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QUEEN'S COLLEGE, LONDON, FOR FEMALE EDUCATION: ITS ORIGIN AND PROGRESS.

MY DEAR SIR,--I very willingly respond to your request to give you an account of the origin and progress of Queen's College, because I believe the account may be found not uninstructive to your readers, and, more especially, because I trust this will prove but the first of a series of similar efforts to elevate the character of female education, and may, therefore, be useful to those who may endeavour to carry out its principles and practice in other localities.

If we look back on the historical records of female education, we shall find, almost universally, that women remarkable for mental influence or mental acquirement have gone through a course of training similar to that which is common among men. The result is, therefore, to be traced directly to the operation of the male upon the female mind; and this appears to have been the case more especially from the revival of letters to the end of the sixteenth century; as the examples of our own Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth will bring to every one's recollection. But it happened during that period also, that the custom of having resident domestic chaplains prevailed very generally among the rich, and doubtless the progress of female education among that class was in proportion. In modern times, when the good old custom is more rarely practised, the occasional visits of masters afford but a bad substitute for the constant superintendence and care that might, and probably would, result from residence in the same house; and consequently, we must look for the best-developed female minds of the present day among those who are self-taught, i. e., those who have educated themselves by direct converse with the mighty men of old, by means of their works, and have thus drunk at the fountain-head the pure stream of mental inspiration. Among these, with few exceptions, (and exceptions are generally, as especially in this case, found to prove the rule, they being for the most part indebted to the advice of a father, brother, or parish clergyman in their choice of books,) it is natural that there should be but one opinion on the subject of female education -the necessity of extending its scope, of thus expanding the mind, and of raising woman generally from the condition of a pet doll or dressed puppet, to be the reasonable companion of man, an help meet for him. But, from the circumstances of the case, the number of truly educated women has as yet been comparatively few, and man, as if ignorant of his own loss, unconscious of his own consequent weakness, has not until now come forward to their assistance.

It should seem as if a new era in female education had arrived, for no sooner is this great necessity openly propounded, than all, even those who might be supposed bigoted to the old ways-the schoolmistresses, and governesses, in whom alone it could be expected that they should have found defenders-do not hesitate to confess the necessity they feel themselves to be under of seeking help from man in that work, which, perhaps, they have originally undertaken in full confidence in their own strength.

It may seem strange to assert that a great improvement in the mechanism of art should have stood in the way of the increase of gene

ral knowledge; and yet perhaps nothing has exerted more influence in contracting the course of female education than the perfection to which the pianoforte has of late years been brought; stranger still, that, until now, all attempts to improve that education publicly have commenced at the wrong end-have all been confined to certain ranks and classes of society-have all been more or less eleemosynary. St. Mary's College, Brighton, the College at Casterton, the Clergy Orphan School, all tell the same tale; but their influence on female education is lessened by the exclusive character they assume, being open to one class only. Similar in its effect is the National Society's Training Institution at Whitelands, in which the daily instruction and supervision of the chaplain cannot but produce the best results.

An attempt, however, was made three or four years since by the Honourable Miss Murray, one of Her Majesty's Maids of Honour, not without her royal mistress's knowledge and assent, to establish a college for female education. The scheme was conceived on a scale of magnitude worthy of its courtly origin, but failed, partly on this very account, but more from its being in the main an exclusive thing, designed solely for educating ladies as governesses, and admitting none but those resident to the advantages it held forth, except some few selected children of literary, scientific, and professional men, and they supposed to be training for the same purpose. At any rate, whether from this cause, or because the time was not yet ripe, it failed; but the labours of the philanthropic projectress were not unrewarded, having created a very general interest on the subject, and thus prepared the way for further efforts; for it may be recorded to her honour that all first concerned in projecting and founding Queen's College, had already been interested in behalf of Miss Murray's scheme.

It should not, however, be forgotten that the managers of the society, through the instrumentality of which the last and successful scheme was brought to bear, had for some time borne on their prospectus a record of their conviction of the necessity of some great change in female education, and their desire to effect it so far as governesses were concerned; and thus from many quarters influences were at work by which the world was preparing for a general co-operation in this great and important effort. Great, on account of the effect to be produced on the female sex; important, not only on their account, but the rather on account of its reflected operation on man.

Educate women and you educate the teachers of men; if the child is father to the man, the woman forms the man in educating the child. The cause of female education is then, even in the most selfish sense, the cause of mankind at large.

The rise and progress of Queen's College fully illustrates this position. The regrets expressed by an aunt and a governess with reference to the means of education generally available set the first wheel in motion, and one by one the Professors of King's College (to their honour be it spoken) came forward, offering the assistance of their practised skill and acknowledged learning; the Governesses' Benevolent Înstitution lent its powerful aid, and the machine began to move. It should, however, be noticed, that the interest of the Society in the matter arose from its desire to ensure a proper qualification for the office in those governesses

especially whose names appeared in its register, no evidence of the capability, or rather knowledge of the governess being adducible, except her own--that of an interested party, or her former employer-possibly an ignorant one. The most feasible and therefore the first, movement made was to establish a Committee of Gentlemen competent individually to examine in every branch of knowledge, and to offer this test to the governess to ensure her the confidence of her mistress; and to the latter to give her full confidence in the instructress of her children, in so far as it would assure her of the amount of knowledge possessed; and so far, but so far only, her capability for teaching.

But this had not been in operation any long period before the necessity for something more became very apparent. The examiners for the most part found themselves beset with difficulties-unwilling to demand too much for the sake of the lady herself, or too little for that of those she might have to educate; feeling how very small an amount of knowledge was deemed sufficient by many who presented themselves, and yet knowing that they had had, and probably availed themselves of, every advantage customary to the education of their sex; hesitating to raise the standard, lest they should exercise retrospective injustice to them; necessitated to do so, lest they should be prospectively unjust to others in a false position, both were compelled to advance or recede; no doubt could for a moment be entertained as to the alternative; the general cry was, "En avant."

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And here it is but just to draw attention to the disinterested conduct of those who, with Mr. Maurice at their head, appeared as the champions of this movement; with but few exceptions, they had "every thing to lose, and nothing to gain," by it. Their position was already established; their employments, both professional and spontaneous, laborious; their time precious; a failure must have brought down on them the already prepared fulminations of oracular pomposity and cachinnations of vulgar conceit, and this with such slight anticipations of success, that in the calculation of what number might constitute a class and justify commencement, it was found impossible to place it too low and this should be recorded, not on their account, but to stimulate others to follow in the same path, that similar institutions may be founded in every great town in England, and an universal movement be made to further the great cause of female education.

It cannot for one moment be supposed, that slight convictions should have been sufficient thus to urge on men, whose only interest in the work was the good of others; nothing short of the domination of a great principle exerting its power over their minds could thus have moved them; and it is right, therefore, that all whose sympathies are engaged on the side of education-all who are themselves teachers-all who wish to become teachers-nay, all who desire to see their sex elevated to its proper position in society,-not merely their own profession made remunerative, though that is no small object, and well worth a struggle on the part even of such men to obtain, should have full knowledge of the origin and rise, with the difficulties and uncertainties attendant on them, of this first successful effort in so great and good a cause.

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The determination to establish classes was followed by their establishment: but here again a cause of doubt and hesitation occurred. The Committee of Education working for, if not in subordination to, the Governesses Benevolent Institution, seemed to go out of its proper sphere if it offered to teach others than those who purposed becoming members of that profession. The society to which they were appendage, devoted to the interests of a class, seemed pledged to that class exclusively, or at any rate there did not appear any reason why they should overstep its limits, until they endeavoured to ascertain what were its limits. The question, who intended to become governesses, was more easily asked than answered. Some, indeed, were found destined professionally so from their youth up, but the records of the institution, so prolific in tales of woe-so suggestive of wants-so totally unable to meet them-for what was done, though much when considered abstractedly, was as nothing when taken collectively-showed but too plainly that these, the business-members of the profession, were not (as indeed why should they?) undertaking risks and responsibilities for which education and previous habits had not in a great measure prepared them. These were not found on the list of sufferers, but rather those whom the accidents of life-circumstances over which they could have exercised no control-proceeding most frequently from the actions of others—their faults or misfortunes, as the case might happen to be— had compelled to seek in teaching the necessaries of life, not because they were fitted for the duty, but because the conventionalities of society admitted of no other employment without a loss of caste, more painful in artificial society than any other loss; although to be isolated from the sympathies of those with whom they might have, under other circumstances, associated on terms of intimacy, and being made the objects of pity to those whom by habit they had been accustomed to regard as below them in the scale of society, could hardly be thought less galling, less humiliating. In speaking thus strongly, it is not intended to support the opinion expressed by a clever writer, whose ready pen. has passed current over pages filled with lamentations for the condition of the governess, "without any idea, or hope, or even wish to see them remedied;" or that there are not many, very many, to whom it is not in any the least degree applicable, only that it is not in the nature of things that these members of the profession should ever make a public appearance. In private we know many-in public not one-whose salary and condition are such as it is desirable that all should be. Our poorhouses are not filled with labourers in work, but labourers out of work, and if it be true that those educated for teachers get on better and want less help than those who are not, as the reports of the institution seem to show, then it may be concluded that the sufferings and wants it was formed to minister to, and if possible remove, are not so much inherent in the profession itself, as resulting from peculiar conditions in those who exercise it.

Now if it could not be ascertained with certainty what ladies hereafter might or might not be under the necessity of resorting to tuition as a means of livelihood, it would have been obviously unjust to exclude any; and if the professionally-educated governess was found to be more successful than her volunteer competitor, then by placing within the

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means and power of all such instruction as would fit all mentally for the office; if in the providence of God in directing the changes and chances of this mortal life they were called on to fill it, it is as plain that all would be on an equality—that there would be, so to speak vulgarly, a fair stage and no favour; and, moreover, this great if not equally important point would be gained, that no false delicacy should prevent any from obtaining the necessary instruction, or even certificates of knowledge, if they should be deemed desirable; for if the classes were opened to all, without exception, none could be pointed at as future 'pro mammas," none could be branded as the "patient drudge," the retailer "of every accomplishment and science of the day, besides some part of the maternal functions in every other department," who was doomed to live "fifteen years on £50 a year," finish the sixth daughter, be "esteemed as a treasure" and "dismissed without pension or provision," to pass the remainder of her days in penury and neglect. It was, therefore, as the prospectus issued says plainly, that "the committee having carefully considered the subject, came to the conclusion, "that the interests of governesses will be best promoted by forming classes which shall not be confined to them, but shall be open to all ladies without distinction." But why classes? Why instruction, not education? Was it with a desire to follow foreign fashions, and reduce the governess to a teacher? Was it that the committee did not regard the moral training as of the first necessity, or that they considered her literary above her moral qualifications? Can it be supposed that thirty gentlemen, more than half of whom were clergymen-by how much more than half of these again, not unknown either for religious or charitable zeal-should calmly and deliberately sit down, and after months of consideration, elaborate a scheme calculated to rob those they desired to benefit, for whose sakes they were labouring, of the most valuable of their qualifications, and those whom they were to teach of the most important part of their education? Is there one would credit it? one who could propose such a question to himself? That was impossible, but the inference must force itself on every considerate mind, that their actions show them to have recognized their own competency; with the correct appreciation of earnest and honest men-they knew what they could do-they felt what they could not do-they threw their whole strength and power into the one-they left the other and those whom it concerned. They felt that the Mothers of England should be the moral trainers of the daughters, more especially of the governesses of England; else, how could they impart and recommend home sympathies, homely feelings and interests to their pupils? They felt that the parish priests of England were the proper religious instructors of the women, as well as the men of England; else, how should they lead up others to that reverential estimation of the servants of God, which would induce them to receive their instruction with meekness, not as of Paul or as of Apollos, but as of Christ and his church ;* and this they did in full confidence that the world would ex

* That these were the principles and feelings of the members of the committee of Queen's College, may be readily ascertained by referring to their opinion, recorded in the introductory lectures delivered by them to the classes at their commencement, just published by J. W. Parker, West Strand.

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