Page images
[ocr errors]

this particular form of Class-consciousness' is leaving a deep mark on the mind and memory of the organised workers-and not least on those who fought and suffered in the War. The result is seen in the increasing support now given to Labour representation in Parliament.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is practically certain that neither the hopes nor the fears which are entertained as to what a Labour Government would do are likely to be justified by events. The desire, often expressed in the more ignorant Socialist harangues, that Labour will hoist the Red Flag on the citadal of the House of Commons' leaves the ordinary Trade Unionist stone cold. On the other hand, the fearful dread lest Messrs Henderson and Clynes should turn out to be British replicas of Lenin and Trotsky is only the product of 'stunt' journalism which wants to make our flesh creep. As a Liberal critic of the Labour programme put it a little while ago, Labour Ministers are less likely to sit like gods above the masses, ruling their lives and directing their toil,' than to 'sit with wet towels round their heads wondering how they shall placate the clamouring unemployed.' For our part we would far rather see such an administration fail in the latter way than succeed in the former. But what Labour wants will become more apparent and determinable during a period of ostensible Labour government than it is now, when it can be fairly argued that most Labour proposals are regarded by the Parliamentary majority as either premature or inexpedient. It will be better perhaps if the opportunity for putting some of their proposals into practice is delayed until the full effect of the recent experiments in 'socialisation' on the Continent has had time to soak in. Of one thing we may be sure that even if it be true, as we are frequently told, that 'economic power must precede political power,' it is a far deeper truth that only a moral support will give permanent security to any form of human government. BERTRAM CLAYTON.

Art. 10.-CAMBRIDGE AND THE ROYAL COMMISSION. 1. Royal Commission on Oxford and Cambridge Universities: Report. H.M. Stationery Office, 1922.

2. Royal Commission on Oxford and Cambridge Universities: Appendices to the Report of the Commissioners. H.M. Stationery Office, 1922.

In this article I propose to deal with the Report of the Royal Commission so far only as it concerns Cambridge, though naturally with incidental references to Oxford. Prof. Headlam has so ably dealt with the whole range of the Report, particularly in reference to his own University,* that there was no need to attempt to cover the same ground, especially as I agree with almost all his conclusions.


It must be at once said that the appointment of a Joint Commission was a calamity for Cambridge. is apparent that the Cambridge Commissioners were dragged at the Oxford cart-tail. Some of them got an excuse for making much more revolutionary recommendations for their own University than had been proposed by the most advanced reformers at Cambridgethe Committee of Younger Graduates (men under forty). It is also clear that they allowed themselves to be outwritten by their Oxford colleagues, with the result that, not only in the historical survey but in the presentation of our modern activities, Cambridge cuts a poorer figure than she ought. Thus, we are told that Oxford was the cradle of the Wycliffite doctrines'; but not a word is said about the 16th-century Reformers whom Cambridge bred and Oxford burned. It must suffice here to point to the jejuneness of the notices of the Cambridge schools of Classics and of Theology as compared with those of Oxford. Merely one short sentence of the faint praise that damns is devoted to the latter, which, as Dr Headlam points out, under Lightfoot, Westcott, and Hort, was probably the most important in the world.' Again, the reader would conclude that Oxford, which has only a Diploma in Anthropology, has a monopoly of that important study, although Cambridge has not only a

* 'Church Quarterly Review,' July 1922.

Diploma but a Tripos, which had this year more men than had the Moral Sciences Tripos in either Part.

Let us now consider the results, whether for good or evil, likely to arise from the chief recommendations of the Report. First in importance, of course, is the principle of accepting State grants with the uncomfortable corollary of also accepting State control. After pointing out that, though Tudor and Stuart monarchs attempted to control religious and political opinion in the Universities, the Commissioners comfort themselves by the great fact that the attempt of the State to control opinion broke down in 1688 and was never revived.' They omitted to point out that the Republicans of the Commonwealth-an element more analogous to certain great forces of our own day than absolute monarchs-took far more violent steps to thrust their opinions upon Cambridge colleges than any sovereign had done. They are right in holding that freedom

[ocr errors]

'is a great fact which has distinguished our University system from that of France and Germany. It is a precious part of our intellectual and moral heritage as a nation. If there were any danger that grants of public money would lead to State interference with opinion in the Universities, it might be the less of two evils that they should decline in efficiency rather than lose their independence in order to obtain adequate means. But the ways of thought and feeling of the modern British community are hostile to any development in the direction of State control of the academic spirit, and the public grants already enjoyed by the old Scottish and new English Universities have not led to State interference with opinion and tendency in those institutions.'

[ocr errors]

The State can, however, modify opinion and tendency in other ways than by direct interference. There are, too, not a few, and those competent judges, who hold that the influence of the Scottish Education Office has been by no means so beneficial to the Scottish Universities. Again, the Academic spirit' is essentially the outcome of collegiate life, and, as the Scottish and new English Universities have no collegiate system, any comparison in this respect between them and Oxford and Cambridge has little value. Moreover, the modern community' in Great Britain has shown a desire to dictate to the Secondary schools.

At this moment a strong protest is being made by leading educationists against the ceaseless activities of the Board of Education and the County Education Authorities (County Councils) destructive of the autonomy of the Secondary schools, and against the attempts to reduce them to one dead level. It is unnecessary to point out that by forcing a uniform system on the Secondary schools, the State and Local Authorities are distinctly exercising a baneful influence upon the Universities. They stamp the students from these schools, and this in itself is a danger to the old Academic spirit.' The type of education given in many old Grammar schools has been completely changed, the teaching of Greek being sometimes even forbidden, and the children of poor parents have been thus deprived of a classical education and opportunities for careers to which it leads. No one can deny that such a change of studies has resulted in a change of spirit in the schools.

[ocr errors]

Much as we would wish to share the optimism of the Commissioners with respect to the Universities, such considerations as the foregoing must give us pause. That very academic spirit on which the Commissioners set such value is, on their own showing, the result of complete freedom from State control, and if it is to survive and continue to exercise its intangible and vitalising influences on the generations to come, it must have complete freedom from bureaucratic control, both external and internal. Is this, however, possible if the University accept grants of public money voted yearly by the House of Commons? Our confidence in the optimism of the Commissioners gets a rude shock when we discover from their own Report and its Appendices that there are very powerful bodies in 'the modern British community' just as determined to control and modify the spirit of the Universities as were monarchs and Commonwealth Republicans. This is demonstrated by the proposals laid before the Commissioners by the Headmasters' Conference, the Incorporated Association of Headmasters, the Association of Headmistresses, the Labour Party, the Workers' Educational Association, the Co-operative Union, the National Union of Teachers (elementary school teachers), etc. Space forbids many citations: two must suffice to show the determination of

most of these bodies to use the proposed State grants as a powerful lever for affecting curricula, examinations and social habits, with the result that the Academic spirit,'' our most precious heritage,' will be modified or even killed. Thus the Incorporated Association of Headmasters demands a 'simplification of University life by the organisation of an effectively communal mode of living,' which means the abolition of the little breakfasts and luncheons in men's rooms, one of the most potent factors in the social and intellectual life of Cambridge for generating the Academic spirit.'

The document of the Labour Party is even more ominous. It dogmatically asserts that

in the forty years which have elapsed since Oxford and Cambridge were last the subject of inquiry by a Royal Commission those Universities have failed to adapt themselves to the changing educational needs and circumstances of the nation, an opinion which is illustrated by the resolutions requesting that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into Oxford and Cambridge which have been repeatedly passed by the Trade Union Congress';

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and later it declares that, at the present time our Universities fall short of the educational ideals of the Labour Party in a number of important respects.' 'The Labour Party does not wish to deprive the Universities of their independence, but first they must be brought into the system [national system of education], not merely because and so far as they receive public money, but because they are needed to perform a public function,' and it is also of opinion that the attempt to control these institutions merely by statute assisted by occasional Royal Commissions has now definitely failed, and that something of the nature of a continuous administrative control by the State must be undertaken' (the italics are mine). Thus it imperatively demands that these institutions must be 'under continuous administrative control by the State.' How that control is to be exercised the bodies above mentioned make quite clear. The Commissioners themselves when discussing the composition of the Council of the Senate say:

'Proposals have been submitted to us in favour of the appointment on the Council, or on the "Governing Body," of

« PreviousContinue »