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into Greek iambics, or Latin heroics, Sapphics, or Alcaics, as may suit the subject. In the afternoon, from three till dark, they are occupied on a mathematical paper. The second day is devoted entirely to the classics. The exercises are translations from the Greek and Latin poets, historians, and orators, and from the English into Greek and Latin, with a paper of questions upon Roman and Grecian history. The third morning is devoted to a paper on metaphysics. Of all the papers used at this examination, the mathematical is the most important, for the number of marks given to these questions is so much greater than those given to the others, that a man may become a fellow by that paper alone. The decision upon the claims of the candidates is made on the first day of October, by the “ seniority," who meet in the chapel, read the reports of the examiners, and finally settle the question by vote. The anxiety to obtain the honors and emoluments of a Trinity fellowship is so great, as frequently to impair the health and entirely break down the strength of the candidate; a successful struggle bringing, besides the honor, a handsome competence for life. The scene that passes during the deliberations of the seniority is described as one of great bustle and anxious foreboding ; not only the personal friends of the candidates, but the gyps,* bed-makers, shoe-blacks, and scullions, taking a lively interest in the result. The latter respectable individuals, it is stated, often lay wagers of a leg of mutton, a new hat, or some other equally important stake, upon the literary success of the several candidates.
“ Alma Mater” is a very curious book. It gives a lively narrative of the incidents of a student's life, during a residence of seven years at Cambridge. Mr. Wright, a gentleman well known in the literary circles of London, is understood to be its author. The various scenes of university life, from the innocent blunders of the freshman, to the last mortal struggle for the fellowships, are described in an easy and witty style. For common readers, there is too much perhaps of college slang, and too many bad puns. But still these are curious as indications of the tone and style of college society, and students' talk. Every body of men, set apart from their fellow men by peculiarity of pursuits, readily form a set of
Another elegant term in the Cantab. dialect, meaning servants or waiters.
terms, intelligible only to themselves and the initiated. Every profession has its slang, every college has its slang, and horsejockeys have theirs. In point of elegance, these dialects or jargons are about upon a par. The phraseology of the Trinity men, and their abominable puns, bring up vividly our recollections of college life at home; and our only surprise is, how so large a majority of students survive these desperate doings, and turn out respectable members of society. It is astonishing how much good health is enjoyed at college, in spite of them. College frolics are pretty much the same in the mother country and here. Mr. Wright gives us some edifying scenes at chapel, which bear a strong resemblance to certain proceedings in a New England college, not half a century ago. Dissipation finds its way to the haunts of science at old Cambridge, as well as at her namesake. Students divide off into gay-men, and reading-men, corresponding to our old classes, the geniuses and digs; and on particular occasions these classes intermingle for mutual consolation and support. But though scenes of a painful and even disgusting description sometimes occur, with riotous drinking and intoxication, there is no doubt that, in proportion to the numbers, the young men in universities, both at home and abroad, are as little given to sensual indulgence, as any other class of young men whatever.
From the foregoing brief sketch, the points of difference and resemblance between an English and American university may be readily perceived. In England, a university is a perfectly-organized community, for religious and literary purposes. Its enormous wealth, and the great number of persons resorting to it, require and enable it to have a strong government, with power sufficient to enforce academical discipline, and the laws of the land. An injury to persons or property may be promptly redressed, and violated law avenged. Our colleges are similar communities in some respects, but on a much smaller scale. Their government is simply academical. They were established in the days of small things, when money was scarce, and students few. But the country has gone rapidly forward, in population, resources, and refinement. The governments of colleges remain substantially the same as they were at first. They have few means, beyond the terrors of academical discipline, to enforce obedience, while in some colleges the students number their hundreds. With such
large bodies government ceases to be paternal, and academical discipline is not always a shield against outrages, both on persons and property. A college government may, indeed, have its remedy by appealing to the laws of the land. But it has no remedy within its immediate control, except mere college punishment, and the consequence often is, that high crimes and misdemeanors escape the notice of the law. A college becomes, like some pagan temples, to a certain extent an asylum for transgressors. In times of high excitement, and even at other times, deeds of violence are perpetrated, which would send the offender, in other walks of life, to the county jail, or the State Prison. But the young gentleman at college meets only a college punishment, in the shape of a rustication, dismission, or expulsion. There have been exceptions to this course of things; but they are merely exceptions; the rule is unquestionably the other way. We are persuaded the circumstances of the country will soon demand a more effectual organization of the government of our universities, and that young gentlemen, surrounded by all the blessings of liberal learning, will not be allowed much longer to set the laws of their country at defiance, by perpetrating outrages, which draw down upon all other persons the heaviest vengeance of society.
As we have before remarked, the basis of liberal education is the same in England and the United States. It is laid in the mathematics, the classics, and philosophy. But the methods of securing a due degree of study, on the part of the young men, are widely different. In the English universities, the student is left much more to himself, and his studies are more directed to general results than with us. He attends upon the stated instructions of the Professors of his college; but the greater part of his work is done by himself, or under the eye of his private tutor, and with reference to a distant examination. The consequence is, that his learning is profound, and integral. He has made himself, so far as his powers permit, thoroughly master of it, and can command all his resources at a moment's warning, before he ventures to enter the lists for university honors. His ambition is addressed by motives of almost irresistible strength. He is in the midst of a society, consisting of the flower of British youth, in rank, wealth, and talent. He is under the protection of an institution, venerable for its age, and illustrious for the
mighty names that adorn its records. If he becomes a senior wrangler, that honor places him for a year at the head of English students ; if he gains a fellowship, he is ranked, for life, in an illustrious body of scholars, free from the cares of the world, and at leisure to cultivate every branch of letters, in the fullest exercise of his genius. On the other hand, the inviting distinctions of church and state open in brilliant perspective. What more does he want ? But the British universities are, no doubt, too scholastic in their course of study and modes of instruction. Changes, required by the spirit of the times, are not readily introduced, and some exclusive regulations, originating in an unenlightened age, still remain to disgrace the present. The requisition of a subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, and the exclusion of Dissenters, are foolish, unjust, and absurd. They can be defended upon no principle of necessity, policy, or expediency, and the sooner they are done away with, the better.
In our universities, the honors are awarded according to daily recitations, and examinations have but a slight effect on the general results, by which the scale of rank is formed. This method secures a degree of punctuality and prompt attention to daily duties, which leads to habits of mind of the highest importance in the business of life. But it does not secure a profound knowledge of the subjects taught, or give the power of taking broad and general views in science and literature. It makes the mind adroit, rather than powerful, and fills it with fragments of the body of knowledge, rather than with the noble spirit of knowledge. Books are thought too much of, and subjects too little. The time we give to acadernic studies is too short, and the studies themselves are too many. If English universities are too tenacious of old methods and antiquated courses, ours are too ready to yield before the "march of mind.” The fantastic experiments made by some of our colleges, in obedience to what is respectfully denominated public sentiment, remind us of the fable of the old man, his son, and ass.
A word or two more about the government of students at college, and we have done. The young man at college is a very peculiar being. Apart from ihe general characteristics of his age, he is subject to several influences that belong to his condition alone. He has arrived at a period, when he is neither boy nor man. His voice has lost the treble of the
child, without deepening into the bass of manhood. His passions are beginning to sweep over him with tremendous energy. He has noble, but undisciplined, impulses. He is capable of generous attachments, and is a boisterous friend to liberty; whence there is danger, that his love of liberty will sometimes get the better of his love of order. If he has brought with him tendencies to perverseness and folly, their developement now becomes extremely active. The days have come for him, which a friend of ours once called “the agonizing days of puppyhood.' His vanity puts forth with a vigorous growth. Having been all his life before completely controlled, he thinks he ought now to be exempted from all control, and, by a process of juvenile logic, he comes to regard all who are placed over him as his natural enemies. He takes offence at something done by his tutor, and he magnanimously breaks the tutor's windows at midnight. His love of liberty is so tetchy, that a new study, or an additional exercise, rouses him to rebellion, and he forthwith proceeds to combine against the constituted authorities, and proclaim the rights of man. His credulity at such times is absolutely incredible. Tell him the Faculty amuse themselves at every meeting by devouring a roasted freshman with trimmings, and he believes it. Nothing is too monstrous for his rabid capacity of faith. Reasoning with him at such times is vain. A syllogism addressed to a northeaster would be quite as cogent. In dealing with such people, the times of trouble come round pretty often; so that we have heard the wish expressed, that boys, unless of special sobriety and promise, might be put to sleep at fourteen, and not wake up till twenty-one. But as that is impossible, they must be trained up by other means. This brings us round again to the necessity of some adequate control. The subjects of college tutelage will not be regarded as boys; and they ought to be treated as men, as gentlemen. But they ought then to be subjected to all the responsibilities of men, of gentlemen. They must be made to feel that they have no immunity from the penalty of violated rights, but that the strong arm of law is over them, as over the rest of the world, and its sleepless eye upon their doings.