Imagens da página

some of the defects, such as the lowness and monotonous outline of the roofs. There was, moreover, a great advantage in having the whole establishment, except a few houses of Lecturers—hall, chapel, library, studies, and Principal's and Professors' houses—all included in one great quadrangle. One is glad to find something to say for Wilkins after his many sins. To this new building then the College was transferred from Hertford Castle in 1809. The first Principal, under whom the move took place from Hertford to Haileybury, was Dr. Samuel Henley. Of him so little is now in remembrance that he seems to have earned the praise of the ideal woman of Pericles, and to have been the least spoken of among men for good or evil. He had been a Professor in William and Mary College, Virginia, and was afterwards a master at Harrow ; but whether this was conjointly with his vicarage of Rendlesham in Suffolk, and his curacy of Hendon in Middlesex, is not clearly stated. No portrait of him survives, and he alone among the four Principals is not commemorated in the name of a ‘house' at modern Haileybury. He resigned his office in 1815. His successor was Dr. J. H. Batten, Professor of Classical Literature. He died two years before Sir M. Monier-Williams entered the College, so that but few reminiscences of him are here given. It is to be regretted, however, that his portrait is not included among the illustrations, reproduced, for example, from the picture which still hangs in the Masters' Common Room. This omission is the more remarkable, as photographs of ‘the Carpenter,’ ‘the Purveyor,’ ‘the Inspector,’ &c., are included. There is a curious uncertainty of touch, indeed, throughout, as to whether the book is meant only for Old Haileyburians, or addresses itself to the public as the record of a great and historical institution. Sir M. Monier-Williams would, we think, have been better advised if he had more consistently magnified his office. Principal Batten's time may be regarded as, on the whole, the zenith of the star of Haileybury. Hitherto the only Professor of much distinction had been the well-known Malthus, but now a remarkable galaxy was collected, including Sir James Mackintosh, William Empson, and Richard Jones, while H. H. Wilson, the Oxford Professor of Sanscrit, whom Sir M. Monier-Williams seems inclined to consider the strongest influence of all, was frequently in residence in his capacity of ‘Oriental Visitor.’ It is remarkable, too, that all the six great civilians who have given names to ‘houses’ in modern Haileybury, date from Dr. Batten's time. They are Lord Lawrence, Sir Bartle Frere, Sir Charles Trevelyan, Sir George Edmonstone, stone, James Thomason, and John Russell Colvin. When we consider how many other distinguished names, both in India and elsewhere, belong to the same period—to name only Sir George Clerk, Sir Frederick Halliday, the late Dean Merivale, Sir William Muir, Sir J. P. Grant, Sir Cecil Beadon, and Bishop Forbes of Brechin—it will be clear that the intellectual stimulus of the place must have been considerable. On Dr. Batten's retirement, owing to ill-health, in 1837, the doubtful precedent of elevating one of the Professors to the headship was followed. An unfortunate choice was made in the Rev. C. W. Le Bas, who held the Chair of Mathematics— an amiable, virtuous, and scholarly man; in every other respect singularly unfitted for a post which demanded, above all things, clear judgment and force of will. He was deaf, absent-minded, pedantic, and utterly incapable of maintaining the least discipline. As his principal assistant in this department was the Dean, Professor Jeremie, who was equally shy and afraid of the students; and as hardly any of the Professors, according to Sir M. Monier-Williams, had much more gift of asserting their authority, it is rather to the credit of the students themselves that the College was not literally as well as morally wrecked. Sir M. Monier-Williams's statement that, so far as he was able to observe, ‘the Principal, Dean, and Fellows courageously faced the difficulties of their position, and manfully fought with them, is flatly contradicted again and again in his own pages. We can quite believe that “the dark spots at Haileybury were not so dark as they were painted, and that even “the bad bargains” had their merits. It has been proved that these idle and stupid men were often men of great courage and pluck. In some instances, they certainly did better service during the Mutiny than their more intellectual fellows.' But the fact remains that the place did acquire, and not unjustly, a bad name for license and insubordination of all kinds, and that the lessons of law and order which these lads went out to impress upon the natives of India were certainly not learned in the lecture-rooms of the Professors or the study of the Principal. But, on the other hand, it may fairly be pleaded on behalf of the in-College authorities that the original machinery of government was, with a perverse ingenuity, made so radically vicious that only a born leader of men—which, whatever Batten may have been, Le Bas and Melvill certainly were not—could possibly have carried it on successfully for any length of time. It was from the first subjected to that hopeless system of divided authority, from which several public schools of this century, century, and particularly Cheltenham College, have since suffered. The power of carrying out the College statutes was at first vested in the Principal, the Dean, and the whole body of Professors. This proving hopeless—as might have been expected—the ‘Council, as it was called, was now limited to four, only the two senior Professors henceforward being included. The natural result of having four Head Masters, each independent of the others, duly followed. The deliberations, we are told, “seem never to have been carried on without a certain amount of internal friction '; and unanimous resolutions, even in the first stage, for the enforcement of the most elementary discipline, were rarely arrived at. much by the fact of having had his windows broken by the students, as that Jeremie positively for once “persisted in bringing the leaders before the Council.” Le Bas seems to have attracted considerable affection, perhaps more as Professor than as Principal, and his old pupils subscribed upwards of 19,000 rupees for a memorial of him, with which was founded the Le Bas Essay Prize at Cambridge. His letters to Archdeacon Hale, of which the book makes large use, are models of stately Johnsonian English, lightened by some very full-dress humour. The stories of his fondness for long words, such as “lithobolizing, are probably apocryphal, and are told of other Professors, but Canon Heaviside contributes a much more characteristic anecdote. It is that

But even this cumbrous body, the resident Council, might have done something, if it had been vested with real power. The mischief went deeper.

“The chief impediment to the smooth working of the machinery of such a system arose from the constant clashing between the resolutions and decisions of the College Council and the judgment and wishes of the Court of Directors, most of whom had sons or relations among the students, and naturally disapproved of any verdict of the Council unfavourable to their nominees. Not only did the friction between these two bodies lead to frequent disagreements, followed by that state of tension commonly called “strained relations,” but their harmonious action was made still more difficult by the occasional interference of a second [third 2) Court—the Court of Proprietors —as well as by the operation of another [the fourth] antagonistic force, represented by the President of the Board of Control, whose chief raison d'étre seems to have been to serve as a living incarnation of censorious objection to all the words and actions of both Court's] and College. Hence every decision and recommendation of the Principal and his Council had first to undergo the ordeal of carping dissection by twenty-four Directors, and a still more numerous body of Proprietors, some of whom were sure to criticize in a hostile spirit, and then had to be referred to the tender mercies of the President of the India Board.'

In short, the whole system, with its elaborate system of check and countercheck, resembles nothing so much as the Roman Republic, and, like it, tended to produce a chronic state of deadlock. A really strong man would doubtless have surmounted the difficulties of the situation by making himself Dictator, or letting the wheels only be moved by himself, but it is little ground for wonder that a body of learned, amiable old gentlemen, whose regard for their charges was much tempered by awe and bewilderment, found the difficulties of their position too much for them, and succumbed without much struggle. After six years Le Bas resigned, stimulated apparently not so


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

‘when Le Bas occupied a small house as Professor, and his family was increasing, he petitioned the Court of Directors for a new house, his petition beginning: “It having pleased Providence in His wrath to visit me with twins.” "

The resignation of Le Bas, with the unhappy circumstances which gave rise to it, materially contributed to bring about a complete change in the machinery of government, which, in the hands of a Principal carefully chosen for his organizing power, might now have completely re-established discipline. The principle of Odysseus—

[ocr errors]

now looked on as axiomatic in all public schools, and completely established in every modern one—was at last introduced at Haileybury in 1844. The cumbrous machinery of the antagonistic Courts was swept away, and the internal power of discipline made completely autocratic; all officials, expressly including the Dean, being now made liable to

dismissal by the Principal. The one thing necessary now was, clearly, to select the right man, but of his qualifications the Directors seem not to have had the dimmest idea. They decided not to follow the precedent of electing one of the Professors over the heads of the others—a wise principle in itself, but in this case also unluckily the semen odiorum. Their choice fell, it is true, on one of the best known of the many distinguished men associated with Haileybury—Henry Melvill, the famous preacher—but even his eloquence in the pulpit, though it was his chief qualification, was probably not the reason of his election. Sir M. Monier-Williams says that his appointment “was, no doubt, mainly due to his brother, the Chief Secretary to the Court of Directors.’ There seems to have been no idea whatever of the need need for appointing a “square’ man for such a very angular place as was now to be filled. The one thing necessary was a man who could and would restore order and discipline, and the first step that such a man would have taken would have been to make the Dean, Dr. Jeremie, distinctly understand that he must either act loyally or go. It must be admitted that when every possible allowance has been made, Jeremie comes out very badly in the record. He regarded himself, without any justification whatever, as aggrieved in not being elected to the headship, as two Professors had been before, and deliberately set himself to counteract or belittle the authority of Melvill, for whom he had conceived a jealous dislike. Sir M. Monier-Williams indeed admits that ‘any Principal would have been justified in dismissing a Dean with whom it was almost impossible to co-operate in the enforcement of discipline.’ And, this being the case, it is not true that Melvill “generously forbore to do this.' There is no generosity in sacrificing the well-being of those who are under your charge in order to shirk an unpleasant duty. The power of dismissal had been quite recently put into the Principal's hands, and with express mention of the Dean, in order that the antagonism of forces which had proved so disastrous might now be summarily ended, and discipline be satisfactorily enforced. Melvill, on the contrary, allowed himself to be continually thwarted and practically defied by his subordinate. The first six years of his régime therefore were those of the most unpleasant internal friction and tension in the whole history of the College; and it must have been a relief to everybody when in 1850 Jeremie was appointed to the Regius Professorship of Divinity at Cambridge. Jeremie's curious standard of duty does not seem to have been raised by leaving Haileybury, for he actually retained his Professorship together with the Deanery of Lincoln, to which he was appointed in 1864. In his time Lincoln was among the worst administered, as it is now among the best, of our English cathedrals. Jeremie was a polished scholar and an elegant preacher; and Canon Heaviside, with whom Sir M. Monier-Williams agrees, writes that “of the three great Haileybury preachers, Le Bas, Melvill, and Jeremie, the last was the best preacher to young men, and the most telling and pathetic.” His grace and lucidity of style was probably largely due to his French descent; for he could

preach and write as easily in French as in English. Melvill's Principalship may have been on the whole a success, as Sir M. Monier-Williams somewhat hesitatingly thinks it was at least after getting rid of Jeremie—but he does not seem to have left any very permanent impression. He came to Haileybury

« AnteriorContinuar »