CHAPTER IX - HUMANITY  pp. 90-119

HUMANITY

By Christopher Wordsworth

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Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto.

Terence, Hauton Timorumenos, 1. i. 25.

There is, or there was, a common opinion which assigned to Oxford exclusively the study of Classics, and to Cambridge the sole pursuit of Mathematics.

The truth amounts to this, that since the Revolution and until the first quarter of the present century was waning, a degree could hardly be obtained at Cambridge without some application to geometry at the least, while at Oxford mathematical knowledge or skill won no academical distinction until our own time.

On the other hand, to speak of Cambridge as even by comparison the non-classical university, represents a gross misconception.

If the Great Rebellion had put a period to the colloquial use of the latin language in college halls and walks, we find it restored as the medium for college lectures, examinations and declamations, and for the public disputations, without which no degree could under ordinary circumstances be acquired. Until quite recently, no student of Trinity was accepted as candidate for a foundation-scholarship until he had written a latin epistle to the master, nor was any admitted without some knowledge of greek. Until 1 Oct. 1869 all academical graces were expressed in the former language, of which we still have traces in the words supplicat, placet, bene discessit, licet migrare, &c., as the Cambridge undergraduate vocabulary contains optime, exeat, redit, aegrotat, and in past times had dormiat, descendas; as the Oxonian keeps testamur.