« ForrigeFortsett »
appeared the “Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners Cmon Bosc
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
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 preformont.
LARGO; August 1853.
In preparing for the press this (the third) edition of Sir W. Hamilton's “ Discussions," the text has been carefully revised and corrected by the Author's son ; the Addenda to the second edition have been inserted in their proper places; and one or two references which appeared important, have been supplied, (see the footnotes on pp. 632, 634, 637:) A few verbal alterations, and some additions, have also been made, in accordance with MS. Jottings by Sir W. Hamilton in a copy of the volume which he was in the habit of using. (For example, see pp. 631, 638, 659.) With these exceptions (and apart from the difference of pacing) no change has been made upon the edition of 1853.
EDINBURGH, September 1866.