Page:An Academic Sketch.djvu/9

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6
The Romanes Lecture 1892

But it seems to have been more effective as a resistance offered by the party of privilege and possession, than in the intellectual domain. In general terms, and subject to partial qualification only, it may be affirmed that, amidst and around the vigorous Christian upgrowth, except in the region of military art, what we now denominate the lay mind seemed to sleep the sleep of death.

It was surely in accordance with all the laws of our nature that the new life, thus planted in its highest region by the Christian Faith, should in due time awaken its other agents from their lethargy. And the gradual extinction of Paganism, associated as it had been with intellect, and art, and every energy of worldly life, must have removed a formidable cause of jealousy.

Around the origins of the movement there might naturally gather, in an age that had but imperfect command either of communication, or of transmission, matter of a legendary character. We cannot, therefore, be greatly surprised at the beliefs long received that Charlemagne added to his other glories the honour of having founded the University of Paris, and that our own Alfred nursed the infancy of Oxford. These beliefs no longer subsist in any definite form. But Alcuin, English born and reared, and a zealous instructor of others in the learning he had himself acquired under Archbishop Egbert, was the intimate friend of Charlemagne, who made earnest though ineffectual efforts to fix permanently the sphere of his activity in Paris. In his teaching at his Abbey in Tours, as it is described by himself, he united the