More Special Application of the Argument to Colleges.
I. IN the days of our forefathers, the difficulty, both in
Scotland and England, was to obtain a sufficient number of persons qualified
for undertaking the duties of the pastoral charge. The number of vacant
parishes greatly exceeded the number of competent and well-educated labourers
who might fill them. This scarcity, in fact, was one great impellent cause of
the multiplication of colleges where, by salaries for teachers, on the one
hand, and bursaries for the taught, on the other, learning was made more easily
accessible; and so a much greater number were allured to the scholarship
requisite for the office of a Christian instructor. The necessity for such an
artificial encouragement as this, is in itself a strong argument for literary
endowments. Without this, we have reason to think, either that the land might
have languished under the paucity of its ecclesiastical ministrations ; or that
Christianity, represented, and feebly represented, by an ignorant and
unlettered priesthood, might have been lorded over by an infidel philosophy,
and left open to the contempt of general society.
2. It is evident, that the higher the preliminary education for the church was made, the greater must have been the need of endowments; and that, hot merely for providing an adequate remuneration to the masters, but by immunities of various sorts attached to them, to induce students to attend in sufficient numbers, notwithstanding the larger amount of fees, and the more lengthened periods of study to which this higher scholarship subjected them. At one time, in Scotland, all the existing encouragements, whether in the shape of bursaries, or honoraries, or gratuitous lodgings, failed to attract so many students as might suffice for the supply of parishes. This is the reason why a constant attendance on the Divinity Hall was dispensed with, and why so many sessions of occasional attendance were sustained, as a sufficient preparatory course for entering upon holy orders. It facilitated the approach of entrants into the ministry; but it did so, by abridging the studies and the sacrifices which they had to make, for the purpose of obtaining the required qualifications. The important thing to be noted here, is the connexion that subsists between the character, whether more or less arduous, of the education in colleges, and the consequently smaller or larger number of our clerical aspirants. It is evident, that the longer and more laborious the curriculum is, the fewer will be found to have described it; and conversely. This furnishes a palpable index by which we may judge of t.he changes that might be made on the state of our academic education. The time has been, when the church, straitened in respect to the number of her licentiates, and at a loss for the supply of her vacant parishes, was forced to let down her requisitions, and, in that proportion, to degrade the scholarship of her clergy. Does not the reverse condition, in which we now are, both permit and justify a reverse process? Might not the fact of a great yearly overplus of probationers, emanating from our colleges upon the ecclesiastical profession, warrant the institution of a more arduous aud more expensive course? It would diminish, it is true, the number of our licentiates; but then there is ample room for the diminution. And might not this be turned to the precious account of ordaining a still more laborious preparation for the church, whereby to secure, even for Scotland, the inestimable benefit of a still more lettered and accomplished clergy?
3. It is not our business to theorise on the reasons of that change which has taken place in regard to the number of those who are at present studying for the sacred profession; and whereby there is now an excess, as before there was a deficiency, of licentiates or probationers in our church. It is due, in part, to the augmentation of the church livings, without a proportionate increase in the expense of college education; and also, in part, to a. certain influence connected with the progress of wealth in a country. As society advances, profits decline, and people, in consequence, embark the same money on any given speculation, with the prospect of an inferior return. It would be in the face of all experimental wisdom to deny the reality of this influence, even in the business of embarking money on the education of a family. In Scotland, the sum of £200 will be advanced now, for the sake of a smaller return than it would have been a century ago; and, accordingly, if that sum had then been, and still were, the expense of education for any of the learned professions, we should have expected, on that single account, a more crowded attendance at our various universities, even though the pecuniary income in any of the professions had been stationary. The effect, then, must be greatly enhanced, if the outgivings at college bear a smaller proportion now than they did formerly to the earnings whether of the medical profession, or of the law, or of the church. Certain it is, that, in reference to the last of these three professions, the proportion is now utterly reversed between the offices to be filled, and the candidates for these offices. Formerly the vacancies greatly outnumbered the labourers capable of supplying them; and now the labourers greatly outnumber the vacancies. In the Scottish Establishment, there should be somewhat short of thirty nominations to churches in the year, - constituting a demand for licentiates which would be most amply supplied by 200 students of divinity. But three years ago, there was upwards of 700. The profession is greatly overstocked; and so, in fact, are the other two professions of medicine and law, - a state of matters, we repeat, available to the important object of raising the scholarship of them all.
4. It is not for the purpose of reducing the number of competitors that we would beset the entry to the learned professions with additional difficulties. But the present excess of those competitors proves with what safety such difficulties may be imposed. Nor would we impose them for their own sake. The toil and the cost of a more lengthened and laborious attendance at our universities are not desirable in themselves; but the more comprehensive and profounder scholarship to which they are subservient, is highly desirable; and, to the attainment of this object, the present state of matters is convertible. As formerly, we were obliged to let down the system of education, for the purpose of drawing more students to college; so, now that we can afford to have greatly fewer students, we may raise that system. The standard of preparation was lowered when the circumstances of the country required such a facility for the due supply of the learned professions; but now that the facility is such as vastly to have overdone the supply, this is the intimation to us how much the standard of preparation admits of being elevated.
5. The great yearly overplus of students, in Scotland, is a valuable fact, because it at once suggests the expedient by which to reform all that is most objectionable in the peculiarities of our Scottish education, and demonstrates the practicability of that reform.
6. The radical error of our system lies in the too early admittance of our youth to universities. Generally speaking, whether we look to their age or to their acquisitions, they are too soon translated from the pedagogy of a school to the more liberal discipline of a college. The change wanted (and on it every other desirable improvement could be easily suspended,) is, that a far higher than their present average scholarship should be exacted from them ere they are admissible as students. As it is, we pass a great deal too early from the treatment of them as boys, to the treatment of them as men. In the majority of cases, they take their departure from the grammar school, without even the first elements of Greek, and without being able to translate extemporaneously the easiest of our Latin authors. It would be well, we repeat, if, ore they could be received into a college for any professional object, they had a far higher practical acquaintance with both languages; and if, by their tried and ascertained expertness in the work of translation, they should evince both that they have a large command of vocables, and that they are thoroughly grounded in syntax and grammar. But, for this purpose, it seems absolutely indispensable that the period of their boyhood, with its appropriate drudgeries, should be considerably extended. They should be kept at least two or three years longer at drill; whereas at present they are handed over to the professor, before the schoolmaster has finished his work upon them; and, by the existing methods of our university tuition, the one is in the worst possible circumstances for executing what the other has left undone. All the vigour and vigilance that can possibly be put forth from the academic chair never will replace the incessant taskwork, the close and daily examinations of the school-room. What should be done is, that, ere the university course shall commence, the scholastic course, instead of being cut short, as it now is, should be allowed to attain its proper and adequate completion. It is assuredly in the rudimental part of education that we are defective; and it is in this that we are so mueh excelled by our southern neighbours. We are weak, throughout, because weak radically. A failure at the root is sure to be indicated by a general sickliness - a lack of strength and stamina, even in spite of that gay and gorgeous efflorescence which disguises the frailty that is underneath. The characteristic freedom, exuberance, and activity of our college system, we hope will remain unchecked and untrammelled; but, certain it is, that these would yield a produce far more enduring, were they grafted on the deep and well-laid foundation of English scholarship.
7. At Berlin, there are institutions termed Gymnasia, of intermediate rank, in point of education between our high-schools and colleges, and through which the students have to pass in their way to that higher order of education which they receive from the faculty professors. In England, too, young men receive a far higher preparation for the university, at the public schools. Now, the thing wanted for Scotland is just some apparatus of equivalent power either to the gymnasia of Prussia, or to the public schools of England; for unquestionably, the great defect of our system is, that our youth, by quitting too soon the school-boy for the student, have not had such thorough exercise and training as is desirable in what we again term the gymnastics of education.
8. There are two simple expedients, by either of which we think that this defect might be remedied.
9. The first is the institution of a more extended grammar-school system in each of our university towns. In so far as the Latin is concerned, this could be provided for by the appointment of more classes, with masters who might carry the scholars higher, by several steps, than they now attain in their acquaintance with that tongue. And we should, further, hold a Greek master to be indispensable in each of these seminaries, who might supersede altogether what is called the first or public class of Greek in our colleges ; and who would certainly be in far better circumstances than a professor for conducting all the initiatory processes in the acquisition of the language.
10. Or, what we should consider as a still better arrangement, would be the institution of a Greek and Latin tutorship in each university, forming an intermediate passage from our schools to our colleges, and at which the learner should be detained till he become a fit subject for the higher treatment of a professional course. This would be tantamount to the gymnasium attached to certain universities of the continent. Its terms or sessions might be extended beyond those of the higher classes; and its teachers, though of distinct rank and employment from the professors, should, in reference both to themselves, and their offices, be regarded as essentially belonging to the university.
11. By the help of one or other of these contrivances, we think that the chief objections to our present Scottish mode of education might be obviated. To prevent the inconvenience of having students either so juvenile or so untaught as those to whom we are often exposed at present, we have heard it proposed that they should not be admissible to college under a certain specified age. It would, however, be a better regulation, that they should not be admissible under a certain specified amount of scholarship. The question of their admissibility should be decided, not by their years, but by their acquirements; or by certain definite tests of proficiency which they should be made to undergo in a strict public examination; such, for example, as the execution of certain prescribed versions; the translation of the easier Latin authors ad aperturam libri; the translation of assigned passages in some of the more difficult Latin, and easier Greek authors, with a certain allowance of time for preparation; and, above all, a correct acquaintance with the syntax and grammar of the one language, and such an acquaintance with the other as might be expected from the study of it for at least one, and perhaps two years. At Glasgow, the students, at the commencement of their second, third, and fourth years, are examined on the subjects of their previous education, that their fitness for an ulterior scholarship may be ascertained, ere they are permitted to pass onward in the course. Now, what I should propose is a great initial examination of students at the outset of their university career, or at the commencement of their first session, and that as an indispensable preliminary to their becoming collegians at all. It is on the degree of performance or proficiency executed upon this occasion that the whole of the proposed reformation turns. I should fix a very high standard; and, whenever the youthful aspirant fell short of it, there would be either a grammar school in the university town, or a gymnasium in the university itself, where he could obtain the requisite preparation.
12. But I would not that his attendance either on the one or the other of these institutions were deemed indispensable. His admissibility as a regular student should be made to depend, not on the previous schools which he has attended, but on the previous scholarship which he has acquired. And let him get this scholarship wherever he can find it. It would be well if our provincial schools became so efficient, and the classical teachers at the head of them were so accomplished, as to meet the demand of the new system for higher aquisitions on the part of college entrants. They will not, for a long time, supersede the advantage either of a gymnasium or a completely equipped grammar school at each university seat. But there cannot be imagined a distinction more honourable for any school in the country, than to send up young men to the university, who can stand the arduous initial examination for which it is the office of the gymnasium to prepare them. By this simple device, there might be a wholesome rivalship set agoing, that would give an impulse to elementary or scholastic education all over the land. The ambition, in many towns, and perhaps even in some country parishes, would be to qualify their own scholars for immediate admission into the faculty classes. And thus as the fruit of the arrangement which we have ventured to recommend, there would be the almost instant elevation of every college entrant to a far higher grade of scholarship than is now usual; and there would be eventually, in accommodation to this, a far higher style of education in the provincial seminaries of Scotland.
13. But it is obvious that the whole improvement hangs on the fidelity and strictness with which the initial examination of students is conducted. If once laxity in these respects be admitted, the gymnasium will become a mere piece of useless frame-work; and like many other seemly contrivances of man, be struck with impotency by the faulty administration of it. To secure the faithfulness, then, of the examination, men of rival and opposite interests should be admitted to a voice in it. The tutors of the gymnasium, whose classes might receive augmentation from the number of defeated candidates, should have a seat in the board of examinators. Even eminent school-masters from the country, might be invited to assist at this grave and formidable trial. And this very attention should be conferred on the one side, and would be felt on the other, as a flattering reward for the assiduity and success wherewith these meritorious men had, in their respective nurseries of scholarship, raised so many into a fit state for being transplanted into the higher field of a university. It would, further, be well, if, on the occasion of this great anniversary, the colleges sent corresponding members to each other, even as the synods of the church do. For there is an interest which each college has in admitting with greater facility than the others, and against which a check ought to be provided. But far the most precious fruit of this attendant publicity, and pomp and circumstance, would be the stinmius that it should give to all the seminaries where the preparatory education was carried on; and the high feats of prowess in scholarship to which it should urge every youthful aspirant in the prospect of that exhibition which was before him. It would be no small advantage, that it marked the strength of that barrier which had to be forced ere the entry was made on a higher education. The greater the appearance which the wail of separation between schools and colleges made in the public eye, the more strenuous would be the preparation itt the lower, and the more sustained and lofty, it is hoped, would be the state of the scholarship in the higher seminaries.
14. We prefer a gymnasium in the university to an extended grammar-school in the university town; and in the gymnasium we should like also a mathematical tutor, as well as a Greek and a Latin one, in order to repair our great inferiority in mathematical science to the nations of the continent. It is desirable, we think, that, previous to their first year at college, students should acquire all that they now learn at the professors first mathematical class. Suppose that they have mastered the first six books of Euclid, with plane trigonometry, and algebra up to quadratic equations, before entering the class of the faculty professor of mathematics, this would enable him to carry them to such heights of science, as, under the present system, are completely unattainable during the season of attendance at the university. Were this arrangement adopted, there behoved, of course, at the great initiatory trial of college entrants, to be a mathematical as well as a classical examination.
15. The expense of such an institution might not go beyond £300 a-year for each university. In the smaller universities, one tutor would probably suffice for each of the departments, and the annual salary required for each might not exceed £100. In the larger universities, a greater number of tiitors might be required, but their smaller salaries would be greatly more than compensated by the fees of their larger attendance.
16. They only, however, who propose to study for one or other of the learned professions, should be subject to the examination in question. All the classes should be as open as they are now, to the general. public; and any new regulation connected with a gymnasium, or qualifications to be ascertained by an initiatory trial, should be confined to the students of law, medicine, and theology. The ultimate object of such a guardianship as that proposed should be, to elevate the learned professions, and not to intercept the approaches to college of those who resort to it purely for the sake of instruction, and without any professional view. It is enough that for the aspirants to any learned profession, the examination at entry on the studies which qualify for it, should be held indispensable; and that the certificate of having passed this examination should be required along with the certificates of attendance on the prescribed classes. In this way, literature is as freely dispensed as before to those with whom literature is the sole object; while lawyers, physicians, and clergymen are restricted to that course which secures for them a higher education, and so secures for the land still more accomplished functionaries than before.
17. It is obvious, that under the proposed arrangement, there would, for a time at least, be fewer students than at present: and that, because of the more lengthened and expensive course which they should have to undergo. A higher preparatory education, whether at the gymnasium or at schools, might, in the case of theological students, be tantamount to a prolongation of their attendance at college of from eight to ten years. This behoved to operate as a check upon their numbers; and it is well that so large a reduction of numbers can be afforded without at all hazarding the adequate supply of church vacancies. The existing overplus of students of divinity is often spoken of with regret. But it will become a matter of gratulation, when turned to a purpose so valuable as that of refining and raising to a still higher point of elevation, both the general and the professional literature of clergymen.
18. But with fewer students, and no increase either of fees or salaries, the professors would sustain a reduction of their income. This seems to furnish an irresistible argument in behalf, not only of our existing, but even of larger endowments. Are the teachers to descend to a lower status; and that by the very arrangement of which the main purpose is to elevate the taught to a higher scholarship? No way appears to us of rightly adjusting any scheme for a more arduous university course, that does not enhance the necessity for endowments. We shall in vain look for this improvement as the fruit of a spontaneous demand by the public for a higher education. This higher education must be made imperative, by a statute of apprenticeship; and whenever it is so, there will be, for a time at least, a diminished attendance upon colleges. It is to compensate this, that there ought to be an increase of revenue provided for professors from some source or other, - from salaries or fees. The process is analogous to that which we have conceived for parish schools (chap. i. 14, 15.)
19. It is farther obvious, that, by exacting from students at their entry upon college, higher initial qualifications than they have at present, we elevate the work not merely of the language professors, but of all the professors of all the sciences. They would have to deal with more advanced pupils in each of the classes. They would have to accommodate the style of their tuition to understandings more on the eve of manhood. They would have to prepare a more substantial repast for the hardier and more exercised intellects of those who listened to them. There is great discomfort to a public instructor when haunted by the suspicion that he is above the level of those whom he addresses. But the discomfort is far more painful, when humbled by the opposite suspicion that he is beneath that level. It is thus that a higher set of pupils act by a sort of moral compulsion on the professor in raising the whole tone and character of his preparations; and he is tempted to higher walks than before by the feeling that now he will be followed by the intelligent sympathy of those with whom he can safely hold more lofty and scientific converse. Under this arrangement, the reproach which has been cast on our Scottish universities, of dealing in metaphysics and all other sorts of adventurous speculation with boys of fifteen, would in time be wiped away. When, once our classes were furnished with students both more advanced in age and more elevated in acquirements, this incongruity would no longer exist. It would be competent for a professor to conduct such students to the very altitudes of his subject; and thus to accomplish that two-fold service which Scottish professors have often rendered, who, while engaged in the work of original preparation for the classroom, have, at the same time, pushed forward the limits of discovery in their respective sciences.
20. There ought to be a distinction observed between the work of a professor and that of a schoolmaster; and the proposed gymnasium may be regarded as marking the transition space, or as a broad line of demarcation between them. At the admission of our young men to college, the pedagogical treatment should give way to the professorial; and the wide difference between these two should be felt even in those languages, the study of which is prosecuted for at least two years in the greater number of our universities. This difference, we think, might be illustrated by a comparison between the work of him who, in the reading of a Greek or Latin author, is obliged to have frequent recourse to his grammar and dictionary; and the work of him who, able to translate without the necessity of constant appeal to these, can now discriminate the peculiarities of the writer, and feel the force and beauty of his expressions, and appreciate the sentiments which he utters, and treasure up the information which he affords. The business of a schoolmaster is to superintend the former of these two works. The business of a professor is to superintend the latter of them. There must of course be a good deal of translation performed before the professor; and this of itself will help both to keep up and to extend the practical acquaintance of his students with the language which he teaches. But with their now fuller command of its vocables, and their now greater intimacy with its syntax and structure, he will have more time and liberty for his own proper office, which is to point out the niceties of its idiom and dialect, - to trace the law of its various metrical constructjons, - to mark the characteristics and the felicities of its different writers, - to exerise the taste and discernment of his pupils on the eloquence and poetry of the ancients, - to illustrate the passages which are read in the class-room by a reference to the history, customs, and localities of Greece or Rome, - and to unfold the philosophy of grammar, whereby the phenomena of speech are examined in connexion with the laws and the processes of human thought. To guide, in short, his disciples along the higher walks of literature and refined criticism, constitutes the proper business of a professor; and in the prosecution of this object, care should be taken that much translation be gone through, and many versions executed. In the examination of these last, again, it is the part of the schoolmaster to attend to the fidelity of the rendering; but it should be that of the professor to attend both to its fidelity and its elegance.
21. But if, even in the teaching of languages, there is room for the distinction between a pedagogical and a professorial treatment of this work, much more does the distinction admit of being verified in the teaching of the sciences. At the outset of a mathematical course of study, it seems advisable that each student should be tasked, and tried with every demonstration in the plane geometry of Euclid, and made to resolve a variety of examples in all the cases of plane trigonometry. But it is not therefore necessary, or even desirable, that he should be followed thus closely, through the subsequent and more advanced stages of the science. Let us suppose him to have been thoroughly schooled and exercised in the elementary mathematics, and that then, with higher preparation, and a more mature understanding than at present, he passes onward to the collegiate method of studying this branch of education, which obtains in Scotland. He might be one in a class of fifty, even of a hundred, and yet make substantial progress notwithstanding. He cannot, it is true, be examined on every demonstration; yet he must prepare for the chance of being examined on it, for he knows not but that he may be named for that purpose. After having undergone all the previous gymnastics through which we suppose him to have passed, he is fit surely for reading intelligently over by himself a treatise on some sections. Much more might he follow intelligently the lucrubrations of a master who demonstrates and explains every proposition, and who has every demonstration repeated to him by one or other of the students. That he may be the student called upon, operates as a stimulus both to his attention in the class-room, and to his busy preparation out of doors. Add to this, the prescribed exercises which he may be frequently required to perform, and which in no instance can escape the observation of the professor, who, it may be farther observed, will find no difficulty in giving to each student his relative place in the scale of merit and estimation. The pupils of a college-class in Scotland, are not acted upon by that compulsion which is proper to boys; but they may be fully acted upon by that higher and more generous compulsion which is proper to young men. The great thing to be desired for giving effect to our system, is, that they shall have enough out-grown their boyhood, and have approached sufficiently near to manhood, before the higher studies are entered upon. After which there is every security for their making a sound progress in these studies, inasmuch as that all who will to make that progress may make it: and, in fact, it is quite practicable, by exercises and examinations together, to bring the talent and proficiency of each fully out both to the view of the professor and of his class. The merits of not one of the students need remain unknown. The able and attentive may have the opportunity of signalising themselvs throughout the session by their masterly appearances, whether in oral or written demonstrations. Even they to whom mathematics are a drudgery, have all the impulse to exertion, which lies in the approbation of their teacher, and the awarded respect of their fellow students. Certain, too, it is, that they who have come forth from the gymnasium smitten with a taste for the sciences, and endowed with an intellect which triumphs in the difficulties with which it has to contend, and is regaled with its success in surmounting them, might follow their professor, without the failure of a single step, to the very highest of his lessons, even though he should carry them to the utmost verge of our present discoveries.
22. They who conceive of the Scotch university system as hollow and inefficient throughout, overlook the distinction between that treatment which is right for boys, and that which is right for men. Surely if a full-grown man may, in virtue of his present maturity and previously acquired scholarship, read with perfect intelligence the most arduous book in mathematics or morals, though altogether left to himself, - then, the nearer a learner is to this maturity and manhood, the more independent he is of aid and superintendence on the part of a living master. He may acquire this aid to a certain degree, just as he might require the help of a commentary to throw light on some difficult text. But just as the commentary should be more or less copious, according to the various ages or acquirements of the reader, so ought the expositions of the teacher to be more or less full, and the examinations, to be more or less frequent, according to the advancement of his pupils. There is in this matter a keeping between the age and the regimen, a time when the puerile discipline may be relaxed with safety and advantage, before it is given up altogether. There is as much one educational treatment for a youth of twenty, and another for a boy of fifteen, as there is one treatment for a boy of ten years of age, and another for a child of five. Because the class-room of an English tutor, with its perpetual task-work, and ita close over-hanging vigilance, is the best adapted for youth of a lower age; it follows not that the lecture-room of a Scotch professor, even though the practicks of education obtain there in a far less degree, is not the best adapted for youth of a higher age. Our great error is, that we admit students too soon into the lecture-room, - not that our university system is not the best, which can be made to bear on a certain period in the growth and development of the human intellect, but that we make it to bear on a wrong period, on a period immature for the application of it. But the way to amend this is to alter the period, and not to overturn the system, not to sink the collegite into the scholastic, but, preserving them distinct, to take care that the scholastic course shall be thoroughly described, before the collegiate course is entered upon.
23. Nevertheless we most willingly allow that we are deficient in the practicks of education. We would have these admitted more largely even into our highest classes. Not that we would give up the hour which at present is devoted almost exclusively to the lecture of the professor; but it would be an improvement, if in each class there was another hour for examinations and exercises. With this supplement, the Scottish system,should remain untouched; and professors should be left as heretofore to their own independent views, and their own original style of treatment and preparation in all the sciences;- not tied down to the order and the lessons of an antiquated text-book, but at liberty to change their instructions with the light and spirit of the age, and themselves in the advanced position of men who, after having traversed all the doctrines of our existent philosophy, can both enrich it and widen its domain by discoveries and doctrines of their own.
24. It would be no subversion of this professorial method of teaching, but an improvement of it, to superadd the stimulus of a great public examination at the end of each session, in every way as sifting and severe as those which are held in the English universities, at the dispensation of honours, and affording the same tests of high proficiency in the, various sciences as are required at our sister institutions in mathematics and the ancient languages. We maintain, that, by our peculiar methods, students can be effectually prepared for such a trial; and that, from the lecture-rooms of our Scottish professors, there might issue youths as thoroughly accomplished in the principles of the ethical and intellectual philosophy, in political economy, and the various branches of a theological education, as if they had been made to undergo that more elaborate distillation which is imaged to take place in the tutors class-rooms of Oxford and Cambridge.
25. There is doubtless a certain style of close and almost compulsory tuition by which every doctrine of a text-book might be infused into the scholars mind, and which can he better accomplished by a Fellow, in his chamber, with a few pupils, than by a Professor, in his lecture-room, with many. But then, however needed by boys, it is not needed by young men who have out-grown their boyhood. For example, a class might thus be most minutely and thoroughly lessoned in every chapter and paragraph of Paleys Moral Philosophy: and yet we are confident that, by the ordinary collegiate methods of Scotland, and more especially if an hour of examination were superadded to the hour of lecturing, a tenfold greater number of youths could not only be instructed, but soundly instructed, and that within half-a-year, not in the doctrines of this book only, but in all the doctrines of any worth or prominency which are to be found in the most distinguished works on ethical science. In that space of time, the professor could take a wide compass over the whole literature of his subject; and he cotld deliver with fulness and effect all the truths of permanent importance which have been expounded by our best writers, from Bacon and Butler, to Brown and Dugald Stewart of our own day; and he could make full exposure of the scepticism and the infidel sophistries by which the orthodox system of morals has been assailed; and he could sit in judgment on all his predecessors; and without either trampling on that which is precious, or going wildly astray after the novelties of wayward speculation, he could nevertheless cast the science in the mould of his own understanding, and transmute it into his own language, and throw all the freshness of an original interest over the lessons f his course; and with these lessons he could thoroughly imbue the great majority of his pupils, traversing along with them the whole length and breadth of his department, and giving them we are sure a far greater amount of instruction than they ever could acquire by conning over the dicta of any single author in the pages of an established text-book. For giving effect to this high professorial mode of teaching, all that we require is a sufficient age for our pupils. This is the great reformation wanted; and not that we should exchange the methods of Smith, and Stewart, and Playfair, and Jardine, and Black, for the mere pedagogy of the English colleges.
26. It is just because the preparatory schooling is so complete in England, that there the pedagogical method admits of being relaxed in the universities; and our professorial method might with all the more safety be substituted in its room. And it is just because our preparatory schooling is so very deficient, that the professorial style of instruction wherewith it is instantly followed up, lies open to the charge of being so very preposterous and premature. There is thus a perversity in each of the two systems; and it would not be the way to amend either of them that it should be run entirely into the other. The danger to be apprehended is, lest in the work of amelioration which has begun with the colleges of Scotland, it should be proposed to sink the business of a professor into that of a schoolmaster; whereas the only right way of proceeding would be to provide that the schoolmaster finish his work, ere the higher task of the professor shall be entered upon. We trust that the main characteristics of our Scottish system, i instead of being subverted, will be kept inviolate; and that our professorial method of tuition will not be done away, but only provided with a good basis of English pedagogy.
27. This being provided, we are satisfied that our Scottish system might be compared most advantageously with the system which obtains in the universities of England. There we behold the strictly scholastic method kept up often beyond the age of majority, in the two departments of mathematics and the classics. And the main strength of teachers and pupils being thus centred upon one or two subjects, there arises, as we might expect, the natural consequence of a greater amount of high proficiency in these, than is generally to be found in the seminaries which have adopted a more cornprehensive scheme of education. Yet, we cannot for a moment doubt, that, from the latter seminaries, if under the conduct of able professors in all the sciences, a far greater produce of usefulness might be thrown off upon society. All that is wanted for this is the exaction of higher qualifications at the outset of the university career; that the faculties of our students may be enough expanded for the lessons of a sublime or arduous philosophy; and that, although beyond. the coercion which would absolutely force a daily preparation for each, there may, from the single circumstance of their age, be a sufficient guarantee, in the power of manly and liberal inducements alone, for at least a large proportion of them in every class entering fully and vigorously into the spirit and studies of the course. To us it is inconceivable how accomplished linguists, and mathematicians, and economists, and moralists, and theologians, and chemists, and naturalists, can fail of being formed under an arrangement like this; or wherein lies the mysterious inaptitude of such an apparatus, for the effective conveyance of full and substantial instruction in all the branches of science and literature. It will therefore scarcely admit of a question, by which of the two systems of education a greater service is rendered to the community, - whether by universities that send forth many of their sons thoroughly schooled in mathematics and the ancient languages, but in these two branches of education alone; or by universities that send forth fewer so well accomplished.in these, but that make up for this defect by sending forth a few who have made eminent proficiency in each of the sciences, and many besides, who, though not beyond a respectable mediocrity in any of the separate departments of human knowledge, yet, in the description of their college course, have acquired a general intellectual cultivation, which is thereby largely diffused throughout the higher and middle classes of society.
28. The comparison between the two systems maybe made thus: Only the few, by dint of surpassing strength and genius, are fitted to extend the boundaries of any of the sciences. The many never realise this glory; and yet they receive incalculable good from studies in which they make considerable advances, although immeasurably distanced therein by those of colossal mind, who are destined to out-peer all their fellows, and to be the luminaries of their age. To receive benefit from a science, it is not necessary that one should attain the station of a master or a discoverer. There is a scholarship far short of this, which may so grace and inform the mind as to be of inestimable worth to its possessor. We even think that the spread of this more moderate proficiency among hundreds, is of greater use and importance to society than would be the elevation of half-a-dozen to superlative rank and accomplishment in learning. But both are best; and we most willingly admit that it would be a serious deduction from the usefulness of a college, if it failed in either one or other of these services.
29. By this distinction between the few highly eminent, and the many merely respectable scholars, we shall be the better enabled to set the English and Scottish university modes of education fairly against each other. In regard to the first class of scholars, the highly eminent, it is evident, that, under either mode, there is enough of practical teaching for the development of that special capacity and power to which their aptitude for eminence is owing. There may be more of task work and lessoning in the southern than in the northern colleges; but it is not by the mere dint and quantity of lessoning that genius is created, although a certain amount of it be necessary for the excitement of genius to those spontaneous and self-sustained efforts by which mainly its future triumphs are achieved. Now, we contend that such an amount of lessoning is to be had in the colleges of Scotland - as much of it, indeed, in. every department of education, as will set every student, having the requisite taste and talent which may qualify him for eminence in that department, most prosperously agoing. Let the bent of his inclinations and energies be towards philology, or belles lettres, or mathematics, or physics, or ethics, or economical science, he comes in contact with enough of his favourite subject for awakening the kindred inspiration; and enough, too, of practical guidance for, directing him on that path of study, in which, if he be gifted with original and inventive faculties, his conceptions may ripen into immortal authorship. Only grant, then, that those minds of surpassing force and fire, which need but the touch of some congenial excitement, that they may lindle into the luminaries of their age, - only grant, in regard to such minds, that they may be as effectually ignited at a Scotch as at an English college; and then we ask, in behalf of the former institution, whether it is not better that all the various sciences should be presented to the various taste and intellect of its students, than that its whole discipleship should consist in the exclusive and incessant appliance of but two subjects or two sciences? Is it not better for the country, that, at the great fountain-heads of its literature, there should be rendered a supply of human knowledge in all its branches; and that altogether, there should, in the wide range of its professorships, be as many affinities provided as might suit the peculiar aptitude and disposition of every genius? In this way each master spirit is furnished with its own proper science; and each science, in the encyclopedia of human learning, acts by its own magnetic charm on every spirit that is kindred to itself. There is thus a far greater amount of superlative talent enlisted in the service of philosophy, and that not in but one or two of its branches, but in all the most important diversities of human study and human speculation. We do not lose, under this generalized system of education, the services of those, who, in virtue of their peculiar mental conformation, are signally and specially qualified, either in the ancient languages to shed an original light over the walks of criticism, or in the mathematics to extend the resources of the science, and open up new tracks of investigation. And additionally to these, we secure minds of another conformation for the like high service in other sciences. We supply each first-rate genius with the theme which he is best adapted to perfect or to adorn; and, instead of only sending forth men fitted more thoroughly to explore the classics, or more widely to extend the mathematics than before; we overspread the entire field of human knowledge, with labourers, each qualified to make original contributions in his own department, and collectively to enrich and to enlarge not one or two, but all the provinces of learning.
30. But the comparison we are making has hitherto respected chiefly those who are capable of reaching the loftiest scholarship. Another comparison has yet to be made in reference to those who, though far short of eminence like this, yet aquire at universities the polish, and the information, and the disciplined intellect, and the certain cast of mental strength and superiority which are generally attendant on the pursuits of literature, cven although the specific acquisitions do not amount to more than what may be termed a respectable scholarship. And the question is, whether it is better that the acquisitions to be obtained at our seminaries should be restricted to one or two, or should be extended to all the sciences. In other words, whether among a thousand students -who have reached proficiency in one or other of the classes, it is better for the society wherein they mingle in future life, that one-half of this number should be good linguists, and another half good rnathrnaticians; or that they should be still more subdivided, so as to afford a smaller number of good linguists and good mathematicians, and to leave a.surplus, out of which there may be drawn so many good theologians, and good naturalists, -and good economists, and good chemists, and good or tolerable adepts in all the branches of literature and philosophy. Is it not better that there should be all these varieties of acquirement and mental cultivation corresponding to the varieties of truth and nature? For the general intelligence of a people, is it not a good thing that there should at least be some, however few, who are intelligent in each one branch of human knowledge that can be specified? Is it desirable for a nation, that its whole literary public should be made up of mere philologists and mere geometers? If not, can that Institution be said to fulfil the proper end of a university, which, instead of furnishing society with proficients in every kind of scholarship, deals exclusively in the manufacture of but two species of literary men? When truth and nature offer such manifold varieties of mental food, is a university, which dispenses so limited a number of these vaneties, and withholds all the rest, in keeping either with the powers of man, or with the objects of that theatre by which he is surrounded ? Would it not, then, by a more comprehensive scheme of education, adapt itself more both to the diverse exigencies of human life, and to the diverse appetencies of the human intellect?
31. But we are now proceeding on the supposition, that they who describe the curriculum of a Scottish college, make proficiency only in one branch of education. Certain it is, that, in the majority of instances, there is one favourite science in which each student makes his greatest proficiency. But, along with this, he very commonly receives a certain infusion of the other sciences; and the various faculties of his mind are exercised and improved by the various studies in which he is engaged, as his taste in the study of languages and belles lettres; his reason in the study of mathematics; his power of internal reflection in the study of human nature; and his power of analysis, by which he elicits principles from the complex phenomena presented to him, when studying the doctrines of economical science or the relations of civil society. Besides all this, too, a mind which thus diversifies its acquisitions finds itself in a state of completer adjustment with the actual diversities of that scene over which man expatiates, and in which he has a part to perform. It is more cast, as it were, in the mould of universal truth; and becomes more nearly a mirror of that divine workmanship which is itself the mirror of that manifold wisdom wherewith all things have been created. It surely tends to grace and dignify an individual, and not to derogate from his honour, when it is said of him that he has a mind stored with various information. This, doubtless, is a better and higher accomplishment than to be a mere linguist, or a mere mathematician, or, indeed, a mere proficient in any single department of knowledge, whose one exclusive forte or faculty confers little or no illustration on its possessor, unless in those rare cases where it elevates him to the rank of a master and discoverer in science. The man of blended and comprehensive acquirements bids fairer to acquit himself well, both in the business of life and the converse of society; and such aequirements can more readily be had in describing the round of that varied education for which we are now contending.
32. We have thought it necessary to say thus much on our Scottish collegiate methods of instruction, in the conviction, that, by means of some very practicable improvements, the objections which have been charged against them may be fully done away. It has been charged upon our universities, that there is a want of what the French would call approfondisement amongst us; that we offer nought but the sketches of a varied and agreeable, but withal meagre, philosophy; that even when the course of some occasional professor is profound as well as brilliant, such as, most undoubtedly, was that of Reid, and Brown, and Dr Adam Smith, yet, from the very bare cognizance which is taken of the pupils, there is a want, at all events, ot complete and substantial scholarship among them; and that thus, from the colleges of the north there emanates a whole host of pretenders, who, though abundantly versant in the phraseology of science, have made no careful and elaborate search into its principles. We admit that at present, and more especially in our higher classes, there is a lack of sufficient inspection over the progress of our students. But this could easily be remedied to all the extent that is desirable, after which, we only require the attendance of more advanced students, in order that they may be made as expert and as erudite in the modern philosophy as our English neighbours are in the ancient languages. The college apparatus of Scotland is fully competent to such an effect - to the effect of nurturing a hardy race of severe and sound thinkers in every walk of human speculation - men of depth and substance and firm staple - and of far purer and wiser aim than to shine forth in the tiny lustre of those slender and superficial, but withal plausible accomplishments, which have been said by our contemptuous friends in the south to constitute all the philosophy of our nation.
33. But we must return from this digression - yet not without deducing from it what we have ever held to be a valid, and, indeed, an incontrovertible reason, in behalf of literary endowments. For giving such, efficacy to our college system, as may place above, or even put it on a level, in point of utility, with the university system of England, it seems indispensable that our students should be greatly more advanced, both in age and in acquisitions, than on the average they are at present. But such a reformation would obviously lessen the number of pupils, and so proportionally lessen the revenues of the professors. Or, in other words, that change which imposes upon them the task of a far more arduous preparation for the lessons of a now more arduous philosophy, is, at the same time, a change which, if not followed up by any compensation, must oblige them to forego a portion of their emoluments, and so to descend to a lower status in society. This compensation is only, to be found, either in larger fees, or in larger endowments. And if it be indeed true that professors are already sufficiently low in the scale of society, if these public functionaries have been immeasurably left behind in the growing opulence of all the classes in the state, - if, as it unquestionably holds in the provincial universities, the masters there are scarcely enabled, even with the severest struggle, to support the establishments, or to maintain the appearance of gentleinen, - then .the cause of endowments is that of pure science and of lofty sentiment, however maligned it may have been by a spurious or mistaken patriotism.
34. The pending experiment in London is well fitted to manifest the principles of this subject. The university there is to be slenderly endowed, and the main security of the professors for a revenue is to be laid on the spontaneous demand for education. And there will be no statutes of apprenticeship to compel an attendance upon its classes; so that, at the outset, it will have nothing to look to for its support, but the prevailing taste for literature and philosophy in the metropolis. What we should anticipate, in these circumstances, is a larger attendance, at the first, from the force and attraction of novelty, but which will afterwards subside, to the discouragement perhaps, though not, we trust, to the utter despair of those who at present are most sanguine in their hopes of a great coming enlargement both of light and of liberty from this patriotic institution. We do apprehend for this seminary of magnificent promise, the mortifying experience of a native sluggishness and apathy on the part of the city families, ere a higher taste shall be created among them, and there shall be excited a more adequate demand for the attainments of a severe and exalted scholarship. But for such an elevation of the general taste of these families, the infancy of this noble undertaking must be cherished to the uttermost; and it may even need the strenuous perseverance of years, ere it shall be fostered into the conclusive state of a secure and lasting establishment. And after all, we fear, that, for the upholding of its prosperity, there must be a perpetual compromise between pure science, on the one hand, and the popular taste upon the other. There will need to be a half-way meeting between them, - a descent on the part of philosophy, from its own proper level, in order to draw the general mind upward to at least a higher level than it before occupied. The service is invaluable; but a sacrifice must be made for the performance of it. The otherwise dull and didactic course must be enlivened by a thousand expedients not altogether in keeping with the dignity of stern and high intellect - as an occasional flash of eloquence, though somewhat misplaced amid the abstruser doctrines which it is intended to relieve; or the glare of showy experiments, though not the best fitted for the manifestation of principle; or an abatement from the rigour of demonstrations, without which the judgment is left unsatisfied. In a word, effect must be consulted to the uttermost; and the dread is, lest the high interests of truth and reason should suffer by it. The seminary must adjust itself to the taste and demand of society; and may not, in fact, be able to get on without a certain dash of that empiricism which both tarnishes the honours, and deteriorates the firm staple of philosophy. It will do incalculable good in its sphere; although, far above it, there should be the upper spheres of chaste, and lofty, and ethereal intellect. It is well that the citizens of our land should be provided with as much light as they will receive and pay for; but that is no reason why the savans of our land should not be provided with a purer and a higher light, even though it should fetch no price in the general market. And it is just because it fetches no price, that, unless upholden in another way, it will inevitably expire. On the principle of demand and supply, there may be the spread of a popular philosophy; but if left exclusively to this, there may be the utter disappearance of a transcendant philosophy from our nation. We therefore trust, that, for science in its best and loftiest character, there will ever subsist its present hospitable asylum in the old attic retreats of Oxford and Cambridge, where it may continue to flourish as heretofore in the shade and under the shelter of college endowments. We feel no doubt that thence will still issue forth the largest proportion of our most precious and enduring literature; and that, whatever the light may be which shall radiate from more modern seminaries, it will, generally speaking, be found that, in light of superior purity and permanence, the existing universities both of England and Scotland shall greatly overpass them.
35. We shall be greatly misunderstood, however, if it be thought that we hold the proposed university of the metropolis in light estimation. It will achieve a mighty service if it but elevate the middle classes of that immense city to a higher grade in the scale of mental cultivation, even although in science and scholarship it should come far short of the endowed colleges. But what confers its chief interest on this projected seminary is, that it will act upon these colleges by a most wholesome reflex influence. The very dread of being out-rivalled will force them to bestir themselves; and, in whatever degree they may have heretofore been the dormitories of literature, we know not a more effectual device than a great popular institution like this, for awakening their latent energies. The very dismay and jealousy wherewith it is regarded by the dignitaries of our established system, are the best guarantees of a coming renovation. Professors will be aroused from their indolence; and patrons be ashamed of that vile prostitution by which the chairs of philosophy have been trafficked, and bestowed at the bidding of an ignoble politics. For reasons on which we have now abundantly insisted, we conceive that, in an endowed, there is a better mechanism than in an unendowed college, for working off the products of science and sound literature. But if there be a virtue in the worse mechanism to stimulate the better mechanism, and set it more actively agoing; then to the former really, though indirectly, we may have to attribute the high service of raising and sustaining the character of philosophy in our land. It is not difficult to reconcile our preference for endowed universities, to the pleasure wherewith we contemplate the rise of a great popular university in the midst of them. The one sentiment is truly the effect of the other. The recent institution will never, we think, outstrip the older ones; but it will urge them onward, so that they shall be perpetually ahead of itself. It will be the impellent cause for advancing and elevating the tone of science, even though a hightoned science may never be dispensed from its own lecture-rooms. It will work its greatest good through the medium of Oxford and Cambridge; and, in their ostensible triumph, and its own apparent defeat and inferiority, will an intelligent observer recognize the most substantial proof of the great service it shall have achieved for the nation.
36. There is a bigotry on the side of endowed seminaries, which leads those whom it actuates to be jealous of popular institutions. And, on the other hand, there is a generous feeling towar4s these institutions, which is often accompanied with a certain despite towards the endowed and established seminaries. We think that a more comprehensive consideration of the actings and reactings which take place in society, should serve to abate the heats of this partizanship; and, that what in one view is regarded as the conflict of jarring and hostile elements, should, in another, be rejoiced in as a harmonious concourse of influences, tending to accomplish the grand and beneficent result of an enlightened nation. It is just because we wish so well to colleges, that we hail the prosperity of mechanic institutions. The latter will never out-run the former, but so stimulate them onwards, that the literature of our higher classes shall hold the same relative advancement and superiority as before over the literature of our artizans. It will cause no derangement and no disproportion. The light which shall then overspread the floor of the social edifice, will only cause the lustres which are in the higher apartments to blaze more gorgeously. The basement of the fabric will be greatly more elevated, yet without violence to the symmetry of the whole architecture; for the pinnacles and upper stories of the building will rise as proudly and as gracefully as ever above the platform which sustains them. There is indefinite room in truth and science for an ascending movement, and the taking up of higher positions: and if, in virtue of a popular philosophy now taught in schools of art, we are to have more lettered mechanics - this will be instantly followed up by a higher philosophy in colleges than heretofore; and in virtue of which we shall also have a more accomplished gentry, a more intellectual parliament, a more erudite clergy, and altogether a greater force and fulness of mind throughout all the departments of the commonwealth. The whole of society will ascend together, and therefore without disturbance, to the relation of its parts. But, in every stage of this progress, the endowed colleges will continue to be the highest places of intellect; the countrys richest lore, and its most solid and severest philosophy, will always be found in them.
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