Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/296

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1859.—Mr. E. B. Powell.

Monks, who claimed peculiar privileges on the occasion of their being admitted to degrees. The bishops, too, in whose dioceses the Universities stood, were sometimes engaged in disputes with them; the latter pleading the Bulls of Popes as grounds for exemption from episcopal jurisdiction. These circumstances are interesting, inasmuch as they shew that Oxford and Cambridge were even then, to a certain extent, centres of independent thought and action. In France, during the wars carried on by Edward III, Henry V, and the Regents in the minority of Henry VI, the University of Paris almost constituted a distinct estate of the realm : it is true its interference in politics was often far from beneficial, either in regard to the interests of learning, or to those of religion. It cannot be said that the Universities made any striking progress from the 12th century to the middle of the 15th, so far as the improvement of their curricula is concerned; at the same time Theology, Metaphysics, and Logic were, if not judiciously, at least energetically studied by considerable numbers, and served to sharpen the intellects of the students. National literatures, also, were in the course of formation throughout Europe, to which the alumni of the Universities were naturally almost the sole contributors; and all things were preparing the way for an accelerated advance. After the fall of Constantinople, the Platonic philosophy invaded the realms, which had previously bowed in profound submission to Aristotle; and a struggle ensued, that was highly beneficial in evoking and fostering free and discursive thought. The study of the Greek language and Greek literature, which now began to be fashionable, exerted a peculiarly liberalizing influence: and the invention of printing, which, as it has been remarked, seems to have been permitted to take place exactly at the time when it was most required, and when its efficacy would necessarily be the greatest, lent its powerful aid in breaking the fetters in which ignorance had enthralled the bulk of the populations of Europe. Here it is important to note that the changes in religion, and in the constitution of society, which occurred in the 16th century, co-operating with the Printing Press, modified in a very great measure the action of the Universities in England and other countries. In earlier times knowledge had to be obtained mainly by oral communication, and just as in this country an ardent Hindu scholar, desirous of studying a particular work, would travel far to sit at the feet of some famous Pundit, so, in Europe, thousands resorted from distant regions to a seat of learning, where an eminent Teacher explained a particular science, or commented upon a favorite author. This was now altogether modified; and while the con-