« НазадПродовжити »
This opinion he backs with an apophthegm of Doctor John
A somewhat similar one, if we rightly recollect, is expressed in a very pleasant, spirited, and judicious article on the subject of novels in a late number of the Christian Spectator;-an article by the way, which is another testimony to the astonishing popularity of the Waverley novels, which have worked their way, in a few years, from the ladies' work-table and the lounger's parlour window, to a temporary fellowship at least with the dusty corpuses of the civilian, and the ponderous polyglotts of the divine.
We cannot leave the consideration of these works without a passing notice, at least, of the mechanical execution of this American edition. That of the Tales is bad enough, but that of the Lives would disgrace any press, and is indeed an insult to the public.
Reform of Harvard College.
[CONTINUED.] ANOTHER pursuit which seems to us to need discouragement is that of music. Except in a few individuals, even a low degree of musical excellence requires a vast deal of time and attention ; and, supposing that this occupation does not intrude upon the hours allotted to study, it is expedient that the leisure hours of a student should be employed in some more healthful amusement, than_bending over a music book, or straining at a clarionett.
But it is impossible to prevent even the hours of study from encroachment, so long as the musical performances of the students make a part of the entertainment at the exhibitions, and so long as the detestable practice of serenading shall be permitted.
We use strong language, for of the ill effects of this practice and its necessary
niments upon the health and sometimes the morals of the students, there can be no question. If we take into consideration the time spent in learning to play upon some instru ment and the necessary annoyance to all the neighbours of the learner, we think it cannot be denied that College is no place for music. If a student must learn this art, let him learn it in the vacations.
But neither this practice nor the objections to it are very novel. More than one hundred and fifty years ago, Dr Hoar,
afterwards president of the University, wrote in these words to his cousin Flint, who was then a freshman. " Music I had almost forgot; I suspect you seek it both too soon and too much. This be assured of, that if you be not excellent at it, it is nothing at all ; and if you be excellent, it will take up so much of your time and mind, that you will be worth little else. And when all that excellence is attained, your acquest will prove little or nothing of real profit to you, unless you intend to take up the trade of fiddling.”
Another method of influencing public opinion will supply another motive for exertion, the consideration of the effect of one's conduct at College upon after life. A degree is valuable now, and it is to be wished that it were possible to make it more so, by making it more necessary in the professions. It may be made somewhat more so by difficulty of attainment. Many of our readers will perceive that we are about to propose an examination for a degree. The practice which, as we are informed, prevails at Oxford seems excellent. The time occupied by the students there, as here, is four years ; but at the end of the second year the student undergoes a severe examination, and if deficient, is turned back to remain another year. At the end of the fourth year, if he has passed his first examination, he is admitted to that for a degree, in which, if he fail, he is, as before, turned back. For the attainment of a degree, an examination in certain branches is necessary, but there are other honours to be attained by the candidate's offering himself for examination in other branches. A degree obtained in this way would be a public and lasting testimony of industry, while failure would subject the candidate to bitter mortification. The effect of this upon the opinions and conduct of the students may be supposed a priori, but we may illustrate it by some examples. The medical students of all
schools within our knowledge are subjected to severe examinations, and we believe it will be admitted, that, as a body, these students are the most persevering in their application and acquire the strongest professional esprit du corps and zeal for improvement in their science. At Cambridge in England, there is no examination for a degree; or at most a mere form. We are informed from most respectable authority that the difference in the degree of application in these Universities is very great. The severe examinations at Oxford are a comparatively late innovation, and the effect is stated to have been great and immediate. We have hcard that an eminent
wine-seller in Bristol, on inquiring why so few pipes of wine had of late years been ordered at Oxford, was informed that the examination for degrees had nearly ruined the trade. There is one College at Oxford, the New, or Winchester College, where no examination for a degree takes place, and the consequence is said to be, that though the students are all beneficiaries and admitted after a severe examination, being of course among the best prepared in the University, the standard of diligence in this College is lower than in any other. Lastly how often do we see a youth labouring with unabating diligence to prepare for the examination which precedes his admission to the College, and then becoming idle and indifferent to the studies that follow it? Now what process is more simple and likely to be more effectual than the application of a stimulus, which has been found so powerful with the candidates for the freshman class, to those for the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, and finally to those who aspire to a degree? We ought to observe in justice to the Governors of Cambridge College, that we believe that by the arrangements of late years public opinion among the students has been much and favourably influenced, and that industry is more fashionable than it used to be.
But the College must after all partake of the character of a school; the students are generally too young to be left entirely to their own discretion. Of the various checks and punishments now in operation, we are of opinion, that most are theoretically judicious and practically useful. One of them, that of lines, seem not to be so, and the report, upon which we have been remarking, recommends, very judiciously,
That the punishment by fines be abolished ; and tasks, or some other equivalents, which shall operate directly on the students themselves, be substituted in their stead.
This is the practice at Oxford; tasks, technically termed “impositions,” are imposed at the pleasure of the Proctor. It seems to us that it would be well that the officers within the walls should have the power of imposing these for the smaller offences, nor does any check upon this power seem necessary, except a periodical report to the meetings of the Faculty.
There is a mechanical contrivance, which we have heard recommended, which strikes us favourably. It is, that the College and grounds should be surrounded by a wall of moderate height surmounted by an iron rail and having only a single entrance. This would be ornamental, and, with the as
sistance of the belt of trees now existing, would have the effect of giving the Colleges a quiet and secluded appearance. This in itself is favourable to habits of study. Every one knows the power of external circumstances and appliances upon intellectual habits. If the gate were regularly closed at nine in the evening and every one reported who demanded admission after that hour, the effect would be increased. At present the bell rings for study hours at nine o'clock; but what student thinks of making that an excuse for leaving an evening party in town? The law that they shall be in their rooms at that hour is felt to be obsolete. It may be said that any such contrivance would only excite the ingenuity of the students to evade or surmount the obstacles. Doubtless some would prefer climbing the wall to reporting themselves, but we believe it would not be common. The trouble, difficulty, and risk of detection would prevent many from acquiring habits of negligence. The difficulty would balance slight temptations, and this is all the effect to be expected. No wall, bar, or gate would be of much use with those who come to College with strong habits of self-indulgence, dissipation, and impatience of restraint, and such had better be dismissed altogether. Parents who are unable to govern their own children must not expect them to be always well governed in a public institution. And yet, from our experience, we should judge, that children of this class are those who are most offensively irregular, and parents of this class those who are loudest in their complaints of the mis-government of the College. It was very weakly and hastily said, that the officers of the College stand with regard to the students in loco parentis, and that they should act as such-and it was well replied, that the officers were as ready to be parents as the students were to be children. It is plain that no contrivance can give the officers a power, which depends upon opinion, and a real relation, which in their case does not exist; moreover it is equally undeniable that if they had all the power and influence which is possessed and exerted by some parents, it would not answer the purpose. Some of the students must be better governed at College than they ever were at home, or they will not do for the situation. li would be a bold opinion to express, though we are not sure that it would be an incorrect one, that this is often the case. To render this arrangement more effectual, the practice of living out of the College walls, except in the house of an officer of government or that of the student's own family,
should be utterly prohibited. The College buildings contain in all 120 rooms; allow one room in each entry for an officer and there remain 111, or enough to accommodate 222 students, the exact number now in College, according to the annual catalogue ; but some live with their families and some with the officers of government. Between 40 and 50 now have rooms in private houses, where they must be in a great measure beyond the control of the government in regard to many small matters, which tend to foster habits of inattention and irregularity.
The remaining part, and nearly half, of Mr Pickering's speech was devoted to the consideration of the advantages of classical learning and the state of the University in this particular.
[To be continued.]
Helon's Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. A Picture of Judaism, in the Century which preceded the Advent of our Saviour. Translated from the German of FREDERICK STRAUSS. Boston. 1825. 2 vols. 12mo. pp. 236 and 252.
This novel is exactly what one would expect from the object which its author had in view, and the plan upon which it was written. Its object is to illustrate Jewish antiquities, by a representation of the customs, manners, religious observances, &c. of the Jewish nation, as they existed about a hundred years before the advent of our Saviour; the plan, to connect this representation with the fortunes and adventures of a few individuals. Now with regard to the writers of most of the historical novels which have been so popular within the last few years, their main purpose has been to write popular novels; and, as incidentally contributing to this, they have introduced historical characters and incidents to assist in filling up. In the present case, on the other hand, the novel has been the secondary object and the illustration of Judaism the principal; for although we have a hero and heroine compounded of the usual' ingredients; a murder, a trial, a slander, &c. to make out the plot, yet it is clear that, in the opinion of the author, the story is merely the string to his pearls, valuable only as it brings them together, and the more completely covered by the glittering treasures, the better.