« PreviousContinue »
continued an active interest in the regulation of our ancient seats of learning. Orders were sent to Oxford in 1581 by the Earl of Leicester, as Chancellor, directing all students to subscribe the Thirty-Nine Articles, and to take the oath of royal supremacy on matriculation. His object appears to have been to prevent Roman Catholics from obtaining their education among the members of the University.
Surplices and other vestments of Roman Catholic times occasioned an eager controversy in the Church of England at this period, but the increase of the Puritan party within the Universities was in some measure checked in 1616 by the orders of King James I., that all who took any university degree should subscribe to the three articles of the 36th anon, the second of which pledges the graduate to use the forms prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. King James also encouraged the Romanising party in the Church, by directing at the same time that young students in divinity should be excited to bestow their time on the Fathers and on councils.
Bishop Andrews is usually regarded as the modern leader of the Romanisers within the Church of England he never married, and his tomb at Winchester records his celibacy as a qualification for a heavenly crown of virginity.
The practice of auricular confession, which, as Mr. Hallam justly remarks, an aspiring clergy must so deeply regret, was frequently inculcated, at that time, as a duty; and Archbishop Laud, the follower of
* P. 446 in this work.
† P. 450. in this work. Calebs migravit in aureolam cœlestem."
Andrews, gave just offence, by a public declaration that in the disposal of benefices he should, in equal degrees of merit, prefer single before married priests.*
His persecution of the Puritans alienated popular sympathy from his cause; his observance of ritual forms and ceremonies was carried to excess; and he may probably have found his most sincere admirers in the monastic colleges of Oxford, which became an object of constant attention to their Chancellor Archbishop. The Laudian code of University statutes still forms the foundation of modern Oxford legislation, and although the system has been in many respects changed, there is still too much of ecclesiastical exclusiveness preserved for the comparatively free spirit of the nineteenth century.
Sacerdotal tyranny was little suited to the English Puritans in the age of Prynne and Oliver Cromwell; but the removal of the tests of the Royal supremacy, the Anglican Liturgy and Articles, was followed by equally objectionable subscriptions to the Solemn League and Covenant, and other pledges of the civil
The Book of Common Prayer was given up, under the authority of the Long Parliament, for the Directory of the Westminster Assembly. Parliamentary Commissioners reformed the Universities and their Colleges; a Parliamentary committee aided their operations; and a fresh commission was subsequently appointed by the Lord Protector and his Parliament.
Exasperated by their exclusion from office, the Episcopalian party restored the Laudian system in Oxford on their re-establishment in 1660. The Act
Hallam's Constitutional Hist., vol. ii. p. 87.
of Uniformity of 1662 directed declarations of "unfeigned assent and consent" to the Liturgy from all heads of houses, and of "conformity" to the Liturgy from all fellows and tutors of Colleges in both Universities.
No students who were not members of some college or hall had been allowed to matriculate in the Universities, probably from the time of King Henry VIII.; the nonconformists, or dissenters, were excluded from the colleges by the terms of the Act of Uniformity, and the Romanising party consequently found few opponents at either University to resist their onward movement.
An open attempt to force Roman Catholics, by royal power, into situations of importance at Oxford and Cambridge, was stoutly and successfully resisted in the reign of King James II.; but the more insidious policy of inculcating a non-natural interpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles has been favourably received at Oxford within our own generation, and in 1841 a bold effort was made, in the 90th Tract for the Times, to show that it may be possible to reconcile subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles with a belief in many of the leading tenets of the Church of Rome.
The practical results of the Tractarian controversy are manifested in a large increase to the Romanising party among the clergy of the Established Church of this country, the secession of about two hundred graduates of Oxford and Cambridge to the Church of Rome, and a determined feeling among the general body of the laity in favour of the reformation of both our ancient Universities and their Colleges.
A great experiment has been tried, for several centuries, of converting national seats of learning into ecclesiastical institutions, exclusively for the advantage of a dominant party, and it has failed in securing either public confidence or national approbation.
Lord Bacon, in his advancement of learning, enumerates among the defects of Universities, that so many great foundations of Colleges are all dedicated to professions, and none left free to arts and sciences at large. Hence, he remarks, "princes find a solitude in regard of able men to serve them in causes of state, because there is no education collegiate which is free; where such as were so disposed might give themselves to histories, modern languages, books of policy and civil discourse, and other the like enablements unto service of state."*
Changes of academical life have more recently put an end to the legal rights of the College foundations in this particular, for the original intention of the College founders was, in most cases, to provide a lodging-house and a maintenance during a consecutive series of at least twelve years of collegiate residence, the first seven being devoted to the secular studies in the faculty of Arts, and the next five to professional attendance on theological lectures and disputations.
Students, however, now usually leave the University on taking their first degree of Bachelor of Arts, at the end of three years and a half of residence. When foundation members of Colleges remain for a longer period, they generally become
* Lord Bacon's Works, edited by Basil Montagu, vol. ii. p. 92.
tutors in the faculty of Arts, and no instances are known of continued University studies, in modern times, between the degrees of Master of Arts and of Bachelor of Divinity.
It is mainly by an illegal introduction of theological subjects into the first degree examination, that the University at the present day undertakes a divinity examination, for the voluntary theological examination subsequent to the degree of Bachelor of Arts has not been very successful.
A complete revision of the academical system is the practical remedy for the defects complained of, whether in the foundations or in modern practice. "It is hard," observes Professor Vaughan, in his evidence presented to the Oxford Commission, "to read over the list of subjects required for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, now, without being struck by the very large preponderance of the theological element. A man who can take a degree is already, in point of attainments, three-fourths of a Clerk in Orders, but is not one-fourth of any other profession."
Besides, it should be remembered, that a new classical literature, consisting of the modern and living languages of France, Germany, Italy, and England, has risen into popular favour and acceptance since the promulgation of the Laudian statutes of 1636, in the University of Oxford.
French has become at the present day the language of general polite conversation throughout Europe, and
Evidence of H. H. Vaughan, Esq., M.A., late Fellow of Oriel College, and Professor of Modern History, in the second part of the Oxford University Commission Report, p. 86. For the theological subjects required by the academical statute of 1850 for common degrees at Oxford, see p. 273 in this work.