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REFORMS at Oxford -- Repeal of Tests-Stanley's sermon-Jowett at Manchester-At St. Mary's—At the Old Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh - Chapel services at Balliol-Lectures given at Edinburgh on Boswell and Johnson-Jowett at Tummel Bridge - The School and Children's Bible-Life at Tummel Bridge-Opposition to Stanley as Select Preacher-Letters.
DURING the first year of his Mastership Jowett had
spent much time in College meetings, helping to revise the Statutes, mainly in regard to clerical and married Fellows. For of the first there were too many and of the second too few to suit the spirit of the time. The results pleased him. “My terminal meetings,' he says in October, 1871, ‘have passed off extremely well, and the Visitor has acceded to all the most important changes in the Statutes.' But besides these labours in College he was endeavouring, with others, to rearrange the studies of the University in order to develop more fully the system of combination among the Colleges, and here he found great difficulties.
* We get on very well,' he says, 'with our plans for reconstructing the historical and philological studies of
the University, but not equally well with the philosophical, about which we are at loggerheads. I believe that we shall get through the whole before the end of Term.' That was always Jowett's belief -- he would finish the work long before it could be finished. And it was so in this case—for six months later Mr. Harrison writes :
'I am tired out just now, having spent the last hour and a half in reforming the University : that is, I have been helping the Master to reduce into better shape new scheme of studies, which the Dons have been making and marring, and amending and wrangling over, Heaven knows how long. And after all I am not sure that the old system was not better.'
In 1871 the Bill was carried which abolished religious tests as a condition of proceeding to the degree of M.A. at the Universities. Though clerical Fellowships still continued to exist, all lay students were now on precisely equal terms. To many this removal of a deeply felt and galling restriction, together with the greater freedom allowed by residence out of College, seemed to be the beginning of a new era in University life. The Universities were no longer to be the privilege of the few, who by their wealth and religious views were able to take advantage of them, and the prizes which they had to offer; they were to be open to all, to the poor no less than the rich, the Dissenter no less than the Churchman; they would at last become what they ought to be, national centres of thought and education, whose influence would reach far beyond the aristocracy and the clergyto the national school and the parish Ebenezer. Nowhere do we find a more eloquent expression of the thoughts which were animating the Liberals of Oxford at this time than in the concluding words of a sermon
preached by Dean Stanley, in St. Mary's, on February 25, 1872, on the well-known text (the valley of dry bones), Ezekiel xxxvii. 1-3. Those who remember Stanley can picture the voice and look with which he made this thrilling appeal:
There is the glorious prospect now for the first time revealed to Oxford of becoming not the battle-field of contending religious factions, but the neutral, the sacred ground, where the healing genius of the place and the equal intercourse of blameless and generous youth shall unite the long estrangements of Judah and of Ephraim, of Jerusalem and Samaria. There are the chances for the teachers and the students of the nineteenth century, such as have not been known in any previous age, for the reconcilement of the holy claims both of science and religion, of the love of truth and the love of goodness.
' And to answer to this trumpet call, to join in this splendid work, we appeal to the manly, upright, independent, industrious, modest, reverential spirit of the rising generation of this place, to lift themselves to the level of their great vocation.
You have inherited this beautiful, soothing past ; you must inherit also that bright, that inspiring future, Prophesy-not only over the dry bones of a dead antiquity, but over the living souls of this living generation-Prophesy, O Son of Man, and come from the four winds of heaven, from East and West, from North and South, O Breath of God, O Spirit of Truth, of Charity, of Eternal Progress. Come, O Spirit of holy Hope and high Humility, “Give unto us made lowly wise the spirit of self-sacrifice." Come from the ages that are dead and buried and from the ages that are yet in store for us, and breathe into these heirs of all the ages the mind to understand, and the heart to love, and the will to do what is true and right. “And they shall stand on their feet, an exceeding great army, who shall follow Him that is called Faithful and True, who was dead and is alive for evermore.
Jowett had, of course, taken a leading part in this emancipation of the Universities; and his joy at the success of the movement was proportionately great. He felt himself animated with larger hopes, and stimulated to new measures of reform. He was filled, as Stanley was filled, with a glow of enthusiasm for the future of Oxford and of education; and in the speeches and sermons of this time we find flashes of this inward fire.
On October 25 he was called away to Manchester to be present at a dinner given by the masters of the Grammar School in celebration of the opening of the new buildings. In replying to the toast of the Universities he spoke of the changes that had taken place there since he went up to Balliol thirty-five years previously. During the last five or six years the numbers admitted to Oxford had increased about one-fourth; they were greater now than they had ever been since the Reformation. The admission of Dissenters to the Universities was, he trusted, something more than the barren assertion of a just principle. He sometimes dreamed, not exactly of a ladder let down from heaven to earth, but rather of a bridge which might unite the different classes of society and at the same time bring about a friendly feeling in the different sects of religion, and that might also connect the different branches of knowledge which were apt to become estranged one from another. This was his ideal of the work and office of the Universities, to which he was constantly returning, and a great part of his life was devoted to making his ideal a reality. Whether it ever will be realized, now that he and others like him are gone, may be doubted.
By the side of his ideal of a University he set his ideal of a schoolmaster. He confessed that he had not come to Manchester to speak about the Universities; he would rather speak of the school and the position which it had gained, and of the Head Master 1, of whom he prophesied
· F. W. Walker, now High Master of St. Paul's School.
that he would become the most distinguished schoolmaster in England.
"There are few things in this world,' he said, 'more satisfactory than to see a great institution growing up from small beginnings, to see the seed become a large tree, the leaves diffusing the influence of education over a whole city; or to see a man, perhaps reserved in his manner and exterior, who has an ideal in his mind by which he is possessed, thinking day and night for the good of his pupils, preferring their interests and those of the masters of his school to his own, until he becomes gradually recognized for his efficiency, and the people perceive that he has been labouring for their good'.'
Later in the same Term (Michaelmas, 1871) he preached, after an interval of many years, from the University pulpit. The scene, as at all great University sermons, was very striking; the undergraduates completely filled the galleries, the seats of the Masters and Bachelors of Arts were occupied long before the sermon began, the rest stood. In a letter written at the time, Mr. Harrison says:
‘Last Sunday (November 26) was a great day here. After long exclusion Jowler, in the exercise of his right as Head of a House?, preached from the University pulpit. . He had a great congregation, including myself and all the other people who never go to church, and his sermon was worthy of the occasion. He gathered all his teaching into one great discourse, and in presence of all Oxford uttered it “ trumpet-tongued.” Men have been criticizing it, this way and that, ever since; and it. brought to the minds of some the thought of those bygone times when, from the same pulpit, Newman stirred the soul of Oxford and drew all Romeward.'
1 I quote from the report in the Manchester Daily Examiner and Times, which has been sent to me by the kindness of Mr. Rees Davies.
2 Mr. Harrison misinformed. Jowett was nominated by the Vice-Chancellor of the time, the Very Rev. H. G. Liddell, Dean of Christ Church.