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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/11

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THE INSTITUTE OF FRANCE

French literature. Strange to say the leaders of the Revolution did not interfere with the work of the professors of the college, but even increased their pay. They changed the name Royal to National, but otherwise approved and favored the institution. This fact alone is sufficient to indicate the place which it was filling and the affection the people had for it.

It was one of the few institutions in which every one seemed to have confidence. Napoleon added a chair for Turkish, Louis XVIII. one for Sanscrit and one for Chinese. In 1874 a chair was established for instruction in political economy. Since that time other chairs have been added, till it is now possible in this college to receive instruction from competent men in well-nigh every branch of learning.

This college is peculiar in the liberties it grants its students. There are no examinations, no diplomas, no degrees. One listens to such professors as one wishes, comes and goes as one likes. There are no registrations. The more famous the lecturer and the more popular the subject, the larger the audience. Few, save specialists, care for the lectures on Hebrew or Chinese. Those on French literature are the most popular. The largest of the nine lecture halls is then crowded. Women are always present. Those on Latin literature are fairly well attended, as are those on the middle ages, those on esthetics, those on the history of art and those on morals. It was on this last topic that Michelet delivered his famous course and was heard each succeeding year with increased interest. Yet this college with its forty professors, while affording the very best advantages for those earnest and faithful students who are able to appreciate the value of its lectures, is not well suited to the wants of young men and young women who care less for hard work than for personal pleasure. There are two semesters, the first beginning the first week in December, the second the week after Easter. Vacation begins between July 20 and July 30.

 

The University of Paris

A very different institution is the University of Paris, which, with the colleges grouped around it, like the Navarre and the Sorbonne, has been in the front rank of European universities since the end of the twelfth century. It became prominent, indeed, about the year 1170. It grew out of the schools connected with the churches of Nôtre Dame, St. Geneviève and St. Victor, and for some years the chancellor of Nôtre Dame claimed the right, as the quasi head of the university, to grant its licenses. A charter for a corporation with special privileges was given by Philip Augustus in 1200, and seven years later the students of the university were allowed an ecclesiastical trial. By 1229 the contests between townsmen and students had become so frequent and so bitter that many of the latter went over to