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University of Cambridge

Major university in England

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The obscurity which surrounds the ancient history of Cambridge makes it impossible to fix with any certainty the date of the foundation of the great seat of learning now known as the university. In the days of Queen Elizabeth the most extraordinary legends were current, propounded by learned men at Oxford and Cambridge, regarding the respective antiquity of these two universities. The Oxford schools, it was claimed, had been founded by certain Greek professors who came to England with Brutus of Troy, “about the time when Eli was judge in Israel”; while Cambridge traced her origin to “Cantaber a Spanish prince”, who arrived in Britain in the year of the world 3588. No more trustworthy is the statement of the chronicler known as Peter de Blois, who assigns 1110 as the date of certain learned monks coming to Cambridge from the great Abbey of Croyland, in the fen country, lecturing there, and assembling round them a nucleus of scholars. All that is certain is that long (though how long is not known) before the establishment of the first college in Cambridge, a body of students was in residence in the town, lodging at first in the houses of the townspeople, but gathered later into “hostels”, houses licensed by the university authorities, who appointed principals to each, responsible for the order, good discipline, and comfort of the inmates. These hostels, of which Fuller enumerates thirty-four, continued to exist up to, and after, the foundation of the first colleges, which were originally composed only of the master, fellows, and poor scholars, or sizars, who paid for their education by performing menial work. To the Benedictine Order belongs the honor of having established the first college within the university, St. Peter’s, better known as Peterhouse. It was founded in 1284 by Hugh de Balsham, monk and sometime prior of the Abbey of Ely, and Bishop of Ely from 1257 to 1286; and its constitution and statutes were modeled on those of Merton College, Oxford, founded twelve years previously by Walter de Merton, Bishop of Rochester.

Bishop de Balsham obtained leave from Edward I to place his scholars in the buildings of St. John’s Hospital, in the place of the religious brethren of that foundation, and a few years later acquired possession of a neighboring monastery belonging to a suppressed order of friars. He and his successor at Ely, Bishop Simon Montacute, drew up an admirable code of statutes providing for the maintenance of a master and fourteen fellows, who were to be “studiously engaged in literature”, and withal “honorable, chaste, peaceable, humble and modest”. The scholars who attended the college lectures (prototypes of the “pensioner” of today) were still accommodated in the hostels, but the statutes provided for the maintenance of a few “indigent scholars well grounded in Latin”, who came later to be known as sizars. Monks and friars were explicitly excluded from the benefits of the foundation, but clerical students were evidently expected to be in the majority, and indeed the clerical dress and tonsure is specially enjoined on the master and all the scholars of Peterhouse. In the statutes of the second college founded, that of Michaelhouse (afterwards absorbed in Trinity), the religious provisions are particularly prominent. All the fellows were to be in Holy orders and students of theology, and the provisions for Divine service are elaborate and minute. In Cambridge, as at Oxford, the earliest colleges made use of the nearest parish church as their place of worship, and Pembroke, which dates from 1347, was the first which had from the beginning a chapel for its members within its own precincts. Thirteen of the existing colleges are pre-Reformation foundations, and three more were established in the sixteenth century. The three hundred subsequent years of Protestantism have produced but a single benefactor to emulate the pious achievements of Catholic times; and Downing College, founded in 1800, is the only one which has had its rise in the seventeenth, eighteenth, or nineteenth centuries. The modern revival of hostels has not been markedly successful, two out of three founded having been closed in recent years; nor has the institution of the non-collegiate system (introduced in 1869) attracted a great number of students, in spite of the advantages it offers of a considerably more economical university career.

Many of the features of the collegiate discipline and internal government as originally instituted are due to the fact of the earlier colleges having been largely modeled on the monasteries. Magdalene (like Gloucester, now Worcester, College, Oxford) was actually established for students belonging to the Benedictine Order, the young monks resorting thither from Croyland, Ely, Ramsey, and other East Anglian abbeys; while Emmanuel was built in 1584 on the site of a former Dominican house, becoming afterwards, curiously enough, the favorite resort of Puritan students. To the semi-monastic origin of the colleges must be traced such rules as those enjoining on the fellows celibacy and the clerical status, which were in force until almost the close of the nineteenth century. The final abolition of the restrictions as to marriage and clerical orders was brought about only in 1881, when new statutes were issued by the Cambridge commissioners in conformity with an act of Parliament passed four years previously. All religious tests have been abolished within the same period, except for degrees in divinity, examinations and degrees in the other faculties being now thrown open to students of every creed. The Anglican element is still strongly represented in the governing body, more than half the heads of houses, for example, being (1907) clergymen of the established Church.

Looking back on the past three centuries of the history of the university, one is struck by the long succession of eminent men whom Cambridge has produced, notwithstanding the narrow and cramping influence of a system which, during a great part of that time, rigidly excluded non-members of the Church of England from every position of influence and emolument, and even from the benefits of a degree. A list by no means exhaustive includes, among philosophers and men of science, Bacon, Newton, Herschel, Adams, Darwin, Rayleigh, and Kelvin; among statesmen, Burleigh, Strafford, Cromwell, Pitt, Pahnerston, Devonshire, and Balfour; among scholars and men of letters, Erasmus, Bentley, Porson, Paley, Sterne, Ben Johnson, Lytton; Macaulay, and Thackeray; among lawyers, Coke, Littleton, Ellenborough. and Lyndhurst; among historians, Hume and Acton; and (last, not least) among the galaxy of poets who are perhaps the brightest gems in Cambridge’s crown of famous men, Spenser, Milton, Herbert, Dryden, Cowley, Otway, Prior, Gray, Coleridge, Byron, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. Apart from the unbroken chronicle of the intellectual achievements of her sons, the university as such has never during the six centuries and more of her existence figured prominently in history. Her part in politics has been on the whole unimportant, and her tendency, in matters both of Church and State, has ever been towards moderation and an avoidance of extremes. Her relations with kings and rulers have been friendly, if not always cordial; during the troubles of the Civil War she was loyal, but not with the exuberant loyalty of Oxford, to Charles I; her colleges sent him their plate, but they came later easily into the obedience of the Commonwealth. So in religious matters she has never been in the forefront of the great religious movements which have originated at Oxford and have shaken England to its center. She has bred eminent divines both high and low in their ecclesiastical views; but her chief glory has been, and is, in that stamp of churchmen who form the broad, or liberal, section of the Anglican body. Ellicott and Alford, Vaughan and Kingsley, Lightfoot and Maurice, are names as typical of Cambridge as those of Newman and Pusey, Wilberforce and Liddon and Bright, are characteristic of Oxford. It remains to add that the corporate existence of Cambridge University dates from the thirteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when it was incorporated under the designation of “The Chancellors, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Cambridge”. The endowment of the first professorships dates from an earlier period of the same century, the Lady Margaret professorship of divinity having been founded in 1502 by Margaret, mother of Henry VII. Henry VIII established in 1540 the five regius professorships of divinity, civil law, physics, Hebrew, and Greek. Thirty-nine professorships have since been founded, making a total of forty-five, in addition to assistants, demonstrators, and readers.


(A) The University

Nothing is more difficult to foreigners than to understand the constitution of such a university as that of Cambridge, complicated as it is by the dual and simultaneous existence of the central governing body with its complete organization and staff of officials, and of the separate colleges, each an autonomous corporation, with its own officers, its own property, and its own statutes, and yet all constituting an essential part of the university as a whole. The combined university and college system of Cambridge and of Oxford is in fact unique, and is in as marked contrast with the pure university system prevailing in Germany, France, and Scotland, as well as of the most recently founded universities in England, as it is with the pure college system of some universities in the United States. The supreme legislative and governing power of the whole body (for the statutes of the several colleges are subject to the paramount authority of the university laws) is vested in the senate, whose place of meeting is called the senate-house. The constituent members of the senate are the chancellor, vice-chancellor, doctors of the six several faculties, bachelors of divinity, and all masters of arts, law, surgery, and music, who have their names on the university register. The matters to which the jurisdiction of the senate extends include the management of the finances and property of the university (as distinguished from that belonging to the individual colleges), the general conduct of the studies and examinations, and the regulations affecting morals and discipline. It is, however, to be noted that nothing whatever can be proposed for enactment or confirmation by the senate except with the sanction of the council, a body established by the authority of Parliament about 1857. The council is really a committee of the whole senate, consisting of the chancellor, vice-chancellor, four heads of colleges, four university professors, and eight other members of the senate elected by the whole body. Meetings of the senate, styled congregations, and presided over by the vice-chancellor or his deputy, are held about once a fortnight during term for the transaction of university business. The executive power of the governing body is vested in the following officials: the Chancellor, elected for life, who is head of the university, and has power to adjudicate in all matters affecting members of the, university, excepting cases of felony; the Vice-Chancellor, elected annually, who exercises the full powers of the chancellor in his absence or in case of a vacancy in the office; the High Steward, who has special powers to try scholars, within the limits of the university, even in cases of felony, and appoints a resident deputy; the Sex Viri, elected by the senate every two years, with power to hold a court for the trial of all senior members of the university charged with offenses against the statutes; the Court of Discipline, consisting of the chancellor and six elected heads of colleges, for the trial of scholars in statu pupillari; the Public Orator, who voices the senate on public occasions, writes letters when required, in the name of the university, and presents to all honorary degrees with an appropriate oration; the Registrary, who keeps the record of all university proceedings, and the roll of members of the university, and is the custodian of all important documents; the two Proctors (with their Pro-Proctors), who are responsible for the morals and discipline of the younger members of the university, and assist the vice-chancellor in the discharge of his duties. Other university officials are the two members elected, by the senate to represent the university in the imperial parliament; the Counsel to the university, appointed by the senate; the Solicitor, nominated by the vice-chancellor; the General Board of Studies, consisting of the vice-chancellor, and various elected members of the senate, and of special boards; the Financial Board, for the care and management of the property of the university, consisting of the vice-chancellor and eight members of the senate, half elected by the colleges and half nominated by the vice-chancellor. The university property consists chiefly of a small amount of landed estate, the fees ‘charged for matriculations, examinations, and graduating, the quarterly due or tax paid by every member of the university whose name is on the register, the profits of the university printing-press, contributions from the various colleges, as provided by the statutes, and various minor sources of income of a fluctuating kind.

(B) The Colleges

The order of the members of the several colleges, which number seventeen in all, is as follows: (1) The head, who is usually, but not necessarily or always, a doctor in his own faculty. The head of King’s College is styled provost; of Queen’s, president; of all the other colleges, master. (2) The fellows, numbering altogether about 400, and as a rule graduates (usually masters) in some faculty. (3) Doctors in the several faculties, bachelors in divinity, masters of arts, law, and surgery, who are not on the foundation of the college. (4). Bachelors in the four faculties last-named. (5) Fellow-commoners, generally men of rank and fortune, who are entitled to dine at the fellows’ table (hence their name) and enjoy other privileges. (6) Scholars, foundation-members of the several colleges, and enjoying certain emoluments and advantages accordingly. They are as a rule elected by direct competitive examination prior to the commencement of their residence. (7) Pensioners (corresponding to “commoners” at Oxford), the great body of undergraduate students, who pay for their board and their lodging either within or without the college precincts. (8) Sizars, students of limited means who receive, as a rule, their rooms and commons free.

The following is a list of the colleges at Cambridge, in chronological order, with the date of the foundation of each: St. Peter’s or Peterhouse (1257), Clare (1326), Pembroke (1347), Gonville and Caius (1348), Trinity Hall (1350), Corpus Christi (1352), King’s (1441), Queen’s (1448), St. Catherine’s (1473), Jesus (1496), Christ’s (1505), St. John’s (1511), Magdalene (1519), Trinity (1546), Emmanuel (1584), Sidney Sussex (1595), Downing (1800). There is also one public hostel, Selwyn College, founded in 1882, and restricted to members of the Church of England, and a body of non-collegiate students (under a censor) who under a statute of 1869 are admitted into the university without becoming members of any college or hostel. The total number of members of the university having their names on the register was, in July, 1907, 14,053, including 7220 members of the senate and 3463 undergraduates. Of these many more were on the books of Trinity ‘than of any other college, namely 3675, the next in order being St. John’s, with 1475. The total number of matriculations (of new members) in the academical year 1906-1907 was 1083, the highest in the history of the university. The government of each college is by its own master (or other head) and fellows, or else by the master and council, a select committee of the fellows. Each college has its visitor, either the Sovereign, the Lord Chancellor or the Chancellor of the University, or some bishop or other high dignitary, to whom reference is made when questions arise as to the interpretation of the college statutes; but no college statute is binding unless in harmony with the general code of statutes for the university approved by Queen Victoria in Council in 1882.


(A) Studies

The Cambridge University system may be defined as one which subjects all candidates for degrees, and for all university and college distinctions, to the test of competitive written examinations, held at fixed intervals, and which allows the preparation and study for these examinations to be held whenever, and in whatever way, the individual thinks proper. Professors and readers, lecturers, demonstrators, and tutors, public and private, in every subject of the university curriculum, are provided in abundance by the university itself, by the various colleges, and by private enterprise. But the test, and practically the sole test (apart from certain disciplinary regulations), of the fitness of an undergraduate to receive the degree, whatever it be, which is the object of his university career, is not regular attendance at lectures, still less proficiency or perseverance in his course of private study, but his success in passing the various examinations, whether with or without “honors”, which are the only avenue to the baccalaureate. For the ordinary degree of B.A., which may be taken in the ninth term of residence (that is, there being three terms in each academical year, in two years and eight months after coming into residence), the ordinary “passman”, who does not aspire to honors, has to pass (I) the “previous examination”, or “little go”, in Greek, Latin, and mathematics (all of a pretty elementary kind), and Paley’s “Evidences of Christianity“. The Gospel, which is one of the Greek books set, and Paley can if desired be replaced by a classic and logic. Oriental students may take Arabic, Chinese, or Sanskrit instead of Greek or Latin, under certain conditions. (2) The General Examination, in somewhat more advanced classics and mathematics and (optional) English literature. (3) A Special Examination, in one of the following subjects: theology, political economy, law, history, chemistry, physics, modern languages, mathematics, classics, mechanics and applied science, music.

Candidates for honors have to pass in certain additional subjects in their “little go”, being then exempt from further examination’ until the final, or “tripos “—a word sometimes derived from the three-legged stool on which candidates formerly sat, but now referring to the three classes into which successful candidates are divided. Honors may be taken in any of the following triposes: mathematics, classics, theology, law, history, medieval and modern languages, Oriental languages, moral sciences, natural sciences, mechanical sciences, and economics. Nearly all these tripos examinations are divided into two parts, with an interval between them; and only those who have obtained honors in the first part may proceed to the second. The three classes into which the successful candidates in the mathematical tripos are divided are called respectively wranglers, senior and junior optimes. The names in each class are placed in alphabetical order, the distinction of “senior wrangler”, long the blue ribbon of Cambridge scholarship, having been abolished in 1907. The prominence formerly assigned to mathematics at Cambridge is shown by the fact that up to 1851 no candidate could obtain classical honors without previously gaining a place in the mathematical tripos. Although this rule no longer exists, the Cambridge theory remains on the whole the same, that mathematical studies form the most perfect course of intellectual training. Cambridge scholarship is sometimes said to derive its accuracy from mathematics; but the complete course of mathematics at Cambridge demands different and higher qualities than mere accuracy, namely breadth of reasoning, readiness to generalize, perception of analogies, quickness in the assimilation of new ideas, a keen sense of beauty and order, and, above all, inventive powers of the highest kind. This is the spirit of the typical Cambridge scholar, and it has produced and fostered some of the keenest intellects and brightest geniuses in the world of science, using that word in its widest and most general sense.

The instruction in preparation for the manifold examinations which are the gates to degrees in arts and other faculties, is derived from three sources: the university professors, the college tutors, and private instructors, usually known as “coaches”. Least important, strangely enough, are the lectures given by the five-and-forty highly-paid professors, some of whom lecture very infrequently, while others may be themselves sound and even brilliant scholars, without being competent to impart the knowledge which they possess. The provision made by each college for the instruction of those residing within its walls consists of a system of lectures given by the college tutors, and annual or terminal examinations of all its own members. These lectures include every subject comprised in the university examinations, both pass and honor; attendance at them is compulsory on the students, and they are often of high excellence. Nevertheless the main work of tuition of serious and most successful students is done by the entirely extra-official private tutors, who are in no way publicly recognized as part of the university staff, but who undertake the greater part of the strenuous task of preparing their pupils for the various examinations. The position of these tutors is, in fact, in entire consonance with the general university system, the object of which is to ascertain, at stated intervals, and in the most thorough and searching manner, what a young man knows, without seeking to inquire how he knows it, or from what source, public or private, official or unofficial, his knowledge is derived. Under recent statutes, “advanced students”, over twenty-one years of age, may be admitted as members of the university (their name being placed on the books of some college or hostel), may enter in their third term for certain honor examinations, and after six terms’ residence proceed to the B.A.. degree. They may be students either of the arts course or of law, or may pursue a course of research, and present a dissertation embodying the results of such research, as a qualification for their degree. These students can afterwards proceed to the degree of M.A., or to other degrees, under the usual conditions.

(B) Discipline

The general discipline of the university, for which the senate is responsible, is in the hands of the proctors, two members of their body nominated annually by the different colleges in turn. The disciplinary powers of these officials, which formerly extended to the townsmen as well as to the students, have become decidedly restricted in recent years, and would be difficult accurately to define; but they may be said to be generally responsible for the good order and morals of the younger members of the university outside the college walls, and have authority to punish in various ways public breaches of discipline or of the university statutes. Within the college the discipline is in the hands of the tutors and the dean. Every undergraduate on his arrival is as-signed to a particular tutor, who is supposed to stand in loco parentis to him, and exercises more or less control over every department of his undergraduate career. Both deans and tutors have punitive powers of different kinds, including pecuniary fines, admonitions, varying in seriousness, “gating”, or confining within college or lodgings at an earlier hour than usual, and (as a last resource) “rustication”, i.e. sending down for one or more terms, or even for good. In serious matters there is of course an appeal to the head, whose authority is absolute within his own college walls. On the whole, the system, though certainly framed for the control of youths considerably younger than the average undergraduate of today, works satisfactorily; and though minor breaches of discipline are numerous, grave delinquencies are happily rare.


It is a commonplace remark that Cambridge as a town contrasts unfavorably with Oxford, and an acute American writer, himself an alumnus of Trinity College, has gone so far as to describe it as, of all English provincial towns, the most insignificant, the dullest, and the ugliest. Certainly there is nothing at Cambridge comparable to the unrivalled High Street of Oxford. The street architecture is mean, dingy yellow brick being the chief material of the houses, and the site, on the edge of the chalk and fen country, is as dreary and uninteresting as anything in England. But the glory of Cambridge is of course its group of colleges, whose varied beauty is rivalled only by Oxford; and the Cantab will not easily allow that anything at Oxford, even Magdalen itself, is finer than Trinity, King’s, or the FitzWilliam Museum. Of the university buildings, the last-named, founded by Viscount FitzWilliam, who died in 1816, is one of the noblest classical buildings in England, and contains valuable books, paintings, prints, and sculpture. The Senate-house, opened in 1730, is a building of admirable proportions, with a richly-decorated interior. Near it are the schools and the University Library, containing about 400,000 books and MSS., and entitled (like three or four other libraries) to a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. Other buildings are the Pitt Press, conspicuous with its lofty tower, erected in 1831 in memory of William Pitt; the Geological Museum, containing the Woodward collection; and the excellently equipped Observatory, about a mile outside the town. Among the colleges, Trinity holds the premier place as the largest in any English university. Its great court covers more than two acres of ground; the splendid library was designed by Christopher Wren; the hall, 100 feet long, contains many interesting pictures; and the chapel, dating from Queen Mary’s reign, has within the last generation been restored and elaborately decorated. King’s College, founded by Henry VI, in connection with his famous school at Eton, is celebrated for its chapel, unquestionably the finest building in Cambridge. It was finished in 1536, and ranks with St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, among the most perfect existing specimens of perpendicular architecture. The other buildings of the college are of little interest. Third in architectural importance is St. John’s, with its four courts, one of the most notable modern additions to any college in Cambridge. The picturesque buildings are mostly Tudor or Jacobean, while Gilbert Scott’s magnificent chapel, opened in 1869, is Early Decorated. In size and wealth St. John’s ranks next to Trinity, and it has produced many famous scholars.

Taking the remaining colleges in alphabetical order, we have first St. Catherine’s, its red brick buildings dating from the end of the seventeenth century, and its court, planted with elms, opening to the street. Many noted ecclesiastics and theologians have been educated here. Christ’s College founded (like St. John’s) by the mother of Henry VII, is associated with Milton, and the mulberry-tree said to have been planted by him is still shown. The ancient buildings were all modernized in the eighteenth century. Clare is the second oldest college in the university, but the present structure is entirely of the seventeenth century, and is a very pleasing example of the Palladian style. Corpus Christi, founded in 1352 by the guilds of Corpus Christi and of the Blessed Virgin, came early to be known as Benet College, from the neighboring church of St. Benedict, and its proper name was, curiously enough, revived only in the nineteenth century. The modern buildings are imposing from their size, and the library contains a most valuable collection of books brought together by Archbishop Parker from the dissolved monasteries. Downing, the only modern college in Cambridge (founded 1800), has large grounds, but there is nothing noteworthy about its buildings. Emmanuel, on the site of a Dominican monastery, and the chosen home of the Puritans for a hundred years, has a chapel and picture-gallery designed by Wren. The founder of Harvard College, U.S.A., was a member of Emmanuel. Gonville and Caius (usually known as Caius, pronounced “Keys”) has some valuable medical studentships, and is the chief medical college. The stained glass in the chapel depicts the miracles of healing. The college buildings have been greatly altered and enlarged, but the three famous old gates (of Humility, of Virtue, and of Honor) are still preserved. Jesus (dear to Catholics as the college of the martyred Bishop Fisher of Rochester) occupies the site of a Benedictine convent, of which the fifteenth-century chapel still remains, and has been restored by Pugin. It is the only college with a complete range of cloisters. Magdalene, the only college on the north side of the river Cam, was a Benedictine foundation. Not much remains of the ancient buildings, the finest part of the college being the Pepysian library, containing the books of the famous diarist, and many black letter volumes. Pembroke, the college of Spenser, Gray, and Pitt, has a chapel built by Wren, but has little architectural interest. It has been a noted nursery of Anglican prelates. St. Peter’s or Peterhouse, the oldest college in Cambridge (founded 1257), preserves some of its ancient buildings, has pretty gardens and a small deer-park, and a library rich in medieval theology. The chapel is Laudian Gothic, dating from 1633. Queen’s College, founded by the consorts of Henry VI and Edward IV (the only college which has a president, not a master), is charmingly picturesque, its ancient buildings having suffered less than most from restoration. It boasts Erasmus, whose study is still shown, as its most famous alumnus; but the college has hardly kept up its ancient reputation for learning. Sidney Sussex, with its pretty gardens, is the college of Oliver Cromwell, and possesses the best extant portrait of him. It occupies the site of a Franciscan monastery, but almost all that was old or interesting in the buildings was destroyed by Wyattville’s “restorations” about 1830. Trinity Hall, also with charming gardens, has mostly been rebuilt since a fire in 1851. It has always been more or less the legal college, as Caius, the medical, and has also turned out many famous boating men. Selwyn College, the hostel founded in 1882 in memory of a well-known Anglican prelate, aims at economy, and is exclusively Anglican by its foundation charter. Girton and Newnham, the two colleges for female students at Cambridge, are in no sense part of the university. Apart from the beauty and interest possessed by the individual colleges, a peculiar charm common to nearly all is their picturesque position on the bank of the little river Cam, the buildings and gardens of the larger colleges extending on either side of the river, which is spanned by nine bridges. This unique combination of river, meadow, avenue, garden, and collegiate buildings is known collectively as the “backs”, and it would be difficult to exaggerate its charm, especially on a fresh morning in the early summer.


Up till about the middle of the nineteenth century, although no religious test, or subscription to the Anglican Articles was (as at Oxford) required on matriculation into the University of Cambridge, it was impossible to proceed to the bachelor’s (or of course to any higher) degree without first signing the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and declaring oneself a bona fide member of the Church of England. It was not until nearly thirty years after these disabilities and restrictions were removed that Catholics began once again to frequent the universities in any numbers; not, in fact, until, in response to a petition addressed to the Congregation of Propaganda, through the English Bishops, by a representative body of English Catholics (including many Peers and university graduates), permission was formally granted by the Holy See, under certain conditions and with certain safeguards, for the Catholic youth of Great Britain to attend the national universities. During the ten years from 1897 to 1907, considerable advantage has been taken of this concession, Catholics coming in gradually increasing numbers both from the principal English Catholic schools, and from other parts of the British Empire, as well as from the Continent of Europe and from the United States, to avail themselves of the peculiar advantages of English university education. At the beginning of the academical year 1907-1908 there were (at Cambridge) seventy-six Catholics in residence at the university, including six members of the senate, two bachelors of arts, and sixty-eight undergraduates. About two-fifths of the Catholic students were from English Catholic schools (Beaumont, Downside, the Oratory, Stonyhurst, Ushaw, etc.); two-fifths had been educated at non-Catholic public schools (Eton, Harrow, Wellington, St. Paul’s, etc.); while the remaining fifth were foreigners, many of them young Austrians or Hungarian, nobles, and others from Germany, France, Spain, or Italy, and a few from India and the United States. The largest number, as was to be expected, were members of Trinity College, the others being pretty well distributed over the other colleges. The Catholic students, small as is their number in comparison with the great mass of the undergraduates, have earned a good reputation both for steadiness and industry, and a large majority of them are, as a rule, reading for honors. There is always a fair percentage of Catholics who hold college scholarships, gained in open competition.

St. Edmund’s House, an institution for students preparing for the (secular) priesthood, occupies a house formerly known as Ayerst’s Hostel, but later purchased for the Catholic body by the Duke of Norfolk. It is not corporately recognized by the university, as an attempt, soon after its foundation, to have it erected into a regular hostel was defeated in the senate, although the university authorities were not opposed to the idea. The members of the house are, however, all affiliated either to some college or to the non-collegiate body, permission being granted to them to live together under their own head or rector. Besides the seminarists, who belong to various English dioceses, there are generally one or two members of the secular or regular clergy living and studying at St. Edmund’s.

St. Benet’s House, a small house of studies for members of the Benedictine Order, was founded in 1896 by the community of Downside, near Bath, Dom Cuthbert Butler (afterwards abbot) being the first head of it. The members of this house belong (like the members of St. Edmund’s) to one or other of the colleges, with leave from the authorities to live together in community and enjoy certain exemptions from the ordinary collegiate rule. All the Benedictines who have passed through St. Benet’s have graduated with honors, except two who entered as “advanced students” and have taken research degrees.

A final word may be said as to the annual expense of living at Cambridge for an undergraduate. It must be remembered that the regular university terms last little more than half the year, although an extra, or subsidiary, term may now be kept during the long vacation, and many men, especially those reading for honors, are therefore in residence for about eight months out of the twelve. It would probably be fairly accurate to estimate the average income of an undergraduate at Cambridge, available for the period of his residence, to be about two hundred pounds a year. A large number of men, especially those belonging to the smaller colleges, undoubtedly spend less than this annual sum, but on the other hand there is a considerable number whose income is much higher. The acute American observer (himself a Cantab) already cited concludes that an undergraduate with an allowance of two hundred and fifty pounds per annum could live surrounded by comforts, and what to an American student would be luxuries, but that he could not live on much less without great care and a certain amount of self-sacrifice. The estimate is perhaps unduly high; but so much depends on a young man’s antecedents, training, disposition, and tastes, that it is impossible to give more than an approximate idea of the total cost of an undergraduate’s academic career. Scholars of the various colleges receive an annual emolument, varying from fifty pounds to one hundred pounds, for a period of residence of from three to five years, and enjoy other advantages and allowances which reduce their necessary annual expenditure to a very moderate figure. Many clever boys also come up to Cambridge with scholarships or exhibitions gained at the public schools where they have been educated, and their expenses at the university are of course reduced in proportion.


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