TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE LONDON UNIVERSITY COUNCIL AND MR. PATTISON.
TITERS are certain cases which are more easily proved by the sim- Plest statement than by the most elaborate argument. That of rofessor PATTISON, as detailed in a pamphlet just published by LONGMAN,* seems to us of such a nature, that any comment would only weaken its interest. We shall therefore confine our- selves to the facts, and to the facts only, in laying it before our readers: • We take them as they come before us in the chronologi- cal order of the pamphlet. Mr. PATTISON, when he was proposed as a candidate for the Anatomical chair of the London University, had held for five years the Anatomical lectureship of the College of Maryland, the emolu- ments of which averaged about 2,0001, a year ; and where his class,. which at his entry consisted of only seventy students, had been. increased, in consequence of his popularity, to above three hun- dred. He was wholly unknown to the Council of the London University ; and owed his Professorship, for which Mr. CHARLES BELL and several other men of eminence were competitors, solely to the strong testimonials and other evidence of his eminence as an anatomist and his success as a teacher.
As his appointment took place eighteen months previous to the opening of the University, he was desirous of returning to Mary- land, to give a sixth and last course of lectures there. He was prevented from doing so, by the express desire of the Council that he would remain, as his .services, it was alleged, would be bene- ficial to the institution. He relinquished the certainty of 15001. in America, on the verbal promise of a salary of 300/. in England. It was not paid. He visited Germany, at the solicitation of the Council, to collect information. His diligence and zeal were warmly acknowledged ; his expenses were refused. Before Mr. PATTISON entered on his professional labours, art Anatomical Demonstrator was appointed, contrary to all precedent and rule, without his knowledge or concurrence ; who imme- diately proceeded to give a set of regular lectures on anatomy as well as to demonstrate. In the very first few months of his first session, two several complaints, both anonymous, were entertained. against him; and only dismissed when they were found on investi- gation to be groundless. He was accused by Mr. BENNETT, his own demonstrator, of gross ignorance of anatomy, for certain re- marks on a prize paper made in his speech at the end of the session ; the same gentleman behaving in the most extravagant and indecorous manner on, the occasion. Mr. PATTISON showed that Mr. BENNETT was in error, not he ; and complained of his con- duct to the Council. The letter was never noticed. So early as 1829, Mr. HORNER, the Warden, then in Scotland, prevailed on Mr. CHARLES BELL to accept the Anatomical chair, and wrote to the Council to vacate it for that purpose, without ever hinting the design to Mr. PATTISON, its occupant. In the second session, fresh charges were made to the Council by students, who insisted that their names should be kept secret, and who were so indulged.; and a Committee, of which Lord BROUGHAM and Sir THORIAS DENMAN were members, was ap- pointed to investigate them. They were pronounced equally groundless with the two that had preceded. At the close of the same session, a representation was made to the Council by a stu- dent named EISDELL, which set forth, that, in the student's estima- tion, his Professor was incompetent, and ought to be dismissed. The Council courteously acknowledged the representation, and stated to the writer that they could not receive charges made by only one student. A band of fourteen more pupils were consequently induced to add their signatures ; and Professor PATTISON was called on to answer their complaint. In a few days after it had been disposed of, the Warden wrote to the fifteen young gentlemen to furnish, if they had it, any additional matter of elimination. They did so, and Mr. PATTISON was called on to answer this addi- tional complaint. In their representations, the pupils accuse Dr. BIRKBECK of meanness, party spirit, and duplicity, and demand his dismissal as a Proprietor, as well as Mr. PATTISON'S dismissal as a Professor ! The Council unanimously acquitted the Profes- sor, but they inflicted no censure on his accusers.
* " A Statement of the Facts of Professor Pattison's Connexion with the Univer- sity of London." The character of this statement is vouched by the following letter from Dr. 131 REBECE, to whom Mr. PATTISON had sent a proof copy of the pamphlet, requesting the Doctor's opinion " as to whether he had or had not exaggerated the facts of the proceedings of the Council, and of the treatment he had received." It is to be noted, that Dr. BIREBECK has been a member of the Council from the beginning of the University.
DR. BIRK/IEEE TO PROFESSOR PATT1S ON.
" My dear Sir-I have perused, with painful interest, your statement of the ex- traordinary events which have occurred since you were appointed Professor of Anatomy in the University of London. I know that it has always been your anxious wish to detail, with perfect accuracy, the transactions connected with that appointment ; and I therefore regret that the Council have not granted you access to all the documents you might require. I can assure you, however, that, recurring to a memory too strongly impressed by the occurrences to allow them easily to escape, the facts belonging to your case, with which I have been conversant, are always substantially anti generally minutely correct, and your statements altogether re-
markably free from exaggeration. " What may be the result of your appeal to the public, I cannot determine ; it
will, however, I believe, be very different from that which I have had the misfortune to witness amongst men making large pretensions to the possession and exercise of just and liberal sentiments. To three parties allowed to fall into confusion and hostility-insubordinate students, a governing Council, and an insulted Professor- these individuals have been unable to apply any means of correction, excepting the expulsion of the party whose only discoverable share of the mischief has been, en- during unmerited opposition. It is surely possible that another view of what is just, and of what is necessary for the preservation of the University of London, may he entertained by rational smdursprejudieedjudges. " I remain, with sincere regard, my dear Sir, ever faithfully yours,
On the entreaty of the Council, and with a view to put an end to all caballing in future, Professor PATTISON consented to give up one half of his Professorship to Mr.BENNETT, his demonstrator. He only asked in return, that the change should be announced as . .a volontaxy one on his part, lest his reputation might suffer from it. The Council refused to make such an announcement. In the parties stirred up by EISDELL, Dr. A. THOMSON, a son of Profes- sor Dr. ANTHONY TODD THOMSON, had made himself very noto- rious, and his presence in the University was found incompatible with the discipline of Professor PATTISON'S class. The Council expelled him. Mr. Holman readmitted him. On the morning of his readmission, Tilomsox made a speech to the Anatomical pupils, tending to excite them to insubordination. The Council expelled him a second time. Two days after, Mr. HORNER admit- ted him once more, accompanying his readmission with a spe- cial licence to go to the Anatomical Theatre, and to harangue the students on the incompetency of the Professor. Mr. EISDELL took the chair on this occasion, and only quitted it when Mr. PATTISON entered the class. Dr. THOMSON was again expelled, but no notice was taken of Mr. HORNER'S conduct in twice re- admitting him. On the 5th February, a meeting was held by the pupils in the class-room, for the same laudable purpose as all the rest—to get rid of Professor PATTISON; but the dissentients could not carry their resolutions. They resolved, in consequence, to hold a select meeting in a neighbouring tavern for the purpose of voting them. A memorial was privately circulated previous to this meeting, the draft of which was furnished by Mr. HORNER to the insubordinate pupils. To prevent, if possible, the irregularities which were be- ginning to exhibit themselves in the class even during lectures, Professor PATTISON laid down three regulations,—the first fixing the seats to be occupied by the students, the second their attend- ance, the third their examination previous to receiving a certificate. A few of the students refused to sit where their Professor directed them. He applied to the Council for advice; and was told by Mr. BINGHAM-BARING, that he ought to call in the assistance of the Beadles, and compel attention to his commands. He hesitated to do this ; and contented himself with taking down their names. They were suspended until the Council again met ; and then they were readmitted, on making an apology to Mr. HORNER. The re- admitted students again assumed the seats which had been inter- dicted to them ; and told the Professor, before his class, that if he asked them as a favour, they would sit where he wished them to sit, but if he asked it as their Professor, they defied him. One of these unruly boys followed the Professor out of the class-room, to demand a certificate ; and on its being refused, on account of his irregular attendance, told Mr. PATTISON that he was no gentleman. Three of the most violent of the rioters were charged before the Council; when one of them was reprimanded, and the others were prohibited from attending the anatomical lectures for the remainder of the ses- sion. A week after, this prohibition was removed, on an apology to the Council ; and the removal was accompanied by an order to the Professor to grant a certificate to PEART, the pupil who had in- sulted him so grossly, and who had actually served him in the interim with a writ to compel delivery of the certificate. From that period, a committee of Mr. PATTISON'S pupils continued to sit de die in diem, to determine whether the lecture should be allowed to go on or not. The result was a sort of 0. P. riot in the class, which put an entire stop to the business of it for six or seven weeks. The Council not only knew of this lecture-permitting-and-dis- allowing committee of pupils, but actually communicated officially with its chairman !
But we must hasten to the end of this strange, eventful history. On the 22nd March, Mr. PATTISON proposed to terminate all questions touching his competency, by appointing a reporter to take down his lectures. The Council refused to accede to this plan, because they had no doubt of his competency ; and, by way of provingtheir sincerity, immediately proceeded to appoint three of their number—Lord KING, Mr. W. MARSHALL, and Mr. MERI- VALE—men who, it appears, hardly knew the os frontis from the os coccygis—to inquire into that competency. These youthful students of the art of cutting up, prosecuted their inquiries for nearly a month ; but with what result is not known. In May, Mr. THOMAS WILSON gave notice of a motion to remove Professor PATTISON from the University. He did not attend on the day ap- pointed ; and it became a dropped notice, as the Commons people say. It was, however, taken up the next day, and a session of Council summoned to consider it. On this occasion, a strong remonstrance was made by six Professors ; and when the Council met on the 31st May, the wishes of the majority were so ap- parent, that Mr. WinsoN's motion was postponed for a month. When the month had passed, another adjournment took place ; but in the mean time, a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the cause of the disturbances in Professor PATTISON'S class. Mr. PATTISON, who was naturally alarmed at this new machinery, and whose experience rendered him suspicious of its object, wrote to request that he might be present at their investigations, if, as report stated, they meant to inquire into his conduct. He received the following answer :— " University of London, 5th July 1831. " Sir—Your letter addressed to the Chairman of the Select Committee has been received ; and I am instructed to reply, that it is their present intention not to enter into the 'Merits of the question between you and your class. " I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
" JAMES YATES,
"Professor Pattison." " "Secretary to the Select Committee." On the very day that this letter was sent to Mr. PATTISON, a motion was submitted to the Select Committee, "that the contiann- ance of Mr..Pattison is incompatible with the welfare of the Uni- versity ;" and the day following it was carried. At the next meeting, Mr. PATTISON was invited to attend; and after this resolution had been read over to him, he was coolly told, that if he had any suggestion to offer, which might conduce to the benefit of the Uni- versity, he might offer it ! Mr. PATTISON is a man of peace, albeit he is a wielder of sharp weapons ; he did not spit in the Chairman's face, nor pull the members' noses, nor even kick the clerk. He contented himself with addressing a note to the Committee, written on the spur of the moment; which strikes us, looking to the irritating circumstances under which it was composed, as one of the most admirable specimens of moderation and sound argu.• ment we ever met with. We give it— "The Chairman of the Special Committee appointed to inquire into the affairs of the University, having this day read me a resolution by which a majority of the Core.nittee recommend to the Council my removal from the Universitlf, I now enter my solemn protest against that resolution, as being an act > tLe most flagrant injustice, and that for the following reasons :- " First, Because it was resolved on, by the Committee's own acknow- ledgment, without any investigation whaterer of the merits of the case.
" Secondly, Because the Committee acknowledge that they have re- ceived no charges against me, and that this their decision has been come to merely on hearsay statements, which they pretend make it appear ex- pedient that I should be removed from the University.
"Thirdly, Because the Committee have refused to listen to the state- ment, which I not only offered to make them, but pressed them to hear, and which I assert, if listened to without prejudice, must have established in the clearest manner my competency, and vindicated my character from the false and calumnious charges made against me. " Fourthly, Because, by a note received last Tuesday from the Secre- tary of the Committee, I was officially informed that it was not their inten- tion to inquire into my case.
" Fifthly, Because, whatever may be the motives of the Committee in coming to such a decision, it is in the last degree prejudicial to my cha- racter and interests, and will be as injurious to me as it is manifestly unjust.
" GRANVILLE S. PATTISON.. "University of London, 9th July 1831."
The issue of the resolution of the Select Committee has been already laid before our readers, in oin• Number of Saturday sen- night. There is to be a meeting of the Proprietors next Saturday, to consider of this most extraordinary affair ; and we hope it will be a full one. We shall make but one remark on what we have detailed above. Laying aside, for the moment, the gross and cry- ing injustice inflicted on Mr. PaTrisoN—the attempted ruin of his character, the accomplished ruin of his fortunes—passing the grave part of the farce, and attending only to its ridiculous features—we would just ask any man in his sound senses, whether in the whole circle of language he can find a term sufficiently indicative of folly by whiCh to designate the conduct of this Council of the London University ? Was there ever unveiled such a picture of hopeless and helpless imbecility as the whole treatment of the Professor of Anatomy exhibits ? And these are the worthies who regulate the affairs of a liberal institution, which was to put down old bigoted Oxford and Anti-Reforming Cambridge!