentlemen who cheered his remark, prepared with any practical suggestions for the benefit of those who, having only their own abilities to trust to, wish to encounter an active life ? or is he merely falling into the tone of the French princess, who wondered why her father's subjects were so foolish as to be starved, when they could buy such nice cakes at twopence a piece? Is he ready with any scheme for ensuring an opening in his own department to a student who follows his advice, and can give satisfactory proof of having profited by the course of education so received ? Perhaps he may meditate striking at the root, and delivering his young friends from the evils of competition, by the substitution of a judicious communism, where everybody shall have a fair day's wages for a fair day's work, and there shall be no scramble for places. That would be the most intelligible course—and the boldest.

For our part, we can only say, that it appears to us equally beyond hope to get rid of competition and to carry out the higher educational reforms in spite of it. Education is undoubtedly a thing which cannot be wholly trusted to the operation of the ordinary laws of supply and demand. But admitting that it is to be protected, we must contend that there are more modes of protection than one. A remedy is an interference with natural processes; but if it is to do any good it must act in accordance with the constitution of the body to which it is administered. If England, tempered afresh by the accession of new elements, rejects a system which seemed well adapted to it at an earlier stage of its history, all that we can do is to leave the system to Germany, or to any country where it is calculated to flourish, and place our hopes on some other. The industrial spirit, as we have seen, is not averse from education ; on the contrary, it provides instruction in various forms and in various degrees for all the classes which it affects. If we lose the old Universities, we may have local institutions, suited to every calling for which teaching is required, and capable within their own sphere of every perfection. We shall still have schools in which general culture may, up to a certain age, be bestowed on all alike-on the intended manufacturer no less than on the intended clergyman. We are not saying that there will be no cause for sorrow at the loss of the ancient seminaries. A nation will generally find something really to be envied in its neighbour's institutions, though sensible that providential circumstances prevent it from enjoying a like advantage ; and the same feeling will occur in

a looking back on its own past life, while it will dwell with more regret on the absence of the good which it once possessed. That salutary custom of interposing an interval between boyhood and manhood, when self-cultivation could be followed out, and the society of equals enjoyed, will be missed in after times, as it is missed now by many whom the stress of grinding necessity cuts off from it. But we may trust, that as they find their times of refreshing conformably with their circumstances, so the loss may be made ир to the national character in some other way which will gradually open as its need becomes manifest, and that the workshop of the world will not be suffered to go without its Sabbaths. In any case there is nothing unaccountable in the dispensation which seems to ordain that a country, in proportion as its general development advances, should approximate more and more nearly, even in its educational provisions, to that condition of evil and sore travail which is said to happen to every one under the sun.

With regard to the Universities, we do not see but that they may hope to retain a portion of their original glory as bright as ever. Though they should become no more in their educational capacity than training establishments for family tutors and public schoolmasters, they may yet be made the great seats of speculation and learning in England. There will always be men who will be glad to follow literature or science as a profession, and ready to devote themselves to it in no desultory spirit, if they may be secured against the uncertainty which would otherwise compel them to make their talents simply marketable : and we need not fear that the coming age will refuse to these the retirement which it deliberately declines for itself. When the crisis arrives the necessary arrangements can be made, undisturbed, we may hope, by jealousy of Dissenters or prejudices in favour of academical celibacy.

Meanwhile, we await the disclosures of the Commission of Inquiry, and the practical steps to be founded thereon, with some curiosity but without any undue excitement. The duty of those connected with the Universities is clear to make the best of them that they can, according to their present resources and their existing lights. So long as they have the rising Hints as to the True Direction of Reform.

201

generation to educate, let them do it with a good-will and resort to every means in their power which may appear conducive to the end. As far as their duty to their Alma Mater, and their allegiance to their revered founders are concerned, we believe that they may conscientiously accept any aid which the State can be prerailed on to give, whatever they may think of the prognostics of the morrow. If the alterations made tend to give freedom and expansiveness to that element in the Universities which we have set down as really permanent, we shall of course receive something more than merely temporary satisfaction.

We have written with considerable hesitation, knowing that our views are likely to meet with dissent from many whom we would wish to respect. It is easy to assume the mantle of prophecy, but difficult so to wear it as not to have cause to repent of the assumption. If we have discredited it, we may plead that our more usual habit has been the sober garb of historical fact. We have at least taken pains to give the data from

which more skilful discerners may draw another horoscope. Even in the last few pages it has not been our wish to lay down dogmatically the groove in which events are to run, though we have undoubtedly been solicitous to give as vivid an expression to our anticipations as diffidence would allow us. If we might be permitted to imitate the modesty of pamphleteers, we should entitle this part of our article “ A difficulty suggested to the advocates of Reform in the English Universities.” As such we hope it will be received, whether it be thought worthy of consideration or

no. Nor will it be merely a personal interest, in watching the effect produced by our own representations, which will lead us to scrutinize attentively any forthcoming demonstration on the part of those connected with Oxford or Cambridge, in the hope of finding that their notice has been directed to a point which seems at present scarcely to have occurred even to the most advanced calculators of the academical future.

ART. VIII.-- Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca. Quinta

impressione. Fascic. 1. 4to, Firenze 1843.

Any reader who happens carelessly to cast his eyes on the title of the work named at the head of this Article, will guess that it is the title of an Italian dictionary, issued by an Academy which he may have heard mentioned, although, probably, neither its origin, nor that of its designation “Della Crusca,"* is known to him. It is, however, as easy to shew the origin of this Academy and of its designation, as it is difficult to characterize the Language of which this purports to be the dictionary. The title itself does not help us. It is simply The Vocabulary of the Academy of the Bran.” It may be a vocabulary of any language, art, or science.

Although persons even slightly conversant with literary history have often seen this vocabulary mentioned, the silly meaning of the name of this Academy has perhaps passed unnoticed. When translated literally it affords but small hope that philosophy and common sense will distinguish the productions of a body not ashamed, in the middle of the nineteenth century, of their childish denomination. Yet a sort of cloudy tradition says that this “Della Crusca” Academy is the supreme autocrat of the language in which Dante and Ariosto as well as Galileo and Machiavelli have written,-a language which we ultramontani call Italian. From whom is their authority derived ? by what power is it maintained ? Is it a power like that of other despots, supported by violence and force, or a humane rational power deriving its strength from national consent and acquiescence? Who are these “great unknown” who are often mentioned with so much solemnity under the harlequin names of “Infarinati, Inferigni, Impastati

, Insaccati," &c., (viz., covered with flour; brown bread; made into paste; put into sacks)? Are they, under their proper name, worthy of the unheard of mission, either rashly assumed or reluctantly accepted, of regulating by Act of Parliament the stately language used from Palermo to Turin ? Do they undertake to govern that language like those Florentines who so eagerly volunteered to direct public affairs ?

Molti rifiutan lo comune incarco ;
Ma il popol tuo sollecito risponde

Senza chiamare. It is with the hope of enabling our readers to answer these questions, that we have determined to offer a necessarily abridged,

* That is, “Of the Bran,"

« AnkstesnisTęsti »