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The Progress of the Nation page 6

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In the narration of the struggles of this period in Scotland we have sufficiently traced the persecution of the Protestants by the Romish Church - the martyrdom of Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart, Walter Mill, and others; the murder of Cardinal Beaton, and the final triumph of Knox and his compeers, from which period the organisation of the Protestant Church of Scotland went on rapidly. In 1560 the lords of the congregation entered Edinburgh in arms; and Parliament assembling, abolished for ever the Pope's jurisdiction, abolished the celebration of mass, and authorised "The Confession of the Faith and Doctrine believed and professed by the Protestants of Scotland." An Act also was passed to pull down all cloisters and abbey-churches still left standing: and the Church, not waiting for any further enactment of the Parliament or Crown, went on exercising its own proper functions as an independent church, governed, not by the State, but by presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies. In 1580 the general assembly, after having at various times diminished the power and rank of bishops, declared that episcopacy was unscriptural and unlawful - a dictum which the Parliament fully ratified in 1592, establishing the Presbyterian Church as the national one, with general assembly, provincial synods, presbyteries, and kirk sessions. In 1597 the Parliament admitted certain representatives of the clergy to seats in it, to which the general assembly assented at its next meeting; and thus was completed the system of church government in Scotland at that time.


The present centennial produced as great a revolution in literature and science as in religion, We still look back to this era for some of the greatest names and greatest works which have adorned and enlightened not only our own country but the whole civilised world.

When we enumerate Sir Thomas More, Lord Surrey, Boger Ascham, Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, Buchanan, Gawin Douglas, Dunbar, and Sir David Lyndsay, we remind our readers that we are moving amid a constellation of genius, than which time has scarcely any brighter. But in the two words, Shakespeare and Bacon, we pronounce the names and glorious births of dramatic and philosophic genius, which have placed this country on the summit of intellectual fame, by works never since surpassed in any nation, and by discoveries in science and art which have flowed from the "Novum Organum" of Bacon as from an eternal and ever-strengthening fountain. True it is both these great men belong, by their published works, rather to the succeeding period than to the present, and in that we shall more fully review their works; but Bacon had, Long before the death of Elizabeth, sketched out the plan of his immortal work, though he had not dared to publish it; and Shakespeare had not only written his poems, but had also written and acted in many of his most brilliant and original plays. By these great writers the English language was established as a great classical language; and though it has since extended and connected itself with the progress of knowledge and most astonishing and varied discoveries, we can produce no purer, no stronger nor more eloquent specimens of it than from the pages of Shakespeare, which continue to be read and listened to on our stage, the genuine speech of Englishmen - somewhat quaint occasionally, but always musical to the ear, familiar to the sense, and animating as old wine to the spirit.

The mass of men and topics with which we have to deal in this department of our subject is so great, that we must take but a cursory view of what can only be fully discussed in a history exclusively devoted to our literature and art. Our business is to sketch the great outlines of our progress; the reader must seek the details in the works and biographies belonging to the different subjects.

The violent changes and spoliations of the Reformation did not check the foundation of new colleges and seminaries of learning - the fountains, under a more liberal order of things, certain to produce noble results. Even Henry VIII., in his wholesale destruction of endowed property, and though college property was included in the Acts which he procured from his obsequious Parliament, for the most part spared the resources of education. His reign was distinguished by the foundation, in Oxford, of Brazenose College, in 1509, by Sir William Smith, Bishop of Lincoln, and Sir Richard Sutton, of Presbury, in Cheshire. Old Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, who had been prime minister of Henry VII., and still was of the council of his son, in 151G founded Corpus Christi. The only exception to Henry VIII.'s patronage of the colleges occurred in those founded by Wolsey - his Cardinal College at Oxford, and his college at Ipswich, which both fell with him. In 1545 Henry himself founded Christ Church instead of that of Wolsey, which he then dissolved. In 1554 Trinity College was founded on the basis of Durham College by Sir Thomas Pope. In 1555 Sir Thomas White, alderman and merchant tailor of London, founded St. John's College, on the site of Bernard College. These were in the reign of Queen Mary. In Elizabeth's time rose Jesus College, in 1571, from funds furnished by Dr. Hugh Price, and augmented by the queen herself.

In Cambridge three colleges arose during the reign of Henry VII. - the only educational endowments of any note during that period. In 1496 John Alcock, Bishop of Ely, founded Jesus College. In 1505 Margaret, Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII., founded Christ's College, and also in 1511, very shortly before her son's death, St. John's College. In 1519 Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, commenced the College of Magdalen - now called Maudlin; but as he was executed for high treason in 1521, Lord Audley, the lord chancellor, completed it. Henry VIII. Founded Trinity College in 1546, and at the same time four new professorships in the university; namely, for theology, law, Greek, and Hebrew. Henry was proud of his learning, and had the good sense to support, with all the imperative force of his character, the new study of Greek, when it was violently assailed by the Church and professors. Dr. Caius founded the college named after him, and popularly pronounced "Keys," on the basis of the old hall of Gonville, in 1558 - the only extension of Cambridge University under Queen Mary. In Elizabeth's time, Sir Walter Mildmay founded Emanuel College in 1584, and in 1598 Sidney-Sussex College was founded by Lady Frances Sidney, widow of Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex. The universities of Scotland were greatly extended during this period. That of Aberdeen was founded in 1494 under the name of King's College, James IV. having procured a bull for that purpose from Pope Alexander VII., though the bishop was the main benefactor. In 1593 Marischal College, in the same university, was erected by George, Earl Marischal. At St. Andrews the new college of St. Leonards was established in 1512 by Archbishop Stuart and John Hepburn, the prior of the metropolitan church. This was afterwards united with that of St. Salvator, and took the name of the United College. St. Mary's, in the same university, was founded, in 1537, by Archbishop Beaton. In 1582 James VI. founded the University of Edinburgh. In 1591 Queen Elizabeth founded in Dublin the University of Trinity College.

Contemporaneous with these colleges and universities rose a great number of grammar-schools, designed to extend the knowledge of Latin to the mass of the people; and amongst the magnificent endowments, since too much withdrawn, by the influence of wealth, from the poor and the orphan, for whom they were designed, and devoted to the use of the affluent, for whom they were not designed, we may name St. Paul's School, London, founded by Dean Colet in 1509; that of Christ's Hospital, London, founded by Edward YI. in 1553, the year of his death; Westminster School, established by Elizabeth, 1560; and Merchant Taylors School, founded by that guild in 1561. In Scotland, the High School of Edinburgh was founded by the magistrates of that city in 1577.

It is a curious fact that the revival of the Greek language and literature was coincident with the Reformation. Widely opposed as the spirit of Christianity and of the Greek mythology are, yet in one particular they are identical, that is, in breathing a spirit of liberty and popular dominance which were not long in showing their effects in this country. Whilst the Scriptures were now translated and made familiar to the people at least by means of Puritan preachers, and were thus proclaiming that God had made of one blood all the nations of the earth, and that he was no respecter of persons, thereby laying the foundations of eternal justice in the public mind, and teaching, as a necessary consequence, that the end and object of all human government was not the good of kings or nobles, but of the collective people - the poets, the historians, the dramatists, and philosophers of republican Greece were brought to bear all the force of their fiery eloquence, their glowing narratives, and their subtle reasoning upon the same theme; presenting not only arguments for general liberty and a popular polity, but examples of the most sublime struggles of a small but glorious people against domestic tyrants and the vast hordes of barbarism without, of noblest orators thundering against the oppressions of the mighty, of awful tragedians steeping their stage in the imaged blood of tyrants and of traitors, of patriots perishing in joy for the salvation of their country.

It was not to be wondered at that on the bursting of these novel elements like a sudden and strong torrent into the arena of human life, there should arise a fearful struggle and combat betwixt the old intellectual ideas and the new. The duplex inundation pouring from the hills of Palestine and of Greece, and in united vastness deluging Europe, threatened to destroy all the old landmarks of the schoolmen, and to drown Buns Scotus and Aquinas amongst the owls and bats of the monkish cells and somnolent dream chambers. It was soon seen that this new language was the language of the very book from which the Reformers drew their words winged with the fire of destruction to the ancient slavery of popular ignorance and popular dependence on priests and Popes, and no time was lost in denouncing it as a gross and new-fangled heresy. It was a heresy from which not only freedom in Church but in State was to spring; the seed from which grew, in the next age, our Hampdens, Marvels, Pyms, Prynnes, Cromwells, and Miltons.

Yet it is only due to Henry VIII., to his ministers Wolsey, Fox, and More, and to other eminent dignitaries - amongst them Cardinal Pole in Queen Mary's reign - to state that they were zealous advocates and promoters of the Greek learning. The very first public school in which Greek is said to have been taught in England was the new foundation of Dean Colet, St: Paul's school, where the celebrated scholar William Lilly, who had studied in Rhodes, was the master. Wolsey introduced it into his new colleges, and Henry VIII. being at Woodstock and. hearing of a furious harangue made at Oxford against the study of the Greek Testament in the university, immediately ordered the teaching of it, and established a professorship of it also in Cambridge.

Notwithstanding, a violent opposition arose against the study of Greek in consequence of the authority it gave to the new doctrines of the Reformers, rendering an appeal to the original text invincible, and Erasmus informs us that the preachers and declaimers against his edition of the Greek Testament really appeared to believe that he was by its means attempting to introduce some new kind of religion. The book was prohibited in the University of Cambridge, and a heavy penalty decreed for any one found with it in his possession. Erasmus attempted to teach the Greek grammar of Chrysoloras there, but a terrible outcry was raised against him, and Iiis scholars soon deserted his benches. As the contest went on, however, the Universities, both here and abroad, became divided into the factions of the Greeks and Trojans, the Trojans being those who were advocates for Latin but not for Greek. The Greeks, however, victorious as of old, expelled the works of the famous Duns Scotus from the schools; they were torn up and trodden under foot; and the King sent down a commission, who altogether abolished the study of this old scholastic philosophy which had had so long and absolute a reign.

Yet the new knowledge appears for some time after the first excitement to have made less progress in the schools than at Court and amongst the aristocracy. On the surface of the age, therefore, it appeared a very learned one. All the great churchmen on both sides the question in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. - Wolsey, Fox, Gardiner, Cranmer, Ridley, Tunstall, Cardinal Pole - were men of great acquirements. Henry was a fine scholar, and, with all his harsh treatment to his wives and children, he gave to the latter educations perhaps superior to those of any princes or princesses of the time. Edward was actually steeped in learning, to the injury, no doubt, of his over-taxed constitution. Mary and Elizabeth were both accomplished linguists, speaking Latin, French, and Spanish fluently; and Elizabeth adding to these Greek and Italian, with a smattering of Dutch and German. Mary was studiously instructed in the originals of the Scriptures, and made a translation of the Latin paraphrase of St. John, by Erasmus, which was printed and read as part of the Church service, till it was ordered to be burnt by herself in her own reign with other heretical books. She was deeply read in the fathers, and in the works of Plato, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, and selected portions of Horace, Lucan, and Livy. Elizabeth was a poetess of no mean pretensions, and besides her knowledge of the classical and modern languages, read by preference immense quantities of history. Roger Ascham, the instructor of Lady Jane Grey, says: - "Numberless honourable ladies of the present time surpass the daughters of Sir Thomas More," but that none could compete with the Princess Elizabeth; that she spoke and wrote Greek and Latin beautifully; that he had read with her the whole of Cicero, and great part of Livy; that she devoted her mornings to the New Testament in Greek, select orations of Isocrates, and the tragedies of Sophocles, whilst she drew religious knowledge from St. Cyprian and the "Common-places" of Melancthon; that she was skilful in music, but did not greatly delight in it.

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