HL Deb 06 June 1864 vol 175 cc1236-60

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, its object was to provide that any person ac- cepting office in a public school should do so subject to the future legislation of Parliament.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


said, he wished to take this occasion to refer to one or two points raised the other evening by the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope). His noble Friend had hardly done justice to the head master of Eton in representing him to have said that at Eton nothing was done in the way of teaching English. It was true that at Eton nothing was done in regard to the direct teaching of English, but the head master distinctly stated in his evidence that they did profess to teach English through the teaching of the classics; and if proper attention were paid to the matter, no doubt a very real and substantial amount of instruction in English might be imparted in that way; but it was a question whether it was enough. His noble Friend had expressed an opinion that undue prominence was given in the recommendations of the Commissioners to the subject of applied mathematics. The Commissioners, however, were bound to consult, not merely their own views, but the state of public feeling in the country, and the opinions of men of experience and authority. Accordingly, in assigning the positions they had done to applied mathematics, they had been guided very much by the evidence of the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, Dr. Whewell. In regard to physical science, he must confess his own ignorance of the subject, he had, therefore, no personal authority on the subject; but he felt that, in face of the testimony borne by such men as Sir Charles Lyell, Professor Owen, Professor Faraday, and other eminent men of science, the Commissioners would not have been justified in recommending less than they had done. This matter was connected with another, which he might term rather elegant accomplishments than learning—music and drawing. His noble Friend opposite (Earl Stanhope) had made some very amusing observations, that a man who did not like music did not necessarily like drawing, and vice versâ. Now, it was very well known that as a general rule boys did not like any work at all; and what the Commissioners desired was that the opportunity of ascertaining whether they had capacity and taste for certain studies should be not only offered, but actually forced on them, without which they never would know it. It had been stated that many persons in ma- ture life, having discovered an aptitude for particular branches of natural science, had expressed deep regret that their attention had not been called to these subjects when they were young. It was in order to draw out the dormant powers of the boys that the Commissioners wished these things to be brought before them; and he had no doubt they would be thankful for the recommendation. These studies or accomplishments were generally taught in private schools and in families; and there appeared no reason why they could not be introduced into the public schools with advantage. There was no risk of the health of the boys being injured by the addition of these new subjects of study. The actual amount of work would not be increased, although there would be greater variety. It was his own opinion and he believed that of several of his colleagues on the Commission, that in one or two of the public schools, and especially in some of the greater and more important establishments, the amount of work might be, augmented without any danger to health; but in no case would the recommendations of the Commissioners necessarily lead to any increase of labour. Indeed, in certain respects, they had even advised a diminution in the amount of work done. He was anxious that there should be no misapprehension on this matter, and he would just state the distribution which they proposed of an Eton boy's day. Eight hours would be allowed for sleep, two hours for meals, and a short daily chapel service, while the remaining fourteen would be equally divided between work and recreation—seven hours to each. The work would include all the preparation of school tasks, in which some boys might be slower than others, but which all would be able to accomplish without losing their share of relaxation. They recommended that, with all those safeguards, when a boy had arrived at a certain age he should be enabled to drop certain parts of his work, if he had clearly shown inaptitude for them, in order to take up other parts in which he had proved himself likely to succeed better. They recommended that this course might be adopted when a boy was about sixteen years of age. His noble Friend opposite had said, when a boy was arriving at proficiency in a subject the Commissioners would take him from it. That was precisely what they would not do; but when a boy had not arrived at proficiency in a particular study, and showed no likelihood of doing so, they recommended that he should be removed from it and put to other work. The recommendation was one which he hoped the House would adopt, because it was based upon some very strong evidence; he referred particularly to that of Mr. Evans, at Rugby. There was little more with which he wished to detain the House, except in reference to what had been said about Greek and Latin composition. In his admirable Life of Pitt, his noble Friend opposite (Earl Stanhope) said, he thought perhaps with somewhat questionable accuracy, that that great man was not a proficient in the "laborious inutilities of classical metre." That was his noble Friend's expression, and it was one which had rankled in his mind ever since he read it. And the other day his noble Friend said that the verses done for the Person Prize for Greek Iambics at Cambridge were a preposterous attempt. [Earl STANHOPE: I never said anything of the kind.] Yes; his noble Friend said that if the shadow of Shakespeare could revisit the earth he would turn to raillery the preposterous attempts made to put him into Greek metre—Shakespeare or Massinger, or some such dramatist, being the authors selected for those Iambics, and that was the Person Prize. He apprehended that Shakespeare did not know Greek; but if his noble Friend could find a single person acquainted with Shakespeare and also with the Greek tragedians who would adopt his opinion that the Porson Prize Poems were preposterous productions, he would almost promise to agree with his noble Friend likewise. His noble Friend had alluded to the Germans. They were, no doubt, very laborious and deeply learned; but in knowledge of the languages he was not aware that they excelled English scholars. Nor could his noble Friend produce one Oxford or Cambridge tutor among those who had given evidence before the Commission who had advocated the abolition of that practice. One eminent man, Mr. Neate, might be quoted; but he was no witness for his noble Friend, as he went far beyond him, and was for abolishing the study of Greek altogether. The question was, if any one could be found who, while in favour of the study of Greek, was against Greek composition. Dean Liddell had been quoted, but he, though he gave some damaging evidence as to the imperfect preparation of boys from public schools, was certainly not against the practice of composition. And with regard to Dr. Whewell, as an old pupil of his, he spoke with the utmost reverence of him; but he would himself admit that the classical languages were not the subject in which he spoke with special authority. He ventured to say that no such authority could be found. His noble Friend had wholly overlooked the great general argument against him— namely, the intense pleasure, delight, and interest which boys with any turn for the classics manifested in Greek and Latin composition. No doubt he spoke from experience, and, perhaps, with some little bias; but he was sure not only he but others felt both at Eton and Cambridge the utmost pleasure in the work of composition. Half their interest in their work would have been removed if composition had been taken away. He thought it was wise in the present Session to limit legislation on these matters to the extent proposed; and he agreed to a great extent with their Colleague in the House of Commons (Sir Stafford Northcote), that the main object of Parliament should be to reform the governing bodies of the schools and then wait and see what they would do themselves in the way of improvement. Whether the Government ought to appoint an Executive Commission to negotiate with the schools on points of detail was another point; but at present he held that the main thing for Parliament to do was to reform the governing bodies. The Commissioners had recommended in almost all of the schools the addition to the governing body of a small number of persons of distinction appointed by the Crown. If he was concerned in the management of one of those schools, he should be of opinion that such a system would add honour and dignity to the establishment. Recently a good deal had been done to improve schools. The most of these attempts had been made since the appointment of the Commission; but he hoped that what had been done in this way would be regarded as merely provisional, and would be overhauled by the new governing bodies. He had heard with regret that in some of the schools there was some soreness and some complaints of unfairness on the part of the Commissioners. But he must say that having regard to the nature and extent of the work undertaken by the Commissioners, it was hardly to be expected that this could be altogether avoided; and he did not think any serious objection had been taken to the general scope of the inquiry or to the conduct of the Government in having appointed a Commission. He had always thought that after the Universities had been subjected to a severe inquisition, it was quite impossible for those great schools to escape inquiry, or to be left to self-action for reform in their system. Before sitting down he begged to acknowledge in the heartiest way on the part of the Commissioners the spirit in winch they had been met by the heads of the various schools. The Government were met in the same way in the first instance, when the late Sir George Lewis opened communications with the authorities of these nine schools; and there was not one subject as to which they were not willing to co-operate with the Commissioners. As to the proposals made in the Report, many of the Commissioners had the utmost affection for these schools, and would have been better satisfied if they could have recommended that less change should take place in them. But the Commissioners felt bound to report according to the evidence as they found it, and he hoped their Lordships would approve the spirit in which they conducted this inquiry.


expressed his surprise at the statement of the Commissioners, that hoys of nineteen or twenty went to the University from the Public Schools grossly ignorant of the classics, knowing very little of the Christian religion, and not desirous of learning more. Why, was it possible their Lordships did not recollect that the Christian religion was inculcated in these young men by their mothers and guardians in early infancy, and was it likely they would permit such gross neglect as that young gentlemen of Eton should go up to the Universities in this state of ignorance? Then it was said to be the habit of some of the Eton boys to get half drunk on the Sunday afternoon in public-houses. Why, there never was a grosser calumny. The "Christophers" was not a public-house where bargemen or such persons went; when any of their Lordships went at four o'clock to their clubs for a glass of sherry it might as well be said that they went to drink at public-houses. On certain days the Eton boys might be seen wandering all over the country, but there was hardly an instance of complaint against them on the part of farmers and gardeners. This could not be said of private schools. When Dr. Hawtrey showed a French gentleman the boys at their boating, cricketing, and other amusements, the visitor said, "This is all very delightful; but where is your surveillance?" To which Dr. Hawtrey replied, "We have no surveillance; that is my system." He certainly thought that an Eton boy was an admirable model of what an English gentleman ought to be. In the army the colonels of the best regiments always said, "Give us an Eton boy." And in the navy the same thing was said. He confessed that he thought the details of these schools might be too much meddled with, and that it was dangerous to interfere with a system which had given satisfaction for so long a period. In the Report of the Commissioners a good deal was said about fagging. Now, he thought this was one of the most useful trials to which boys were exposed. In early days he had the honour of frequently cleaning the shoes of the most rev. Prelate at the head of the Bishops' Bench, and he had never found himself the worse for it. The most rev. Prelate treated him with the kindness and good nature which his Grace had ever since displayed, and he (Lord de Ros) had never felt degraded by fagging for him in this way. He hoped, therefore, that no recommendations of the Commission would affect the practice of fagging. With regard to Greek Iambics, he agreed that it would be far better to substitute for them some modern language—French or German.


thought that the evidence of the Dean of Christ Church as to the classical knowledge of the young men who went up to the University could not be very much depended upon, because it was notorious that no young men whatever went to Christ Church for the purpose of reading. They were supposed to be rich, and went to the University mainly for amusement. There might also be some little wish on the part of the Dean to uphold the School of Westminster; but, before he made such sweeping assertions, it might be well that he should look better at home.


My Lords, I certainly think that the statement of the Dean of Christ Church was one of the most astounding I ever heard, and one which, so far as my own limited means of information goes, is hardly borne out by my own recollection of the facts. I must, however, protest against the statement of the noble Duke (the Duke of Montrose), that Members of Christ Church go there merely for amusement. My Lords, I do not think that such has been and I hope that such never will be the case, though I hope also that amusements will always form a considerable part of the pursuits there. As to the Bill itself, I do not think it desirable to oppose it; but, at the same time, I beg to observe that considerable alteration may be necessary when we go into Committee. It was only this afternoon that on reading the Bill I became aware of what seems to me an extraordinary proposal. The preamble sets forth that— Whereas it is expedient that no impediment should be created to the free action of the Legislature in making the said changes in the governing bodies of the said colleges and schools, by the acquisition of vested interests in the property of the said colleges and schools, by persons who may be appointed to offices in the governing bodies thereof, after the date of the introduction of this Act into the House of Commons. Why the House of Commons? Why should it not date from the period of its introduction into this House?


It is a mistake in the first print of the Bill. The Bill is now to date from its introduction into the House of Lords.


That is all very well; but it is by no means the whole of my objection, for if this Bill is to run from the date of its introduction into this House—


The 30th of May.


Then a great and an unjustifiable wrong will be done by the operation of the Bill. On the 1st of June a gentleman who has been an assistant-master and lower master at Eton for twenty-five or thirty years was elected a Fellow; and, therefore, if this Bill is to stand in its present form, it would by one single day cut him off from the hard-earned fruits of his long service; it would be a direct privilegium levied against him — a Bill of pains and penalties to deprive him of the position to which he has so long looked forward. Such a proposal would be perfectly monstrous, and I conclude that the Committee will, without any hesitation, strike out these words. Now as to the subjects which have arisen in the course of this debate, I think all parties agree that classical studies should be made the foundation and groundwork of our school teaching. The only difference of opinion is as to the nature and extent of the additions to be made in the school work, and the relation which these additions are to bear to the original field of studies existing in the various schools. Your Lordships will see that there are two principal and obvious considerations—first, the time available for these additional studies; and, secondly, looking to the age and the variety of intellect of the boys, the nature and extent of these studies. Bearing this in mind, and applying it to the observations made by my noble Friend as to Greek composition, I should be inclined to draw a strong line of demarcation between Greek composition in verse and prose. It seems to me that the study of prose is necessary and most profitable, but that the study of verse is more a matter of luxury. I, for one, should be glad to see the study of Greek verse confined to the highest forms of public schools. Exercise in composition in prose, however, I think is absolutely necessary in order to attain grammatical accuracy and scholarship. But it is perfectly clear that so long as the Universities maintain Greek composition as an integral part of their system, and assign honours to it, so long will it be necessary for public schools, in preparing boys for the Universities, to bestow close attention on the subject. My noble Friend (Lord Lyttelton) advocates the addition of a very large amount of work to that already imposed, and he has numbered up the various studies which it is proposed to add. They consist of modern languages, either French or German, music or drawing, and history. I think your Lordships will agree with me in the opinion that the most important of these recommendations is the study of modern languages,- especially French. I would not for a moment undervalue the acquisition of French or any other modern language. On the contrary, I attach the highest possible importance to that department of study. I would give a boy every encouragement in the study of foreign languages, and make success a point of honour with him. I would make failure a point of shame; but I think it is absolutely impracticable to incorporate them as an integral portion of the public school system, and I think I can show the House ample reasons for that opinion. Obviously the best, if not the only good, mode of teaching French is by means of a French master; but if you employ a French teacher to teach French, and incorporate the French as an integral part of your system, the result will be that you must place the French master upon the same footing and give him the same authority as the other assistant - masters. The other assistant-masters, however, have intrusted to them the maintenance of discipline, the formation of the mind, and the inculcation of certain great principles and traditions which are handed down from one generation to another, and in the performance of these duties I absolutely deny that a foreign master can take any part. If this view be correct, you are driven to the necessity of teaching French, not by French, but by English masters. Is it possible to conceive that an English master can undertake such a duty in a. public school like Eton? I acknowledge that it is quite possible for the master to be critically and grammatically correct, but, to take the most obvious objection, he must, in nine cases out of ten, find some difficulties in accentuation. It would, consequently, be in the power of any clever and intelligent lad who, from family reasons, had been educated abroad to turn his master into such ridicule that his authority would be endangered. But it has been urged that this mode of instruction is already adopted in some public schools. That I believe to be quite true; but I would ask whether the result has been successful? I hold in my hands conclusive evidence to show that no such success has practically attended these studies. As to conversation in French, it has been acknowledged that boy will learn more of the language in three months' residence a road than in five or six years' study at home. I say, then, that it is a simple waste of time to attempt to incorporate these studies with your present school system, because you must sacrifice classics and other work in order to make room for them. As to the music and drawing, I shall not enter upon the discussion of their merits. I beg, however, to enter my protest against the proposed study of English composition. I have been at a loss to know what is meant by English composition. Is it intended to turn out all these boys as great authors and poets when they leave school? Such a result would be a most terrible infliction. All that is necessary for a boy when leaving school is, so far as composition is concerned, that he shall be able to write a clear and intelligible letter and draw up a clear and intelligible statement. The best discipline for the study of English composition is not to be found in the study of the English language as such in the first instance, but in the study of Latin literature, which gives you the key, so to speak, of the greater part of the European literature. I should as soon have thought that the Commissioners would have recommended that the boys should be taught Lindley Murray as that they should be specially taught English composition. I think that classical studies, if fairly worked out and completely mastered, are the best introduction to every other department of study. So, too, with regard to the study of modern history, the boy who has mastered thoroughly the history of the Roman Commonwealth, will best understand the constitutional history of England in Hallam, and the boy who has become perfectly acquainted with the rivalries and jealousies of the Greek States will most readily appreciate the complicated relationship of the Italian republics as viewed in the pages of Sismondi. The Commissioners recommend also the study of natural science, which, as they themselves admit, involves chymistry on the one hand, and physics on the other. But is it supposed that it will be possible for a boy to master even a portion of the subjects comprised under all these bends— especially when the numerous divisions and sub-divisions are taken into account? The only subjects upon which I think all would desire to see an increase of study attempted in our public schools are French and mathematics, though the former, as I have said, cannot well be made obligatory. There is an impression abroad that the Commissioners, with the very best intention, in their Report, are endeavouring to do too much, by imposing upon boys an amount of study which they cannot possibly give. If that be so, one of two evils will happen—either you will raise the standard of education at our public schools to too high a level, and thus do mischief to the boys by imposing too difficult a task, or you will greatly contribute to produce that most mischievous of all mischievous systems—cramming. I am sure that my noble Friends in their Report have no intention of doing anything of that kind, but such, I am convinced, will be the result of the course they propose to take. You may give a smattering of education—a general knowledge upon many points—but that general knowledge will, in the long run, turn out to be but particular ignorance. I have to apologize for having occupied your Lordships' time—but while I have thought it my duty to express my views with some particularity, and to criticize somewhat freely the Report of the Commissioners, I beg my noble Friend to believe that I am not blind to its merits, and the great care which has been bestowed upon it.


said, that having been educated at Eton, he naturally felt great interest in the subject before the House. He could not agree with the noble Lord who had just spoken, in defending without qualification the system of education pursued at Eton. He admitted that that system had many good points, but he also agreed with the Commissioners that it required very considerable modification. He accepted classics as the basis of education, but he thought there were other subjects to which greater attention should be given than was at present done, and that some branches of education which were not now taught should be added. He would remind their Lordships that education had two objects—one, the training and strengthening the faculties of the mind, and the other the acquisition of useful knowledge. Of the two, perhaps the former was the most important. To some extent the system pursued at Eton was deficient in its means to obtain these results, and especially as to that important branch of education—the acquisition of the French language. He regretted to hear his noble Friend say that French ought not to be made a part of the education, as he did not think it was fair to allow boys belonging to the highest classes in the country to pass through their time at Eton without being compelled to acquire a sound knowledge of the French language. It was inconvenient and sometimes difficult for a young man after the age of eighteen to acquire a knowledge of a not very easy language. He would not go beyond French, but the study of that language, he contended, ought to be made an integral part of education; and he would not be deterred from insisting upon that condition by any difficulty of employing a French master. Indeed, he could not see why a distinguished French gentleman might not accept a post at Eton or other public schools, to teach French, just as the master who taught Latin. Then it was said that as some changes had been made at Eton, therefore no other changes were required. He could not take that view. It was to the credit of the Eton masters that they had made some useful changes, and he only wanted them to go somewhat further in the same direction. He had often noticed to masters at Eton that it was an actual disgrace to the school to send up to Cambridge, where mathematics was held in peculiar esteem, young men in whose education that study had not been made an integral part. That consideration, urged by others of greater authority, had prevailed with the Eton masters, who had made a salutary change by introducing mathematics as an integral part of school work. That instance showed that it was possible to make some changes in a good system of teaching without injury to general results. He only wished to add French as a branch of study, for he did not agree with the Commissioners that music and drawing ought to be made parts of public school work. He even felt a doubt as to the natural sciences, although a lecturer upon those subjects might be of advantage to the boys. The introduction of these additional branches of education might, to some extent, justify an observation made on a former evening that too much work would be imposed upon the boys, and that, therefore, it was necessary to consider whether any portion of the present studies could be reduced. That consideration brought him to the much debated questions of Greek and Latin composition. Upon that point he had always held a strong opinion, believing that too much time was devoted to verse making; to be sure he had never attained that proficiency in it which had been displayed by the noble Lord near him (Lord Lyttelton). In former days at Eton, the making of Latin and Greek verses was held to be a most essential part of education; but he desired to see the time occupied in that way materially reduced. There was only one other point to which he would advert. The Report of the Commissioners had been regarded as speaking unfavourably of Eton, which belief had raised a spirit of opposition. He would much regret if that were so, as the labours of the Commissioners had been most useful to public schools, and had been conducted in a spirit of fairness to the public schools which he hoped would he responded to. It was quite true that there were many boys who went from Eton to Christ Church imperfectly prepared; but then, again, there had been many young men from Eton who had greatly distinguished themselves. If, therefore, Eton could produce such creditable pupils, he urged upon the masters of the school to make such judicious alterations in the system of education as would raise the average results. There could be no doubt that a considerable number of boys had left Eton in a state of ignorance which reflected no credit upon the school. That fact had been stated by the Commissioners, and the reasons given, together with the remedies they suggested, and he hoped the good sense and public spirit and love for the school which prevailed among Eton masters would induce them to adopt such of the recommendations of the Commissioners as would remedy the evils admitted to exist.


said, he desired to any a few words in explanation of what had fallen from a noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon). The noble Earl had spoken of the date at which the Bill was to take effect. He regretted if the delay in bringing in the Bill should have done any harm to any one, for certainly that was not the intention of the Commissioners. Those who were interested in a reform of certain schools had wished that it should date from the presentation of the Public Schools Commissioners' Report; but that was felt to be too strong a proceeding. The course of dating the Bill from the period of its introduction was, he was informed, according to usage and precedent in such cases, Their Lordships were aware that the Commissioners had reported in favour of certain changes in the governing bodies of schools; but if new interests were created it was manifest that the changes would be postponed, and the object of the Commissioners defeated, because Parliament always dealt lightly with vested interests. He did not think any objection would have been raised to the Bill if it had not been for the particular case to which the noble Earl had drawn attention. But if the Bill was not actually brought in, the intention to bring it in was announced a month ago by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It must, therefore, have been notorious to the Provost and Fellows of Eton. They must also have been aware of the recommendations in the Report of the Commissioners. It would, therefore, have been only wise and proper that they should have communicated with the Government as to the line which they intended to pursue. There was, therefore, the knowledge they might have had and the knowledge they must have had of the actual introduction of the Bill, and with that knowledge they had proceeded to elect a Fellow. The gentleman so elected must have known that he took the election subject to any change that Parliament might think proper to adopt. The proceeding at Harrow was very different. The appointment which had been made there was accepted subject to any future change if the school were remodelled. His feeling, however, was this—he would much rather postpone a reform than do injustice; and, therefore, if it were the opinion of their Lordships that the Bill should not be operative till it passed he should have no objection.


begged to express on his own behalf, on behalf of nil the friends of education and of the community at large, the deepest obligations to his noble Friend the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) and his Colleagues for the able and diligent manner in which they had conducted this great inquiry, the result of which was the production of a body of great bulk, and certainly of unprecedented value, of the most important information derived from the most authentic sources, and accompanied with valuable suggestions. Even those who differed from those suggestions and other parts of the Report were entirely agreed as to the great ability and diligence which had been shown by the Commissioners.


said, he did not rise to enter at length on the great question of education at our public schools — a subject which he felt convinced affected the future destinies of the country; but he was anxious to say a few words upon one point, on which he thought the Report of the Commissioners hail been somewhat misunderstood. If the object of their recommendation had been to impose an additional amount of labour on an industrious boy he should have considered it more injurious than useful. But the object of the Commissioners was entirely different. They did not want an industrious boy to work more, their object was to give work to the idle by enlarging the choice of their studies. They took a very narrow view of education who would give a boy only the knowledge of two dead languages, and yet that appeared to be the average result of our educational system. With every admiration for the Greek and Latin languages, and fully sensible of the advantages to be tie-rived from their study, he would nevertheless object to say that if a boy had no turn for Greek and Latin he should study nothing else, and that he should be either a dunce or an idiot. Boys might be found by the hundred who, although they had no turn for Greek and Latin, had very good understandings, and it was a great hardship that because they could not attach themselves to the study of the classics they were not to be instructed in other branches of knowledge. It was not always the case that boys who attained the greatest proficiency in classical studies afterwards became the most useful members of society. The Commissioners intended to give other objects of study; how they were to be adopted was the difficulty. Where pronunciation entered so largely into the possession and utility of modern languages it would be exceedingly difficult to engraft them on an English school. The difficulty was not confined to England. Foreign nations had found the difficulty themselves. But with regard to mathematics and physical science there might be a much larger infusion of that element, not so much to make a busy boy do more as to give boys a choice of studies. This was done at Marlborough School. Therefore he hailed the Report of the Commissioners as turning the attention of all those who had to do with public schools to the importance of enlarging their sphere of study. What was wanted was, not that the work for industrious boys should be increased, but that the number of boys who were industrious should be increased. It was a scandal that English gentlemen should so often be wholly ignorant of the commonest things pertaining to physical science, while the less cultivated classes were familiar with them. As to the controversy which had been going on relative to Greek composition, his own impression was that no man could understand a language well without writing in it. Although not agreeing in all the suggestions of the Commissioners, he yet approved them in the main, and anticipated great benefit from their adoption.


was understood to suggest that the precedent set in a former Act, in regard to the filling up of cathedral appointments, should be followed in the present Bill—namely, that the Bill should only apply to appointments to be filled up after the passing of it.


expressed his dissent from the statement made by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) with respect to Rugby School. He understood the noble Earl to say, that the attempt of Dr. Arnold to engraft the study of modern languages in the ordinary studies of that school had been a complete failure. But his own experience in that matter was quite the reverse. It was true they might not be able to impart a Parisian accent to the boys who learned French at a public school, but they could be taught to read the French language and literature, and so be put in the way of more easily acquiring a more delicate and intimate knowledge of the language if they should afterwards have the good fortune to spend a short time in France. He agreed with the noble Earl that it would not be easy for a Frenchman or German speaking English imperfectly to teach a number of English boys; but it was not impossible that both French and German might be taught by persons who were not natives of France or Germany. When he first took charge of Rugby School, the Chevalier Bunsen had mentioned to him the name of a linguist of European reputation, who afterwards became Professor of Modern Languages at Oxford, as being a man who then might undertake the office of instructing boys at Rugby in modern languages. So that it was quite possible to find foreigners of the highest capacity to undertake the office of instructing boys in public schools in modern languages. Again, many an Englishman of education had spent great part of his life abroad, and would afterwards be qualified to teach a. foreign language in a public school. He believed that at Rugby there was now an Englishman who was able to teach German and teach it well; while another foreigner, who was not a Frenchman, was able to teach French with great advantage to his pupils. He wished further to state that his experience did not lead him to suppose that instruction in the modern languages at all diminished boys' opportunities of acquiring a knowledge of the ancient classics. On that point he would refer to what was stated in the evidence of the Dean of Christ Church respecting Eton. The accuracy of that evidence had been questioned by the noble Duke (the Duke of Montrose); but the Dean of Christ Church was not a likely person to make any statement of which he was not prepared to prove the accuracy. Now, certainly, modern languages were neglected at Eton, and yet Eton did not possess a higher reputation for classical teaching than many establishments in which the modern languages were taught. He thought the speech of the noble Earl op- posite was calculated to do mischief, by giving his great authority to the idea that the public schools were at present in so satisfactory a state that they did not require any of the reforms recommended by; the Commissioners. He should be sorry to force any particular system of education on the public schools, because any change to be useful must be made voluntarily. He believed there was every disposition on their part to adopt the very valuable suggestions made by the Commissioners, and he trusted that the noble Earl's remarks would not tend to impress them with the idea that they were now so perfect that they needed no improvement. What was wanted in all these schools was that they should have the best possible master. They should do away with the restriction, where it existed, as to selecting the master from the teaching staff. It was often better to introduce fresh blood and a little free trade in these as in most other matters. Then, if the best head master possible were appointed, let him have liberty to carry out suggested improvements. Public opinion would be brought to bear upon him, and they would then get the best possible system of instruction. He would hare liked to see in the Report some recommendation for making it more easy for classes not in opulent circumstances to avail themselves of the public schools. All the recommendations he had seen rather went the other way. The present practice of receiving a number of boys from the town or neighbourhood in which the school was situated was disparaged, and an examination at which a few clever boys should obtain scholarships was rather suggested as a substitute. Now, at Rugby, a number of widows of naval officers, clergymen, and others of that class, availed themselves of the opportunity of living there to send their sons to school. He did not say that that might not be altered with some advantage, but he did not think it would be well to rely entirely on competitive examinations for introducing the sons of persons in narrow circumstances. There was a tendency to think that it was their duty to educate clever boys only, whereas the object of these schools was to educate stupid boys as well. He was not clear that Sir Walter Scott or the late Duke of Wellington would have succeeded in such an examination. He was anxious to see these schools made available to the largest possible portion of the upper classes of this country.


said, he was anxious to take that opportunity of declaring his views were in accordance with those of the right rev. Prelate. He was quite sure that whatever advantage might be derived from the education of a particular number of clever boys in foundation schools, which were more or less of an eleemosynary character—and he did not deny that some benefit might be obtained from open scholarships even in those schools —anything like the rejection of boys who might not be thought clever would defeat the intention of the original founders, and would be contrary to the duty of the trustees. It would be a great misfortune if, for the purpose of encouraging a few clever boys to obtain advantages which probably they might not require, the managers of grammar schools should pay no attention; to the benevolent intention of founders to provide a good education for boys whose parents were in moderate circumstances, and who otherwise might be unable to acquire the advantages of a good education —at all events to the same extent. He wished to make one or two observations on another point adverted to in the Report of the Commissioners, to which the attention of Parliament had not been directed in the; course of the recent discussions. He mentioned it because he was afraid that some of the recommendations of the Commissioners tended to aggravate that which he could not help thinking was a prevailing and increasing evil. Although he believed it was necessary to add to the present course of study at public schools a greater I attention to mathematics, history, and some of the modern languages, yet he was afraid that the recommendations of the Commissioners, if carried out to their full extent, would introduce such an amount of variety that they would rather tend to foster a superficial education in a great number of subjects without a well-grounded knowledge of any one of them. He hoped the country would understand that whatever alterations might be made in the public school system, the real evil could not be removed I by the public schools themselves—that was to say, boys were now sent to a public school I at a comparatively advanced age, with very little groundwork of education, but with a considerable amount of superficial knowledge of a great number of things, which was not only not a good groundwork of education, but was actually worse than no foundation at all. The other day a head master told him that he had in his school boys of the ago of fourteen, three of fifteen years, and one of sixteen, who were just beginning, after two years spent in the school, to work their way through the easiest Latin books, such as were the usual studies of boys of ten. He went on to say — and to this he (the Earl of Derby)requested particular attention, that certain private schools, piqued themselves upon the great progress their boys made; whereas they made no progress whatever in anything which deserved the name of education. He mentioned one boy who came to him with a great reputation for lyrics, but who knew little or nothing of the Latin grammar, and another who had gone through the greater part of Newton, but who in reality could not do the simplest problems in Euclid. Such boys were afterwards sent to college, and their parents were frequently dissatisfied with the progress they made there, but the truth was they had to begin everything over again; it was impossible to ground a boy in Latin grammar, which was the basis of all grammar, twice over, and if he had not had the groundwork laid early he had no foundation upon which the superstructure could be raised. A public school was not a place for teaching the elements of grammar, for it was not possible there to give the requisite attention to each particular boy, to find out what his difficulties were, to assist him in getting over them, and to make him fag at the hard work which must be encountered at the beginning of all grammar, and which ought to be done either at home or in a private school. Whatever, then, might be the defects of the public school teaching, he believed a large proportion arose, not from the public school system, but from the fact that hoys were sent to Eton or Harrow partially instructed up to a certain point in a great number of things, but really ignorant of the first elements of education. It was impossible, in teaching the Latin grammar, to follow the plan suggested by the Irish gentleman who, on being told that the first two lessons were the hardest, proposed to begin with the third. Where the first and second lessons were not thoroughly mastered there could be no foundation to build upon, and he hoped parents and the teachers of private schools would be impressed with the conviction that it was their business to lay the groundwork, thus giving the public schools and the Universities a fair chance of being able to rear the superstructure. If, on the other hand, they persisted in contenting themselves with imparting a superficial knowledge of a great number of things, which was not education at all, or even the foundation of it, their work would be thrown away, and all the labour of public schools would be incapable of producing fruit.


said, the noble Earl could be scarcely aware how the Commissioners were at one with him in this point. He hoped that the noble Earl's remarks would go forth to the country, and that the attention of parents and persons interested in education would be drawn to that portion of the Report in which the Commissioners commented at some length and with some spirit on the state of ignorance in which boys were sent to the public schools. It was exactly because they thought, as his noble Friend thought, that boys should be grounded at school, that they had recommended that there should be an examination for entrance to the public schools, that examination to be proportionate and adapted to the age of the boys.


said, that as an old head master, he desired to tender his cordial thanks to the Commissioners for the patient industry and indefatigable zeal with which they had prosecuted their inquiries, and for the most valuable Report which they had presented to Her Majesty; so valuable that it had been read everywhere with avidity. It was agreed on all sides that classical literature should be the staple of public school education, the object of which was, not to communicate a vast amount of information, but to cultivate the moral and intellectual faculties—and (if he might venture to speak of the intellect as an instrument)—to strengthen, sharpen, and polish the intellect to the highest degree, so that it might be made as efficient as possible for any purpose to which it might be applied in after life. The danger of introducing too many subjects was, that they might distract the attention of a boy and prevent him from exercising his mind as he ought to do; and hence he was rather inclined to think that the Commissioners had recommended too great a variety of subjects. At the same time he thought that French or German ought to be made an integral part of public school education. The reason, as he believed, why so much attention had not been paid to these matters was, that the French or German master was not placed in a posi- tion of sufficient respect. Hitherto boys had been obliged to attend the French or German master out of school hours, and therefore he was naturally unpopular with them; and, besides, discipline had not been so rigidly enforced in his ease as in that of the other masters. If, however, French or German were made an integral part of the school work, and the head master were to attend to the representations of the French or German master as much as to those of the master of any other department, he had no doubt that the languages might be cultivated with great advantage to the boys. He spoke from experience when he said that a very early acquaintance with French, followed in after life by a little intercourse with foreign countries, enabled one to speak the language with comparative ease. As the subject of Greek composition had been spoken of, he would say that while he thought it would be undesirable to make Greek composition a necessary qualification of every boy, he was persuaded that as long as there were prizes in the Universities for Greek prose, or verse, it would be impossible to view the accomplishment in any other light than as one suited for boys who had a turn for it. Allusion had been made to the governing bodies of public schools. In some instances there was a very limited area from which the governors were chosen. It would not always be expedient to extend the area from which the governors were chosen, but he had in view cases in which schools had suffered from a too limited area. The great thing, after all, was that trustees and governors should choose the best master they could, and, having chosen him, that they should leave him to his own discretion and judgment in the management of the school. If they did otherwise they would never have first rate men. As to the council which had been proposed, it would not be desirable to have one the decisions of which should be binding; but he thought there might be advantage in having a council to give ad vice. Reference had been made by his noble Friend (Lord de Ros) to the high opinion of Eton entertained by general officers. He had himself heard an anecdote of the Duke of Wellington, when about to despatch a young officer on some duty of importance, asking at what school he had been educated, and on being told, "Westminster," replying, "That will do-all right." The public schools were undoubtedly very valuable institutions, but still they were susceptible of improvement, and he thought that the Report of the Commissioners contained some important recommendations which it would be well to follow.


explained that it was not his intention to make any charge against Rugby. He found, however, on referring to some memoranda which he had by him, that in quoting from memory he had attributed to the head master of Rugby a statement made by the head master of St. Paul's; but the general burden of the evidence bore out his view — that where French was obligatory as a study the pupils might be taught to read, but not to speak the language conversationally.


said, that if even he had not intended to take part in the debate, he must, after the numerous references which had been made to him, have felt it necessary to say a few words. In the first place, he would briefly recapitulate his former argument. The Commissioners had recommended the introduction of five or six new branches of study in the public schools, and, as he stated the other evening, it seemed impossible to accomplish that object without either undue pressure on the time and health of the boys, or without withdrawing some of the existing tasks. He admitted the value and necessity of these new studies, and the main object of his remarks on the former occasion was to show how other studies of less practical utility might be curtailed or relinquished. Above all, he had pointed out the disproportion between the value of a knowledge of Greek versification and the time and trouble that were requisite for its attainment. In support of that view he cited the opinion of a high authority— Dr. Whewell. In reply to that statement, it had been stated in the present evening that Dr. Whewell was eminent only as a mathematician; but those who spoke thus must surely be unacquainted with the extent of Dr. Whewell "s labours in classic literature—in Plato for example. In point of fact, he was distinguished as a great scholar as well as a great mathematician. But if Dr. Whewell's testimony was not sufficient, perhaps Lord Macaulay's might be accepted; and it was to the same effect. In his short but excellent Life of Pitt Lord Macaulay said— Mr. Pitt had never while under his tutor's care been in the habit of composing in the ancient languages, and he, therefore, never ac- quired that knack of versification which is sometimes possessed by clever boys whose knowledge of the language and literature of Greece and Rome is very superficial. It seemed then, that in Lord Macaulay's view, exactly as in Dr. Whewell's, boys might have a knack of Greek and Latin versification and yet possess only a superficial knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages. The rising intelligence of the age was beginning more and more to declare against the enormous consumption of mental labour, for an accomplishment learnt only to be again immediately forgotten, or which, if retained, could only rank at best as a graceful pastime. It seemed impossible that such an object could much longer "stop the way," or be taken as a substitute for other and far preferable branches of knowledge. Looking more especially to Eton, it was significant and unfortunate that in exact proportion as Greek versification bad increased the study of French had declined. The late Prince Consort in a generous spirit founded prizes at Eton for French and German; and from conversations he had had the honour of holding' with His Royal Highness he knew that this was an object he had much at heart. But this liberality on the part of the Prince had not been met by any corresponding energy on the part of the school. Indeed, so far from it—the study of French at Eton appeared of late to have gone backwards, instead of forwards. There was the testimony on that point of Mr. William Johnson, one of the ablest of the assistant-musters. He was questioned by Sir Stafford Northcote to the following effect:— French counts in the examination on trials, does it not?"—" It was dropped in the last examination for the middle division." "What was the cause of that?"—" I do not know." "Does it not seem rather hard that it should have been dropped?"—" Yes. He rejoiced to find that his noble Friend on his left (the Earl of Derby) and the right rev. Prelate opposite concurred in the view that French and, to some extent, German, ought to form part of the course of the study in the public schools. Indeed, that seemed to be the general opinion of their Lordships, as indicated by the debate. The only opinion to the contrary had been stated by his noble Friend near him (the Earl of Carnarvon), from whose views, as expressed that evening, he (Earl Stanhope) must say that he entirely dissented. His noble Friend seemed to stand forward as the champion of all those errors of system at Eton, which the highest authorities at Eton had themselves condemned. As to the employment of a French gentleman as teacher, he saw no reason why he should not he respected as much as any other master.


explained that all he said was that a French gentleman would probably fail to exercise that influence over the boys which he ought to possess.


saw no reason why, if he were a gentleman of education and intelligence, that should be the case. Foreign gentlemen were engaged in education at Oxford, Cambridge, and elsewhere without any such result, and why should it be otherwise at Eton? He hoped that, after the weighty and authoritative expression of opinion which had been elicited on this question, the governing body of Eton would be induced to reconsider this question, and to remedy the deficiency in their course of education. Reforms of this kind are far better made from within than from without. It is most desirable to carry along the existing powers towards the measures of improvement that have become necessary, instead of overruling and compelling those powers by the force of extrinsic legislation. He therefore earnestly desired to see the necessary reforms carried out by the governing bodies; but, in order that they might be, it behoved those bodies to weigh well the very judicious statements in the Report of the Commissioners, and also the comments which those statements had elicited in that and the other House of Parliament.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.

House adjourned at a quarter past Nine o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.