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An Academic Sketch

were probably Alexander of Hales, Adam Marsh, one of his most distinguished pupils, and the close friend of Grostête; Archbishop Peckham, an experienced mathematician, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham[1], the celebrated nominalist, and lastly, the greatest probably of them all, Roger Bacon, perhaps the most striking British intellect of the middle ages; who spent many of his years in prison, and of whom some skilled students in philosophy and history have not shrunk, in our own time, from declaring that in originality and power he must be held to excel his illustrious namesake, the famous Francis, Lord Bacon[2].

The renown and greatness of these Oxford Franciscans may perhaps best, as well as most briefly, be estimated from the number of cases in which they acquired that superlative distinction of mediaeval learning, the appropriation of a special, characteristic, and laudatory epithet to their names. They figure largely on the Oxford list which I have brought together—Alexander of Hales was Doctor irrefragabilis. Duns Scotus was Doctor subtilis. William of Ware was Doctor fundatus. John of Baconthorpe was Doctor resolutus. Richard of Middleton was Doctor solidus. Burley was Doctor simplex. Bradwardine was Doctor profundus. Roger Bacon was Doctor mirabilis.

  1. His belonging to Oxford has been contested, but in the present state of the controversy I have thought it my safest course to adhere to the common tradition.
  2. I refer to Sir John Herschel and Mr. Lewes, as having, I believe, formed this estimate.