of their own, grouped themselves as at Eton
, or Harrow
, or Winchester
, round the body of the scholars on the foundation; submitting like them to the accustomed discipline, even to the use of the rod, at which none rebelled, since it fell alike on all.
The same constitution marked the universities.
The best scholars on the foundation were elected from the public schools to the scholarships in the several colleges; and formed the continuing line of succession to their appointments as well as the central influence of industry, order, and ambition, round which the sons of the opulent clustered.
Thus the genius of the past claimed the right to linger in the streets of Mediaeval Oxford
; and the sentiment of loyalty, as in earlier days, still hovered over the meadows of Christ Church and the walks of Maudlin; but if the two universities were both loyal to the throne and devoted to the church, it was from their own free choice; and not from deference to authority or command.
They had proved their independence and had resisted kings.
If they were swayed on the surface by ministerial influences, they were at heart intractable and self-determined.
The king could neither appoint their officers, nor prescribe their studies, nor control their government, nor administer their funds.
The endowments of the colleges, which, in their origin, were the gifts of piety and charity, were held as property, independent of the state; and were as sacred as the estates of any one of the landed gentry.
The sons of the aristocracy might sometimes be prize-men at Oxford
or wranglers at Cambridge
; but if they won collegiate honors, it was done fairly by merit alone.
In the pursuit, the eldest sons of peers stood on no vantage ground over