THE Saturday Review, of April 4, has an article on the Cambridge and Oxford race, which is very interesting, especially so on account of certain criticisms on boating in general and on the system of study in vogue at Cambridge.
The Cambridge crew, the Review says, was in all respects superior to the Oxford; but the race was very close, owing to the superiority of the Oxford boat. If there had been less wind, the Cambridge crew would have won with far less effort; had the wind been stronger, the Oxford would have won. The refusal of the Oxford crew to accept the invitation of the Mayor of London receives the hearty approval of the paper, and leads it into a train of moralizing which is, to say the least, not strikingly original. It occurs to the writer that the crews are seriously injured by the inordinate praise that is given to them; and he pats J. Bull on the back approvingly, because his Highness has shown less interest in the race of this year than in those of former years. The critic entirely overlooks the fact that the race was a foregone conclusion, there not being the slightest doubt of the result under ordinary circumstances.
The writer then turns his attention to the Tripos. Although he says that the men "capable of the most prolonged and severe intellectual labor are those who have distinguished themselves at the Universities," yet he doubts the advisability of forcing young men to devote three years to one single branch of study, as is done at Cambridge; for " it cannot be denied that in such cases the development is strangely one-sided," and "the objectionable tendency of excessive athletic competition is of the same kind." He goes on to say that, although he does not believe there is any physical injury in the boat-racing, yet "lads," as he calls them, are wasting their time, if they consider that the great object of this three years' stay at the University is to make themselves accomplished watermen. Before ending with a prayer that what is really an amusement may not become a profession, he says: "The University ideal should be as high as possible. To hold up success in examination as the natural end of three years' exertion, is a very questionable doctrine; but it is still worse when athletic competition comes to stand upon the same level of popular applause."