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pursuit of this object, may, immediately after the passing the
Little-go ” examination, enter upon a course of reading for the LL.B. degree. This will afford them more than a year and a half for preparation; and they therefore cannot justly object to being placed in competition with Bachelors of Arts who have taken that degree less than a year previously, and whose time before taking that degree must be supposed to have been fully occupied with the subjects to which it relates.
But the advantages which may be expected to flow from the change that has been made, are not in our opinion, limited to improvements in the studies of the University. The most enlightened Law reformers of the day have long arrived at the conclusion, that without an improved system of legal education, no effectual progress can be made in reducing the vast mass of English Law to order, or even in preventing it from becoming yet more chaotic than at present. Now what can be more propitious to the study of the Law than that it should be pursued in conjunction with other branches of learning? Sciences mutually promote and assist each other. System and arrangement are common to all: and therefore none can flourish in full perfection if cultivated only apart from the rest. The classical work of Blackstone, which has rendered invaluable service to English law, is due to the establishment of the Vinerian professorship in the University of Oxford: it may not be too much to hope that a scientific school of English jurists will be produced by the much greater encouragement now offered to legal learning by the University of Cambridge.
W. L. B.
[The English disputations which now form part of the Examination for Honours in Law were held for the first time on the 29th and 30th of November last; they were conducted by the Regius Professor and the other Examiners, and were considered to have been very satisfactory. The method of proceeding is this : the Candidate begins by reading an English Essay on a subject given him by the Professor : questions are then put to him relating to it. Afterwards a disputation takes place on some point of law which the Candidate has selected for discussion with the approval of the Regius Professor. The disputation must occupy an hour at least ; it is conducted in public.]
III. INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE EXAMINATION.
It is a matter of congratulation that the Examination for the Indian appointments has come into the hands of the Civil Service Commissioners.
The principle on which this scheme was based was most sound, the object of its framers was to obtain the ablest and most highly educated men they could for the Indian appointments. They meant therefore to regard knowledge less for the immediate use to which it might be put than as a criterion of its possessor's grasp of mind and distinctness of thought; they knew that if the metal were of the best description and well wrought, it could be easily fashioned into the instrument wanted, and be tempered to take an edge of the requisite fineness. They very wisely therefore gave no great prominence to Oriental languages or similar subjects which might seem to bear on the duties the successful candidates would have to fulfil. If they had done so they would have got men nurtured on worse intellectual fare and so more stunted in their mental growth, for no one will contend that Oriental scholarship affords a good liberal education; and, what would have been at once fatal to their plan, instead of being able to draw for their candidates upon all the educated youth in Britain not better provided for, they would have had to make their choice from among some few whose parents had destined them for this Examination from their early youth, and had been content to risk all their children's
prospects upon this single venture; for if one thus educated had missed an appointment, he would have found himself stuffed with an unsaleable commodity, and fit for nothing whatever.
The general idea of the Examination then was a good one; but so complicated a machine could not have been expected to work quite smoothly all at once; some wheels would be sure to be not quite accurately centered, and a good deal of adjustment would be necessary to make it act with precision.
And in fact in the very first Examination several defects became apparent; but so long as the matter was in the hands of Mr Vernon Smith, there was no hope of getting any attention paid to representations; he was not aware of the delicacy of the process he had in some degree to superintend. Examining appeared to him as straightforward a proceeding as governing an island did to Sancho Panza; and the solutions which he suggested to some of the difficulties might have been put in the mouth of that sapient personage.
The system of Examiningby marks, which grew up originally at Cambridge, is now brought into something like scientific method, and certain principles are well established as a basis of proceeding. The views of the Civil Service Commissioners on these points, as far as may be gathered from their papers and reports, are most satisfactory; and there is therefore every reason to hope that the defects in this scheme of Examination, which have prevented people here from feeling full confidence in it, will soon be removed.
While the Examination was in the hands of the Board of Control, complaints were justly made that the papers were set without any consultation of one Examiner with another, and that there was no general understanding as to the standard by which marks were assigned. No objection, on this score, can be brought against the Examination of July last, but the old defects arising from the regulations, which the Commissioners did not feel themselves at liberty to alter on a short notice, were as conspicuous as ever, and their effects were clearly beginning to tell.
It is now quite obvious that the present system is such as practically to put all those who have given any large portion of their time to Mathematics and Physical Science, at a very great disadvantage.
In the scheme, Classics and English stand for 1500 marks each, and Mathematics for 1000 marks. Now the term Mathematics is used, in its Cambridge sense, so as to include Natural Philosophy; and, judging from the value of the subjects comprised and the time necessary to master them, this inequality seems somewhat excessive. But in practice Mathematics do not even yield the proportion of marks which they were intended to give. For while three-fourths of the full marks may be got in the Classical subjects, in modern languages, and in English literature, there have been, since this scheme was adopted, but one or two instances of candidates obtaining more than half the marks in Mathematics; and in some Examinations not more than two-fifths were ob tained by any one; while persons, whose knowledge of the subject was considerable, obtained so few that they would have been better off if they had devoted the two months which they had given to get their Mathematics into order for the Examination, to hurrying through some new subject of a more productive kind. Only one wrangler seems to have presented himself at the late Examination; he was pretty easily successful, but Mathematics, the subject in which his
powers had been most brought out, only yielded him one-fifth of his entire marks. Indeed it has now come to be so well understood that for this Examination Mathematics do not "pay;" that Tutors feel bound to warn their Pupils that they must depend on other subjects for success; and Mathematicians have been so repelled that, on the late occasion, out of seventyfive Candidates, there were only seven who obtained the minimum of marks necessary for them to be reckoned at all, and only three of these were among the selected candidates. This shews that instead of the Examiners having before them all the young men of ability who would gladly get an Indian appointment, the area of selection is nearly confined to those whose studies have been directed to Literature rather than to Science.
In the first of these Examinations, before it was seen how the system of marking would act, Cambridge supplied more candidates than Oxford; whereas now Cambridge sends only one-third of the number that Oxford does. In fact the supply from Cambridge is thus almost cut off. Experience shews that men who can get Fellowships will rarely think of India : hence the first half of the wranglers and the first class in the Classical Tripos are not available; but the last half of the wranglers would supply men very suitable, and of a higher calibre than some whom the Government is now forced to take; but this class is almost excluded, because the study to which they have devoted themselves is understood to go for nothing
The small account that is made of Mathematics is the more to be regretted, as it is the subject which least admits of
which is the disease attendant on competitive Examinations. The power of applying principles to the working of problems shows that a man's mind has not been a mere receptacle, giving out just what was put in, but that what he has learned has fructified and become his own, that he has in fact acquired a fresh power; while success in a paper of general literature shews mainly that the tutor has directed the pupil skilfully to the proper articles in some Cyclopædia of Biography, and to the likely passages in Shakespeare and Dryden. Indeed the fact that candidates were commonly recommended to resort for a month to suburban tutors to be "got up" in history and literature, shews that a blot in this system of Examinations has been hit by persons who could turn it to account.
We now come to the cause of this scanty return of the mathematical papers. We would by no means imply that the papers were ill judged; on the contrary, on this last occasion they seem to have been set with great care in the hope of remedying the inequality which had been proved to exist. From the nature of the subjects, papers in language and literature always are more productive than mathematical ones proportionally, and this should be borne in mind in assigning the marks to the subjects; a tolerable scholar will get credit for every passage given him to translate, but if a paper is to test the highest mathematicians there must be many questions in it altogether beyond the reading of those whose attainments are still very considerable. Moreover, the restriction of time bears harder on a mathematical man, because a serious error will destroy the whole value of papers which have taken him long to write; while in translation or composition, a mistake can hardly do more than spoil a single sentence.
Again, a man who knows a language has it always by him, he has not to prepare himself for examination, and can spend the last two months very profitably upon English literature and moral Sciences, but a mathematician cannot do himself justice unless he has devoted this or a longer period to bringing his own subjects into a fit state for production. Like a lawyer he must refresh his memory from books, but as with him also, the books would have no meaning to one who had not mastered the subject. This inequality of relative productiveness in different subjects is the great difficulty of mixed examinations, in which the result depends on an aggregate of marks. Various plans of adjustment have been tried, such as limiting the number of questions to be done, and giving a certain choice, but such complications introduce other inconveniences, and when the probable amount of the error can be determined by experience, as may be done in the case before us, it is better to correct for it by increasing the number of marks in the required proportion. If, for instance, it is found that 1800 marks will generally secure an appointment, and that a degree of knowledge which in the judgment of experienced persons ought to advance a man one third of his way only yields him 400 marks, then the total allotted to mathematics should be raised to 1500. It might also be desirable to apportion the total marks between pure and applied mathematics.
It is worth observing, that we find practically that secondrate scholars come much nearer to first-rate ones in the marks got by their own subjects than is the case with mathematicians similarly related. Hence it follows that the inequality complained of operates more between second-rate men in the