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Soon after the year 1500, Lillye, the famous grammarian, who had learned Greek at Rhodes, and had afterwards acquired a polished Latinity at Rome under Johannes Sulpicius and Pomponius Sabinus, became the first teacher of Greek at any public school in England. This was at saint Paul's school in London, then newly established by dean Colet, and celebrated by Erasmus; and of which Lillye, as one of the most exact and accomplished scholars of his age, was appointed the first master h. And that antient prejudices were now gradually wearing off, and a national taste for critical studies and the graces of composition began to be diffused, appears from this circumstance alone: that from the year one thousand five hundred and three to the reformation, there were more grammar schools, most of which at present are perhaps of little use and importance, founded and endowed in England, than had been for three hundred years before. The practice of educating our youth in the monasteries growing into disuse, near twenty new grammar schools were established within this period: and among these, Wolsey's school at Ipswich, which soon fell a sacrifice to the resentment or the avarice of Henry the Eighth, deserves particular notice, as it rivalled those of Winchester and Eton. To give splendor to the institution, beside the scholars, it consisted of a dean, twelve canons, and a numerous
* Knight, Life of Colet, p. 19. Pace, barie, in qua nostri adolescentes solebant above mentioned, in the Epistle dedica- fere ætatem consumere,” &c. Erasmus tory to Colet, before his Treatise De says, in 1514, that he had taught a youth,
fructu qui ex Doctrina percipitur, thus in three years, more Latin than he could
choir'. So attached was Wolsey to the new modes of instruction, that he did not think it inconsistent with his high office and rank, to publish a general address to the schoolmasters of England, in which he orders them to institute their youth in the most elegant literaturek. It is to be wished that all his edicts had been employed to so liberal and useful a purpose. There is an anecdote on record, which strongly marks Wolsey's character in this point of view. Notwithstanding his habits of pomp, he once condescended to be a spectator of a Latin tragedy of Dido, from Virgil, acted by the scholars of saint Paul's school, and written by John Rightwise, the master, an eminent grammarian'. But Wolsey might have pleaded the authority of pope Leo the Tenth, who more than once had been present at one of these classical spectacles.
It does not however appear, that the cardinal's liberal sentiments were in general adopted by his brother prelates. At the foundation of saint Paul's school above mentioned, one of the bishops, eminent for his wisdom and gravity, at a public assembly, severely censured Colet the founder for suffering the Latin poets to be taught in the new structure, which he therefore styled a house of pagan idolatry".
In the year 1517, Fox, bishop of Winchester, founded a college at Oxford, in which he constituted, with competent stipends, two professors for the Greek and Latin languages". Although some slight idea of a classical lecture had already appeared at Cambridge in the system of collegiate discipline", this philological establishment may justly be looked upon, as
i Tanner, Notit. Mox. p. 520.
STATUT. C.C.C. Oxon. dat. Jun. 20. “Elegantissima literatura.” Fid. 1517. CAP. xx. fol. 51. Bibl. Bodl. MSS. des's WOLSEY. COLL. p. 105.
LAUD. I. 56. I Wood, Ath. Oxon. i. 15. See what • At Christ's college in Cambridge, is said of this practice, supra, p. 211. where, in the statutes given in 1506, a
m“ Episcopum quendam, et eum qui lecturer is established; who, together habetur a SAPIENTIORIBUS, in magno ho- with logic and philosophy, is ordered to minum Conventu, nostram scholam blas- read, "vel ex poetarum, vel ex oratorum phemasse, dixisseque, me erexisse rem operibus." Cap. xxxvii. In the statutes inutilem, imo malam, imo etiam, ut of King's at Cambridge, and New colillius verbis utar, Domum Idololatriæ," lege at Oxford, both much more antient, &c. (Coletus Erasmo. Lond. 1517.] an instructour is appointed with the geKnight's Life or Couet, p. 319. neral name of IxrORMATOR only, who
the first conspicuous instance of an attempt to depart from the narrow plan of education, which had hitherto been held sacred in the universities of England. The course of the Latin professor, who is expressly directed to extirpate BARBARISM from the new society”, is not confined to the private limits of the college, but open to the students of Oxford in general. The Greek lecturer is ordered to explain the best Greek classics ; and the poets, historians, and orators, in that language, which the judicious founder, who seems to have consulted the most intelligent scholars of the times, recommends by name on this occasion, are the purest, and such as are most esteemed even in the present improved state of antient learning. And it is at the same time worthy of remark, that this liberal prelate, in forming his plan of study, does not appoint a philosophy-lecturer in his college, as had been the constant practice in most of the previous foundations : perhaps suspecting, that such an endowment would not have coincided with his new course of erudition, and would have only served to encourage that species of doctrine, which had so long choaked the paths of science, and obstructed the progress of useful knowledge.
These happy beginnings in favour of a new and rational system of academical education, were seconded by the auspicious munificence of cardinal Wolsey. About the year 1519, he founded a public chair at Oxford, for rhetoric and humanity, and soon afterwards another for teaching the Greek language; endowing both with ample salaries ?. About the year 1524, king Henry the Eighth, who destroyed or advanced literary institutions from caprice, called Robert Wakefield, originally a student of Cambridge, but now a professor of humanity at Tubingen in Germany, into England, that one of his own subjects, a linguist of so much celebrity, might no longer teach the Greek and oriental languages abroad : and when Wakefield
taught all the learning then in vogue. maniorum ... BARBARIEM a nostro alROTUL. COMPUT. vet. Čoll. Nov. Oxon. veario extirpet.” Statut. ut supr. “ Solut. Informatoribus sociorum et 4 Wood, Hist. Univ. Oxon. i. 245, 246. scolarium, ivl. xii s. üd.”
But see liddes's Wolsey, p. 197. P “ Lector seu professor artium hu
appeared before the king, his majesty lamented, in the strongest expressions of concern, the total ignorance of his clergy and the universities in the learned tongues; and immediately assigned him a competent stipend for opening a lecture at Cambridge, in this necessary and neglected department of letters'. Wakefield was afterwards a preserver of many copies of the Greek classics, in the havock of the religious houses. It is recorded by Fox, the martyrologist, as a memorable occurrence', and very deservedly, that about the same time, Robert Barnes, prior of the Augustines at Cambridge, and educated at Louvain, with the assistance of his scholar Thomas Parnell, explained within the walls of his own monastery, Plautus, Terence, and Cicero, to those academics who saw the utility of philology, and were desirous of deserting the Gothic philosophy. It may seem at first surprising, that Fox, a weak and prejudiced writer, should allow any merit to a catholic: but Barnes afterwards appears to have been one of Fox's martyrs, and was executed at the stake in Smithfield for a defence of Lutheranism.
But these innovations in the system of study were greatly discouraged and opposed by the friends of the old scholastic circle of sciences, and the bigotted partisans of the catholic communion, who stigmatised the Greek language by the name of heresy. Even bishop Fox, when he founded the Greek lecture above mentioned, that he might not appear to countenance a dangerous novelty, was obliged to cover his excellent institution under the venerable mantle of the authority of the church. For as a seeming apology for what he had done, he refers to a canonical decree of pope Clement the Fifth, promulged in the year 1311, at Vienne in Dauphine, which enjoined, that professors of Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic, should be instituted in the universities of Oxford, Paris, Bononia, Salamanca, and in
" Wakefield's ORATIO DE LAUDIBUS Lovan. by Val. Andreas, p. 284. edit. TRIUM LINGUARUM, &c. Dated at Cam 1650. bridge, 1524. Printed for W. de Worde, • Act. Mon. fil. 1192. edit. 1583. 4to. Signal. C. ii. Sec also Fast. Acad.
the court of Rome'. It was under the force of this ecclesiastical constitution, that Gregory Typhernas, one of the learned Greek exiles, had the address to claim a stipend for teaching Greek in the university of Paris“. We cannot but wonder at the strange disagreement in human affairs between cause and effect, when we consider, that this edict of pope Clement, which originated from a superstitious reverence annexed to two of these languages, because they composed part of the superscription on the cross of Christ, should have so strongly counteracted its own principles, and proved an instrument in the reformation of religion.
The university of Oxford was rent into factions on account of these bold attempts; and the advocates of the recent improvements, when the gentler weapons of persuasion could not prevail, often proceeded to blows with the rigid champions of the schools. But the facetious disposition of sir Thomas More had no small share in deciding this singular controversy, which he treated with much ingenious ridicule W. Erasmus, about the same time, was engaged in attempting these reformations at Cambridge: in which, notwithstanding the mildness of his temper and conduct, and the general lustre of his literary character, he met with the most obstinate opposition. He expounded the Greek grammar of Chrysoloras in the public schools without an audience*: and having, with a view to present the Grecian literature in the most specious and agreeable
t"Quem præterca in nostro Alveario ment's injunction to sustain these leccollocavimus, quod saCROSANCTI Ca- tures in the university of Oxford. Bishop NONES commodissime pro bonis literis, Fox, therefore, in founding a Greek lecet imprimis christianis, instituerunt ac ture, would be understood, that he does jusserunt, eumi in bac universitate Ox- not mean to absolve or excuse the other oniensi, perinde ac paucis aliis celeber- prelates of England from doing their rimis gymnasiis, nunquam desiderari.” proper duty in this necessary business, Statut. C.C.C. Oxon. ut supr. The At the same time a charge on their negwords of this statute which immediately ligence seems to be implied. follow, deserve notice here, and require " Naud. i. 3. p. 234. This was in 1472. explanation. “ Nec tamen Eos hac ra See, among other proofs, his Eritione excusatos volumus, qui Græcam STOLA Scholasticis quibusdam Trojanos se lectionem in eo suIS IMPENSIS sustentare appellantibus, published by Hearne, 1716, debent." By Eos, he means the bishops 8vo. and abbots of England, who are the per * Erasmi Epist. Ammonio, dat. 1512. sons particularly ordered in pope Cle- Ep. 123. Op. tom. iü. p. 110.