Images de page

or, understanding, openly declare that they do not believe; who have subscribed as a condition for taking their degree, just as multitudes formerly took the sacrament as a preparation for a political or civil office, while their whole life and conduct loudly give the lie to all their interested declarations, and proclaim that they have no more regard for Christianity than a Mohammedan or a Hindoo. Innumerable acts of perjury and hypocrisy the system may have occasioned, while it has never insured any of the results for which it was professedly instituted. It is attended, moreover, by this additional inconsistency, that while the barriers which it professes to raise against the approach of the irreligious are no barriers at all to the profligate or the unreflecting, it effectually shuts out those who, by the very fact that they will not blindly subscribe to what they do not approve, show that they are upright and conscientious. As in other instances, mere subscription to certain articles, unaccompanied by anything farther, merely tends to exclude the honest man and to let in the knave. It is a system of quarantine which admits the infected and keeps out the healthy; a system of police which contrives to punish the innocent and to encourage the vicious. Purity of life, indeed, and consistency of character cannot be easily counterfeited; they give some trouble, and if the mask is to be worn long, so much trouble that it is cheaper and easier to be than to seem virtuous. If these, therefore, were rigidly demanded, we again say, there would be some sense in the system, although still liable, in our judgment, to unanswerable objections. But mere subscriptions and declarations! Why, every body knows, who knows any thing of the courts of law, that an oath itself can be purchased for half a crown, and that they will go still cheaper if they be ordered by the score at the time. We verily believe that twenty at any time might be obtained for twice the number of shillings.

But the intrinsic injustice of the system under any modifications remains precisely the same.

In the name of common sense, why should an accomplished scholar be condemned to be destitute of the ordinary testimonials of scholarship, testimonials to which he can make the most ready and easy appeal, merely because he does not belong to the Church of England ?

It was high time, therefore, that the old universities should be dispossessed of their ancient monopoly—of the exclusive manufacture of degrees in arts, medicine, and law, and that some provision should be made for the large and influential bodies who have dissented from the Establishment. Some such step became the more necessary as the old universities had themselves rejected the only compromise that could possibly offer itself-that of extending to Dissenters the privileges which are now exclusively enjoyed by those who are willing to subscribe the thirty-nine articles. Into the moral right of denying this privilege we shall not enter, though considering the avowed purposes for which the universities were instituted, and the fact that the great mass of their wealth is held by a far grosser

departure from the terms of its original tenure than would have been involved in the required concession, would dispose us to doubt it. Of their legal right to act thus, however, there can be no doubt; they were certainly at liberty to say under what conditions they were willing to confer their degrees. On the inexpediency, the impolicy, and bigotry of such refusal there never was much doubt beyond the walls of the two universities themselves.

But whether their refusal was right or wrong, politic or impolitic, it made the necessity of some further provision for those who could not repair to Oxford or Cambridge the more obvious : and for our own parts we are far better pleased that a new university has been established than we could have been by the admission of Dissenters to the privileges of the old.

It was for some time a matter of regret with many, that • University College,' which for some years bore the name, and to the founders of which unquestionably the establishment of the new university must be ascribed, did not receive a charter of incorporation as the London University.' But we cannot help thinking that the present arrangement, in whatever it originated, will be found far better. Its benefits will be more extended; it will consist of a number of colleges, from all of which students may be sent up to graduate at the university. Government has already granted this privilege to several different colleges situated in very distant parts of the empire, irrespectively of the theological opinions of those who support or conduct them; the only conditions being that the colleges applying for the privilege shall show that they are in possession of property and of appliances of learning which will justify the belief that they will be permanent institutions, and which separate them from all temporary and merely private institutions.

The colleges to which these privileges have been already extended, or which

have applied for them, are University College and King's College, London; Bristol College; Oscot College (Roman Catholic); St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw (Roman Catholic); Manchester College (formerly York, Unitarian); and Homerton College, Highbury College, and Spring Hill College, Birmingham, all connected with the Congregationalists. From the last three colleges not less than nine students went up to the matriculation examination last October, and it is gratifying to add that not only were none rejected, but that, with a single exception, all passed in the first class. We mention this merely to show that there

[ocr errors]

is no valid reason why other theological colleges should not apply for the same privilege, if they think proper ; nor, indeed, can we doubt, from what we have heard, that several such applications will be eventually made. We are confident they would be very generally made by all our larger colleges, if those modifications respecting one part of the curriculum were effected, which, before we close this article, we shall take the liberty to suggest;-modifications which seem essentially necessary to enable the students of our colleges to avail themselves of the advantages which the university holds out, and, therefore, necessary to enable the university to fulfil the purposes for which it was instituted. But of this hereafter.

Of the above-mentioned colleges, University College, as might naturally be expected, takes the lead, nor is there any reason to doubt that it will continue to do so. At the examinations which have been hitherto held, scarcely one, if even one, of the students which this college has sent up has been rejected. A very large proportion has been ranked in the first class in the examinations both for matriculation and for degrees. A considerable number have taken honors; of the eight exhibitioners, five are from this college; the two “University Scholarships,' which have been hitherto awarded have also fallen to students of the same institution. Nor is there the least reason to doubt that from the number and ability of the professors, the thoroughness with which the various branches of learning and science are taught, the severity of the biennial examinations (often, indeed, more severe than those of the London University itself), and from the high spirit of emulation which reigns among the students, this college will still maintain its superiority. Of course there will always be a much larger number of students who will repair to the university for degrees from this college than from the generality of institutions possessing the like privilege. It is of far greater magnitude than any other, with the single exception of King's College.

Although • University College' is freely open to all classes of the community, it is in fact principally supported by Dissenters, as, indeed, might be naturally expected. We may be allowed, therefore, without any unseemly exultation or the slightest disposition to depreciate other institutions, to rejoice in its prosperity, and to take its past successes as a good omen of its continued and increasing eminence.

It is gratifying to perceive by the published lists of the 'London University, that the number of the students who offer themselves for the successive examinations is rapidly increasing, nor can we doubt that it must shortly become an institution of the utmost importance. In 1838 (the first examination), twentytwo matriculated; in 1839, thirty; in 1840, sixty-eight; while the number of candidates was, we believe, seventy-five. In 1839, the first examination for the B.A. degree, seventeen passed ; in 1840, no less than thirty.

We now proceed to the most important portion of the present article, which is to consider the relations of the university to those theological institutions which have already petitioned, or which intend to petition, for the privilege of granting to their students certificates which shall entitle them to offer themselves for examination. We certainly think they ought to possess this privilege. As to the extent to which they may be able to avail themselves of it, that is another question, and must depend in some measure upon the university itself

. If, as regards the subjects of chemistry, animal physiology, vegetable physiology, and structural botany, a choice were allowed the candidate of taking either these or some other subjects to be hereafter specified (but quite unconnected with theology), we have not the slightest doubt that there would soon be at least fifty of the students of these institutions who would annually present themselves for one or other of the university examinations. We now proceed to consider more particularly what modifications of the curriculum, or rather of one part of it, would effect the desired object; the reasonableness of such modifications we shall endeavor to prove afterwards.

We remark, however, in limine, that in our opinion the general plan of study adopted by the university is as judicious as it is comprehensive. We certainly think that it exacts not one jot more than it ought in those branches of science and literature which have always been considered as the great objects of university education, which are assuredly the great instruments of mental training, and which involve those species of knowledge which are equally necessary in every profession, and of which no well educated man can afford to be destitute. We allude more particularly to Greek and Roman literature; to geometry and algebra ; to those branches of the physical sciences in which the pure mathematics are directly applicable (more particularly mechanics, hydrostatics, and astronomy); to history, to logic, and moral philosophy. In none of these departments do we think that the university demands too much, either in the matriculation examination or in that for the degree of Bachelor of Arts. We cannot say the same of the departments of chemistry, animal and vegetable physiology, and botany; and we cannot help thinking that the university would do well to make some slight alteration in this part of its plan. As examination in this department is not imposed upon the candidate till next year, the present seems a fair opportunity of taking the matter under fresh consideration. It will be seen that a very slight modification would be sufficient, as we conceive, to meet the circumstances of all classes of students. Let it be recollected, however, that we do not plead that less should be demanded of any. The only alteration we would suggest would simply be that of allowing students the choice of taking examination papers either in chemistry, physiology, and botany, or in some other departments of study which might be substituted for them. In the matriculation examination, for example, the elements of the Hebrew language* might, we think, be advantageously substituted (if the student preferred it) for the papers on chemistry, physiology, and botany, while instead of the papers in these last departments in the B.A. examination, the rhetoric of Whately might be added to his logic, together with some portions of 'Locke on the Understanding,' and the first book of Bacon's “Novum Organum.'

As to the Hebrew,—while the university would, of course, make it the subject of examination as a language, and would therefore no more compromise the principle on which it has proceeded—that of excluding all subjects strictly theologicalthan by examining in Greek or Latin, it would, by admitting such a subject of examination, indirectly aid in a very important degree the progress of Biblical criticism, and encourage the cultivation of a branch of learning essentially necessary to the thorough prosecution of theology. It is to be remembered, also, that the paper on this subject would be taken only if the student preferred it.

There would seem to be a propriety in this step on two other grounds. First, the greater part of the students who would take this paper would be theological students, and would ultimately wish, in the majority of cases, to pass that voluntary examination in the text of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, and in Scripture History, which the university holds once a year. Now, in that examination a knowledge of Hebrew is demanded; and the option of taking a paper on the elements of this language at an earlier part of his course in lieu of something else, less directly connected with his future profession, would be to such student a most desirable advantage. Secondly, we believe that in every one of the colleges recognized by the university, Hebrew is taught, and in most of them made a very important branch of

* It may be as well to state here, that we have specified this subject because we happen to know that by a considerable class of the students in the colleges now recognized by the university, such a paper would be gladly taken-we mean by theological students. We know that the London University has nothing to do with theology, and of course any examination in the Hebrew would merely be in the language as such. But it is not wise to forget that a large and increasing number of its students are engaged in the study of theology. About half the candidates last October were such.

« PrécédentContinuer »