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First, we must be clear as to the class of men with whom we mean to deal. It appears that at present about 260 men pass the Additional Subjects in the Previous Examination, which are required of Candidates for Honours; of these about 200 eventually take their Degrees in Honours, the remainder turn to the Ordinary Degree, and having already read nearly all the Mathematics requisite, are not fully employed for the rest of their time. The great majority of these are intended for Holy Orders, and would gladly adopt a course of study which bore more particularly on their profession; besides these there are many who could readily pass the additional Examination, and would do so, if it were made, as we intend it should be, a necessary qualification for the proposed clerical
Hence we might expect that about half of those who now proceed to the Ordinary B.A. degree, and this the abler half, would select a course such as we shall proceed to describe. It is no part of our plan to deal with the Candidates for Honours, and it is to be hoped that their number would remain undiminished; for by following up a single branch of study far enough to obtain a place in one of the Triposes, they will obtain a better education than we pretend by this Scheme to offer. Neither should we admit the idle or stupid men who can only just get through the ordinary subjects in nine terms, because their presence would injure the character of our Examination.
Before proceeding further we must consider the present Voluntary Theological Examination. This was established as an approximate solution of the difficulty now before us. It was not meant to be a compulsory Examination, but to direct the reading of such of our Students as after leaving us should devote themselves to preparation for Orders, and to afford them the stimulus of a slight honorary distinction; it has now become a Pass examination for which practically the University gives no teaching. It is true that there are the Lectures of the Divinity Professors; but the class we are dealing with do not resort to them to obtain preparation, they attend them in any term when they are tolerably at liberty, with little regard to whether the course is on the subjects for Honours, or for the Pass, or on that of the year in which they mean to present themselves.
Our University career has been thus practically lengthened to four years for the Clergy; and as the custom of resorting to private tuition for preparation for the so-called Voluntary Theological Examination has now become common, the expence of a clerical education as furnished by the University
has been materially increased. To obviate the delay, an Examination at Easter was introduced, the result of which has been that many of those who wish to pass it reside during the Lent Term, reading for it in a hurried way, and under no discipline, because they can remove their names from the College boards. This Examination was meant for those who for some time previous to taking their degrees had occupied themselves with Theological subjects; but as a great many trust entirely for preparation to the intervening period, a serious number of failures, and a vast amount of and that in a subject where this is an enormous evil, have been the result. Under the new arrangement the Examination which is to take place in the beginning of October will follow just as closely on the Degree in June, and the same evils will arise. Men will require some holiday after their Degree, and they cannot properly prepare themselves in two months ; thus they will be forced to wait until the following Easter, and the effect of this system will still be to lengthen our course by a year.
We would commence then by abolishing the Theological Examination as far as the Pass men are concerned, leaving the Theological Honour Tripos as at present. It is true that we thus take away an Examination affecting all, and replace it by a scheme which only provides for a particular class; but it must be recollected that it was never intended that this Examination should be made compulsory at all, and that therefore the Theological Tripos will do for the Honour men all that it was thought advisable to do for them when this examination was introduced. The inferior men who were forced into the Examination caused only inconvenience and scandal. It cannot be said that it is in any way a duty of the University to the Church to provide a general Theological testing Examination. The solemn responsibility of deciding on the fitness for Holy Orders of those who come before them must always rest with the Bishops. This Examination in no wise relieves them of this, and rather hampers than assists them; nothing of the kind exists at Oxford, and no want of it has ever been complained of by our prelates ; what they look to the Universities to provide is a liberal education, the professional qualifications of the candidates are for them to judge of. We propose then further that Students having passed both in the general and additional subjects of the Previous Examination should be allowed to obtain the B.A. Degree by an Examination in the following subjects, which should take place towards the close of the Easter term:
1. The Greek Testament. Such a portion as the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and one or more Epistles should be selected, and certain expository and illustrative books should be named-such, for instance, as the Notes on the Parables and Miracles, by the Dean of Westminster, Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, and the Life and Works of St Paul, by Messrs Conybeare and Howson—with which the Candidates should be expected to shew an acquaintance as elucidating the text. Some introductory work might be named
. in addition. The Students should be required to attend the Lectures of a Professor on some part of this subject for one term. Two papers at least would be required to be set in this subject.
2. The Historical Books of the Old Testament or Ecclesiastical History. There would hardly be space for both these subjects. If a good Introduction to the Old Testament were published, the first would be preferable. The latter subject, if taken, might either be confined to the History of the Reformation in England, or it might be made a variable subject, and such books selected as a portion of Milman's History of Latin Christianity or Ranke's History of the Popes, or of the Reformation in Germany,
3. Moral Philosophy. This subject, which should be made to occupy a considerable space, as being a very important one for our purpose, will perhaps be best studied by reading an historical account of various opinions, and some treatise as well: for instance, the Master of Trinity's editions of Sir James Macintosh's Introduction to Moral Philosophy, and of Butler's Three Sermons on Human Nature.
4. Rhetoric. Some instruction in this branch of study, which is now much neglected, would be very valuable, if taken in connection with practice in composition, which should also be afforded; a portion of Whateley's Rhetoric might be the book selected. The Students who select this Course should be put, for one Term, into the hands of one of the Divinity Professors for instruction in Composition. Some general observations on the subject might be given in the shape of a Lecture or two to begin with; and each Student might be required to produce two or three or more short Essays or Sermons during the Term, which he should read to the Professor, or submit to him for his criticism*. The
* The amount of success which has attended the sermon classes established by Mr Franks, to whom the acknowledgments of the University are most justly due, shews that a want of something of this nature is felt by the Undergraduates, and encourages us to hope that a plan like that we have named would be practicable and very beneficial. The staff of Divinity Professors will probably be
personal intercourse between the Divinity Professor and his class which would thus spring up would be most valuable. Something like what is here proposed is done at Oxford.
These subjects we are inclined to think sufficient for four Terms, if the standard required for the Greek Testament subjects be tolerably high. We leave it as an open question, whether these Students should be relieved from obtaining the Professorial Certificate; a knowledge of some Natural Science is most valuable to a Clergyman, but it is very desirable not to overload the Students with subjects or compulsory lectures. No doubt strong claims might be put forward on behalf of many other branches of study; but it must be recollected that we are not pretending to teach our Students all that they ought to know, for this would open to us a range of hopelessly large extent; but it is our business to select what, at their time of life, with a year and a quarter to dispose of, it is most profitable for them to learn.
It is believed that such an education would be truly a liberal one; by which we mean, one that will elevate and improve the man, as distinguished from the special instruction in his calling, which is to enable him to earn his livelihood: at the same time, both the mental culture and the positive knowledge which such a course would yield, would be especially valuable to a Clergyman.
The amount of Mathematics required in the Additional Examination at Little Go is more than an equivalent for that in the ordinary B.A. Examination. Against Hydrostatics, in the latter, there are to be set two books of Euclid in the former; and the papers in Algebra and Mechanics, in the former, are of a higher character than those in the latter.
It would follow, as a corollary to this scheme, that a place in the Theological Tripos should confer a degree on one who had passed the Additional Examination at his “Little-go.”
If any plan of this nature should be carried into effect, it would probably happen that some particular Colleges would make it their especial care to provide the best possible instruction in the branches of study comprised in this Examination.
The objection might then occur, that if such a College were to consist mainly of men of this class, all of about the same mental calibre engaged in the same studies, this College would become subject to some of the evils mentioned as belonging to Theological Seminaries. But we should be ready strengthened by the establishment of a Hulsean Professorship, and two Professors might if necessary join in conducting this course of instruction,
with the reply, that as long as the Colleges have the disposal of their emoluments, there will be in all a considerable number of Candidates for Honours; men of ability who will keep up a certain catholicity in the studies of the place and prevent the evils attendant on a society consisting entirely of men of mediocre intellect; and that the intercourse between the Undergraduates of different Colleges is quite sufficiently free to afford these Students of Divinity the good effect of that mixture with men of other pursuits, which is one of our great advantages. The Theological Seminaries, of which we 80 much disapprove, have been greatly encouraged, if not altogether called into existence, by the enforcing of our present Theological Examination on all Cambridge Candidates for Orders, and the consequently greater length and difficulty of the road to ordination which the University presents.
It should, however, be observed that the abolition of the present Pass Examination in Theology is by no means an essential part of the scheme here sketched out. The existing system might be left as it is for the present; and as the Bishops would probably admit to their Examinations for Holy Orders those who had obtained their Degree by the course proposed, without their having also passed the Theological Examination, this would be an inducement to many Students to proceed to their B.A. Degree in the way alove described.