Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

comes, we must consider him as having proved part of

his case.

We cannot disguise our surprise at the fact of our disputants having wasted so much spiteful logomachy upon the nature of the examinations themselves; of what importance is the evenness of the course, if, as the Professor states, it is predetermined “ that the race shall not be to the swift," what signify the equality and temper of the weapons, if “the battle is not to the strong ?” As a mere matter of speculation, however, we perfectly agree with the champion of the open colleges, that the nature of the trial was, in the first instance, unfairly stated by the Reviewer; and that, as described by himself, it presents a very full and sufficient test of scholarship and talent. Indeed, if we observe how Mr. Sandford manages this part of the controversy, we shall find him very nearly of the same opinion. He allows that the composition in Latin and English prose, and the off-hand rendering of Greek and Latin, “if wisely and skilfully applied, would be the best possible tests of knowledge and talent," but adds, what, of course, is true of them and of all the other criteria in the world put together, that “they may be so managed, as to render them farcical items in a trial merely nominal.” This question, therefore, is entirely dependent upon that respecting the capacity and honesty of the Examiners ; those who agree with Professor Sandford on that point will give themselves little concern whether the actors in this degrading and profligate piece of mummery, are called upon to analyze Aldrich or Bacon, Chrysippus or Plato; under those circumstances, indeed, an examination, specious in outward appearance, would be little more than a refinement of treachery and cruelty.

The third division of the subject, involving the question, whether the grossness of the partiality is so palpable that the Education Committee could take cognizance of it? though it is allowed by both parties to turn upon a mere matter of opinion, is discussed with the same rabid virulence which every where deforms the really splendid talents of these two gentlemen. For our part, we, upon this point, as well as upon the last, entirely agree with the Champion of Oxford, though we are inclined to make every allowance for the youthful ardour with which the Reviewer calls for inquiry into abuses, which he conceives (perhaps erroneously,) to be of such alarming magnitude. The Champion, on the contrary, who usually expresses himself pretty strongly, calls this idea “ ridiculously silly,”—TÙ O, ώ τάλαν, εσσι φιλεχθής !

Besides the main battle, in which these three principal posts are so obstinately attacked and defended, there are innumerable little skirmishes in which both parties display more bravery than coolness. In these the advantages are alternate, but, we think, the preponderance is in favour of the Professor, who performs the lighter maneuvres of controversy with a briskness and intrepidity truly wonderful. There is one peculiarity in both writers which will amuse our readers. “ Small as my powers may be,” says the Champion, “ I know them more than equal to the task of punishment.” Again, “ All I solicit is, that in case I accomplish my undertaking, I may be forgiven my unwillingness to sto op to an equality with an unprovoked, a scurrilous, and, as he will then be, a convicted, defamer.” He talks of having made “a sacrifice of fastidiousness," and confesses that he has assumed a tone of unceremonious superiority.” Now for the Professor-“No one knows exactly his own level in the scale of intellect; but surely the Champion might have perceived so broad and sensible an inferiority, as that in which he stands towards the writer, whom he endeavours to annoy. Afterwards, “ To this the public is indebted for its diversion, and I for the soporiferous task of crushing stingless imbecility.” αμβροσίαν κατ' εμού, κατά τούτο δε σκοροδαλμήν ! It is truly diverting to read these amabæan assertions of undoubted pre-eminence; it seems as if neither party expected the public to discover his matchless qualities, without the aid of a gentle admonition from their admirable possessor.

With respect to style, we may observe that the Champion appears to have thought and the Professor to have written the most ; the former often seems at, a loss for words to express his ideas with sufficient precision and distinctness, while the latter scatters his flowers of language with unbounded and embarrassing profuseness. The Champion invariably gets out of his element when he attempts to be smart; but his grave denunciations are far from deficient in power. Mr. Sandford, on the contrary, is seldom serious without being turgid ; but, as he very truly says of himself, “ he always makes us laugh.” It is quite wonderful to observe the mirthful use which he has made of his knowledge of the physiology of one domestic animal. The antiquated virgin and her tabby,” in the Review, “ the purring and perking of ears," “ the cat fizzing and worrying in behalf of its own pussikin ;' the “ Tabby to tabby-claw for claw,” in the letter to Elmsley, convince us that Mr. S. must have been an accurate and even fond observer of this interesting creature. Are we justified in conjecturing from this laudible partiality, coupled with the romantic attachment which he obviously feels for the place of his education, that our Professor, after a life honourably passed in his laborious office of * Master of the Mint of classical literature, may, ultimately, “ Die, and endow a college or a cat."

Both parties are most unconscionably prodigal of hard names ; and as the disputants, being men of some research, are not satisfied with the trite vocabulary of the gallery or the fish-market, we strongly recommend the whole controversy to newspaper editors, and all others whom it may concern, as a rich source of rather novel objurgation. The Professor, however is, in this department, as might be expected, the most sprightly of the two; and his antagonist, whom he finds “ a poor tutor,” and “sipper of green tea,” is soon transformed by his plastic wit into “ Snug the joiner," and is at last metamorphosed into “a young lady ;" we cannot help advising the Professor, notwithstanding “his habitual gallantry," to discontinue his attentions to this formidable virago

Ου γαρ σόι πως εστίν υπό δρυός, ουδ' υπό πέτρης,
Τη δαριζέμεναι, άτε, παρθένος, ήθεός τε,

Παρθένος ήλθεός τε θαρίζετoν αλλήλοιϊ. .
We regret that we are obliged to abandon these comba-

* Letter to Mr. Elmsley, p. 72.

tants without awarding to either the prize of victory; though we are aware that this is of little importance to themselves, who no doubt view the termination of the contest with equal complacency. The University of Oxford, indeed, and particularly Oriel College, has a real interest in obtaining a satisfactory decision of the point, in order that, if it be in their favour, they may enjoy a pure and undisturbed reputation; if the contrary, that they may, by a rigid and unrelenting reformation, begin to deserve it. All real friends to Oxford must wish this matter finally set at rest, but it seems impossible to do that from the materials before us.

As for our sanguine and confident warriors, who sing the pæan of triumph, when the battle is scarcely begun, we shall leave them comfortably involved in their good opinion, with the following valedictory suggestion :

Cher Marquis, je te vois l'ame bien satisfaite,
Tout chose t'égaye, et rien ne t'inquiète :
En bonne foi, crois tu, sans t'éblouir les yeux,
Avoir de grands sujets de paroitre joyeux ?

THE PUBLIC PRESS.

What! the public press again !-yes ;-we may say to every editor and writer, who belongs to it, like Conrad to Medora,

Again, again, and oft again, my love," until, even if we are unable to correct, we have at least had the satisfaction of exposing its enormities.

At present, however, our limits are so confined, that we have only the will without the power to execute our task with complete effect. We intend on some future occasion to have recourse to the following method. We shall extract specimens of atrocious composition from papers hostile in principles, but alike guilty in calumny and defamation. We shall set the furious invectives of the UltraTories against the savage sarcasms of the Radical Whigs : for instance, the Correspondent against the Examiner, Wooler against John Bull, and Blackwood against the Rambler's Magazine. We expect an excellent result from this juxta-position of libels. It will shew that there is no real contrast in the spirit of the publications. The persons attacked are different, the manner in which they are attacked is the same, equally disgusting and equally indefensible. It will shew that all these productions, on whichever side they may be written, must naturally tend to the same mischievous and lamentable consequences—to imbitter and degrade political disputes ; to turn them from principles to persons, from systems to individuals, from the measures of the minister to the domestic life of the man; to create universal disrespect for rank, disbelief in patriotism, and despair of public virtue. While one public character is assailed at all points by one nameless scribbler, another by another, and so on ad infinitum; it will be supposed at last, that there is not a single wise, or good, or honest man in the three kingdoms. Again, the well-meaning but unreflecting individuals, who would only laugh at the slanderous vehemence of their own party, may be taught by our plan to recoil from it with abhorrence, when they see its naked deformity in the writings of enemies, whose sins are in fact barely on a par with the offences of their friends.

And, not only must all lies and slanders work to the same ends, but all liars and slanderers have a friendship and a fellow-feeling. There may be a temporary estrangement, an accidental hostility ; but they are still connected by a secret and indissoluble link. There is an attraction and affinity between them; they gravitate to each other by the law of nature. Hear old Cobbett speaking of John Bull.

We like to see John's lashing work, which he does well, and which he can hardly lay on amiss, striking as he does, amongst the knaves, bullies, and hypocrites in notorious life.” Cobbett likes to see the lashing work-of course he does ; and so does every radical reformer, every jacobin leveller, every revolutionist in Great Britain. But honest and high-minded Tories should not like it ; they ought to know that if they encourage this lashing work, when the Whigs are to be the sufferers, they are pre paring a scourge for their own backs, under which they

ܪ

« AnteriorContinuar »