Page images
PDF
EPUB

perly shaped his language in such a manner as to leave scope for exceptions; for, after all, we must not mistake the Muses for the Virtues, nor suppose, with some philosophers of name, that there is no fair line of demarcation between the moral and the intellectual powers. Yet in cases which respect not an individual but a society, the chances of exception become insignificant, and the general rule may be assumed to prevail. Diligence is itself a very efficient guardian of morals. Where the time of a youth is altogether filled up with useful or innocent pursuits, those evil thoughts which are ever the precursors of evil deeds cannot easily obtain admittance; and, if even employments simply manual tend to prevent such intrusion, much more that studious and secluded activity of the faculties which is to taste what contemplation is to virtue. Independently, indeed, of the mental occupation they afford, the pursuits of learning, where they are at all properly directed, have a character of purity, gentleness, and elevation, which may at least be pronounced not far from morality. Leaving untouched the springs of fierce passion, and those of sordid interest, they solicit and keep in play those milder emotions which are nearly allied to our best affections. They waft us into other times and strange lands; connecting us, by a sad but exalting relationship, with the great events and great minds which have passed away. They at once cherish and controul the imagination by leading it over an unbounded range of the noblest scenes, in the overawing conipany of departed wisdom and genius. They dignify the maxims of reason by detaching them from the localities of present associations; and, at the same time, give them a character of touching force and affecting solemnity by mingling them with the memory of consecrated and imperishable names.

It is apparently by these means that liberal learning ministers to the moral temperament of the soul; but if the reason be doubtful the fuct at least is certain : there undoubtedly is something in an atmosphere breathing of diligence, and redolent (if the expression may be used) of classical delights, which vice and dissipation find it hard to encounter; as the evil genii, in the beautiful mythology of the Arabian Nights, are said to be driven away by the influence of sweet odours.

Mr. Malthus, in the pamphlet before us, commenting on the severe though vague accusations circulated of late against the morals of the College, in a very solemn and deliberate manner declares them to be wholly unfounded. He explicitly affirms that the students of the East India College are rather remarkably free than otherwise from the vices too often found in large seminaries of youth; and that they may very advantageously be compared, in this respect, not only with the undergraduates at our Universities, but with the higher boys at the very strictest of our public schools.

At

VOL. XVII. NO. XXXIII.

K

It being

At the same time he challenges those who may think proper to assert the contrary for the proofs of their assertions, and in an especial manner calls on the persons who have anonymously assailed the College through the medium of the public prints, either to discontinue their attacks or to reveal their names. So open, so direct, and in its terms so satisfactory a declaration, from one whose opportunities of knowledge are unquestionable, we should at all events have regarded as entitled to grave consideration; but when we find that subsequently to this calm but not therefore less absoJute or less bitter defiance, no proofs have been produced, no names revealed, and that the accusation has not been repeated, we are irresistibly compelled to draw a conclusion so obvious that it need not be particularly stated.

Not content, however, with a denial which, under all the circumstances of the case, must be considered as carrying with it a very high degree of weight and authority, the author supports his declarations by some testimonies of a remarkable kind. the main object of the moral instruction and discipline at the India College to prepare the young men for the scene of their public life in the east, nothing can be more evident than that the actual character and deportment of the generality of them after their arrival in the east, provided these can be ascertained, must furnish the best criterion of the efficiency of the education which they have previously undergone. This is, in fact, to trace the grand experiment in its results, to subject hope and conjecture to the test of practice. On the authority, however, of the most competent judges on the subject in India,-an authority also not lightly hazarded in private or careless communications,—nor from an unwise facility conceded to importunate solicitation--nor equivocally committed in expressions of doubtful import,—but explicitly, deliberately, and gratuitously pledged in documents of the most public and solemn nature, --it appears that the students sent out from the College at Hertford have, during the dangerous noviciate of the first few years in India, become characteristically eminent for propriety and rectitude of conduct; and even that the infusions from Hertford have effected a very perceptible improvement in the moral state of the junior part of the service. • The official reports and returns of our College (says Lord Minto, the Governor General of India, in his public address as patron and visitor of the College of Fort William, in the year 1810) will shew the students who have been translated from Hertford to Fort William to stand honourably distinguished for regular attendance,-for obedience to the statutes and discipline of the College,- for orderly and decorous demeanour,for moderation in expense, and consequently in the amount of their debt;-—and, in a word, for those decencies of conduct which denote

men

men well born, and characters well trained.' Other testimonies, less copious and direct, but to the same purport, are added; the latest of which is from Mr. Edmunstone, a gentleman high in the civil service of Bengal, who acted as Visitor at the Public Disputation of the College of Fort William, in 1815, in the room of Lord Moira, and who, in remarking on the improved and excellent conduct of the generality of the students at that College, makes a clear allusion to the establishment at Hertford as the real cause of the improvement.-We may observe that the fact of the improvement stated by Mr. Edmonstone would alone be decisive in favour of the English education of the young men to whose virtues he gives so honourable an attestation, even had he forborne all allusion to the cause.

In point of discipline, meantime, the Hertford College has been less prosperous. The spirit of insubordination, indeed, as it has in too great a degree existed, so has it in a much greater degree been imputed: De magnis majora loquuntur. Mr. Malthus assures us, what without any such assurance would be sufficiently credible from the success of the institution in other respects, that the disturbances which have taken place have been altogether temporary, and that the ordinary demeanour of the students has furnished a remarkable spectacle of order, decorum, and diligence. Yet four or five unpleasant instances of tumult appear to have occurred; two of them, we believe, distinguished by considerable violence; and, taking all these occasions together, there have been expelled about seventeen students, tive of whom were afterwards restored.

It is apparently a little strange that occurrences like these should be dragged into discussion before the world. Repeated instances of violent disturbance have taken place in some of our public schools; and, as to the numbers of the delinquents who have suffered on such occasions, Mr. Malthus relates the case of a single rebellion at one of the most distinguished of those seminaries, in which alone a greater number of students was expelled than has been similarly punished at the India College durivg the whole ten years of its existence. But, if there be any institution in which the occurrence of such events might be thought more than ordinarily entitled to pass without notice, it would be an institution which has not yet been confirmed by time and matured by experience, and the management of which therefore may be supposed open to unforeseen embarrassments; still more, if it be one which the most superficial observer must perceive to be necessarily of a very peculiar nature, and subject to very peculiar incidents.

For ourselves, the observations we have already offered on the nature and the circumstances of this institution at its first outset,

appear

K2

appear so completely to provide for a certain measure of difficulty and inconvenience in its subsequent progress, that we should have been well content to leave the subject on that general ground, father than enter on minute and invidious investigations. Yet, the discussion having been raised, and reflections having been cast on the immediate conductors of the institution, we feel that Mr. Malthus, in the name of the professors, has some right to make his own statement on the points in issue. We shall therefore exhibit so much of his representations as our space will allow. After mentioning that the power of expulsion had not originally been conceded to the collegiate authorities, he proceeds

• It must be obvious that no steady system of discipline could be maintained while the Principal and Professors were, on every important occasion, to appeal with uncertain effect to another body, where the student hoped ibat his personal interest would prevent any serious inconvenience. Yet this continued to be the constitution of the college for a period of six years, during which there were three considerable disturbances. On these occasions, of course, the Directors were called in; and although the more enlightened and disinterested portion of them, who saw the necessity of an improved education for their servants in India, were, unquestionably, disposed to do every thing that was proper to support the discipline; yet, the proceedings respecting the college were marked by an extraordinary want of energy, promptness, and decision, and indicated in the most striking manner the disturbing effects of private and contending interests. On occasion of the last of these disturbances in particular (that of 1812), the management of which the Court took entirely into their own hands, they detained a large body of students in town for above a month; and after entering into the most minute details, and subjecting all the parties to repeated examinations at the India-house, came to no final decision. The case was then referred back again to the College Council, who were desired to select for expulsion a certain number of those concerned, who should appear to them to have been the most deeply engaged as ringleaders, and the least entitled to a mitigation of sentence on the score of character. When this was done, and a sentence of expulsion passed in consequence on five students, a subsequent Vote of the Court restored them all to the service, and they were sent out to India without even completing the usual period of residence at the college !!!

If we consider the real difficulties belonging to such an institution, in conjunction with the uncertain and inetficient system

of

government above described, and recollect, at the same time, that, from the very commencement of the college, there has been a large party connected with India entirely hostile to it, the gradual rise and prevalence of a spirit of insubordination in the college will appear to be vastly more nutural and probable than a contrary spirit.'-pp. 71-73.

' It is but a short time since the Principal and Professors of the EastIndia college have been legally invested with those powers in the management of the discipline which are found necessary in great schools

and

and the Universities, and which ought therefore unquestionably to have been given to them at the commencement of the institution. They are called upon to correct and rectify a system of government which it is at length acknowledged has been essentially defective for many years ; and, strange to say! an inference seems to be drawn against the whole establishment because it is not already completed !-p. 73.

If in these extracts a slight deviation be perceived from the habitual calmness which so remarkably characterizes the judicious writer, yet respect is due to the feelings of men who, having persevered in a course of paivful duty, unshaken by difficulty and unmoved by solicitation, find themselves publicly and violently traduced as the authors of those very evils which their undeviating firmness has prevented from proving pernicious. Such certainly seems to have been the case of Mr. Malthus aud his associates, In us, of course, the subject excites no emotions. The improper restoration of the five students who had been expelled is precisely such an occurrence as might have been expected from the unavoidable peculiarities which we have attempted to develope in the original institution of the College, coupled with the radical and unfortunate mistake of withholding plenary powers from the local authorities. That mistake, it appears that the Directors have, with equal judgment and liberality, now rectified; and though this improved arrangement could not produce all its effect instantaneously, and though the difficulties of the College cannot as yet be supposed past, it is impossible not to consider the voluntary surrender of power which the Directors have so honourably made in this instance, as a very satisfactory pledge of their future proceedings. Let them only act up to the spirit of this truly wise and liberal concession; and there is every ground for hope that, under their patronage, united with the steadfast protection both of the distinguished person who presides over the Board of Controul, and of the learned prelate who has been appointed the Visitor of the College, the Institution will at length answer all the ends for which it was intended.

On the whole then it will be seen that, notwithstanding the exceptions we have ventured freely to make, our general opinion is decidedly in favour of this establishment, with regard both to its leading objects and to its specific constitution. And with the expression of this opinion we might take leave of the subject, did we not feel it necessary to make one remark on the debates which this question has excited at the India House. It will not be imagined that we are about to become parties in those debates; especially as we have already noticed (though we are sensible how imperfectly) all the more important topics which the question comprises. With regard to the fact of so strong a spirit of hostility against the

K3

College

« PreviousContinue »