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Oxford and the Age of Reform

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Chapter Summary

William Gladstone acquired his love of Joseph Butler at the University of Oxford. As an undergraduate, he studied Butler alongside Aristotle, Euclid, Herodotus, and other Oxford fixtures. The bishop conferred upon him "an inestimable service": By the early 1830s the study of Butler "laid the ground for new modes of thought in religion" in Oxford. When the future statesman arrived to a place at Christ Church College in 1828, the integration of Butler into the Oxford curriculum represented one part of a broader reevaluation of the university's mission, structure, and identity. Gladstone thrived academically in Christ Church. It had a reputation for intellectual excellence, and had served as a model for university-wide reforms of the examination system. For the men of Oxford, the fate of their university teetered on the balance- and, so it increasingly seemed, did that of the nation the university served.

Keywords: Church; Joseph Butler; Oxford Movement; Tractarians; William Gladstone



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