25 MAY 1850, Page 6

eht Vrinliutto.

An official correspondence on the intention of Ministers to issue a Royal Commission of inquiry into the state and revenues of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge has appeared in the newspapers. Lord John Russell, after announcing the Ministerial intention in his place in Parlia- ment, wrote to the Chancellor of the two Universities "to explain the views of her Majesty's confidential servants in recommending this mea- sure to her Majesty's approbation." His letter is now published; and the other portion of the correspondence given to the public, is the letter Of the Duke of Wellington to the authorities of the University of Oxford, Tequesting them to take the Premieres letter into consideration, and give Lim the assistance of their opinions in a report ; and the report of the University authorities rendered in compliance with that request. Lord John ituseell's letter is dated the 8th of May. Passing with a brief allusion only over the question of the legality of such a commission,—a question that " might enter into consideration " "had it been proposed to exercise powers going beyond inquiry and report," it puts forward the fol- lowing general considerations. "No one will now deny, that in the course of three centuries the increase of general knowledge, the growth of modern literature, the discoveries of physical and chemical science, have rendered thanges in the course of study at our national Universities highly expedient. The Universities themselves have acknowledged this expediency, and very reforms of this nature have boon adopted both at Oxford and at Cam- bridge. Those improvements, so wisely conceived, reflect the highest credit on those lammed bodies."

Lord John then precisely limits the object of the Commission—" The object of the proposecbCommission isnot to interfere with these changes, but to fa- cilitate their progress ; not.to reverse the decisions of the Universities by an authority ah extra, but to bring the aid of the Crown, and if necessary of Parliament, to assist in their completion." This object can be subserved—first, "by ascertaining and recording, for the information of the Queen and the two Houses of Parliament, the new regulations which have been promulgated, and the mode in which those regu- lations are expected to take effect "; secondly, "by obtaining a knowledge of the obstacles which are interposed by the wills of founders, the retention of customs, and the decisions of competent authority, to the full development of that large and improved system of study which the Universities have sought to establish."

The advantages and emoluments of the separate Colleges are in many cases limited by the wills of founders to natives of districts, scholars of a school, members of a family ; the directions in other instances cannot be complied with under the existing law : Commissioners conversant with the state of our Universities, and the general policy of our law, may be of essential ser- vice in pointing out the path of safe expansions and improvements, as well as in marking the dangers of heedless innovation. " Various questions may and must arise in the course of this inquiry. For instance,has the school which has the privilege of commanding fellow- ehips or other advantages 'in any particular college fallen off or increased in numbers and consequence since the bequest was made? Has the family of the founder left few or many descendants to enjoy his bounty? hi the case of religious services prescribed by the founder, but now prohibited by law, does it appear to be the wish of the founder, that in case no such religious services could be performed the foundation was or was not to aid in the pur- rows of education ? In the case of Royal foundations, how far has the Carrera the power of consulting the good of the University in the application of the endowment of a former Sovereign ? These and similar questions require care for their investigation and prudence in their solution." Lord John concludes with the assurance that " the utmost care will be taken in selecting Commissioners, who may not only be well qualified for their important task, but who may inspire confidence and respect by their 'character and position."

The Duke of Wellington communicated a copy of this letter to the board of Heads of Houses and Proctors at Oxford, on the 11th instant ; the report returned bears date the 16th instant. The report acknowledges frankly and courteously the earnest desire of her Majesty's Ministers to promote the interests of religious sound learning and the cause of education, their approbation of recent reforms, and their wish and intention not to interfere with those changes, but to aid their progress and completion : but then, citing the two ways of effecting the declared ob- ject of the Commission, it respectfully submits to his Grace the Chancellor, that whilst a Royal Commission, such as has been suggested, would lead to many injurious consequences, contraly to the intentions of her Majesty's Ministers, it is also unnecessary in either of the purposes above specified.

" As to the first of those purposes, the Sovereign or the Parliament can at any time obtain from your Grace, through your Vice-Chancellor, or from the printed University statutes, ample information respecting all the new regula- tionsiLlid the mode in which they are expected to take effect.

as to the second purpose, respecting supposed obstacles from the wills of founders, or other similar causes, to the full development of that large and improved system of study which the Universities have sought to establish, we believe, (confining ourselves of course to this University,) that if the supposed obstacles anywhere exist, they produce no material effect upon the general academical system." All the junior students are members at once of the University and of some

College or Hall: if they belong to any Hall—the Halls being only places of study, and not incorporated societies—then they are solely under the statutes of the University ; and if to any College—though the Colleges are distinct corporations, independent of each other and in many respects of the Uni- versity itself, still their studies are regulated by the Umversity statutes ; they rewire instruction from the public professors, and from tutors ap- pointed within the Colleges but recognized and controlled by the University. " This combination of professorial and collegiate instruction is most im

ant and beneficial ; and some of the late changes in our system have

designed to restore this combined instruction to greater efficiency, when it had suffered some temporary interruption from the unforeseen and unin- tended effects of earlier measures of reform. But experience proves that .there is no reason to apprehend any obstrole to the full development of the University system, as to the instruction of the younger students, arising from any of the collegiate.customs or statutes.- The recent regulations are only the latest of several successive measures of academic reform. The studies of this place have not continued, as would appear to be assumed in Lord John Russell's letter of the tith instant, the same, or nearly the same, during the last three centuries ; nor is it onto of late that they have been altered or enlarged. Two centuries ago—in 1636—the University re- wised the whole body of its statutes; and the academic system of study was admirably arranged, at a time when not only the nature and faculties of

the human mind were exactly whatthey are still, and must of course remain, but the principles also of sound and enlarged intellectual culture were far from imperfectly understood. • In process of time, further changes and im- provements became requisite ; and the University has for the last half-cen- tury, since the year 1800, been continually enpiged in a series of academic reforms, designed to adapt the system to altered circumstances, or to the

advanced state of science in some departments of knowledge ; and if these reforms, however well designed, have not always so completely answered the expectations of their authors, or if they have not always met the wishes.of all the members of the academic legislature, still from no quarter what- soever has any obstacle or obstruction been opposed to the full development of the system of the University, and it cannot justly be said that our re- forms have ever failed to produce their full effect through the supineness, indifference, oreency of the public instructors of our youth, whether the professors in the university or the tutors of Colleges."

So far, therefore, as respects the University, its institutions, and its recent regulations, a Royal Commission will obstruct rather than assist.

Lord John Russell's suggestions and questions bearing on the state and wellbeing of the separate Colleges only indirectly affect the welfare of the University. The Colleges have not heal usually founded or endowed " di- rectly for the education of youth, but for higher purposes" ; education has been superadded by the heads and fellows of their own free Will, to the great advantage of the community. It might be that modern founders could ins prove on ancient regulations, if creating new colleges ; but it does not fol- low that former foundations, when not mjurioue but often beneficial, should be disturbed. If the restrictions en the elections to fellowships—much ex- aggerated—were modified, or removed, education and sound learning would not benefit to any considerable extent : the Colleges might gain, but the University and the general course of education would be little affected; while vested rights sanctioned by the Crown or Parliament would be abro- gated, to the detriment of charity and the interests of families and districts.

Fellowships are not commonly restricted to particular schools, but-only scholarships, or probationary fellowships from which there is a subsequent election to the actual fellowships. The schools in question are for the most part our great public schools. The districts, again, from which confined fel- lowships are tilled up, often comprise several populous counties. It is not often, if ever, that the mere lineal descendants of founders have a claim to these, but the kindred of the founders traced collaterally, and also beyond the founder to his -remote ancestors, and embracing therefore very many families, and opening a wide field of choice. The degree of preference, more- over, is often so slight, that what are coaled confined fellowships may be, and sometimes are, filled up from other districts besides what are prescribed. With regard to the statutes of Colleges, in many instances there already exists some power-to revise and alter ancient statutes, vested either in the Colleges or their Visitors; and where it is wanting, or incompletely enjoyed, surely Parliament would concede it, on proper application, without the in- tervention of a lioyal Commission.

A Commission would entail injurious effects -not contemplated by Minis- ters,—graction of the attacks made immediately preceding its issue by per- sons very inadequately acquainted with the Universities and Colleges, in- terruption of studies, and obstruction to the late course of happy and safe academical improvement. Finally, and "without entering into thequestion of the legality of a Con= mission appointed only to inquire and report, it is obvious that it would be of the nature of an unconstitutional, since it would seek to attain indirectly what could, not, be directly attta ned without an open violation of the constitution and of the -tights and privileges of her Majesty's subjects. And we respectfully submit, that her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects ought not to be exposed to the painful alternative of either withholding evi- dence from a ferinniisinon so appointed, lest they should betray their trusts and sanction a proceeding apparently unoonstitutional, or of allowing her Majesty's Cominissioners to listen only to imperfect information and partial statements upon subjects of great importance both to the Universities and the community at large."

A demonstration quite as important in substance, -though not cast in official form, has been made by Cambridge. At a speeial Congregation; held there fast Saturday, Lord John Russell's letter-was communicated through Prince Alliert, the Chancellor; an authoritative requeet 'being made that it should not be published. On Monday, the Vice-Chancellor announced, that on address em the subject had been presented to him as the acting guardian of the interests of the University. We give its gist, and important passages.

Loud John Rimers letter declared that one object of inquiry would be to ascertain means for rendering the instruction in the Colleges serviceable in preparing students for examination in the now subjects of study lately in- stituted by the University. The memorialists have no wish to deny that such a harmony and connexion between College study and taivoreity examina- tions should exist. It has always done so, and it is likely to continue to do so. " But we cannot help looking with the greatest alarm at the prospect of having attempts made to establish such a connexion of College and Uni- versity subjects by the action of any power extraneous to the University and the Colleges. We conceive that any attempt to compel the Colleges to ap- point teachers or to reward proficients by external agency, would be an in- terference with their internal freedom, of a kind utterly unheard-of except in the worst times, arid altogether destructive of their just and ancient core porate rights." To allege restrictions on pioper arrangements for teaching, &c., in College foundations and statutes, is "certainly a mistake.' with regard to Cam- bridge. There is nothing to prevent a change of practical system. "We do not think it unreasonable that the Government should give the University and the Colleges credit for a willingness to make such ehanges,so soon as they can be made effectually. For the Univereity has in the course of the last few years made many important changes, to which, in succession, the Colleges have generally adapted their systems. And the great change recently introduced, by which the moral sciences and the natural sciences are appointed to be eubjects of examination and grounds of academic honour, was made spontaneously by the University, and has been followed up by a a great increase of the interest taken in the lectures which bear upon the subjects -thus encouraged. The effectual operation of such changes as those recently made neces- sarily requires some time. The new studies could be imposed with fairness upon those only who came to the University after the law was enacted ; and consequently, the first examinations under the new system have not been held. A few years will be required to give the tone to the aneiliary taitien which may be supplied on the new subjects ; and till the new honours have been actually attained, they cannot operate upon elections to fellowships or other offices of emolument. But there is no reason to believe that such O train of mutual operation of one part of the University system upon another will not in time take place in this case, as it has done in other cases, if the University be left to itself. The interference of a Commission, and the con- sequent introduction of legislative measures in Parliament, would prevent such a natural progress ; for it would then be expected that the result of every step should be brought about through the agency of the Comminimand

of Parliament, net through the usual influences which operate in the Uni- versity.

" If there be any cases in which a change of the statutes of any College is necessary in order to conform its practice to the recent improvements in the Dfferersity system, the legal and customary mode is that the College should apply to the Crown as well as to the Tinter for confirmation of such change. In this manner many changes and improvements have lately been made in

statutes. Several of the Colleges, comprising a large majority of the mem rs of the University, have thus obtained new bodies of statutes, with the full approval by the Crown of the ohanges made. In some cases such improvements have been made when it was known that they would lead to inanities of a pecuniary interest on the part of those who promoted them. Moreover, members of the University officially appointed have long been la- boriously and assiduously employed in preparing a revised body of University statutes for confirmation by the Crown. We conceive, therefore, that there is no ground forsuspecting either the University or the Colleges of any unwil- lingness to obtain an alteration of their statutes by legal means, when the better administration of their affairs requires such alteration."

Testifying their alarm at an unconstitutional proceeding which will justify resistance, and secure only onesided information, the memorialists urge Mr. Fuse-Chancellor to take such steps as the emergency may appear to require "to consider especially whether it may not be proper to represent to his Royal Highness our Chancellor the interference with our freedom, rights,

statutes, posessMns, and usages, which appears to be threatened ; and the interruption which the issuing of a commission of inquiry, and the expecta- tion of legislative measures consequent thereon, would undoubtedly oc- casion in the prosperous and progressive condition which we have of late enjoyed."

[This document is subscribed by upwards of a hundred and fifty resi- dents of the University, and meets the expressed approval of the Vice- Chancellor. A correspondent forwards to us some remarks on the sig- nptures. "The protest is signed by1111 the Heads of Houses except Dr. Thackeray, (Provost of King's College,) and the Vice-Chancellor, (Master .of Christ's College,) to whom it is addressed; and by all the resident Pro- fessors except Sedgwick and Maine. Mr. Thompson of Trinity and the Dean of Ely (Peacock) have not signed. True, the former is absent—ill, but he is still tutor; and the latter is not strictly resident, but he is frequently at Cambridge. Their names would have been a very important addition. Amongst the officers of the University, Mr. Bateson the Pub- lic Orator, and Mr. Remaly the Registrary, are missing. King's College generally seems to hold back; perhaps approves of the Commission. The following active resident members have not signed—Mr. G. William,, King's; Mr. Fuller, Peterhouse; Mr. Wartor, Magdalene; Mr. Wratis- law, Christ's.") The parish statistics of Birmingham show a state of diminishing pau- perism. " The account," says Aries Gazette, " shows a diminution in the expenditure for the relief and management of the poor, as compared with the preceding year, of no less a sum than 14,0431. as. 10d.; and on the total expenditure, as compared with the same period, the very large amount of 26,193/. 9e. 4d: The number at present receiving out-door relief is actually 3,679 less than at the corresponding period of last year; and the amount expended in out-relief during the week just andedshows a decrease aif 2151. TOL 64r1 as compared with the corresponding week of 1849. Nor is this all : the number of inmates in the workhouse and asylum together is 381 less than the number in those establishments at the same time last year; and by a similar comparison the .number of tramps admitted to the workhouse shows a diminution of not less than 237."

Defalcations have been discovered in the Market Weighton Savings-bank. It is not expected that the depositors will suffer much loss, if any.

!Hayward, a man who had absconded, has been arrested at Linton, en sus- picion of a concern in the recent extensive fire at Cottenham.

Extensive farm-buildings, a large quantity of agricultural produce, and a number of hogs and poultry, have been destroyed by a fire at Dry Drayton, near Cambridge. It is not doubted that the fire was wilfuL An attempt has been made to the the church of Ripple, near Dover, by ruffians who broke into it to steal the communion-plate. The plate was not kept in the church, and it is supposed that the attempt was made in mali- mous vexation : it failed from the dampness of the combustibles.

After the annual feast of a benefit society at Newport, a village in Glou- cestershire, a dance was got up at the inn. A young woman named Knight, daughter of a farmer, was present, contrary to her father's wishes: he fetched her away ; she returned'; again the father took her away, this time chas- tizing her with a whip. This roused the anger of a number of young men; they set upon the farmer, beat him, and left him senseless on the road ; in two' days afterwards he died. A Coroner's Jury has returned a verdict of nitepasi,,,,ghtee" against three of the young men, who have been sent to prism.

John Smith, a man of fifty, groom to a gentleman at Dogdyke, near Bos- ton, had a liaisen with Alice Would, a young girl of considerable personal attractions. Her friends were averse from her marrying Smith; and she seems to have given him cause for jealousy. At times he was greatly exas- perated against her. One day last week they went out together, and crossed a ferry in a boat : the man muttered something about throwing over the girl ; she treated it as a jest; but on renewing the ferry, he suddenly clasped her round the waist, and sprang with her into -deep water, clutching her tightly to prevent her mug. from the bottom of the stream. The ferryman, Samp- son, at the risk of his own life, succeeded in dragging the ill-assorted lovers out of the water, still alive, though exhausted. The girl recovered; but the after a partial revival, sunk under the shock some hours after. Before his , he said to. Alice that he "meant they should go together, and then be could have died happy." The Coroner's Jury returned& verdict of " Tem- insanity."

P"aAllttle boy fell into a canal at Bliston, and was drowned ; a woman who lived niece erroneously thinking it was one of her ehildren, ran to see the CCupse, fell down in a fit, and died in a few minutes.