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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/554

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

called responsions, the exercise for the now perhaps forgotten status of Generalis Sophista, is now grotesquely performed on lads not yet members of the university. In natural science, above all, examinations and examiners multiply daily. The luxury, to be sure, is a costly one; it sometimes costs fifty or sixty pounds to examine a single man; but the thing must be done, under pain of loss of character. For in the matter of what is now called "science"—a word which used to have another meaning—the many are in the hands of the few. A proposal for a new examination in any other branch is canvassed, perhaps thrown out, because men have some notion what it means. But "science" is shrouded in mystery. A new-ology is invented; not a dozen persons in the university know what the ology is about; but no one dares to oppose a fresh examination in it, for fear of being called retrograde, obscurantist, opponent of the march of intellect, any other anathema with which the Holy Office of "science" may be ready. And so the thing goes on merrily; everybody is examining or being examined, save during the short intervals allowed for forgetfulness between one examination and another.

Now what has come of all this? Simply the degradation of university learning and teaching into a trade. Each undergraduate seems to do a sum to find out what form of examination may be most profitable to choose—profitable, that is, not to the understanding but to the pocket. I was not a little surprised when, after my return to Oxford, I heard the words "the pecuniary value of a first class." Such words were assuredly never heard in my younger days. A man was rejoiced to get as high a class as he could, both because of the credit of the thing itself and as an augury of a coming fellowship; but he never reckoned the exact value of the class in pounds, shillings, and pence. Another phrase that startled me was that of the "tutorial profession." A college fellow who in my day undertook, most likely for a few years only, the further duties of a college tutor, certainly never thought that he was entering a special "profession." But, owing partly to the growth of examinations, partly to the new position of college fellows which has followed on the fatal permission of marriage, the "tutor," if he can so be called, is now altogether another kind of person. He reaches his fullest modern development in the "combined lecturer," of whom, as he is powerful, one must speak delicately. To him, teaching is strictly a calling; it is a calling and not an office, for he is ready to practice it wherever he can find employment, and he is, moreover, a mere teacher, not discharging any of the other duties of the old college tutor. Without being a university professor or reader, he teaches men from various colleges, but he does nothing except teach them. And he is strongly tempted to teach them a great deal too much,