**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]

Let me apply all this to Oxford. Among the four functions commonly recognized by the founders of universities, which are–1st, to find a set of halls or places of meeting; 2d, to find the implements and accessaries of study; 3d, to secure the succession of teachers and learners; 4th, to secure the profitable application of their attainments to the public service. Of these four, the two highest need no buildings; and the other two, which are mere collateral functions of convenience, need only a small one. Wherefore, then, and to what end, are the vast systems of building, the palaces and towers of Oxford? These are either altogether superfluous, mere badges of ostentation and luxurious wealth, or they point to some fifth function not so much as contemplated by other universities, and, at present, absolutely and chimerically beyond their means of attainment. Formerly we used to hear attacks upon the Oxford discipline as fitted to the true intellectual purposes of a modern education. Those attacks, weak and most uninstructed in facts, false as to all that they challenged, and puerile as to what implicitly they propounded for homage, are silent. But, of late, the battery has been pointed against the Oxford discipline in its moral aspects, as fitted for the government and restraint of young men, or even as at all contemplating any such control. The Beverleys would have us suppose, not only that the great body of the students are a licentious crew, acknowledging no discipline or restraints, but that the grave elders of the university, and those who wield the nominal authority of the place, passively resign the very shows of power, and connive at general excesses, even when they do not absolutely authorize them in their personal examples. Now, when such representations are made, to what standard of a just discipline is it that these writers would be understood as appealing? Is it to some ideal, or to some existing and known reality? Would they have England suppose that they are here comparing the actual Oxford with some possible hypothetic or imaginable Oxford,–with some ideal case, that is to say, about which great discussions would arise as to its feasibility,–or that they are comparing it with some known standard of discipline actually realized and sustained for generations, in Leipsic, suppose, or Edinburgh, or Leyden, or Salamanca? This is the question of questions, to which we may demand an answer; and, according to that answer, observe the dilemma into which these furciferous knaves must drop. If they are comparing Oxford simply with some ideal and better Oxford, in some ideal and better world, in that case all they have said–waiving its falsehoods of fact–is no more than a flourish of rhetoric, and the whole discussion may be referred to the shadowy combats of scholastic declamation-mongers–those mock gladiators, and umbratiles doctores. But if, on the other hand, they pretend to take their station upon the known basis of some existing institution,– if they will pretend that, in this impeachment of Oxford, they are proceeding upon a silent comparison with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jena, Leipsic, Padua, etc.,–then are they self-exposed, as men not only without truth, but without shame. For now comes in, as a sudden revelation, and as a sort of deus ex machina, for the vindication of the truth, the simple answer to that question proposed above, Wherefore, and to what end, are the vast edifices of Oxford? A university, as universities are in general, needs not, I have shown, to be a visible body–a building raised with hands. Wherefore, then, is the visible Oxford? To what fifth end, refining upon the ordinary ends of such institutions, is the far-stretching system of Oxford hospitia, or monastic hotels, directed by their founders, or applied by their present possessors? Hearken, reader, to the answer:

These vast piles are applied to an end, absolutely indispensable to any even tolerable system of discipline, and yet absolutely unattainable upon any commensurate scale in any other university of Europe. They are applied to the personal settlement and domestication of the students within the gates and walls of that college to whose discipline they are amenable. Everywhere else the young men live where they please and as they please; necessarily distributed amongst the towns- people; in any case, therefore, liable to no control or supervision whatever; and in those cases where the university forms but a small part of a vast capital city, as it does in Paris, Edinburgh, Madrid, Vienna, Berlin, and Petersburg, liable to every mode of positive temptation and distraction, which besiege human life in high-viced and luxurious communities. Here, therefore, it is a mockery to talk of discipline; of a nonentity there can be no qualities; and we need not ask for the description of the discipline in situations where discipline there can be none. One slight anomaly I have heard of as varying pro tanto the uniform features of this picture. In Glasgow I have heard of an arrangement by which young academicians are placed in the family of a professor. Here, as members of a private household, and that household under the presiding eye of a conscientious, paternal, and judicious scholar, doubtless they would enjoy as absolute a shelter from peril and worldly contagion as parents could wish; but not more absolute, I affirm, than belongs, unavoidably, to the monastic seclusion of an Oxford college–the gates of which open to no egress after nine o’clock at night, nor after eleven to any ingress which is not regularly reported to a proper officer of the establishment. The two forms of restraint are, as respects the effectual amount of control, equal; and were they equally diffused, Glasgow and Oxford would, in this point, stand upon the same level of discipline. But it happens that the Glasgow case was a personal accident; personal, both as regarded him who volunteered the exercise of this control, and those who volunteered to appropriate its benefits; whereas the Oxford case belongs to the very system, is coextensive with the body of undergraduates, and, from the very arrangement of Oxford life, is liable to no decay or intermission.