the University of Paris, which is the prototype of our Scottish universities, as of so many others, taught nothing but philosophy—in other words, had no faculty but arts—for many years. Neither theology, medicine, nor law had existence there till the thirteenth century.
Second, the system of conferring degrees, after appropriate trials. These were at first simply a license to teach. They acquired their commanding importance through the action of Pope Nicholas I, who gave to the graduates of the University of Paris the power of teaching everywhere, a power that our own countrymen were the foremost to turn to account.
Third, the organization of the primitive university. Europe was unsettled; even in the capitals, the civil power was often unhinged. Wherever multitudes came together, there was manifested a spirit of turbulence. The universities often exemplified this fact; and it was found necessary to establish a government within themselves. The basis was popular; but, while in Paris only the teaching body was incorporated, in Bologna the students had a voice. They elected the rector, and his jurisdiction was very great indeed, and much more important than speechifying to his constituents. His court had the power of internal regulation, with both a civil and criminal jurisdiction. The Scotch universities, on this point, followed Bologna; and that fact is the remote cause of this day's meeting.
So started the university. The idea took; and, in three centuries, many of the leading towns in Italy, France, the German Empire, had their universities; in England arose Oxford and Cambridge; the model was Paris or Bologna.
Scotland did not at first enter the race of university founding, but worked on the plan of the cuckoo, by laying its eggs in the nests of others. For two centuries, Scotchmen were almost shut out of England; and so could not make for themselves a career in Oxford and Cambridge, as in later times. They had, however, at home, good grammar-schools, where they were grounded in Latin. They perambulated Europe, and were familiar figures in the great university towns, and especially Paris. From their disputatious and metaphysical attitude they worked their upward way:
At length, the nation did take up the work in good earnest. In 1411 was founded the first of the St. Andrews' Colleges; 1451 is the date of Glasgow; 1494, King's College, Aberdeen. These are the pre-Reformation colleges; but for the Reformation, we might not have had any other. Their founders were ecclesiastics; their constitution and ceremonial were ecclesiastical. They were intended, no doubt, to keep the Scotch students at home. They were also expected to serve as bulwarks to the Church against the rising heretics of the times. In this they were disappointed; the first-begotten of them became the cradle of the Reformation.