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CAMBRIDGE PRIOR TO THE CLASSICAL ERA.
PART I:-EARLY COLLEGE FOUNDATIONS.
Paris to Ox
THE names which, in the preceding chapter, have served CHAP. III. to illustrate the varied activity of English thought would seem to justify us in asserting that, with the advance of the Transference fourteenth century, the palm of intellectual superiority had thought from been transferred from Paris to the English universities. With- ford. out insisting upon the philosophic insight of Bacon and the metaphysical ability of Duns Scotus, we may fairly ask whether any other university can point, at this period, to men comparable in their respective excellences and extended influence with William of Occam, Bradwardine, and Richard of Bury. If Paris can claim to have given to Oxford and Cambridge their statutes and their organisation, Oxford can boast that she gave to Paris some of her ablest and most influential teachers1. As the renown of those eminent thinkers became established, men did not fail to note the
1 Lyons, Paris, and Cologne were indebted for their first professors to the English Franciscans at Oxford. Repeated applications were made from Ireland, Denmark, France, and Germany for English friars; foreigners were sent to the English school as superior to all others.' Prof. Brewer, Pref. to Monumenta Franciscana, p. lxxxi. In a letter of Edward u to Pope John XXII desiring that Oxford
may have free interchange with Paris
CHAP. III. comparative sterility of the continental university. PePART L trarch exultingly pointed to the fact that her greatest names were those of men whom he claimed as compatriots'. Richard of Bury, while he dwells with enthusiasm on the literary wealth and established prestige of the French capital, does not hesitate to imply that her preeminence is already a thing of the past, and attributes to his own country the merit of according a far more ready reception to novel truth; Paris, he declares, in her regard for antiquity, seems careless of adding to her knowledge, while the perspicacity of Richard of English thought is ever adding to the ancient stores. We
behold the palladium of Paris,' he exclaims, writing while the soldiery of Edward III were ravaging the French provinces, borne off, alas, by that same paroxysm which afflicts our own land. The zeal of that illustrious school has become lukewarm, nay, even frozen, whose rays once illumined every corner of the earth. The pen of every scribe is there laid aside, the race of books is no longer propagated; nor is there one who can be regarded as a new author. They wrap up their thoughts in unskilful language, and are wanting in all logical propriety, save when they learn by secret vigils those refinements of English thought which they publicly disparage.'
1 'Est illa civitas bona quidem, et insignis Regia præsentia, quod ad studium attinet ceu ruralis est calathus, quo poma undique peregrina et nobilia deferantur; ex quo enim studium illud, ut legitur, ab Alcuino præceptore Caroli regis institutum est, nunquam quod audierim Parisiensis quisquam ibi vir clarus fuit, sed qui fuerunt externi utique et nisi odium barbari oculos perstringeret, magna ex parte Itali fuere.' Contra Galli Calumnias, (ed. Basil, 1554) p. 1192. He enumerates in support of his assertion Peter Lombard, Bonaventura, Aquinas, and Ægidius. To these observations M. Le Clerc replies, 'Cette remarque est juste, et continue même de l'être pour les siècles qui suivirent. Mais elle ne prouve rien contre la puissance et l'autorité de ces grands centres d'activité intellectuelle qui se chargent de l'éducation des peuples. Là sont
les maîtres qui forment, dirigent, éclairent; qui usent leur esprit et leur vie à ce labeur de tous les instants, et ne se sentent pas humiliés d'avoir des disciples plus hardis et plus célèbres qu'eux. On sait bien que la critique n'est point le génie; or, dans les grandes villes, dans les grands foyers d'instruction, la critique règne presque sans partage. L'ancienne Rome, qui fut long temps, comme Paris, une sorte d'école universelle, n'a compté non plus qu'un petit nombre de ses citoyens parmi les orateurs et les poëtes que Petrarque s'enorgueillit d'appeler des citoyens romains; et elle n'en a pas moins le droit de revendiquer, entre ses titres d'illustration, la gloire littéraire.' État des Lettres au 14me Siècle, 11 81. An ingenious defence; but Petrarch, I imagine, would have regarded the parallel instituted as defective.
CAMBRIDGE IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.
Avignon versity of
But though we may readily admit that the temporary CHAP. III. effects of the events alluded to by Richard of Bury had their share in bringing about this decline, it would seem that the the court at most potent cause must be sought in a long prior occurrence; upon the uniand it is probably to the removal of the papal court to Paris. Avignon that we must refer that paralysis which seems to have overtaken the genius of the nation. The pope, while he servilely subscribed to the political policy of the French monarch, to some extent indemnified himself by the assertion of an ampler authority over the centres of education and intellectual activity. With such a neighbour,' remarks Professor Professor Shirley, 'intellectual independence was impossible. One of the many mortifications suffered by the pride of Boniface VIII, had been a refusal on the part of the university of Paris to send to him a list of the lectures she delivered, together with the names of such of her professors, or more distinguished graduates, as she wished to recommend for promotion. What Boniface had solicited in vain was freely granted by the university to John XXII. In 1316 the first Rotulus Nominandorum was sent to the newly elected pope at Avignon, and the practice once established soon became annual. Ecclesiastical dignities and emoluments fell in abundance upon the professors; and from that time the university declined. Other causes were, indeed, in operation. Paris had hitherto been the only great school of theology on the continent. The time had come when this could no longer continue. The demand for learning was becoming daily more general; and, what is more important, the spirit of nationality was growing every day more powerful. A vernacular literature had arisen in Italy, and was rising on a humbler scale in England; and even Germany and Bohemia, which had contributed many illustrious pupils to Paris, began to wish for national universities of their own. In 1348 the university of Prague was founded in connexion with Oxford; in 1365 that of Vienna, 'the eldest daughter of Paris;' in 1362 and 1363 faculties of theology were given to Bologna and Padua, where law alone had hitherto been studied. To Paris, therefore, little more than France was
CHAP. III. left, at a time when France was torn by division and humiliated by defeat. To Oxford passed what remained of her intellectual empire'.'
versity of Cambridge before the
Scantiness of It is accordingly by a natural and inevitable transition for history that, in tracing the progress of learning, the historian finds himself passing with the advance of the fourteenth century from the continent to England; and, having examined sufficiently for our present purpose, the character and direction of the new activity at Oxford, we may now proceed to consider the rise in our own university of those new institutions, which, reflecting for the most part the example set by Walter de Merton, occupy the foreground of our subject in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Lengthened as our preceding enquiry has been, it has not been irrelevant to our main purpose. The commencement and early celebrity of the university of Paris, its remarkable mental activity under the influence of the Mendicants, and its rapid collegiate growth, are the three cardinal features in its early annals which Oxford reproduced, in all essential points, with singular fidelity. It would be gratifying if our information enabled us to trace out a similar resemblance at Cambridge, but the obscurity which hangs over her ancient history, and the loss of much that might have served to attest a corresponding process of developement, preclude us from a like course of treatment. Beyond those broad outlines which we have followed in our preceding chapter, there is little that we know concerning our ante-collegiate era; presumptive evidence affords our principal guidance; it is not until the rise of the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist and of Peter
1 Introd. to Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. li. M. Le Clerc, somewhat misled, I rather think, by the numerous movements, political and theological, which found a centre at Paris during this century, movements however that represent the conservatism rather than the advancement of the age, has claimed for his university an undiminished influence and prestige: Mais cette université de Paris qu'un si grand nombre d'autres, en France et hors de France, ont
proclamée leur mère, ne nous paraitra jamais plus puissante, malgré le prestige qui environne au loin son nom, qu'elle ne le fut pendant ce siècle au centre même du royaume, à Paris, et dans notre propre histoire; car jamais, depuis qu'elle fut mêlée aux affaires du monde politique, elle n'exerça, près de cinquante ans de suite, un tel pouvoir sur les esprits.' Etat des Lettres au 14me Siècle, I 282.
house, of Michaelhouse and of King's Hall, of University CHAP. III. Hall and of Clare, that our data assume something of completeness and precision; it is not until we decipher the faded characters of the charters and earliest statutes of those ancient foundations,-note the rude Latinity wherein the new conception is seen struggling as it were for utterance amid the terrorism and traditions of a monkish age,-the mass and the disputation, the friar and the secular, dogma and speculation, in strange and bewildering contrast and juxtaposition,that a sense, dim and vague though it be, comes over us of the conditions under which our college life began; and it is precisely as we turn to collect the scattered links that still connect us with that age, that we become aware what a chasm, deep and not to be bridged over, separates us from its feelings and its thought.
Omitting for the present much interesting detail, it will accordingly be our object in this chapter to gather from the charters and statutes of the new foundations, that now began to rise in such rapid succession, the motives and designs of the founders, and to illustrate the dominant conception of that new movement in which the old university life became ultimately merged. Before however passing on to this stage of our enquiry it will be necessary to devote some consideration to that intermediate institution, the hostel, which took its rise in an endeavour to diminish, to some extent, the discomforts, sufferings, and temptations, to which, as we have already seen, students of the earliest period were exposed. The hostel of the English universities in Hostels. former times may be defined as a lodging-house, under the rule of a Principal, where students resided at their own cost. It provided for and completely absorbed the pensioner class in the university; for the College, as we shall afterwards see, was originally composed only of a Master, Fellows, and Sizars. It offered no pecuniary aid, but simply freedom from extortion, and a residence where quiet would be ensured and some discipline enforced; advantages however of no small rarity in that turbulent age. Fuller, in his history of the university, has enumerated, chiefly on the authority of the