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short compass Mews Becket's private ideas concerning the bigottries and superstitious absurdities of his religion. The writer gives an account of a dinner in Becket's palace; at which was present, among many other prelates, a Cistercian abbot. This abbot engrossed almost the whole conversation, in relating the miracles performed by Robert, the founder of his order. Becket heard him for some time with a patient contempt; and at length could not help breaking out with no small degree of indignation, And these are your miracles !
We must however view the liberal ideas of these enlightened dignitaries of the twelfth century under some restrictions. It must be acknowledged, that their literature was elogged with pedantry, and depressed by the narrow notions of the times. Their writings shew, that they knew not how to imitate the beauties of the antient classics. Exulting in an exclusive privilege, the certainly did not see the solid and popular use of these studies : at least they did not chufe, or would not venture, to communicate them to the people, who on the other hand were not prepared to receive them. Any attempts of that kind, for want of afistances which did not then exist, must have been premature; and these lights were too feeble to dissipate the universal darkness. The writers who first appeared after Rome was ravaged by the Goths, such as Boethius, Prudentius, Orofius, Fortunatius, and Sedulius, and who naturally, from that circumstance, and becaufe they were Christians, came into vogue at that period, still continued in the hands of common readers, and superseded the great originals. In the early ages of Christianity a strange opinion prevailed, in conformity to which Arnobius composed his celebrated book against the gentile superstitions, that pagan authors were calculated to corrupt the pure theology of the gospel. The prejudice. however remained, when even the fufpicions of the danger were removed. But I return to the progress of modern letters in the fifteenth century.
N 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“. And that antient prejudices were now gradually wearing off, and a national taste for critical studies and the graces of compofition 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,
Knight, Life of Colet, p. 19. Pace, abovementioned, in the Epiftle dedicatory, to Colet, before his Treatise De fructu qui ex Do&rina percipitur, thus compliments Lillye, edit. Basil. ut fupr. 1517. p. 13. « Ut politiorem Latinitatem, et ipsam * Romanam linguam, in Britanniam nosa ftram introduxiffe videatur. Tama [ei]
« eruditio, ut extrufa barbarie, in qua “6 noftri adolescentes folebant fere ætatem “ confumere, &c." Erasmus says, in 1514, that he had taught a youth, in three years, more Latin than he could have acquired in any school in England, ne Liliana quidam excepta, not even Lillye’s excepted. EPISTOL. 165. p. 140. tom. äi.
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beside the scholars, it consisted of a dean, twelve canons, and a numerous 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 literature. It is to be wished that all his edicts had been employed to fo liberal and useful a purpose. There is an anecdote on record, which strongly marks Wolfey'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 faint 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 thefe classical spectacles.
It does not however appear, that the cardinal's liberal fentiments were in general adopted by his brother prelates. At the foundation of faint Paul's school above-mentioned, one of the bishops, eminent for his wisdom and gravity, at a public afsembly, severely censured Colet the founder for fuffering 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 ftipends, two professors for the Greek and Latin languages *. Although some flight idea of a classical lecture had already appeared at Cambridge in the fyftem of collegiate discipline,
i Tanner, NOTIT. Mon. p. 520.
Elegantislima literatura. Fiddes's WOLSEY. COLL. P. 105.
} Wood, Ath. Oxon. i. 15. See what is faid of this practice, supr. p. 386.
n“ Episcopum quendam, et eum qui a habetur a SAPIENTIORIBUS, in magno • hominum Conventu, noftram fcholam
bafphemaste, dixiffeque, me erexiffe rem
« inutilem, imo malam, imo etiam, ut “ illius verbis utar, Domum Idololatriæ, &c.” (Coletus Erasmo. Lond. 1517.] Knight's LIFE OF COLET, . 319.
"STATur. T: E: X. 'Oxon. dat. Jun. 20. 1517. CAP. xx. fol. 51. Bibl. Bodl. MSS LAUD. I. 56.
• At Chrift's college in Cambridge, where, in the fatutes given in 1506, a lec
this philological establishment may justly be looked upon, as 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 fociety', 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 of have consulted the most intelligent scholars of the times, recommends by name on this occafion, are the purest, and such as are moft esteemed even in the present improved state of antient learning. And it is at the fame time worthy of remark, that this liberal prelate, in forming his plan of study, does not appoint a philofophy-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 new and a rational fystem 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
turer is established; who, together with PUT. vet. Coll. Nov. Oxon.
“ Solut. logic and philofophy is ordered to read, "* Informatoribus fociorum et scolarium, “ vel ex poetarum, vel ex oratorum ope
46 iv l. xii s. ü d.” “ ribus." Cap. xxxvii. In the statutes p“ Lector seu profeffor artium humaof King's at Cambridge, and New college “ niorum ... BARBARIEM a nostro alat Oxford, both much more antient, an in “ veario exstirpet." STATUT. ut fupr. Atructour is appointed with the general name 9 Wood, Hist. Univ. Oxon. i. 245. of INFORMATOR only, who taught all the 246. But see Fiddes's WOLSEY, P. 197. learning then in vogue. ROTUL. ComK k k 2
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 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 preferver 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 fystem 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
1 Wakefield's ORATIO DE LAUDIBUS TRIUM LINGUARUM, &c.
Dated at Cambridge, 1524.
Printed for W. de Worde, 4to. Signat. C. ii. See also Fast.
Acad. Lovan: by Val. Andreas, p. 284,