« AnteriorContinuar »
their folds a golden gleam, is surely Inisfail, overspread with magic forests from the beginning, and keeping still as a fringe for its enchanted lakes the arbutus and the rowan-tree. Its ancient stones have carved upon them the Ogham writing; they whisper of gods and heroes in a speech hard to be understood, so long has it passed from the minds of men. As the poet looks round him in that solitude, he will catch a glimpse of forms that, like the glorious clouds which for ever haunt Niagara, rise up and turn to shapes of loveliness, melting in the sunlight while he watches them. Afar off, from the fairy hill, comes in faintest breathings the music which has enthralled the bardic poets, from Ossian down to Carolan, and which Moore, though he could not speak their language, has married to verse as spiritual and light-moving as if Finvarra himself had chanted it. And remote, as in sullen pride, from these trooping elves, with their raiment of silk and their fantastic merriment, the lonely but more awful spirits of the waste have set their dwelling, the Leannan Sidhe, who has driven poets insane with love of her, and the monsters of the brook or the glen lying in wait until mortals shall venture nigh to them. Yet more distant, in a glimmering dawn, appear but as clouds on the horizon, those that ruled as gods in Erinn, strange doubtful lineaments, uncertain if of the sky or the nether deeps. Their names survive—the rest is conjecture and mere oblivion. But, unlike the countries of to-day, which are covered over with Hebrew, Hellenic, and Roman institutions, so that the primitive life has been hidden away as in a palimpsest, this one island neither banished nor ceased to believe in its Druids, magicians, and elemental tribes. Its faith was large enough, or else so childlike, that it could accept in all its fulness the doctrine that life is everywhere, and that matter, how lowly soever we may deem it, has power to influence the spirit for good or evil, Plena omnia Jovis. Strict science throws out many a shining thread in the direction of this old theology. But the poet? How can he sing at all, unless, in some fine sense, he gives to the universe a life that is more than allegory and symbol? It is for him, in his brave solitude, to confront our narrow-chested existence of the cities; to reveal the true sun-god, who is man caught up to a glory not his own ; and, by the wisdom which has, in its permitted degree, learned the secret of eternal things, to take from the strength of the crowd its rudeness, and to set forth, in his mystic song, the beauty of a life at one with Nature.
ART. IX. —Memorials of Old Haileybury College. By Sir M.
|No. miles due north of London—to be quite precise,
remarkably well set off by the noble elms and park-like playingfields before it, while the fortunate accident of a small sheet of water in the foreground is as useful for the view as the Minster Pool to Lichfield, or the Bishop's Moat to Wells Cathedral. Haileybury was not the first home of the East India College; for that we shall have to go two miles further on, to Hertford Castle. But the East India College itself was not the first attempt at supplying the preliminary training for the Company's civil servants, the need of which had been becoming for years more pressingly evident. The true pioneer in this work was Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General of India. He founded the Calcutta College in 1800, on a scheme which appears to have been too enlightened for the time, making provision “for the study of the Oriental languages, and for lectures on almost every branch of literature and science. Lord Wellesley's enlightened scheme, however, was severely cut down in two ways. In the first place the home authorities were, not unnaturally, alarmed at the expense to which they might thus possibly be committed, and remarked that, “if general knowledge be necessary’—the “if” is good—the presumption was in favour of it being imparted at home, ‘of superior quality, and at a much smaller expense.” Secondly, the authorities had agreed that all their ‘writers’ should enter the Calcutta College, leaving it to the Governor-General to which Presidency they were afterwards to be appointed. But here the jealousy of Bombay and Madras was aroused, these presidencies thinking that the best men would probably be retained for Bengal; so that when Lord Wellesley's scheme, after much paring down, was finally sanctioned, Fort William College was for one of the three presidencies only, and provided instruction merely in Indian languages. Meanwhile further pressure for a preparatory College in England was being put upon the authorities by the great outlying factory of Canton, to which Fort William College was useless. The Committee of Correspondence, to which the subject was remitted, then reported strongly in favour of the establishment of a College, based on a broad system of education, in addition to training in Oriental studies. They recommended that a house should be procured ‘in a healthy situation, and within a reasonable distance of London, and that the inclusive charge for students should be 100 guineas a year. Hertford Castle, which belongs to Lord Salisbury, was then vacant, and was found suitable for a beginning, which was made in February 1806. It is, or was—for it has since been much reduced—a substantial Jacobean house, with additions made by the Marquis of Downshire, who had resided here, and Vol. 179-No. 357. Q had
had been Mayor of Hertford in 1791. It is close to the centre
“Of bosky heath and misty vale,'
though the nineteenth milestone from London stands hard by. A site quite as good, and perhaps more beautiful, might easily then have been found in Surrey; but is there any site in Surrey within that range which has lost so little of its original wild
* Byrig is the plural of burh, an earthwork, mess,
ness, or is in so much safety from the encroachments of ‘the great wen’? For, besides the great barrier of the common land of Hertford Heath, the estate was fortunately even then of considerable size—fifty-five acres in a ring-fence. Nor could it be called at all inaccessible. The Eastern Counties Railway was opened as far as Broxbourne in 1839, and, even before that, Hoddesdon had been a great place for coaches, where the Hertford road leaves the Great North road that runs through Ware and Royston to Huntingdon. Here then, on an admirable site, Wilkins was commissioned to build the College, which he did very badly, giving such ability as he possessed entirely to the construction of the sham front above described. Sir M. Monier-Williams describes it as
“an attempt to construct a respectable academic quadrangle by adding to the line of the imposing show-front, three sides of a square of dingy, common-looking brick buildings, pierced with small windows and roofed with cheap slates, the whole addition being of a pattern which would scarcely have been tolerable in a barrack, a prison, or a workhouse.’
He fortifies his description by appealing to a letter from the despondent Principal, Le Bas, whose pessimism was doubtless largely produced by the sense of his own incompetence for dealing with students who chiefly wanted discipline.
“As for the form of the building, I never think of it without being tempted to wish for an earthquake to swallow it all up! It is neither more nor less than a congeries of every imaginable defect. That the College should have existed so long’ (this was only in 1843), ‘in spite of the evils occasioned by this one prodigy of blundering—this original sin of the place—is to me a source of perpetual astonishment. And, alas! the mischief is incurable. The very thought of it, sometimes, makes me more than half an Abolitionist.’
No visitor nowadays would carry away such a gloomy impression, and yet the great Quadrangle is very little altered, except indeed in one great feature which dominates the whole, the beautifully proportioned apse and soaring dome of the modern chapel. But it is probably true that Wilkins's building was so bad that the money which has been incessantly spent on repairs would have raised a far better new building in its place. Of one distinction the College was and is not unfairly proud—that of possessing the largest enclosed Quadrangle in England. It is nearly an exact square of about 360 feet, while the Great Court of Trinity, which is not perfectly quadrangular, measures only about 330 feet by 270. The sense of spaciousness which this gives may perhaps be set off against Q 2 SOrne