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government exists in Ireland; equal justice has taken its place at the head of the state, and, spite of all impediments, shall work its way into the remotest and minutest branches of administration :a nation that, under the withering influence of oppression, lay helpless and inanimate, the seal of dissolution on its brow, and the waste of decay in every limb, has felt the breath of life breathed into its nostrils, and young blood circulating in its veins;
“ On the pale cheek of death smiles and roses are blending,
And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.” We hail with pride, with joy, and with gratitude to the Almighty Author of all blessings, this glorious resurrection of our country.
ART. IV. The Dublin University Calendar, for 1836. Dublin. 2. Letter to the English Public, on the Condition, Abuses, and
Capabilities of the National Universities. Nos. I. and II. By
a Graduate of Cambridge. London. 1836. 3. Hints for the Introduction of an Improved Course of Study
in the University of Cambridge. By a Resident Member of
the University. Cambridge. 1835. 4. An Appeal to the University of Cambridge, on the subject of
their Examinations and Discipline. By a Member of the Senate. Cambridge. 1836. THE conductors of a National Establishment incur a degree of
responsibility, exactly proportionate to the importance of the objects, which that Establishment is intended to serve. They are answerable to the Nation, at large, for every measure which is adopted by them; and are, in fact, but trustees of the interest of the people. They are, therefore, liable to be called to account for the errors or mal-practices of their administration, and it becomes the duty of those who watch over the public welfare, to see that they do not abuse those powers, which were entrusted to them, not for the advantage of the few, but for the good of the many.
This principle, applicable generally to all public Institutions, is peculiarly true when directed towards those which profess to afford national education. Other establishments are rendered by bad management only less useful, but in this instance, the evil is not negative or temporary. Great as is the positive mischief produced at the moment, its prospective effects are still more to be dreaded. The public Hospital, if ill-conducted, relieves fewer sufferers. The public Alms-house, when mismanaged, saves a smaller number from destitution. But the
public School extends its importance to futurity, and transmits to after-times the good or the evil incorporated in its constitution.
Knowledge, in this as in other points, asserts its pre-eminence; as dangerous when tainted, as they are wholesome when pure, the waters of the stream draw their character and properties from the source, and the poisoned fountain transmits to other regions its unhealthy influence. Thus the illiberal boy ripens into the intolerant man,—the principles which he has been taught to admire, he deems it a duty, no less than a pleasure, to inculcate on his family, and his children's children are taught to view, with the same narrowed feelings, the war of opinion around them; and to cling, with almost instinctive tenacity, to the exclusiveness of their half-educated progenitor. In time, other motives co-operate,-family pride is called into action—it is deemed honourable to hold the same views which our forefathers entertained. Thus, the transmission of feeling strengthens, instead of weakening, the original impressions, and prejudice is consummated in bigotry:
How, indeed, can it be otherwise ? The most strong-minded and independent must acknowledge the force of early impressions, and grant, that few, if any, are able fully to extricate themselves from the trammels which they impose. The body is subjected to similar impulses. The sweets in which medicine has been administered to us when young, instead of continuing to be agreeable, become absolutely nauseous. Colours and sounds, as well as tastes, affect us, not so much by their nature, (if we may be allowed the phrase,) as by the associations with which we have connected them; nor is the mind superior to such influence; and there is little, if any doubt, that men are frequently withheld from the worst, or stimulated to the noblest actions, not by the dictates of reasoning, prudence, or principle, but by some treasured recollection of early days, some fond association connected with the first dawnings of intellect.
These impressions are produced, not by the ties of childhood only, but by those links, which, in the progress of youth towards manhood, twine themselves so closely around us. We look back in later age, to our college days, with a willing forgetfulness of their harsher realities, and see but the friends we have loved, and the opinions which were generally held sacred among them; and when experience teaches us the necessity of modifying or altering those opinions, we are bound to them by a fondness proceeding rather from persons than abstractions, as if, in abandoning a theory, we were wantonly severing ourselves from him by whom it had first been recommended to our adoption.
Thus the youthful student may be led, in the ordinary course of university studies, to collect gall rather than honey from the
flower; to contract instead of expanding his intellectual and moral capacities. He may be taught to see, in the decline and fall of a great empire, the ruinous tendencies of democracy, instead of tracing up the causes of corruption to the insatiable ambition of a grasping oligarchy. He may be instructed, that all political evils arise from the aggressions of the people, that the Gracchi were unprincipled and factious demagogues, and that an Agrarian law was synonimous with the confiscation of the property of the rich.
Such a youth will leave College for the Established Church or the Bar, to be the servile sycophant in the one, or the unhesitating tool of a government in the other; while, in his eyes, patriotism is but a pretext for robbery, and a disscnter is equivalent to an infidel. If such be the evils of education when tainted, (of its advantages when pure it is not necessary to speak,) how important is the trust committed to those who administer it to a people!
The Tories have ever been far from insensible to the advantages which they gained by monopolizing the sources of knowledge;—under the specious pretext of advancing the interests of religion, they have secured to themselves the channels of national education, and closed up every avenue to literary honours against every liberal aspirant. Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Dublin, were converted into the close boroughs of exclusive doctrines, the nurseries of religious and political intolerance. Close as are the corporations however, in the two former Universities, the Irish institution maintains a proud pre-eminence in oligarchy.“ In Dublin, the Provost and Senior Fellows of the College, constitute the only Senate or University Convocation, which is recognized by charter, and are entrusted with the same powers of electing officers, and conferring degrees, which, in the English Universities belong to a body consisting of Masters of Arts and Doctors in the higher faculties.” Bishop Taylor's rules, indeed, have more of liberality in their spirit, but, unfortunately, they are not statutes, and may, consequently, be dispensed with. We find, therefore, in the Dublin University, a perfect example of the effects of an exclusive system, the most strongly marked specimen of the species to which it belongs.
It is not our intention to consider at present, the propriety of granting to this, or any individual, seat of learning peculiar rights. One thing, at least, is evident, that, where exclusive privileges are granted, the administration of them should be as little confined as possible. If we close up every other road to learning, we are doubly bound to make the avenue which we leave, as wide and as smooth as possible. In such an establishment, therefore, as the Dublin University, the one seat of education
in Ireland, by which degrees generally available can be conferred, we have a right to look for the utmost liberality of spirit, the most perfect readiness to extend to the community those advantages which elsewhere they are prohibited from obtaining.
are aggrieved by its regulations, there is no other resource to which we can betake ourselves.
We are compelled, therefore, in self-defence, to attack the evils of an institution which acts the niggard, when it should be generously profuse, which is, in fact, bound to be liberal, not more by the advantages it exclusively enjoys, than by the very nature of the information which it is intended to communicate.
Of all monopolies, it will be generally agreed, that a literary monopoly is the most inexcusable.-(We speak now of restrictions from internal regulations, not from constitution.)—So inconsistent are exclusive distinctions, with either classical or scientific pursuits, that the phrase, “ Republic of Letters," has been generally adopted, as most fitted to express the perfect equality of all the members of that widely extended circle, which has devoted itself chiefly to the acquisition of knowledge. Within this circle no difference of persons is acknowledged, save that which arises from genius or learning; perfect equality is, in fact, the essential bond by which its members are united. Outside of its boundary they may be distinguished by their politics or their religion, and favoured or discouraged, as Whig or Tory, Protestant or Catholic, antipathies predominate; but within that circle they should be safe from the tumult of party; and in the distribution of honour or emolument, no standard should be admitted but that of eminence in knowledge. To this Republic the reasoning of the historian is peculiarly applicable,—“Omnes homines qui de rebus dubiis consultant, ab odio, gratia, irâ atque amicitiâ vacuos esse decet.”
The expediency of this rule, indeed, is deducible from the very nature of literature itself, the noblest object of which, is, to liberalize the feelings by cultivating the intellect. He reads history to little purpose, who sees in it only an empty record of barren facts, a calendar of the births and deaths of the heroes, the sages, or the nations of antiquity. If this be the only information the student derives from the pages of the historian, his time is egregiously mis-spent. He, alone, reads with advantage to himself or others, who generalizes as he reads, who raises himself from details to the principles which they exemplify, who traces the flourishing condition of a nation to the pervading influence of good government, and sees in its fall the suicide of despotism. Nor are lessons in philanthrophy wanting. The mind of him who has been thus engaged becomes gradually impressed
with the conviction, that in all nations and ages there have existed men, whom instinct no less than reason teaches us to revere ; that excellence is of no colour or creed; but that, on the contrary, admirable examples of public and private worth, may be found even amidst those, whom we, believe to have been uninfluenced by motives, which, as Christians, we consider the highest incentives to both.
Hence the deduction is easy, that liberality should be carried forward from the past to the present age, and that we should shrink from regarding our opponents of to-day with that antipathy, which, if recorded in the history of past times, we should not hesitate to stigmatise as unfounded and absurd. The toleration of Christianity, (that is, the working out of the principle of love to our neighbour,) is, in fact, but the application to our practice of deductions from the history of mankind. Nor is science unfruitful in similar conclusions. Her pursuits are too lofty to be compatible with the niggardliness of spirit
, which would refuse to our brother-men a free admission to their rights, or close against the aspirant after knowledge the way to eminence. The opening of the gates of her temple, is a signal, not of war but of peace, and conveys to all around an intimation, to partake of, as well as contribute to, its treasures.
If this be a fair description of the tendencies of knowledge, it follows, that a Society incorporated with a special view to its advancement, should be free from every suspicion of sectarianism or bigotry. They should advance toward the attainment of their great end, in the truest spirit of unprejudiced liberality, and their regulations should embody the very perfection of tolerance. Wherever they deviate from this course of action, they desert, pro tanto, the object which they profess to have in view, and the public have a right to complain of the inconsistency.
This accounts for the general expression of feeling directed against our universities. In the case of those corporations which were avowedly of a political tendency, men could not be much surprised, though they might be indignant, at finding that their powers had been directed to the establishment of an unconstitutional monopoly. Such was, in fact, the natural consequence of committing exclusive authority to the hands of those whose motto was not equality, but ascendency; and the corruption of the municipal corporations was a natural, though dangerous result of the principles which gave them birth, the gradual development of the original seeds of decay.* All reasoning men, there
The original defect in the constitution of the municipal corporations, appears, by the late debates in Parliament, to have been acknowledged to the fullest extent by the Tory party. Nay, so strongly did it strike them, that they were anxious utterly