Jowett and the University Ideal

THE expansion of American universities which has been so conspicuous a feature of the last quarter of a century is evidently slackening just now, under the strain of business depression. Academic revenues are shrinking; new endowments are rare; the number of students, instead of advancing by leaps and bounds, is well-nigh stationary ; and it is pretty generally recognized that any enlargement of teaching or improvement of surroundings that calls for further expenditure must be postponed to a more propitious season.

During this quarter of a century of expansion there has not only been material growth ; new ideals of study, new methods of instruction, have been introduced, which have already exerted no small influence on several generations of undergraduates. Yet one cannot mingle much with the younger generation of American professors without perceiving a certain uneasiness among them as to some features of the new system, a certain tendency to revert to older and apparently abandoned conceptions of academic duty. The lull in things external seems likely to be utilized for reflection on things internal. In this time of halt, of return upon ourselves, we cannot fail to greet with peculiar interest the record of the life-work of a great Academic in another land.1 It is from this point of view, and this only, that I shall here consider Jowett.

First a word or two as to the chronology of his life. Born in 1817, he received his early education at St. Paul’s School, and, after winning a Balliol scholarship in 1835, went up to Oxford in 1836, In 1838, while still an undergraduate, he was elected to the Balliol Fellowship. which he held until he became Master. After taking his degree in 1839, he became Assistant Tutor of his college in 1841 ; was ordained in 1842, and was appointed to the Tutorship which thenceforward engaged most of his attention until he exchanged it for the Mastership, — itself, in his eyes, a sort of glorified Tutorship. In 1855 appeared his edition of three Epistles of St. Paul, and in the same year he was appointed by the Crown to the Regius Professorship of Greek. The theological antagonism awakened by his book on the Epistles led to the salary — attached in equity, if not legally, to the Greek chair — being withheld for a decade. Clerical hostility was inflamed still further by the appearance of Essays and Reviews in 1860, which contained a paper from Jowett’s pen on the Interpretation of Scripture. In 1870 he was chosen Master of Balliol; and the translation of Plato’s Dialogues, which was his most considerable literary work, appeared on the very day of his election. In 1881 was issued his translation of Thucydides ; in 1885 his translation of the Politics of Aristotle; and from 18S2 to 1886 he served the usual term of four years as Vice-Chancellor of the university. He died on October 1, 1893.

The reader who has glanced over this short list of landmarks in Jowett’s life may be surprised to learn that in the Oxford and England of our own time his reputation rests almost entirely on his activity as Master of his college. His theological writings first attracted to him the notice of the world at large : his translations have opened the treasures of Greek thought to thousands who could profit by them, and to whom they would otherwise have remained sealed. But more than thirty years before his death Jowett abandoned all attempts to guide the religious thought of the country. He long dreamt of writing a Life of Christ; but when, in his later years, he was asked why he did not carry out the plan, “he replied, falling back in his chair, with tears in his eyes, ' Because I cannot; God has not given me the power to do it.’ ” And his biographers assure us that “ after the harsh reception of his theological work, he was haunted by the fear that, by writing, he might do harm as well as good.” His translations, again, appeal more to the general public than to the scholar; Jowett was not a great classical scholar, in either the German or the English sense of the word. In the field of university politics, moreover, he does not seem to have initiated any one movement of the first importance. But as Master he was a great and brilliant success, and in the college and through the college he exercised enormous influence. Early in his reign he wrote to a friend, I want to hold out as long as I can, and hope to make Balliol into a really great college if I live for ten years.” He lived for twenty years, and died knowing that he had accomplished his purpose. Never was there a Head so bound up with his college ; so keenly attached to its interests, its members, and its associations. Without wife or child, and for the last few years of his life without a single near relative, the college was his only home, and took the place of family ties. Never, in return, was there a Head of whom his college was so proud as Balliol was of " old Jowler,” or who was regarded with the same mingled feeling of awe and admiration and protecting affection.

How, then, did Jowett esteem his own work ? What did he consider the peculiar functions of the university or the colleges ? It will be observed by every attentive reader of the Life, first, that Jowett hardly assigned any specific function to the university as such, as distinct from the colleges; and secondly, that both for the college and for the university he laid almost exclusive stress on the two tasks of promoting education and of bringing about social intercourse. In his first sermon in Balliol Chapel after his election to the Mastership, he spoke of the college, “ first, as a place of education; secondly, as a place of society ; thirdly, as a place of religion.” He was accustomed to use very similar language about the university : " There are two things which distinguish a university from a mere scientific institution : first of all, it is a seat of liberal education; and secondly, it is a place of society.” Both education and society he conceived of nobly. He sought to impress upon each generation of undergraduates “ the unspeakable importance of the four critical years of life between about eighteen and twenty-two,” when the task before each young man is “ to improve his mind, to eradicate bad mental habits, to acquire the power of order and arrangement, to learn the art of fixing his attention.” “ The object of reading for the schools ” — the final honor examinations — “is not chiefly to attain a first class, but to elevate and strengthen the character for life.” As against those who declare examinations injurious, he maintained that “ they give a fixed aim, towards which to direct our efforts; they stimulate us by the love of honorable distinction ; they afford an opportunity of becoming known to those who might not otherwise emerge ; they supply the leading-strings which we also need. Neither freedom nor power can be attained without order and regularity and method. The restless habit of mind which passes at will from one view of a subject or from one kind of knowledge to another is not intellectual power.” On the value of social intercourse he laid almost equal stress. " His ideal of the work and office of the university ” was that it should form " a bridge which might unite the different classes of society, and at the same time bring about a friendly feeling in the different sects of religion, and that might also connect the different branches of knowledge which were apt to become estranged one from another.” He was anxious “ to bring men of different classes into contact,” for the benefit especially of those who had had no social advantages. “Jowett observed that men of very great ability often failed in life, because they were unable to play their part with effect. They were shy, awkward, self-conscious, deficient in manners, — faults which were as ruinous as vices.” And the supreme end which Jowett kept in mind for all this training of every kind was “ usefulness in afterlife.”

Towards promoting social intercourse much was done by college life itself, — by the mere juxtaposition of undergraduates in hall and chapel and quadrangle, by spontaneous association in sports and debating clubs ; towards education much was done by the stimulus and guidance of a properly devised scheme of examination. But both together were insufficient, left to themselves; another force was necessary, and that force Jowett found in the tutorial system.

I doubt whether it is possible to give anything like an accurate impression of the Oxford tutorial system to those who have not seen it at work. There is the initial difficulty of framing any brief generalization which shall be reasonably true for all the studies of the place and all the colleges. The practice varies from college to college; and in several colleges it has not seemed possible to extend tutorial supervision to the recently introduced studies in physical and biological science. It may be said with sufficient accuracy that all save a small minority of undergraduates, during the greater part of their university career, work under the immediate oversight and direction of a college tutor, whether he actually bears that name or the more humble designation of “lecturer.” The system is more highly developed with honor men than with pass men, and it can be best studied in the two “honor schools” of Literæ Humaniores and Modern History, which attract perhaps four out of five honor students. Colleges prefer to appoint their tutors from among their own Fellows ; and in spite of all the recent changes, the majority of the tutors still reside within the college walls.

The tutors of the last fifty years have been among the most industrious of men, taking their duties very seriously, and watching with sedulous care the progress of their pupils from week to week, and from term to term. As a rule, each undergraduate has a regular appointment with his tutor every week ; he is seen alone for half an hour or three quarters, and exhibits a piece of work, usually in the form of an essay, which is then and there read and criticised ; and these weekly pieces of work are so arranged that the undergraduate may acquaint himself, during the allotted time, with the whole field on which he proposes to be examined.

This conception of tutorial duty has been a growth of the present century, and indeed would seem first to have made itself visible about 1830 and in Oriel College. Very different was the condition of things when Gibbon went up to Magdalen in 1752. His first tutor, he tells us, was “ one of the best of the tribe,” but even “ he was satisfied, like his fellows, with the slight and superficial discharge of an important trust.” When the young Gibbon began to make excuses they were received with smiles. “ The slightest motive of laziness or indisposition, the most trifling avocation at home or abroad, was allowed as a worthy impediment; nor did my tutor appear conscious of my absence or neglect. No plan of study was recommended for my use ; no exercises were prescribed for his inspection.” His next tutor was even worse. “ Dr.——well remembered that he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to perform. Excepting one voluntary visit to his rooms, during the eight months of his titular office the tutor and pupil lived in the same college as strangers to each other.”

Even after the reformed scheme of examination for degrees was introduced in 1802, — largely owing to the efforts of Eveleigh, the Provost of Oriel, — some time elapsed before college teaching came to be directed towards fittingmen to obtain honors. “ That was the day,” says Mark Pattison in his Memoirs, speaking of 1830, “ of private tutors ; it was the ' coach,’and not the college tutor, who worked a man up for his ‘ first.’ ” The originality of the first set of energetic college tutors at Oriel — Newman, Hurrell Froude, and Robert Wilberforce — consisted precisely in this, as a contemporary put it : that “ they bestowed on their pupils as much time and trouble as was usually only expected from very good private tutors.”

When Jowett went up to Balliol, the new tutorial enthusiasm had already made its way thither, and his predecessor as tutor, A. C. Tait (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury), had made a great impression on the college by his assiduity and his charm of manner. Jowett, in spite of the shyness which hampered him throughout life, applied himself with extraordinary energy to the tutorial task ; and it was thus that, after a few years, he began to gain influence, and to win for himself the enthusiastic esteem of scores of undergraduates. Varying accounts are given of his early tutorial years; but it is certain that “ his devotion to his pupils was, at this time, something unique in Oxford.” One distinguished pupil of his between 1852 and 1854 tells us that he “ often took composition to Jowett at half past twelve at night.” Jowett early established the custom of taking half a dozen men of ability away with him in the vacations, to work under his eye for a few weeks, — a practice he maintained till almost the end of his life. Such zeal soon produced a crop of first classes for Balliol, and raised the intellectual reputation of the college ; the infection was caught by such of his own pupils as became tutors at Balliol or at other colleges ; and tutorial ardor, once introduced, was fanned by intercollegiate rivalry. As soon as he became Master, Jowett added the coping-stone to the fabric by “ establishing weekly tutorial meetings, at which he never failed to attend, going through the whole list of undergraduates, and satisfying himself by inquiry about the work of every man,” —two hundred or more ; and other colleges, again, imitated, with various modifications, the new machinery. Among the qualities desirable in the Head of a college, set down in some curious memoranda of Jowett’s, occurs this requirement: “ He should know how to ‘ put pressure ’ upon everybody.” His own Mastership left nothing to be desired in this respect.

Jowett was thus, in large measure, the creator of the modern tutorial ideal. What that involves may be readily gathered from a phrase used in passing by one of the writers of the Life, himself an eminent Balliol tutor. College tutors, he tells us, are held “ responsible for the position of a pupil in the class list.”

Yet as tutor he was more than an instructor. He wished to know his undergraduates personally, to influence the development of their characters in every possible way for good, to promote sociability and bring men together. Hospitality was therefore a duty as well as a pleasure, and “ he was the most hospitable of men. “When his stipend as Greek professor was increased, the fact was brought home to us his pupils by the increase in the plates and dishes which his servant piled up on the stairs leading to his room. He had undergraduates with him at almost every meal; he wished to know as much of them as possible. What Jowett did, his disciples who were tutors did in their turn ; when he became Master, he “ urged the Balliol tutors to do the same.” In later years, he rejoiced to fill the Master’s Lodge, from Saturday to Monday, with visitors of distinction, and many a joke has been cracked about this little hobby. But “ he never, in anything that he did, forgot the college or the undergraduates, and nothing was more remarkable in him than the pains which he took about the future careers of his ' young men.’ This was, in his opinion, one of the chief duties of the head of a college.”

So the ideal of the tutor was still further enlarged and grew to be what we know it: that combination of authority and comradeship, of dignity and bonhomie, which is often presented in forms of infinite attractiveness, and which has excited the longing admiration of so many American observers.

There is a significant passage in Pattison’s Memoirs where he explains the reasons which led the Provost of Oriel to get rid of the three energetic and successful tutors before mentioned : “ Newman insisted upon regarding his relation to his pupils as a pastoral one. Unless he could exercise the function of tutor on this basis, he did not think that he, being a priest, could be a tutor at all. . . . The Provost’s proposal that all undergraduates should be entered under one common name, and no longer under respective tutors, interfered with Newman’s doctrine of the pastoral relation. This was the point which Newman would not give up, and for which he resigned.” Pattison remarks, in his unsympathetic fashion, that if Newman had succeeded, “ a college would have become a mere priestly seminary.” But seven or eight years later we find Tait, at Balliol, —a most unpriestly tutor, — turning over in his mind “ what can be done to make more of a pastoral connection between the tutors and their pupils.” In fact, through all the changes that the last sixty years have brought, with most of the tutors laymen, and many by no means orthodox, with every effort to wear velvet gloves and to keep serious purposes well in the background, the ideal of the relation has continued to be, in a very real sense, a pastoral one.

So much, then, for the theory; now as to the results. None but a fanatical and unobservant adversary can deny that the system is in many respects highly beneficial to the undergraduates. The abler men are taught to work rapidly and consecutively ; they acquire a great deal of information ; they learn the art of presenting their knowledge in lucid and forcible shape. The stupid and the idle are made to do some systematic work ; and an enthusiastic tutor will succeed in striking a spark of genuine interest out of perhaps one in ten even of them. But there are some deductions to be made from the verdict of success. The tutorial system often does for the undergraduate more than is good for him. In one of his sermons of 1885, Jowett compares the present Balliol undergraduate with his predecessor forty or fifty years ago, not altogether to the advantage of the former: “ There is greater refinement and greater decorum ; there is also more knowledge and steady industry. On the other hand, there was more heartiness and originality and force among the youth of that day.” In that entertaining and witty book, Aspects of Modern Oxford, by a Mere Don, there is the same lament: “ There are certain indications that the undergraduate is less of a grown-up person than he was in the brave days of old. It takes him a long time to forget his schooldays. Only exceptionally untrammeled spirits regard independent reading as more important than the ministrations of their tutor.”

If the intellectual results are not wholly satisfactory, what of the social? Under Jowett, Balliol grew in numbers, till it outstripped all other colleges except Christ Church ; and the undergraduate body became more and more composite in social origin, — from the earl down, or up, to the clever son of the artisan. Jowett’s dream was that the earl and the artisan’s son should fraternize ; but as a matter of fact, they did not. It was notorious in Oxford that Balliol was one of the most cliquy of colleges. Jowett did his best to fight against the growing evil. He induced Mr. John Farmer to come from Harrow and establish Sunday - evening concerts of classical music, and Mondayevening smoking - concerts with college songs, as a means of binding the college together. But, with all his shrewdness, he failed to realize that a large and diversified college is incompatible with real acquaintance with one another on the part of the undergraduates. No quantity of college songs or tutorial “ tea and toast ” can make headway against the centrifugal forces.

This is the undergraduate’s side of the account; now for the tutor’s. The Oxford tutor — his admirers, like “a Mere Don,” regretfully acknowledge it — has become a schoolmaster, with the qualities and the defects of the qualities. Other and external causes have contributed to make him the overworked schoolmaster he is ; for the number of tutors has by no means increased, as it should have done, in proportion to their labors. Professor Freeman used to point out — as his recent biographer tells us — that “the university was becoming less and less a centre for learning, and sinking more and more into a mere educational machine ; ” and that “meanwhile the ablest works in philosophy and history proceeded from university men, indeed, but not, as a rule, from those who were resident, but from the cabinet minister, the banker, or the country clergyman.” This is not hard to account for. Let any one read the humorous Diary of a Don, in Aspects of Modern Oxford, with its picture of perpetual bustle from morning to night, and he will understand how exceedingly difficult it must be to get much time for steady reading or quiet thought.

Did Jowett realize any part of this? Hardly. And still there are some significant phrases in his letters. Writing to Stanley in 1852, and urging him to take the headship of a proposed “ Balliol Hall,” he was careful to point out that the position was “ not that of a drudging college tutor.”In 1870 he confessed to the same friend that he was glad to reach the Mastership, “ because I want more rest and leisure to think, and I have been overworked for many years past.”Among his Memoranda has been found a little set of “ Maxims for Statesmen and Others, wherein “Never spare” and “Never drudge ” stand cheek by jowl.

The pressure of duty upon the tutor has been very considerably increased by the growth of the “ combined lecture ’ plan. Many of the tutors, besides giving instruction to their college pupils, lecture two or three times a week, to all undergraduates who choose to attend. As a result, some of them perform what one may describe as “ professorial ” functions in addition to their strictly tutorial ones. As Freeman put it less kindly, they have “ become mongrel beings, — neither professor, nor college tutor, nor private coach.” It needs but little reflection to see how severe must be the strain upon the teacher who, besides being responsible for the examination feats of a couple of dozen undergraduates, tries to keep abreast of the latest investigations in the special subject on which he is lecturing.

Jowett viewed the outcome of these tendencies with much disquietude, but, characteristically enough, on account of the lecturer, not of the hearer. The substitution of “ prælections ” for the older catechetical instruction, he declared in his later years, was “utterly bad for the students, though flattering to the teacher.” Often the mere listening to a lecture is “no intellectual discipline at all.” Yet the “ combined lecture ” was in two ways the result of Jowett’s action and that of men like him. It was the inevitable result of the intercollegiate combination ; it was also the outlet which the professorial instinct, insuppressible in a great modern university, found for itself under the tutorial régime. In his evidence before the University Commission in 1877, Jowett urged the necessity of enlarging the professoriate in order to create “ a career to which college tutors can look forward,” now that they no longer look to preferment in the Church. But nowadays men are hardly likely to be appointed to professorships unless they have done some more or less original work in the subject of the chair; how men are to do that original work, and at the same time be college tutors of the kind Jowett would have had them, it is not easy to see.

Up to this point, it will be observed, I have abstained from criticising the tutorial ideal as Jowett cherished it, and the preceding remarks as to its deficiencies have been based chiefly on Jowett’s own observations. The readers of this paper probably do not need to be told that another university ideal has had its champions in Oxford, and that the tutorial system has not been without its critics. Of these the most vigorous and emphatic was Mark Pattison, the late Rector of Lincoln. According to Pattison, the colleges were never intended by their founders to be “ establishments for the education of youth,” “ schools for young men who had outgrown school,” but rather to be “ retreats for study.” The original object of their foundation was “ the promotion of learning,” “ the endowment of knowledge.” “ So far from its being the intention of a fellowship to support the Master of Arts as a teacher, it was rather its purpose to relieve him from the drudgery of teaching for a maintenance, and to set him free to give his whole time to the studies of his faculty.’ It was the Jesuits who first introduced “ the principle of perpetual supervision, of repeated examinations, of weekly exercises,” that is, the tutorial method, — at first greeted as a reform, but found in the end to produce “starved and shriveled understandings.” Pattison demanded a return to the old ideals, an “ endowment of research ” in some shape or other, even if it could take no better form than the creation of a body of professors whose true purpose was “ veiled from the sneers of Philistinism by the thin disguise of setting them to deliver terminal courses of lectures to empty benches.” That Oxford should do nothing but educate, and educate for examinations,was bad, he declared, for both teacher and taught, and fatal to the university as a place of learning. He had himself been a highly successful tutor, and in his earlier days had done for Lincoln something like what Jowett, his contemporary, was doing for Balliol. “ I have never ceased,” he declared in the closing days of his life, “ to prize as highly as I did at that time the personal influence of mind upon mind, — the mind of the fully instructed upon the young mind it seeks to form. But I gradually came to see that it was impossible to base a whole academical system upon this single means of influence.” Jowett, meanwhile, as his biographers tell us, “had no sympathy with the organized endowment of research, and he was strongly opposed to any measures which were likely to lessen the influence of the colleges.” Nor was he afraid to exclaim, “ How I hate learning ! ”

Whatever the purposes of the original founders may have been, we may be pretty sure that the English universities will never become primarily places of original investigation or homes of learned leisure. There is the crowd of undergraduates to be dealt with somehow; there is the obvious benefit that can be conferred upon the students, and the influence for good that can be exercised through them upon the nation. On the other hand, it can hardly be maintained that Oxford does as much as might fairly be expected of her for the advancement of knowledge; and it is scarcely seemly for her to be so very dependent for fresh ideas and new conclusions upon German universities and “private scholars.” Of course it is good for most scholars to be compelled from time to time to take stock of their labors and to put their results into teachable shape. It is equally true that academic teaching is bound, in the long run, to deteriorate unless it is inspired by the consciousness of widening knowledge and the hope of personally advancing the cause of science. No Oxford man who has had any experience in American universities will be inclined to underestimate the incalculable service done to the undergraduate by collegiate life and discipline. It is rather a case of “ These ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.” Perhaps even now forces are at work which will restore the balance. The professorships established by the last University Commission are beginning to make themselves felt; the number of “schools,” or curricula for honors, is being increased ; two scholarly journals, comparable with the best of any country, the English Historical Review and the Economic Journal, are being edited in Oxford ; and the ideas of “graduate studies” and “research degrees ” are in the air. Oxford has already much to offer the serious American graduate student ; and perhaps his resort thither will in some slight measure help Oxford herself to return to her older traditions.

When we turn from Oxford and Jowett to the university problem in America, our first impression, maybe, is of the total dissimilarity of conditions, and of the hopelessness of deriving any lessons from English experience. Yet the American reader of Jowett’s biography will be singularly irresponsive if it does not prompt some consideration of the functions of the university in this country. In what I have left to say, I shall confine myself to Harvard, with which alone, among American universities, I have any intimate acquaintance.

The peculiarity in the position of Harvard is that while the professorial ideal has definitely triumphed among the teaching body, the tutorial ideal is still cherished by the “constituency.” Most of the professors care first of all for the advancement of science and scholarship ; they prefer lectures to large audiences to the catechetical instruction of multiplied “ sections,” and they would leave students free to attend lectures or neglect them, at their own peril; they would pick out the abler men, and initiate them into the processes of investigation in small “research courses” or “seminaries;” and, to be perfectly frank, they are not greatly interested in the ordinary undergraduate. On the other hand, the university constituency — represented, as I am told, by the Overseers — insists that the ordinary undergraduate shall be “looked after; ” that he shall not be allowed to “ waste his time ; ” that he shall be “pulled up” by frequent examinations, and forced to do a certain minimum of work, whether he wants to or not. The result of this pressure has been the establishment of an elaborate machinery of periodical examination, the carrying on of a vaster book-keeping for the registration of attendance and of grades than was ever before seen at any university, and the appointment of a legion of junior instructors and assistants, to whom is assigned the drudgery of reading examination-books and conducting “ conferences.”

So far as the professors are concerned, the arrangement is as favorable as can reasonably be expected. Of course they are all bound to lecture, and to lecture several times a week; they exercise a general supervision over the labors of their assistants ; they guide the studies of advanced students ; they conduct the examinations for honors and for higher degrees ; they carry on a ceaseless correspondence ; and each of them sits upon a couple of committees. But they are not absolutely compelled to undertake much drudging work in the way of instruction, and if they are careful of their time they can manage to find leisure for their own researches. As soon as “ a course ” gets large, a benevolent Corporation will provide an assistant. The day is past when they were obliged, in the phrase of Lowell, “ to double the parts of professor and tutor.”

But the soil of America is not as propitious as one could wish to the plant of academic leisure. It is a bustling atmosphere ; and a professor needs some strength of mind to resist the temptation to be everlastingly “ doing ” something obvious. The sacred reserves of time and energy need to be jealously guarded ; and there is more than one direction from which they are threatened. University administration occupies what would seem an unduly large number of men and an unduly large amount of time ; it is worth while considering whether more executive authority should not be given to the deans. Then there is the never ending stream of legislation, or rather, of legislative discussion. I must confess that when I have listened, week after week, to faculty debates, the phrase of Mark Pattison about Oxford has sometimes rung in my ears : “ the tone as of a lively municipal borough.” It would be unjust to apply it; for, after all, the measures under debate have been of far-reaching importance. Yet if any means could be devised to hasten the progress of business, it would be a welcome saving of time. Still another danger is the pecuniary temptation — hardly resistible by weak human nature — to repeat college lectures to the women students of Radcliffe. That some amount of repetition will do no harm to teachers of certain temperaments and in certain subjects may well be allowed, but that it is sometimes likely to exhaust the nervous energy which might better be devoted to other things can hardly be denied. The present Radcliffe system, to be sure, is but a makeshift, and an unsatisfactory one.

The instructors and assistants, on their part, have little to grumble at, if they, in their turn, are wise in the use of their time. It is with them, usually, but a few years of drudgery, on the way to higher positions in Harvard or elsewhere; and it is well that a man should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him remember that his promotion will depend largely upon his showing the ability to do independent work ; let him take care not to be so absorbed in the duties of his temporary position as to fail to produce some little bit of scholarly or scientific achievement for himself. I have occasionally thought that the university accepts the labors of men in the lower grades of the service with a rather stepmotherly disregard for their futures.

Come now to the “ students,” for whose sake, certainly, Harvard College was founded, whatever may have been the case with English colleges, and whose presence casts upon those responsible for academic policy duties which they cannot escape, if they would. Grant that education — and education as Jowett understood it, the training of character as well as mere instruction — is the main business of a university, what is to be said of the situation of affairs ? That we do as much here for the average man as the Oxford tutorial system accomplishes, it would be idle to affirm. The introduction of the tutorial system, however, is out of the question : it needs the small college for its basis; it requires that the tutor should enjoy a prestige which we cannot give him ; and it is still further shut out by “ elective ” studies. Yet in its way the Harvard practice suffers from the same defects as the Oxford; it does too much for the men. Take the matter of examinations, for instance. Surely it would be better to relax the continuous pressure, — which after all is not in any worthy sense effective, — and to reinforce it instead at special points. It was the conviction, we are told, of Professor Freeman that “ if examinations were necessary evils, they should be few, searching, and complete, not many and piecemeal.” At present, there are so many “ tests,” of one sort or another, that no one examination sufficiently impresses the undergraduate mind. The kind of work done by a student who is so persistently held up by hour examinations and conferences that he must be an abnormal fool to “ fail ” at the end, cannot be regarded as really educational in any high sense of the word. By a great many men, the help showered upon them is regarded merely as the means of discovering just how little they can do, and still scrape through. To sweep away all examinations except the final annual one ; to leave the student more to himself; to set a higher standard for passing, and ruthlessly reject those who do not reach it, would undoubtedly, in the long run, encourage a more manly spirit on the part of undergraduates, and a deeper respect for the university. This I say with the fuller confidence because, when I left Oxford, some nine years ago, I could see nothing but the evils of the examination system as it there affects students of promise. I am now convinced that it would he possible and salutary in Harvard to add greatly to the awfulness of examination; and that much could be done in this direction without approaching within measurable distance of any results that need be feared.

From a natural distrust of examinations and a desire to encourage independent thought, it has of late become the practice to prescribe two or more theses during the progress of a “ course.” The result is that many a man has half a dozen or more theses to write during the year, for two or three different teachers. This undoubtedly “ gets some work out of the men.” But the too frequent consequence, with students who take their work seriously, especially with graduates, is that they have no time for anything but to get up their lectures and prepare their theses. Any parallel reading by the side of their lectures they find impracticable. But one of the best things a student can do is just to read intelligently. Certainly the graduate students, if not the undergraduates, would sometimes be the better for being left more to themselves.

These are, however, relatively minor matters. A good deal could be said about that corner-stone of Harvard academic policy, the “ elective ” system. I must confess that I have hitherto failed to see the advantage of the completely elective plan (for any but exceptional students) over the plan of “groups,” or “triposes,” or “schools,” with some degree of internal elasticity to suit particular tastes. That it is an improvement on the old compulsory curriculum is likely enough; but I do not know that any great American university has ever yet fairly tried the group arrangement. This, however, is too large a subject for the end of a paper, and I hurry on to my last point.

Of all the educational agencies at Oxford, Oxford itself is the strongest.

“ That sweet city with her dreaming spires
She needs not June for beauty’s heightening.”

Harvard, indeed, is truly “ fair ” at Commencement, and in the evening lights the Yard has always a sober dignity. But Harvard in the daytime sadly needs May or October for beauty’s heightening. The disadvantages of youth and climate may not be altogether surmountable; yet Cambridge surroundings could doubtless be made more comely and restful with comparatively little trouble. There must be a certain atrophy of the æsthetic sense when luxuriously furnished dormitories have no difficulty in securing tenants though they face rubbish dumps, and when rowing-men can practice with equanimity beneath a coal-dealer’s mammoth advertisement. What is much to be desired for every young man — most of all for those from homes of little cultivation — is that he should live in the presence of grace and beauty and stateliness. The lesson of good taste cannot be learnt from lectures, and is imbibed unconsciously. Here we must turn to our masters, the Corporation, and to the worshipful Benefactors to come. Is all the thought taken that might be taken, all the pressure used that might be exerted, to increase the amenity of the neighborhood ? And further, is it Utopian to imagine that some benefactor will yet arise who will enable Harvard to imitate the noble example of Yale, and erect dormitories that shall delight the eye ? Is it too much to hope that the university may soon be enriched with at least one more building such as Memorial Hall ? For many a Harvard student his daily meals in Memorial Hall, in that ample space, beneath the glowing colors of the windows and surrounded by the pictures of the Harvard worthies of the past, constitute the most educative part of his university career, though he may not know it. Only half the students can now be brought within this silent influence. A second dininghall, of like dignity, is the most urgent educational need of Harvard, and the need most easily supplied.

W. J. Ashley.

  1. The Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford. By EVELYN ABBOTT and LEWIS CAMPBELL. In two volumes. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. 1897.