University Students, Then and Now

“I was soon disillusioned. I found lectures regarded as a joke or a bore, contemned by the more advanced, shirked by the backward; Latin and Greek regarded as useless, except for the purpose of getting a degree; and as for modern literature, the very idea of its existence had never dawned upon these youths, none of whom knew any language but English. Such was my simplicity that I believed that no one went to college but those who were qualified, and anxious, to study. Nor was the difference between the passman and the honourman a sufficient clearing up of the paradox, for such it seemed to me, that men should flock to a university not to study. It fairly puzzled me to find that even William Froude, whom his elder brother was compelling to read for classical honours, ‘hated Sophocles’ – so he once told me – and regarded the whole job as a disgusting grind.”

– Mark Pattison, Memoirs (London: Macmillan and Co. 1885) pp. 53-4

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