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ing of the tap-room and the conventicle has given them a coolness and a power of fence which our high-class education neglects more and more to cultivate. The nervous diffidence which unsteadies the memory and fetters the tongue may be very interesting, but will be found highly inconvenient in practical life. The scholar is so much in danger, even under the most favourable circumstances, of becoming conversant with books rather than with men, that if he is to bring the power of his knowledge and his intellect to bear in any useful way upon society hereafter, we must not abate him of any help that we can give to make him not only the full man and the exact man, but also the ready man of the philosopher's axiom. But even the power of fluent and graceful oral translation from one language into another -"a good construe," as schoolboys used to term it-a practice of which even statesmen and orators have acknowledged the value in after-life has grown a rare thing at our universities. The art is not cultivated, because it does not pay. It will not affect, except in the remotest manner, a man's place in the class-list, or his chance for the 'Ireland." And the admiring crowd of young students who were known in older times to rush to the Oxford schools to hear the examination of some candidate of repute, no longer think it worth their while to attend. The outward and visible glory of that arena has departed. The veriest hum-and-haw bungler, whose performance would not be tolerated in the first class of a national school, may have secured his Oxford first already-upon paper. He is a well-read and intelligent scholar, no doubt; but you do not wonder that if he emerges from his chrysalis undergraduateship into a country parson, his church is commonly empty; or if he has to make a speech hereafter as a county magistrate, his friends mercifully pull him down by his coat-tails. Westminster is right, therefore, in maintaining that
the challenge system has the great recommendation of promoting that readiness of scholastic fence which the taste of the age carried to excess in the old disputations, but which has its value none the less as an element of training, and for which modern education provides no efficient substitute. the same grounds, and not without justice, the Westminster men defend another of their peculiar institutions-the annual "Play." Every one knows that the Queen's scholars present a Latin Comedy, by royal authority, just before the Christmas holidays every year ; and those who have been amongst the audience know how cleverly, on the whole, it is acted. Objections have been made to the custom, and there have been rumours from time to time of an intention to abolish it. But independently of the familiar acquaintance which it gives a boy with the most elegant form of colloquial Latin, it is fairly argued that it encourages a wholesome confidence and readiness in the actors, and has a tendency to form good readers and speakers. Sir Robert Phillimore's evidence on this point is decided and emphatic :
took part in the play soon got accustomed to speak with great fluency. Everybody knows that the Westminster play was always well sustained and acted; and Lord Granville once said that he never understood Terence until he saw the plays acted by the Westminster boys. It was not more the discipline of the boy's mind which resulted from the study of the play, which was advantageous to him, than the readiness in speaking and replying which it produced. Dr Hawtrey, when Provost of Eton, often said, 'I wish I the Westminster boys do;' and I have could get Eton boys to speak as well as always attributed that fluency and readiness to the discipline and training which the boys undergo in practising the speaking of the lines which they have to repeat at the play."-Evidence, 997.
The school (consisting of the
Queen's scholars and town-boys united) is at present divided into ten forms, under six masters. The emoluments of the under-masters, of whom one only receives anything from the Chapter-an annual payment of £15-are necessarily low, from the smallness of the numbers in the school; so low, that Dr Scott confesses the difficulty which he finds in meeting with such men as he would desire to fill vacancies as they occur. The Commissioners recommend an increase to these salaries by an addition of five guineas a-year to the present charge for tuition; which would raise the average total expenses, for a boy not on the foundation, to about £120 a-year. Cheap education, at any rate, forms no part of their scheme of school reform but it seems unfortunate that in every instance where a "recommendation" on this point goes forth on their authority, it is in the direction of a fresh demand upon the pockets of the parents, who already in many instances feel the pressure of educational charges severe enough. It is at least doubtful how far such increased charge would act for the real interest of Westminster School, so long as such schools as Marlborough can afford to give an education of admitted excellence at a considerably lower price. No doubt, in this as in other cases, numbers regulate the profits but a school which has unhappily fallen in numbers will hardly fill its list by raising its
Some suggestive details of the palmy days of Westminster will be found in what the Report justly terms "the interesting evidence" of Mr Thomas Mure. În Dr Carey's head-mastership there was a system of what was known as 66 private reading," probably peculiar to the school. It will be best described in this witness's own words :
"Every boy [in the sixth and the form next below, the 'Shell'] was required to enter upon a career of private study, and to ask the head-master permission to read particular books. The
head-master watched over this private He went round every study.
Saturday with a pen in his hand, and made marks on the pages of the book which the boy was reading, comparing it with a similar entry made the previous week. He had the boys up one by one for examination. It came round to each boy once a-fortnight, and he questioned him for about three-quarters of an hour, in order to ascertain whether the progress which he professed to have made was real and true. He conducted the examination entirely himself; and the result was that at the time I was a boy there I had read the Æneid' of Virgil twice over, the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' of Homer twice over, Xenophon's 'Anabasis,' the 'Cyropædia' of Sophocles, about twelve of the tragedies of Euripides, the Tusculans of Cicero, and Sallust. You will probably think that those who did that were unusually willing readers, but I assure you there were many such cases.
There were many in the college who had beaten me. I only mention my own case because I know the facts more accurately. It was but an average case, showing the working of the school."-Evidence, 887, 891.
We do not know what the present generation of schoolboys, Westminster or other, will "probably think" of this amount of reading. It is open, of course, to the pertinent remark of Mr Vaughan, put by way of question, that there might have been "more reading, but a less critical method of reading books than there is now.' We believe this to be very true, and Mr Mure partly admits it, though he says that the boys were "well grounded in grammar before they began this system," and that in the lower forms, for two years, they
were never allowed to pass over a single word without repeating every rule of construction, and parsing every part of speech." is much too difficult a question, and too exclusively scholastic for discussion here, whether, presuming this careful grounding in the early stages, Greek and Latin authors might not be read through in the higher forms of schools more rapidly and in much larger portions than is usually the case; and
whether, in following the German scholars in the minuteness of their criticism, some valuable time is not wasted which might be better employed, at least for average scholars, in widening the range of their classical reading, infusing at the same time more spirit and less tediousness into the school-work; and whether, even for the compara[ tively few who are likely to carry their scholarship higher, much of the critical knowledge would not come in their riper years by careful reading and observation, as it must I have come originally to the great authorities whose formidable apparatus criticus they are expected to consult, and to which they are accustomed to pay almost a slavish deference. Both time and pains are surely sometimes wasted, under the present system, in mastering Hermann's interpretation of a crabbed (and probably corrupt) passage, only to find him contradicted by Wunder; or in wading through columns of very German Latinity, merely to inveigh with the writer against the ineptic and fatuitas of some rival annotator. The Report regrets the discontinuance of the old system of private reading, and suggests the "practicability of restoring it as a subject well worthy of the consideration of the authorities of the school." There is also something worth considering in Sir Robert Phillimore's remarks, made in confirmation of Mr Mure's previous evidence :
"I concur entirely in what Mr Mure has said about private studies; and I also agree with him in another observation he made (I speak openly in the presence of Mr Scott, to whom I
and all other old Westminsters are under great obligations); and that is, that reading a portion of several authors at one time is much less advantageous to the boy than if he is reading only one, if he read that one thoroughly. Not only was there the attraction of novelty when one was reading Horace, Homer, and other books, but the general discipline of the mind was far greater than when a boy was reading extracts and scraps from several works.
We believe that the use of extracts and excerpta has lately been given up at most good schools in favour of continuous reading in the same author; but there seems too much tendency in modern regulations at Oxford to accept "portions" of authors as "books," even for the highest honours; and it is comparatively rare to find among young scholars of repute one who has read either of Homer's noble poems in their integrity. Such a man's scholarship may be accurate and critical; but if the classics deserve to occupy the high and exclusive ground they do, this fragmentary acquaintance with them is hardly satisfactory.
Mr Mure notes in his evidence what must be taken as a very singular fact, if he is correct in his impression-that the scholarship at Westminster has declined ever since the elections to the Christchurch studentships have depended upon competition instead of family interest. When Jackson was Dean of Christchurch, "he did not deny," says Mr Mure, "that he elected those belonging to old Westminster and Christchurch families." This lasted "up to Gaisford's reign."
"When the system of competition and special examination as to the merits of each boy was introduced, and the examination was thrown completely open, the decline of the college was contemporaneous with the change. cannot account for it, but I have no That is a very singular thing, and I
doubt whatever about it."
Besides the "private study" just spoken of, there formerly existed at Westminster a system of private tuition (which is a totally different thing) somewhat similar to that which is now so popular at Eton. Dr Liddell, on his appointment as head-master, abolished it entirely; chiefly, he says, on grounds of economy; but he "did not find it in a satisfactory state; and his opinion as to the working of such a system, even under the most favourable circumstances, is very cautiously guarded. Educated him
self at the Charter-House, he never considered that the boys there "suffered in the preparation of their lessons from the want of private tutors: they were thrown more upon their own resources and their grammar; and when he went up to Christchurch, far from experiencing "any disadvantage from having had to rely chiefly on himself in learning his work,' ," he "generally found himself able to answer questions (with regard to the grammar) better than most of the men in the lecture." He thinks that "unless you have a very large staff, the pupil-room gives the masters more work than they can do, and impairs their energies;" that as to the alleged advantages of the intercourse between tutor and pupil,-"if there were a small number of pupils and plenty of time to devote to each of them," no doubt the connection would be valuable. It is tolerably plain what his opinion would be of the Eton tutors and their happy families of sixty or seventy. Lord Lyttelton closes the examination on this point by some leading questions which pretty well dispose of the whole subject:
"169. Therefore, so far as I understand the matter, as it relates to the whole question of the moral superintendence of the boys, all the benefits of private tuition are obtained just as fully as at Eton or Harrow?-I think they are obtained very fully. 170. The parents will look to the boarding-house masters for an account of the general conduct and character of the boys? They did so. 171. They would wish their boys to consult the boarding-house master in any difficulty? Yes, they did so."
Dr Scott, the present master, is more favourable to the Eton system than his predecessor. He does not indeed consider that its adoption at Westminster would be advantageous, though he has introduced it in special cases as "a rare exception;" in no case would he allow it to be, as it plainly is at Eton, and in a less degree at Har
Appendix, p. 202.
row, "a substitute for teaching which ought to be given in form— increasing the expense to the parent without just ground, and leading to considerable waste of time and labour."* But he considers that private tuition is valuable, as "stimulating an honourable ambition amongst the tutors them. selves." This is probably true: but it seems rather hard that the pupil should have to pay for it. The other London head-mastersDr Kynaston of St Paul's, Mr Elwyn of Charter-House, Dr Hessey of Merchant Taylors'-are unanimous in their disapproval of the system. The latter boldly declares it to be "the bane of public schools." +
The system of fagging as it exists at Rugby and Harrow, and its connection with the monitorial authority recognised at those schools, has been already discussed in these pages; and we have spoken unhesitatingly in favour of both, under due regulations and restrictions. We have even ventured to doubt whether at some public schools the present tendency is not to consult too much a boy's personal ease and comfort, and whether some of the rougher edges of school life have not been polished down so carefully as to risk the damage of some of its most valuable features. But there are two of the London schools where the old traditional discipline of fifty or a hundred years back is maintained, if not in all its ancient rigour, still in a degree which makes the fagging there a very different kind of apprenticeship from anything at Harrow or Rugby. These schools are Westminster and the Charter-House. The system at the former school is so very peculiar, that if there had not been an old Westminster man (Lord Devon) sitting on the Commission, who was thoroughly versed in the forms and ceremonies peculiar to the college, it seems very doubtful
Merch. Taylors' Evid., 382, &c.
whether the evidence given on that subject would ever have been put into intelligible shape. Even as it is, pages are filled with apparent contradictions and subsequent explanations, which arise chiefly from the examiner and the witness totally misunderstanding each other. The complication is increased by there being, in the case of this particular school, an array of what may be almost called hostile witnesses in attack and defence of the internal discipline of the college, who do on many points really contradict each other, though probably each believe that they are stating the truth. Complaints, more or less definite, have been made from time to time of the severity of the fagging system among the Queen's scholars. In 1846, an appeal was laid before the Queen as Visitor, by the father of one of the boys, and the case was investigated by the Dean and Chapter in obedience to her Majesty's command. It so happened that, during the sitting of the present Commission, a gentleman had felt himself obliged to remove his son, one of the juniors in college, in consequence of his being subjected to what he described as slavery of the most irritating and oppressive kind," and "degrading and dangerous punishments." This was a very serious charge against a public school in modern times; and as it was made before the Commissioners in the most straightforward and open manner, after due communication on the subject with the head-master, Dr Scott, and prepared to be supported by the evidence of the sufferer, they very properly devoted a great deal of time and attention to its investigation. It is due to the gentleman who has felt himself thus obliged to incur what he feels to be an unpleasant publicity, to say that he disclaims any wish to conceal his name, or to shrink in any way whatever from the responsibility of the charge.
We prefer, however, in dealing with the case, to describe the complainants by an initial only; the rather, because, without intending to impute (as the Commissioners do not impute) either to father or son any intentional misrepresentation, it is impossible to read their evidence, as contrasted with that of the witnesses for the defence, without feeling that facts have been either misunderstood or misrepresented, and that the whole complaint, though by no means unfounded, is made in a very exaggerated tone. To discuss details which occupy fifty double-columned folio pages of a blue-book* would be hardly desirable even if it were possible here; but to this volume of the evidence all who are interested in the wellbeing of Westminster School will find it worth their while to refer. The printing of those pages, with all their repetitions and contradictions, has been no waste of public money. Indeed, it may be said of this 'Public School Evidence' in general, that if those who are interested in it (and who is not interested in it, directly or indirectly?) will give themselves the trouble to read it,
the results of the Commissioners' inquiries are likely to be very important indeed. Whatever or whether any official action may be taken by the Government in pursuance of it-for ourselves, we think the less the better-the reforms which head-masters, and the public to whom head - masters look for support, are likely to promote, in consequence of the publication of these volumes, will not be unimportant.
The present system-or rather, it may be hoped, the past systemof college fagging at Westminster seems to have retained some of the most objectionable features of those days when a fag's life was that of a small menial. We are not taking our estimate of it from the complaint laid before this Commission;
Evidence, Part I., p. 475-525.