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Science records her progress and her failures, and carefully retains knowledge of all, for warning and encouragement, as well as for steps to higher success. Why should education stumble along, with the ruins of her own failures about her feet, with no other idea in her mind than that of reconstructing the same; or why launch out into chimerical enterprises without regard to the results of bygone experiments? History alone can make a plain man a prophet. Within certain limits what has been will be. In the material world the rule is positive and precise; and in human nature also there are laws which may be relied on. There are experiments which have been made so often that they need not be tried again. It has been abundantly proved that the memory will not execute the office of the understanding, that you cannot make philosophers without knowledge, that a disorderly mind will not do orderly work, and that men can no more perform the intellectual processes of children than children can rise to the capacity of men; and yet, in how many of our institutions for education do we find all these things overlooked, and that to the greatest extent in those which are most daring in novelty as most boastful of improvement.
The way by which reasonably to expect progress is that of cautious, carefully tested improvement upon the old. And what is needed is not so much addition to the subjects now studied, as to have them set apart, better classified, and adapted to the state of mental preparation for them. The best results of experiment are to be found where one would most naturally look for them, in the old institutions, which have not failed to appreciate the spirit of the age. In them, among many admitted crudities, there is really a stem of traditional progress from age to age, which is for the better. There is a solidity and healthy vitality in them, which is due to the freshness of the new being ever sustained by union with the tried stability of the old. It is a long and interesting way by which that position has been reached. The whole of modern education is the outgrowth of mediæval schools, which were in most respects very unlike it. And much as has latterly been said and done (and in some cases well done) for taking education out of the hands of the church, yet for
both its planting and culture, through many succeeding centuries it was chiefly indebted to the church.
Heathen schools in the Roman Empire disappeared with heathen religion. All that Christians respected in their teaching was transferred to the schools of the church. With the decline and fall of the civil power in the West, the purity and intelligence and energy of the church also suffered. The time came when the end of the world was thought to be so near that it was not worth while to expend thought upon education or any thing else which pertained only to time. Little was studied except what was of use in the service of the church, and, as time advanced toward the tenth century, very little was the amount deemed necessary for that.
One or two extraordinary men in the ninth century, especially Charlemagne on the Continent, and Alfred in England, made some improvements in the schools, which, although they had little immediate effect, lay as seed in the ground, preserving their vitality for a more genial season. And when the thousandth anniversary of the Saviour's Passion had passed over, and the earth was found to continue her former round of seasons, to be as firm to the foot, and as little like burning up or falling to pieces as before, the nations of the West began to recover from the paralysis which had long rested upon them. The schools, which had diminished in numbers, and been reduced to the baldest rudiments of instruction, began to partake of the general intellectual quickening. Dreary was the nature of the education given in their classes, and lightened only by its scantiness. Improvement was at first not undertaken there. But in connection with some schools, oral lessons were given on the theological questions of the day, which created a new interest in the minds of the pupils. For a time primary education continued in the same depressed condition, while the interest in the lectures increased. Youth crowded to hear lectures, without being properly qualified to profit by them. Of course that was an incongruity which could not long exist. The practical difficulties involved constrained attention to its remedy.
In the course of the twelfth century more thorough attention was given to the use of the means of instruction then possessed, by a vastly increased number of students; and ere the end of it, additions were made to the studies, especially in the departments of logic and mathematics, by importation from the Moorish schools of Spain. The value of the lectures and the range which they took grew proportionately. Both lecturer and pupil rose to a higher level and to broader views, as they were prepared and sustained by the disciplinary classes. Still the lectures were the attraction of the schools, and both supplied the demand for intellectual culture and incited to it. The lecturers were the intellectual heroes of Europe, who were the first to awaken the hitherto dormant energies of the young nations. The only subject of which they treated was theology ; but from only debating occasional topics of present interest they in course of time expanded their grasp to take in the whole field. Arid and shallow, their treatment was minute and orderly in its superficial divisions and classification, and was perhaps the better intellectual gymnastic for those times, that it had only the semblance of profundity.
The Latin church had come into the inheritance of a large share of the Western authority of Imperial Rome; and every question of popular interest was concerned with her practice or dogmas; and the lecturers, for the most part, occupied themselves with their defence and exposition. In return, the schools were sustained by the church, and many ecclesiastics and pious laymen of wealth devoted their labors and much of their property to the improvement and extension of the means of instruction. Thus, they were constituted charitable institutions, and that system was created whereby college education has continued to this day to be furnished at a price so far below what it costs.
In the old cathedral and conventual schools the person who had charge of the preliminary branches was called the scholasticus, and the teacher of theology, the theologus. That course went no further, and some of the poorer institutions had only the preparatory part. Hence the common name scholastic.
In a few places, youth were brought together by the reputation of illustrious teachers of law, as at Bologna, in Italy, or
of medicine, as at Salerno and Montpelier, constituting schools less directly under control of the church.
Consequently there were, in the first instance, two classes of great schools, the theological and the scientific. In course of time, however, the theological universities adopted also the faculties of law and of medicine, and theology was introduced into Bologna
By such means there were assembled at some seats of learning, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, such nunbers of students as find no parallel in any universities of the present day. For youth were there in all grades of preparation for all the professions then in existence.
With increase of numbers, regularity of classification and description became more imperative. Students were arranged, or arranged themselves, according to the houses in which they lodged, every such house having its own internal government, and all the houses, departments of study, and stages of progress were grouped together under one head of general legislation by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities; and the term universitas was applied to the corporation embracing the whole.
A few such seats of learning made more illustrious name than the rest, and reached maturity sooner. Paris and Oxford stood highest, or were the most numerously attended; but all were on the same general plan. In the thirteenth century they had reached the completeness of their type, and the full tide of prosperity.
The plan of the mediæval university was determined by the incidental or casual way in which it had grown up. It was simply the aggregate of all the departments taught and of all the different stages of progress in education as conducted in one city, from the primary school up to the Doctor's degree. Being the result of successive additions to the common school, without the guidance of any preconcerted design, it was still only an aggregate upon the same original basis. Oxford was at once the chief grammar school of England, the great free school for the poor, the seat of liberal culture, and of professional education, for students of theology, and, in its best days, also of law and of medicine.
VOL. XLII.-NO. IV. 41
The routine of school study had consisted of two series: one literary, containing grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the other scientific, divided into four branches, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Upon this Trivium and Quadrivium the whole structure of liberal culture rose, by gradual insertion of successive improvements, and development of their internal substance. In the first instance the literary course outran the scientific, and out of the zealous prosecution, especially of its logic, grew that systematic and dialectic theology which has been called the scholastic; and formed itself into the special work of the theological faculty.
Both courses, as latterly matured, constituted the department of Arts, the work of another faculty. Upon the introduction of law and medicine two new faculties were formed, one of which had its affinities most intimately with the scientific course, thereby leading to the improvement and enhancing the estimate of the Quadrivium, as a branch of the arts. Thus arose, by gradual combination and necessary segregation of elements, the four faculties of arts, of theology, of law, and of medicine. Facultas signifying, in those days, the ability to teach in any one branch, was applied also to “ the authorized teachers of it collectively.”
In respect to their internal government, those institutions exhibited a strange anomaly in their times, being more or less republican. The University of Bologna was a corporation of students assembled for the purpose of attending upon the instructions of certain eminent teachers of law resident in that city; and its earliest statutes were compacts entered into by the students for mutual support and assistance. They elected their own officers, and maintained their own order. The University of Paris, on the other hand, was an association of teachers connected with the schools in that city. Such was also the foundation at Oxford. But much of the democratic spirit of the Italian universities prevailed in both, which regarded the body of teachers and students as a Demos. That spirit extended to others which followed the example of their constitution.
Medieval universities, as a whole, formed a community among themselves, speaking a common tongue, the Latin,