Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities, and Society in England, 1830-1960

By Christopher Stray | Go to book overview

6
Culture and Specialization in Cambridge

The emergent outlines of academic organization brought with them problems as well as opportunities. The declining numbers of fellows leaving colleges for preferment to church livings created blockages in the system. Many of the new fellowships lasted only six years, after which, if no permanent post was available, incumbents were obliged to leave. This was the fate in the 1880s of J. W. Headlam and W. H. D. Rouse, who after several short-term jobs became an HMI and a headmaster respectively. J. C. Stobart, who held a three-year lectureship at Trinity College Cambridge while writing his books on Greece and Rome, afterwards became an HMI and ended up as first Director of Education for the BBC. J. W. Mackail went straight from Balliol to the Education Office and stayed there until his retirement in 1919 from what had become the Board of Education.

The development of the professoriate introduced academic hierarchy into an institutional context which had been largely a community of equals. At times this created a focus of attention, as when five leading Cambridge scholars competed publicly for Jebb's Greek chair after his death.1 It was to be expected that some gentlemanly scholars would find the idea and the title of 'professor' oppressive. Jebb, who held a chair in Glasgow before succeeding to the Cambridge Greek chair in 1889, acknowledged that Matthew Arnold had refused to be called 'Professor', but concluded that 'if it is usual to take that style, to decline it is an affectation,—just as much as to exact it would be a pedantry'.2 The first incumbent of the Cambridge chair of Latin, H. A. J. Munro, was apparently not comfortable in the office, which he resigned after three years, retiring to his college rooms to cultivate his friends and his

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1
The lectures were, uniquely, published together, in a volume which also received the accolade of a review, in Latin, by Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, the most celebrated German Hellenist of the age: Praelections Delivered before the Senate of the University of Cambridge, 25, 26, 27 January 1906 ( Cambridge: CUP, 1906). Wilamowitz's review: Classical Review, 20 ( 1906), 444-6.
2
Jebb to Macmillan, 16 Jan. 1875, BL Add. MS 55125 (MSS Macmillan 363). The letter responds to Macmillan's congratulations when Jebb was elected to the chair of Greek at Glasgow. The high social status of the professoriate in Scottish cities may have helped Jebb to his conciliatory position on the title.

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