J. Booth.

A letter to the members of the Society of arts online

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public recognition were pressed on Lord Palmerston's
notice, as being founded onthe following grounds stated
in the Memorial : —

The Society of Arts, so far as the funds at its disposal will allow,
proposes to develop its scheme of Examinations until, taking advan-
tage of railway facilities, the local centres of examination shaU be
so far multiplied as to bring the advantages of the system easily
within the reach of all. # # # # As the sphere of the
Society's operations is now rapidly expanding, since applications to
hold periodical examinations, and to award certificates, have already
been received from York, Birmingham, Huddersfield, Leeds, Not-
tingham, Salisbury, and other provincial centres, they further pray
that the Society of Arts may so far be recognised by the Government,
and placed in such a position as will enable its Council to make



Council) ; the Eev. Dr. Booth, F.R.S. {Treasurer) ; the Eight Hon.
the Lord Mayor ; William Brown, M.P. ; Frederick North, M.P. ;
Benjamin Oliveira, M.P., F.R.S. ; Francis Bennoch ; C. Wentworth
Dilke ( Vice-President) ; Ber. William ElKott; Joseph Glynn, F.R.S. ;
Peter Graham; T. Twining, Jun. (Vice-Ptesident) ; G. Ferguason
Wilson, F.R.S. ; Thomas Winkworth ; P.JLe Neve Foster (Secretary) ;
Charles Critchett (Assistant Secretory).— Journal of the Society of
Arts, No. 225, Yol. V., p. 259.



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satisfactory arrangegga^nts, tp develop its plan for ths advancement
of systematic instruction, by the help of periodical examination, so
as to realise the expressed hope of a large majority of the Institutions
of the kingdom, that the Society of Arts shall be authorised and
empowered to carry out, for their benefit, to a national success,
the great work of industrial instruction it has deliberately under-
taken.

New, will the Council of the Society of Arts dare to
say, iu the teeth of that Memorial, that they did not bind
themselves to develop the Exgoiiuatious, and not them-
sdyes ojily hut the Society as.well? I)id they mean to
deceive Lord Palmerston by au evasiou ? We must assume
that they did not. And if they did not, they must have
intended him to understand that they meant to accede to
the prayer of those Provincial Institutions. I think it
would not be easy to show hpw a public body could more
tightly bind itself thw our Council performed that opera-
tion for iteelf and for the Society of Arts.

It &< quite true ibet in ray leofcttnes andpablie speeches
in the provinces, I have always put the Council of the
Society forward as doing this, deliberating upon that,
and contriving something else, They got the credit,
while I got tfee work; but I caned* upt, provided I could
ensure the success of what 1 believe to be a great move-
ment on behalf of Education. I have made myself out
rather as a sort of agent, a© organ, a ruere mouth-piece
erf the Council. I didlM* put pjyself fosrw^d as battling
against the most vexatious opposition, and struggling
with obstacles of every kind. I did not care to let the
world know wh$t a " happy family " we were at home.

It is urged also, that I drew up the programme ; that



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it- war dent to the Examiners in print; that, befote th&
Gbuncii saw it, " copies had been sent by Dr Booth to
several persons not of the Council, and that the title of
Associate was likely to render those tvho should give, and
those who should receive, such titles ridiculous."

Now what does all this in reality amount to? I
appeal to the common sense of the members of the
Society, and ask them how is business to be transacted,
if 'some latitude be not given to those who conduct it?
If a great measure is to be worked out to success, it most
be left in a few hands— the fewer the better. While your
deliberative body may be as large as you please, the
executive cannot be too small.

How could a draft programme be drawn up at a
Council table of twelve of fifteen persons, whom recent
events have proved to be not the most harmonious in
their views. It would have been a curious document
that — the last result of the adverse views, the erroneous
notions, and the conflicting opinions of such a
body.

No ; it was my duty, as Chairman of t?he Council, and
still more as Chairman of the Board, to draw up the
rough draught of the programme, and I did it. I wished,
too, to avoid the delays of that worst form of Gircum-
kcution office, a large number of unpaid irresponsible
persons, ignorant of the subject they have to deal with,
and adverse to its advancement. The eoarse I followed
was this : — I had the draft programme set up — 64 pages,
including titles of text-books, time-tables, subjects, &c.
A copy was immediately sent to every member ^of the
Council, and to e\ e:y member of the Board, with a request



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printed on the top of the title-page,* that suggestions
and alterations might be sent in to the Secretary.
They were sent in by many members of the Board, and
adopted. It is also true that I sent copies of the pro-
gramme to some eminent friends of education in the
country. I confess that I did so, and more than this, I
must also add, that if I^were placed in the same position
I should do the same thing again. What ! are the men
who have devoted their time, their labour, and their
money to the advancement of Mechanics' Institutions,
and to the education of the people, to be ignored ? Are
we not even to pay them the compliment of asking their
opinions about matters in which they take so deep an
interest ? Is our knowledge so great that we are above
asking for information,? Is our wisdom so profound
that we need no advice ? I beg respectfully to tell the
Council of the Society of Arts that they must not attempt
to carry things with so high a hand. So heinous is my.
offence in the eyes of the Council, that they have branded
the charge on the very page of the Journal in italics.
" He let out a draft of the programme before the Council
saw it."

And now let me say a few words about the
" Associates " and the " ridicule " it would cast upon the
young men who should presume to think of such a thing.
For the sake of conciliation, I withdrew the clause without
discussion, but my opponents were ijpt to be won over by
concession. Now let us look at the thing broadly, and
on its own merits.

* [Proof before correction, for the use of Members of the Council,
and of the Board of Examiners only.]

You are requested to return this proof immediately, with any
corrections you may suggest, to the Secretary of the Society of Arts.



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Why should it be thought to render a young man
<c ridiculous' * to be known as an "Associate" of the
Society of Arts ? It would be, to some extent at least, a
proof that he had been industrious, and had endeavoured
to improve himself. Is it not perfectly notorious that any
man of average respectability may obtain admission as a
member iuto any of the literary or scientific societies of
London on payment of the usual fees? The Royal
Society is the sole exception. We see grave, steady,
middle-aged men of the world rejoice in attaching
F.A.S., F.G.S., F.L.S., and other such like alphabetical
honours to their names ; yet, wh&t do these letters in
reality prove beyond the average respectability of
those entitled to use them, and the payment of certain
fees ? Professor Owen or Professor Faraday, whose repu- '
tations are not only European but World-wide, may
attach without " ridicule " a string of letters to their
names as long as the tail of a paper-kite; but it
would be exceedingly presumptuous, highly indecorous,
" ridiculous " in John Nokes or Bill Styles to wish their
townsfolk to know how the big Society up in Lunnun
had made much of the work they did of the long winter-
evenings by the light of a farthing dip, when, instead
of going to the pot-house or the wake, they thumbed
their dirty books at home. What a violation of the
proprieties ! It is enough to make red tape blush a deeper
red.

There are other matters, which I can only touch upon,
having already far exceeded the limits within which I
intended to confine my observations.

The Chairman states "that the meeting of the 6th of



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November [that which suppressed the Baaord by the vote
of seven members of the Council] being by adjournment,
the special business for it was' the farther consideration
of the programme/ " Any matter that the programme
contained was properly before the meeting/' " 'Wie Board
of Examiners was a part of the programme " — " the meet-
ing was, therefore, fully competent to. deal with thtft sub-
ject/' and thereforeio suppress the Board* and abolish the
bye-laws on which it was established I What conclusive
argumentation — what lucid logic! So, because the
ordinary business of the Society is before an ordirtaty
meeting of the Council* and the general- bye4aw& of the
Society refer to, its ordinary business> any Council which
finds itself in. the humour may, offVhand, abolish the by -
laws. Such are the conclusions to which Council
reasoning (?) would conduct us.

The text-books say, Logic is an*a*t; one must regret
to see that it is not among the arts- cultivated by the
Council of the Society of Arte.

But there is a graver matteffstill. Will it be believed by
the members of the Society, that of the seven gentlemen
who suppressed the Board of Examiners On that memor-
able 6th of November, no fewer thaa sk* were, actually
present at a special meeting of-tib* Couadii (Bebimary 4,
1837,) called to consider, with other matters,, those very
abrogated bye-laws* Not a,«ngle objection was raised
to their passing through the Council by any one of these
gentlemen* Nay, more than this* Mb* Chester handed
me the printed slip across the table, at tUe aaii^ time

r * Mr. Wi Hawea was no* then a* member of the Council..



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saying, " T see nothing to object to in these bye-law&
I shall not oppose their passing." Yet they were illegal ! —
unconstitutional ! ! — a violation of the Charter ! The Board
of Examiners could not be endured an hour longer ! No ! not
even for a special meeting of the Council ! What sober wis**
dom guides, and judicious discretion tempers the proceed-
ings of the Council of the Society of Arts ! Early Greece
took pride in her seven wise men ; the Society of Arts may
boast its Seven Sages as well ?

The Chairman proceeds to say that the Council decided
against oral examination, because of the " expense of
sending out Boards of Examiners to great distances from
London ; " " the impossibility of procuring the services of
so many Examiners of equal authority," and " the small
extent to which even these five centres could supply the
wants." Now, will it be credited that it was never con-
templated to send out Boards of Examiners ? That the
oral examination, with a view to conciliate the Council, was
seduced to arithmetic, Euglish history, geography, Latin,
French, and German (how an examiner is to decide on
tlie merits of a candidate in either of these last two
subjects without knowing whether he can speak or
gponounce the language, the Council do not stop to
explain,) and that the Board of Examiners, bad formally
taken on themselves the responsibility of providing for
the oral Examinations ? Here is the Report : —

October 28th, 1857.
The Board of Examiners of the Society of Arts having been
requested by, the Council to consider and report to them the arrange-
ments by which th£y propose to carry out the system of oral and
paper Examination at the several proposed centres, as recommended



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n the programme submitted by them to the Council, with a detailed
estimate of the cost,

They now beg to report as follows : —

In the first place it becomes proper to state for the informa-
tion of the Council, that the Board believe it to be ad-
visable to secure the confidence of the public in the integrity of their
decisions and awards, that every central Examination should be
personally superintended by two or more Members of the Board.
So entirely essential do they hold this condition to be, that they
would feel it to be their duty to decline to inspect or to give credit
to any papers otherwise worked out and submitted to them for
examination.

I. As the Board propose that the Examinations shall extend over
six consecutive days, nine hours each day, they believe that not
less than two Examiners can fairly be expected to carry out a vigilant
superintendence for 54 hours in one week.

II. With respect to the paper Examination, they have no alteration

in their present plan to suggest further than to divide each paper -^
into at least two sections of questions, an easier and a more difficult
one, and that no candidate shall receive credit for more than 75 per
cent, of the questions set.

III. "With respect to the method of conducting the oral Examina-
tions, the Board are of opinion, that while on the one hand it would
lead to much expense to carry out an oral Examination in all the
subjects in the programme, a thing which has not hitherto been done
by the Board ; yet on the other hand, taking into account the pecu-
liarities of those classes for whose benefit the Examinations were
established, giving weight to the sentiments of those men whose
experience entitles their views to the gravest consideration—
believing also that the time is come when the subjects of oral Examina-
tion should be defined, they are of opinion that the difficulties
in the case may be met by confining the oral Examination to the
more elementary subjects, namely, arithmetic, history, geography,
Latin, French, and German. That to secure uniformity in the oral
Examination, and a means of comparing the results obtained at the
different centres, printed lists of questions be prepared for the use of
the .Examiners ; and that with respect to the modern languages, the



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plan so successfully carried out Huddersneld, under the directions
of Dr. Bernays and Professor Mariette, be further developed.

IV. With regard to the cost Of the Examinations for 1858, as the
Board have no executive control over the expenditure for printing,
books, stationery, &c, and as the railway charges are known and
fixed, they believe the Council, advisedif necessary by their officers,
are more competent than the Board to form a correct opinion on the
probable cost of the ensuing Examinations.

You will see that the Board proposed to send out two
of their own number to each centre. So much for sending
out Boards of Examiners.

Now, Mr. Chester has repeatedly brought this subject
of oral Examination before the late Board of Examiners,
and always with the same result. The last time he was
in a minority of one to fifteen. Mr. Chester was opposed
to oral Examination ; the Board of Examiners were for it ;
the Council of the Society of Arts, who know so little
about its merits or demerits, support Mr. Chester. Dr.
Whewell, the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, takes
a view somewhat different from that of the Council.* It

* On the subject of oral examinations, the Master of Trinity College,
Cambridge, writes:?—

An examination conducted viod voce, the questions being asked and the
answers returned by word of mouth, has several advantages over an examina-
tion on paper. One of the greatest advantages of these is its publicity. The
questions and answers are heard oy all who choose to hear, and there is a
constant and ready means of learning the course taken by the examiners, and
the character of the performances which are approved

Again, the knowledge, quickness, and happiness of expression which are
displayed by a student who passes a vivd voce examination will draw to the
proceeding a degree of sympathy which can never be given to a paper exami-
n ation

On all these accounts a public oral examination is a good instrument of
education.

In this scheme (paper examinations) there is no opportunity of testing by
questions such as the occasion and the preceding answers may suggest whether
the written reply to the questions be really accompanied by any intelligent



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may also be mentioned, the President of the Board of
Control was so dissatisfied with l the results df (fee purely
paper Examinations, to which the candidates'for appoint-
ments in the service* of the East India Compauy were
subjected, that he compelled the Examiners, nfter the
first Examination, to introduce a mixed system of oral
and paper Examinations.

And now, though I have much more to say, I will not
trespass further on the attention of tfoe members of
the Society. Twice have the late Board df Examiners
rendered their unpaid services to make the Examinations
a success. For the kst two years 1 have done my
best to promote the advancement of what } l believe
to be a great and a good measure. I have 'lectured,
I have spoken, I have written, 1 have travelled.
Within the last two years I have visited, nearly Always
by invitation, the following places,— Basingstoke, 'Bir-
mingham (2), Bristol, Cheltenham, Halifax, ftitehin,
Huddersfield (4), Leeds (2), Lewes, Manchester (3),
Middleborough, Nottingham, Richmond, Sheffield,'
Southampton, and Windsor. I have conducted a great
portion of the correspondence which has arisen out of
this movement. All the printed documents, whether
issued in my own name or in that of the Council or
in that of the Secretary, were drawn up by iae.
A good constitution, temperate habits, sound health,



thought in the mind of the examinee. And the answers of each person being
unknown, to bis fellow-students, there is no public ^manifestation of the excel-
lence which obtains success ; which in a more open system of examination
operates beneficially, by the example which it offers and $he sympathy wlpch
it draws.— Of a liberal Education, by W.WkeweU, DJD. 9 Master of Trinity
College, Cambridge t $.l^,



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earnestness of purpose, and a determined will, have
enabled me, with God's assistance, to carry the work up
to the point at which it now stands, and where I leave it.
I expected no pecuniary reward. Had that been my object,
I could have devoted my time to less onerous, and it
could not possibly be less profitable employment.
Those gentlemen who stood aloof while I ploughed
and digged and sowed the ground, and who probably
would have ridiculed my efforts had they failed, are now
prepared to enter into my labours, and to reap where
they have not sown.

"Men like," as the Times said the other day in a splendid
leader on the Indian heroes, "men like to see their
awn work twhen it is dpae, and we know they like
to see it; we know th$t this is their chiefest and
proudest reward, in comparison to which honours and
decorations, stars, crosses, and ribands are tinsel, and
therefore there is a tou6h of natwal pity when those who
have done or contributed largely to a great end die
before they see it."

So I, too, but in my own humble way, shall regret to
see the work on which I have laboured with the labour
of love given over to hands familiar with failure — I
shall grieve to hear of mistakes in details visited on the
principle itself, — and I shall be prepared, at no distant
time, to learn, that the whole measure, like so many of
its predecessors, has passed away from the Society of
Arts.





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Online LibraryJ. BoothA letter to the members of the Society of arts → online text (page 3 of 3)