Page images
PDF
EPUB

play-ground, we knew that he caine there—not to see who was working and who was idle, but to enjoy the sight of boys enjoying themselves. As in their studies and amusements, so also in their quarrels, he forbore to interfere. He knew that boys would quarrel, and that nature had provided them with suitable weapons for the settlement of angry difference. A fair fight in hot blood was never interrupted except by the school-bell

. It was only when he heard that a fight which had been so interrupted was to be renewed after school, and proceeded with in cold blood, that he interposed a peremptory prohibition. He made us a speech; we stood rebuked; and the thing, I believe, was never done or thought of again. Upon the same principle, he ailowed the summary administration of justice, which prevails among schoolboys, to take its course: only fagging, and everything that savoured of the authorized subjugation of the little by the big, he absolutely forbade. I well remember a public declaration which he made on this subject, on the trivial occasion of one boy making another clean his shoes; and his appeal, like all his public appeals of that nature, was quite effectual. No admonition addressed to the school at large, upon a point of order or morals, had to be repeated in my time. For preventing the oppression of the weak by the strong, and the growth of the many abuses to which such communities are liable, he trusted to the natural sense of honour and justice, which formed the public opinion of the schooltrusted it largely and frankly; and, I will say, that the trust was not misplaced. It is true that, not being a boarder, I could not know all. But my most intimate companions were in Dr. Malkin's house; I spent a great deal of my time with them; and I do not think that any considerable abuses or oppression could have been practised without my hearing of it. Boys there were, no doubt, of low and vicious habits, who abused the general liberty of the place, and were enabled to go further wrong than they could have done under a stricter and more suspicious superintendence. But the bad were not the many, and I am persuaded that all the rest were the better for that liberty; less irregular in their conduct, and far more honourable in their principles, than they would have been without it. Every one who has been either at school or at college must have seen that honour, in England, is considered binding upon boys and men so long only as they are trusted; that as soon as the authorities set themselves to make the breach of regulations impossible, the attempt to break them, though it may be difficult or hazardous, ceases to be held dishonourable; and that a boy (or, indeed, a man) who feels that he is not trusted, will rarely care to deserve trust. Hence the multiplication of outward restraints, though it may possibly limit, while it lasts, the opportunities which bad boys have to do ill, carries with it this great evil, -it supersedes the exercise of moral restraint, and so demoralizes the good boys. Such at least, was Dr. Malkin's opinion; and I have heard him publicly allege it as his reason for not putting spikes on his gates and glass bottles on the walls: at the same time, publicly appealing to the steadiest boy in the school, whether, if that were done, he would not immediately try to get over. For the maintenance of order and discipline, a few broad and simple regulations were insisted on, the reasonableness and necessity of which the boys themselves could easily understand. These he expected them to obey; and, in the absence of proof to the contrary, presumed, as a matter of course, that they did obey. There was no suspicion, no watching, no caging in, no multiplication of small probibitions, by way of security. He trusted the boys, and expected, in return, that they would not abuse his confidence.

Much, I dare say, may be urged against this system; and in other places, and with other masters, I can even believe it has been fairly tried with ill

All I can say is, that at Bury, under Dr. Malkin, it succeeded well. The prevailing sentiment of the school was just, generous, and honourable. The boys most generally liked were, so far as I can recollect, the boys of best character. Whether bad boys grew worse, I do not know ,but I do not believe that any well-disposed boy was corrupted there. And I dwell the more upon this main and conspicuous feature of his administration, because it is certain that what government there was in the school at that time was a moral government, and that in this liberality and generosity of dealing lay the only secret of the moral influence which upheld it. When I remember what severe trials our loyalty was sometimes put to, (severe according to our then estimate of human eyil,) and how well it stood the test, I cannot doubt that this influence was really very strong. Instances of such childish griev. ances hardly bear to be formally set down, but I will give one or two; and, trifles as they may seem now, I am sure there are many of my contemporaries who will remember the days when “these things were great to little boys.

success.

I have said that our work, generally speaking, was light enough. But Dr. Malkin had a way of setting lessons and exercises according to some predetermined inflexible rule, which occasionally entailed a very severe pressure of work. The rule, for instance, might be that each lesson should consist of a single section in a variorum edition, and that all the notes should be construed. This, in nine sections out of ten, was light work enough; but in the tenth occurred some unhappy word upon which all the commentators had exhausted all their learning. On such occasions, I have known the morning school prolonged far into the afternoon; the sixth fo have seen all the rest disperse, leaving the benches empty, and re-assemble again, having dined between, while they were still occupied in galloping at full speed through that interminable wilderness of commentation; and all for no reason whatever, except that that arbitrary rule might not be violated. In such cases, I suppose no earthly inconvenience would have induced that inexorable will to deviate a hair's-breadth from the predetermined plan. At other times the same inscrutable and inevitable destiny would require an enormous quantity of translation, Greek into English, or English into Greek (once it was an entire book of Herodotus), in a preposterously short time; which could only be accomplished by such incessant labour, while it lasted, that I remember to this day, as a distinct sensation, the weariness of the flesh and the drying up of the spirit which it brought upon me. And the misery was that, far from seeing the reason and necessity of all this, we were fully convinced that there was no reason for it at all; that it was the result of a whim merely. The section might just as well have been divided into two or three, or four, or half, or two-thirds, or all the notes might have been omitted; and we should have been the wiser in consequence, rather than the less wise. All such grievances we bore, if not without a murmur, yet with a kind of amused resignation, which is wonderful to me when I look back upon it. We saw that he always took his own full share of the trouble and inconvenience in which these fancies involved him, and we took it as a part of the order of things. It did not perceptibly abate either our esteem for him, or our confidence in his sympathy for us; and this is the circumstance which makes the case worth mentioning.

For a like reason I may mention another and a graver defect; I mean his partiality. It cannot be denied that when he liked a boy he favoured him. I do not mean that he was deliberately or consciously unjust, or that his partiality had any unworthy motive. Very far from it. But his good opinion of the person, which was always very well founded, inclined him to think well of all he did, to dwell more upon the promise of good and less upon the actual shortcoming. The difference of the measure which he dealt in this way to different boys was obvious and sometimes almost laughable; and was certainly a grave defect, injurious in some degree to all, though most injurious to those who were most favoured. An examiner from Cambridge would have made some confusion among our prizemen and classes, and given many of us a seasonable and salutary warning. But while I admit this as a defect in the schoolmaster, I must add, to the honour of the man, that it was our scholar

ship only which was injured by it. Too much encouragement may have relaxed our exertions, but it never tended to impair our character. A prize or a high place in the form might be no sure indication of a good exercise or good scholarship; but Dr. Malkin's good opinion of the boy, which led him to make the award, was a very sure indication of substantial worth. I remember many boys in my time noted as "favourites.” They are now scattered about the world, pursuing their different callings, some in distinction, some in obscurity; but wherever they are, I will undertake to say that they are respected by those who know them. It is a strong proof of the justice of the judgment upon which his partialities were founded, that no boy was ever liked the less by his schoolfellows for being a favourite with him. One boy suffered some persecution for too much addiction to private study in general, as well as a personal assault for the distinct offence of “knowing the ologies,” but I do not remember one who suffered anything for being a favourite with the doctor, even when the favour led, as I still think it often did, to injustice in the award of prizes and arrangement of classes. It must be admitted, likewise, that he had corresponding distastes, which led him into unfairnesses the other way; and, sometimes, though very rarely, into unaccountable and (as we thought) unjustifiable severities. These were the severest shocks which our loyalty had to stand; and I have once or twice felt sensations, though never on my own account, which, if often repeated, would have gone far to estrange me. But such cases were so rare, and so little in keeping with the rest, that we were content to suppose that there was something in the matter more than we knew, and to forget what it was painful and perplexing to remember.

After what I have said of his habitual respect and generous confidence towards the boys, I need hardly add that he never doubted a boy's word; the inevitable consequence of which was that no boy with a spark of honour in him would ever tell a lie; or if he did it once from fear, he could never do it again for shame.

In his private intercourse, proceeding upon the same principles,--or, I should rather say, following the same instinct—he laid the schoolmaster aside, and treated the boys like guests and gentlemen. And, though he was natu. rally a reserved and silent man, with no great faculty for entertaining a party with conversation, yet he listened to our young observations and eager interests with so much unaffected pleasure and benevolence, that to “dine with the doctor" was always a great privilege; and I have no doubt that those elegant and illustrious little dinners still survive in many minds, as in my own, a pleasant and pathetic recollection. Nor will the picture of the doctor in his social aspect be thought complete by my contemporaries, without some remembrance of that supper to which the whole sixth form were annually invited, when the speeches were read out, and the parts assigned; or of the splendours of the speech-day itself, which, if Bury had produced a poet, would not have been left uncelebrated; or of the little parties which he sometimes took with him to the play; or of the great night of the school “bespeak.” Such remembrances may be below the dignity of the subject; but they are not the less a part of the past, which was father of the present.

Intelligence.

UNIVERSITY COMMISSION. members of the University, and to be

educated in Oxford under due superDowning Street, Nov. 18, 1850.

intendence, but without subjecting SIR,-Her Majesty's Commission- them to the expenses incident to coners for the University of Oxford being nection with a college or hall; charged with the duty of reporting to (4.) By admitting persons to proher Majesty on the state, discipline, fessorial lectures, and authorizing studies, and revenues of the Univer- the professors to grant certificates of sity and Colleges of Oxford, and re- attendance, without requiring any quired also to report their opinions further connection with the Univeron the subjects referred to them, are sity. anxious to obtain information and 7. The expediency of an examinasuggestions from persons who, by tion previous to matriculation; of their station and experience, merit diminishing the length of time republic confidence. They therefore quired for the first degree; of renrequest that you will communicate to dering the higher degrees real tests them whatever, in your judgment, of merit; of so regulating the studies may

assist them in the formation of of the University as to render them their opinions, and enable them to at some period of the course more give a faithful representation of the directly subservient to the future present condition of the University. pursuits of the student. While they will be glad to receive 8. The expediency of combining from you any communication bear- the professorial with the tutorial sysing on the subjects of their inquiry, tem; of rendering the professorial they beg leave to call your attention foundations more available for the specially to the following points:- instruction of undergraduates gene

1. The possibility of diminishing rally; of increasing the number and the ordinary expenses of a University endowments of professorships ; of education, and of restraining extra- providing retiring pensions for provagant habits.

fessors. 2. The sufficiency of the powers

9. The most eligible mode of apwhich the authorities possess to en- pointing professors; and the effect force discipline.

of existing limitations or disqualifi3. The power of the University to cations upon the appointment of promake, repeal, or alter statutes.

fessors. 4. The mode of appointing the 10. The effect of the existing limi. Vice-Chancellor and Proctors. tations in the election to fellowships,

5. The Government of the Univer- and in their tenure. sity and its relation to the colleges, 11. The propriety of abolishing the as finally established by the statutes distinctions between compounders of Archbishop Laud.

and ordinary graduates ; between no6. The means of extending the blemen, gentleman-commoners, and benefits of the University to a larger other students; and also the distincnumber of students.

tions made with respect to parentage (1.) By the establishment of new at matriculation. halls, whether as independent socie- 12. The means of fully qualifying ties, or in connection with colleges; students, in Oxford itself, for holy

(2.) By permitting undergraduates orders, and of obviating the necessity to lodge in private houses more gene- of seeking theological instruction in rally than at present;

other places. (3.) By allowing students to become 13. The capability of colleges and

balls, as at present constituted, to tions and arguments. I have the furnish adequate instruction in the honour to be, your obedient humble subjects now studied, and in those servant, introduced by the recent Examination Statute.

A. P. STANLEY, Secretary. 14. The system of private tuition, PERTH RAGGED School FARM. and its effect both on tutors and -This institution, which owes its pupils.

existence to a grant of 500l. by the 15. The means of rendering Bod. Committee of the Perthshire Destiley's Library more generally useful tution Fund, has now been in full than at present.

operation for upwards of two months. 16. The propriety of laying perio- Immediately on obtaining the grant, dical statements of the University a piece of ground was procured at accounts before convocation.

Craigie, fitted for the purpose, and Her Majesty's Commissioners also the services of Mr. James Dow, a stu. request you

to fur- dent in the Free Church Normal Senish statements under the subjoined minary, Edinburgh, were secured as heads, and to give them any further teacher. As, however, Mr. Dow could information or any suggestions, which not come till the 1st of August, Mr. may occur to you, in relation to your Maibey, the secretary to the school, office:

who has had considerable experience 1. The nature and endowment, and in the management of this class of its present annual value; and whether children, agreed to take charge of any other sources of income are at- it until that time. The institution tached to it.

was accordingly opened by him on 2. Whether any special qualifica- the 29th day of May last, with fifteen tions are required by statute in the boys, all of whom were in a very despersons appointed.

titute condition. Their ages varied 3. Whether any residence, lecture- from eight to sixteen. One of them room, library, apparatus, collections, had been an unfriended orphan since &c., are provided for you; if so, early youth ; five had only one parent whether there are any funds for alive, two of them being deserted by keeping them up.

their remaining parent. 4. Whether there are any statutes case the parents were drunkards. requiring the performance of specific Two of the boys had no home but duties; and whether those duties are the streets; and all of them had been such as could not profitably be now beggars, golf.club boys, or common enforced.

pickers and stealers. Their conduct 5. The mode of appointment to was what might have been expected your office; whether it is held for in these circumstances.

Seven of life, or for a term of years, and them had already found their way to whether the person holding it is the gaol or the police office ("the removable.

office,” as they call it), and all of 6. The nature and number of lec- them were graduating for the bulke, tures usually delivered in each year ; Within a fortnight after the opening the average number of pupils attend. of the school, five of them were coning, and the fee paid by each pupil. cerned in a joint act of theft. They

7. The general condition in the all swore, they all lied, they all quarUniversity of the branch of study to relled ; and, following the excellent which your professorship relates, and example of our young gentlemen, the means of promoting its advance- they almost all smoked. It would be ment.

difficult to mention a vice to which Her Majesty's Commissioners will they were all not more or less ad. be happy to receive your evidence, dicted. Before many weeks had either orally or in writing, and in passed away, however, a change of such a form as you may think best the most gratifying nature had taken adapted to do justice to your sugges- place upon these boys; for, although

In every

« PreviousContinue »