pils are under no obligation to at. alluded to are ever studied after they tend their lectures, both reason and are written ; and, if they were, how experience would seem to teach us, great a proportion of what they conthat some compulsion to attend the tain might not be found much bet. public lectures at Oxford is abs ter told in a hundred books; and Jutely necessary:*

how much of what is new is mis-staMany foreible arguments are sta- ted and unintelligible. • People,' ted in the pamphlets above referred says Doctor Johnson, ' have now-ato in favour of the preference due to days got a strangeidea that every thing the Oxford system of college lectures, is to be taught by lectures ; now I when compared with the mode of in- cannot see that lectures can do so struction from the chair of a public much good as reading the books professor ; while, at the same time, it from which the lectures are taken. I is not denied that Oxford is deficient know nothing that can be best taught in the latter, and that “ the best me. by lectures, except where experithod would be that which should ments are to be shewn. You may unite both more completely than is teach chemistry by lectures ; you the case with any modern university.” may teach making of shoes by, lec. “ However splendid a spectacle it tures. Now, although this opinion may be," observes Mr Drummond, is not to be understood as denying “ to see hundreds of young men all advantages to oral over written crowded together in a lecture room, instruction, yet, upon the whole, catching every word that is uttered there is much good sense in the refrom the chair, as if it were an ora- mark. Knowledge is now too gecle, and carrying off volumes of notes, nerally diffused in books to leave far exceeding in size the manuscripts much to be learned at a university, of the professor, I have always doubt. which may not be learned else. ed whether the instruction that is where. The great advantage of an thus collected be not more specious academical education arises chiefly than solid. The utility of this mode from the love of learning which is inof instruction several centuries ago spired by the genius of the place, was manifest, when there were scarce. from the collision of many minds, ly any books, and knowledge was from the ardour which hope of disconfined to a few; but I should be tinction kindles, and from the advice glad to know, wherever the practice and assistance in the use of books prevails at the present day, how ma- which young men derive from those ny of those volumes of notes already of more experience than themselves.

At Edinburgh, the students educated for the church, having been obliged to attend the lectures in natural philosophy, without any previous obligation to attend the mathematical lectures, have in general left the university very ili informed ia both of these departments. The present professor of mathematics has, however, lately obtained a regulation from the Senatus Academicus, enforcing attendance on his lectures, on the part of the students of divinity, which cannot fail to be attended with the most beneficial consequences. Dr Smith's opinions, in truth, in favour of leaving the utility of public instructors entirely dependent on their popularity, have never been acted on even in Scotland. Compulsion is more or less tisca in all the Scottish universities; and one of them the professors have lately received an increase of salaries.

The knowledge that is actually gain- attempt, in the short period of acaed is less to be considered than the demical residence, to convey a few foundation that is laid for future slight and superficial outlines of the improvement. The habits that are whole mass of useful knowledge acquired, the associations that are which learning and genius have accuformed, the bias and turn of mind, mulated in the revolution of ages. are of infinitely more importance Thus it is that the most ingenious than a superficial smattering of the man is frequently the worst tutor or various arts and sciences. The lat- professor. Besides, it is obvious that ter may sometimes be more directly a lecture, delivered to a popular asand immediately useful in the busi- sembly of several hundred persons, ness of life, but it is from the former cannot be adapted to the capacities only that any real and solid advan. of the whole. The professor cannot, tage can ever be derived. The one like the tutor of a college, know the is the seed scattered on the surface previous habits and acquirements of of the earth, which quickly springs his pupils, and separate them into up and ripens, but is withered and small classes accordingly, where he gone before the harvest ; the other can stop to explain every difficulty is the slow, though certain pro- as it occurs. In a public lecture, the duce, which rewards the labour of instruction conveyed may be of great the husbandman. “ Hi sunt, qui service to those who have made some parva facile faciunt : et audacia pro- progress in their studies ; but if the vecti, quidquid illic possunt, statim subject be new to them, and still ostendunt. Possunt autem id de. more, if they either trust to it alto. mum, quod in proximo est: verba gether for information, or, at best, continuant ; haec vultu interrito nul- content themselves with hastily refers la tardati verecundia, proferunt : non ring to the books of which they learn multum præstant, sed cito : non the names and characters from the subest vera vis, nec penitus immissis professor, their knowledge may be radicibus nititur: ut quae summo solo extensive, but it must be superficial, sparsa sunt semina, celerius se effun- their principles ill founded, their dedunt: et imitatæ spicas herbulæ ina- ductions rash, and all their habits nibus aristis ante messem flauescunt.* of thinking unsound. The desultory As to discoveries in science, they are acquisition of general knowledge may quite foreign from the instruction of suit some great geniuses, who catch youth. If they are not completely the truth as it were by intuition, and ascertained, they tend only to mis- can snatch at one glance all that is lead ; and as it is at best but the ele. useful and important in the accumuments of knowledge that can be lated wisdom of past ages ; but the taught, it is of importance to teach, evils that arise to the ordinary herd in the first place, those old and esta- of men, from a precocious system of blished principles that are beyond education, are serious and alarming." the reach of controversy ; and, with For other remarks of a similar tenregard to more modernimprovements, dency, we must be content to refer rather to be satisfied with pointing to the pamphlet from which this pasout the best mode of study, than to sage is taken, and to the first Reply

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to the Edinburgh Review. It is im- are parents or guardians to postpone possible in this place to do any jus- his immediate advantage to any betice to the argument; but the pre- nefits that may arise to future ages ceding extract may possibly be of from contributing their individual assome use in directing the attention of sistance in the production of two or our Scottish readers to a view of the three professors of splendid talents to subject, which they are not much ac- adorn the history of science, and becustomed to consider.

stow a temporary celebrity on the The celebrity of some systems of scene of their labours? If there be education exclusively carried on by any truth in the position, that to propublic lectures, has been traced to the mote the boundaries of human knowlocal and peculiar attractions which ledge, and to cultivate the minds of the professorships possess for men of youth, are occupations totally disfirst-rate talents and acquirements, tinct from each other, and not unfreand the inducements which the dis- quently at variance, it must be adchargeoftheirofficial duties affords for mitted to be a great error and a gross the continualexertion of their powers: delusion to confound the fame of pub. And if the principal object of a uni. lic professors in the literary world versity were the advancement of learn. with the merits of a system of edu. ing and science, and not the instruc- cation with which they happen to be tion of youth, those systems might connected. be allowed to claim the preference We have endeavoured to render which sacrifice the latter to the fore this account of the studies pursued mer; but if universities have been at Oxford as impartial as possible ; instituted for the pupils, and not for and have taken care not to confound the professors, the young men who what is efficient with what is nominal: frequent them for the cultivation of we fear, however, that it is in some their minds, have a right to complain, measure imperfect, as our limits will if their interests are in any instance not permit us to enlarge on the va. neglected, though the whole world rious important topics which have besides should reap incalculable bene. hastily passed before us in the course fit from the labours of their teachers. of the preceding observations. We It has been stated by Doctor Adam had intended to conclude with some Smith and other writers, that the edu- notice of the arguments by which the cation which is most likely to pro- authors quoted above have defended duce a man of solid learning and the importance which is attached to knowledge, is to impose upon him classical learning at Oxford ; but we the necessity of teaching others, and, have not room for the ample consideabove all, to oblige him to teach by ration which they demand, and we compositions of his own and in pub- cannot hope to say any thing very lic ; and it is an undoubted fact, that new or interesting in this place on a a large proportion of the most valua- subject on which so much has been ble acquisitions in literature and already written. One opinion is im. science have in all ages been made by plied in what has been said above, those whose talents were called into that, even admitting classical studies exertion by the instruction of youth. to possess all the merits for which But when the question is, to what their fondest advocates contend, one university a young man is to be sent, year may be profitably subtracted from the time now employed in pre. this system are too dearly purchased paration for the public examinations, by the neglect or exclusion of the and devoted to the study of natural sciences already mentioned during a and moral philosophy and political period of time so inconsistent with economy. It cannot be disputed the shortness of human life. Were that the present system is calculated the alteration made which we havevento produce habits of accurate inves- tured to suggest, there cannot be a tigation, and laborious exertion, to- doubt that Oxford would soon aftally unknown in those seminaries ford the model of a system of public where education is carried on by the education far more perfect than any popular mode of public lectures ; of which the world can at present Though we are inclined to think that boast. these and all the other advantages of


In the last volume of the Annual freedom of scientific investigation. Register, we gave a historical view Some of the most illustrious ornaof the progress of the different scien- ments of the sciences on the contices, from the first dawnings of phi- nent have been reduced to abject polosophy to the present times. This verty. Even in France, the country view, though much shorter than we which has been the instrument emcould have wished, was as extensive ployed in crushing the other nations as consisted with our limits. Our ob- of Europe, the trade and manufac. ject, at present, is to lay before our tures have been nearly annihilated, readers a view of the additions which and learning, as a necessary consehave been made to the different sci- quence, has been discouraged and ences during the course of the year has declined. Britain, favoured by 1809-10. Though we shall confineour. its insular situation, by its naval suselves as nearly as possible to that pe- periority, and by the energy of its riod, it will not be in our power to government, has hitherto escaped the do so entirely; for we cannot al. storm which has laid waste almost ways make a discovery intelligible to every other part of Europe. It is our readers, without laying before in Britain, accordingly, that the them the circumstances, or the train greatest scientific discoveries have of investigation, that led to it, which been made. may sometimes oblige us to go

far- Whoever has paid any attention to ther back than the period of which the history of the sciences, must be we professedly treat.

We must aware that there are certain æras warn our readers, too, that the pre- when the general attention of scien. sent period is unfriendly to science of tific men is drawn to peculiar scienalmost every description. The aw- ces almost exclusively. Thus, for ful contest in which Europe is enga- example, during the greatest part of ged has a tendency to withdraw the the seventeenth century, mathema. attention of men from the peaceful tics almost solely occupied the atten. pursuits of science, and to fix them tion of scientific men. About the upon political considerations. The middle of the eighteenth century, iron hand of despotism has crushed electricity became the fashionable stu. some of the finest regions of Europe, dy, and every person of a liberal eduand banished from them even the cation was under the necessity of ma


« ForrigeFortsett »