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are now becoming serious rivals to the college tutors, in their influence over the students. The Dean of Ely bitterly complains of this innovation on ancient practice and academical regulations, and very properly traces it to the increased severity of the degree examinations, and to the absorbing interest which is felt for the necessary preparation for those trials of skill and memory: he observes very candidly, that “the reign of private tuition and of systematic cramming* has thus been affirmed and extended, and that the influence of the professional and public instruction of the University has consequently declined.” .
But there are advantages as well as disadvantages in this increased severity of the examinations for degrees; the mental acquisition by many of the students of a large mass of producible knowledge on several different subjects, is in itself an intellectual achievement, requiring long and patient exertion, and the amount of study and mental labour is thus found to be augmented among those young men, “whose industry is rather stimulated by their fears than by their ambition and love of knowledge.”
The Dean also states, that the best effects have been consequent upon the increased severity of the examinations, both as regards the orderly habits and the general occupations of a great majority of the undergraduates.t
A curious calculation of the pecuniary results of the modern system of private tuition at Cambridge is given by the Dean in his Observations, from which it appears, that an amount of .£52,000 per annum is paid by the students of the University for private tuition alone, entirely independent of all fees to college tutors or to University professors.
The statistical account of this enormous annual income for private tuition is thus explained by the Dean :
“ The ordinary payment made to a private tutor is £14 per term; £10 is generally paid for the Christmas vacation, and £30 for the long vacation, whether at Cambridge or elsewhere. It is not an unfrequent practice for a student to engage a classical and a mathematical tutor on alternate days, and sometimes even on the same day; the system extends to students of all classes, industrious or idle, rich or poor; and so very general has the practice become, that it would not be an extravagant estimate to fix the average annual expenditure of every student at the University for private tuition, at £40. If we assume the average number of students throughout the year to be 1300, this will amount to £52,000 per annum, or more than three times the sum paid to the whole body of public tutors and professors in the University.”
* Observations, p. 162.
+ Observations, p. 162.
When it is considered that the main object of this enormous annual expenditure is the gradual preparation of the vast majority of the students of the University for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, it will be easily understood, that this degree is considered of no slight value in the University : it forms in fact the key to the whole system of modern University education, whether in the Colleges or in the University; it is pre-eminently “ the degree,” and the honourable possession of this degree is regarded as an intellectual and gentlemanly object of ambition, throughout the British Empire. In some cases, as in keeping terms in the Inns of Court, a distinction of two years is made between churchmen, who are graduates of one of the ancient Universities, and dissenters, who are only able to obtain the honors, without the substantial possession of the degree. Every graduate of Cambridge may be called to the bar in two years less time than his dissenting contemporary, who rests contented with merely obtaining his place as a wrangler or a senior optime in the mathematical lists at Cambridge, and who does not choose to sign the Church of England test required on graduation.
To these advantages of churchmen graduates over dissenters, Lord Palmerston probably alluded, on the 26th March, 1834, when he related the following anecdote to the House of Commons : Lord Erskine had entered on the study of the law rather late in life, and was at first discouraged with the prospect of the long probation which he should have to go through, when it was suggested to him, that if he went down to Cambridge, and took his degree there, to which his previous studies had entitled him, it would be of essential service to him. Lord Erskine accordingly returned to Cambridge, took his degree, and instead of quitting his profession, he was encouraged to persevere in it, and he afterwards attributed his eminence as a lawyer, mainly to the advantages of that degree.
“If Lord Erskine had been a dissenter," observed Lord Palmerston," he would have been cut off from this resource, and the English bar would have lost one of its brightest ornaments.”
After Lord Palmerston had addressed the House on this occasion, he was followed in the debate by Sir Robert Peel, who asked the following question respecting the college foundations in the Universities :
“Will you, or will you not, admit dissenters to scholarships ?”
Lord Palmerston immediately answered this query in two short words, “Why not ?"
Sir Robert Peel then continued, “The noble Lord says, 'why not ?' He feels so strongly the force of the argument, that if the dissenters are admitted to degrees, you cannot exclude them from the other benefits and emoluments of the institution, of which they will thus become members, that he at once concedes the further privilege of being admitted to scholarships. Will he stop there? even if he does, I say, he abandons the ground taken in this petition :* he abandons the ground on which the member for Cambridge, (Mr. Spring Rice, now Lord Monteagle,) and the secretary for the Colonies, (Lord Stanley,) profess to take their · stand. If the petition means anything, it means that the privilege of the dissenter shall be limited to the degree, and that he shall not be admitted on the foundation of the respective col. leges."
Now it is manifest, that if, in addition to the claims of literature and science, pecuniary considerations are to be thus superinduced, the dissenters must exert themselves with no slight energy and perseverance, to induce the legislature to open even lay degrees, at Oxford and Cambridge, to their acceptance. The endowment of Trinity College, Cambridge, was originally Roman Catholic property, which was confiscated by Henry the Eighth, modified by Edward the Sixth, remodelled by Queen Mary, and again protestantized by Queen Elizabeth, from whose reign the present oaths of office are principally derived. The scholarship oath is in the Latin language, but the English translation of it would begin with the following words :
“I, N. N., swear and take God to witness, that I will embrace with my whole soul, the true religion of Christ; that I will place the autho. rity of Scripture before the judgments of men : that I will take my rule of life, and the substance of faith from the word of God; that I will ac. count as human other matters which are not proved from the word of God; that I will hold the royal authority supreme among men, and in Do wise submitted to the jurisdiction of foreign Bishops; that I will refute with my whole will and mind opinions contrary to the will of God; and that in the matter of religion, I will prefer truth to custom, and things written to things not written ; then that I will observe all the usages, laws, statutes, and laudable customs, which shall concern me, of this College ; &c.”
The 38th chapter of the statutes of Trinity College confers upon the Master and the eight Senior Fellows, the power of expelling from the college any fellow, scholar, or any other person living within the college, who shall be convicted of heresy or of a probable suspicion of heresy, and a similar punishment of expulsion from the college is also appointed by the statutes for any of the fellows of the college who shall refuse to be ordained Priests, at the termination of seven years, after they shall have taken the degree of Master of Arts.
* The petition of sixty-three liberal members of the Senate of the University of Cambridge, praying for the removal of tests from degrees in Arts, Law, and Medicine in the University, but without any interference with the Colleges.
As the expressions in the cases of heresy and secular profession are almost identical, the expulsion of an heretical member from the college must follow the same rule with the expulsion of a fellow from the college, when he refuses to enter into Priest's Orders. But the lay fellow is merely required to relinquish his share in the college endowments, if he does not choose to enter into the clerical profession, and he always retains his right to vote for members of parliament as a Master of Arts of his own college, at the University elections.
In like manner, the heretical member can merely be excluded from the college endowments, and his right to vote for the representatives of the University in parliament cannot possibly be in the slightest degree affected by this ancient Elizabethan statute : he may therefore always remain a member of the general society of the college, but he cannot be a member of the endowed portion of the college, if the college authorities should exercise the full rigour of their power against him, by the letter of the ancient statutes.
At the present day, however, public opinion would be more likely to declare itself in favour of the martyr than of the inquisitors under such an obnoxious law, and most persons, who are admitted as scholars or fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, hold whatever sentiments they may consider right, entirely independent of the ancient college statutes. Indeed the majority of the scholars have probably never read the college statutes, and may not wish to read them.
The principal duties of the scholars consist in reading the lessons in the daily services of the Church of England, in the college chapel, on which occasion one of the chaplains of the college reads all the prayers.
The audience, frequently consisting of large numbers of students, seldom attend to the service read, and their presence is only enforced by constant punishments and admonitions, and it is found that by far the largest quantity of college punishments are inflicted on the absentees from the chapel services.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the college authorities appear to have been generally contented with the daily attendance of the students at an early morning chapel, and as the hour appointed for this service was five o'clock, this ancient rule might have been allowed to become obsolete, from its own impracticability.
Afterwards, however, an evening service was introduced into
the college chapels, possibly by the college authorities, and on the return of the Episcopalian party to power, in 1660, the Act of Uniformity was soon passed, in 1662, which declared :
“ That no form or order of common prayers, administration of the sacraments, rites, or ceremonies, should be openly used in any church, chapel, or other public place of or in any college or hall in either of the universities, the colleges of Westminster, Winchester, or Eton, or any of them, other than what was prescribed and appointed to be used in or by the book of Common Prayer.”
The use of shorter forms of prayer in the colleges is, however, now recommended by the Dean of Ely, as more advantageous to the cause of religion and good order; and the Dean most sincerely observes, that “ those persons who have been most intimately concerned with the superintendence of young men at the University, will be best able to appreciate the painful measures which are not unfrequently necessary to secure regularity of attendance.” In his opinion, “the substitution of a shorter service would remedy many evils of a very embarrassing and distressing nature.”
The ostensible object for which the antiquated plan of compulsory attendance at prayers, in the college chapel, has been maintained, is to provide the means of forcing religion upon the notice of the students, an idea which justly belongs to the Elizabethan system of ecclesiastical tyranny, when the last Royal statutes were framed, and when persons of different religious persuasions were compelled to attend the services of the Church of England in their parish church.
Sermons are hardly ever preached in the college chapels, at Cambridge, and the ordinary services of these chapels, even when most decorously performed, are described by the Bishop of St. David's, as remarkable for their chilling languor, their general taciturnity, and their want of almost all the signs of a social worship. Many of the students in a large college are unacquainted with each other, and their inattention to the service is so mani. fest, that the same learned Bishop declares, that as far as his means of observation extend, the daily service of the college chapel is not a religious service at all, with an immense majority of the congregation, and that to the remaining few, it is the least impressive and edifying that can be conceived.
Indeed, the utter unsuitableness of this compulsory system of attendance at chapel prayers, in the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, for the promotion of a religious education, is so obvious, that it has attracted the attention of a learned foreigner, Professor Huber, of Marburg, who has recently published an ela