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plan as we have suggested would certainly not be a very desultory or superficial study; and we think that no one who has ever made the experiment, will doubt that such of the students as thoroughly understood even that small part of the learning of uses and trusts, or of contingent remainders, or of special pleading, which is contained in the Commentaries, would have gone through a pretty severe mental training. To write down with perfect accuracy the outline which Mr. Sergeant Stephen gives of the proceedings in bankruptcy, would require as clear a head and as strong a memory as the reproduction of almost any mathematical "bookwork;" whilst it would require not much less ingenuity and logic to solve some of the problems, of which the reports are full, than to trace a curve or calculate a chance. No doubt definitions are not used in law with the same precision as in mathematics; but we do not think that the meaning of words and the precise value of facts are ever scanned by any human being with such ingenuity and such sagacity as by a special pleader. As to the intrinsic value of law and mathematics, when acquired, opinions of course will differ: we cannot help thinking that something might be said on the legal side of the question, and that minds would occasionally be found which would take an interest in that study, and which no earthly power could induce to learn mathematics. One such course of lectures as we have recommended would, if united with a certain amount of classics or mathematics, be quite enough fully to occupy an undergraduate's career; and we think we have said enough to show that it might be made a study infinitely more severe, searching, and continuous, than any thing which the University now teaches. We can see no reason why a man should not pass three years most profitably in studying Stephen's Commentaries, J. Mill's or Ricardo's Political Economy, Butler's Analogy, or Carpenter's Physiology. It is, to our minds, utterly unintelligible why there should always be assumed to be an inexorable dilemma between teaching a person classics and mathematics thoroughly and teaching him every thing else superficially. That the existing system of the University of Cambridge is so contrived as to create such a difficulty we quite understand; but if a man lays out his day in such a manner, that if he does not employ all the morning in arranging his toilette, he has to fritter it away in gossip, we should feel more inclined to advise him to lay it out more wisely than to join with him in lamenting that the constitution of life is such that he must either be careful about trifles or careless about matters of importance.
So far we have pretty freely criticised the principles and the practice of our* alma mater; but it must never be forgotten, that
* We beg to be permitted the use of the personal pronoun in a personal sense:
there is another and a far pleasanter side to the subject. That the education which the students give to themselves and to each other is far more important for good or for evil than any thing which they derive from lectures or examinations, is a fact universally recognised by those who have themselves experienced its character. A youth of nineteen, just emancipated from schoolrestraints, and master for the first time of his actions, must be very unimaginative and very passionless if the world does not wear a strange appearance in his eyes, if his curiosity is not awakened by numberless questions on all sorts of subjects, if, in the free collision with his equals and superiors, he does not find his previous prejudices, feelings, and estimate of himself, of others, and of all the relations of life, undergoing all sorts of changes, and assuming all kinds of new and strange forms. He must be very fortunate if, in the outburst of passion, he does not find his way into situations in which he will learn sterner lessons than any which the schools have to teach him. He must be very unobservant, if he does not find in the careers of his associates commentaries of the most curious kind on life in a great variety of shapes. Add to this, that if such a youth has talent enough to come within the range of the express instructions of the University, he is sure to read, or at any rate to skim, novels, poems, memoirs, histories, political pamphlets, the latest theology, the fashionable metaphysics, voyages and travels, reviews, newspapers, and sermons, with an omnivorous appetite which will hardly come to him again. All this may be very desultory, very disconnected, very unsatisfactory in a thousand ways; but it will nevertheless happen. Perhaps a not unwise criticism might say to such a person, in the words of one who is pretty sure to be one of his favourite poets,
"Thy dream was good;
If nature put not forth her power
Who is there that would live an hour?"
It is through this kind of fermentation, acting on many minds and assuming many forms, that the most important part of University education is performed. The difference between a man who has and one who has not enjoyed that advantage, lies much more in the influences under which he has passed through the stage which connects boyhood and manhood than in the possession or non-possession of particular accomplishments, accompaits double use is one of the great inconveniences of periodical literature. Some time since, the Times, in reviewing Mr. James Montgomery's poems, said, "We first met Mr. Montgomery in a Brixton omnibus." One is inclined to wonder that Mr. Montgomery and the other passengers escaped the fate of Semele.
nied by the habits of mind which their acquisition in a particular manner engenders. What, then, is the duty of the University? It is, we think, rather that of an alma nutrix than of an alma mater. At best it can but assist nature. The most important part of the education which it professes to give is out of its reach, and is regulated by influences over which it has but an indirect control. We do not, however, agree with Mr. Carlyle's suggestion, that the best University would be an hotel, with a certain number of police regulations, a good library, and a competent quantity of stationery. There is, as we have been all taught by a familiar and venerable authority, a certain great capitalist who is always ready to relieve the labour-market by an unlimited demand for idle hands. The peculiar office of a University, in our opinion, is to supply to the students precisely that kind of employment which a profession supplies to grown-up men. The University course of study ought to be a permanent solid occupation, the diligent prosecution of which should be attended by the ordinary rewards, and its neglect by the ordinary penalties of diligence or negligence in a profession-that is to say, the obtaining or not obtaining of the rewards which the University has to give. The comparison may appear fanciful, but it may be carried further; for as a man is not to be envied who makes himself a slave to his profession, so the University, which has it in its power to regulate the conditions under which the profession of study shall be carried on, ought to make such arrangements as should suggest to the minds, or rather to the instincts, of the undergraduates the truth that their studies are to be followed with a certain liberality of spirit, and with a full acknowledgment of the value of many influences collateral to them. It is an unwise thing to condemn a high-spirited young man to pass the three freshest years of his life in a continual bondage to examinations, so that, as soon as one ordeal is passed, he is to begin to prepare himself for another. He ought to have much leisure. If he is industrious, he will have no sort of difficulty in occupying it; and being thrown on his own resources whilst it lasts, it will probably be the most useful part of his University course. If he is idle, no amount of college regulations will diminish his idleness; and, after all, the University must assume a certain amount of industry on the part of its pupils in all its arrangements. It is on this principle that we strongly agree with Mr. Blakesley in advocating the maintenance of the present long vacation as a most valuable part of the University year. We must remember, that the students are growing, are forming their plans and opinions of life, and that they must have frequent opportunities of doing so unfettered by University restrictions. They have arrived at an age at which the natural sanctions of
industry begin to operate, and at which artificial stimulants ought as much as possible to be dispensed with. In medical and legal education there are some prizes to be won, and some emoluments; but there are, and obviously ought to be, no such things as classlists. The reason is, that the connection between future success in life and present industry are so obvious, that any other inducements would operate only as disturbing forces, diverting the mind from the endeavour to obtain knowledge to the endeavour to obtain from others a certificate of something which is taken as conclusive evidence of knowledge. In the profession followed at the Universities the connection is not so obvious, and it therefore becomes necessary to increase the artificial inducements to exertion; but every arrangement and every practice of the University ought to be made to testify to the fact, that a University education is meant to benefit the student and not to satisfy examiners, and that its object is the instruction gained and not the honours which attest its attainment.
We have pointed out what appear to us to be the defects of the University in this respect, and have attempted to suggest a remedy, consisting principally in a return to the ancient system, adapted to the present state of knowledge; but we cannot conclude without paying the very highest tribute that any words of ours can pay to the indirect influences of Cambridge life on those who are so happy as to share them. On such a subject we cannot feel, and do not care to affect, impartiality. We believe the English Universities, and especially Cambridge, to be the very noblest places of education that ever deserved the gratitude of mankind. We do not wish so much to point to the grandest list of great names that adorns the annals of any society, as to that common type of character which we all know and love so well. Where can we find such a seminary for all the simple manly virtues which have made England what it is? Can the youth of any other country vie with the youth of England in that quiet strength, that noble modesty, that frank courage, without which wisdom is cunning and knowledge vanity? Many lessons are taught at Cambridge which are not to be learnt from books. In the midst of all the heat of a system founded on competition, we never remember an unworthy word or an ungenerous feeling. The innate nobility of the subjects of the experiment prevents at least one of its most obvious bad consequences. Whatever we may think of competitive examinations, we cannot charge them with producing envy or ill-will. On the contrary, they are fair manly vigorous contests, conducted in perfect honour and with the noblest spirit. Who has not seen men, excluded by the success of others from the objects of their fondest ambition, perhaps from a prospect of early independence, congratulate their successful
rivals, with a total unconsciousness that they are doing any thing more than a thing of course? How many tales the University could tell of hopeful buoyant energy winning its way to a career of honour and usefulness against every impediment of fortune. How nobly does it nurse that utterly fearless social democracy in which are engendered the rough courtesy and gallant stoicism of demeanour which are the most essential elements in our conception of an English gentleman. What a noble society is that, of which the very idleness is more energetic than the studies of other nations, and in which the diligence of mere youths equals and often surpasses that of grown men. Whatever faults our Universities have, we assert that their indirect influences are incomparably good. Cambridge may in some respects be an arida nutrix, but she is at any rate a nutrix leonum. Whatever else men do or do not know on leaving Cambridge, they know their places. They know how to respect and obey their elders and betters; and therefore, respecting and commanding themselves, they go forth as the very flower of the race which has girdled the world with its empire, which rules those who submit, and strikes down those who resist, with more than Roman force and Roman justice. Cambridge is at once a source and a representative of that imperial character which is not so much our most precious possession as the very soul of the nation itself. The eye would be taken from the body, the spring from the year, if those grand sources which nourished Bacon and Milton and Newton were dried-up or polluted. A noble blood circulates in the veins of our Universities; for they nourish, and in no small degree create, the wisdom of the wisest, the courage of the bravest, and the strength of the strongest of the nations. Peace be within their walls, and plenteousness within their palaces; for our brethren and companions' sake we have wished them prosperity.
Thinking thus of these great bodies, and especially of Cambridge, we would advocate no reforms which did not tend to stimulate to even greater efforts a spirit which perhaps needs but little stimulus. We would never degrade so noble an education as the Universities at present afford; we would only extend its direct influences beyond their present sphere. We would not bate one jot of the high demands which Cambridge makes on the intellect and on the heart. Let the teaching be as severe, as concentrated, as laborious as it is now; but let it be extended to all, and let it interest all. In these days, in which so many voices complain of the narrowness and inefficiency, sometimes even of the stupidity, of the only nation in the world which has
*"Ce peuple romain, dont l'Angleterre reproduit si fidèlement la grandeur, la dureté, la liberté traditionnelle, la personnalité superbe, et l'indomptable énergie." Montalembert, l'Avenir politique de l'Angleterre, pp. 11, 12.