Madras College examinations in 1846 and 1847

Pupils at Madras College, St Andrews, were examined each August by professors from the universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and others. Note that in 1846 both the Professor of Mathematics of the University of Edinburgh, Philip Kelland, and the Regius Professor of Mathematics of the University of St Andrews, Thomas Duncan, were examiners. Here are two reports of these examinations, the first held in 1846 is described in the Scotsman while that of the following year is described in the Fifeshire Journal.


Madras College, St Andrews examinations 1846

The annual examination of this distinguished and flourishing seminary took place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the 5th, 6th, and 7th current. The Trustees of Dr Bell, the founder, presided on the occasion, and were assisted throughout by Professors Dunbar, Pillans and Kelland, of the University of Edinburgh. There were also present in the course of the proceedings a good many other gentlemen professionally concerned in education, particularly Professors Duncan, Jackson, Reid, Connell, Spalding, and Ferrier, of St Andrews; Professor Martin of Aberdeen; Mr Lees of Edinburgh; Mr Miller of the Perth Academy; and Dr Hunter of the Academy at Ayr. The examinations were also visited by several members of the Presbytery of St Andrews, and by ministers of various other churches. The courts and halls of the College were crowded by the pupils, their friends and relations and by other persons taking an interest in the business. It is a fact to which even in Scotland there is no parallel, that in a town containing not much more than four thousand inhabitants, there should exist a school attended by between eight and nine hundred pupils - a proportion which, according to the common statistical estimate applicable to ordinary circumstances, would more than account for all the children of the community between six and twelve years of age. Those, also, by whose exertions this honourable result has been effected, have the encouragement of reflecting that their success has been steadily increasing, and that the influx of families from a distance, and of children sent to board, has of late been going on more and more rapidly. The gross number of pupils attending the Madras College has, we believe, been greater during the last year than in any year preceding. While these facts could not have occurred without eminent merit and most active exertion upon the part of the masters, they are yet also attributable in a large degree to the broad plan upon which the institution is constructed, meeting alike the demands of the poor and of the rich. English education of the very best kind may here be obtained for a shilling a quarter, and other elementary teaching proportionably cheap; while the establishment affords to youth intended for the liberal professions instruction of equal merit in all the highest branches of knowledge that are taught elsewhere in Scotland beyond the walls of the universities.

At the close of the mathematical examination, Professor Kelland congratulated Mr Lonie on the appearance which his classes had made; and expressed a confident expectation that the evident talent and energy of the new master will speedily enable him to make the appearances of his classes all that is either possible or desirable in such a school. Mr Lees expressed his cordial concurrence in Professor Kelland's remarks.

At the close of the arithmetical examinations, Professor Kelland said that this was not the first time he had had an opportunity of witnessing the appearances of Mr Smeaton's pupils, and that what he had this day seen confirmed and heightened the exceedingly favourable opinion he had previously formed. In his opinion the system was admirable which that gentlemen used for awakening the attention of his pupils, and for insuring that union of readiness with accuracy which is essential in the sciences he teaches. At the close of the examination in the English department on Friday, which completed the inspection, Professor Pillans rose and addressed the trustees and the audience, which crowded the large West Room. He said that it had been in the utmost degree pleasant to him to witness the examinations of the day, which were fully sufficient to justify and sustain the high reputation which Mr Young, the English master, had already established. The exhibition had shown this gentleman to be thoroughly possessed of the great secret of teaching, the great secret of reaching both the intellect and the affections of his pupils. He declared the satisfaction it had given him to observe the activity and promise of Mr Lonie. Mr Smeaton's arithmetical classes had given him the greatest possible pleasure and drawn forth from the pupils extraordinary efforts of mind - efforts which he had never seen surpassed, which, perhaps, he had never seen equalled. Mr Smeaton's energy and spirit were not more remarkable than the order and method which he infused into all the proceedings; he showed the most complete command of the attention and affections of his pupils; the professor had admired the beautiful discipline in which they were kept. Proceeding to describe Dr Woodford 's classes, the Professor said that he had been delighted with everything that he there saw. The language is taught in a most gentlemanlike, correct, and philosophical manner. In Dr Woodford the institution has made a most valuable acquisition. Professor Pillans afterwards desired to add, that he had witnessed with much satisfaction the results of the teaching in tile drawing' school. He entertained a perfect conviction that the instruction was communicated in a style of very superior excellence. Professor Dunbar expressed his perfect concurrence in the sentiments of his colleague as to this great seminary. He pronounced the seminary to he one of the finest and best we have in this country; he might safely say that it stands at the head of all the seminaries of the kind throughout the kingdom, so far as these are known to him. The pupils are endued with the best moral sentiments, as well as fitted for the discharge of all the duties of life. He begged to express his entire concurrence with Professor Pillans as to the merits of Dr Woodford.

Dr Buist, the presiding trustee, said that he had been requested by several of the gentlemen around him to express the satisfaction with which they had examined the work done in the writing department. They had desired him to say that they considered the appearance in this department to be highly creditable both to Mr Morrison and to the institution.

Dr Buist next presented to the assembly Master Andrew Rollo, a pupil of the Madras College, aged (we should suppose) eleven or twelve years. He said that on a late melancholy occasion, when Mr Taylor, formerly the English assistant at the institution, perished in the attempt to save one of his pupils from drowning, the boy in danger was rescued by one of his companions, who now stood beside the speaker. The Humane Society had voted a medal to Master Rollo, and the medal would now have been presented had it arrived. The rev. gentleman then briefly, but impressively, addressed the masters, the pupils, and the parents and guardians.

After this, the proceedings were closed by the distribution of prizes in Mr Young's classes, the prizes in the other departments having been distributed previously.

Madras College, St Andrews examinations 1847

The annual examination of this institution commenced on Wednesday the 11th current, and lasted throughout that day and the two following. We are glad to learn that the number of pupils is still increasing; it amounted on this occasion to upwards of nine hundred, a point which, we believe, it had never previously reached.

During the last two days the rooms of the writing and drawing classes were thrown open. On Mr Morrison's tables we found the same proofs as formerly of steady and intelligent teaching; Mr Paterson's rooms exhibited a beautiful array of highly-finished ornamental drawings of various kinds, together with a good many pieces architectural, mechanical, and military.

The appearance of Mr Messieux's French classes was spoken of with merited approbation.

The Greek and Latin classes of Dr Woodford occupied the visitors during the greater part of Wednesday. The five classes for Latin and the three for Greek were put through a very searching examination, being questioned not only by the master, but repeatedly and severely by Professors Pillans and Dunbar.

Professor Dunbar spoke with high approbation both of the extent of the course of study set forth in the synopsis, and of the success with which the course had been prosecuted, as evinced by the difficult and complicated questions answered, he bestowed especial commendation upon the Greek classes, and he bore his testimony to the merits of Dr Woodford for accurate and philosophical acquaintance with the principles of the language, as well as for extensive and critical study of the classical authors.

Principal Haldane, in addressing Dr Woodford, commended warmly both his indefatigable and ceaseless exertions and the value of his system of teaching as an exercise and improvement of the powers of thinking.

Professor Pillans took occasion on Friday to speak of these classes. He said that his opinion of Dr Woodford, high as it was before, had risen much since he last expressed it at an examination of the Madras College. He had never seen more active exertions or more successful results in any classes of the kind. Dr Woodford had adopted a modification of the monitorial system, which appeared to him so ingeniously devised and so effectual that he felt assured he would adopt it himself if he were again a teacher in the High School of Edinburgh.

The Mathematical and Arithmetical classes were examined on Thursday.

Mr Lonie's mathematical classes occupied the earlier hours of the forenoon. Their programme exhibited an extensive course of teaching in geometry, practical mathematics, algebra, and geography; and in all these branches they sustained an active examination. Dr Haldane addressed Mr Lonie with unqualified commendation.

The examination of the arithmetical classes was conducted by Mr Smeaton with his accustomed spirit, and with full proof of his well-known skill and success. An elaborate illustration by his senior pupils of the principles of book-keeping was followed by the successive examinations and competitions in arithmetic. The competitions excited, as they always do, great interest in the audience.

The classes in English Reading, Recitation, Grammar, Composition, History, and Geography, taught by Mr Young and his assistants, occupied the whole of Friday. This long series of examinations, embracing several hundred pupils and a vast variety of subjects, was as usual, one of the most interesting and popular of the proceedings of the occasion.

Professor Pillans described the exhibition as truly admirable, and as calculated to raise his opinion of Mr Young even higher, if possible, than before. He adverted particularly to the essays read by the young ladies of the private class, as indicating a maturity of intellect and a degree, of right moral feeling doing equal credit to themselves, their parents, and their teacher. It always gave him much delight to witness the animation which Mr Young showed in teaching, and which was communicated so powerfully to his pupils.


JOC/EFR April 2010

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