« PreviousContinue »
In order that “poor scholars” of good morals and bright talents may be properly qualified for employing their abilities for the good of the commonwealth, many of the founders and benefactors of schools have left exhibitions for the maintenance of one or more students at the Universities. Some of these exhibitions are appropriated to particular schools or localities, and others are left open without any limitation of place. It has been justly observed that “the connecting of a school with a college is a wise contrivance to preserve it in honour and reputation ;” and it may be added that if such connexions were more general (even of those schools which have no exhibitions to the Universities), great advantages would accrue, and the results would be found to be mutually beneficial.
It has with much truth been remarked, that “of those who superintend the education of youth, Erasmus is ever fond of expressing his praise; and whenever he had an opportunity, he encouraged men of letters to undertake the laborious care of a grammar-school, which he always most justly commends, as what exalts the master to the highest dignity; whose business is to season youth in learning and religion, and raise up men for the service of their country. It may be,' he observes, the employment is accounted vile and mean in the opinion of fools; but in itself it is really great and honourable.'
“The historians of all those empires which have become great and eminent, have taken much pains in discovering and describing the progress of their arms, the enlargement of their territories, and the increase of their power and grandeur; but, unhappily, they have not taken the same pains in tracing and delineating the cultivation of their intellectual faculties, and their gradual improvement in learning and useful knowledge. While the exploits of every victorious prince and general, who had contributed to the aggrandisement of his country, have been recorded with the greatest care and the highest praises ; the very names of those peaceful sages who had enlarged the empire of reason, had improved the minds, and polished the manners of their fellow-citizens, have hardly found a place in the annals of their country.” Dr Johnson, in his life of Addison, very justly observes : “Not to name the school or the masters
of men illustrious for literature is a kind of historical fraud, by which honest fame is injuriously diminished.”
The formation of the national character depends greatly on the principles, ability, and energy of schoolmasters. It is highly important for schoolmasters to accustom the minds of learners to recur to first principles on all subjects of human inquiry, and in history to trace and scrutinize the consequences, both to individuals and nations, of any departure from truth and rectitude. It is painful to reinark, that the evidence in the reports of parliamentary commissions, and the disclosures and explanations made of late years in the British legislature, have exhibited strange violations and want of principle in high places. The question “ What have we to do with principle,” as reported to have been uttered by a statesman of no small influence in his day, appears to be somewhat like a defence of such dereliction of principle. These symptoms, perhaps, may be indications of the incipient decline of the national character. The reader of the history of England may recollect that under the advice of evil counsellors, a departure from the principles of the British constitution was followed by the exile of a sovereign and the banishment of a royal line from the throne.
It is an essential part of education that learners should be impressed with the conviction, that they have something to do with principle, if the frank, open and upright honesty of the English character is to be upheld among us, and not sacrificed or complimented away in unworthy concessions to Jesuitical and time-serving expediency.
The brief historical notices of the Chartered Companies of London, and the account of the exhibitions, &c. in their gift, are abridged from the Reports of the Parliamentary Commissioners for inquiring into Charities, and from Mr Herbert's valuable history of the Livery Companies. The compiler has to acknowledge his obligations to the Clerks of the Companies for the information respecting the present value of their exhibitions and the rules and conditions under which such aids are granted to poor students at the universities.
March 19, 1855.