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the children of the middle and higher classes. If they have not had the advantage of infant school education, it would be well to form them into a preparatory class, before they are taught to read, in which they might be instructed in the names and qualities of objects, by means of pictures and other convenient illustrations. Perhaps such a class might be found useful in all the National and British Schools. In such a class, pronunciation ought to be carefully attended to, and every means taken to exercise the eye, and to enlarge the understanding. Afterwards, reading may be commenced ; the names of objects, animals, plants, furniture, tools, &c., being first conveyed to the pupils. Such columns of words will be found more interesting than the columns of spelling words generally met with in schools. These words will speak to the pupils of things with which they are acquainted, and in which they take some interest. The names will soon be known, and recognised, and written on their slates. A hundred words a day, well learned, will shortly give them a competent knowledge of the language, and the analogies, which they will not fail soon to perceive, will make their future acquisitions more rapid and easy. From the names of things, it will be proper to proceed to their qualities ; a red flower, a white flower, a black hat, a long pencil, a dry slate, a wet day, &c. After the more common adjectives are exhausted, verbs may be taught; a man mowing, a horse kicking, the cat catches mice, the horse eats hay, grass, and corn, &c. Then it will be desirable to proceed to connected lessons, short stories, Scripture narratives, and the various other subjects connected with the work of a general education. Pleasing subjects should be selected, while the power of reading is being acquired. With all the interest which can be given to teaching reading, by means of factitious helps, it will still remain a difficult attainment for a child to make. But many of the evils which have been formerly encountered need be obstacles no longer. By methods somewhat similar to that now submitted to the attention of teachers, children may be made good readers in a few months, even under circumstances not generally considered favourable to the growth and expansion of the infant understanding.
PHYSICAL STUDIES IN OXFORD.
In the last Number of our Journal, we inserted a short notice of the fate of a measure recently brought before the legislative body of the University of Oxford, which had for its object the promotion of physical studies in that university, hitherto so lamentably and unaccountably neglected. The measure proposed was, that it should in future be an indispensable requisite, at the examination for the degree of B.A., that every candidate should show some knowledge, however slight, of some portion of physical science. On so very reasonable and moderate a requisition, we should have thought there could hardly have been a difference of opinion among those who have the least pretensions to a liberal education. But the event proved otherwise, and we had to announce its total defeat. At the same time we promised our readers that we would recur to the subject, and we have much satisfaction in now doing so; in the hope that our observations may not be wholly without their effect, even on that learned body on whose conduct we feel bound to animadvert.
The board of Heads of Houses possesses (at least de facto) the sole power of originating all legislative measures for the university, and this improvement is therefore now set aside until its friends shall find some more favourable opportunity for again urging the consideration of it, which we cannot for a moment doubt they will do. Meanwhile, in the hope of co-operating with them in so desirable an object by our remarks, we have been anxious to draw the attention of our readers to this measure. It is by no means a topic of mere local interest: the universities are, or ought to be, truly national establishments; and it is the direction of public attention to their systems and proceedings which can alone make them so. The measure which we have referred to, is one of high importance to the efficiency of the university system ; and it is presented to notice under circumstances every way remarkable.
At a period beyond the first quarter of the nineteenth century, we find, on the one hand, a few of the professors and tutors of the University of Oxford venturing to maintain, that physical science ought to form an essential branch of a liberal education : and on the other, the united wisdom of the ruling powers of the same university solemnly and officially declaring, that physical knowledge neither is, nor ought to be, an essential part of a liberal education. This notable declaration may be attributed to the influence of more than one cause. Bigotry and pre
judice have doubtless had their share in leading to the formation of such a decision: but indolence and incapacity exercise even a wider and more pernicious influence; and an ascendancy of privileged inertness represses all attempts towards amelioration on the part of the more enlightened few. The examination system is a difficult and complicated question; the last time it was discussed, it occupied a great length of time and the result satisfied nobody. It was then clearly a waste of time to deliberate on such a subject; and it tended to no purpose but to produce the most unpleasant bickerings and disputes; the debates kept the dignitaries from their dinners, and interrupted the social harmony of their parties. Accordingly they reject all further consideration of the subject; they constitute themselves legislators, but decline exercising their legislative functions, because they are troublesome, laborious, and invidious. There is still a more disheartening source of difficulty and impediment, which, more than anything paralyses the efforts of the few who support these just and necessary reforms; the backwardness and lukewarmness, not to say positive opposition, of some who should be, and even profess to be, among the friends of physical science. But we do not intend to pursue these dispiriting topics ; we will hope that the representations we have made, may not have been wholly without effect on the minds of those within the university, who feel an interest in its real welfare, and only need to have the subject put before them in its true light to perceive its importance. Out of that exclusive pale, our statement of facts must have surprized many, who previously entertained very imperfect conceptions of the fearful state of ignorance in which a young man may (even with credit) pass through the university, which professes to be the only spot where true learning flourishes and abounds. The subject, it is to be trusted, is now beginning to be felt as one of national importance : and it may be hoped, that the interest once excited in it will not soon die away, nor be suffered to evaporate in empty regret; and though in the university a lamentable apathy prevails on this subject, yet even those who guard its sacred precincts will, we imagine, before long, be brought to learn that the appeal to public opinion will not be in vain. At that tribunal, this and all other questions as to the academical system must, from the nature of the case, ultimately be decided; and however impeded by the short-sighted policy of those who, from a variety of motives, oppose improvements in the system, we entertain no fears for the ultimate, and perhaps not very remote, success of the cause.
Late events have shown that the state of the universities is felt, as it ought, to be a matter of national concern to the legislature. What has occurred in reference to another question, not immediately connected with our present subject, has clearly shown, that the efficiency of these noble endowments is by no means a matter of indifference to the state. Founded for national objects, and invested with a character of accommodation to the wants of former times, they ought, by every rule and principle of justice, to receive an adaptation to the wants of successive generations as they arise, with the change of times and circumstances,
We have given the best attention possible to the objections and arguments (if such they can be called) of those who are hostile to these improvements in the university system: but we have been really unable to discover or extract any better account of their reasons, than what we endeavoured to give in our former article. We there stated them as impartially as we could, and by the simplest statement they stand exposed as utterly absurd and indefensible. We are quite aware that the learned legislators of the university are insensible to public opinion; and with a vast assumption of wisdom they refuse to assign any reasons for their decision, but solemnly affirm that there are insuperable difficulties in introducing alterations in the system. When those difficulties are fairly stated, we shall be able to judge whether they are insuperable; and meanwhile we shall persume to think, that, when they refuse to give their reasons, the real reason is evident. An oligarchy, who deliberate and legislate with closed doors, ought at least to be careful, in the present times, not to push their assumption of so lofty a tone beyond prudent limits; the principle of Parliamentary interference has been now recognized in other points, and we do not despair of finding in it a remedy for the evils we now speak of, should others fail.
We speak of course of the legislators of the university (i.e. the twenty-four heads of Colleges) only as a body, and by the acts of that body, we of course mean those of the majority. We are aware that the majority in the case we have referred to was a very large one ; still we are anxious to do ample justice to the few more enlightened individuals among them, who are known to be favourable to improvement, but who unhappily want that union of purpose and disposition to waive lesser points, for the sake of promoting a great object, which is the only means of accomplishing any measure of reformation. We are further persuaded, that the majority of this body (by a complicated system of action and re-action) in some
measure take, and in some measure give, their tone of illiberality and inertness to and from the great body of resident fellows and tutors of colleges. The complexity of interests in that system we shall not here attempt to unravel; we mentioned a few of them, as regards the tutors, in our last Number; and we only hope that, before long, the university will be purged from the noxious and fatal influence of such a system, which is most immediately and intimately wound up with that of church patronage, pluralities, and political influence. These are some of the heaviest clogs on the machinery of our universities and on its free and efficient action.
We do not rest our arguments on any confined view of this one particular measure. We are not pleading the cause merely of mathematics or of modern science, or of any particular department; but that of the equal claim to recognition and encouragement of every one of the great branches which are admitted to constitute academical learning. What we specifically complain of is the glaring violation of this just and fair principle in the exclusion of physical and mathematical science from among the essential qualifications for a degree, and in the monopoly given to classical studies. We do not speak merely of the neglect of physical knowledge as referable to a want of taste among the majority of students, but as fairly chargeable on the system of the existing academical institutions. In the only public recognition which is made of the branches of study, properly considered as academical requisites, for the first degree in the faculty of arts, viz, in the public examination—an exclusive, unjust, and pernicious preference is shown to the one single department of philology, while the only other branches received at all, viz. logic and geometry, (each restricted to the narrowest and most literal limitation--stand in the humble position of soliciting the option of the candidate; and whichever is chosen, is regarded as altogether inferior and subsidiary to the favourite and cherished study of the classics.
It is perhaps urged, and may be with considerable truth, that in every system of education due regard ought to be had to the varied tastes, capacities, and objects of the individual student. It may be said that it is a vain and pernicious attempt to fit all alike to the same standard. Still, when we look at the great ends of education, and more especially at the peculiar objects which should guide the course of academical study, and determine the nature of academical learning ;—when we fix upon those principles, by which to decide what particular departments ought to come within