But whilst our method of arrangement has been chronological,
the essay as a whole is less a historical one, than a philosophical
one on the abstract question. As Montalembert in a chapter on
the English Schools in his famous "L'Avenir Politique de l'Angleterre"
dealt more with their influence on the national life than with their
inner history so here we have discussed not so much the internal
affairs of the Northern Universities as the wider theme of their
influence and place in Scottish history.
Finally, it may be noted that the nature of this essay is, of
course, eclectic, as such an inquiry must necessarily be. "Facts"
says a. writer, "are the common property of all who will seek them";
but we would here claim originality both in the choice of them and
the treatment of the inferences they suggest, as well as in the
method and style of their narration.
With these brief prefatory remarks then, this essay is sent
forth as an effort which the writer, although intensely conscious
of great diffidence inthe handling of so intricate and complex a
subject, yet hopes may realize, at least in some slightness, the
purpose and intention of the Lord Rector's Essay.