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21
An Academic Sketch

have described, it seems as if we might claim for her the palm.

We have now passed through the period, which, unless, in that here as well as elsewhere, the victory of philosophy was the death of classicism, we may term the golden age of Oxford. After say 1400, we pass at once into a darker period:

But yet we know,
Where'er we go,
That there hath passed away a glory from the earth[1].

Indeed there is no subsequent time at which we can with historic fidelity claim on her behalf a position so commanding. The decay extended to both our Universities. The causes may be variously regarded. Collier[2] refers it mainly to the absorption of Church benefices by the monasteries. It seems more than probable that the wars of the fifteenth century, which had the double vice of being intestine and of being dynastic, had much to do with it. A third efficient cause is well suggested by Mr. Lyte, in the stringent measures of Archbishop Arundel against Lollardism, which greatly limited the freedom of thought that had been possessed and used by Ockham and his predecessors.

It is pleasant, however, to refer not only to the presence and activity of Erasmus in both our Universities, before and after A.D. 1500, but to the glowing eulogy which he passed upon their college life. Down

  1. Wordsworth's Ode on Intimations of Immortality.
  2. Eccl. History, vol. iii. p. 399.