HC Deb 26 April 1850 vol 110 cc844-5

wished to bring under the notice of the House a matter to which his attention had been called by Sir James Stephen; who had read in the newspapers a statement as to what had fallen from him (Lord J. Russell) as to the number of lectures delivered on modern history at Cambridge. Having had to recommend to the Crown the appointment of professors of modern history both at Oxford and Cambridge, he had naturally felt anxious to know in what manner those professors were received at those universities, and how they were enabled to discharge the important duties which belonged to professors of modern history. In the course of the last autumn he had had a conversation with Sir J. Stephen, and had put a question to him with respect to the time which he could devote to the delivery of lectures at Cambridge. The House would recollect that he had stated in the course of the debate that he had understood from Sir J. Stephen that he could only give one lecture in the course of a week, and that that would be of an hour or an hour and a half, or two hours' duration. Sir James Stephen had since stated to him that he did not remember any conversation that had taken place, but he said he presumed, though he was only speaking from conjecture, that he (Lord J. Russell) must have understood him to mean that he could deliver only as many lectures as there were weeks in the academic year. Such a statement would, he presumed, have been perfectly accurate, an academic year embracing about 25 weeks. Sir James Stephen added that it was provided by the university regulations that the number of attendances on any course of lectures required from a student as the condition of certificate should not be less than 20, nor more than 25. It appeared, therefore, that he had been mistaken in supposing Sir James Stephen to have said that he could not give more than one lecture in a week, because he could give two, or three or four, if he pleased; but, according to his own statement, it appeared he considered himself restricted by that regulation from giving more than 25 lectures—that was to say, that he was at liberty to give more than 20, but, by that regulation, not more than 25, which, in substance, amounted to one lecture a week on the average in the course of the academic year. Sir James Stephen had likewise stated to him that, having read to the Vice-Chancellor what he had just stated, the Vice-Chancellor had remarked that the law in question did not forbid the lecturer reading as many lectures as he pleased, but only exempted students from the necessity of attending more than 25. Practically speaking, he (Lord J. Russell) presumed the difference was not material. Perhaps it might be right he should further state that the conversation took place last autumn, upon his asking Sir James Stephen a question as to the time, and that an inference had been drawn. Very unfairly, that Sir James Stephen had been addressing some complaint to him as to the restricted time allotted to him. The fact was, that he had simply asked him what was the time he could devote to those lectures.


said, what he had stated on a former evening was, that Sir James Stephen was giving, at the time when he addressed the House, three lectures a-week to the students. The restriction as to the number arose from the circumstance that some limit must be imposed, in order to see whether a man had sufficiently complied with the regulations in order to go in for honours in that particular branch; and the university had decided that it was not necessary to attend more than 25 to go in for an examination.

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