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standard of either manners or morals-whether this feature of the cramming system cannot be abolished?
One reason why cramming, as thus understood, flourishes is no doubt the force of habit. A promising candidate is sent to a crammer in order to make sure of success, which the crammer gets the credit of; whereas the boy might have done equally well had he stayed at school : thus the system tends to perpetuate itself. Still this does not altogether explain the cause of success. The fact is that while in these private establishments there is usually little means of, or incentive to amusement, the idle element also of the schools is not present. The majority of boys at a public school find themselves there because they cannot help it, and have no particular object in view to work for; they therefore fall into the habit of doing no more than they are absolutely made to do. The pupils at a crammer's, on the other hand, have all a definite aim held before them. Further, the hours appropriated to study are much longer, the classes are smaller, while lastly, and herein lies no doubt the main secret of success, the pupil gets a great deal more individual teaching. Our public school system, under which large classes are necessary to supply the large profits customary in the profession, admit, it may be, of a good deal of learning, but very little teaching. Further, it need hardly be said that the scope of that teaching is too limited. If then the public schools are to take their share in this work, they must give more time to teaching and teach more things. Nor is it a question of sacrificing thoroughness in what is now taught. Anyone acquainted with the particulars of the course of study required from a pass-man at either Oxford or Cambridge, must be aware what an extremely insufficient occupation it supplies for the ten years or so of time ostensibly given to preparation, how limited is the range of subjects, and how small the amount of knowledge gained within those limits. University teachers may reply that if the standard is low, it is at any rate high enough for those who have to pass it, as is shown by the large proportion of failures, failures due to the ignorance and imperfect preparation of many of the men coming up from the public schools. The masters of the public schools might retort that they cannot raise the standard of school work, because that of the universities is so low. That standard, they may say, necessarily regulates the course of public school education, because the majority of boys who go on to the universities are not influenced by the wish to take honours, or even to acquire a decent education. With them the love of learning for its own sake is wholly non-existent. Their object
VOL, CXXXIX. NO. CCLXXXIV.
is simply to scrape through the university with as little labour as possible, and they cannot be got to work beyond the point necessary for achieving a degree, any more than the level of a cistern can be kept above that of the waste-pipe.
We are of course not speaking here of the young men who go up from the higher forms of the public schools, and who have in effect reached the B.A. standard before they get to the university, but of the much larger number who pass on from school without having got out of the lower forms. And, in this controversy, of which the sound has so often lately come across the public ear, we conceive that the university has the worse case of the two. In truth, nothing about university life is more striking than the contrast between the efforts and the high aims of the few, and the culture and solid result achieved by them—a minority, it must in fairness be said, constantly increasing—and the utter uselessness of it to the many. How can it be otherwise, when the academic terms occupy less than half the year, and during term time the hours devoted to study are but the merest fraction of the day? That the appellation of reading man should be applied to the students of exceptional aims is in itself a sufficient satire on the university system, which is in fact, for the many, nothing but legalised idleness, the most precious years of a man's life in too many cases utterly wasted.
The reform to be effective must, therefore, come from above; but the public schools should not wait for this, if the education of our youth for the public service of the country is not to slip out of their hands. A good example has indeed already been set in this matter. Cheltenham and Wellington Colleges have for some years past shown that thorough preparation for the various tests we have had under notice is quite compatible with the conditions of public school-life; the younger institutions of Clifton and Haileybury are following in the same line, cognising the fact that in these days of new professions and diverging roads of employment, the sole object of a public school should not be to prepare boys for the universities, which a large number of them are not destined to enter; and the socalled modern departments are in course of development in other schools, of both older and newer foundation. But there are still many large schools, at which while there is no guarantee that a boy in the lower forms shall gain more than a smattering of Latin and Greek, there is an absolute certainty that he shall know nothing else. And, apart from the question of the subject-matter to be taught, the reform really needed is that there should be more of both teaching and learning at
all schools, whether in the classical or modern sides; in this respect the system of the crammers may be imitated with entire advantage. New subjects of study need not replace existing ones, but only existing idleness. Just as people who have nothing to occupy them in life manage to spread out that nothing over the whole day, while men of business find leisure for other pursuits, so there is abundant time at most public schools to teach other things without teaching less of the things taught already. Most boys are not long enough at work, and while nominally at work are not really doing anything. To the majority, moreover, the introduction of new subjects for study would act as an incentive rather than an interruption to work. The prospect before them of so many years to be spent in precisely the same way, the long time given and the narrow range of scholarship to be covered at the end of it, must often at present tend to destroy what little zeal for study was there before; to extend that range should not interfere with what is done already, but rather act as a stimulant. All this, indeed, has been repeatedly said already by the advocates of educational reform; that while the boys who display special talent for classical studies may be left to concentrate their energies on the acquisition of scholarship, the great majority of boys who will under no circumstances become good scholars may be taught a great many other useful things without any sensible diminution of what they learn already. The course of education at public schools must, no doubt, be influenced chiefly by the preparation needed for the universities ; but the proportion of public school boys who are not destined for the universities grows ever larger, while for one great profession, the army, a test has now been imposed where none existed before, and if the public schools are not to lose their hold over the supply, it behoves them to alter their plans betimes. Eton especially, always conspicuous for the high standard of idleness maintained there, has been wont to pass by on the other side when educational reform was discussed. But if under the new system it continues to be necessary
for young men to transfer themselves from Eton to a cramming tutor in order to enter the Guards or the Line, Eton will be more discredited than by any of the other shortcomings which have been alleged against her.
In all the foregoing remarks we have taken for granted that the principle of open competition will be maintained, at any rate for the present. The time has perhaps not yet come when a reaction of public sentiment may be expected as regards its application to the different branches of the service we have had under consideration, in which the appointments are numerous and competition keen. But the principle has quite lately been extended to nearly the whole English Civil Service, under entirely new conditions, and a protest may here be recorded against the change, before the mischief of the plan has become fully developed. The appointments to be filled up in this way may be roughly divided into two main classes : the one comprising those in the higher public offices, the vacancies in which are comparatively few; and the other and vastly more numerous one, comprising a great variety of posts in various subordinate offices and departments, as to which it may be affirmed that while a very moderate standard of qualification is all that is necessary, men of talent would in most cases be absolutely out of place; that at any rate talent is of minor importance compared with respectability, which is the really essential qualification. Now the popular notion that the extension of the principle of competition is a great triumph of the popular cause, we believe to be a complete mistake. "The persons most eager to abolish patronage have been those who possessed it. One reason for the readiness exhibited by ministers to disburden themselves of the load is, no doubt, that which has been often stated, that the dispensers of patronage offend more people than they gratify, a probable truth as regards the relations between a minister sitting for a borough and the supporters who want nominations to the public offices for their sons; but the real cause for the alacrity with which the competitive system has been embraced, is that public men as a rule are simply indifferent to patronage-patronage, that is, which cannot be made applicable to their own immediate friends or relations. A prime minister may appreciate the power of selecting an Indian viceroy from among the members of his government or his personal friends, and to a chancellor or chief justice the privilege of distributing the small posts about his court among sons and nephews whose only qualification consists in having been called to the bar, is no doubt highly relished; but it is not proposed to do away with the power of selection in these cases. Competition is to be applied only to the class of appointments which, from the nature of the case, would have to be bestowed on applicants in whom the donor can have no personal interest, and by this substitution he escapes from the necessity of refusing favours to his friends or constituents, still more of taking the trouble needful for making a proper selection.
Service by open competition is to reproduce in another form the very evil which the measure was intended to guard against. The charge alleged against the system of nomination by ministers to the public service was, not that it gave an insufficiency of able men for the higher posts of the permanent Civil Service, nor even that the general level of ability was too low. The work to be done by the mass of persons employed in our public offices is not of a sort to need conspicuous ability for its performance, and it is very much more conducive to a healthy tone in the public service that the men of exceptional ability should be found in some sort of relation to the number of posts which demand exceptional ability for their performance, than that the government offices should be crowded with persons too finely organised to be content with the performance of routine work, and all pressing forward for the vacancies in the 'higher posts. The complaint which used to be made, and made justly, was, that men were occasionally appointed to the public service by nomination who were unfit for any work whatever. Yet this is just what may happen under the system which replaces it. In the attempt to cure one evil another has been produced of equal magnitude. The fact is, that neither mode of appointment provides, of itself, a complete guarantee of fitness. Nomination fails on the score of brains, competition on the score of character; for the sort of testimonial on this head furnished by the candidate's referees, often themselves quite unknown and irresponsible persons, proves nothing as to many essential conditions of character. Among the Irishmen who are now pressing forward in shoals for places in this competition, there is nothing to prevent any number of Fenians or men who are rebels at heart from obtaining places; they have only to keep their political opinions out of the essays they are called on to write at the preliminary examination. Some people may say, why not Fenians as well as anybody else? why should any class of citizens be excluded from the public service so long as they conduct themselves properly? But this is obviously to lay down a false canon. The public service is not something to which the public have any claim, but it is something which those who govern the country are bound in the public interests to maintain in the highest possible efficiency; and this condition will not be satisfied if persons politically disaffected obtain admission to it, or others, as to whose respectability little more is really known than they have not undergone penal servitude. The fact is, the selection of fit persons to serve the State is one of the natural duties incumbent on