« PreviousContinue »
were admitted except gentlemen commoners, and they were limited to six. Of the scholars several were bachelors, and the whole number of students actually under college tuition seldom exceeded twenty. But the scholarships, though not entirely open, were yet enough so to admit of much competition ; their value, and still more, the creditable strictness and impartiality with which the examinations were conducted, (qualities at that time more rare in college elections than now,) insured a number of good candidates for each vacancy, and we boasted a more than proportionate share of successful competitors for Universiiy honours. It had been generally understood, (I know not whether the statutes prescribe the practice,) that in the examinations a large allowance was made for youth; certain it was that we had many very young candidates, and that of these, many remarkable for early proficiency succeeded. We were then a small society, the inembers rather under the usual age, and with more than the ordinary proportion of ability and scholarship; our mode of tuition was in harmony with these circumstances; not by private lectures, but in classes of such a size as excited emulation, and made us careful in the exact and neat rendering of the original, yet not so numerous as to prevent individual attention on the tutor's part, and familiar knowledge of each pupil's turn and talents. In addition to the books read in lecture, the tutor at the beginning of the term settled with each student upon some book to be read by himself in private, and prepared for the public examination at the end of term in Hall; and with this book something on paper, either an analysis of it
, or remarks upon it, was expected to be produced, which insured that the book should really have been read. It has often struck me since, that this whole plan, which is now I believe in common use in the University, was well devised for the tuition of young men of our age. We were not entirely set free from the leading-strings of the school'; accuracy was cared for ; we were accustomed to viva voce rendering, and virâ voce question and answer in our lecture-room, before an audience of fellow-students, whom we sufficiently respected ; at the same time, the additional reading trusted to ourselves alone, prepared us for accurate private study, and for our final exhibition in the schools.
One result of all these circumstances was, that we lived on the most familiar terms with each other; we might be, indeed we were, somewhat boyish in manner, and in the liberties we took with each other; but our interest in literature, ancient and modern, and in all the stirring matters of that stirring time, was not boyish; we debated the classic and romantic question ; we discussed poetry and history, logic and philosophy; or we fought over the Peninsular battles and the Continental campaigns with the energy of disputants personally concerved in them. Our habits were inexpensive and iemperate: one break-up party was held in the junior common room at the end of each térm, in which we indulged our genius more freely, and our merriment, to say the truth, was somewhat exuberant and noisy; but the authorities wisely torbore too strict an inquiry into this.
It was one of the happy peculiarities of Corpus that the bachelor scholars were compelled to residence. This regulation, seemingly inconvenient, but most wholesome as I cannot but think for themselves, and now unwisely relaxed, operared very beneficially on the under-graduates; with the best and the most advanced of these they associated very usefully: I speak here with grateful and affectionate remembrances of the privileges I enjoyed in this way.
You will see that a society thus circumstanced was exactly one most likely to influence strongly the character of such a lad as Arnold was at his election. He came to us in Lent Term, 1811, from Winchester, winning his election against several very respectable candidates. He was a mere boy in appearance as well as in age; but we saw in a very short time that he was quite equal to take his part in the arguments of the common room; and he was, I rather think, admitted by Mr. Cooke at once into his senior class. As he was equal, so was he ready to take part in our discussions : he was fond of conversation on serious matters, and vehement in argument; fearless too in advancing his opinions—which, to say the truth, often startled us a good deal; but he was ingenuous and candid, and though the fearlessness with which, so young as he was, he advanced his opinions might have seemed to betoken presumption, yet the good temper with which he bore retort or rebuke, relieved him from that imputation; he was bold and warın, because so far as his knowledge went he saw very clearly, and he was an ardent lover of truth, but I never saw in him even then a grain of vanity or conceit. I have said that some of his opinions startled us a good deal; we were indeed for the most part Tories in Church and State, great respecters of things as they were, and not very tolerant of the disposition which he brought with him to question their wisdom. Many and long were the conflicts we had, and with unequal numbers. I think I have seen all the leaders of the common room engaged with him at once, with little order or consideration, as may be supposed, and not always with great scrupulosily as to the fairness of our arguments. This was attended by no loss of regard, and scarcely
ever, or seldom by even momentary loss of temper. We did not always convince him perhaps we ought not always to have done so-yet in the end a considerable modification of his opinions was produced: in one of his letters to me, written at a much later period, he mentions this change. In truth, there were those among us calculated to produce an impression on his affectionate heart and ardent ingenuous mind; and the rather because the more we saw of him, and the more we battled with him, the more manifestly did we respect and love him. The feeling with which we argued gave additional power to our arguments over a disposition such as his; and thus he became attached to young men of the most different tastes and intellects; his love for each taking a different .colour, more or less blended with respect, fondness, or even humour, according to those differences; and in return they all uniting in love and respect for him.
There will be some few to whom these remembrances will speak with touching truth; they will remember his single-hearted and devout schoolfellow, who early gave up his native land, and devoted himself to the missionary cause in India ; the highsouled and imaginative, though somewhat indolent lad, who came to us from Westminster-one bachelor, whose father's connexion with the House of Commons and residence in Palace Yard made him a great authority with us as to the world without, and the statesmen whose speeches he sometimes heard, but we discussed much as if they had been personages in history; and whose remarkable love for historical and geographical research, and his proficiency in it, with his clear judgment, quiet humour, and mildness in communicating information, made him peculiarly attractive to Arnold ;-and above all, our senior among the under-graduates, though my junior in years, the author of the Christian Year, who came fresh from the single teaching of his venerable father, and achieved the highest honours of the University at an age when others frequently are but on her threshold. Arnold clung to all these with equal fidelity, but regarded each with different feelings; each produced on him a salutary, but different effect. His love for all without exception I know, if I know any thing of another man's heart, continued to his life's end; it survived (how can the mournful facts be concealed in any complete and truth-telling narrative of his life ?) separation, suspension of intercourse, and entire disagreement of opinion, with the last of these, on points believed by them both to be of essential importance. These two held their opinions with a zeal and tenacity proportionate to their importance; each believed the other in error pernicious to the faith and dangerous to himself; and what they believed sincerely, each thought himself bound to state, and stated it openly, it niay be with too much of warmih; and unguarded expressions were unnecessarily, I think inaccurately, reported. Such disagreements in opinion between the wise and good are incident to our imperfect state; and even the good qualities of the heart, earnestness, want of suspicion may lay us open to them; but in the case before me the aflectionate interest with which each regarded the other never ceased. I had the good fortune to retain the intimate friendship and correspondence of both, and I can testify with authority that the elder spoke and wrote of the younger as an elder brother might of a younger whom he tenderly loved, though he disapproved of his course; while it was not in Arnold's nature to forget how much he had owed to Keble: he bitterly lamented, what he laboured to avert, the suspension of their intimate intercourse; he was at all times anxious to renew it; and although where the disagreement turned on points so vital between men who held each to his own so conscientiously, this may have been too much to expect, yet it is a most gratilying thought to their common friends that they would probably have met at Fox How under Arnold's roof, but a few weeks after he was called away to that state, in which the doubts and controversies of this life will receive their clear resolution.
I return from my digression,-Arnold came lo us of course not a forined scholar, nor, I think, did he leave the college with echolarship proportioned to his great abilities and opportunities. And this arose in part from the decided preference which he gave to the philosophers and historians of antiquity over the poets, coupled with the distinction which he then made, erroneous as I think, and certainly extreme in degree, between words and things, as he termed it. His correspondence with me will show how much he modified this too in after life ; but at that time he was led by it to undervalue those niceties of language, the intimate acquaintance with which he did not then perceive to be absolutely necessary to a precise knowledge of the meaning of the author. His compositions, therefore, at this time, though full of matter, did not give promise of that clear and spirited style which he afterwards masiered; he gained no verse prize, but was an unsuccessful competitor for the Latin Verse in the year 1812, when Henry Latham succeeded, the third brother of that house who had done so; and though this is the only occasion on which I have any memorandum of his writing, I do not doubt, that he made other attempts. Among us were several who were fond of writing English verse; Keble was even then raising among us those expectations, which he has since so sully justified, and Arnold was not slow to follow the example. I have several poems of his written about this time, neat and pointed in expression, and just in thought, but not remarkable for fancy or imagination. I remember some years after, his telling me that he continued the practice "on principle," he thought it a useful and humanizing exercise.
But, though not a poet bimself, he was no insensible of the beauties of poetry-far from it. I reflect with some pleasure, that I first introduced him to what has been somewhat unreasonably called the Lake Poetry; my near relation to one, and connexion with another of the poets, whose works were so called, were the occasion of this; and my Uncle having sent me the Lyrical Ballads, and the first edition of Mr. Wordsworth's poems, they became familiar among us. We were proof, I am glad to think, against the criticism, if so it might be called, of the “Elinburgh Review;" we felt their truth and beauty, and became zealous disciples of Wordsworth’s philosophy. This was of peculiar advantage to Arnold, whose leaning was too direct for the practical and evidently useful-it brought out in him that feeling for the lofty and imaginative which appeared in all his intimate conversation, and may be seen spiritualizing those even of his writings, in which, from their subject, it might seem to have less place. You know in later lise how much he thought his beloved Fox How enhanced in value by its neighbourhood to Rydal Mount, and what store he set on the privilege of frequent and friendly converse with the venerable genius of that sweet spot.
But his passion at the time I am treating of was for Aristotle and Thucydides; and however he became some few years after more sensible of the importance of the poets in classic literature, this passion he retained to the last ; those who knew him intimately or corresponded with him, will bear me witness how deeply he was imbued with the language and ideas of the former; how in earnest and unreserved conversation, or in writing, his train of thoughts was affected by the Ethics and Rhetoric; how he cited the maxinis of the Stagyrite as oracles, and how his language was quainily and racily pointed with phrases from him. I never knew a man who made such familiar, even fond use of an author: it is scarcely too much to say, that he spoke of him as of one intimately and affectionately known and valued by him; and when he was selecting his son's University, with much leaning for Cambridge, and many things which at the time made him incline against Oxford, dearly as he loved her, Aristotle turned the scale; “ I could not consent,” said he, “to send my son to a University where he would lose the study of him altogether.” “You may believe,” he said with regard to the London University, " that I have not forgotten the dear old Stagyrite in our examinations, and I hope that he will be construed and discussed in Somerset House as well as in the schools." His fondness for Thucydides first prompted a Lexicon Thucydi. deum, in which he made some progress at Laleham in 1821 and 1922, and ended as you know in his valuable edition of that author.
Nxt to these he loved Herodotus. I have said that he was not, while I knew him at Oxford, a formed scholar, and that he composed stiffly and with difficulty, but to this there was a seeming exception; he had so imbued himself with the style of Herodoius and Thucydides, that he could write narratives in the style of either at pleasure with wonderful readiness, and as we thoughl with the greatest accuracy. I remember, too, an account by him of a Vacation Tour in the Isle of Wight after the manner of the Anabasis.
Arnold's bodily recreations were walking and bathing. It