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by such addiction to fox-hunting; but, on the contrary, what is gained to the fox-hunter, who would, at any rate, be such, by so considerable a homage paid to letters, and so inevitable a commerce with men of learning. Anything whatsoever attained in this direction, is probably so much more than would have been attained under a system of less toleration. Lucro ponamus, we say, of the very least success in such a case. But, in speaking of toleration as applied to acts or habits positively against the statutes, I limit my meaning to those which, in their own nature, are morally indifferent, and are discountenanced simply as indirectly injurious, or as peculiarly open to excess. Because, on graver offences (as gambling, &c.), the malicious impeachers of Oxford must well have known that no toleration whatsoever is practised or thought of. Once brought under the eye of the university in a clear case and on clear evidence, it would be punished in the most exemplary way open to a limited authority; by rustication, at least—that is, banishment for a certain number of terms, and consequent loss of these terms -supposing the utmost palliation of circumstances; and, in an aggravated case, or in a second offence, most certainly by final expulsion.
But it is no part of duty to serve the cause even of good morals by impure means; and it is as difficult beforehand to prevent the existence of vicious -practices so long as men have, and ought to have, the means of seclusion liable to no violation, as it is afterwards difficult, without breach of honor, to obtain proof of their existence. Gambling has been known to exist in some dissenting institutions; and,
in my opinion, with no blame to the presiding authorities. As to Oxford in particular, no such habit was generally prevalent in my time; it is not an English vice; nor did I ever hear of any great losses sustained in this way. But, were it otherwise, I must hold, that, considering the numbers, rank, and great opulence, of the students, such a habit would impeach the spirit and temper of the age rather than the vigilance or magisterial fidelity of the Oxford authorities. They are limited, like other magistrates, by honor and circumstances, in a thousand ways; and if a knot of students will choose to meet for purposes of gaming, they must always have it in their power to baffle every honorable or becoming attempt at detecting them. But upon this subject I shall make two statements, which may have some effect in moderating the uncharitable judgments upon Oxford discipline. The first respects the age of those who are the objects of this discipline; on which point a very grave error prevails. In the last Parliament, not once, but many times over, Lord Brougham and others assumed that the students of Oxford were chiefly boys; and this, not idly or casually, but pointedly, and with a view to an ulterior argument; for instance, by way of proving how little they were entitled to judge of those thirty-nine articles to which their assent was demanded. Now, this argued a very extraordinary ignorance; and the origin of the error showed the levity in which their legislation was conducted. These noble lords had drawn their ideas of a university exclusively from Glasgow. Here, it is well known, and I mention it neither for praise nor blame, that students are in the habit of
coming at the early age of fourteen. These may allowably be styled boys. But, with regard to Oxford, eighteen is about the earliest age at which young men begin their residence: twenty and upwards is, therefore, the age of the majority; that is, twenty is the minimum of age for the vast majority; as there must always be more men of three years' standing, than of two or of one. Apply this fact to the question of discipline: young men beyond twenty, generally, that is to say, of the age which qualifies men for seats in the national council, hardly, with decency, either be called or treated as boys; and many things become impossible as applied to them, which might be of easy imposition upon an assemblage really childish. In mere justice, therefore, when speculating upon this whole subject of Oxford discipline, the reader must carry along with him, at every step, the recollection of that signal difference as to age, which I have now stated, between Oxonians and those students whom the hostile party contemplate in their arguments.* Meantime, to show
* Whilst I am writing, a debate of the present Parliament, reported on Saturday, March 7, 1835, presents us with a determinate repetition of the error which I have been exposing; and, again, as in the last Parliament, this error is not inert, but is used for a hostile (apparently a malicious) purpose; nay, which is remarkable, it is the sole basis upon which the following argument reposes. Lord Radnor again assumes that the students of Oxford are "boys;" he is again supported in this misrepresentation by Lord Brougham; and again the misrepresentation is applied to a purpose of assault upon the English universities, but especially upon Oxford. And the nature of the assault does not allow any latitude in construing the word boys, nor any room for evasion as respects the total charge, except what goes the length of a total retraction. The charge is, that, in a requisition made at the very threshold of academic life, upon the under
that, even under every obstacle presented by this difference of age, the Oxford authorities do, nevertheless, administer their discipline with fidelity, with intrepidity, and with indifference as respects the high and the low, I shall select from a crowd of similar recollections two anecdotes, which are but trifles in themselves, and yet are not such to him who recognizes them as expressions of a uniform system of dealing.
A great whig lord (Earl C) happened (it may be ten years ago) to present himself one day at Trinity (the leading college of Cambridge), for the purpose of introducing Lord F-ch, his son, as a future member of that splendid society. Possibly it mortified his aristocratic feelings to hear the head of the college, even whilst welcoming the young nobleman in courteous terms, yet suggesting, with some standing and the honor of the students, the university burdens their consciences to an extent, which, in after life, when reflection has enlightened them to the meaning of their engagements, proves either a snare to those who trifle with their engagements, or an insupportable burden to those who do not. For the inculpation of the party imposing such oaths, it is essential that the party taking them should be in a childish condition of the moral sense, and the sense of responsibility; whereas, amongst the Oxonian under-graduates, I will venture to say that the number is larger of those who rise above than of those who fall below twenty; and, as to sixteen (assumed as the representative age by Lord Radnor), in my time, I heard of only one student, amongst, perhaps, sixteen hundred, who was so young. I grieve to see that the learned prelate, who replied to the assailants, was so much taken by surprise; the defence might have been made triumphant With regard to oaths incompatible with the spirit of modern manners, and yet formally unrepealed—that is a case of neglect and indolent oversight. But the gravamen of that reproach does not press exclusively upon Oxford; all the ancient institutions of Europe are tainted in the same way, more especially the monastic orders of the Romish church.
solemnity, that, before taking any final resolution in the matter, his lordship would do well to consider whether he were fully prepared to submit himself to college discipline; for that, otherwise, it became his own duty frankly to declare that the college would not look upon his accession to their society as any advantage. This language arose out of some recent experience of refractory and turbulent conduct upon the part of various young men of rank; but it is very possible that the noble earl, in his surprise at a salutation so uncourtly, might regard it, in a tory mouth, as having some lurking reference to his own whig politics. If so, he must have been still more surprised to hear of another case, which would meet him before he left Cambridge, and which involved some frank dealing as well as frank speaking, when a privilege of exception might have been presumed, if tory politics, or services the most memorable, could ever create such a privilege. The Duke of W had two sons at Oxford. The affair is now long past; and it cannot injure either of them to say, that one of the brothers trespassed against the college discipline, in some way, which compelled (or was thought to compel) the presiding authorities into a solemn notice of his conduct. Expulsion appeared to be the appropriate penalty of his offences: but, at this point, a just hesitation arose. Not in any servile spirit, but under a proper feeling of consideration for so eminent a public benefactor as this young nobleman's father, the rulers paused and at length signified to him that he was at liberty to withdraw himself privately from the college, but also, and at the same time, from the university. He