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ancient monks, affirming moreover, in flat words, our orders to be such as not only came near unto, but rather far exceeded, all the monastical institutions that ever were devised.
In most of our colleges there are also great numbers of students, of which many are found by the revenues of the houses and other by the purveyances and help of their rich friends, whereby in some one college you shall have two hundred scholars, in others an hundred and fifty, in divers hundred and forty, and in the rest less numbers, as the capacity of the said houses is able to receive: so that at this present, of one sort and other, there are about three thousand students nourished in them both (as by a late survey it manifestly appeared). They were erected by their founders at the first only for poor men's sons, whose parents were not able to bring them up unto learning; but now they have the least benefit of them, by reason the rich do so encroach upon them. And so far hath this inconvenience spread itself that it is in my time an hard matter for a poor man's child to come by a fellowship (though he be never so good a scholar and worthy of that room). Such packing also is used at elections that not he which best deserveth, but he that hath most friends, though he be the worst scholar, is always surest to speed; which will turn in the end to the overthrow of learning. That some gentlemen also, whose friends have been in times past benefactors to certain of those houses, do intrude into the disposition of their estates without all respect of order or statutes devised by the founders, only thereby to place whom they think good (and not without some hope of gain), the case is too too evident: and their attempt would soon take place if their superiors did not provide to bridle their endeavours. In some grammar schools likewise which send scholars to these universities, it is lamentable to see what bribery is used; for, ere the scholar can be preferred, such bribage is made that poor men's children are commonly shut out, and the richer sort received (who in time past thought it dishonour to live as it were upon alms), and yet, being placed, most of them study little other than histories, tables, dice, and trifles, as men that make not living by their study the end of their purposes, which is a lamentable hearing. Beside this, being for the most part either gentlemen or rich men's sons, they oft bring the universities into much
slander. For, standing upon their reputation and liberty, they ruffle and roist it out, exceeding in apparel and haunting riotous company (which draweth them from their books unto another trade); and for excuse, when they are charged with breach of all good order, think it sufficient to say that they be gentlemen, which grieveth many not a little.
WILLIAM HARRISON, Description of England 1587 (2nd ed.)
The life at Oxford
The students lead a life almost monastic; for as the monks had nothing in the world to do but, when they had said their prayers at stated hours, to employ themselves in instructive studies, no more have these. They are divided into three tables. The first is called the fellows' table, to which are admitted earls, barons, gentlemen, doctors and masters of arts, but very few of the latter; this is more plentifully and expensively served than the others. The second is for masters of arts, bachelors, some gentlemen, and eminent citizens. The third for people of low condition. While the rest are at dinner or supper in a great hall, where they are all assembled, one of the students reads aloud the Bible, which is placed on a desk in the middle of the hall, and this office everyone of them takes upon himself in his turn. As soon as grace is said after each meal, everyone is at liberty, either to retire to his own chambers, or to walk in the college garden, there being none that has not a delightful one. Their habit is almost the same as that of the Jesuits, their gowns reaching down to their ankles, sometimes lined with fur; they wear square caps; the doctors, masters of arts and professors have another kind of gown that distinguishes them every student of any considerable standing has a key to the college library, for no college is without one.
PAUL HENTZNER, Travels in England 1598 [Rye]
A young gentleman of the University
Sir Andrew Aguecheek. I would I had bestowed that time in the tongues that I have in fencing, dancing and bear-baiting. O! had I but followed the arts! Twelfth-Night, 1. iii. 99-101
A young gentleman of the university is one that comes there to wear a gown, and to say hereafter he has been at
the university. His father sent him thither, because he heard there were the best fencing and dancing schools; from these he has his education, from his tutor the over-sight. The first element of his knowledge is to be shewn the colleges, and initiated in a tavern by the way, which hereafter he I will learn of himself. The two marks of his seniority is the bare velvet of his gown and his proficiency at tennis, where when he can once play a set, he is a fresh-man no more. His study has commonly handsome shelves, his books neat silk strings, which he shews to his father's man, and is loth to untie or take down, for fear of misplacing. Upon foul days, for recreation, he retires thither, and looks over the pretty book his tutor reads to him, which is commonly some short history, or a piece of Euphormio; for which his tutor gives him money to spend next day. His main loitering is at the library, where he studies arms and books of honour, and turns a gentlemen-critic in pedigrees. Of all things he endures not to be mistaken for a scholar, and hates a black suit though it be of satin. His companion is ordinarily some stale fellow, that has been notorious for an ingle to gold hat-bands, whom he admires at first, afterward scorns. If he have spirit or wit, he may light of better company and may learn some flashes of wit, which may do him knight's service in the country hereafter. But he is now gone to the Inns of Court, where he studies to forget what he learned before, his acquaintance and the fashion.
JOHN EARLE, Micro-cosmographie 1628
A mere scholar
They have been at a great feast of languages and stolen the scraps.
Love's Labour's Lost, v. i. 40
A mere scholar is an intelligible ass, or a silly fellow in black, that speaks sentences more familiarly than sense. The antiquity of his university is his creed, and the excellency of his college (though but for a match at football) an article of his faith. He speaks Latin better than his mother-tongue; and is a stranger in no part of the world but his own country. He does usually tell great stories of himself to small purpose, for they are commonly ridiculous, be they true or false. His
ambition is, that he either is or shall be a graduate: but if ever he get a fellowship, he has then no fellow. In spite of all logic he dare swear and maintain it, that a cuckold and a townsman are termini convertibiles, though his mother's husband be an alderman. He was never begotten (as it seems) without much wrangling; for his whole life is spent in pro and contra. His tongue goes always before his wit, like gentleman-usher, but somewhat faster. That he is a complete gallant in all points, cap à pie, witness his horsemanship and the wearing of his weapons. He is commonly longwinded, able to speak more with ease, than any man can endure to hear with patience. University jests are his universal discourse, and his news the demeanour of the proctors. His phrase, the apparel of his mind, is made of divers shreds like a cushion, and when it goes plainest, it hath a rash outside, and fustian linings. The current of his speech is closed with an ergo; and whatever be the question, the truth is on his side. 'Tis a wrong to his reputation to be ignorant of any thing; and yet he knows not that he knows nothing. He gives directions for husbandry from Virgil's Georgics; for cattle from his Bucolics; for warlike stratagems from his Aeneid, or Caesar's Commentaries. He orders all things by the book, is skilful in all trades, and thrives in none. He is led more by his ears than his understanding, taking the sound of words for their true sense and does therefore confidently believe, that Erra Pater was the father of heretics; Rodulphus Agricola a substantial farmer; and will not stick to aver that Systema's Logic doth excel Keckerman's. His ill luck is not so much in being a fool, as in being put to such pains to express it to the world: for what in others is natural, in him (with much-a-do) is artificial. His poverty is his happiness, for it makes some men believe, that he is none of fortune's favourites. That learning which he hath, was in his nonage put in backward like a clyster, and 'tis now like ware mislaid in a pedlar's pack; 'a has it, but knows not where it is. In a word, he is the index of a man, and the title-page of a scholar; or a puritan in morality: much in profession, nothing in practice.
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY, Characters 1614-16
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1. i. 2
Hortensio. And tell me now, sweet friend, what happy gale
Blows you to Padua here from old Verona ?
Petruchio. Such wind as scatters young men through the world
The Taming of the Shrew, 1. ii. 48-52
My tablets-meet it is I set it down.
Hamlet, I. v. 107
Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. He that travelleth into a country, before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school and not to travel. That young men travel under some tutor or grave servant, I allow well; so that he be such a one that hath the language and hath been in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things are worthy to be seen in the country where they go, what acquaintances they are to seek, what exercises or discipline the place yieldeth. For else young men shall go hooded and look abroad little. is a strange thing that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but in land travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if chance were fitter to be registered than observation. Let diaries, therefore, be brought in use. things to be seen and observed are:-the courts of princes, specially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes, and so of consistories ecclesiastic; the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of cities and towns, and so the havens and harbours; antiquities and ruins libraries, colleges, disputations and lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens of state and pleasure near great cities; armories; arsenals; magazines; exchanges; burses; warehouses; exercises of horsemanship; fencing; training of soldiers and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and rarities; and, to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go. After