Page:An Academic Sketch.djvu/33

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30
The Romanes Lecture 1892

'the most despicable both for style and matter,' for which the Whig predominance of the eighteenth century had obtained in England an undue celebrity[1].

That eighteenth century does not offer us a brilliant period for either University. The old superstition of passive obedience and non-resistance, which had been a parasitic growth out of the peculiar incidents of the English Reformation, had speedily lost, after the Revolution, whatever it might theretofore have possessed of consistency or dignity. But it survived that epoch in both Universities[2], and with a conspicuous obstinacy of life in Oxford; which had the questionable distinction of being, long afterwards, the theatre of the latest disturbance of public order ever effected in the name and by the partisans of the Stuarts. This longevity of a peculiar and quite superannuated opinion may have been due in part to the innate conservatism then sheltered in all the nooks and crannies of our ecclesiastical organisation, and in part to that determined tenacity of the English character, which is so beneficial and noble in a good cause, so dangerous in a bad one.

  1. Hume's History of England, vol. ix. p. 524, text and footnote. Chap. lxxi.
  2. The Oxford Address of 1683 to Charles II has commonly been gibbeted alone. But the Cambridge Address of the same year is fully worthy, in point of principle, though not of length, to keep company with it. Both may be seen sufficiently in Collier's Eccl. Hist. vol. viii. 490–6. Such documents could not appear after 1688–9; but the sentiment which prompted them long survived their production.