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An Academic Sketch

best elements accessible to him of divine and human knowledge, and thus served as a symbol of the true idea of a Christian University.

The troubled life of Alfred afforded less scope for the encouragement of learning: but there seems to have been space, in the mind of that truly glorious ruler, for every worthy object. The contention of Wood that he was the founder of Oxford has found zealous defenders abroad as well as at home. It is now abandoned. It appears indeed that, like Charlemagne, he was the founder[1] or patron of schools in various parts of England, which supplied in rudimental form something of what was reserved in its fulness for the future. But there is nothing to warrant our asserting either that the activity of Charlemagne took effect in Paris, or that of Alfred in Oxford.

It has been only in the present century, and, so far as our countrymen are concerned, only within its latter half, that the history of our national Universities has become the subject of the systematic study, which has produced, and is producing, such rich results, not least at this moment and in Oxford itself, through the comprehensive researches of Mr. Rashdal[2]. I dare not attempt even to touch the fringe of this great theme: but only to bring into view certain historic points which,

  1. Denifle, Die Universitäten des Mittelalters bis 1400, p. 240. Berlin, 1885.
  2. To whose courtesy I am indebted for the inspection of his learned and valuable proof-sheets, so far as they go, principally containing a luminous examination of the history of the University of Paris.