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An Academic Sketch

The first of these is Wiclif, whose singular destiny it was to produce in Bohemia results far wider, and far more potent, than in his own sphere and country. The second is a name which may still touch living memories. It is Newman: who principally, and in half a lifetime, set a mark upon the mind and inner spirit of the English Church, which it is likely to carry through many generations.

Of these seven men, Becket is antecedent to University History, and was educated at Merton on the Wandle, with which, however, the earliest of Oxford colleges had a traditional connection. Langton was probably born about the middle of the twelfth century; and if so, his youthful training fell upon the period, seemingly a very short period, when Paris was in full work as an University, and Oxford had not yet regularly begun. The other five names on this distinguished roll—Wiclif, Wolsey, Laud, Wesley, Newman,—are one and all not only found in the Oxford lists, but also intimately associated by residence, and by personal action and interest, with the history, and indeed with the very soul, of this University.

My selection of names, whether accurate or not, is intended to invite an impartial estimate of the character so chosen, according to power and to results, rather than according to any award of praise or blame, or any special distribution of our personal antipathies or sympathies. There is however one among them whose title to his place may not be readily accorded. The name of Laud has now for two centuries and a half been largely visited with disapproval, sometimes with