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may now sail down the stream of modern
story as long as the water is smooth, or the
storm seen only in the distance; but as he
nears the explosive point of 1789, of which the
vast and terrible wrecks are still tumbling
around us, a huge board warns him of
' danger,' and his frail little cock-boat of
history is driven forcibly all the way back
again. Such is the point of advance to which
the present year of our Lord has brought the
University of Oxford. Such is the provision
made at the wealthiest place of education in
the world, in the middle of the nineteenth
century, for that true and subtle understanding of
modern life and institutions on which the peaceful
development of the twentieth century will
mainly depend! But Oxford was founded by
a Church, which, amid all ludicrous surrounding
evidences of her failures and her follies,
still claims to be infallible; and the worst
peculiarities of the founder cleave to the foundation.
The next fifty years will have to show,
however, whether an institution shall be
allowed to continue in the annual disposal of
some half million or more of money for a
purpose she so manifestly mistakes, that even the
learning she prefers to every other is less
taught to her scholars for the wisdom to be
found in it, than for mere constructive skill
in the language by which that wisdom is

Sydney Smith has remarked it as one of
the great advantages of the classical education
in which we are trained in this country, that
it sets before us so many examples of sublimity
in action, and of sublimity in thought. ' It is
impossible for us,' he exclaims, in one of those
noble lectures on moral philosophy of which
the fragments have recently been published,
' in the first and most ardent years of life, to
read the great actions of the two greatest
nations in the world, so beautifully related,
without catching, ourselves, some taste for
greatness, and a love for that glory which is
gained by doing greater and better things
than other men. And though the state of
order and discipline into which the world is
brought, does not enable a man frequently to
do such things, as every day produced in the
fierce and eventful democraties of Greece and
Rome, yet, to love that which is great, is the
best security for hating that which is little;
the best cure for envy; the safest antidote for
revenge; the surest pledge for the abhorrence
of malice; the noblest incitement to love
truth and manly independence and honourable
labour, to glory in spotless innocence,
and build up the system of life upon the rock
of integrity.'

But is the opportunity fairly afforded for
this? Is not the attention which ought to
be fixed upon Things, to secure any part of the
gain thus eloquently set before us, for the most
part distracted and occupied by Words, in the
system which commonly prevails? Has not the
labour to be undergone in obtaining the ready
verbal skill exacted in College examinations,
a direct tendency to weaken our pleasure in
the history, philosophy, or poetry on which
we grind and sharpen that verbal skill? We
apprehend that this is really the case; and
that the old learning which Oxford persists
in thinking all-sufficient for the wants of our
new and busy life, is taught upon a method
which strips it of its noblest lessons, and
withers its choicest fruit.

The question is a most serious one for
those whom it most immediately concerns,
and whom it should warn of the danger of
too manifestly lagging behind the time. At
this moment power is changing hands, as
certainly, as in the days of those subtle and
eager men who seated the ancient learning
on its throne; and who would as surely
depose it now, if founding new universities
amongst us, and give it but its due and
proper place in the expanding circles of
knowledge, as, four hundred years ago, they
admitted its just predominance, and
established its solitary sway. When periods
of such vicissitude arrive, it is for those who
have been powerful heretofore, to look to
their tenures of authority. Upon nothing
can they hope to rest, if not upon complete
accordance with the spirit of the age, and a
thorough aptitude to its necessities and
wants. If the education of children is to
continue imperfect and bad, as Dean Swift
tells us he had found it always in his
experience, in exact proportion to the wealth
and grandeur of the parents, the next
generation of parents will have to look to the
continued security of their wealth and
grandeur. The Earth is in incessant motion.
The time when it was supposed to be
permanently fixed in the centre of the universe
has passed away for ever, and modes of study
only suited to that time will have to share
the fate that has befallen it.


THEY judge not well, who deem that once among us
A spirit moved that now from earth has fled;
Who say that at the busy sounds which throng us,
Its shining wings for ever more have sped.

Not all the turmoil of the Age of Iron
Can scare that Spirit hence; like some sweet bird
That loud harsh voices in its cage environ,
It sings above them all, and will be heard!

Not, for the noise of axes or of hammers,
Will that sweet bird forsake her chosen nest;
Her warblings pierce through all those deafening clamours
But surer to their echoes in the breast.

And not the Past alone, with all its guerdon
Of twilight sounds and shadows, bids them rise;
But soft, above the noontide heat and burden
Of the stern present, float those melodies.

Not with the baron bold, the minstrel tender,
Not with the ringing sound of shield and lance,
Not with the Field of Gold in all its splendour,
Died out the generous flame of old Romance.