24 AUGUST 1850, Page 10


TRE sudden death of Mr. Law not only creates a vacancy in the representation of the University of Cambridge, but is likely, we fear, to lay bare a weakness in that venerable body, which will strengthen the conviction already prevalent through English society, that only by a searching scrutinhorough reform can it be again adapted for the adequate fulfilment of its important func- tions in the state. When taunted with the confessed inefficiency of its huge teaching apparatus, it has always defended. itself with the showy plea of not aiming at special instruction, but at so training the mental powers and forming the characters of its alumni, as that all special knowledge and practical arts, especially those of legislation and administration, should be more vigorously pursued and easily mastered. Nor to those whose reasoning fol- lows the maxim of poet hoc propter hoe, has this plea wanted con- firmation in the number of eminent Englishmen who have spent some years at one or the other of our Universities. If, however, it is true, surely the representative of the University ought him- self to embody in no ordinary degree the varied qualifications of a legislator of England in the nineteenth century. From him must the nation in a great measure gather the tendeneips and test the political capacities of the University itself. Its view of the great social problems will be intelligibly conveyed by its choice of a representative. We therefore regret to observe, that the only names mentioned at Cambridge with any degree of confidence are such as must dishearten all who wish the Universities God speed on their sacred mission, while they cannot but lend edge to the sarcasm and force to the invective of those who would sweep them clean away, or remodel them on foreign and untried bases.

The names alluded to are those of Mr. Stanley, M.P. for Lynn, and Mr. Herbert, a younger brother of Lord Powis. Lord Burgh- ley, Lord Fending, and the Marquis of Granby, have also been mentioned, but the two former are the favourites.

The first is a young gentleman of great personal promise, but so bound by filial ties to the caput mortuum of Protection, that his selection can only be regarded as the defiant and pronounced ad- hesion of the University to that party, whose only defined policy is to undo all that we have been lately doing—to interfere with the fall and fair trial of the principle of commercial freedom. Will the University think it prudent thus plainly to declare, that so far as it is concerned, -the great experiment for supplying the necessaries of life in increased abundance shall not go on? that free play shall not be given to our yet undeveloped powers Of commercial industry and manufacturing production? For the mention of Mr. Herbert's name we can only account by re- membering that his father, the late Lord Powis, was half canonized by a party in the Church for his resistance to a proposed change in the division of the Welsh sees. He was also selected by the stationary party in Cambridge to oppose the Prince Consort for the Chancellorship ; an opposition that, blended as it was with motives honourable to English independence, mainly sprang from the terror entertained of Prince Albert's German education and sympathies, —that is, of the reforms and extensions in the University course of studies since embodied in the new Triposes. We must therefore consider the rumomed candidature of this young gentleman as in- dicative of a tendency in Church matters towards the Bishop of Exeter and Mr. G. A. Denison, and in Educational reform towards the old grammar school routine. Can the University really mean to declare itself in reference to the three great questions of Commercial Freedom, Church Refinm, and Educational Progress, reactionary and anti-popular ? Is it in the persons of young gentlemen like these, that the most educated constituency in the empire, when solemnly Convoked to aid in the work of political reconstruction, conveys to the nation ita best solution of the great sock/ problems that are uppermost in the public mind? If so, God help the Universities, God help the so-called educated classes ! If they do not consider Wisdom and experience and tried capacity essential qualifications of a legislator in such times as these, what are we to expect from our less instructed constituencies ?

• In spite of all we hear, we cannot forbear hoping that the liberal members of the Senate will bring forward a man for whom it will not disgrace a full-grown thoughtful Englishman to record his vote.