Page:An Academic Sketch.djvu/25

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22
The Romanes Lecture

to this period, and in the reflected light of the Renascence[1], Oxford had retained her relative superiority over Cambridge; which has no group of names to compete with those of Selling, Linacre, Grocyn, Colet, and Sir Thomas More. It may also be observed that, in the year 1476[2], Oxford had obtained her printing-press; but Cambridge was possessed of no such instrument when Erasmus quitted it in 1514.

We now pass into the sixteenth century; the age of specifically national development, and one singularly prolific, as I conceive, of powerful minds and characters. But it was not great as an academic age, while the relative positions of the two Universities also underwent a total change. To her manifest and indeed hardly measureable superiority in the earlier centuries, Oxford had now bidden a long farewell.

It was indeed a century too polemical to be favourable to the development of a vigorous academic life. An interesting Table, with which Mr. Mullinger has supplied us in his recent sketch of the history of Cambridge, shows that, between 1500 and 1560, the Baccalaureate[3] was only given to a number averaging annually less than 50. This decline impartially includes the religious extremes of Mary and of Edward VI. With the reign of Elizabeth an improvement began; but it is also true that, from the date of her accession, the theo-

  1. I have ventured upon following several writers of credit in the employment of this word in preference to borrowing Renaissance, which has no advantaged over it, from the French.
  2. See Ames's History of Printing.
  3. Which she now confers upon some 700 persons annually.