4 MAY 1850, Page 8



TH:E announcement of a University Commission has taken all by surprise. The popular outcry against the present system, never very loud, has of late years quite subsided—died away, in fact, into the postprandial grumblings of a small clique. So, as there was no pressure from without, nobody expected the Government to move, for when did the Whigs ever take a step in home politics with- out having been scared into it ? Some of Lord John's colleagues, we are told, were as much astonished as anybody. Lord Cotten- ham, under whose espeoial jnristEction all " seminaries of sound learning " are supposed to come, had never heard of the Premier's intention. Some people hold that it was a sudden thought ; others maintain that it was an. inspiration of the Prince Consort ; but we are credibly informed that he, who, as Chancellor of Cambridge, was a party interested, was not cognisant of the meditated step, and shooed in the general surprise. Of course the news has stirred the caps and gowns into a flutter of anxious expectation. All the week Common-room and Combina- tion-room have rung with this one topic. The general feeling there seems to be that the measure is an unmerited " snub "; that it is most inopportune, after the great reforms which both Universities (especially Cambridge) have just effected prwria motu ;. that no body of non-resident men can be qualified to regulate details of in- ternal organization ; that a Commission, such as the Whigs are likely to send, will consist of superannuated" Scotch cousins," with a. Greylin.g or sprig of Minto for Honorary Secretary, who will occupy the front parlour of the Angel or the Bun for a few days, and then conceive themselves suffieiently au fait to draw up a "masterly report" ; that all experienced dignitaries will keep aloof, and only a few crotchety Radicals and "persons about to marry" (when they can) will tender their evidence. So the Commission will go back crammed with ex-parte statements and half-truths, &c. &c.

After all, the reception of the Commission in a. friendly or ini- mieal spirit will probably- depend on the persons selected. to com- pose it. It would do much to soothe and conciliate, if one or more intelligent residents were associated with the Commission in their investigations at Oxford and Cambridge respectively. We would counsel the authorities of both not to struggle against the measure. Lord John is as inflexible as any legislator of the Medea and Per- sians. It is his pride never to retract. He is just what he used to be when the great gun of St. Paul's fired paper pellets, and hit him hard, in vain. The only wonder is that he did not octroyer a new constitution for them both).- " So, the Commission being inevitable, the question for all is, how it may be made to produce the- greatest amount of public benefit ? There are three principal points to which the investigation will be diretted.

1. The conditions of admission to residence, degrees, henoura, and emoluments.

2. The finances. And 3. The internal regulations as to lectures and tuition.

Doubtless these three branches of inquiry- will interlace, so to say, in practice ; but for clearness we may consider them. separately. On the. first point, then, the question to be solved is—are Dissent- ers to be admitted to degrees ? if to degrees, to emoluments ? if to emoluments, to places of trust and authority ? Time was when the mere mooting of such questions raised a storm of orthodox horror and indignation. Not many years ago, a reverend pamphleteer was on this very ground dismissed from his College office, and thereby recommended to the Whig Premier as a fit and proper man for a mitre. But the timer are changed. For- merly, the Universities, above all corporations, delighted in di port and old prejudices. The port, we dare say, is as good as ever, but the prejudices have been chased from cellar and garret. Not a few pamphlets, advocating the liberal side, have been published on the spot, without procuring for their authors either persecution or motion.

The case at present stands thus. At Oxford, subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles is required as a comation of admission to re- sidence. At Ca.mbridge„ Dissenters may "keep terms" and "take honours"; but all are required to declare, as a qualification for the degree of B.A., that they are bora fide members of the Church of -England. Mr. Heywood, for instance, "took honours," i. 8. he was in the middle of the list of Senior Optimes—a place conse- crated to industrious mediocrity ; and his name still appears among the Under-Graduates.

We are of opinion that the exclusion is unjust and unwise. The examinations which test a man's fitness for a degree do not turn upon controversial divinity; the degree itself is B. A., "bache- lor of arts," not B. T., "bachelor of theology." On the other hand, it is urged that the Colleges are schools for the clergy; they have all, more or less, an ecclesiastical character ; most of them are endowed with Church lands, and were designed. for Church purposes : therefore the Church may with reason insist that the students of all Colleges, as they may be her ministers, shall be subjected to her discipline.

We think that all parties would be ultimately satisfied with the following compromise. Let the Dissenters be admitted to the University, but not to the Colleges ; let them have the privilege of attending professors' lectures, of competing for University prizes and scholarships,. if taking degrees in arts, law, and medicine, and let them be eligible to all professorships not theological. Only let them be subject to the same moral discipline as the others, amena- ble to Proctors and obnoxious to "Bull-dogs." They might lodge in the town, (as at Cambridge numbers of the Under-Graduates do now, for want of room within the College-walls); and by and by, no doubt, .individuals, liberal in purse as well as polities would come forward to found hostels for their shelter, exhibitions for their support during the curriculum, and fellowships for the prize at the used of it- We do not see that there would be any harm in having a Fry's Hall as well as Magdalene Hall, or a Bun- yam College and Baxter College as well as Sidney-Sussex and Downing.

Tim Church. of England will have nothing to fear from contact ; once let her be divested of all exclusiveness and take her stand upon her reasonableness, her antiquity, and her undeniable res- pectability, and she will make more proselytes in ten years than in. all the time since Land fulmined out of Lambeth. The middle classes, repelled by fanaticism on. the one hand and scepticism on the other, naturally gravitate towards the quiescent central mass, the Established Church.

2. The financial question divides itself into two heads : first, the management of University and College property ; and secondly, the e n eases of the students.

At it, e ,ridge, a balance-sheet of the income and expenditure of the University is presented every year by the Vice-Chancellor, a copy being sent to every resident member of the Senate. Where the publicity is so complete, there can be little or no room for cor- ruption. Rich as the College endowments are, the University is pinched with poverty. At Oxford, the Clarendon Press is made to produce a large income, while the Pitt Press at Cambridge scarcely pays its own expenses. The reason is, that the profits of the press (such as they are) are annually drafted into the University chest, instead of being applied to the extension of business. Thus, poverty cannot escape from a vicious circle of reacting cause and effect: the chest is poor because the press produces so little, and the press is.poor becalms the chest absorbs its all. Perhaps the col- lective wisdom of the Commissioners may point out some royal read to profit. In consideration of the truly national character to be given. to the Universities by the admission of Dissenters, the tax on, degrees might be remitted, which, while it produces a mere trifle to the exchequer, is an immense drain on the resources of the NAY paying. With regard to the College property : at the large Colleges, as Trinity and St. John's, it is (as We all know) managed with an ability and skill which might be envied by the Woods and Forests themselves • while at the same time all the tenants are ready to acknowledge the liberality with which they are treated. Mr.-Hey- wood sneers < at the Fellows for " esofing 'limners." We have our- selves seen Mr. Heywood eating with them,. anti not so much as blushing at so public a. confession of humaiiinfirmity. In most of the other Colleges- there will be found little or withing to complain of on this score. In some, however, the -Commissioners will have to iminire why there appear on the list only, six Fellows instead of eight, or sixteen instead of twenty ; and whether there is any other reason for keeping the places vacant., except that of a given sum igtaone-sixth. share is greater than one-e' and. one-sixteenth greater than one-twentieth? They- will also have to inquire whe- ther any Master acting as Bursar neglects or refuses to submit the College accounts to the inspection of the Fellows. The Commissioners will doubtless be surprised to find how small are the necessary expenses of student life and. how little can. be done beyond. what has been done to cheek extravagance. If a young man has. money, or can get it, and is determined to spend it, the most stringent measures in the world will not prevent bun. We now come to the last topic, the "internal organization." Ou. this point we expect little or nothing from the Commissioners. In- deed, it will probably be their best plan to wait and see the effect of the recent measures adopted by the Universities themselves,— measures devised and matured by men_ far better acquainted with the-circumstances of the case, and who have devoted far more time and thought to the subject than the Coinmisaioners have it in their power to de. Lord John. and others. talk much about "the pro- fessorial system." Now, we conceive that this is a phrase with more sound than meaning. It is impossible, in this age of accumulated books, to educate men either wholly or chiefly by means of lectures.- You. cannot cram a class with learning in the gross, as Mrs-dosed the boys with treacle-and-brimstone. A teacher must be with. his pupils indisiduallyr must have studied their hilosyneracies, if he means really to teach them. And. that is why professorial and college lectures are neglected for the private tutor. Even. in the pattern. universities of Germany, the professors' lectures, though put ostentatiously in the first rank, are really subordinate to the private classes. So in. diplomacy, the humble Secretary does all the work; Monsieur l'Ambassadeur gets all the credit of it.

The greatest grievance of the present system is that the fellow- ships involve no obligations to instruct or even to reside. The fellowships ought all to be tutorship, half the number and double the value, that they might tempt young ambition to stay there till it grew too- old to go anywhere else. The absurd limitations of counties and families (so fatal to the prosperity of Oxford) should be swept away at once. The founders' will should not weigh a feather in the balance against public utility. The Fellows should be chosen not from. the Scholars or even the members of each Col- lege, but from the University at large ; not. merely " classics " or "mathematicians" " -should be selected, but profieients in all the °Myles and all the °graphic& Each Fellow shouldtthen. give in

struction in his own branch to all corners, for a stated kad moderate fee • so that the amount of his income, beyond the fix'pd divideud., might depend on the number of his pupils—that is, one qtlle*":" of his teaching. Thus, emulation would aid in keepingihe tna- ers as well a . e taught up to their work. Whether matrimony should be permitted to a Resident Fellow, as an additional bait, we doubt much. Colleges are built quite on the presumption of the celibacy of their inmates ; there is no pro-. vision for wife, child, or nursery-maid. There would be much unseemliness as well as inconvenience attendant on turning our cloisters into a rabbit-warren.

Other Fellowships, with similsr duties, might be founded, as we

have said, by Mr. Heywood and others at Bunyan College or Fry's Hall; and, as a link to combine the whole, Universitiy examina- tions, triposes, quadriposes, and what-not, might be instituted in all manner of "faculties."

But this is a reform which we do not expect to see realized in our own day. And we are half inclined to think that it will be done as soon by the Universities themselves as by any commission, royal, princely, or other. For it is a mistake to suppose that the modern spirit of the Universities is hostile to reform. Those who affirm so know nothing of their present mood. Whatever changes be made, whether from within or from without, it is our earnest desire that they may result in placing our Universities among the most active and influential, as they are unquestionably among the most time-honoured and venerable, in the whole world.