A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
THE AGE OF REFORMS, 1800–82
In the early decades of the new century the University continued in its traditional ways, small in numbers and parochial in outlook. The census returns of 1801 and 1811 show only about 800 members in residence, (fn. 1) but after 1807 numbers began to rise, and after 1819 Cambridge went ahead of Oxford. (fn. 2) The average number of matriculations, which had been 153 between 1767 and 1799, rose to 342 between 1800 and 1833, the average number of B.A. degrees during the same periods being 114 and 230 respectively. (fn. 3) The return of peace after 1815 made a considerable difference, and there were many returned warriors like the Hon. John Nevill who came up to Christ's, at the age of 27, in 1816 to take holy orders. (fn. 4) At the same College the number of undergraduates in the post-war years rose from about 20 to about 100. (fn. 5) Increasing pressure on accommodation resulted in undergraduates being forced to live in lodgings, and in 1818 regulations were made requiring lodging-house keepers to be licensed and to obey certain rules. In the same year a grace was passed for the appointment of two pro-proctors 'on account of the great increase of the students, and the necessity of their lodging in the town'. (fn. 6) Another result of this pressure of numbers was that colleges undertook large building schemes, and King's, Trinity, St. John's, Corpus, and Peterhouse all built extensively in the fashionable neo-gothic style. Additions and improvements were also made to university institutions. In 1816 Lord Fitzwilliam bequeathed his fine collection of books, pictures, and gems, though the present Fitzwilliam Museum was not built until 1837–41. (fn. 7) New buildings were erected for the Observatory (1822–3) (fn. 8) and for the University Press (1831–3). (fn. 9) In 1829 the old court of King's was purchased, and several plans were drawn up for new lecture-rooms, offices, and museums on this site, together with additional accommodation for the university library. Eventually only the north wing of the proposed quadrangle, designed by C. R. Cockerell, was built (1837–42). (fn. 10) In 1831 an Act of Parliament was passed permitting the removal of the Botanic Garden to a new site in Trumpington Road, though the new garden was not opened until 1846. (fn. 11)
During the war years the minor events of academic history mirrored the greater issues of national affairs. In 1803 the fear of a French invasion led to the formation of a corps of university volunteers, though the heads at first opposed the plan as 'an unacademical thing'. The corps was 180 strong, and among its officers was a future Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. (fn. 12) In 1814 Marshal Blücher came for the Commencement, and was received with great enthusiasm. Gunning records that, after the marshal had dined at Trinity, a 'very pretty woman' offered him her hand, 'when he caught her up in his arms, and inflicted several kisses that were distinctly heard at the upper end of the hall'. (fn. 13) In the following year the Christ's College wine book notes that 'Mr. Gilpin presented 3 bottles of claret in the combination room in honour of the Duke of Wellington's victory over Bonaparte in person'. (fn. 14)
The political sympathies of the University were, in general, Tory and ultra-Protestant. The anti-slavery movement also enjoyed much support, (fn. 15) and the Duke of Gloucester's sympathy with it had much to do with his election to the chancellorship in 1811. (fn. 16) Among His Royal Highness's supporters was Isaac Milner of Queens', the most prominent of Cambridge Tories. (fn. 17) Like many men of the same political views he combined with his zeal for the cause of the slaves resolute opposition to popular movements and to Catholic Emancipation. (fn. 18) On several occasions the University petitioned against the concession of the Roman Catholic claims. (fn. 19) In the election of 1827 W. J. Bankes, a stoutly Protestant champion, was a candidate to represent the University, and the sentiments of many members of the Senate are amusingly satirized in T. B. Macaulay's ballad which describes the mass descent on Cambridge of the country clergy, all intent on voting for 'our glorious, our protestant Bankes'. (fn. 20) At about the same time Macaulay and a number of young Whig M.A.s in London, on hearing that the Senate was going to petition against the Catholic claims, drove down by coach, defeated the petition, dined in triumph at Trinity, and got back to London that same night. (fn. 21)
The first third of the 19th century was the great age of the Evangelical movement at Cambridge. (fn. 22) Among its leaders the most prominent in station was Isaac Milner, who has been called 'the intellectual chief of his party', (fn. 23) but the most influential was Charles Simeon, fellow of King's and vicar of Holy Trinity. Although his work was primarily that of a parish clergyman, he affected the history of the University in a very important way for half a century. He had been converted while an undergraduate at King's, and in 1782 was presented to the living of Holy Trinity. The parishioners had favoured another candidate, and for years they set themselves to thwart and hamper their vicar. The belief that he was preaching 'Methodism' made him the victim of continued disturbances organized by undergraduates. (fn. 24) He wrote in later years that he could remember the time when he was 'quite surprised that a fellow of my own college ventured to walk with me for a quarter of an hour on the grass-plot before Clare Hall'. (fn. 25) Slowly the tide turned. His views gained acceptance. His church was packed by an attentive congregation, and St. Mary's was thronged when he preached before the University. (fn. 26) His funeral in 1836, which brought together a great concourse from town and University, gave striking testimony to the respect in which he was held. (fn. 27)
Simeon's most valuable work among the students lay in what he did for theological education, for which no official provision was made, although half the future clergy of the Established Church came to Cambridge. Hundreds of Evangelical ordinands attended his conversation parties, when he gave advice on spiritual subjects and discussed the problems of his audience. Twice a year he gave a course of instruction in sermon composition. (fn. 28) He and his friends formed societies for the education of the clergy which brought up a steady stream of young men to the colleges which the party favoured—to Magdalene and later, under Milner, to Queens'. (fn. 29) His disciples went out to the livings which had been purchased to secure a permanent foothold for Evangelical opinions, and in turn sent up more disciples to Cambridge. (fn. 30) Much was done for foreign missions, the most distinguished of the workers abroad being Henry Martyn of St. John's. (fn. 31) The Simeonites, 'Sims' as they were called for short, never became predominant in the University. (fn. 32) They were a minority only, influential perhaps, but not always popular, (fn. 33) but they were numerous enough to give growing numbers and increasing prosperity to the colleges which they favoured, Queens' in the early part of the century, Caius and Corpus in later years. (fn. 34)
The zeal of the younger members of the party sometimes led their more conservative elders into difficult situations. In 1811 a group of undergraduates were anxious to establish in Cambridge a branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. This body, founded in 1804, was suspect to many churchmen because it counted dissenters among its members and because it circulated the bible without the prayer book, and in Cambridge it had a stalwart opponent in Herbert Marsh, the Lady Margaret professor. Consequently when a group of undergraduates went to the Vice-Chancellor, and to Milner and other prominent Evangelicals, to get their support for a Cambridge branch of the society, there was widespread doubt about the wisdom of such a step on the grounds, which should be carefully noted, that 'if they were suffered to proceed in this way about the bible, they would soon do the same about politics'. (fn. 35) The Napoleonic war was still going on, reform was still highly suspect, above all, young men were thought to have no business with such matters. The undergraduates were finally persuaded to leave the matter in Simeon's hands, and eventually, through his efforts and those of Professor William Farish, a meeting was held and the Cambridge branch launched under the most distinguished auspices. One of those who had held back until the last moment was Milner. Gunning, who was no friend of the President of Queens', suggests that he feared to offend either Wilberforce and the Evangelicals on the one hand or the heads and most of the resident members of the Senate on the other. (fn. 36) His own letters stress the question of discipline and the effect of any rash move on the prospects of the party in the country as a whole. 'It is very plain to me', he wrote to Jowett, 'that I should be calumniated as being the only head of a college who had stepped forward to countenance a multitude of undergraduates who had been holding meetings, forming committees . . . and however easy you and I may perceive the answer to be, I believe, that the effects of the slander would be both mischievous and permanent.' (fn. 37)
The importance of this controversy to the university historian lies primarily in the light which it throws on the official attitude towards—the words are Milner's—'seditious or turbulent spirits'. (fn. 38) The same sentiments led the Vice-Chancellor, James Wood, Master of St. John's, to suppress the infant Union Society in 1817 because it discussed political subjects, though Christopher Wordsworth, Master of Trinity, Vice-Chancellor in 1821, permitted it to resume its debates if all political questions during the 20 years immediately past were excluded. About 1830 even this restriction had disappeared. (fn. 39) In 1831, however, the heads prevented a meeting of undergraduates being held to petition against the Reform Bill. (fn. 40) All through the period the discipline to which undergraduates had to submit was narrow and pettifogging, and authority was apt to present itself to them in a very clumsy and unsympathetic form. (fn. 41) The same weakness often characterized the approach of senior residents towards the problems of academic reform. The heads of houses, who still held the position of an exclusive oligarchy in which they had been placed by the Elizabethan statutes, were unpopular with those who wished for change. Decent, conscientious men enough, they tended to be ultra-conservative in their views and to take a high view of their prerogatives, while most of them were hardly men of such distinction as to make their views always worthy of respect in themselves. The views of ultra-conservative opinion are well represented by G. E. Corrie, Norrisian professor (1838–54) and Master of Jesus (1849–85), whose letters show steady dislike of the 'movement party' and of the prospect of parliamentary interference. 'My very blood boils,' he wrote in 1839, 'as I witness the unenglish manner in which the usurpations of that assembly are submitted to.' (fn. 42) Yet, however unpopular outside interference might be, it was to prove very difficult for the University to bring its system into touch with changing conditions without it.
The stress and conflict produced by this situation expressed themselves in several keen controversies. The unpopularity of the heads is shown by the dispute in the twenties over the professorship of mineralogy. In 1808 E. D. Clarke had been given the title of professor, (fn. 43) and, when he died in 1822, it was decided by the Senate that the office should be continued. There was general agreement that the best candidate was J. S. Henslow of St. John's, one of the pioneers of the Cambridge scientific school, (fn. 44) but opinions clashed sharply over the proper method of election to the chair. The heads claimed that, under the Elizabethan statutes, they had the right to nominate two candidates from whom the Senate should select. (fn. 45) A large number of residents headed by Adam Sedgwick, Woodwardian Professor of Geology, claimed that this was a usurpation of power and demanded a free choice by the Senate. William Whewell, the future Master of Trinity, referring to two of the least popular of the oligarchs, the Masters of Clare and of Sidney, wrote to a friend: 'It is hard if Webb and Chafy are to get dominion over us', and hoped that 'we shall organise a very pretty rebellion. . . .' (fn. 46) The heads duly nominated Henslow and another candidate, but their opponents nominated a third man, and gave him a majority of the votes. These were declared invalid, and Henslow was admitted. The controversy dragged on until 1825 when it was submitted to the arbitration of Sir John Richardson. In his verdict (1827) he found in favour of the heads over the point at issue, though his decision was couched in such a way that it did not make peace impossible. In effect the conflict merely died away. The heads, Winstanley thought, had behaved with great moderation, while the popular party had been rash and suspicious, convinced, as they were, that their opponents were petty tyrants. (fn. 47)
A far more important controversy, with the lines rather differently drawn, flared up a few years later over the question of religious subscription. The repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828, the Whig triumph of 1832, and the increasing social and political influence of dissent meant that the ancient Anglican monopoly was bound to come under attack. The issue had lain dormant since 1772. (fn. 48) The case for reform was obvious and strong, but the conservatives too could make out a good case. They might argue that much more was involved than a mere certificate of intellectual attainment. The University had a strong traditional connexion with the Church of England, and educated many of its clergy. The Colleges were religious foundations where men led a common life. There was widespread doubt, which was expressed in the report of the Royal Commission of 1850, whether religious diversity would prove compatible with academic peace and collegiate discipline. (fn. 49) This doubt may have been exaggerated, but it was not entirely baseless, and most men in the University undoubtedly shared it. Already in 1818, 18 tutors, representing 14 colleges, had successfully protested against the appointment of a dissenter to lecture as deputy to Martyn, the aged Professor of Botany. (fn. 50) However, in the heyday of reform, the anti-subscription party tried to bring about a change. In December 1833 George Pryme, Professor of Political Economy, who had been elected Whig M.P. for the Borough the previous year, offered graces for the appointment of syndicates to consider the question of subscription, and in February 1834 Cornwallis Hewitt, Downing Professor of Medicine, made a similar proposal about medical degrees. Both these schemes were vetoed in the Caput, and, soon after this second check, the liberals decided on a parliamentary petition in which they recommended the abrogation of all religious tests for degrees in arts, law, and medicine, though they disclaimed any intention of interfering with the statutes of colleges. The petitioners included only two heads of houses, Davy of Caius and Lamb of Corpus, but among them were a number of eminent scholars, such as Sedgwick and Henslow, the mathematicians Airy, Babbage, and Peacock, and the historian Thirlwall. However, the weight of authority was on the other side. The petition was answered by a protest signed by a considerably larger number of residents, including the Vice-Chancellor, ten other heads, and all three divinity professors, and by another petition urging that any system of discipline or religious instruction would be impracticable if persons who did not belong to the Established Church were admitted to the Colleges. The parliamentary discussions resulted in a Bill declaring that all the king's subjects might take degrees, other than divinity degrees, without a religious test, but leaving the Colleges free to refuse to admit non-Anglicans. This measure passed the Commons by a substantial majority, but was defeated in the Lords, and, although its supporters were still hopeful of success, the religious tests were not to be swept away for a generation. (fn. 51)
The contest had divided opinion deeply. In 1834, 1835, and 1836 John Lamb, Master of Corpus, was not nominated for the vice-chancellorship in the ordinary rotation as the result of his advocacy of the dissenting claims. (fn. 52) The controversy produced many pamphlets, and among those who had written against the changes was Thomas Turton, the Regius Professor of Divinity. He was answered by Connop Thirlwall, fellow and assistant tutor of Trinity, who, in a Letter on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degrees, argued that the Colleges were neither theological seminaries nor schools of religious instruction and that it was impossible to instil religion into men's minds against their will. This conclusion led Thirlwall to attack compulsory chapel services, both as bad in principle and as quite without profit for those who had to attend them. For a man who held an official position as assistant tutor, this was an extreme line to take, and the Master of Trinity, Wordsworth, who was a high Tory and strict disciplinarian, with a very high idea of his own authority, was horrified. He called upon Thirlwall to resign his office and might have tried to take away his fellowship if he had had any prospect of succeeding in the attempt. Much sympathy was aroused on Thirlwall's behalf. Wordsworth was personally unpopular with the Trinity fellows, and an influential fellow like Whewell, even though he did not agree with Thirlwall's opinions, was not at all in favour of the Master's peremptory behaviour. However, Wordsworth was not to be moved, and Thirlwall had put himself in too delicate a position for a contest to be possible. So the Master had his will; quite apart from the internal politics of Trinity College, the whole dispute cannot have endeared the authority of the heads to academic liberals. (fn. 53)
Christopher Wordsworth must not be remembered merely as a reactionary head, for he was closely associated with the most important university reform of the twenties, the institution of the Classical Tripos. Heretofore there had been no avenue to honours except through mathematics, (fn. 54) and, although there had long been a desire for change, nothing had been done. Wordsworth had at first planned a compulsory honours examination in both classics and theology, and, although he failed to carry this through, a scheme was passed in 1822 for an annual honours examination in classics to which those who had obtained honours in the Senate House Examination were to be admissible. This was a limited concession only since the candidate for classical honours had first to win mathematical honours, while there was no similar condition the other way, but the foundation of the Classical Tripos does mark an important broadening of the field of study. In the same year a scheme for a Previous Examination was passed, which provided that, in their fifth term, men should pass an examination in the Greek Testament, Paley's Evidences, and a Greek and a Latin author, though the standard was elementary. (fn. 55) The general academic level was rising all round. The mathematical curriculum was deepened and extended; the tests for medical degrees were made more stringent; the evils of non-residence and inefficiency among the professoriate were gradually removed.
Nor were these improvements premature. In an age more critical of its institutions than the easy-going 18th century the University had to face sharp attacks without and searching inquiry within. An early critic was Robert Southey, who thought that the universities, having ceased to be the only schools of learning, had been unable to adapt themselves to changed conditions. (fn. 56) The Edinburgh Review long adopted a critical tone, its most important spokesman being Sir William Hamilton. He was himself an Oxford man, and his own university bore the brunt of his attack on the dominance of the colleges and the scanty and mechanical quality of the teaching which they provided. Cambridge did not escape; what had been taught there for generations, Hamilton urged, was merely what the college tutors were capable of teaching, and he was highly critical of the dominance of mathematics. (fn. 57) Another writer of the same period, in himself unworthy to be mentioned with a distinguished philosopher like Hamilton, but with an appeal to an important section of national opinion, was R. M. Beverley, who had taken a degree at Cambridge and had later become a dissenter. In a pamphlet published in 1833 he attacked both the moral depravity of undergraduates and the religious tests, and, although his ill-informed and highly coloured attack was successfully dealt with by Adam Sedgwick, some of the mud probably stuck. (fn. 58) If such critics as these were to gain a hearing, the natural consequence would be the parliamentary interference which university conservatives so much dreaded. Hamilton had demanded a royal commission, (fn. 59) and in 1837 Lord Radnor introduced a bill into the House of Lords for the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the statutes and revenues of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges. His bill failed to get a second reading. (fn. 60) George Pryme made a similar motion in the Commons, but he was asked by Lord John Russell to withdraw it on the promise that Russell himself would bring it forward at a more opportune time. (fn. 61) No such commission was in fact to be issued for another thirteen years, but public opinion was slowly moving in the direction of reforms. The University had to take notice of that fact and set to work to put its own house in order.
Many residents felt the challenge, and the ideas which were being formulated in the thirties and forties were to be the basis of many of the later reforms. From an examination of the writings of three men, B. D. Walsh, George Peacock, and William Whewell, the main lines along which opinion was moving can be detected. All of them were Trinity men, that College taking, on the whole, a liberal attitude while its old rival, St. John's, inclined to the conservative side. Walsh's Historical Account of the University of Cambridge and its Colleges (1837) was suggested by Lord Radnor's bill. Walsh thought too that a royal commission was the only solution. He attacked the authority of the heads and the cramping effect of the Elizabethan statutes, many of which it was impossible to observe. He wished to free fellows from the obligation to take orders, suggesting that the problem of creating vacancies should be dealt with by selling advowsons to found new fellowships. He condemned the system of separate college lectures and wished M.A.s to lecture for a fee to anyone who wished to come and hear them. He urged the establishment of new triposes in history and philosophy, natural sciences, and modern and oriental languages. (fn. 62) His opinions, though interesting, were too radical to carry moderate opinion with him; Peacock, Lowndean professor (1837– 58) and Dean of Ely (1839–58), and Whewell, who succeeded Wordsworth as Master of Trinity in 1841, were both men who spoke with far more weight in the University. Peacock, in his Observations on the Statutes of the University of Cambridge (1841), pointed out the wide difference which existed between statutory provision and current practice, and wished to avoid the recurrence of this problem when new codes were made by providing that they should be drawn only in general terms, and that day-to-day matters of administration should be left to the discretion of the governing bodies concerned. (fn. 63) He made important suggestions for the improvement of university administration, among them being the abolition of the individual veto in the Caput, (fn. 64) the appointment of a university bursar to lighten the burdens of the Vice-Chancellor, (fn. 65) the annual publication of accounts, (fn. 66) the creation of permanent syndicates to manage the chief university institutions, (fn. 67) and the increase of fees to augment university income. (fn. 68) His chief suggestion for the reform of university studies was to institute a syndicate to supervise the whole academic course. (fn. 69) The B.A. degree should be taken in the ninth term, or the third summer, of residence instead of in the January following that summer, and both in mathematics and in classics there was need for more clear and exact definition of the subjects of the examination. (fn. 70) After the first degree there should be professional courses in law, medicine, and theology, and, in the last subject, the possession of a certificate of proficiency should be a necessary qualification for holy orders. (fn. 71)
Many of Peacock's proposals are very similar to those put forward by Whewell, who might be called the central figure in the history of this period, as an earlier Master of Trinity, Bentley, had been of the Cambridge of a century before. Whewell's mastership (1841–66) covered a crucial quarter of a century. There were definite limits to the reforms which he favoured, and his ardour cooled very much with age. (fn. 72) His effectiveness was limited by many weaknesses of tact and temper, but his genuine zeal for his College and University, his interest in the moral and the natural sciences alike, and his immense intellectual vigour made him the most creative among the dons of his day. (fn. 73) In 1843 he had failed to carry through graces establishing a permanent syndicate of examinations and requiring men to attend professorial lectures. (fn. 74) Two years later, in his book Of a Liberal Education in General, he advocated that a standard course of mathematical study should be prescribed for candidates for honours, and that, for this purpose and for the general regulation of the subject, a board of mathematical studies should be set up. (fn. 75) Unlike Peacock, he wished to maintain the mathematical requirements demanded of classical honours men because he thought them a necessary corrective to the immense preponderance of classics in schools. (fn. 76) He also suggested a new General Scientific Tripos to be open, like the Classical Tripos, to those who had taken honours as junior optimes. (fn. 77)
Most of these suggestions were carried into effect sooner or later, though some of them had to wait for the new statutes of 1882. The stagnant waters really began to stir in 1848, (fn. 78) and the slow trickle of change swelled gradually into a flood. At this point in the narrative, with the University on the verge of the greatest changes it had known since the 16th century, there is need of a survey of the Cambridge scene as it appeared in the last days of the old order. Numbers had risen considerably in the first half of the 19th century. In 1850 matriculations numbered 441; (fn. 79) in 1851 337 men took B.A. degrees and the percentage of those taking honours had risen to about 40 per cent. of the total. (fn. 80) Trinity and St. John's easily retained their primacy among the Colleges, and of the two the former had drawn considerably ahead of its rival, both in numbers and in reputation. (fn. 81) In 1850 the average number of admissions during the previous eight years had been 135 at Trinity, 97 at St. John's, and at Caius, the next largest college, only 30. Only 4 others, Christ's, Emmanuel, Corpus, and Queens', had 20 or over. (fn. 82) Mathematics had come to share its old pre-eminence with classics but was still very much the senior partner. In 1851 116 men took degrees with mathematical honours; in the same year there were 38 men classed in the Classical Tripos. (fn. 83)
Mathematical studies were profoundly influenced by the adoption of analytical methods about 1825, (fn. 84) and the range of the tripos was considerably extended, though the changes in the regulations need not be studied here in detail. (fn. 85) The most important of them came into effect in 1848; the examination was divided into two parts, three days of elementary work followed by five days of more advanced work, only those who had passed the first section successfully being allowed to attempt the second. This reform, which stemmed from Whewell's suggestion that a standard course of elementary studies should be prescribed, aimed at remedying the neglect shown by many candidates for the basic parts of the subject. (fn. 86) The evidence offered to the Royal Commission of 1850 shows how the scope of the examination had widened as a result of the great development of Cambridge mathematics during the period. (fn. 87) Hopkins, the great private tutor, thought that the changes of the previous 20 years had been great improvements; the examination had become more searching, but, because of the use of more satisfactory methods of analysis, less laborious. (fn. 88) During the twelve or fourteen years before 1850, according to G. G. Stokes, the Lucasian professor, the course had remained stationary, (fn. 89) and the first two reports of the board of mathematical studies (1849/50) recommended the exclusion of certain subjects in order to prevent the higher sections becoming too burdensome. (fn. 90) One casualty of this period had been the exercises in the schools. Though they had become far less important as the written examination had become predominant, brilliant arguments were still sometimes put forward by the best men, like the astronomer J. F. W. Herschel, senior wrangler in 1813, (fn. 91) and, as late as 1826, the mathematician De Morgan considered that his act had been a very severe test. (fn. 92) But their day was really drawing to its close. In 1819 Whewell, who favoured the exercises and thought them educationally valuable, wrote that they were not very interesting after the first five or six best men. (fn. 93) About ten years later the respondent and the opponents began to arrange their arguments beforehand, and the moderators for 1840 took the responsibility of discontinuing them altogether. (fn. 94) By that time they had ceased to have any bearing on a man's degree, and had become pointless. The Royal Commission evidence notes their disappearance, but passes no comment upon it. (fn. 95)
The adoption of analytical methods had brought Cambridge back into the main stream of European development in serious mathematical studies. Among the pioneers were Robert Woodhouse (Lucasian professor 1820, Plumian professor 1822), and the trio, Peacock, Herschel, and Babbage, who in 1812 as undergraduates had founded an Analytical Society. All three of them rose to distinction, and Peacock, who was moderator in 1817, was the first to introduce the new notation into the Senate House Examination, where it quickly established itself. (fn. 96) Many distinguished scholars followed in the same tradition, like A. de Morgan, G. G. Stokes, and A. Cayley. There were many more who made important applications of mathematical principles to the problems of other sciences, among them being G. B. Airy and J. C. Adams in astronomy, and G. Green, Lord Kelvin, and J. Clerk Maxwell in physics. (fn. 97) In this way Cambridge mathematicians were to play an important part in the growth of natural science studies.
Two new classical scholarships were founded in the early part of the century, one by Jonathan Davies in 1810, and the second, in memory of William Pitt, in 1813. (fn. 98) J. M. F. Wright, writing about Trinity, a College with a very high classical tradition, at about the same time, mentions as texts for the college lectures, the Seven against Thebes, the 21st book of Livy, and the 7th of Thucydides; in the third year classical lectures ceased, since the men were wholly occupied in preparing for the Senate House Examination. (fn. 99) Reading lists prepared by the classical scholars Samuel Butler and Samuel Parr show that students were nevertheless expected to have a thorough knowledge of the better-known authors. (fn. 100) The evidence before the Royal Commission shows a clear difference in approach between the examinations for the Classical Tripos and those for the chancellor's medals and university scholarships. The former concentrated chiefly on translation and on the more solid kind of attainments; the latter on composition, especially verses, and on elegance of style. In both, critical and grammatical questions were stressed, and very little attention was given to the historical or philosophical content of the ancient authors. 'Many good scholars', said one witness, 'who are well grounded in the translations of Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle, would be much at a loss to give an accurate account of the contents of the works which they have read, and have little or no notion of the nature and aim of the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle. And the same is true with regard to Latin authors.' (fn. 101) In 1850 a history paper was added to the tripos to help make up this deficiency, (fn. 102) but, if its existence be remembered, Whewell's desire that the old requirement of a mathematical honour for classical men should be maintained becomes easier to understand and more possible to sympathize with. (fn. 103) The Classical Tripos, as it stood, was, he thought, too much confined 'within the schoolboy circle of construing Greek and Latin, and writing Latin and Greek', and he wanted to include within it much more history and philosophy. (fn. 104) Between the ancient languages the emphasis had swung towards Greek. One of the witnesses before the Royal Commission thought that, as a result of the establishment of the Classical Tripos, the standard of accuracy in teaching Greek had risen throughout the better grammar schools. (fn. 105) Another witness thought that the study of Latin was neglected in comparison with Greek, (fn. 106) and Peacock had written earlier that the standard of Latin composition had fallen as the result of the introduction of Greek composition into university examinations, which had taken place only 25 years before he wrote (1841). (fn. 107) There was as yet no chair of Latin, though the Royal Commission recommended that one should be established. (fn. 108)
In the early part of the century Cambridge had been ahead of Oxford in classical scholarship, the most important group being the men who carried on the ideas of Porson. The most important of them were his two successors in the Greek chair, J. H. Monk and P. P. Dobrée, and C. J. Blomfield, who, like Monk, subsequently became a bishop. When Dobrée died in 1825 the renown of this type of scholarship declined. His successor in the Greek chair, James Scholefield, was the first professor to give lectures, but he was a scholar of little distinction, who is remembered chiefly as an Evangelical divine. (fn. 109) However, in the early thirties Thirlwall was arousing an interest in ancient philosophy. His history of Greece was written after he had left Cambridge, but one of those who had sat at his feet was W. H. Thompson, Whewell's successor as Master of Trinity (1866–86), who carried on the tradition of philosophical studies throughout this period. (fn. 110)
More than half the men who took the B.A. degree in 1850 did not read for honours at all. Undergraduates of noble descent had in earlier days escaped an examination altogether, but they had been required in 1825 to pass the Senate House Examination. (fn. 111) The standard of the ordinary degree course remained extremely low. The candidate had first to pass the Previous Examination at the end of his fifth term. (fn. 112) Some of those who gave evidence to the Royal Commission criticized this as being inconveniently placed, (fn. 113) and Whewell had earlier asserted that it interfered with college arrangements, that it prevented men from pursuing their own interests, and that it would be better placed at the beginning of the period of residence. (fn. 114) No one had any good to say for the ordinary degree examination itself. (fn. 115) Traditionally those who took it were sitting for the same examination as the honours candidates, though after 1828 the two sets of men had different papers and subjects. The formal separation between the two examinations did not occur until 1858; in 1852 pass men were further required to take 'the professors' examinations', later known as 'Specials'. (fn. 116) One primary reason for the very low standard was the fact that so many men came up 'quite inadequately prepared for academical instruction'. (fn. 117) Worsley, Master of Downing, told the Royal Commission that 'a student of moderate abilities and fair habits of application, who knows a little Latin when he comes up, but no mathematics, next to nothing of Greek, will have his time fairly and fully occupied in preparing for his Previous Examination'—which does not postulate a very advanced state of knowledge on the part of the student. (fn. 118) There was no general university entrance examination. Some of the witnesses favoured it on the obvious grounds that it would keep out really weak men and raise the standard in the schools. (fn. 119) But, if such an examination were to work fairly and effectively, there must be quite a high general level of school instruction behind it, and many men came up, either from very indifferent schools or from private tutors of questionable ability. (fn. 120) Such an able and enlightened man as Henry Philpott, Master of St. Catharine's, told the Royal Commission that colleges ought to be left to make their own arrangements about entry, since, if there were a general examination, many students who did not come up well prepared, would lose the chance of improving themselves at the University. (fn. 121) A century ago there would have been far more of these than today.
From examinations it is natural to pass to fees, and to inquire what was the expense of a university education a century ago. The figures given to the Royal Commission for necessary expenses generally vary from £50 to £80 per annum or a little more. (fn. 122) Perhaps the general average was near the top end of the scale. The expenses of a sizar were naturally less—probably about £40. (fn. 123) These figures do not, however, represent the total cost of a Cambridge education. The senior fellow of Pembroke thought that the average expenses of residence for a man reading for honours were £137 a year. (fn. 124) W. H. Thompson of Trinity, a college which attracted many of the well-to-do, put the average expenditure of a pensioner as high as £150–250. (fn. 125) Much of the difference between these two sets of figures is represented by the cost of private tuition. This had already become common in the 18th century, (fn. 126) but, as the competition for honours had grown steadily more intense, it had become almost universal. The University had made efforts to check it by preventing men from having private tutors for a defined period before their examination. In 1824 that period was reduced to 6 months, but the rule remained, as it had been in its earlier form, quite inoperative. (fn. 127) Private tuition went on because there was a demand for it, which could be met in no other way. The estimates of its cost as given to the Royal Commission vary. W. Hopkins, the leading mathematical private tutor of the day, thought that most men who aimed at high honours, paid during their ten terms' course £150 for private tuition. (fn. 128) Other estimates for the expenses of a potential wrangler are similar or a little lower, (fn. 129) but a man aiming at lower honours paid only £40–60. (fn. 130) One tutor, A. H. Wratislaw of Christ's, said that some of his pupils spent as much as £70 a year, 'thus, in some cases, exactly equalling the absolutely necessary expenses of residence at my College'. (fn. 131)
The problems caused by the growth of this unofficial system of instruction naturally caused much concern. Whewell, in his evidence, was anxious to forbid it during the latter part of a man's residence, both because of the expense and because of the danger of cramming, (fn. 132) and the report of the Royal Commission expressed the same point of view, (fn. 133) though it commented very wisely that, while many people saw the dangers, there was no general agreement on the remedies to be adopted. (fn. 134) The subject could not be divorced from the fundamental problem of organizing an efficient system of college and university tuition. One college tutor complained that the men were so preoccupied with their coaches that they did not make proper use of the teaching which their Colleges provided. (fn. 135) Yet the undergraduate found that the college lectures were of little use to him. W. E. Heitland, looking back on his own student days, wrote that the college lecturers, however able men they might be, gave no individual instruction, and commented: 'a coach would at any rate not forget that you were reading for a tripos, and your success would be his single aim'. (fn. 136) There is no doubt that this was the general opinion. One college tutor believed that no man took mathematical honours without some coaching. (fn. 137) Another thought that three-quarters of honours men had coaches during most of their residence and five-sixths of pass men had them immediately before their examinations. (fn. 138) Hopkins himself thought that few candidates for mathematical honours would have private tuition the whole time, but that most would have it for two-thirds. (fn. 139) Clearly the best private tutors like Hopkins himself and E. J. Routh, both of them with a wonderful record of tripos successes, were men of great ability. (fn. 140) In classics a parallel position was held by Richard Shilleto, of whose methods Heitland gives a grotesque account. (fn. 141) Men like Routh and Hopkins did not cram their pupils, though Heitland, who went to Shilleto for a term, later thought himself fortunate not to have been able to afford regular coaching. Too many men in classics, he thought, did not do enough private reading to profit from so much teaching—' "tips" were all very well in their way but they were not enough'. (fn. 142)
Private tuition flourished because the official college lectures were of a little value, especially to a man who was aiming at a high degree. (fn. 143) John Venn, who came up to Caius in 1853, thought that, outside Trinity and St. John's, 'there was probably not a single College which provided what would now be considered the minimum of necessary instruction, even in classics and mathematics'. (fn. 144) All the men of the same year had to attend the same lecture, and the lecturers normally gave no assistance out of their usual hours. Consequently the men found it very difficult to learn and their teachers very difficult to teach. (fn. 145) College lectures sank to the lowest level of their audience, and Wratislaw of Christ's thought that the average standard, as a result of the great variation in ability among the class, was generally far below that of the top form in a public school. (fn. 146) The smaller Colleges found it very difficult to deal with their best men, since, as one tutor said, 'there may be one man in each year so far in advance of the others as to require a lecture to himself'. (fn. 147)
From the college point of view the core of the problem was financial. Means could not be found for the selective teaching of men of really high calibre, and, as it was, a tutor or lecturer was forced to take private pupils since his official college income was not sufficient to maintain him adequately. (fn. 148) Moreover, college teaching posts, most of them limited to men in holy orders and all of them restricted to celibates, provided no settled career for their holders. (fn. 149) It is fairly clear from the evidence presented to the Royal Commission that the position was growing worse rather than better. In the 18th century many good men had been kept in the universities by the hope of cathedral preferment and by the very lax requirements of clerical residence. In the 19th century cathedral offices had been much reduced in number, pluralities had been forbidden, and much higher standards of clerical duty had come into fashion. At the same time other professional openings for educated men had become more numerous. The number of legal offices had been increased. The rise of the public schools had drawn off many able men who found as schoolmasters equal social prestige and far higher emoluments than they could expect in Cambridge. Consequently the pull away from Cambridge was growing greater and good men were becoming harder to retain. (fn. 150) Even at Trinity Whewell was writing after a fellowship election (1856): 'I am a little vexed that all the best men run away from us to study law or to teach schools so that it is difficult to get persons duly qualified to stay here and do the work of the college.' (fn. 151)
Both the Royal Commissioners and the more enlightened residents were very aware of the problem. What was to be done about it was less easy to suggest. The report pointed out the difficulty of the smaller Colleges in providing an efficient teaching system. The main conditions for future improvement were that the teacher should enjoy a permanent career and a pupil a reasonable freedom of choice in selecting a teacher. It was suggested that the Colleges should instruct their men up to a General Examination in the second year, after which the undergraduate should have a choice among a number of public lecturers, who should be paid partly by fees and partly by fixed stipends. The public lecturers would not necessarily be fellows, and could thus be relieved of the obligations of celibacy and of holy orders. For them residence in Cambridge would have many attractions, which would help to counteract the heavy loss of able men to the University. (fn. 152) There were many residents who were in general agreement with these suggestions. (fn. 153) Clearly some scheme of materially increasing the scope and raising the standard of official lecturing was the only way of putting a stop to private tuition. It would then become unnecessary, while the better private tutors could be enrolled as public lecturers. (fn. 154) However attractive many of these ideas were, they raised problems with which the University was to wrestle for the next generation. Although there was keen competition for places in the tripos, no inducements were offered for higher studies after the first degree, and so there were no adequate means of preparation for lecturing or research work. (fn. 155) Any system of properly organized lectures was bound to cut across college loyalties and the vested interests of college teachers. (fn. 156) Even more serious, it could be paid for only by contributions from the Colleges, (fn. 157) which were certain to be opposed strongly by many people. The difficulties were so great that movement was very slow. Another Royal Commission in 1873 was still complaining in the same terms about the difficulty of keeping good men when the real teaching prizes were in the public schools, not in the Colleges. 'There is a widespread feeling', the report said, 'in the universities that the tutorial system is falling into a state of disorganization. It is felt that the college tutorships and lecturerships do not lead to any permanent position in the end.' (fn. 158)
The only existing university teaching officers, the professors, did not exert their full influence because there was no proper relationship between their lectures and the general course of undergraduate studies. (fn. 159) There is some evidence that, as a result of the introduction of the Previous Examination and the addition of more subjects to the ordinary degree course, the attendance at professorial lectures had declined, (fn. 160) though the leading men still got good audiences. (fn. 161) The professors certainly worked far harder than their predecessors. When Sedgwick was appointed to the Woodwardian chair in 1818, a syndicate recommended that his salary should not be paid unless lectures were given, and he lectured regularly for many years. (fn. 162) Whewell claimed that he was the first Knightbridge professor to lecture, (fn. 163) and he certainly played a large part in reviving philosophical studies in Cambridge. (fn. 164) The change was general and it represented a real improvement. One serious limitation lay, however, in the fact that many of the chairs were too poorly endowed to provide adequate maintenance for a full-time professor. (fn. 165) The Royal Commission of 1850 thought that a scale which would enable the University to command the services of the best men would be between £400 and £800 a year. (fn. 166) Of the 25 chairs for which they gave statistics, only 8 had incomes over £400 a year, and the 4 most valuable, the Lady Margaret professorship of divinity (£1,854), the regius professorship of divinity (£1,209), and the regius professorships of Greek and of Hebrew (£640 each) drew most of their income from church preferments linked with the chairs. At the other end of the scale there were 6 professors with incomes of £100 a year or less, and 7 more with between £300 and £100. (fn. 167)
If the University were to improve its teaching staff, there would still be nowhere for it to teach. The Royal Commissioners stated in their report that there were only three or four properly equipped lecture rooms, and a great deficiency in laboratory facilities. The evidence from the professors provides chapter and verse for their statement. Cumming, the Professor of Chemistry, said that he had 'one room with folding doors . . . which is used both as a laboratory and lecture room; but there is neither museum nor apparatus attached to it'. (fn. 168) Miller, the Professor of Mineralogy, after repeating the usual complaints about lack of laboratory facilities and lecture rooms, wisely added that it was much more important to provide these than to add 'any more ill paid and ill appointed professorships . . . to those already in existence'. (fn. 169)
The shortage of lecture rooms and laboratories naturally affected scientific studies most. Of these the doyen was medicine, and in 1850 the medical school was still in a feeble condition. John Haviland, Regius Professor of Physic 1817–51, told the commissioners that, for the current year, only two or three men had declared for medicine and that the number of students was declining because of the superior advantages offered by the London medical schools. (fn. 170) Both H. J. H. Bond, Haviland's successor in the regius chair, and the professor of anatomy, William Clark, were equally pessimistic. (fn. 171) The commissioners in their report stressed the importance of building up medical studies because of the importance of maintaining the lay element in the University, but they pointed out that no marks of honour were offered to the medical student and that the Colleges made little provision to help him. (fn. 172) Yet Haviland, in his long term of office, had laid the foundations for future developments, (fn. 173) and clearly his contemporaries appreciated how much he had done. (fn. 174) In 1819 he had begun to lecture on pathology. In 1829, as a result of his insistence, a more efficient system of examinations was introduced. In 1834 candidates for the M.B. degree were required to spend two years in study at a hospital, and in 1841 the requirements for the M.D. degree were tightened up. (fn. 175) In 1842 clinical examinations were introduced by G. E. (later Sir George) Paget in the final M.B., the first to be held in the United Kingdom. (fn. 176) In the other sciences this was a period of beginnings only. The foundation in 1819 of the Cambridge Philosophical Society is important. It was planned by Sedgwick and Henslow, (fn. 177) with the encouragement of E. D. Clarke, the first professor of mineralogy, a very popular lecturer, but an enthusiastic dilettante rather than a scientist. (fn. 178) Henslow organized practical work in botany and was the real parent of the Philosophical Society's museum of zoology, which later came into the hands of the University; he is worthy of memory too as one of those who influenced the young Charles Darwin. (fn. 179) Sedgwick was the only professor whose evidence before the Royal Commission gives a real impression of optimism about his study. He described with pride the growth of the University's geological collections and pointed to the amount of geological work done by Cambridge men. (fn. 180) Between them Henslow and Sedgwick laid the foundations of modern scientific studies in the University. Nor, in the field of biology, should the pioneer work of William Clark, Professor of Anatomy, be forgotten. (fn. 181)
The middle years of the century are not a very important period in Cambridge religious thought. The Evangelical party had declined. Its leaders, Professor Scholefield, and Charles Clayton, tutor of Caius and vicar of Holy Trinity, were lesser men than Simeon. The Oxford Movement made no very deep impact. (fn. 182) It had gained much support in the early forties, and in March 1844 the Union passed a motion that the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII had been injurious to the country and that they ought to be re-established. High Church sympathies had been strong in the Cambridge Camden Society, founded in 1839 for the study of church architecture and the restoration of damaged antiquities. The society undertook the restoration of St. Sepulchre's church, among the improvements being a stone altar and a credence table. The legality of these ornaments was then challenged, and in 1845 they were condemned by the Court of Arches. The Cambridge Camden Society, branded with the suspicion of Romanism, lost most of its support, and the High Church movement declined, though there were a few Tractarian dons even at a later date, like George Williams of King's (d. 1878). (fn. 183) Such extremes were not typical. 'In my undergraduate days,' wrote T. G. Bonney, who came up in 1852, 'the majority of the residents, whether old or young, were not active partisans in religious matters', (fn. 184) and, in the sixties, Leslie Stephen pointed out the absence, as compared with Oxford, of sharp theological controversy. The prevailing tone of Cambridge life he described as one of 'quiet good sense'. (fn. 185) For theological teaching the University still did very little. In 1842 a Voluntary Theological Examination had been established for men who had taken their B.A. degrees, and most of the bishops came to require Cambridge ordination candidates to take it. (fn. 186) As a result, the number of candidates grew very quickly from 14 in 1843 to 205 in 1850. (fn. 187) The Royal Commissioners wanted to create a full course with an honours degree examination, (fn. 188) but no theological tripos examination was actually held until 1874. (fn. 189)
The general standard of morals and behaviour had certainly risen between 1800 and 1850, though the remarks of C. A. Bristed, an American who was at Trinity from 1840 to 1846, suggest a seamier side to the picture. (fn. 190) Though there was still much heavy drinking, drunkenness had declined. (fn. 191) The church services were more reverently conducted than they had been at the beginning of the century, when very often little decorum had been shown. (fn. 192) Several of those who describe the life of that period tell the story of the chaplain of Trinity who was called Pontius Pilate 'because he was said to offer to give any man as far as that name in the service and beat him'. (fn. 193) Simeon thought that there had been a great improvement in religious matters during his own lifetime, and much of it was the result of his own work. (fn. 194) The process did not cease after his death, for the Royal Commission commented on the improvement in the college chapel services during the previous 15 or 20 years 'both in the regularity of attendance and the more reverent and devotional conduct of the majority of the students'. (fn. 195) Sermons were not very frequent in college chapels until the sixties, (fn. 196) though the university sermon was better attended than it had been in the 18th century. (fn. 197) In the fifties Sunday hall was at 4 o'clock and chapel at 6, and many men went on from there to the parish churches to hear popular preachers like Charles Clayton at Holy Trinity, and Harvey Goodwin, later Bishop of Carlisle, at St. Edward's. (fn. 198)
The tone of social life long retained many traces of the 18th century. The fascinating series of Christ's College wine books lets in a shaft of light on a college combination room in the early part of the period. The fellows were fined for breaking glasses and for being late for hall. They now and then presented bottles of port for a celebration. They made a good many bets on public and private affairs, on church preferment, on sporting matters, and, when their friends got married, on the period of time within which the newly wed would provide a 'pledge'. The marriage of the royal dukes in 1818 provided several bets of this sort; the most picturesque of them reads: 'Mr. Cook v. Mr. Graham. Filly v. Colt in the House of H.—1 Bottle.' (fn. 199) For a rather later period there exists a description of the high-table customs at St. John's; the description deals with the sixties, but St. John's was a very conservative College, and its habits at that time are said to be typical of the whole University in the early Victorian age. Dinner normally consisted of a meat course with pies or puddings and cheese. The joints were placed on the table and the fellows carved for themselves. About twice a term there was a dinner party, and there were special festivities during the twelve days of Christmas. Dinner was later with an extra course, and on several evenings was followed by cards, a cold supper of turkey, boar's head, ham and game pie, with punch brewed by one of the fellows. These celebrations fell away since the fellows less often spent Christmas in Cambridge, and they were discontinued after 1881. (fn. 200)
Undergraduate relaxations were more diversified than they had been. The routine of the reading man's day had not changed very much, except that the dinner hour had grown later. The common practice was to do a long morning's work until 2 o'clock, and then to take exercise until dinner at 4. (fn. 201) Immediately after dinner was the time set aside for the 'wine', the most popular undergraduate entertainment of the period, or for other forms of amusement. (fn. 202) Among these might be a visit to the Union, which had rapidly established itself since its brief suppression in 1817. (fn. 203) Its early meetings had been held in 'a low ill-ventilated ill-lit gallery at the back of the Red Lion Inn—something between a commercial room and a district branch meeting house'. (fn. 204) In 1866 it moved into the buildings which it still occupies. In its early days the leading political issue in its debates was the catholic claims; among its officers were Macaulay, Bulwer Lytton, J. M. Kemble, and Charles Buller. By the fifties and sixties the society was less lively, and interest had somewhat fallen away. (fn. 205) Among the multitude of private societies and groups mention must be made of 'the Apostles', founded about 1820 for the discussion of literary and philosophical subjects. Among its early members were Tennyson, F. D. Maurice, W. H. Thompson, and many of the giants of the Union. Later came scholars like Maine, Hort, Jebb, and Clerk Maxwell, churchmen like F. W. Farrar, politicians like Vernon Harcourt. The many references to the society in the biographies and memoirs of the time make it clear that it exercised a profound influence on many of the best men of succeeding generations. (fn. 206) Another society with a distinguished history of a quite different sort is the Amateur Dramatic Club, founded in 1855. (fn. 207)
The most popular form of exercise was walking; (fn. 208) though many of the fellows rode regularly, it was too expensive a pursuit for most undergraduates. (fn. 209) Among organized sports there was nothing to compete with rowing: 'the boating man', wrote Leslie Stephen, 'is the purest type of the genuine university athlete'. (fn. 210) The college boat clubs of both Trinity and St. John's had been founded in 1825, and the first bumping races were held in 1827. Two years later the first university boat race was rowed. (fn. 211) In the fifties the May races attracted a large number of undergraduate spectators, though there was no May Week as yet. (fn. 212) The next most popular sport was cricket; the first University cricket match had been played in 1827. (fn. 213) Football was played, but it was long regarded as merely a boy's game. (fn. 214) Already there were those who realized that an increased provision of such amenities would help keep the ordinary undergraduate out of trouble. Whewell told the Royal Commission that expenses on pleasure might be reduced 'if the places of their sports were more closely connected with the Colleges and the University; if, for instance, there were in the fields behind the principal great Colleges a cricketground, a fives' wall, and the like'. (fn. 215) He later initiated the plan for the Trinity cricket- ground in 1862, and contributed generously towards it. (fn. 216) At Corpus the cricket club rented 5 acres from the College in 1867. (fn. 217) With the coming of college grounds and college games a great social change was taking place which affected the whole atmosphere of undergraduate life. Much of the energy later used up on field or river was still being displayed in rowdiness of the traditional sort, especially in fights with the townspeople, like the 'battle of Peas Hill' (1820) after the abandonment of the proceedings against Queen Caroline, a subject over which town and gown took opposite sides. (fn. 218) A particularly bad example of disorder in the fifties was the parliamentary election of 1856 when Whewell, who was Vice-Chancellor, had to be escorted by a body of M.A.s through a 'large and fierce' mob from Trinity to the Old Schools and back again. When one of the candidates, seeing that defeat was certain, withdrew, the crowd rushed the gate at Trinity and at St. John's, and broke in at Christ's, though they finally went away, 'frightened . . . at their own success'. (fn. 219)
Although, on occasions such as the 1856 election, the mobs were made up of both townsmen and gownsmen, the everyday relations between them were bad, and each side lost no opportunity of annoying the other. (fn. 220) The ground of difference had not changed over the centuries, and they are fully set out, from the town's viewpoint, in the Town Council's memorial to the Royal Commission. (fn. 221) The memorial protested against the ancient oath taken by the Mayor and bailiffs to preserve the University's liberties, and against the Magna Congregatio, which, having fallen into disuse at the end of the 18th century, had been revived by the then Vice-Chancellor, Wood, in 1817. (fn. 222) A protest was made against the rights of the University to arrest and punish prostitutes, and against the various privileges which affected the trade of the town. Among these was the Vice-Chancellor's right to license alehouses, which had been claimed by the borough magistrates under an act of 1836, and about which there had been inconclusive litigation in 1838. (fn. 223) Other problems under this general heading were the University's right to control weights and measures, its practically obsolete powers over markets and fairs, and the important power of discommuning, by which undergraduates could be forbidden to deal with certain tradesmen. Another unpopular minor privilege was the Vice-Chancellor's right to license theatres and other entertainments. Perhaps the most serious grievance of all was the claim that the University did not bear its proper share of financial burdens. The town admitted that the University perhaps paid more than its fair share towards paving, lighting, and cleansing the town, but, on the other hand, it paid nothing towards the police force, no parochial rates, and only a small sum in land tax. The answer of the University to this memorial was very much what might have been expected. It was unconvincing on the issue of local taxation, strong on the necessity for the right to discommune. The general basis of its argument was that the University could not exist without a peculiar legal position, and that the townsfolk ought to be ready to accept certain limitations on their freedom in return for the presence among them of 'so large a community, consisting entirely of a class which expends money both in the support of trade and in the employment of labour'. (fn. 224)
The Royal Commission itself recommended the discontinuance both of the Mayor's oath and of the Magna Congregatio, and the vesting of the power to license alehouses solely in the town authorities with the reservation of a power to revoke in the hands of the Vice-Chancellor. On the other hand, it favoured the maintenance of the discommuning power and thought that it prevented extravagance among undergraduates. (fn. 225) Negotiations were then undertaken between the two sides, but they broke down, largely over the very difficult question of the proctors' power to arrest prostitutes. Eventually in 1855 the dispute was referred, at the suggestion of Palmerston, the Home Secretary, to the arbitration of Sir John Patteson, whose award was given the form of an Act of Parliament in 1856. This provided that the Mayor's oath should cease and that the Magna Congregatio should be discontinued. The power of the proctors to arrest prostitutes was preserved, and they were exempted from the summary jurisdiction of the local justices. The Vice-Chancellor lost the power to grant alehouse licences, though he could appeal to the magistrates for their revocation. The University lost its right of supervising weights and measures, and its power over markets and fairs, and could no longer claim cognizance of an action in which a person who was not a member of the University was party. On the other hand the discommuning power was preserved, though it was not to be used against 'any person for adopting legal remedies for the recovery of a debt without having given previous notice to the university or college authorities'. Theatres were still to need the Vice-Chancellor's licence and occasional entertainments the permission both of the Vice-Chancellor and of the Mayor. College and university buildings, with the exception of the college chapels and libraries, and 'the senate house, the university library, the schools or the museums of science, laboratories or lecture rooms', were to be assessed to parochial rates, though the university liability for paving, lighting, and cleansing the town was reduced from twofifths to one-quarter of the total sums raised. The town police was to be managed by a Watch Committee consisting of 9 borough and 5 university members under the chairmanship of the Mayor. (fn. 226) All in all, it was a fair settlement. The town had gained the redress of some grievances and the abolition of some anachronistic survivals. The University had been relieved of some rights which were burdensome, and retained others which were unpopular but of real importance. After this wise settlement had been made, an era of better relations between the two corporations began.
After this survey of the state of the University in 1850, it is time to return to the main narrative. In 1847 Prince Albert was elected Chancellor. He had been suggested for that office by Whewell, and the proposal gained widespread, though not unanimous, support. Another candidate appeared in Lord Powis, who had the support of his own College, St. John's. Powis was a Tractarian, and was regarded as a champion of the rights of the church against the aggressions of the state. As both a sound Tory and a Cambridge graduate, he made a strong appeal to many voters who were suspicious of the prince as a 'personage who has not been educated among us, nor even nurtured in our church'. (fn. 227) Yet the case for the prince was strong; he was known to be interested in education, his election would have an attractively non-party flavour, and it was hoped that it would stave off the threat of parliamentary interference. He was himself very doubtful about consenting to stand in a disputed election but he finally allowed his name to go forward, and was elected, though only by a very narrow majority. (fn. 228) It was a very wise choice. He was determined to press for reforms, and he found a wise counsellor in Henry Philpott, Master of St. Catharine's, who was Vice-Chancellor when the prince and the queen came to Cambridge for the Commencement of 1847.
As a result of their efforts and the help of men like Whewell, a syndicate was set up in 1848 which made a number of very important recommendations. The graces embodying these were all passed by the Senate in the same year. Two new tripos examinations were established, one in moral sciences, including history, jurisprudence, and English law, the other in natural sciences, both of them to be open to men who had taken a first degree in arts, law, or medicine. A board of mathematical studies was created. Candidates for the ordinary degree were required to attend professorial lectures for one term and to pass an examination appointed by the professor. Similarly candidates for the Voluntary Theological Examination were required to attend divinity lectures for one term. (fn. 229)
These changes were a remarkable step forward, and one quite as great as university opinion was likely to accept at that time, but outside critics remained unappeased. The question of a Royal Commission had been brought before the government and parliament several times during these years. (fn. 230) The Prime Minister, John Russell, did not believe in the ability of the universities to put their houses in order, and in 1850 he took the opportunity presented by the proposal of a private member that such a commission should be set up to inform the house that the government intended to advise the queen to appoint a Royal Commission. This was done without informing the prince, and was unpopular with the majority of residents, though few were ready to go as far as Corrie of Jesus, Vice-Chancellor 1850–1, who described the commission as 'unconstitutional and of a kind that was never issued except in the worst times', and who refused to answer any questions. (fn. 231) The prince pointed out that it would be most unwise not to co-operate, and Whewell, who protested against the suggestion that the Royal Commission could require persons to be examined or books to be produced, thought that there would be no resistance and wanted no needless dangers to be incurred. (fn. 232) In fact the commissioners had a fairly good reception, partly because the government appointed well-known and trusted Cambridge men in Graham, Bishop of Chester, formerly Master of Christ's, Peacock, Sedgwick, Herschel, and John Romilly. (fn. 233)
In their report, published in 1852, the Commissioners produced an extensive scheme of educational reform, although they were conservative in their attitude towards the Colleges. They were anxious that fellowships and scholarships should be open and free from all restrictions, but they did not favour freeing fellows from the requirement to take holy orders, or from compulsory celibacy, nor did they wish to enforce residence upon them. They also considered that unattached students would be incompatible with the collegiate system. (fn. 234) Their suggestions for academic reorganization were far-reaching. After the Previous Examination, the student might proceed to study either for one of the triposes or for an ordinary degree course in the same subject. (fn. 235) The scope of theological, legal, and medical studies was to be extended, (fn. 236) and honours courses established in civil engineering and modern languages. (fn. 237) Boards of studies were to be created for all the main subjects, and placed under the general control of a General Council of Studies. (fn. 238) A number of new chairs were to be founded, and the duties of the professors defined in accordance with the existing system of the University. The professors were to reside for at least six months in the year and to be paid a salary only if lectures were given. (fn. 239) If all this were to be done, new lecture rooms and laboratories would be needed which might be erected on the Old Botanic Garden site. (fn. 240) Means would have to be found too for paying the new professors and public lecturers, (fn. 241) and the commissioners recommended, as some of the witnesses before them had done, that the Colleges should contribute for this purpose. (fn. 242) They were rich while the University was poor. Their gross annual income was estimated at £185,000, while the University had a general income of £8,000 with another £10,000 appropriated to special subjects. (fn. 243) Though the Colleges had heavy claims on their money, it was already clear to many that a contribution must be made by them for general university purposes, either through the endowment of professorships, the reduction of the income of non-resident fellows, or the grant of money from their tutorial funds. (fn. 244)
While the Royal Commission had been at work, the University had been busy with the revision of its statutes. A syndicate appointed in 1849 made a number of useful minor reforms—among them being the reduction of the required period of residence for the B.A. degree from 10 terms to 9—which were passed by the Senate in February 1853. (fn. 245) The most contentious part of their work concerned the powers of the Caput, a subject which aroused all the traditional jealousy of the powers of the heads. (fn. 246) In their first report the syndicate recommended a new method of election, but they were unable to agree about the Caput's constitution. (fn. 247) Whewell was anxious to maintain its power as a bulwark against rash changes, and, in particular, to maintain the individual veto of the Vice-Chancellor, whereas his opponents were equally strongly opposed to the traditional system. (fn. 248) In May 1852 the syndicate produced a scheme whereby the Caput should approve only graces for degrees. All other graces were to be submitted to a council representing the heads, doctors, professors, and the Colleges. No provision was made for an individual veto, but the Vice-Chancellor could be overridden only by a majority of the whole council. (fn. 249) A similar scheme was put forward in the Cambridge University Bill of 1855, but was regarded by many residents as being too favourable to the heads who, through their influence over the governing bodies of their Colleges, would still be certain of final control. Among those who protested against the proposal were four members of the Royal Commission, Peacock, Herschel, Sedgwick, and Romilly, together with their secretary, W. H. Bateson of St. John's. (fn. 250) When the Cambridge University Act was passed in 1856, concessions had been made to meet these objections. The members of the council were to be elected by all the resident members of the Senate, and the Vice-Chancellor had no overriding control over business. (fn. 251)
Meanwhile the reform of studies made slow progress. In 1851 King's College had voluntarily surrendered the right of its scholars to proceed to the B.A. degree without examination. (fn. 252) Two years later two syndicates were set up, one to consider ways and means of building lecture rooms and museums, the other to consider the improvement of the existing means of instruction. (fn. 253) The first made detailed proposals, but no money was available, and the suggested building on the Old Botanic Garden was not occupied until 1864–5. (fn. 254) The second syndicate made a number of valuable suggestions. Boards of studies, as envisaged by the Royal Commission, were to be created, and honours examinations in law and theology set up. A candidate was to be entitled to obtain honours in the various triposes without passing any examination other than the Pre- vious, which would finally have removed all the old restrictions on degrees, partially removed for classics in 1849. (fn. 255) However, many of these proposals were rejected by the Senate. Only the Classical Tripos was allowed to qualify for an honours degree, and only classics, law, and medicine got their boards of studies (May 1854). (fn. 256)
By that time the government was becoming impatient. Already in December 1853 the Home Secretary, Palmerston, had inquired what was being done about the reform of the constitution of the University, about the extension of its advantages to a wider range of students, about the abolition of restrictions on fellowships and the methods to be adopted for preventing them from becoming sinecures, and finally about college contributions for general university purposes. (fn. 257) In their replies the Colleges made few concessions. They generally opposed the admission of non-collegiate students; they did not favour the institution of fellowships with limited tenure, a proposal which was thought, even by men of the school of Sedgwick and Bateson, dangerously to weaken the readiness of a fellow to make exertions on the behalf of his College; they were generally against contributions from their revenues to university purposes. (fn. 258) In April 1854 the government announced its intention of appointing a statutory commission, and in 1856 the Cambridge University Act was passed. Eight commissioners were appointed to supervise, and, after 1 January 1858, themselves to undertake, the task of revising the statutes of the University and Colleges. The Caput was abolished and provision was made for the election of a Council of the Senate. No oath or religious subscription was to be required of anyone taking a degree in arts, law, medicine, or music, but no one, unless he was a member of the Church of England, was to be entitled to become a member of the Senate or to hold any office heretofore reserved for members of that church. (fn. 259)
The new codes were hammered out during the ensuing few years. In general the commissioners were conciliatory in their methods, and did their best to make changes acceptable. Some ancient landmarks like the offices of taxor and of scrutator and the old division between the regent and the non-regent houses disappeared. The University was left to deal with many matters by ordinance so that the system became far more flexible than in the past. Professors were bound to residence and new boards of studies were created. (fn. 260) The commissioners had, as might have been expected, a harder struggle with the Colleges than with the University, since college loyalties were more deeply held and individual interests and affections more closely involved. The brunt of the struggle was borne by Trinity and St. John's. The story of the making of the new Trinity statutes has been told in detail by Winstanley. (fn. 261) The commissioners were unable to accept the college draft, and the College disliked many of the commissioners' proposals, such as terminable fellowships and the payment of a portion of the collegiate income to the university chest. This was eventually modified so as to become operative only when a similar provision had been included in the statutes of all the Colleges, and the right of men in holy orders to hold their fellowships for life was also eventually preserved. But the new statutes did enable laymen to hold college offices and married men, under certain limited qualifications of tenure, to hold fellowships.
The years after 1856 were years of prosperity for Cambridge; between 1850 and 1880 the average annual number of freshmen rose from about 400 to about 800. This expansion was perhaps partly the result of the reforms, but it must also be remembered that the prosperity of the country was growing fast, and a certain increase might have been expected in any case. (fn. 262) Some colleges made great strides under the guidance of energetic tutors, like Augustus Austen Leigh of King's, Henry Latham of Trinity Hall, and H. A. Morgan of Jesus. Both at Jesus and at Trinity Hall a definite policy was adopted of developing the College through the encouragement of organized games. (fn. 263) In general, the tempo of change was slow. (fn. 264) Whewell, for instance, who had in his earlier years been in favour of many reforms, grew steadily more conservative. (fn. 265) He told a friend in 1861 that changes 'have been very few for we do what we can to make the new statutes conform to the old usages'. (fn. 266) One change which had occurred in the College and which he very much resented was the institution of an annual meeting of all the fellows, which shared some of the traditional powers of the seniority, and the Master did not cease to lament the dangerous schemes of his irresponsible juniors. (fn. 267) 'It is a very sad evening of my college life,' he wrote in 1857, 'to have the College pulled in pieces and ruined by a set of schoolboys. It is very nearly that kind of work.' (fn. 268) Even Adam Sedgwick was drawing back. He thought that the new statutes might rob Trinity of all its former glory, and take away its 'moral character and independent loyalty'. (fn. 269) Very naturally reforms in college were by far the hardest to face. J. W. Clark says of another Trinity man H. R. Luard, Registrary (1862–91), that in many ways he was a reformer, even a radical, 'but, when his beloved College was concerned, the force of early association was too strong, and he regarded fundamental change as sacrilege'. (fn. 270) There were many others who carried Luard's view of college affairs into university politics in general; one of the most prominent and vociferous of them, whose opinions will be met again in these pages, was E. H. Perowne, tutor, and, after 1879, Master of Corpus. (fn. 271)
On the liberal side the leading man among senior residents was W. H. Bateson, who had been secretary to the Royal Commission, and who became Master of St. John's in 1857. He was a very able man of business and one of the leading members of the Council of the Senate, a body which included many very able men and maintained a very high standard in its debates. (fn. 272) Bateson had also the very difficult task of presiding over the most conservative of the Colleges, but he had considerable success in guiding it through a difficult period of change. (fn. 273) An even more outstanding figure on the same side was a younger man, Henry Sidgwick, who in the later sixties was very prominent both in university affairs and among the group of Trinity fellows who wanted scholarships and fellowships for natural science, the redistribution of the tuition fund, and the abolition of religious tests. (fn. 274) Sidgwick is one of the most important academic figures of the century because he is the first modern Cambridge don. His ideals, his character, his interests, even his uncertainties are of a type which is recognizable today, but which differs appreciably from that of the Whewell, Sedgwick, Peacock generation. With him this narrative reaches modern times.
One major change which divides the Cambridge of 1850 from that of 1950 is the breakdown of religious orthodoxy, in which Sidgwick played an important part. University opinion in the early fifties was still very orthodox. (fn. 275) There was little partisanship in religious matters. The Oxford Movement had little influence. Evangelicalism had many adherents, but it was regarded by many with contempt. There had been no Cambridge Newman, and the atmosphere of the place was not congenial to a predominating personal influence of that type. Consequently the religious temperature was low, and there was likely to be no resolute resistance to an outright attack on the traditional positions. (fn. 276) Samuel Butler, writing of the years around 1860, observed that there were three books which had done most to excite opinion: Essays and Reviews, The Origin of Species, and Bishop Colenso's Criticisms on the Pentateuch. (fn. 277) Once the tide began to flow, it soon came to the flood. Opinion was deeply disturbed. The most extreme point was represented by Leslie Stephen, fellow and tutor of Trinity Hall, who left the University altogether in 1864 and later renounced his orders. He said himself that his own circle of friends had carefully studied J. S. Mill, and that it was clear that 'a thorough going disciple must be an agnostic'. (fn. 278) His modern biographer considers that The Origin of Species had proved fatal to his faith because Darwin seemed to overturn the whole basis of orthodox metaphysics. (fn. 279) Stephen himself believed that most of his brother dons had experienced the same difficulties as his own, but that they were content to evade ultimate questions of philosophy and to assume that, through the development of an unsectarian Christianity, a solution would be found. (fn. 280)
Stephen's case, though interesting, is extreme, and he had no further influence on Cambridge affairs after he left the place. A more characteristic and important case is that of Henry Sidgwick. He, and those who thought as he did, were anxious to examine the evidence for Christianity with complete scientific impartiality. They differed in their own conclusions, and his own opinions were for many years fluctuating and unsettled. He was anxious to free himself from the church, but he could not reconcile himself to cutting the knot. Finally in 1869 he decided to resign his assistant tutorship and fellowship on the ground that he could not continue to accept the religious test. 'It is my painful conviction', he wrote, 'that the prevailing lax subscription is not perfectly conscientious in the case of many subscribers: and that those who subscribe laxly from the highest motives are responsible for the degradation of moral and religious feeling that others suffer. It would require very clear and evident gain of some other kind to induce me to undergo this responsibility. And such gain I do not see.' (fn. 281) The same tension affected many of the undergraduates. W. E. Heitland, who came up to St. John's in 1867, was repelled by the system of compulsory religious allegiance in which men had really ceased to believe. The fellows gave him no help in his dilemma; he was beginning to be aware that fundamental dogmas had been called into question, but it seemed that official spokesmen had no answer to their critics, except abuse and personal slander, or arguments which did not really touch the difficulties. He found himself in revolt, but was relieved from the problem of what he could conscientiously do by the repeal of the religious tests in 1871, which enabled him to hold a fellowship. This opportune relief had been hastened, he thought, by Sidgwick's action two years previously. (fn. 282)
The abolition of the tests in 1871 was the result of a long struggle. The report of the Royal Commission had favoured a liberal policy on subscription, though it had avoided matters of controversy. (fn. 283) The act of 1856 had given only partial relief, (fn. 284) and heads and fellows of colleges and professors and readers of the University were still required to sign a declaration of conformity with the liturgy. The result of this contradictory situation, in which a dissenter could take a degree but not hold a fellowship, was seen when, both in 1860 and in 1861, Trinity had a senior wrangler who, since he was a nonconformist, could not be given a fellowship. (fn. 285) Even so the preponderance of opinion among residents was still in favour of restriction. The subject came before the House of Commons on several occasions in the sixties, and in 1869 a Cambridge petition with influential support pleaded for repeal. Among its supporters were the veteran Adam Sedgwick, Bateson, and W. H. Thompson, who had succeeded Whewell as Master of Trinity in 1866. (fn. 286) Finally, in 1870, a bill abolishing all religious tests except for heads of houses and for candidates for divinity degrees was introduced as a government measure, and passed through the House of Lords the following year. The long battle for religious freedom, dating back to the 18th century, had at last been won. The victory was the result, not only of triumphant Liberalism in Parliament, but also of the changing climate of opinion in Cambridge itself.
This climate was evident in many other ways. The educational equipment of the University was greatly extended. New chairs were founded in archaeology (1851), zoology (1866), Sanskrit (1867), mechanism and applied mechanics (1875), AngloSaxon (1878), and ecclesiastical history (1882). Older foundations were reorganized to meet newer needs. The office of Christian advocate on John Hulse's foundation became the Hulsean professorship of divinity (1860), and the college mathematical lecturerships founded by Lady Sadleir in 1706 were converted into the Sadleirian chair of pure mathematics in the same year. In 1863 a professorship of political economy was set up, George Pryme having enjoyed the personal title of professor since 1828. (fn. 287)
The work of the University was also spreading out beyond its own walls. In 1858 the local examinations were created for examining grammar school boys in the ordinary school subjects. They caught on very rapidly both at home and abroad. Several residents, giving evidence before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1867, considered that the examinations had helped to make the University better known, had brought promising young men forward, and had contributed to increasing prosperity and growing numbers. (fn. 288) In 1873 a joint board representing both Oxford and Cambridge was set up, as the result of a request by a number of leading headmasters, to examine boys from the public schools, and in 1874 their certificates were recognized as giving exemption from the Previous Examination, a privilege which was extended in 1877 to the certificates of the local examinations syndicate. (fn. 289)
Efforts were also made to extend the range of the University to those who were not full-time students at all. The university extension movement really began with some lectures delivered to audiences of both men and women in northern towns in 1867 by James Stuart, then a young fellow of Trinity and later professor of mechanism. The idea proved popular, and the University was requested by several associations who were interested in it to give the scheme official recognition. A syndicate was duly appointed and lecturers approved, the first official course of extra-mural lectures being delivered at Nottingham in October and November 1873. (fn. 290) Both at Nottingham and at Sheffield, the movement which began with extension lectures developed later into a fully grown university. (fn. 291) Both extension lectures and local examinations helped to meet a growing demand for better educational facilities for women, since they supplied opportunities which had hitherto been denied. After lectures and examinations had been provided, there naturally came the demand for halls of residence for full-time women students, and Girton and Newnham Colleges were founded in 1869 and 1871 respectively. (fn. 292) In 1881 women were formally permitted to sit for honours examinations, though their final admission to full equality of status was a very long way ahead. (fn. 293) When all these developments are remembered, it is clear that the University had made remarkable advances. It was with some reason that Henry Sidgwick, himself a prominent supporter of women's education, wrote in 1872: 'female education is in a state of movement just at present here: and all other education too. We rarely feel as much at the centre of things as we now are.' (fn. 294)
The scope of undergraduate studies was extending, though at a slow rate. The ordinary degree course remained very elementary. In 1865 the regulations were amended so that men should take the Previous Examination in their fourth term, followed later by a 'general' and a 'special' examination. (fn. 295) The Royal Commission on scientific instruction, in their third report (1873), noted a tendency to push back the Previous into the first term of residence, and in 1879 everyone was allowed to take it in that term if he wished. (fn. 296) The same commission also observed that mathematics had ceased to be much more popular than classics, and that latterly the numbers on the two lists had been fairly equal. The Natural Sciences Tripos had not hitherto proved as attractive as the others. (fn. 297) In fact the new triposes of 1848 had got under way very slowly. They were thought to be too superficial, and there was a natural reluctance to submit mathematics and classics to new competition. Very few men took them; during the first nine years only 66 competed for honours in moral and 43 in natural sciences. (fn. 298) They did not qualify those who took them for the B.A. degree until 1860. (fn. 299) The evidence of some college tutors given to the select committee of 1867 sheds some interesting light on the position at that time. Latham of Trinity Hall remarked on the growing popularity of the new triposes. Campion of Queens' still did not regard them as being sufficiently well established to give a claim to a fellowship. Although a better type of man was coming forward, he thought that the leading men in moral sciences were a long way below the leading wranglers. (fn. 300) The professor of chemistry, G. D. Liveing, told the same committee that colleges were more willing to grant rewards to natural scientists, but that this tendency had not gone very far, (fn. 301) and Winstanley observes that the election of a scientist to a fellowship at Downing in the same year was an unprecedented event. (fn. 302) In the seventies the standard was rising, and among those who gained first-class honours in the Moral Sciences Tripos were men of the future distinction of William Cunningham, F. W. Maitland, and James Ward. (fn. 303)
Considerable strides were also made at this time in improving college teaching through the institution of inter-collegiate lectures. In the late sixties most of the more advanced lectures at Trinity were thrown open to men from other colleges. One of those who took advantage of this was W. E. Heitland, who heard Jebb, Henry Jackson, and Sidgwick, was impressed by them all, and came away from their lectures believing that there were greater possibilities in the lecture room than he had ever realized before. (fn. 304) There are other references which show that colleges were beginning to co-operate more closely. In 1867 Caius and Trinity Hall were exchanging their moral scientists and their lawyers; (fn. 305) in 1873 there was inter-collegiate teaching in natural science between Trinity, St. John's, and Sidney. (fn. 306) The Royal Commission on scientific instruction pointed out (1873) that, although the system was incomplete, valuable work was being done. The natural course would be for the more prominent college lecturers to be given a recognized university position, and for their lectures to be delivered as public university lectures. (fn. 307)
The changes in the regulations for the various triposes can be surveyed here only very briefly. The most important and most general change was that, by 1881, with a few unimportant exceptions, each tripos had come to be held in the Easter Term. (fn. 308) The main change in the mathematical regulations came into force in 1882, and provided that the examination should consist of three parts, two of them to be taken at the end of the third year and the third part after a further six months, those only to be eligible who had taken honours as wranglers in the second part. (fn. 309) The Classical Tripos was still a battle ground between those who wished it to be purely linguistic and those who wanted to give a prominent place to history and philosophy. Finally in 1879 the classical board produced a scheme, the main lines of which have endured, for the division of the tripos into two parts, the first primarily linguistic and the second chiefly a test of specialized knowledge. (fn. 310) In 1878 the Natural Sciences Tripos had also been divided into two parts, to be taken at a year's interval from one another. (fn. 311) History had originally formed part of the Moral Sciences Tripos. In 1868 it was transferred to the Law Tripos, founded in 1854, but this arrangement was unsatisfactory, and a separate Historical Tripos was instituted, the first examination being held in 1875. (fn. 312) The first examination for the Theological Tripos had been held the previous year. (fn. 313) The turn of languages came a few years later; the first tripos examinations were held in Semitic languages (1878), in Indian languages (1879), and in medieval and modern languages (1886). (fn. 314)
The history of tripos regulations forms but a small part of the intellectual history of the University as a place of learning. The most important developments of the period were in science, but the literary subjects should not be forgotten. The three Cambridge divinity professors, J. B. Lightfoot, B. F. Westcott, and F. J. A. Hort were the leaders in the advance of English biblical studies, who brought English theology up to the level of the best German work. (fn. 315) The leading name in pure classical scholarship is that of R. C. (later Sir Richard) Jebb, fellow of Trinity and later regius professor of Greek (1889–1905). In Latin studies valuable work was done by H. A. J. Munro, the first professor of Latin (1869–72), who edited Lucretius, and Robert Burn, who did pioneer work in Roman archaeology. (fn. 316) B. H. Kennedy, Regius Professor of Greek 1867–89, after whom the chair of Latin was eventually named, was hardly a scholar of the first rank, but he exercised considerable influence over English classical studies. (fn. 317) An orientalist with a remarkable facility in spoken Arabic and Persian was E. H. Palmer, Lord Almoner's Professor of Arabic 1871–82, who was murdered while he was on a mission in the Sinai desert during the revolt of Arabi Pasha (1882). (fn. 318) In history Sir James Stephen, regius professor 1849–59, deserves a mention, though his work appeared to bear little fruit at the time, but the holder of the chair with whom the modern tradition of Cambridge historical study really begins is J. R. Seeley (1869–95). His long tenure of the chair, says G. P. Gooch, 'raised the whole level of historical study and production in the University'. (fn. 319) The greatest of Cambridge historical and legal scholars, F. W. Maitland, Downing Professor of the Laws of England (1888–1906), belonged to a younger generation; he did not return to the University as a teacher until 1884. (fn. 320) A last important name is that of Sir Henry Maine, Regius Professor of Civil Law 1847–54 and Master of Trinity Hall 1877–88, whose studies in the borderlands of law, history, and anthropology had a profound influence in making Englishmen view their political problems and institutions historically. (fn. 321)
By 1870 much was being done to supply the defects which the Royal Commission of 1850 had pointed out. There was still, however, a widespread feeling in the country that educationally England was falling behind her rivals. It was argued that both at the school and university levels England was not properly equipped to meet the needs of the day, in industry, in administration, in general culture. The most vocal exponent of this point of view was Matthew Arnold, and the great exemplar he set up before his countrymen was the schools and universities of Germany. There was to be found liberty both for the teacher and for the learner, 'knowledge systematically pursued and prized in and for itself'. (fn. 322) In comparison with their German counterparts the English universities were mere high schools which provided no instruction at true university level. (fn. 323) One particular English weakness, stressed by influential publicists, lay in the teaching of the natural sciences. Scientific knowledge, according to Herbert Spencer, was of more worth than any other. (fn. 324) T. H. Huxley attacked the prevailing neglect of science teaching and claimed that the English universities were 'simply "boarding schools" for bigger boys', doing hardly anything to promote literary or scientific activity. (fn. 325)
The echoes of these opinions, much muted, can be heard in the contemporary blue books. The select committee of 1867 heard lengthy evidence on the German universities. (fn. 326) The third report of the Royal Commission on scientific instruction (1873) spoke highly of the standard of scientific work in British universities, but pointed out that it was inadequate in quantity, in comparison, for instance, with the courses of the university of Berlin. Stress was also laid on the importance of adequate laboratory facilities for original work, which was then much neglected, and on the need to provide permanent careers for men who were distinguished research workers. (fn. 327) Slowly these aims were being achieved. When the New Museums building was completed in 1864–5, the natural sciences at last had a properly equipped home of their own. (fn. 328) The new buildings had no room for the study of experimental physics, for which a demand existed, though the University had no money to meet it, and the Colleges were not willing to help. (fn. 329) The problem was solved by the generous offer of the Chancellor, the Duke of Devonshire, to provide the building and its apparatus, and the Cavendish Laboratory was built (1872–3). (fn. 330) In 1876–9 a new building was erected for physiology and zoology, and a workshop and drawing office was also put up for the professor of mechanism about the same time, the modest beginnings of the department of engineering. (fn. 331) In 1873 Clerk Maxwell took office as the first Cavendish professor of experimental physics, and began the history of the greatest of Cambridge scientific departments. (fn. 332)
Valuable work was also being done in the biological sciences. Alfred Newton, the first professor of zoology, was one of the first prominent zoologists to accept the theory of natural selection. (fn. 333) Among the younger men whom he encouraged was the embryologist, F. M. Balfour, killed climbing in 1882, whose vigorous personality, J. W. Clark claimed, had 'enabled natural science to take the place it now occupies in Cambridge life'. (fn. 334) The progress made at this time in medical studies was largely the work of three men who were the real founders of the modern medical school, Sir George Paget, Regius Professor of Physic 1872–92, G. M. (later Sir George Murray) Humphry, Professor of Anatomy 1866–83, and Michael (later Sir Michael) Foster, who was brought to Cambridge as praelector in physiology at Trinity in 1870, and who quickly came to hold a quasi-professorial position. (fn. 335) Foster lived on into the 20th century; his own contributions to science were not important, but his personality and his talent for organization and for choosing men made the physiology school the most outstanding branch of Cambridge medicine. (fn. 336)
By 1870 it was becoming clear that these developments could not be harmonized with the existing university system. Teaching and research could progress only if the Colleges made contributions towards the expense. Bateson had told the select committee of 1867 that there was no chance of the Colleges acting voluntarily. (fn. 337) The Royal Commission on scientific instruction thought more optimistically that they would be ready to recognize the strength of the University's claims as soon as 'objects are clearly defined for which the universities require assistance'. (fn. 338) One major problem was that of using college revenues to provide a genuine career in teaching. Most college posts were still tied by the requirements of celibacy. The same Royal Commission pointed out that out of 350 fellowships only 120 were held by residents doing educational and administrative work. The rest were held by non-residents who received, as prizes, far too great a part of total fellowship income. (fn. 339) Another Royal Commission on university and college finances revealed that many college incomes were in excess of what was really required for educational purposes. (fn. 340) The demands of university reformers were expressed in the so-called Burn-Morgan memorial (1872–3) which asked 'that fellowships divorced from work at the University should not be held for life; that a permanent professional career should be opened to those engaged in college work by allowing fellows of colleges to marry; that provision should be made for the association of colleges for educational purposes in order to secure more efficient teaching and more leisure for study; and that the pecuniary and other relations between the University and Colleges should be revised'. (fn. 341)
In comparison with the situation twenty years earlier, there was very little opposition to change. That sturdy old conservative, Corrie of Jesus, perhaps with earlier battles in his mind, told the Statutory Commissioners of 1877 that the chief want of the University 'is exemption from the disturbing power of Royal or Parliamentary Commissions'. (fn. 342) The effective leader of the right-wing was E. H. Perowne of Corpus. He refused, as tutor, to answer the questions on the tuition fund, asked by the Royal Commission on finance, saying that they had 'transgressed the limit which ought to separate matters of a private nature from those which may be the legitimate object of official investigation'. (fn. 343) He protested strongly when the new statutes of his College permitted the mastership to be held by any man irrespective of his religious belief or profession. (fn. 344) When the new statutes had been made, he wrote, with characteristic foreboding: 'I am not satisfied—God forbid I should be!—with the doings of the commissioners. My heart is very very sad, well-nigh broken. I could wish myself far away from Cambridge and its imminent evils'. Then, remembering that two of the commissioners were bishops, he added as a postscript: 'I think I see now why so many sensible people are for expelling the bishops from the House of Lords.' (fn. 345) But Corrie was an old man and Perowne a voice crying in the wilderness. Most residents, even those who did not welcome change, regarded it as inevitable, and some colleges, particularly Trinity, actually welcomed it. (fn. 346)
Bills for the appointment of Statutory Commissioners for both Oxford and Cambridge were introduced into Parliament in 1876, but were finally withdrawn and a single Bill for both universities was finally passed in August 1877. (fn. 347) The arrangements made were very similar to those of the Cambridge Act of 1856. (fn. 348) The Cambridge Statutory Commissioners were Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, the Bishop of Worcester, Philpott, who had been Prince Albert's right-hand man 30 years earlier, Lord Rayleigh, E. P. Bouverie, G. W. Hemming, and Professors Lightfoot and Stokes. They formed an extremely strong group, and their secretary, G. F. Browne, spoke very highly both of their ability and, in general, of their sympathetic attitude, though he had to make an exception for Hemming who was very prejudiced against the Colleges. (fn. 349) In fact, the commissioners came near to making some bad mistakes. The act of 1877 required that provision should be made for the Colleges to contribute to university purposes, 'especially with a view to further and better instruction in art, science, and other branches of learning . . .'; that fellowships and other college emoluments should be attached to university offices; and that the tenure of fellowships not attached to such offices should be reviewed. (fn. 350)
In December 1877 the commissioners sent out to a large number of persons in official positions a series of inquiries about the main needs of the University and the revenues necessary to meet them, the sources from which money was to be raised, and the methods by which college contributions were to be assessed. Naturally the answers varied widely. At one extreme Perowne thought that the urgent requirements were an examination hall and the restoration of the third esquire bedellship to provide a secretary for the Vice-Chancellor. At the other end of the scale Liveing, the Professor of Chemistry, wanted £70,000 for buildings and £43,000 per annum for stipends and maintenance. (fn. 351) The ultimate decisions taken by the commissioners were considerably modified by the representations of the Council of the Senate. Thus they had at first proposed for each College a precise quota per £1,000 of the total levy. This was to rise after 1894 to £25,000 as a minimum, but no maximum was given. (fn. 352) This scheme would have imposed a fixed annual tax on college incomes for a long period of years during which the amount of those incomes was unknown and unforeseeable, without any consideration of the ability of the Colleges to provide for their own needs. As a result of the criticisms of the Council the college quotas were changed into percentage payments and a final maximum of £30,000 was fixed for 1896. (fn. 353) Further, the commissioners accepted a suggestion, made in view of the great agricultural depression which was growing in gravity, that the Chancellor should be empowered, on the recommendation of the Financial Board, to reduce the college contributions. (fn. 354) This modified the inflexibility of the financial arrangements, but it did not remove the fundamental difficulty that the commissioners had made their estimates on the basis of the mid-seventies when college incomes were at their peak, whereas those incomes had already started to fall and were to fall much more sharply still during the ensuing two decades. (fn. 355) The commissioners had originally proposed that, when the proposed professorial fellowships were created, certain chairs should be assigned to certain colleges. This was also altered to meet objections in the University, and Colleges were required only to elect a certain number of professors, not the holders of specified chairs. (fn. 356) Over some of the statutes, such as those providing for a General Board of Studies and a Financial Board, there was no controversy. (fn. 357)
The work of statutory reform in the Colleges got quickly under way. (fn. 358) The commissioners adhered firmly to their general policy. They would not permit the financial contributions to the University to be reduced. They would not allow Colleges to require their heads to be in holy orders, nor to fix the tenure of their fellowships, unless held with college or university office, at more than six or seven years. (fn. 359) The most revolutionary change of all, when its effect on the whole atmosphere of college life is remembered, was that the tenure of fellowships now definitely ceased to depend on celibacy or on taking holy orders. (fn. 360) There was much opposition in the Colleges to the entrance scholarships open to schoolboys, which had been introduced in the new codes made after 1856, because they were thought to lead to cramming and over-specialization. However, they were popular with the schools, and they had to be preserved, their maximum value being fixed at £80 and the maximum age for entry at 19. (fn. 361)
With the new statutes of 1882 a new period begins which stretches unbroken up to the present day. In the new era the University bulked larger and the Colleges smaller. Cambridge was to become less homogeneous than it had been. Uniformity of religious faith and practice had gone. The clerical tone of the old University was disappearing. Studies were becoming far more diverse, and, although this meant far greater opportunities, it also meant that men of different disciplines were to have less and less in common. The changes were good and they came none too early. Yet the academic history of the last century should not be written as if the liberals were always right. The Whewells, even the Perownes and the Corries, may have been over-cautious, even obscurantist, but they perceived one great truth which their opponents sometimes forgot—that a university flourishes because of the springs of life within itself and not because of paper constitutions imposed upon it by outside authority. The great problem of the age was to keep alive the ancient spirit and to infuse it into the new forms, to modernize the University without shattering its historic continuity, its self-respect, or its independence. That this difficult task was successfully accomplished is due to many individuals, to favourable external circumstances, perhaps even to luck, but, among the whole complex of causes, the restraint of the two Statutory Commissions should not be forgotten.