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SANDYS, ESQ., M. A.,
FELLOW AND TUTOR OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,
The large amount of attention that has, during the last few years, been attracted to all questions bearing upon the higher education of this country, and the increasing public interest in all that is connected with the two older English universities, might alone seem sufficiently to justify the appearance of the present volume. It may not however be undesirable to offer some explanation with regard to the method of treatment which, in researches extending over nearly seven years, the author has chiefly kept before him.
A very cursory inspection of the Table of Contents will suffice to shew that the subject of university history has here been approached from a somewhat different point of view to that of previous labourers in the same field. The volume is neither a collection of antiquities nor a collection of biographies; nor is it a series of detached essays on questions of special interest or episodes of exceptional importance. It is rather an endeavour to trace out the continuous history of a great national institution, as that history presents itself, not only in successive systems and various forms of mental culture, but also in relation to the experiences of the country at large; and at the same time to point out in how great a degree the universities have influenced the whole thought
of the educated classes, and have in turn reflected the political and social changes in progress both at home and abroad.
To those who best understand how important and numerous are the relations of university culture to the history of the people, such a method of treatment will probably appear most arduous and the qualifications necessary to its competent execution most varied; it may consequently be desirable also to explain how greatly the author has been aided by the researches of previous investigators.
It is now more than thirty years ago since the late Mr. C. H. Cooper' published the first instalment of that valuable series,—the Annals of Cambridge, the Memorials of Cambridge, and the Athence Cantabrigienses,—with respect to which it has been truly said that 'no other town in England has three such records.' To extraordinary powers of minute investigation he united great attainments as an antiquarian, a fidelity and fairness beyond reproach, and a rare judicial faculty in assessing the comparative value of conflicting evidence. It need hardly be added that more than a quarter of a century of research on the part of so able and trustworthy a guide, has materially diminished and in some respects altogether forestalled the labours of subsequent explorers in the same field. But valuable as were Mr. Cooper's services, his aim was entirely restricted to one object,—the accurate investigation and chronological arrangement of facts; he never sought to establish any general results by the aid of a legitimate induction; and in the nine volumes that attest his labours it may be questioned whether as many observa
1 For the information of readers who may have no personal knowledge of Cambridge, I may state that Mr Cooper was not a member of the university, but filled for many years the offices of town coroner and town clerk.
tions can be found, that tend to shew the connexion of one fact with another, or the relevancy of any one isolated event to the greater movements in progress beyond the university walls; while to the all-important subject of the character and effects of the different studies successively dominant in the university, he did not attempt to supply any elucidation beyond what might be incidentally afforded in his own department of enquiry.
The aid however which he did not profess to give has been to a great extent supplied by other writers. During the same period contributions to literature, both at home and abroad, have given aid in this latter direction scarcely less valuable than that which he rendered in the province which he made so peculiarly his own.
The literatures of both Germany and France have been richly productive of works of sterling value illustrative of mediæval thought and mediæval institutions; and have furnished a succession of standard histories, elaborate essays, and careful monographs, which have shed a new light on the subject of the present volume, in common with all that relates to the education and learning of the Middle Ages. Among these it is sufficient to name the works of Geiger, Huber, Kleutgen, Lechler, Prantl, Ranke, Von Räumer, Schaarschmidt, Ueberweg, and Ullmann in Germany; those of Victor Le Clerc, Cousin, Hauréau, the younger Jourdain, Rémusat, Renan, and Thurot in France; and to these may be added the histories of single universities,—like that of Basel by Vischer, of Erfurt by Kampschulte, of Leipsic by Zarncke, and of Louvain by Felix Nève; while at home, the valuable series that has appeared under the sanction of the Master of the Rolls, and the able prefaces to different volumes of that collection from the pens of Mr. Anstey, professor Brewer, the late