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should there be one, what could the nation expect after such examples having been shown by our youth? Then might the latter justly reproach us for not making them better: for he who would rear a sapling, must not begin by exposing the weak shoot to the fury of the storm." It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the simile I which denominates the student "a weak shoot, which is to be a sapling," combines all the qualities of absurdity and burlesque. For are not most of our students at that time of life, when they may have a progeny, and that princes are considered of age to reign? However calculated such lamentations are to excite risibility, this matter is too serious to justify laughter. I shall therefore treat it with becoming gravity. As the subject has been so much discussed, both in and out of the universities, I am also induced to beg that government would interfere, particularly as it has withdrawn the means of establishing the wished for regulations and order in their jurisdiction, from the respective provosts. The latter is a point that should be well remembered before judgment is passed. No authority on earth can act without the requisite means; how then is a provost divested of powers to do so? The title of magnificus, his purple robe, the trains of ermine, silver sceptre and golden crown, are estimated as they deserve; and I need hardly add that such outward
marks of dignity do not avail in our days: they, even excite laughter or ridicule, if not connected with other and more significant attributes: yet, although they are taken from the provost, he is still expected to maintain order amongst those young men who come under their charge, and whose temperaments have, it is not denied, on some solitary occasions, led to a degree of perturbation, by no means favourable to the tranquil pursuits of learning, although rendered almost inevitable by the peculiar character of the times. It is notorious that many of the prerogatives allowed to provosts by our ancestors, have been either abrogated or assumed by the government. It is said the provost should influence chiefly by his moral conduct and personal dignity: granted; but all morality should have a physical basis, and this is not communicated by personal example. Admitting the justice of the foregoing position, it must be allowed that any man whose moral excellence is such, as to produce some effect on the youthful student; would be least likely to compromise it, by accepting a situation in which its efficacy would be more than problematical; and God knows there is nothing to render the office of provost one of pecuniary cupidity. The salary is scarcely worth naming: it is trebly earned by the harrassing nature of his duties; it is, in truth, little more than what the world is accustomed to
call a post of honour; but if stripped of all those attributes which make it respectable and dignified, does it not become one of shame and dissatisfaction?
How singular! that with powers so limited, and subject to the incessant dictum of their respective governments, not only the editor of the Literary Journal, but other writers on the same side, should recommend still greater restrictions from without; thus divesting the temples of knowledge and abodes of learning, of that independence, and those' fascinations which can alone induce our youth to frequent them! And how, let me ask, have they deserved such a disgrace? Have the academical authorities ever opposed even-handed justice? Have they twisted right into wrong, or tolerated evil? Have they encouraged the law's delay more than others? Do they not submit their judgments to the college of decrees? These interrogatories might be extended much farther, but the subject is still open for discussion, and I must hasten to a conclusion. It remains for me to offer a few remarks on academical liberty, hitherto only treated, for the purpose of exposing the sophistical perplexity in which it was enveloped by an author, who seemed merely desirous of amusing his readers with sarcastic comments, or of gratifying his own selfish views.
According to my view of this matter, people generally speak of academical liberty, only as it relates to the students, looking upon it as a negative privilege, namely, the absence of that scholastic restraint they were under, previous to entering the university. Undoubtedly this negative quality belongs in a certain degree to academical liberty; and I have already shown why school restraint cannot exist in a university. Yet, there is another species of liberty attached to our great seminaries of a more positive kind, and which refers as much to the professors as to the students, I mean freedom of teaching, and freedom of hearing. The first of these consists of all those who are entered on the register of a university, and who have given sufficient proofs of their abilities, in any branch of knowledge, being allowed to teach others, that every established teacher may construct his lectures in the best way he can, without being bound to follow any written rules or specific plan of tuition. As what we call early teaching, (that communicated by such instructors as those alluded to above) is attained without interfering with more difficult or profound studies, no inconvenience can well arise from it; for however inadequate the self-elected instructor may be, he cannot but produce some advancement in the scholar. With respect, however, to the second point, I am inclined to more than doubt the expediency of
printed forms, or too methodical plans for teaching in universities: they not only cramp the mind, but impede the progress of knowledge. As merchants justly say to governments, laissez nous faire! so should the university teachers; and they might justly add, that knowledge' advances still less than trade, when the precise form of lectures and technical rules are prescribed.*
Amongst the numerous writers who have taken up the cause of the German universities, no one is more conspicuous than M. Villars, whose pamphlet entitled, Coup d'Eil sur les Universités et le Mode d'Instruction publique de l'Allemagne, &c. is a masterpiece in its way, and confers the highest honour on the author. This writer, though a Frenchman, has known how to appreciate the utility and importance of these seminaries, better than many of our ungrateful countrymen, who have joined in the senseless clamour against them. M. Villars concludes a mass of convincing arguments supported by many facts, with the following very judicious observation. To lower the universities from the rank they occupy, remove them to a distance from the throne, and take away their attributes, would be to continue the obligation of performing their functions, while every means of doing so was destroyed. It would, in fact, be to depreciate them, inflict a mortal wound on their general organization, and lay the foundation of their speedy extinction!" The concluding paragraph of this eloquent writer's book is also worth transcribing: "What is the result then of the foregoing observations? It is that every nation, distinguished from others, by its manners, language, taste, and habits, possesses a character, particular mode of viewing things, localities, and manner of living peculiar to itself, which it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to change. Civilized nations seem to participate in, and divide the various sources of glory, emulating each other by cultivating all the different branches of human