Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

This publication will not I hope be deemed superfluous. Its contents have, in great part, been collected and translated in France and Italy; in Germany many of the discussions have been separately translated; and their general collection has once and again been recommended in the leading critical Journals of America. In this country also, a considerable number are comprised in the “Selections from the Edinburgh Review” by Mr Crosse.

- M. Peisse, the learned French translator, has added to the articles, published by him under the name of “Fragments de Philosophie,” sundry important contributions of his own,--an Introduction, an Appendix, and Notes. Of the last especially I have frequently availed myself.

In reprinting these criticisms, I have made a few unimportant corrections; and some not unimportant additions,-in length at least, for the new extends to above a half of the old. At the same time, I was not averse from evincing, by the way, the punctual accuracy of certain statements advanced in them, which had been variously and, sometimes even, vehemently assailed. In one instance, the counter criticism was indeed of such a character and came from such a quarter, that I could not in propriety let it pass without a full and formal refutation. (P. 506—p. 524.)

In preparing an Appendix, supplementary of the previous discussions relative to the English Universities, I

insensibly involved myself in a complication of details, which, after a fruitless and wholly unexpected expenditure of time, I found that leisure and strength and patience all failed me either to disentangle or to complete ; I was therefore, in the end, constrained to limit the consideration, not only to Oxford exclusively, but exclusively to the education afforded in its fundamental faculty, that of Arts. And in reference even to this, had I anticipated the amount of tedious toil, which the mere collecting and verifying of the facts would cost, I might have been disposed to avoid what, though to me a real labour, is so disproportioned to any apparent result.

Apart from the Appendices, the new matter, whether of text or notes, except where distinction was needless, is enclosed within square brackets.

EDINBURGH ; March 1852.

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.

In preparing this new edition, I have carefully revised the various discussions; and the additions, now introduced, exceed, I find, in matter, a tythe of the former whole. These, in general, are marked by the prefixed date, (1853); but this distinction was not employed, as not found necessary, until toward the middle of the volume. Indeed, throughout, it has been but negligently observed, even in regard to entire notes; while, in the case of interpolations and corrections, it has never been even thought of.—The principal additions will be found under Philosophy,—especially in the Philosophical and Logical Appendices ; little has been introduced on Literature; and, except a few vindicatory or expository notes

[ocr errors]

1

and some unimportant corrections, the matter of Education remains, in the present edition, nearly as in the former.

But since the former edition was published, there has. appeared the “Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners' morto appointed to enquire into the state, discipline, studies, and revenues of the University and Colleges of Oxford,” | &c. I regret, that first from procrastination, and then from the circumstances previously mentioned, I was prevented from answering the questions which the Commissioners did me the honour to propose. I am happy, however, to find this opportunity of bearing what testimony I can to the unprejudiced candour and impartiality with which they have conducted their difficult — their delicate investigations; and it affords, I think, a hopeful augury of an effectual reform in this

great University, that, at last, so many of its modern corruptions have, under public authority and by members of its own, been so fairly and fearlessly acknowledged.—But while the spirit, in which the facts of the corruption have been avowed, as well as the general ability of the Report, ought always to command respect; we may, nay must, at the same time, not unfrequently demur as to the means proposed for their correction. And this, because what is to be here done is comparatively difficult : requiring for a satisfactory determination, besides general intelligence, a peculiar acquaintance with the theory and history of Universities; a kind of knowledge possessed by few, and which, therefore, without disparagement, need not be presumptively attributed to the Commissioners. — Their recommendation in regard to the all-important point,—the selection of Professors, may be chosen as an example. Here the Commissioners, taking no general survey of the ends to be accomplished, and of the means to be adopted for the accomplishment,-far less, of how the problem has been satisfactorily solved in one, and only one, way in all the

Universities distinguished for the uniform celebrity of their Professors : simply propose to leave the patronage of the old chairs untouched, and to vest the patronage of the new in the Crown; that is, partly to abandon the highest interests of education to the old contingencies, partly to resign them of new to the unchecked chances of ministerial ignorance or indifference, favour or caprice. How superior in this respect is the recommendation of the Scottish Municipal Commissioners! Indeed, this proposal of the Oxford Report, did it not repress hope, might even excite ridicule. For it actually advises, that the English Universities should, like the English Church, be turned into a field of ministerial patronage ;—that henceforth, as heretofore, an Oxford Professor should be a proficient in learning, only as an Anglican Dignitary may be a learned divine. But it has come to this : For centuries, the advisers of the Crown have not only tolerated in the English Establishment the one example in christendom of a national clergy without a clerical education ; but might seem even to have complacently regarded this and other ecclesiastical enormities, as enhancing the value of church patronage, and as leaving its arbitrary dispensation (public and private) more unrestricted. Now at last, however, these evils must speedily, either determine their remedy, or work out their natural results. Of these results, I may refer to one—but not the worst. In the Scottish Establishment, the professional education and relative trial of the clergy, though never formally dispensed with, has from cognate causes, been suffered to decline from low to lower; so that if, of all national communions, the English Church be the one deformed by the greatest theological ignorance, the Church of Scotland is the one illustrated by the least theological learning. But what has occurred in the one establishment, may, and with far better reason, occur in the other,-a disruption on the ground of the admission of incompetent pastors. For our Scottish

seceders were right, as to the general fact of such admissions ; if wrong,—rationally, in thinking that any incompetency could be corrected by the people, -theologically and historically, in thinking that such correction was ever in this (or indeed in any Protestant—in any Christian) Establishment, left to the people's arbitrary veto.-Far, therefore, from keeping down the standard of secular and sacred erudition in the English Universities to the low level of clerical sufficiency in the English Church, it ought to be the zealous endeavour of all well-wishers of Religion and Learning, to work out an effectual reform in Church and University, by elevating in both the standard of competency, and in both securing to merit its legitimate preforment.

LARGO; August 1853.

« ForrigeFortsett »