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cessive masters who have taught there; much also for the strong tenacity of our English affections. The precedence amongst the metropolitan schools in general reputation, though not in point of numbers or antiquity, must be conceded to Queen Elizabeth's foundation at Westminster. It has lost nearly all its aristocratic prestige, and much of its old renown for scholarship; it has sunk from three hundred to less than half the number; it has had its name connected with terrible tales of bullying and fagging-partly fabulous, no doubt, but with too much leavening of truth; yet still, the advantages of a wealthy foundation, the strength of old traditions, and the eminence of some of its masters, have enabled it to make a struggle more or less successful to retain its rank amongst public schools. Though it has no chance of competing with the great schools at cricket, it maintains a plucky though desperate contest on the river against the overwhelming odds of Eton; and though the days are past when almost all the college tutors at Christchurch were appointed from the Westminster students (such was their reputation for sound scholarship), yet the "old Westminsters" now at Oxford will not admit that they are looked upon as in any way inferior to the men from any other public school.
Nevertheless, the glories of Westminster have departed. "The old connection of the school with great families has gradually ceased to exist." The late Duke of Richmond continued to send his sons there to the last; but, for nearly half a century, the names of most other noble families who once were hereditary Westminsters have disappeared from the roll. Possibly the reputation for fagging and bullying which clung to the school for some generations, while public-school life elsewhere was being softened down into better accordance with the tone of a
gentler age, had something to do with this decline; though in former days even this gave it a sort of popularity. "If you want to send a boy to rough it in the army," the Duke of York used to say, send him to Westminster school."* It has also been said that it was not always fortunate in its head-masters; but the main reason has lain, no doubt, where Dr Liddell finds it— in the increasing objections to the locality. The surroundings of the school are very different now from what they were when snipes could be shot in Battersea fields. It is principally a mothers' question, as all the witnesses admit; and the strength of the conjugal influence (perhaps not unfairly exercised on such questions) comes out rather amusingly in the evidence. Fathers -old Westminster men themselves -make up their minds to send their boys to the old school; but the mothers come down and look at the place, and are shocked at the closeness and confinement; they have "a prejudice" (as one of the Westminster masters loyally considers it) in favour of country air. And in spite of the wish on the part of the fathers to keep up the old connection, the general reply,' says this witness, "used to be, 'I should be very glad to send my son, but my wife will not let me. Sir James Graham himself, an enthusiastic lover of his old school, in a brilliant speech in the House, attributed his first lessons in oratory to having listened to the debates when a boy at Westminster; yet he concluded with these words-" But I do not send my son there, because Lady Graham objects to the situation of the school." One witness, however, gives it as his opinion (which the Commissioners have been bold enough to print) that this conjugal influence "is on the wane."
Westminster School, like Eton, is made up of two classes of scholars, combined for the purposes of educa
* Mr Mure's Evidence, 917.
tion, but in many respects as distinct as if they formed two separate schools. There is the original body of Queen's scholars-always forty in number from Queen Elizabeth's days till now-who are lodged, boarded, and educated in the "Grammar School" attached to the collegiate church of St Peter. Round them has been gathered, as at Eton, a body of "foreigners" or "pensioners" (now generally known as "town-boys"), who are taught by the same masters, but enjoy no advantages from the foundation, and are lodged in separate buildings. Provision was made in the original statutes for their reception; and from a very early period they have considerably outnumbered the foundation scholars. The remarkable difference is, that whereas at Eton the oppidans have, from time immemorial, claimed (whether justly or unjustly) a higher social status, the town-boys of Westminster make no assumption of the kind; rather, the Queen's scholars take the higher ground, if any such distinction be admitted. The seats of honour are theirs, both in the Abbey and in the school itself; they alone have the privilege of being actors in the annual Latin Play; and they have, besides, a special privilege of admission to the debates in both Houses of Parliament: in the House of Commons they have seats assigned them at the back of those usually occupied by peers when present. The right is perhaps not so highly valued now as it was in former times; the lateness of the hour at which the most important debates usually come on being incompatible with the school regulations as to locking up. But many scholars of an older generation speak warmly of the interest and advantage they derived from it in their own school-days, when our representatives kept earlier hours.
If the social position of a scholar of Westminster thus entails no inferiority, either real or conventional,
his solid advantages are very considerable indeed. By the operation of some very wholesome and necessary reforms, he now gets his board (as ought always to have been the case) almost entirely free, although he has to pay a sum of seventeen guineas per annum for his education. * There can be no question but that this is an abuse which requires to be at once remedied. Both the present and the late head-master consider that it is implied by the statutes that their education should be entirely gratuitous, and that it should be covered by the stipends assigned to the masters. But while the revenues of the Chapter have very much increased, the surplus seems to have been regularly divided among the governing body, while the stipend of the masters has remained very nearly stationary. The head-master at present receives from the college estates something under £40; a sum which might have made him "passing rich" in the days of Elizabeth, but which is ludicrously insufficient now. There is evidence that the system of receiving fees from the Queen's scholars began at least as early as Dr Busby's time; but these fees were then small, and were no doubt received (as in the similar case of the Winchester scholars) in the way of presents: time, the great nursing mother of abuses, has ripened this system into a fixed charge for every scholar of a sum about equal to what is paid under the head of tuition by nonfoundationers at Rugby or Shrewsbury. One very energetic protest had been already made upon this point by the father of a Queen's scholar, elected in 1860, who went so far as to refuse to pay the sum at all, until informed that his son "would be removed from the foundation" in default, the Chapter pleading the sanction of the Queen, as visitor, to the charge in question. He then paid under protest, and applied to the Home Secretary "to be in
* The whole cost to a foundation scholar is now about £34 per annum.
formed what her Majesty really did sanction ;" and in reply was referred to his solicitor. The complainant, of course, did not lose the opportunity of laying his case before the Commissioners in a letter which will be found in the Appendix,* and received from them an assurance that they "would have regard to the subject in their inquiries." The representative of the Dean and Chapter was pretty closely pressed upon the question by the Commissioners. He contended that the statutes had never been confirmed by Queen Elizabeth; that the funds which might be available for the increase of the masters' stipends in some proportion to the increased wealth of the canons are now in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commission; and refused to admit that, even setting aside the legal and technical questions, the school has any moral claim to a greater share in the capitular revenues. There are very few readers of his evidence who will not agree in the expression of opinion which it draws from Lord Clarendon, and which appears to be shared by the rest of the Commissioners, "that somehow or other, whether by usance, or statutable or any other reason, the school which is allied to the cathedral foundation has not shared in the increase of income to an extent which appears to be proper and right." And the Report most properly recommends that in future the Chapter should take upon themselves the whole cost of the tuition of the Queen's scholars," such a course appearing to them to be "consistent with, at least, the spirit of the statutes," although they "do not feel called upon to express any opinion" as to the legal statutory obligation.+
exhibitions of smaller value, there are awarded every year, by competitive examination amongst the Queen's scholars only, three exhibitions to Christchurch, Oxford, whose present value is £150 per annum, and will eventually be £170, exclusive of rooms in college; and three other exhibitions to Trinity, Cambridge, worth £40 each, usually augmented from other sources, and tenable with a college scholarship. It is not surprising that, with the limited number of competitors for these great prizes, the Dean of Christchurch should complain that Westminster sends him up "but few good boys ;" but this complaint of indifferent scholarship has only arisen within living memory, and we should have preferred to have found a remedy for it by such improvements in the college itself, and in the system of election into it, as might have insured a higher class of competitors, than to recommend, as the Report does, the throwing open the election to boys who are not on the foundation.
The present form of a boy's election as a Queen's scholar is a very peculiar one, and must have existed almost unchanged from very early times. Quaint and old-fashioned as it is, with a flavour of scholastic pedantry about it which would have delighted Queen Elizabeth herself, it is not without many points of recommendation. It is, as Dr Scott remarks in his evidence, “probably the only living relic of the old disputations,"-those tournaments of Latin and logic, in which Queen Bess was wont to reward the successful champion with a purse of gold from her own virgin hand, and her successor James distributed liberally the more economical guerdon of royal applause and criticism. We will give the late head-master's (Dr Liddell) description of a "challenge," as the competition is called,
premising that no boy can compete for election on the foundation
Report, p. 169.
who has not been already a member of the school, either as a boarder or a town-boy, for at least one year previous; a restriction inherent in the nature of the present mode of examination, but which we agree with the Report in considering prejudicial to the best interests of the school, as it seems certainly unwarranted by the statutes.
These challenges went on sometimes for six or eight weeks consecutively before the places were finally settled, and the candidates spent weeks, or even months, beforehand in the preparation. was very hard work," says Dr Liddell, "because every one of them had his usual school-work to do besides." The "help" is allowed to receive from his pupil £5 in books, if he is successful in the competition. Sometimes, it is confessed that the severity of the trial had this bad effect, that after the strain was over, and the places awarded, the successful boys relapsed into idleness. For this placing lasted virtually during the four years of their college life, until they moved off in succession to the university, until the present master introduced a regulation by which those who were notoriously idle were formally degraded. There used also, as Dr Scott observed, to be a tendency to "special pleading and quibbling -no doubt a relic of the old scholastic system-but this has been checked, and has disappeared. The great expenditure of time, both on the part of boys and master, is another admitted drawback, almost inseparable from the system. On the other hand, its advantages are not less obvious: and we do not wonder that, even apart from its historical interest, which we think with Dr Scott forms " a strong reason in its favour," the challenge is so popular with Westminster men, old and young, that he would shrink from even suggesting its abolition. The connection between the senior boys and those to whom they act as "helps" in this examination is wholesome and advantageous to both; and while they appear to get a greater amount of bonâ fide work out of their pupils while in training, than could be secured by any other kind of private tuition, they are themselves benefited by being compelled to keep up an accurate knowledge of grammar, and it gives them, in Dr Liddell's opinion, "habits of teaching and organisa
"All the candidates for vacant places in college are presented to the master in the order of their forms; there were commonly between twenty and thirty, from the fourth form upwards. two lowest boys come up before the head-master, having prepared a certain portion of Greek epigram and Ovid's Metamorphoses, which has been set them a certain number of hours before. In preparing these passages they have the assistance of certain senior boys, who are called their helps.' The lower of the two boys is the 'challenger.' He calls on the boy whom he challenges to translate the passage set them, and if he can correct any fault in translating, takes his place. The upper boy now becomes the challenger, and proceeds in the same way. When the translation is finished, the challenger (whichever of the two boys remains in that position) has the right of putting questions in grammar; and if the challengee cannot answer them, and the challenger answers them correctly, the former loses his place. They attack each other in this way till their stock of questions is exhausted. The first challenge is called the 'unlimited challenge,' in which they may ask any number of questions they like. These questions are all in grammar, and sometimes the boys were so well prepared that I have known two boys go on until nine o'clock at night, having begun early in the morning. After this unlimited challenge, by which a clever boy who is low on the list may get to the top, what is called the limited challenge began, in which the questions are limited to certain number, the challenge ceasing after these questions were exhausted. Of course, a great deal depended upon the ability of the boys, and also on the ability of the 'helps,' who could train an inferior boy so as often to enable him to take places beyond his merit and position. The helps' stand by during the challenge, and act as counsel to their 'men,' in case there be any doubt as to the correctness of a question or an answer. The head-master sits as moderator, and decides the point at issue."
tion which are most valuable." But its greatest advantage is that it is calculated to give a boy in some measure the training in which most of our public schools, and even our universities, seem to have become lamentably deficient, which is yet so necessary and valuable in after-life -the habit of bringing out acquired knowledge aptly and readily on the spur of the moment, of putting questions and expressing answers with ease and clearness, not upon paper, but to a living and speaking opponent, in which many of our highly-educated men so commonly and so miserably break down, while the half-educated so often succeed. We could wish that the Commissioners in their Report had noticed in stronger terms a defect, as it seems to us, in modern high-class education generally, which the present system of examination in our universities is likely rather to aggravate than to amend. That they do themselves recognise the importance of some such training, is evident from some of their remarks by the way. They quote with approval the opinion of Dr Hessey of Merchant Taylors', that the public speeches there, to which he pays great personal attention, are a most valuable means of bringing out boys' talents and character, and of giving them ease and self-possession ;" and they recommend the adoption of similar recitations at Charter-House. Lord Lyttelton endorses Dr Moberly's testimony that the speeches at Winchester improve the boys' utterance and articulation, by the suggestion that it also "takes away a great deal of their false shame;' Mr Commissioner Thompson notices in the course of this inquiry at Westminster, that there have been "complaints on the ground of the system of examination at other schools, that they neglect to provide any means of encouraging presence of mind, self-reliance, and fluency of speech. But what inducement can the authorities of public schools have to spend their time and energies in fostering these valuable
qualities, so long as university examinations remain what they are? Both in the scholarships and in the honour-classes, nearly the whole weight is given to the work done on paper. The vivâ voce examination tells upon the final result in scarcely any perceptible degree. It is said in defence of this admitted preponderance of the paper-work, which has gradually and steadily increased within present memory, that it is the best test which can be applied as to a candidate's real acquirements that when a young man comes to stand up face to face with three or four examiners, he gets nervous and distressed, fails to do himself justice, and, in fact, loses his head. Undoubtedly this is very true, and is likely to become more and more true every year, in proportion as viva voce examination becomes less frequent; but nervous awkwardness in a young Englishman is a defect rather to be corrected than indulged; and inasmuch as the work of his after-life will certainly not have to be done wholly upon paper, and as he will most probably be called upon to show his knowledge and his ability in some other way than in writing books, it is well that he should learn betimes not only to acquire and digest his knowledge, but to have it readily producible on demand; and that he should learn to face manfully positions which may be quite as trying to a nervous man as the candidates' side of an examinationtable. The young student who cannot answer with tolerable grace and self-possession the calm questioning of a gentleman who, after all, has not the least wish to puzzle or set him down, and whose only possible object is to get him to do his best, will be very apt to make failures in any line of moderately public life, whatever may be his powers in the closet. The independent voter who catechises the county member, the dissenting cobbler who attacks the parson, are commonly as much their inferiors in good sense as in learning; but the train