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reduced to a system, founding thereon a certain science, and corresponding art, called cramming.
"I will exemplify my meaning by the usual divinity examinations.
"Every candidate for a degree is expected to pass a general examination in the Old Testament as well as in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. He must also be able to construe" the gospels in Greek, and to repeat and prove from scripture the Thirty-nine Articles. For this general examination there are two ways of preparing.
"One is the plain honourable way practised by Allen. He read his Bible carefully, and reflected on every point alike. The result of this is a sound and generally available knowledge of scripture.
"This is one way of preparing for an examination. Knowledge so attained is improving to the mind; and though it may waste a little by keeping, still it will not entirely evaporate as soon as the examination is over ; but the professor of the art of cramming reasons as follows:
"The object of the men who apply to me is not to gain knowledge but to gain testamurs. If I could retail these slips of paper at once without being guilty of forgery, it would save a great deal of trouble, and six months after the examinations are over, it would be quite as beneficial to my pupils as any instruction they are capable of receiving. This is my position, not my fault. I should greatly prefer to gain a livelihood by assisting young men of well-formed minds, to take full advantage of a university course, and to attain to that proficiency which an examiner's testamur is supposed to imply. But since parents will be so foolish as to send their sons to college, and to keep them there three years in spite of the clearest evidence that every term a great deal of their knowledge is running out and very little coming in; and since these sons at last come to me and say, "We know less than when we left school : six months only remain to complete the work for which the university allows four years :' what am I to do? There is competition among private tutors as well as among the members of every other profession. He gets most pupils who has fewest plucks, just as the lawyer has most briefs who obtains most verdicts, without the least regard to the justice of his client's cause. I must make the most of the six months which remain. To impart sound knowledge is impossible, as I have no time to lay a sure foundation. I must confine myself to that kind of knowledge which will be most serviceable for the present purpose. In other words, mental improvement and available information do not properly belong to my profession. Intellectual attainments with me are only a means to an end—that end being to obtain testamurs. With what kind of intellectual attainments am I concerned ? with such only as come into play at examinations.
“ The first point, therefore, in which a crammer differs from other tutors is in the selection of subjects. While another tutor would teach every part of the books given up, he virtually reduces their quantity, dwelling chiefly on the likely parts.'
"The second point in which a crammer excels is in fixing the ato
tention, and reducing subjects to the comprehension of ill-formed and undisciplined minds.
r. The third qualification of a crammer is a happy manner and ad. dress, to encourage the desponding, to animate the idle, and to make the exertions of the pupil continually increase in such a ratio, that he shall be wound up to concert pitch by the day of entering the schools.
"In each of these three points, as in all other matters, practice makes perfect. Besides, there is ample scope for genius and invention, and doubtless the most successful tutors have had high natural endowments.
" There was for some years, and perhaps still is, in Oxford, a professor of the art of cramming, of great notoriety. He was once a fellow of one of the colleges, and some say he lost his fellowship by his irregularities and low propensities. Those who condescended to apply to bim had to seek him not uncommonly at some low public house.
"This classic lecturer was described to me by one who had seen him exercising his vocation in terms which I should prejudice the university if I were to repeat. Imagine a man of forty years of age, unwashed, and unshorn, redolent of tobacco, and flushed and bloated with the last night's beer, sitting in a college room, displaying a wondrous volubility and power of memory in classical, logical, and scriptural literature, without a book or any other assistance than a cigar between his finger and his thumb, and a tankard of college ale. Of course the kind of technical memory and illustrations which a man of this degraded taste would introduce are of too painful a nature for any feeling mind to think of, though well, too well, suited, unhappily, to the perverted tastes of that small portion of undergraduates who are so shameless as to countenance him.
"But why do I sully my pages with an allusion to such a disgrace to humanity ? It is not only in proof of the estimation in which a talent for cramming is held, but I have also another and a more ur. gent reason for alluding to this person. His fame has been recorded by others, and that too as if he were a fair average specimen of Oxford characters, and not a solitary exception and rare excrescence from a generous stock. If my readers have ever heard of this person, and are disposed to lay the blame on the university which he infests, let them know that the porters of several colleges have or had strict orders not to admit him inside their gates; also, that it was generally believed that any man who had been known to read with him would have a strong prejudice to contend against in the schools.''-pp. 229 -233.
We have observed, that the complaints against the cramming system have exceedingly increased at Oxford, with that of private tutors, in the last twenty years; and that at Cambridge it had already reached a great height, before it was known at Oxford, also side by side with the private tutors. The questions rising out of the remark are too difficult and grave to be treated
here; but we are possessed with the belief, that the last change made in the Oxford system of examinations, about the year 1830 (by which, in many respects, they approximated to the mechanical system of Cambridge, in regard to 'paperwork'), was an unhappy one. By far the most searching questions, are those which are made by word of mouth ; in which an experienced interrogator cannot be deceived. We fear, however, that the prevalent system of laying on the examiners much work, much odium, and little pay, will ensure to the university of Oxford a regular supply of inexperienced and (naturally) injudicious examiners; and thus give fresh aid to the system of cramming. For the worst part of it is, that illjudged questions tend to force this contemptible practice of overloading the memory with details that must instantly be forgotten, on able candidates whose good sense spurns and abhors it.
The writer before us evidently is a favourable type of the current Oxford feeling as regards religion : considering which, we are struck by views which now and then show themselves. The following is rather edifying in its way, concerning a wild youth 'rusticated' (i.e. temporarily expelled) from college, whose ordination is represented as designed to bring about his future conversion.
"The Rev. A. Croydon is now a very exemplary parish priest. He always was a man of good principles and of a generous nature. It was his honesty and artlessness that used to betray him to college punishment. I do not deny that you may make a good parish priest too. For while I see so much regard for the feelings of others, so much love of truth, generosity and compassion, and so little deliberate preference of vice in your constitution, and, above all, when I observe how much you become sobered down, softened, and humanised, after spending a vacation at home with your family, I am encouraged to hope that there are those seeds of goodness in you which, by the serious reflections inseparable from sermon-writing and sick-visiting, may graciously be quickened into life.' '--pp. 197—198.
We cannot find out who is supposed to say these words : the author has a perplexing mode of putting two-thirds of his book within inverted commas. If the speaker is on this occasion the indulgent and mourning father, yet the sentiment passes without reproof, or apparent consciousness of its error.
It will also be observed how the truth slips out, that whatever the pretended moral advantages of the university, they are not to be compared with the 'sobering, softening, and humanizing' influences of the domestic circle.
A large part of the book is devoted to the laudable object of warning young men against incurring debts at the university. We wish the author all success in his effort ; but we hardly think him right in trying to lay the whole blame of these disastrous occurrences on the fathers of the students, to the exculpation of the university authorities. He is pleased indeed to tell us positively, that no legislation will do the least good' (p. 369); but, with deference, we claim leave to doubt his assertion. Why might it not be enacted that no tradesman should be entitled to payment for any bill exceeding £5, unless a copy of it were sent in to the college authorities within a quarter of a year after it became due? On getting his bill back with the signature of the dean or tutor, he would hold in his hands the legal document which made his claim good for the future; and in case of undue extravagance, a parent would receive timely notice. Nor could such a plan be justly deprecated as unduly exposing a young man's private expenses. Whoever wished to conceal from his tutor how many muffins his friends ate, or how many coats he had had from his tailor, would hold the remedy in his own hands—to pay within a quarter of a year. If unable to do that, he ought not to complain of a wholesome check to extravagance. So simple a plan as is here suggested, would at once destroy the unwholesome competition of tradesmen in giving credit; which the author truly describes as equally injurious to them and to the young men.
We observe that Dr. Arnold, in his published correspondence, severely chides the college authorities for taking so good precautions that they themselves shall not suffer bad debts from the young men, while no care at all is taken to secure the tradesman from loss. The contrast, no doubt, forcibly shows that there is much culpability in the ruling part of the universities : but we think it clear that Dr. Arnold's remedy-that of exacting from the students caution money large enough to indemnify tradesmen—would prove impracticable or insufficient, unless accompanied with measures to enforce a quick delivery of bills. To demand £500 caution money, to be deposited with the college authorities, would not be too much for the security of tradesmen, as things are now managed : but such a demand would be oppressive and unjust, and could not possibly be enforced.
There is something laughably simple in the author's complaints of the stupidity of fathers :
"And here I cannot refrain from observing, that of all the blindness I have ever witnessed, that of the fathers of my fellow-collegians seems to be the most remarkable.
"If a man brings up a son as a lawyer, a surgeon, or a merchant, he makes such an arrangement with a professional man in his own town, that when the hours of business are over, he may take charge of his son under his own roof; or else, if he sends him to a
distance, he articles or apprentices him to some substantial family man, who undertakes to act a parent's part. But if the same man sends a son to Oxford, though he might feel sure that, from the number of thoughtless youths who meet together, the temptations must be stronger than in any mercantile town in England, he leaves him without check, and without inquiry, for three years together. He may say, that he presumes tutors will render his vigilance unnecessary; but with what reason can he presume that any tutor can adequately perform a parent's part? Common sense must tell him it would be very difficult to do; common experience proclaims that it often remains undone. In every newspaper a father may read the fact, that there is no such check at either university as will prevent a young man from incurring as many debts as the tradesmen believe he will be able to pay. To this extent every father knows his son may every where obtain credit; but at Oxford or Cambridge he may be sure that he will be trusted to a larger amount, because, as a mem. ber of the university, he is naturally presumed to have more money at his command. ‘‘A second observation I have made about fathers is, that when they do attempt to advise or to instruct their sons, they evince such an ignorance of their ways, and such want of sympathy for their feelings, that they utterly fail in gaining their confidence. Once, and only once, did I ever hear a man say that he could call his father a truly confidential adviser, and a friend. For the most part a father and ‘father confessor' are two widely different characters. I have heard many a man declare, that if his father had ever manifested indulgence and consideration towards him, instead of a distant austerity and impatience, as if he expected to find him a very model of perfection, he should have been glad to have asked his advice and assistance, and that, too, at a period when he might have avoided the most ruinous consequences.”—pp. 337–339.
This is odd indeed. English fathers are, in other times and places, sensible and thoughtful; but as soon as they come into contact with the universities, they are besotted. The facts which he alledges cannot be wholly denied: but what can be the reason? Has it not occurred to him to inquire? A hint indeed is thrown out, that the father presumes that tutors will render his vigilance unnecessary. We fully agree with the author that this is an absurd presumption: still, there must be some reason, why people are cheated into the belief of it. Since he seems unable to help us to the discovery, we will venture a conjecture of our own. A large part of the English public has far too high an opinion of the moral excellence of those religious asylums which a dissenting foot may not profane. Superstition blinds even prudent men; and those who would watch anxiously over their sons in a merchant's counting house, fancy they are safe in a society into which they cannot be admitted without