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short compass shews 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, i-n 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 tbess- 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 clogged 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 claffics. Exulting in. an exclufive privilege, the certainly did not see the solid and; popular use of these studies: at least they did not chuse, 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 affistances which. did not then exifi, 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, Prudentssius, Orosius, Fortunatius, and Sedulius, and who naturally, from that circumstance, and because they were Christians, came into vogueat that period, still continued in the hands of common readers, and superseded the great originals.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 consormity to which Arnobius composed his celebrated book against the: gentile superstitious, that pagan authors were calculated to corrupt the pure theology of the gospel. The prejudice however remained, when even the suspicions of the danger were removed. But I return to the progress of modern
letters in the fifteenth century. ' S E C T.
* Tanner, No'rrr. Mon. p. 520. " inntilem, imo malam, imo etiam, ut
*= ** Elegantisilma literamra." Piddes's Women', Cou. p. 105.
lWood, Ath. Oxon. i. 15. See what is said os this practice, snpr. p. 386.
I " Episcopum quendam, et eum qui *' habetur aSAHtN-rionnua, in m o *' hominum Conventu, noflram scho am *' Uasghemasse, dixisseque, me erexisse rem
*' illius Verbis utar, Damumldalolalrie, See." [Coletus Erasmo. Loud. 1517.] Knight" Lll-'E or Cou'r, p. 3' .
l STATUT. C. C. C. Oxon. dat. Jun._ 20. '517. cu. xx. sol. 51. Bibl.Bodl. MSS LAUD. I. 56.
** At Christ's college in Cambridge, where, in the statutes 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 expresily directed to extirpate BARBARlSM from the new society P, 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 claffics; 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 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 new and a 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, aml soon afterwards another for teaching the Greek language; endowing both with ample salaries *. About
the'year i 524, king Henry the eighth, who destroyed or advanced literary institutions from caprice, called Robert Wakefield,*originally a student os 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 a't 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 record
'c'd by Fox, the martyrologist, as a memorable occurrence',