Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

mastership; but, in this, the most important merit of a teacher, bis qualifications are unique. He has long bad a great reputation in this matter among the members of his profession, but recently I have received evidence of it which may be safely called overwhelming. I have seen a large number of letters to him from old pupils, in wbich they describe, with the most profound gratitude, the entire change in their interests and views of life which Mr. Browning's teaching (both in school and out) has produced. The combined quantity and quality of this testimony is such, as I doubt if any other teacher in England could produce; and the stimulus is not only intellectual, it is also moral and religious. Deep interest in the progress of each boy; unwearying kindness; a happy gentleness in pointing out faults; a prompt sympathy with all the various difficulties of boys; all these things, combined with his own great mental gifts, with wide-mindedness—with great knowledge—with rare culture—with a copious, an ever-fresh, and ever-growing personal enthusiastic interest in classics, in English, in history, in French, German, and Italian literature, in poetry, and all departments of art—are the main elements, for even these are not the only elements, which have concurred to bring about Mr. Browning's signal successes as a teacher. Putting the case shortly, I may say that he has been proved capable, in an extraordinary degree, to inspire three things, often in the most unpromising material : high principle; genuine love of thought and knowledge; and last, but not least, real affection, and confidence, and gratitude towards himself."

If we endeavor to realize the nature and the cause of the conflict between Mr. Browning and Dr. Hornby, we shall conclude, I think, that it is due to the opposition between progress and conservatism. Dr. Hornby's hostility is honest, but, as the hostility of a conservative toward a reformer always must be, it is an irreconcilable hostility. Mr. Browning can coöp. erate with Dr. Hornby, declares his willingness and his desire to do so, but Dr. Hornby cannot coöperate with Mr. Browning.

The personality of the latter is clearly defined : He comes before us as a man of an exceedingly active mind, open to new impressions, disposed to recognize in everything the possi bility of improvement. He is interested in men as well as in things, has made frequent vacation journeys to the continent, and has improved them to add to his knowledge of the literatures of the chief modern languages, the ability to use them colloquially. His study of foreign, especially of German educational institutions, and his conviction that the German Gymnasium yields as the fruit of its training, far greater results than the great schools of England, especially Eton, secure, have led him to look with a feeling mixed with contempt upon the mechanical study of a few pages of Latin and Greek; the memorizing of a Latin grammar in Latin; and the writing of Latin verses, which, until recently, made up the sum of the knowledge which Eton gave. He has accordingly lent his influence constantly toward widening the course, is stated to have been the first to introduce science teaching in the school, has voluntarily given instruction in modern languages, and established, a few years ago, a history class, for which study no provision was made. This class has become a favorite one, and Mr. Browning's instruction there has been pronounced, by the most competent judges, to be exceedingly stimulating and effective. He has sought to make his house attractive by furnishing it with such models, casts, and photographs as give to his pupils, at no expense of their time, more correct and vivid ideas of many things in classical antiquity than could the study of many a volume without them.

There seems to have gradually grown up in the mind of Dr. Hornby a distrust of this energetic young man, so fond of innovations, and whose innovations were the more dangerous because they were so popular. The free, informal relations which he chose to hold to his boys, his low estimate of the average result of Eton training, his advocacy and introduction of German ideas as to classical instruction, contributed to deepen this distrust.

As Mr. Browning's house became the favorite house, his boys the elite of the school, and himself a person of more and more consideration, the fear of the pernicious influence which he must have in the school became more and more decided.

Dr. Hornby became convinced that Browning was an unsound man, that amid the multitude of interests which engaged him he must neglect his daily work. He could not, he felt, be doing his duty to the school. He could not be “thorough." Where dislike or even distrust exists on one side it is VOL. XXXV.

21

quickly felt on the other. Thus Mr. Browning seems to have fallen into the habit of having as few direct dealings as possible with the Head-master, and this it was easy for the latter to interpretas a disposition to evade his authority, as "shuffling.

The power of dismissal though not of appointment of Assistant-masters, is vested in the Head-master, and Dr. Hornby was right in supposing that the strength of the traditional, conservative feeling in favor of non-interference as dangerous to discipline, coupled with the dread of the injury which might be done to Eton by a searching investigation, would lead the Governing Body to shrink from calling him to account for bis action. Yet his act was a despotic one. It was, in effect, say. ing, either Browning or I must leave. The highest devotion to the school, supposing him to have said this honestly, would hardly bave allowed such a resolution, but would rather have led him, as Browning was willing to do, to coöperate honestly even with one whom he could not like, while greater distrust of his own judgment, shall we say less obstinacy, would surely have induced him to hesitate long, before, without the advice and approval of others, he decided to dismiss, without appeal, one who, judged by every test of success, was perhaps the most successful master in the school.

As it is, he must have compromised seriously his own character for magnanimity in the estimation of his colleagues ; he has drawn down upon himself the severe condemnation of journals like the London Spectator ; he has estranged the parents of pupils whose good will is the strength of such a school; and upon the school itself he has inflicted a serious and lasting injury.

Meanwhile Mr. Browning, relinquishing a position which has yielded him an income of £2000 per year, and which, last summer, he would have been justified in regarding as secure beyond contingency, bas gone quietly to Leipsic, to hear the lectures of George Curtius, Ritschl, and Overbeck; to write the articles on “Cæsar” and “Carthage" which he had been engaged to prepare for the Encyclopedia Brittanica, and to await the result of his candidature for the Head-Mastership of the London University College School. We hope that a wider field of usefulness lies before him than he has yet occupied.

ARTICLE VII.--ARE ALL CRIMINALS INSANE?

It is now some years since the people of Boston and its neighborhood were first agitated by the doings of "the boy. murderer.” This youth, called Jesse Pomeroy, took the first steps toward acquiring a name for himself by torturing and mutilating two small boys, whom he caught in a boat that was lying on the shore, far enough away from human abodes to prevent the screams of the little victims from attracting attention. He was sent to the reform-school, but was not long after released. For some time he did not manifest himself, except that, by way of keeping his hand in, he made some attempts on boys that from various causes did not result seriously. He then advanced to the murder of a small boy, and after adding to it the murder of a young girl was finally detected, tried and convicted of murder, and sentenced to be banged. While in jail he was frustrated in a very ingenious attempt at escape; so ingenious that he himself, the hero of so much greater ex. ploits, did not disdain to boast of it. He has not yet been hanged, and strange as it may seem the recent election in Massachusetts derived its chief interest to many persons from the hope that another governor would see that the sentence of death was executed.

The mere atrocity of these bloody deeds formed but a small part of their excellence; the terror that they occasioned in the minds of thousands of mothers, and the fierce wrath mingled with terror felt by as many fathers, when added to the fearful effect produced on the imaginations of children by the narration of such horrors, made up a sum of mental suffering, that if estimated in time and intensity would be almost inconceiv. able. Naturally, there arose a fierce outcry for the instant punishment of this monster in human form ; nor were threats wanting from men who would not threaten lightly, that if the boy were again set free they would themselves execute justice, looking only to the interests of society and regardless of the consequences to themselves. Column after column in the journals was filled with letters from excited and indignant parents, the "Pomeroy case" was talked of in the cars, in the streets, in the stores and at home. So many murders had passed unpunished that the possibility of the escape of this criminal roused the people to fury. But on the other hand the demand for justice was heard above the cry for vengeance. While one letter called for the immediate death of the wretch, the next urged a calm consideration of the question whether the boy was responsible for his acts. If he were insane, it was argued, it would be unjust to punish him. So the controversy hotly raged, por is it even yet extinct, and it will doubtless be rekindled by either the execution or the pardon of the miserable cause.

There seems however to be nothing new in this case. The records of crime show that a taste for murdering children is not uncommon, and that this taste has been often gratified in as fearful a manner as it was by Jesse Pomeroy. In the work by Dr. Maudsley, entitled Responsibility in Mental Disease, (to wbich frequent reference will be made) we find the story of a young clerk, who had given little ground for suspicion beyond the not very alarming fact that he was subject to occasional outbursts of tears, but who started out one fine morning and enticing a little girl into a hop-garden, murdered and dismembered her. He washed his hands and returned to his desk, only indulging himself with the laconic entry in his diary :—“Killed a little girl : it was fine and hot.” How De Quincey would have described this affair! But we are not concerned with the aesthetic side of murder, and these cases are only mentioned as examples of crimes that are not uncom

The curious in such matters will find abundant satisfaction in the works of Ray, Esquirol, Morel, and Despine.

Now the controversy in Boston really involved only one question, and that too one that could only be decided by medical experts. One side insisted that the boy was insane and it would be wrong to hang him; the other that he was not insane and should be hanged. The difference of opinion was plainly as to what constitutes insanity, or what amounts to the same thing, what constitutes responsibility. Connected with this is the important question as to the treatment of insane criminals, and to the different views on these two questions the remainder of this paper will be devoted.

mon.

« AnteriorContinuar »