A Letter to the Earl of Clarendon on the Defects
of the Public Schools and the Remedy. By the Rev. J. A. Emerton, D.D. (Longman and Co.)—The writer's proposal is to test the result of the education given at schools by a public examination of each pupil above a certain age every year or half-year. This is, we suppose, to be compulsory on all schools, and is to be conducted by a Government Board of Examiners, or by the extension of the University Local Examinations. There seems
to us to be two great objections to this That it would produce a sort of mental drill, forcing all minds into the same groove ; 2. That the country would not stand it. We must take the disadvantages of our system of liberty with its advantages. Dr. Emerton's scheme is, in fact, the French system, which favours tractableness and is a good pre- paration for the army. We prefer our self-will and independence of spirit. Dr. Emerton makes the most of the evidence given by Dr. Liddell about the want of preparation of the boys from the public schools. But when a boy is not ambitious, and knows that he has not to earn his livelihood, nothing will make him work, and half the lads who enter at the Universities are sent there because they are lads of wealth and station, not because they are students. If the public schools are inferior to the private, why do the public schoolmen get so large a proportion of University honours ? And whether they are or are not, why should the Government try to decide the question for parents who are quite able to decide for themselves ? Dr. Emerton would have done well, we must add, to abstain from telling us what good testimonials he has from Archbishops and Peers, and from expatiating on the ability with which he conducts his own school. It makes his pamphlet read very like an advertisement.