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of M'Gibbon, the Edinburgh musician, is in a more poetic vein than either of the elegies just mentioned. It was, like Ramsay, as the bard of Edinburgh that Fergusson first won fame; but, unlike Ramsay, his main title to fame is in this capacity. Had he lived longer, he might have attained to some ease and freedom in English verse; though, as in the case of Burns, his environment, the cast of his genius, his latent predilection for the vernacular, and the foreign character which, to him as to many Scots of his time, seemed to belong to English speech, militate against this possibility. Be this as it may, in the short career that was to be his, he succeeded, like Burns, in depicting the scenes which he thoroughly knew, and expressing the thoughts and sentiments akin to his circumstances and to the life he led. Unlike Burns, he was, for this reason, an urban, more than a rustic, bard. The influence of a few months spent by him in early manhood with his uncle in the country is revealed in his odes To the Bee and The Gowdspink, delicately descriptive, humorous and faintly didactic, and in The Farmer's Ingle, a picture of a winter evening in a farmhouse kitchen, sketched with perfect insight into the character of the life he depicts and with the full human sympathy essential to true creative art. But it was as the poet of Auld Reekie, wale of ilka town' that he was to make his mark-not Auld Reekie as represented in its resorts of fashion, but as revealed in its tavern jollifications, street scenes and popular amusements on holidays and at fairs and races. The subject is not great or inspiring, but, such as it is, it is treated with insight and a power of verisimilitude that brings vividly before our imagination the modes and manners of the Edinburgh populace in the eighteenth century. Here, and, indeed, generally, he proved himself, as a vernacular bard, young though he was and short as was his career, superior to Ramsay. Fergusson's wit is not so gross and it is more keenly barbed, his sympathetic appreciation is stronger, his survey is more comprehensive, his vernacular is racier, he has a better sense of style, he is more of a creative artist, and he is decidedly more poetic. He displayed the capacity of the Habbie stave for a variety of descriptive narrative as well as for elegies and epistles, and showed a mastery in its use beyond that of his predecessors, though two of his most racily descriptive and humorous pieces, Leith Races and The Hallow Fair, are in the stave of Christis Kirk, with a single refrain ending in 'day.' Another Hallow Fair, modelled on Let us a' to the Bridal, signally evinces the hearty merriment which was one of his inborn traits, though ill-health,

irksome taskwork, poverty and irregular living clouded it soon with hopeless melancholy. The Farmer's Ingle is written in a nine-line stave, formed by adding a line to the old alternatively riming octave; and his other staves are the octosyllabic and heroic couplets, which he also used for English verse. The most notable of his couplet pieces are Planestanes and Causeway-an imaginary night dialogue between these two entities, on which Burns modelled his night dialogue between the new and the old Brigs of Ayr-the picture of Auld Reekie, and The Bill of Fare, in which he makes Dr Samuel Johnson the subject of his satire.

The verse of Fergusson is small in bulk; it lacks maturity of sentiment; here and there it shows patent faults and lapses. But the genuineness, the cleverness, the racy humour and vivid truthfulness of his art are beyond question: and his achievement, so far as concerns the portrayal of the Edinburgh that he knew, has a certain rounded completeness.

CHAPTER XV

EDUCATION

Two parallel lines of interest may be traced in the history of English education from the restoration to the end of George II's reign. One consists of a series of writings by innovators in intention, some of whom were prominent in the world of letters; the other is formed by attempts, only partially successful, to readjust ancient machinery or to create new agents. Thinkers and practical men alike were stimulated by an evident failure of schools and universities to meet the new conditions of life which had arisen during the seventeenth century. Projects of reform took various shapes. Most of them proposed changes in the plan of work which would recognise the existence of contemporary culture and the requirements of the age by introducing 'modern' studies; some writers, inspired by Francis Bacon and Comenius, turned to problems of method, for whose solution they looked in a fuller and more accurate knowledge of mental process; a few preached the interest or the duty of the state to instruct all its members. Incidentally, the story exhibits the dependence of education upon national life, and the mischief wrought in the body politic when education is permitted to develop in a partisan atmosphere.

In the seventeenth century, the accepted educational curriculum of school and university, as distinct from the professional studies of divinity, law and medicine, was, in effect, the medieval seven liberal arts, but with the balance of studies somewhat changed. Of these, the quadrivium (arithmetic so-called, geometry, music, astronomy) belonged to the university; the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) was loosely distributed between schoolboys and freshmen, the latter being undistinguishable in modern eyes from the former. Anthony à Wood entered Merton in 1647 at the age of fifteen; Gibbon, more than a century later, was admitted at Magdalen before completing his fifteenth year; Bentley was a subsizar at

St John's college, Cambridge, in 1676, at the age of fourteen. Whether the story be true or not that Milton was birched by his tutor at Cambridge, the following passage from Anthony à Wood seems conclusive that, so late as 1668, the Oxford undergraduates were liable to that punishment. Four scholars of Christ Church having broken some windows, the vice-chancellor 'caused them to repair the breaches, sent them into the country for a while, but neither expelled them, nor caused them to be whipt'.' Ten years later, the vice-chancellor ordered that no undergraduate buy or sell 'without the approbation of his tutor' any article whose value exceeded five shillings. The Cambridge undergraduate of the eighteenth century was not a 'man' but a 'lad,' for himself and his companions no less than for his elders. The fact is to be remembered when the reform of university studies in that age is under discussion.

Of the trivium, 'grammar' meant Latin literature and, more particularly, its necessary preliminary, Latin grammar, the special business of schools. Indeed, the seventeenth century school course may be said to have consisted of Latin, supplemented by Greek; a few schools added Hebrew, fewer still yet another eastern tongue. The underlying theory is thus enunciated by Henry Wotton (An Essay on the Education of Children, 1672): 'Observe therefore what faculties are strongest in the child and employ and cherish them; now herein it is agreed that memory and what logicians call simplex apprehensio are strongest of all.' He infers that a child's instruction should begin with Latin, passing to Greek and Hebrew, since in these three languages are to be found 'both the fountain of learning as well philology as philosophy and the principal streams and rivers thereof.' Wotton's essay is an account of the method which he employed in teaching his son, William, (Bentley's comrade in A Tale of a Tub), a child who learned to read before he was four years old, began Latin without book at that age, and at five had already begun Greek and Hebrew. It is not surprising, therefore, that William Wotton took his B.A. degree when thirteen (1679); the surprising thing is that he lived to become the able, judicious and modest collaborator of Bentley in the controversy of ancients and moderns. But his father had always refrained from overburdening the child, and the reformer's note is not entirely absent from his severely classical teaching, for the boy read English daily; 'the more gracefully he read English, the more delightfully he read the other languages.'

1 Clark, A., Life and Times of Anthony Wood, vol. 11, p. 139.

The official round of study and of exercises for degrees remained at both universities what they had been in the later middle ages; this fact reacted upon schools supposed chiefly to prepare for the universities. The medieval conception of the degree was that of a licence to teach; the exercises which led to it were, in effect, trial lessons in disputation or declamation given by novices before other novices and fully accredited teachers, the topics being selected from the Aristotelian metaphysics and natural philosophy, school divinity, or trite literary themes susceptible of rhetorical handling. At Oxford, the Laudian statutes of 1636 had stereotyped these exercises, and had given them an appearance of life which they retained to the close of the commonwealth. Speaking of that period, Anthony à Wood says, 'We had then very good exercises in all matters performed in the schools; philosophy disputations in Lent time, frequent in the Greek tongue; coursing very much, ending alwaies in blows'.' The training manifested itself in much of the controversial divinity of the time; at the Savoy conference (1661), both sides seemed to enjoy wit combats greatly, whole pages of Reliquiae Baxterianae being filled with arguments and counter-arguments stated syllogistically. But life and reality went out of these medieval exercises at the restoration, and, though they remained part of the apparatus of both universities, they were regarded throughout the eighteenth century as forms more or less empty, to be gone through perfunctorily, mocked or ignored as the fashion of the moment prompted.

During the seventeenth century and long afterwards, neither school nor university, as distinct from the educational system of the colleges, took account of that advance in knowledge which university men were very notably assisting; or attempted to adapt, for disciplinary purposes, science, modern languages, history or geography, and the schools neglected mathematics, teaching arithmetic for purely practical ends. Consequently, educational reformers were many.

But the enemies of universities were not confined to those who considered them homes of antiquated knowledge. Throughout the seventeenth century, Oxford and Cambridge were closely associated with the national life, frequently to their material disadvantage, and sometimes to the impairing of their educational functions. Both universities offered an opposition to

1 Clark, op. cit. vol. 1, p. 300. 'Coursing' (a term not confined to English universities) was a fashion of disputation in which a team from one college disputed with a eam from another college; the reason for the usual issue will be appreciated.

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