PROGRESS OF THE LONDON - UNIVERSITY GRADUATES.
ABOUT three months since we furnished our readers with a con- densed statement of the proceedings of the Graduates of the Lon- don University in their efforts towards admission into the chartered corporation from which they derive their degrees. After years of controversy, the Senate, appointed by the Crown, and at present constituting by itself the University, had come to the resolution that it did not belong to its functions to discuss schemes for alter- ing the original constitution of the University. The Graduates' Committee thereupon applied to the Home Secretary to originate the changes they desired; and after various communications, the Home Secretary has requested the Senate to favour him with their opinion upon the claims of the Graduates. Those claims are now before the Senate in a definite shape, and the appointment of a Select Committee to report thereon is fixed for the 21st of this month. The instructions to the Committee are comprehensive— being, " to report their opinion to the Senate, whether the change suggested by the Committee of Graduates, either in whole or in part, or any other modsfwation of the existing constitution of the 'University, can be recommended as useful, and not endangering the fundamental principles on which the University of London is established." The appointment of a Committee with suchtstructions is a long step in advance of the dogged resistance with which the Senate has hitherto met the request of the Graduates ; and, whatever the result at which the Committee may arrive, it cannot from the na- ture of the case be a "sic vole sic jubeo " decision, but must be based upon such reasons as will stand the light, and consequently either convince the Graduates or be capable of being refuted by them. In any case, then, the solution of the question is brought nearer, as every question approaches solution when the parties in- terested are once brought fairly to discuss it. The settlement of thepresent question must, we think, be assisted by the remarkable moderation exhibited in the demands of the Graduates, compared with the powers possessed by the Graduates in the older Uni- versities. They ask simply to be admitted into the corporate body of the University, with the right, when of a certain standing, of meeting in Convocation, to record their collective opinion on any subject and of recommending to the Crown, from time to time as occasion may require, the names of persons from whom a certain proportion of Senators is to be for the future chosen. They expressly forbear from asking what the Graduates of the older Universities consider their highest corporate function, that their assent should be necessary to the validity of any proceeding of the Senate, except the surrender of the existing or acceptance of a new charter. Thus, the claim reduces itself to the moral in- financewhich may reside in the expression of their collective opin- ion, and a very modified control over the election of a certain number of the members of the Senate. It is worth noting, that the Graduates have not even fixed this " certain number," but have left the principle to be discussed by the Senate with the most perfect freedom from the embarrassment of details. Proposals more modest have never been urged by a party contending for a modified self-government. So modest, indeed, are they, that, ex- cept on the supposition that an anxious desire to avoid endan- gering the educational success of their University overrides all other anxieties in the minds of the Graduates, they appear to fall short of what they ought to claim, and might reasonably expect to gain, in accordance with the terms of their original institution, which promises them complete equality in all respects with the older Universities, coupled with freedom from religions exclusions. Since the publication of our last article on this subject, the move- ment has been taken up by the affiliated Colleges of the Univer- sity, and a large proportion of these have pronounced their ap- proval and sympathy. The Principal of the Roman Catholic Col- lege of Thurles has alone dissented, on the avowed ground that the present system works well and he proposed changes are untried. But even his dissent amounts only to a refusal of assent. Other Roman Catholic Colleges express warm approval, but decline joining in the movement; on the ground, we believe, of the sup- posed unpopularity of the Catholics in England. If we are not misinformed, the principal motive with those members of the Senate who object to concede the request of the Graduates is connected with the Roman Catholics. In plain English, the Graduates and the affiliated Colleges are suspected of wishing to turn the London University into a Protestant-Dissent- ing University. The only possible answer to such a suspicion is to demand from those who entertain it justificatory proofs; and one good result from the appointment of the Select Com- mittee will be, that this suspicion must now be put in a tan- gible shape and so discussed, or else abandoned for ever as ground of action, whether it linger or not in the minds of some whose libe- rality in the matter of religious opinion is conjoined with a strong dislike to those who happen to entertain a preference for one form of religion over another. It may, however, be mentioned, that the number of graduates who have received their education in Dissenting Colleges is certainly not more than one-eighth of the whole ; and a gratuitous assumption of a certain tendency on the part of one-eighth is scarcely a valid ground for denying too the whole a privilege they claim. We presume that the proposal of the Graduates to leave to the Crown the unfettered selection of a cer- tain portion of the governing body of the University is dictated by the desire to obviate the objection that might be made to the ex- clusive control of the majority at any time, which control might possibly be so applied as to interfere with the fundamental prin- ciple of the University, excluding as it does all reference to differ- ences of religious opinions. This sectarian objection putting on the guise of religious liberality, the plea that the present system works well, and the natural objec- tion of gentlemen to be provisional even in their corporate capacity, (for it has not been proposed to dispossess any of the existing mem-
bers of the Senate,) are the obstacles which the Graduates have to contend against. They do not seem very formidable apart, and even in their triple complicity are scarcely strong enough to resist the patient determination of eight hundred active men, backed bypower- fu
ll and wealthy institutions all over the country. liberal politi- cians of all parties, who look with as much interest to an improve- ment in the composition of the House of Commons as to any ad- vantage gained for their own party, will be glad to hear that the Graduates of the London University intend to present a petition to Parliament urging a claim to one of the vacancies in the repre- sentation, and that their claims are favoured by those who are supposed to direct the movements of the " Liberal" party. One more thoroughly respectable constituency will thus be erected, alike inaccessible to bribery and demagogic arts, conservative by sentiment and position, progressive by intellect, national by wide- spreading ramifications through various classes and every district of the country.