Page images


raised. The opinion has been advanced and is gaining ground, that as young men come up to our universities more advanced in years than formerly, and as they come well grounded in the trivium and quadrivium from the grammar schools, they should be pernitted to terminate their examinations in arts at an earlier period, so that they may be able to dedicate the last year

year and a half of their academical life, to the acquisition of the first elements of the science or the profession to the pursuit or labours of which they intend to devote their lives. The effect of this must be the residence, activity, and endowment of learned professors, and of men who will not be of necessity confined to elementary instruction; for let our professors be men of eminence, and many a young mac will gladly return to the university after completing his studies, and daring the few months that may intervene before his settling down to professional practice, in order that the last finish to his professional education may be imparted to him by men who occupy the first place in their own respective departments of human

By those who admit the extreme importance of preserving the character of our universities as seats of learning, and of rendering them more efficient, these will be hailed as movements in the right direction. In all our endeavours to promote university reformn, let us be careful not to confound a board of examiners with a university: let us bear in mind that the business of a university is not to test proficiency elsewhere acquired, but to instruct: let us note well that to render instruction efficient, we require an organised body of persons whose sole profession in life is instruction, and who, to become instructors, must make erudition and scientific inquiry their business: let us remember that the duty of a university is not only to instruct, but to educate: to educate the soul as well as the mind; as



the latter by study, so the former by the grace of the Gospel: let us not forget that education extends to the whole man, not only to the soul and mind, but also to the body; that one education in part consists in an association on equal terms with our contemporaries, in youthful discussions as well as friendships, in the play-field as well as the lecture room. Let not fathers, and tutors, and professors, be slow to hear, what sons are ready to repeat, and what was at one time their own creed,--that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Having now considered what is meant when we speak of a high standard of academical culture, we may proceed to point out some of the ways in which it may become influential on other conditions of society. Do what we will, the direct advantages of academical culture must be confined, comparatively speaking, to only a few. It is not of course designed for those who are engaged in handicraft and trade, for whose instruction our parochial schools are open, and to whom the mechanics' institute stands in the place of a university.

Then again, with respect to a certain class of mental labourers;-however much you may reduce the expenses of a university education, there must always be some, just raising themselves in their social position, who are unable to give the time which a university education, to be complete, requires. They are obliged to forego these advantages by the necessity they are under to earn, as early as possible, the means of living. They lack facilities, they encounter difficulties, and if then, unaided, they overcome their difficulties, they become the greater men. The harder the battle the more glorious the victory. But while we glory in the victors, we often forget the amount of disappointment and cuffering that the subalterns of literature may have had to endure. We cannot expect many men to become as Hugh Miller, George Stevenson, Dr.

Kitto, or Dr. Livingstone. But there are many men who, at a long interval, are treading in their steps and are rising to a certain degree of eminence in a less extensive and distinguished circle; and we must valde anything that may mitigate their difficulties and cheer them in their labours. As we elerate the standard of academical culture, we see at once how this class of our fellow mental labourers will, in a comparatively short space of time, be benefited. A high standard in our universities will call into existence better schools. Better schools can only be supplied by better teachers; the demand for better teachers will call into action and provide remuneration for many well educated and scholarly intellects; and good schools, well-informed assoeiates, and the prospect of remunerative employment, will bring life and energy to many a sinking heart, and by calling intellectual labourers into the field, render even manual employments more intellectual.

It is not indeed necessary to enter into details here, even if there were time; for by a wonderful arrangement of Divine Providence, any movement in the higher department of intellectual life will have its effect upon every lower sphere of mind.

The activity of man must be guided by thought; but the circumstances and genius of the human race are such, that while there must be many active hands at work, the men of deep thought are compa. ratively few. And therefore it has been so ordered, that when the passions of men do not offer an impediment, the mass of mankind are found to acquiesce in, and to follow the judgment of those whose business it is to think. This strikes us at ance in what relates to the inductive sciences and to natural philosophy: The master mind makes a discovery; he communicates it to the very few who are able to follow the mathematical analysis by which he arrived at his conclusions. These condusicns confirmed by them, are handed down to another class, still limited but more numerous, who can understand the method of investigation which has been adopted, though unable to work out the details; and so it descends, losing at each step more and more of its scientific character, until it becomes an acknowledged truth, applied to the practical purposes of life without any reference whatever to the science which gave it birth. The same descent of thought may be traced in the moral world, though it be not so rapid or direct. For in what relates to metaphysics and moral philosophy, those who imagine that they have ability to understand the most complicated questions are more numerous and self-satisfied. Still, when once a great idea becomes embodied as a general principle, the descent from the higher mind to the lower, though gradual, is still sure.

And we may therefore entertain the hope that the public mind may, through the more extended influences of the university, be brought to see that knowledge is to be valued, not in proportion as it may prove available as the handmaid to mechanical inventions, or as enabling us to compass other material ends, but as itself constitutes its own great reward. This will remove from us a great national defect, and conduce to the formation of that temperamento in which the Germans are so much our superiors (unwilling as I am to admit it), which leads to hard, persevering, unrequited mental labour, for the love of knowledge and for the love of truth for their own sakes.

But the influence of a high standard of academical culture not only descends—it ascends: it extends to the higher departments of human knowledge. If the academical standard be high, a demand, as we have seen, for the highest order of intellect to fill our professional chairs will follow,-our professions now extending to all the various departments of science. By the residence in the university of men of literature and science, the university will

become a seat of learning as well as a place of instruction. And we have

only to refer to the German universities to see the advantage of this to the cause of literature. I am not instituting a comparison between the German universities and our own; we have each our advantages and disadvantages, and like all things human, stand in need of improvement. The German universities, however, possess this great advantage at the present time, that they form a common centre for these men of learning, for Whroun they provide employment, remuneration, and distinction, and by means of whom they extend their influence far beyond their fatherland. To them we are indebted for our classical manuals, editions, historians, grammars, and even for our exegetical divinity. It is not that we do not possess scholars capable of composing works equal to these, but we do not afford them academical employment and remuneration. Our learned men have to seek employment in secular affairs or in ecclesiastical offices; and literature, though still cultivated by them for its own sake, ceases to be the one professional object which it must be made by those who would excel in it. It is not to depreciate the labours of German scholars—to whom I am much indebted; nor is it in the mere spirit of John Bullism—though I am a John Bull to the backbone, that I assert that British scholars would be better adapted to supply mental food for the intellectual stomachs of Britons, to produce a literature more in accordance with our own institutions, our intellectual character, our domestic life, our moral qualities. Raise, then, the standard of intellectual culture, and let us have a philosophy and a literature, independent, native, and congenial.

Then, again, with respect to science: here a common centre is greatly wanted, such as a well organised university can alone supply. It is a misfortune that in the present day scientific men

« EelmineJätka »