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dinary supplementary professors and valuable time in disturbing it. Of private lecturers, whose laurels will not course, while the majority of residents allow our reformers to sleep, have no are so young, and while the colleges genius in particular: they are simply continue to manage their own property, meritorious hewers of wood and drawers it is convenient that there should be one of water in the temple of the Muses; person in college besides the Bursar they advance knowledge because it is who knows something about that subtheir métier.
ject, but an average of twelve hundred It is known that the University a year is rather a high price to pay for of Oxford as distinguished from the the convenience. If the senior tutor, colleges is not very rich, and such or the tutors in rotation, had an extra resources as it has are rather waste- couple of hundred a year for presiding fully administered : much is frittered in college meetings, the one indispenaway in capricious benefactions for semi- sable duty which a head does now ecclesiastical purposes ; more (it will would be done better, and the college surprise and edify outsiders to learn would have a revenue available for how much) in providing non-existent exhibitions to clever men whose want students of natural science with all of early training kept them from scholarkinds of luxurious superfluities of ships, and for rewarding the educational study. The disposable wealth of Ox- staff, who are certainly underpaid. ford practically consists of the stipends Notwithstanding this it would not surof non-resident fellows and of heads of prise me if the Rectors, Masters, Prohouses, who of course are resident. It vosts, Presidents, and Wardens retained is a proof of the value of keeping up their incomes to the end of the chapter appearances that the outside world has by the assiduous discharge of custodial, not yet begun to suspect that the reve- prepositorial, presidential, rectorial, and nues of resident heads are more com- magisterial functions. pletely wasted than those of non-resi- With the exception of what is absorbed dent fellows. The head of a house by the heads, and of what at some colhas no intelligible duty whatever ex- leges has been reserved for the claims cept that of presiding in college meet- of poverty or local connection, the reings : for discharging this he is im- venues of the colleges are spent in mensely overpaid, and without any tempting hopeful young men to continue fault of his own he discharges this very their education, and postpone their enbadly. In the first place, no college trance into active life, up to three or four likes to give itself a master; and if it is or five and twenty. The system works betrayed into doing so by admiration in this way. At eighteen, or more comfor distinction and ability, the fellows monly at nineteen, not unfrequently at find out their mistake in time to assert twenty, the student obtains an open their independence. The normal head scholarship, tenable for five years, if he is either a dignified person, who would resides so long. He is practically pledged like if he could to govern upon prin- to read for honours, and unless singularly ciples which he knows the college will clever or industrious, he runs a serious not sanction, or an intelligent, perhaps risk by going up for his degree under a distinguished person, who is content four years, which brings us at once to to reign and take his chance of leading. two or three and twenty. Besides, if he Most heads rather than be idle occupy gets a decent degree, he is sure of three themselves with much needless corre- or four pupils among the junior men he spondence with fussy parents, which, knows, and he has a year of his scholarwhen it produces any effect at all, does ship to run, so that he is money in pocket harm by persuading a class of well-con- by staying on in Oxford to the last; and nected idlers that they confer a favour while he stays, he has more time, more upon the University by condescending taste, more opportunity for reading than to pass two or three years of their he ever will have again. So much for
the average scholar of the average col lege, who is supposed to be capable of nothing beyond the very moderate attainments required for a safe second, which in his case certainly do imply six hours' honest work a day for four years.
Now for the crême de la crême, the score or two of men who get firsts, or who ought to get them, and who do sooner or later get fellowships. It might be said that the whole of Oxford really exists for them : the teachers exist for them, since they are the only pupils who can be said seriously to learn anything; the other students exist for them, and almost seem to have come to Oxford to learn the superiority of their successful competitors. It does not follow that the system is bad because it avowedly culminates in the few prize examinees that are bred every year : we all believe that the final cause of the British Constitution is to put twelve men into a jury-box to acquit Kelly and settle the title to the Tichborne estates Let us admit for the moment that a spiritual and intellectual institute, if it is to be worthy of the name, can never be truly democratic, that it must always do much for the few and little for the many, and then we shall be able to examine without prejudice what is the effect of this costly and elaborate machine upon its limited and normal product. When our first-class man has taken his degree at two or three and twenty, he has read more or less of twelve classical authors, so as to translate any part of them at sight, and he is capable of reading the rest intelligently; he is very tolerably grounded in the outlines of Greek history from Homer to Demosthenes, of Roman history from Romulus to Domitian; he has a tolerable acquaintance with the course of Greek speculation from Thales to Epictetus; be knows, generally at azth hand, the results of British psychology. Very probably he has learnt to think and write upon all these subjects in terms of the philosophy adopted by his “coach;” but though he for the most part understands his fine phrases pretty well, it is probable that he would have done better
without them. Even without this work of supererogation, to master the text of his books and to assimilate the traditional view of the other subjects of the curriculum, supplies occupation for four years. And his education is not completed yet; he has still from one to three years to spend in reading for a fellowship. He comes under this obligation as follows: No college can venture to repeat the University examination with the preposterous pretension of enforcing a higher standard. Accordingly, though the range of examination for a degree is so wide that very few students could fill it up by their own reading without the help of oral tradition, the range of examination for a fellowship is of necessity wider still, and may be said to presuppose a general acquaintance with the philosophy of history, and the history of philosophy and art. Besides, knowledge is sufficient for a first; for a fellowship it is necessary to have the faculty of forming and expressing an opinion, and highly desirable to show something which may be taken for rudimentary thought. After his success he has still to pass a year in Oxford, and this year is available for completing and digesting the body of ideas which have been gathering round him for the last six or seven years.
Now at last he has to decide the question of his future, unless the position of his father decides it for him ; if he has not the near prospect of a seat in Parliament, he has to settle whether he will stay in Oxford as a teacher, or go to the Bar, or take a mastership or a curacy. Up to this point the training and interests of all have been the same, they have stimulated each other, they have criticised each other, they have kept up a constant exchange of ideas and information. And this of itself is a very considerable advantage of the present state of things. But for the system of fellowships, the men who go to London at twenty-six would go at twenty-one. What keeps them is the prospect of being made unnaturally comfortable till they are thirty or even thirty-five, and the certainty that if they do fail in
practical life (and the delay in beginning does not increase their chance of success), they will be secure from the most painful consequences of failure. What they gain by staying is very different from the motive which makes them stay; they gain the academic temper, the temper of the New Academy, the temper which is familiar with all ideas, and is not subjugated by any; which has learnt to act freely and consistently without needing at every turn the support or restraint of mechanical certainties, such as traditions supply or majorities manufacture, which is disinterested enough to look upon all sides of a question because it can bear indecision. This temper is not learnt in the world. Men who have begun life young, and have been practically useful by hard work, often retain an enlightened in terest in the highest questions; but in one thing their zeal is hardly ever according to knowledge. When a new view or a new theory comes before them, they begin with the question which ought to come last; they ask at once : Is it true? They are impatient to affirm or deny. Considering the indefinite number of important things of which we know little at all times, and considering the way in which they are pressing upon us now, it may be thought as desirable to leaven English life with a little of this spirit as to maintain a well-to-do duke, and even under the present wasteful system it hardly costs so much.
Those who stay in Oxford gain at least as much as they give by their contact with the birds of passage. It is the birds of passage who make the competition for fellowships a reality : if it were not for them, though the form of examination might be observed, the appointment would practically be made by the tutors, who would think chiefly of selecting an useful colleague and successor. Fellows would be appointed younger, and the reduced interval between their degree and their election would not be available for general reading; it would suit the candidate better to acquire a precocious reputation as a successful teacher. As it is, a college is
No. 148.- VOL. xxv.
forced to decide principaily by the examination, because, if it set its heart upon electing tutors, it would have no guarantee of keeping them. And the tutor himself is a different man for having had the option of active life open to him to the last, as the barrister is a different man for having had the option of lettered ease so long. It is to this long intercourse that we owe the intellectual continuity of the best English society, while in other countries, and in none more than in Germany, the lettered class stands aloof contemptuously both from the Philistine bourgeoisie and the feudal aristocracy.
In attempting to describe the forma. tion of Oxford society, one naturally finds that one has anticipated much of what there is to say about its character. Those who compose it have acquired from their education the habit of openmindedness; they have an interest in ideas because they have no direct individual interest in life; they teach each other through their daily intercourse how to admit, and an art in which the German learned are painfully deficient—the art how not to insist. Perhaps these may seem little things, but they are not without their usefulness; they are certainly not without their influence. Before we tax the Universities with barrenness, we should remember that twice within a generation they have launched a theology upon England. After all, books are a means, not an end : if the Universities had written enough to fill the Bodleian and Fitzwilliam libraries twice over, they could but have influenced thought. “Sunt bona, sunt quædam mediocria, sunt
mala plura Quæ legis hæc, aliter non fit, avite, liber."
It is a great mistake to ascribe the superior productivity of the German Universities exclusively to their superior industry and consequent superiority in learning. There are German books which are used at Oxford because no Oxford man could have written them ; there are many German books which are or have been read there because
books on the subject are wanted, and few Oxford men would write on a subject on which they could not write better. What a learned and methodical person writes is sure to be useful, and such a person, if industrious, can write a great deal, if he will only write upon the German conditions, if he will consent to be often trite and often rash, to conceive many things crudely and to express most things heavily, to say much that the reader could have said for himself, and sometimes, rather than say nothing, resign himself to say what is unmeaning.
But though it is necessary to sit loose to all ideas except the highest, if one is to make the best of them, it must not be forgotten that there is only one step from sitting loose to ideas to turning away from the ideal altogether, and becoming absorbed in the pursuit of practical interests and the comforts of domestic life. Celibacy is not necessarily a school of purity; it is certainly not in itself a school of self-denial, but it is always a school of detachment and of idealism. The bachelor has given no hostages to fortune ; he can afford to follow an idea wherever it leads; he is always restless, always dissatisfied. When a man has learnt to make the reflection of his own warm hearth his guiding.star, he has no need to wander in search of a glimpse of the light which never was on sea or land; he may prize it, but to him it is a luxury: to the bachelor, if he is in any sense a child of light, some gleams of it are a necessity. At present, Oxford is in the main a society of celibates, but already it has ceased to be so exclusively. Already the distractions of croquet are added to those of whist, and afternoon tea as well as common-room curtails the hours of study; if the virtuous seductions of the nursery are superadded to these temptations, we can but tremble for the result. It is in vain that the reformers endeavour to reassure us by pointing to Germany: there the country is poor, the charge of a family less, the position of women
worse; there, as there are no commonrooms, a professor is probably freer when he has married a housekeeper than while he has to do battle with a landlady: and even in Germany domestic interests are generally admitted to have given an official tone to the teaching of the professoriate upon more subjects than one. It is equally vain to promise that if we once make the profession of an Oxford tutor half as good for a family man as that of a Rugby master, the tutor will proceed to choose a line of study and to make discoveries : there are men in Oxford now quite able and willing to add to our knowledge without waiting to be married ; it would be quite sufficient to relieve them of pass lectures (which might be done either by eliminating pass-men — that is, twothirds of the undergraduates-or turning them over to pass-coaches). It may be taken for granted that when they are married, most of them will have to do like other married men in an expensive country, and take all the remunerative work that they can fairly do.
To sum up what I have to say upon a subject on which I feel strongly, though I speak lightly, there is no doubt that sinecure fellowships are an abuse, that the indefinite celibacy of college tutors is a hardship. No system can work healthily under the burden of a confessed abuse, of an admitted hardship. But that system has spread and is spreading through England a free-masonry of critics of all ideas, of connoisseurs of all knowledge. It would be a great pity if this were to disappear and leave nothing but a thriving group of busy, sociable, finishing schoolmasters in its place. At the rate at which things move in England, University reformers have at least three years before thein to elaborate a scheme for utilizing the revenues which they overrate, and the prestige which they underrate in organizing a learned order, which will leave the world no reason to regret the dilettante culture of
A SINECURE FELLOW.
THE LICENSING QUESTION IN SWEDEN.
One afternoon the proprietor of the the subject, and would be glad enough general store of a Californian mining to see no disturbance of the status quo; town was contentedly conning his ledger, but the people who have ideas about it when a stranger, evidently much excited have pushed the question into such and in earnest, came hurriedly in, and prime importance that elections of memstartled him with, “D’you know what bers of Parliament have begun to turn danger you're in f-what a risk you're upon the single point, whether a candirunning?” “No." “ Just come outside, date will support the Permissive Bill of then, and see.” And leading the surprised the Alliance enthusiasts, or looks with a grocer to the doorway, he pointed to a friendly eye upon the publicans. Matters keg standing there, on which the super- having reached this pitch, it is clear that, scription, “whiskey," had been written if only for peace and quiet's sake, and on the first bit of cardboard that had come to save our political sense from distorto hand, which happened to be a deuce tion, something must be done, and at of clubs. “Reckon you see now ? once. But by whom? Not long ago it No? Why, some fellow might just come happened, on one of our railways, that along with the three, and take it !” an old gentleman got out of the express
The conduct of the excited gentleman during its five minutes' halt, leaving all in the story was simply owing to his his impedimenta in the carriage. The having lived in such an atmosphere of five minutes expired, the express began “ poker” and “euchre," that he had to move, but the old gentleman had not come to look at everything from a card- returned to his seat; whereupon two player's point of view. He is only an fussy, well-intentioned passengers, asexaggerated specimen of that large class suming that he was left bebind, proof people who, having taken up with ceeded to toss his umbrella, rug, hat-box, some one crotchet, twist it into spectacles and carpet-bag out of the window. The through which to regard all other human last and heaviest article was barely out interests. Where the crotchet for the of their hands and dancing on the plattime being is a political or social ques- form, when, from the window of the next tion, such people are sure to make them- compartment, a face purple with indigselves felt, and may, if they are on the nation looked out, and propounded right side, do good service to their cause; the hopelessly unanswerable question, for they have all the obstinacy and other “What do you mean by throwing my advantages of enthusiasm. But the mis- luggage out of the train, pray ?” Her fortune is that, while the pet question Majesty's Government might fairly put remains unsettled, they refuse altogether a somewhat similar question to the to see its real proportions relatively to various alliances, associations, and unions other questions, and treat this and that which, as if assuming Mr. Bruce not to man as a friend or foe, just according as intend returning to some modification of he does or does not wear spectacles his last year's measure, are now threatenexactly like their own.
ing Parliament with a plurality of Bills, The present position of the liquor each embodying a different scheme of question supplies an obvious illustration Licensing Reform. One party is conof this tendency. There are, probably, vinced that the remedy for existing evils still a good many Gallios in the country is to abolish the liquor trade altogether; who know little, and care less, about another would seek it in a system of