Imagens das páginas

Chester, the munificent founder also of Winchester School or College. In the University of Cambridge the foundations were, Peter House, by Hugh Balsham, Sub-prior and afterwards Bishop of Ely, about 1256; Michael College (afterwards incorporated with Trinity College), by Herby de Stanton, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Edward II., about 1324; University Hall (soon afterwards burnt down), by Richard Badew, Chancellor of the University, in 1326; King's Hall (afterwards united to Trinity College), by Edward III.; Clare Hall, a restoration of University Hall, by Elizabeth de Clare, Countess of Ulster, about 1347; Pembroke Hall, or the Hall of Valence and Mary, in the same year, by Mary de St. Paul, widow of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke; Trinity Hall, in 1350, by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich; Gonvil Hall, about the same time, by Edmond Gonvil, parson of Terrington and Rushworth, in Norfolk; and Corpus Christi, or Bennet College, about 1351, by the United Guilds of Corpus Christi and St. Mary, in the town of Cambridge. The erection of these colleges, besides the accommodations which they afforded in various ways both to teachers and students, gave a permanent establishment to the universities, which they scarcely before possessed. The original condition of these celebrated seats of learning, in regard to all the conveniences of teaching, appears to have been humble in the extreme. Great disorders and scandals are also said to have arisen, before the several societies were thus assembled each within its own walls, from the intermixture of the students with the townspeople, and their exemption from all discipline. But, when the members of the University were counted by tens of thousands, discipline, even in the most advantageous circumstances, must have been nearly out of the question. The difficulty would not be lessened by the general character of the persons composing the learned mob, if we may take it from the quaint historian of the University of Oxford. Many of them, Anthony a Wood affirms, were mere "varlets who pretended to be scholars:" he does not scruple to charge them with being habitually guilty of thieving and other enormities; and he adds, '' They lived under no discipline, neither had any tutors, but only for fashion sake would sometimes thrust themselves into the schools at ordinary lectures, and, when they went to perform any mischiefs, then would they be accounted scholars, that so they might free themselves from the jurisdiction of the burghers." To repress the evils of this state of things, the old statutes of the University of Paris, in 1215, had ordained that no one should be reputed a scholar who had not a certain master. Another of these ancient regulations may be quoted in illustration of the simplicity of the times, and of the small measure of pomp and circumstance that the heads of the commonwealth of learning could then affect. It is ordered that every master reading lectures in the faculty of arts should have his cloak or gown round, black, and falling as low as the heels, "at least," adds the statute, with amusing ndiveli, "while it is new." But this famous seminary long continued to take pride in its poverty as one of its most honourable distinctions. There is something very noble and affecting in the terms in which the rector and masters of the faculty of arts are found petitioning, in 1362, for a postponement of the hearing of a cause in which- they were parties. "We have difficulty," they say, "in finding the money to pay the procurators and advocates, whom it is necessary for us to employ—we whose profession it is to possess no wealth." * Yet, when funds were wanted for important purposes in connexion with learning or science, they were supplied in this age with no stinted liberality. We have seen with what alacrity opulent persons came forward to build and endow colleges, as soon as the expediency of such foundations came to be perceived. In almost all these establishments more or less provision was made for the permanent maintenance of a body of poor scholars, in other words, for the admission of even the humblest classes to a share in the benefits of that learned education whose temples and priesthood were thus planted in the land. It is probable, also, that the same kind of liberality was often shown in other ways. Roger Bacon tells us himself that, in the twenty years in which he had been engaged in his experiments, he had spent in books and instruments no less a sum than two thousand French livres, an amount of silver equal to about six thousand pounds of our present money, and in effective value certainly to many times that sum. He must have been indebted for these large supplies to the generosity of rich friends and patrons.





Notwithstanding the general neglect of its elegancies, and of the habit of speaking it correctly or grammatically,

* Crevier, ii. 404.

the Latin tongue still continued to be in England, as elsewhere, the common language of the learned, and that in which books were generally written that were intended for their perusal. Among this class of works may be included the contemporary chronicles, most of which were compiled in the monasteries, and the authors of almost all of which were churchmen. The Chronicle of Roger de Wendover, hitherto existing only in MS., and in a single copy, has lately been published, in the greater part, by the Rev. Henry O. Coxe, for the English Historical Society, under the title of 'Rogeri de Wendover Chronica, sive Flores Historiarum,' 4 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1841-42. The portion omitted is merely the First Book, which contains the space from the creation to the commencement of the Christian era, and is abridged in the 'Flores Historiarum' bearing the name of Matthew of Westminster, together with the first 446 years of Book Second, in which there is equally little that is peculiar or important. The remainder of the narrative comes down to the year 1235 (the 19th of Henry III.), and is very valuable. Wendover, who was probably a native of the place of that name in Buckinghamshire, became a monk and precentor in the Benedictine monastery of St. Albans, and died Prior of Belvoir, in a cell of that house, on the 6th of May, 1237. He has compiled the earlier portion of his work from Bede, Marianus Scotus, some of the Byzantine writers, Malmesbury, Florence of Worcester, Henry of Huntingdon, and the other best and most reputable of preceding chroniclers, and in a very workmanlike manner. Mr. Coxe holds him to be quite as good a writer as Matthew Paris, whose more celebrated History is, down to the point where that of Wendover ends, copied from him with few alterations, and those, Mr. Coxe declares, mostly for the worse even in point of expression. Mr. Coxe also vindicates the claim of Wendover to the authorship of the portion of the Chronicle bearing his name which has been thus transcribed by Paris, in answer to some remarks by Mr. Halliwell in the introduction to his late edition of Rishanger's Chronicle of the Barons' Wars.

The most celebrated English historian of the thirteenth century, however, is Matthew Paris, who was another monk of the same great monastery of St. Albans, and was also much employed in affairs of state during the reign of Henry III. He died in 1259; and his principal work, entitled 'Historia Major' (the Greater History), begins at the Norman Conquest, and comes down to that year. Matthew Paris is one of the most spirited and rhetorical of our old Latin historians; and the extraordinary freedom with which he expresses himself, in regard especially to the usurpations of the court of Rome, forms a striking contrast to the almost uniform tone of his monkish brethren. Nor does he show less boldness in animadverting upon the vices and delinquencies of kings and of the great in general. These qualities have in modern times gained him much admiration among writers of one party, and much obloquy from those of another. His work has always been bitterly decried by the Roman Catholics, who at one time, indeed, were accustomed to maintain that much of what appeared in the printed copies of it was the interpolation of its Protestant editors. This charge has now been abandoned; but an eminent Catholic historian of the present day has not hesitated to denounce the narrative of the

« AnteriorContinuar »