Sunday. March 3. 1822.
Macaulay's <1> name does not appear in the Tripos because he and Marriott, after making a shew of fighting for the first day, were obliged to follow the example of Quintus Curtius, the first man who gulphed. <2>It is reported that the Examiners assured them that, if they would work on to the last, nothing unpleasant should occur. William has just sent me two pamphlets which have made their appearance at Cambridge, both are upon the subject of establishing Classical Examinations, one is very bad, the writer signs himself Eubulus, and may be Fursdon: <3> - the other by Philograntus is dedicated to Kaye, <4> and the writer informs us that he is Tutor of a College &c. It seems sensible enough. Our Seniors have just rejected a plan of the Master's for building a new Court to Trinity: <5> the plan is said to be very handsome, but the rooms small, and badly contrived. The Gonville and Holditch are elected Fellows,<6> and the Corporation of Lynn have presented the freedom of the city to the latter Gentleman, "to shew the sense which they entertain of the merits of their distinguished townsman" I was disappointed at finding the Gonville quite so low,<7> but the year was much better than was expected: the two first brackets had all more marks than Atkinson.<8> Chevallier had told him that he should find him in the first five or six; Higman <9> says that he would have been in the second bracket if he had been in the second Class: - however it is a good place when we consider that he could write out nothing during the whole of the last term. I suppose you have heard that Monk <10> is made Dean of Peterborough: this I should think will be a vacancy, there are none certain at present. Have you pluck enough to write a Latin Essay upon "Astronomię Laus atq: utililitas [sic]" <11> a vile subject, so circumscribed.? [sic] I think you are wrong about Sir Gregory's degree, which will be valid I think, having been [illegible] conferred; it must clearly be [illegible deletion] worked as a vanishing Fraction, being a function of x = 0 (ęquatur zeroni Scholicč) <12>
In return for your splendid Ode on Chimneys I send you a Fragment of "the Grand question, whether Judgson should take the Bursarship, debated" -<13>
The Senior Dean, full of trouble and care,
Was lost and perplexed in a weighty affair:
He walked o'er the Grass-plot in thoughtfulness mute,
And every step his whip fell on his boot.
Th'oscillations are small, the resistance as n,
His head like a pendulum vibrated, when
And when he was capped, he capped not again
This Bursarship, thought he, can only be mine
If the office of Senior Dean I resign:
That is plain - but then how shall I ever be able
To give up my place at the head of the table?
Sir Francis would say with his sneers and his smiles
"I'm sorry to see, Sir, you're ousted by Wiles"
"We fare ill so low down - what beggarly cheer -"
"The top is the place! - not a Gyp <14> will come near -"
"How cold is the Soup! - the fish gone! - what a knuckle" [sic]
"of Veal Mr Judgson!" - Then Peacock would chuckle
And grin, and then I should look mightily cross
To see all the young Fellows siding with Blosse.
No more unto me would each cap be pull'd off,
(Be it worn by Bachelor, Freshman, or Soph)
No more should I say "Sir this subject's too recent"
Or "Sir your behaviour at Chapel's not decent,
"Mr Williams - I beg I may not speak again.
If Gentlemen really to Chapel won't go,
Why then I must use other means - that I know:
I should not refuse, Sir, to sign your ęgrotat, <15>
If you really were ill Sir: - but how can I know that?
"It is signed by my medical man Mr Okes"
But for all that it may Sir, you know, be a hoax:
"Then I give you the word of a Gentleman" - nay
I am sure, Sir, you'll own that is easy to say.
x x x x . . . . .
Bagshawe <16> is or was residing at Cambridge; he has taken rooms in the town, they are about 4 feet by three. Key has bearded Roper in the Union, and a challenge was thought inevitable when I left Cambridge.
Yr very affectionate Friend
T. K. Arnold
No [illegible] through some bad management.
W. H. F. Talbot Esq.
1. Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), MP & historian.
2. One "gulphed" when graded at the foot of the examination list, not failing, but without honours. Arnold must have confused Quntius Curtius with Marcus Curtius, an early Roman who leapt into a crater which opened up in response to an oracle; the "gulph" then closed.
3. Arnold attributed this to Charles Fursdon of Trinity College, Cambridge. However, the author of Thoughts on the Present System of Academic Education in the University of Cambridge was Samuel Butler, headmaster of Shrewsbury School. James Henry Monk of Trinity College wrote a reply, Respecting an Additional Examination of Students in the University of Cambridge, and the Different Plans Proposed for That Purpose.
4. John Kaye (1783-1853), author. Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University (1815); Bishop of Bristol (1820-1827); Bishop of Lincoln (1827-1853).
5. The master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was Christopher Wordsworth (1774-1846), brother of the poet.
6. The Gonville is his brother, William Langton Arnold (1801 3 November 1822), the first chemical scholar elected on the Micklebrough Foundation. Hamnett Holditch (1800-1867), a brilliant mathematician who secured Senior Wrangler and 1st Smith's prize.
7. Despite his eye problems, William was placed in the first class in mathematics as 11th Wrangler.
8. In publication of the exam results, students of similar achievement were 'bracketed together'. Solomon Atkinson (1797-1865) was Senior Wrangler at Trinity in 1821. His marriage ruled out a fellowship. In 1824 Francis Gilmore offered him the founding chair of maths at Virginia but it seems he never got the letter. In 1825 he fled his creditors, sailing to New York. When he returned he went in for laws and ended up as an author of legal textbooks.
9. Possibly Rev John Philips Higman (1793-1855), mathematician.
10. James Henry Monk (1784-1856), English divine and classical scholar. In 1822, he was appointed dean of Peterborough.
11. The praise and the usefulness of astronomy. This was probably the subject proposed a Latin essay for the "Member's Prize," an award supported by the University's MPs.
12. Equal to zero, academically.
14. A bedmaker at Cambridge University.
15. A certificate of exemption because of illness.