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43
An Academic Sketch

similar severance between the constituent parts of sound and thorough education. It may be, that the circumstances, and some even of the measures of our time, have not been propitious to the cultivation of one great branch of human knowledge, and have borne the marks of an inevitable reaction from undue clerical preponderance. Such reactions are essentially temporary; and will not prevent theology from recovering whatever ground may be due to it in virtue of its own proper force. I speak of theology as a science; and not of this theology or that. And it seems no violent paradox to say that, if there be a Creator of this universe, the knowledge which reverently deals with our relations to Him can hardly be other than the crown of human knowledge. It can, then, hardly fail to offer the richest reward, as well as to advance the most commanding claim, to the service and devotion not of stunted or of crippled intellects, but of the very flower of our youth.

Whether, as some think, the idea of an University in its comprehensive fulness has always been, or has not, an essentially Christian conception, it cannot, I suppose, be open to an historic doubt that the central idea of our ancient English Universities is an idea essentially Christian[1]. It is nowhere more simply, and nowhere

  1. Cardinal Newman, in his work on the idea of an University, has set forth, with much of his own peculiar charm, the claims of Athens and Alexandria to have first embodied this great conception. He does not, however, convince me that either the one or the other in any way deprives Christendom of the honours of originality. Let us take the facts as he seems to present them. Athens exhibits the action of schools which were voluntary and brilliant, with some degree of continuity or succession, but isolated, and in philosophy alone. Alexandria has much more of elaborate equipment and definite history, but presents a mechanism not merely aided but devised and ordered by the State, rather than an institution that worked by an independent life dwelling within itself.