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THE Committee of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful
It will of course be their duty not to sanction anything incon-
By Order of the Committee,
THOMAS COATES, Secretary.
THE Committee of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge are desirous of explaining the degree of superintendence which they think that they ought to exercise with respect to this publication.
It will of course be their duty not to sanction anything inconsistent with the general principles of the Society. Subject, however, to this general superintendence, they feel that the objects of the Society will be better forwarded by placing before the readers of this work the sentiments of able and liberal men, and thus enabling them to form their own conclusions, as well from the difference as from the agreement of the writers, than by proposing to them, as if from authority, any fixed rule of judgment, or one uniform set of opinions. It would also be inconsistent with the respect which the Committee entertain for the persons engaged in the preparation of these papers, were they to require them strictly to submit their own opinions to any rule that should be prescribed to them. If, therefore, the general effect of a paper be favourable to the objects of the Society, the Committee will feel themselves at liberty to direct its publication: the details must be the author's alone, and the opinions expressed on each particular question must be considered as his, and not those of the Committee. As they do not profess to make themselves answerable for the details of each particular essay, they cannot, of course, undertake for the exact conformity of the representations which different authors may make of the same facts; nor, indeed, do they, for the reasons already given, feel that such conformity is requisite.
By Order of the Committee,
THOMAS COATES, Secretary.
JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
ON UNIVERSITY EDUCATION.-OXFORD.
(Continued from No. I.)
T is very difficult to convey to a stranger an accurate idea of Oxford as a place of education. Its institutions are many and various, owing their origin to different periods; and as, in some cases, they have been applied to the purposes of education in a way never contemplated by the founders, the whole no more resembles a regularly planned university, than some venerable château, converted into military quarters, would resemble the barracks which an engineer would project. Some of the most honourable and best appointed portions, perhaps, are those which, in their original design, were appropriated to subordinate uses; whilst others that were once conspicuous-the state apartments as it were -have become, in many instances, mere appendages, preserved chiefly for their antiquity, and the prescriptive right of being there.
One, especially, who has been familiar with a foreign university alone, is perplexed by the very prepossessions he has thus acquired. He hears, for example, of numerous professorships, and concludes that to these he must direct his attention, in order to ascertain the source and machinery of instruction; because, in foreign universities, professors are the chief instructors. The mention of college tutors, perhaps, comes across his view of the professorships, and adds to this false impression respecting them, by producing a confusion of thought between university and college offices. Then he hears of public examiners and masters of the schools. -What are these? Accounts of lectures meet him in every stage of inquiry, and here is confusion worse confounded. A lecture, in the original and ordinary meaning of the academical term, signifies something read. Most of the Oxford lectures are totally different things: whilst some again are, strictly speaking, such didactic discourses as were called lectures in earlier times, and are still so called in those uniJULY, 1831.
versities which retain that form of instruction exclusively. He is told, perhaps, that the university lectures are principally of the one kind, the college lectures of the other; but this explanation only plunges him once more into his original confusion between college and university. Attempt to explain the office of college tutors, and it is ten to one that he blends your description with that of a numerous class, sanctioned, indeed, although not recognized by Oxford—the private tutors. The difference between the collections, or terminal examinations, established by each separate college and hall, and the public business of the schools, is, in like manner, explained, only for the explanation to be again and again called for, in reply to some new form of question, until the cicerone gives up all hope of conveying, and his charge of carrying away, any accurate impressions, unless both are blessed with more than an ordinary share of patience and zeal in imparting and acquiring information. No one, in short, who has not had to lionize' a Swede or a German, whose stock of English words and English ideas just serve him to pick his way through a social chit-chat, can be aware how the aggregate difficulties, of which only a small portion have been enumerated, baffle the officious kindness of those who undertake to place before him an intelligible outline of an English university system. But all this takes place, though in a minor degree, if the stranger is an Englishman not brought up at Oxford or Cambridge.
The best mode, perhaps, of so directing the inquiries of a stranger, whether English or foreigner, that he may avoid all this perplexity, is to state, in the first instance, what is meant by the university, what by a college or hall-one of those societies, or separate schools of education, which, all com. bined, form the university. The statement of this is simple enough. Oxford is, in fact, an establishment for purposes of education, which corresponds to a federal body united for political purposes. As, in this latter case, the several States have separate jurisdictions, separate duties, and, to a certain extent, separate interests, so the several colleges and halls which compose the academical body-the united collegeshave each its own private rules and regulations for the education of its members, but combine all, as a body, to contribute to that which is the university education. Each separate
society may particularly encourage some particular branches of learning more than another, or may convey its instruction by a different method; but all look to that qualification which is agreed on by all as the object of the united body—the university.
In the next place, let it be understood that it is in the