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Admission of Dissenters at the Universities. 275 all Church of England candidates should be subjected to an examination in the rudiments of religion, distinct from the examination in arts (to adopt the old and correct academical term), it appears to us that every objection would be met; and the integrity of religious instruction, so much insisted on, would be preserved. At Cambridge perhaps the difficulty is not so great, since we believe the examination is one specifically in Paley's Evidences and some portion of the Greek Testament, in writing, to which we believe no dissenter would object. In Oxford it is undefined, vivá voce, and entirely at the discretion of the examiner. If it were either limited, as at Cambridge, or separated from the rest of the examination, we think the difficulties, as regards those not professing the creed of the Church of England, would be entirely removed. Perhaps in the exposition of the Bishop's plan this point is hardly stated so fully as to enable us to judge precisely how his Lordship would consider it operating in favour of the dissenters; but it is manifest that something of this kind is intended and involved in the very principle of the suggestion.
We cannot refrain from expressing our satisfaction at the publication of such just and liberal sentiments from so influential a quarter, and we hope that we may regard them as in some measure an anticipation of that cordial co-operation which we are persuaded all the truly enlightened portion of the Church and its authorities are prepared to give towards the great object of diffusing the benefits which national universities ought to afford, and which Christian institutions ought to dispense within no narrower limits than those to which Christian beneficence is restricted.
ETON SCHOOL. Within the last twelve months there have been several pamphlets published on the subject of education at Eton*. 'We cannot say that we consider any of them well calculated to afford satisfactory information as to the present condition of that school, or to suggest very sound and searching remedies for the evils whose existence even its apologists are constrained to admit. The publication before us will convey an adequate notion of the sort of attack and defence that has been kept up during this pamphleteering field-day, when the genteel combatants have measured foils with infinite
* The Eton System of Education vindicated ; and its Capabilities of Improvement considered, in reply to some recent publications. Rivington, 1834.
gravity, and discharged their blank cartridges with a most imperturbable air of resolution. In truth the writer before us is himself an accomplished proficient in this harmless warfare, and has contrived to get up a very pretty mimic fight between his right hand and his left, by the ingenious machinery of Vindication and Capability. Says Vindication, all those who have whispered anything against the principle of Eton education are most mistaken and evil-minded persons,—the principle is as fine a principle as ever was reduced to practice, and every part of it is equally perfect. Says Capability, there are a few weeds over-running this fine principle,-and in truth the whole ground wants the most careful grubbing, trenching, manuring, and all that,-little that is useful thrives there, amidst the barrenness which refuses to produce, or the rankness which produces but to destroy. It appears to us that the best way to get at the truth is to bring these admirable skirmishers into more intimate contact than the writer himself has ventured to do, and to let Vindication and Capability try a passage at arms in the close tilting ground of parallel columns. We shall do this as we proceed to take a general view of this important question ; for the right understanding of which, combined with some previous knowledge, we are upon the whole mainly indebted to this and the other ex-parte publications.
* The Vindicator,' as the writer of this pamphlet is desig. nated in the Quarterly Review, divides his work into the following heads :-Devotional Exercises, Religious Instruction, Public Classical Instruction, Extra Instruction, The Foundation, Moral Discipline. It does not appear to us that these divisions are presented in the most convenient order for obtaining a connected view of the whole · System ;' and we shall therefore examine the great branches of the subject under a different arrangement. We begin with The Foundation.'
Eton is a collegiate establishment, founded for the education of poor and indigent boys,' by Henry VI. in 1441. The college consists of a provost, seven fellows (one of whom is vice-provost,) one upper-master, one lower-master, and seventy students. • The provost is appointed by the Crown ; the fellows are elected by themselves and the provost; the head-master is appointed by the provost; the lower by the provost and fellows.' * The admission of students to Eton College is upon the most large and liberal scale,-no presentation is required, no interest is needed.
The parent or guardian of a 'poor and indigent boy' enters his name in the college books, and supplies a certificate of his birth. On the
* Some Remarks on Eton School, ly a Parent.
last Monday in every July the candidates on the books undergo an examination. The statutes demand that they should have acquired a certain proficiency in reading, and the elements of singing ; that they should be of legitimate birth, and have no physical deformity. The examiners go farther :—they assign the boy his rank in the school, according to his acquirements. At one period, and that not very remote, there was no subsequent change in this first placing of the student, whatever might be his future industry or display of talent. King's College at Cambridge, whose fellowships are exclusively confined to the college of Eton, became for the most part, therefore, as it were, a close corporation, in the hands of certain heads of families, who put the little arithmetic which they had themselves learnt at Eton to excellent use, in calculating, to the minutest fraction of time, the chances of superannuation at the end of twelve years of monastic suffering for their unhappy children. The instant a child could speak he was taught to lisp Latin; he was driven to read before he could run; at three years of age he could conjugate Amo; and at five he was entered on the college books, provided with a stuff gown, and one daily meal of mutton, locked up duly in Long Chamber, and fagged and flogged according to long prescription, supported by the hope that he should pass into the fifth form and become a fagger himself, and after having had his run at King's College, should obtain degrees and ordination, and perhaps arrive at the dignity of being himself one day a flogger in the very place of execution where he had so long been the flogged. Doctor Harwood, the bibliographer, in the fullness of his gratitude to Eton and King's, published a list of the great men that had adorned their common rolls from the foundation of the colleges to his own day. It would be extremely difficult to find a collection of names that the world had so thoroughly determined to forget; and we are not aware that even Doctor Harwood's quarto had the effect of making the world ashamed of its neglect. But there was something better than fame in the old arrangements. There was often provision for four or five boys (if these, managing families were blessed with so many,) in the ample revenues provided by the royal founder; there was nothing of the tantalizing character of a lottery about this provision; the disappointed might say—
patience, and shuffle the cards," — but they were never shuffled, they were packed; a good calculator could always see his way, provided the children were dedicated to their vocation, almost upon the baptismal altar. But the days of innovation arrived some twelve or fifteen years ago; and in an evil time for those who had so long held Eton as an here
ditary estate, a yearly examination of the scholars was insisted upon, and they were put up or put down in the classes according to their merits. We are surprised that the waters of reform did not rush in through this breach ; but in truth Eton has enjoyed very vigorous conservatives during the last quarter of a century, and has preserved an ample stock of venerable abuses, even with the loss of this ancient glory of her antiinnovators. Upon the present system, therefore, Eton College is an open school : the rank of her students is periodically settled according to their deserts : if a boy be at the head of the school before he is eighteen, and a vacancy occurs amongst the seventy fellowships of King's, he becomes a scholar of that institution; he takes his degree at Cambridge without examination; and, after a certain number of terms, is inducted into the honours and profits of a fellowship, which he holds till he is disqualified by marriage or preferment.
It is this chance of a fellowship of King's which keeps up the number of scholars of Eton College. Without this chance no parent would for a moment think of exposing his child to the moral contamination and the personal wretchedness of the college life of Eton--for the sake of obtaining an exceedingly imperfect education, at a higher cost than he would incur at the greater number of the best private schools of the country. As the larger portion of the scholars of Eton necessarily become superannuated, we much doubt whether, unless the college system be radically changed, even the temptation offered by the chance of a King's fellowship will much longer prevail over the growing desires of English parents for a sound and comprehensive system of moral and intellectual education for their children, and their equally growing knowledge of what education ought to be. Let us carefully examine what Eton now does for its college students, putting out of view the prospective advantages which it holds out for a settlement in life.
The peculiarities of the foundation of Eton College, as they are exhibited in its administration, present the curious anomaly of a servile adherence to the statutes of the founder, on the one hand, and a direct departure both from the letter and spirit of those statutes, on the other. There were originally three classes of students,-choristers, servitors, and scholars; the choristers and servitors have been long got rid of. The oppidans as they are called, or boys not on the foundation, were to have some advantages of instruction, out of the college funds: they have nothing now but what they pay for. According to the fashion of the days of Henry VI., the rudest meal, the scantiest clothing, and the most dirty and inconvenient lodging were provided for the youths who lived under this monastic rule. In 1834 the inmates of a workhouse or a gaol are better fed and lodged than the scholars of Eton; the clothing supplied by the college is limited to a stuff gown. The surplus revenue of the college, after providing these commons and this lodging, is not disposed of by the statutes, except in very general phrase ; the provost and fellows divide this revenue, interpreting the ad communem utilitatem,' to mean for their own benefit. And yet, with this liberal interpretation in their own favour on the part of the governing body, the scholars are made to pay for their education, directly contrary to the literal words of the statutes. Thus, then, where the statutes provide an extension of the advantages of education, beyond the classes now so insufficiently maintained upon the foundation, the persons provided for under the name of choristers and servitors have been got rid of; where the statutes provide a dirty common chamber, a scanty meal, and an annual toga, the statutes are adhered to. Where the statutes say something very indistinctly about surplus funds, the provost and fellows, who do nothing whatever in the business of instruction, divide the surplus; where the statutes prescribe gratuitous education, the scholars are made to pay for all the instruction they receive. What then does a boy entered upon the Eton foundation obtain ? He obtains the privilege of sleeping in a large wretched room, occupying one side of a quadrangle, called Long Chamber, with a most scanty allowance of bed-clothes, and he also obtains a dinner of mutton and potatoes; with the further advantage, which the greater part reject with disdain, of devouring the remnants of the meal, three or four hours after, under the name of supper; moreover, he receives an annual stuff gown. Beyond this the ample revenues of Eton College do nothing whatever for the education of the poor and indigent boys' of this country. A poor and indigent boy,' of the foundation of Eton, costs his parents, at the very lowest calculation, 701. a-year. He must first pay an annual stipend to his master,
she must pay for his books,-he must pay for a room in the town to study in, for the college furnishes no place in which he can sit down after the hours of school, he must pay for his breakfast and for his tea if he requires that luxury,
- he must pay for his clothing. If he be a young and feeble child, he is a slave; if growing into sturdy manhood, he is a tyrant. His standard of comfort and of taste is the lowest that can be imagined. He has the badge of charity upon him without any of its advantages; he pays largely to be miserable amidst the positive wretchedness of his own condition, and the still greater misery of having the finger of aristocratic scorn