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which had begun in many quarters to display itself, had already directed considerable attention to the condition of public schools. The range of classical reading, in itself confined, and with no admixture of other information, had been subject to vehement attacks from the liberal party generally, on the ground of its alleged narrowness and inutility. And the more undoubted evil of the absence of systematic attempts to give a more directly Christian character to what constituted the education of the sons of the whole English aristocracy, was becoming more and more a scandal in the eyes of religious men, who at the close of the last century and the beginning of this Wilberforce, for example, and Bowdler—had lifted up their voices against it. A complete reformation, or a complete destruction of the whole system seemed to many persons sooner or later to be inevitable. The difficulty, however, of making the first step, where the alleged objection to alteration was its impracticability, was not to be easily surmounted. The mere resistance to change which clings to old institutions, was in itself a considerable obstacle, and, in the case of some of the public schools, from the nature of their constitution, in the first instance almost insuperable; and whether amongst those who were engaged in the existing system, or those who were most vehemently opposed to it, for opposite, but obvious reasons, it must have been extremely difficult to find a man who would attempt, or if he attempted, carry through, any extensive improvement.
It was at this juncture that Dr. Arnold was elected head-master of a school which, whilst it presented a fair average specimen of the public schools at that
time, yet by the nature of the institution imposed fewer shackles on its head, and offered a more open field for alteration than was the case at least with Eton or Winchester. The situation itself, in spite of the publicity, and to a certain degree formality, which it entailed upon him, was in many respects remarkably suited to his natural tastes ;—to his love of tuition, which had now grown so strongly upon him, that he declared sometimes, that he could hardly live without it; to the vigour and spirits which fitted him rather to deal with the young than the old; to the desire of carrying out his favourite ideas of uniting things secular with things spiritual, and of introducing the highest principles of action into spheres comparatively uncongenial to their reception.
Even his general interest in public matters was not without its use in his new station. Many, indeed, both of his admirers and of his opponents, used to lament that a man with such views and pursuits should be placed in such a situation. What a pity,” it was said on the one hand,“ that a man fit to be a statesman should be employed in teaching schoolboys.” “ What a shame,” it was said on the other hand,“ that the head-master of Rugby should be employed in writing essays and pamphlets.” But, even had there been no connexion between the two spheres of his interest, and had the inconvenience resulting from his public prominence been far greater than it was, it would have been the necessary price of having him at all in that place. He would not have been himself, had he not felt and written as he did; and he could not have endured to live under the grievance of remaining silent on subjects, in
which he believed it to be his most sacred duty to speak what he thought.
As it was, however, the one sphere played into the other. Whatever labour he bestowed on his literary works was only part of that constant progress of selfeducation which he thought essential to the right discharge of his duties as a teacher. Whatever interest he felt in the struggles of the political and ecclesiastical world, reacted on his interest in the school, and invested it in his eyes with a new importance. When he thought of the social evils of the country, it awakened a corresponding desire to check the thoughtless waste and selfishness of schoolboys; a corresponding sense of the aggravation of those evils by the insolence and want of sympathy too frequently shown by the children of the wealthier classes towards the lower orders; a corresponding desire that they should there imbibe the first principles of reverence to law and regard for the poor which the spirit of the age seemed to him so little to encourage. When he thought of the evils of the Church, he would“ turn from the thought of the general temple in ruins, and see whether they could not, within the walls of their own little particular congregation,” endeavour to realize what he believed to be its true idea ; " what use they could make of the vestiges of it still left amongst themselves—common reading of the Scriptures, common prayer, and the communion.” (Serm. vol. iv. 266. 316.) Thus, “ whatever of striking good or evil happened in any part of the wide range of English dominion”_" declared on what important scenes some of his own scholars might be called upon to enter,” “ whatever new and important things took place in the world of thought,” suggested the hope “ that they, when they went forth amidst the strife of tongues and of minds, might be endowed with the spirit of wisdom and power.” (Serm. vol. v. p. 405.) And even in the details of the school, it would be curious to trace how he recognised in the peculiar vices of boys the same evils which, when full grown, became the source of so much social mischief; how he governed the school precisely on the same principles as he would have governed a great empire; how constantly, to his own mind or to his scholars, he exemplified the highest truths of theology and philosophy in the simplest relations of the boys towards each other, or towards him.
In entering upon his office he naturally met with difficulties, many of which have since that time passed away, but which must be borne in mind, if points are here dwelt upon, that have now ceased to be important, but were by no means insignificant or obvious when he came to Rugby. Nor did his system at once attain its full maturity. He was a long time feeling his way amongst the various institutions which he formed or invented ;-he was constantly striving after an ideal standard of perfection, which he was conscious that he had never attained; to the improvements which, in a short time, began to take place in other schools to those at Harrow, under his friend Dr. Longley, and to those at Winchester, under Dr. Moberly, to which he alluded in one of his later sermons, (vol. v. p. 150,) he often looked as models for himself ;—to suggestions from persons very much younger than himself, not unfrequently from his former pupils, with regard to the course of reading, or to alterations in bis manner of preaching, or to points of discipline, he would often listen with the greatest deference. His own mind was constantly devising new measures for carrying out his several views. “ The school,” he said, on first coming, “ is quite enough to employ any man's Jove of reform; and it is much pleasanter to think of evils, which you may yourself hope to relieve, than of those with regard to which you can give nothing but vain wishes and opinions.” “ There is enough of Toryism in my nature,” he said, on evils being mentioned to him in the place,“ to make me very apt to sleep contentedly over things as they are, and therefore I hold it to be most true kindness when any one directs my attention to points in the school which are alleged to be going on ill.”
The perpetual succession of changes which resulted from this, was by many objected to as excessive, and calculated to endanger the stability of his whole system. “He wakes every morning,” it was said of him, “ with the impression that every thing is an open question.” But rapid as might be the alterations to which the details of his system were subjected, the general principles remained fixed. The unwillingness which he had, even in common life, to act in any individual case without some general law to which he might refer it, ran through every thing, and at times went so far as almost to bear the appearance of inventing universal rules with the express object of meeting particular cases. Still, if in smaller matters it gave an occasional impression of fancifulness or inconsistency, it was, in greater matters, one chief cause