Page images

sensual matters, if he is desirous of excelling in his intellectual studies.

I believe I have already mentioned the fact that in children strong sexual desires are often accompanied by and produce a dull intellect. In the adult it is often found that the inordinate exercise of the sexual organs frequently annihilates the intellectual faculties. It is an undoubted fact that we meet with a large proportion of unmarried men among the intellectual, and some of the ablest works have been written by bachelors. Newton and Pitt were single, Kant disliked women. “They do best,” says Bacon, “who, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter, and sever it wholly from the serious affairs and actions of life; for if it check once with business, it troubleth men's fortunes and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own ends.”

It was doubtless from such considerations as these that our ancestors ordained that fellows at the universities should remain single. Similar reasons probably had their influence in inducing the church of Rome to prescribe that their priests should take vows of celibacy.

Whether or not the Roman Catholic priest continues celibate does not much interest the English public; but whether fellows at the universities should be allowed to marry, has occupied a good deal of attention during the last few years.

A married resident at Cambridge, formerly a celibate fellow of a large college, has favoured me with the following opinion on the subject :

“As regards the celibate life of college fellows, many most practical reasons exist in support of that rule. A brief statement must first be made concerning the object of college fellowships. Their object is not, as many imagine, to make a monastic society; still less to perpetuate an order of clergy who take a life-long vow of "obedience, chastity, and poverty.' The main design of college fellowships is to assist young men who have talents but no money. In electing one of its members a fellow, the college has the aim in view of assisting a man of proved ability to fit himself without interruption for active service of Church or State. Just as a parent would make his son an allowonce in order to help him in starting his chosen career, so does the college give a fellowship, to make its best men independent, while they are engaged in work or study leading to an honorable course of life, whatever that course may be. And let it be specially noted that only to men of limited means does the college give this advantage; no one can be elected a fellow if he has already a certain income exceeding five hundred a year; no one can continue a fellow if he afterwards become possessed of such a certain income; in that case he vacates his fellowship ipso facto without exception. Again, by the general rule on the subject, no one can hold a fellowship for more than a limited number of years—ten is about the average. By the end of such a time as that it is fairly assumed that a man will be ready to make his own good way in the world, without requiring his college to help him. The fellowship was not given the man to make him “idle and affluent,' but simply in order to secure him the proper leisure for working;' to save him the time he would otherwise spend in earning his own bread. As to 'affluence,' the average fellowship never exceeds three hundred a year. In days like these it is but a bare provision, even for a man who has only himself to keep

“The above statement will help to explain what practical reason the college has for strongly dissuading its fellows from marriage. Would any parent advise his son otherwise? If only able to make him an allowance for some ten years, or a little more, would not the parent warn his son on no account to marry until he had secured his position ? Would not he urge him to throw his energies, without distraction and without incumbrance, into an earnest preparation for the actual work of life, and to wait, at least, till he is turned of thirty before he thinks of incurring new responsibilities ? A young man with private property can please himself in the matter of marrying early: but a young man dependent on others, be those others his parents or be they his college, is not free to please himself, but is bound in moral duty to secure his own independence first before he thinks of marriage.

“So far I have spoken of all fellows of colleges, whether they (reside' or not; by "residing' I mean living at the university.' Every fellow has the option of doing this if he pleases. Some of the liberal professions, e.g., divinity or physic, can be studied quite or nearly as well at the university as anywhere else; but, in point of fact, few fellows reside unless they have been appointed to hold collegiate office. And this brings us to another reason in favor of college celibacy. One of the objects of fellowships is this: to secure a class of superior men who will give their whole time and interest to the care of the college estates, to the management of the college itself, to the education of the undergraduates, and generally to the fulfillment of all academic duties. Of course a single man is able to do all this without interruption and with undivided energies; whereas a married fellow would be bound to bestow a part of his time on his family, would find his domestic interests often conflicting with his collegiate and academical, would be unable to live within the college walls, which are quite unequal to such an accommodation; in fact, a married fellow would not be a person of the class which the founders of fellowships wished to keep established. That colleges would ever be managed without such a class of celibates is very doubtful indeed, and some of us would call it impossible.

“A third reason in favour of celibacy is that it somewhat increases the chance of fellowships falling vacant. Of course there are many fellows who marry within ten years of being elected; and if the celibate rule be maintained, fellowships then fall vacant with so much the greater frequency. This is the more desirable, because there are certain exceptional cases in which the fellowship can be retained beyond the limit of ten years. If a man be holding university office, or college office, or be in orders, he still retains his fellowship although he has passed the limit. The reason is very simple; university office cr college office, in point of money, is a mere pittance—no one could bold it without additional income; and the value of the man's college services is fairly considered a claim on his part to share, as before, in the college revenues, so long as he is actually serving : a non-resident has no such claim. As regards the profession of orders, it is so

notoriously poor in point of money, that the college is justified in treating fellows in orders on different terms to fellows in other professions. Fellows in orders vacate their fellowships as soon as they succeed to a benefice (from college or any other patronage) exceeding in value a clear three hundred per annum.

“To sum up what I have said in brief: a fellow of a college is forbidden to marry (1) for the sake of his own interests, his own success in his after career; (2) for the sake of the college interests, its good and effective superintendence; (3) for the sake of prospective vacancies by which the helping hand may be stretched to younger men of equal merit.

“ And let it be noted most especially that the college does not contemplate a fellow retaining his fellowship above ten years. The ‘forbidding to marry' applies, in fact, to men between twoand-twenty and two-and-thirty. Does any phase of modern society allow young men of this age, dependent on others, to marry ? Surely the rule of the colleges is simply the rule of the world. I am speaking only of the upper classes, of course; but the college emphatically puts its fellows in the forefront of the upper classes, and by the marriage rule of that class they would clearly be bound to abide, even if the college itself did not, as it does, enforce the rule upon them.

“ However, the last University Commission greatly relaxed our rule of celibacy. Under the statute of 1858 all fellows of colleges who hold university office can marry now without vacating their fellowships. The number of university offices is somewhere between thirty and forty; all of them (except the divinity professorships) are open to laymen as well as to clergymen. Here is one avenue (not, it must be owned, an easy one) for the college fellow whose aims are matrimonial. But that is only the slightest part of the change; out of our fifteen colleges there are now no less than eight whose statutes allow of the fellows marrying; allows them with some restrictions, it is true, but with no conditions which fair perseverance and fair ability cannot achieve. These eight colleges contain in all about 135 fellows. The total number of fellowships at Cambridge is nearly 290.

“It is, therefore, tolerably plain, as far as Cambridge is concerned, that the old rule of celibacy has become a thing of the past, or at least it is so far tempered by modern changes and chances that no one now could esteem it'a yoke too grievous to bear.' At Cambridge, no doubt, as elsewhere, 6 persons intending to marry' must wait till time, position, and income all concur to endorse their intention. But looking on college office and college work as a profession, it cannot be denied that now it offers the same facilities for marriage as any other.

“ Though I am one of the many who profit in some degree by these and the like alterations, I still retain my conviction that the old arrangement was best. Of this, at least, I am certain, that for college government a certain number of celibate fellows are indispensable. If all the college officers were married and living out of college, discipline among the undergraduates could not be at all maintained, and personal influence, close association, would all but cease to exist. Each college is at present a religious house, with the very highest standard of morality, and quite unrivalled facilities of education. And the real management of every college depends on the body of celibates who live within the walls and devote themselves to the work. Every change which, in any degree, diminishes the number of such collegiate authorities cannot but be more or less injurious to all our university system.

“I do not for a moment deny that celibate life involves a great self-sacrifice; but so does every human career which has high and noble aims. Surely the universities, like every other sphere in the country, will never fall short of men enough to fill up their posts of duty-posts which none but a celibate is really qualified to fill. There are always men in England (and an ample supply of such men) who have strength enough to forego the indulgence of physical and sentimental passion, when they know that by such self-denial only can their work be properly carried out. Nor do such men regard themselves, nor can we regard them as martyrs. College celibacy, at least, is anything but a martyrdom; to some well-balanced constitutions it is not a sacrifice at all, but purely a matter of preference. These are the men who persevere in retaining their fellowships twenty or thirty years,

« PreviousContinue »