Page:An Academic Sketch.djvu/21

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18
The Romanes Lecture 1892

has before me once or twice been intimated[1], Oxford may deliver a challenge even to Paris, and not fear defeat. That is, in the number of great scholars and great men whom at this early period of her own existence she drew forth into intellectual life, and reared as in a seed-bed.

It is further singular that the time, when she burst into this extraordinary richness of bloom, should have been also the time when the two mendicant orders of Dominicans and Franciscans acquired a dominant influence in the University. For it appears that, about 1250, the exercises of bachelors for degrees were read by custom in the house of the one order or the other. And Grostête, though not a Franciscan, lectured in the Franciscan convent. Lastly, we may observe that the greatest names belonging to Oxford, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, are not of the order of Saint Dominic, to whom Dante awards the intellectual brightness of the cherub[2], but in the ranks of the seraphic Francis, who could not abide the world even in its academic form. These men were men of English birth. But the fame of their school was such that Franciscans flocked to it, not only from Scotland and Ireland, but from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany.

The most famous among these luminaries of Oxford

  1. See something of an intimation to this effect in Hallam, Literature of Europe, vol. i. p. 16; who appears to rely on Wood, vol. i. p. 159.
  2. Paradiso, c. xi. 39-41.