7 SEPTEMBER 1850, Page 11

rttirr tu t4r filitur.


Sin—In the-present season, while thevneral affairs-of the nation are in a manner at rest, it can _hardly be necessary to call your attention to ope of the most important questions which hes been rallied of Intel-the proposed Commission of Inquiry into the Universitiea As the legality and expediency of a Commission in general has been so recently and fully can- vassed in Parliament itself, I will not trouble you with any remarks on.that head. I will assume the Commission, right or wrong, as a fait accinnpli : and only ask of your candour admission for some remarks on the constitu tion and object of that particular Commission which report states to be forth- coming, even if I may introduce matter not altogether in accordance with your own views.

Till the names of the Commissioners were actually announced, I should have thought it hardly necessary to go about, in the meddle of the nineteenth century, to demonstrate that essential foundation of all jurisprudence, the axiom that no man should be a judge in his own cause. Least of all would one have expected that, in a Commission whose object is simply to obtain information, persons fully committed to one side should be allowed to form the whole of the board. The end of such a Commission surely is, to obtain all the information it can from every source ; in all oontroverted points to give every party a fair hearing, a full opportunity ef stating its own views and principles. To do this, persons are clearly required who are in nowise committed to any party ; persons who can give a fair judicial hearing to all, and make an impartial report of the evidence brought before him. For the particular purpose of a Commission to the Universities, men were required who, while members of one of those bodies, so as to be really capable Of understanding the evidence brought before them, of entering into the real end and aim of much which to others would be unintelligible, were at the same time in no way personally mingled up with their practical working, nor committed to a side in any controversies existing within them. Three or four clearheaded Cambridge lawyers should have been sent to Oxford; three or four clearheaded Oxford lawyers to Cambridge. Instead of this, the persons actually appointed are men strongly commit- ted to a party, and indeed some of them no other than energetic party leaders in the most important academical controversies. In saying that such men ought not to be appointed to a quasi-judicial' office, I um saying nothing against them individually : in taking up a particular side which they believe to be right, they have done only their duty ; nor have I any reason to believe that they would exercise their functions with any conscious dereliction from impartiality. I am only saying, what I said before, that, while human nature remains as it is, no man should be judge in his own cause. Mr. Dampier's name I never heard before, but for Dr. Jeunc, Dr. Tait, Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Liddell, and Mr. Stanley—all able and active leaders on one side—to be appointed Commissioners to the Universities, is simply to' announce beforehand that only one set of opinions is to be allowed a hear- hag. It is about as fair as to accept a report on Lord Palmeraton's policy from Mr. Disraeli, to appoint Mr. Page Wood as Commissioner into Baron Rothschild's claims to a seat in Parliament, or to nominate the Bishop of Exeter sole inquisitor into the orthodoxy of Mr. Gorham.

The principal questions which I conceive will come up before the Com- missioners, will be the general management'of the place, and the course of study pursued in it. Now it is well known that Dr. Jeune has been conspi- cuous with regard to both these questions ' • he i understood to have been the author of important practical changes—I believe I may safely say reforms, in his own College ; it is equally well known that the late changes in the Examination Statute are in a great measure owing to his industry. For this let him receive the gratitude of his own party, and the respect due le an able antagonist from every other. Dr. Jeune is one of the most important witnesses that could have been brought before any board of Commissioners; no one's testimony should be more attentively heard, none more accurately examined into and balanced against that of equally able and zealous advo- cates of contrary opinions. But the very qualities which render him so im- portant as a witness tit once utterly disqualify him from being ajudge. So' t,00 with Mr. Vaughan, equally committed to a ,cortain set of opinions with regard to the studies of the University. So with Mr. Stanley, whom report. names as Secretary ; the most able and eloquent man of his school, but a committed party-man—a valuable witness, an incapable judge. Such also. though less palpably, asnot being now residents or officials of the University,. is understood to be equally the case with Dr. Tait and Mr. Liddell. I ask you, as a matter of fairness, how can persons holding contrary opi- nions go and give evidence before the leaders of the other side? I have no scruple in avowing myself a decided opponent of Dr. Jeune and Mr. Vaugh- an's sentiments as to our academical course ; I may even add, that I looked: for the Commission as likely at least to afford an opportunity of bringing' before the public a full and fair statement of views which have been greatly misunderstood and misrepresented. With what confidence can I ain this. before the very men with whom I have been contending ? In giving ".evi-. dence" (!) before them, I should be in the position ot of one informing a judge, but of one endeavouring to convince an antagonist. A not dissimilar tribunal is recorded by Thucydides to have been instituted after the capitu- lation of Platten.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, 5.4. F.

P.5.—Since the above was written, the formal lists of the 'Commissioners; liave appeared. That for Oxford contains, in addition to the persians already mentioned, the Bishop of Norwich, Professor Powell, and Mr. Unison of, Queen's. There is nothing in this addition which at all affects what I have already said. Of the Bishop I myself know little, and Ithelieve but little hi. now known in the University, beyond his connexion with Archbishop- Whately, which may so far put him in the same category as the others. With regard to Messrs. Powell and Johnson, I could only say over again what I have said with regard to Dr. Jenne. Of Mr. Johnson's ability no one can speak without respect, and his academical career has been one of the most brilliant on record ; but, as a decided party man, he is entirely disqualified from the post. I have only to ask again, whether the English people is prepared to accept the verdict of a body of men, of whom five out of seven at the very least are unquestionably pledged to a particular view of the questions which will be brought before them?