Page images

On the University of Glasgow.

point of view, or from the satisfaction I had just experienced, it no longer presented those fascinating and attractive charms which had induced such numbers to deviate into its paths. The splendour which had decorated the Temple was faded, and those beautiful flowers which before had allured and delighted the senses were quite decayed, and had given place to noxious weeds and poisonous herbs. I could not help remarking also, that while black and heavy clouds darkened the Region of Pleasure, and occasionally poured their destructive contents upon the heads of the inhabitants, the atmosphere within the boundaries of the Temple of Happiness, was pure and serene. While I was reflecting upon the contrast, the good genius, whose smiles had before created such lively emotions in my bosom, came toward me: and after enumerating the pleasures which awaited all who entered the Temple of Happiness, left me in such an extacy of transport, that my feelings were too great for utterance; and I awoke with the most pleasing images, and invigorated with fresh energy against the toils of the approaching day.



If great names give lustre to an institution, the University with which we of the West are so intimately connected, is without question the most illustrious in the land. There needs not to lessen the renown of the eastern Universities, to increase that of our own. Allowing to them an equality in some respects, and the superiority in others, we can still justly claim a decided pre-eminence. Though it is not our intention to institute a formal comparison between their several pretensions, we may observe by the way, that Glasgow has exhibited a succession of teachers in one chair, such as no other University can boast of. The names of Hutchinson, Adam Smith, Reid and Arthur, will immediately occur. For Medicine, Edinburgh must be allowed the preference-but this is owing to circumstances, which though not formerly, are now common to both. The reputation of Thomson and Burns, the one the most learned chemist in Europe, the other a very eminent surgeon, bids fair to earn for our medical school, a name which B

On the University of Glasgow.

their predecessors have not been able to establish. In Mathematics M'Laurin and Simpson, in Philology, Moor and Young, are sufficient to illustrate a nation, much more a University. The name of John Millar, to whom the Scotch Bar owes much of its eminence, is itself a host.

If we go back to remoter days Viscount Stair and Gilbert Burnet were its professors, Knox † and Argyle its scholars. It were easy and delightful to point out a long train of characters distinguished in the past and present history of the country, who have laid the foundation of their fame in this their venerable Alma Mater-but we have mentioned names enow to substantiate her claim to the primacy among Scottish schools. We know well that the others are all of them entitled to the public gratitude that the labours of the Monroes, Black, and Blair among the dead; of Stewart, Playfair, and Leslie ‡ among the living, reflect high honour on their University-but still if the matter is fairly weighed, we are persuaded that an impartial judge would decide in favour of Glasgow.

There are several circumstances in the government of this University, which render it better fitted to accomplish the design of a public school than its rival. We allude to the frequent assemblies in the Common Hall, and the consequent publicity which the distinguished acquire-to the distribution of University prizes by the Principal, and of class prizes by the Professors, in presence of the whole college, and the literary people of the neighbourhood; all of which excites a spirit of emulation, which cannot fail to stimulate the indolent, and cherish the industrious. Though the prize system is not altogether unknown in Edinburgh, it is by no means practised to the same laudable extent, and not at all in the same way. A prize conferred in presence of a hundred lads cannot be so valuable as the same prize, for the same degree of merit, conferred in presence of the cheering multitudes which witness our exhibitions on the first

*The late President Blair used to call this great Lord,The oracle of Scotch Law.' + Dr. M'Crie has lately ascertained this fact, and mentions it in the last edition of his work.

+ We may also mention Mr. Chrystison, the Professor of Humanity. Though the acquirements of this gentleman are not before the public in the shape of a book, they are well known by his numerous scholars, and literary acquaintance, to be of the highest order. It is quite the custom to say, that he is the best informed man in Edinburgh.

On the University of Glasgow-Professor Walker.

of May. If a youth distinguishes himself in any of the classes, his merit is known only to his fellows of that class-whereas in Glasgow, it is known to the whole college and city, and this is really no mean matter to the student, whose success in life may depend upon his success at college. Many are the individuals we could mention, who owe their fortunes to the interest they have excited by these public appearances.


It is no good objection to our superiority, that the number of students has hitherto been greater in Edinburgh than in Glasgow. If there be a University in the metropolis, it will always be better attended than a similar institution in a provincial town, because people from a distance, uniformly, and for good reasons, prefer residence in the metropolis. As Edinburgh too, is the seat of the supreme courts, the number of law students is erally six times larger there than in Glasgow; and this for reasons plainly unconnected with the regime of the college. Certain demurrings respecting the right of the Glasgow senate to confer medical privileges, have of late made the students more anxious to finish at Edinburgh, and thus its medical classes have been fuller, than they otherwise might have been. To those who are studying for the church, Edinburgh is in every way preferable; because almost the whole of the church patronage is centered there, and is consequently more available to the students. Indeed we question if there is a single individual among the vast and wealthy population of Glasgow, who has the right of presenting to a church living. From this cause many of the young men who have finished their course of philosophy in Glasgow, study theology in Edinburgh. It is easy to see then, how, without regarding the merits of the two colleges, the number of students should be greater in the one than in the other.

But as a more detailed account of the professors and their mode of teaching, may be instructive to some, and gratifying to others, we purpose in this, and two or three subsequent papers, to make our readers acquainted with both,-as far as suits our design of exhibiting a view of the present state of the University.

The first or Humanity Class is taught by Mr. Josiah Walker. This gentleman succeeded the late Professor Richardson, who for more than forty years sustained the character of an able and affectionate teacher. It is not a little honourable to Professor

On the University of Glasgow-Professor Walker.

Walker, that out of four candidates for the chair, all of them distinguished in their profession, and seconded by powerful influence, he should have been preferred-and if a trial of three sessions has enabled us to estimate his qualifications, we may safely say, that the choice has been most happy. We will not take upon us to affirm, that he is in every respect the best fitted to discharge the duties of his trust, but we are perfectly certain, that in no other could a larger combination of all the necessary qualifications be found. His failings are more chargeable to the account of excellent dispositions, than to imperfect notions of his duty-for all that we can possibly say a gainst him, is, that he is not a sufficiently rigid disciplinarian.

Respecting his scholarship, we have never heard two opinions. When at college, he laid the foundation of that classical lore, which he afterwards cultivated with such assiduity, and in such favourable circumstances, that it is saying but the strict truth to affirm, that his rank among classical scholars, is in the first ratę. We should conjecture, however, that he is more extensively than critically read that he is more alive to the beauties of the piece, than the minutiae of the diction. We do not at all mean to underrate his merits as a philologist, but we are persuaded that they must give place to merit of a higher order. If he cannot point out all the instances of hard words, and knotty constructions in the classics, he will tell over their beauties with any man. this respect he approaches nearer the idea which we have formed of an elegant scholar, than any of his highly respectable colleagues.


His complete mastery of the Roman authors, from Cæsar up to Lucretius, enables him to quote from them with so much case, that we should be apt to pronounce him a pedant, did he never appear in any other character than as a prelector on the classics. It is this facility which, in a great degree, renders his lectures on Roman learning so valuable.

He seldom fatigues by disquisitions on the use of infinitives for nouns in this author, and of nouns for infinitives in that, but he always instructs by his comments on their meaning, Instead, for instance, of minutely examining the conjectures of grammarians respecting the readings in the Ars Poetica, he contrives to show the application of its rules, to every species of writing, by his ingenious illustrations from the whole range of ancient and modern learning.

On the University of Glasgow-Professor Walker.

We know not whether it is owing to his long residence in the south, that Mr. Walker has acquired such an accurate knowledge of prosody, and consequent taste for the composition of Latin verses, but we are sure, that in these important particulars he is very eminent. Mr. Richardson used to take credit to himself for the success with which he had enjoined the study of prosody, and we think with justice. Mr. Walker bids fair to complete the work which his predecessor had only time to begin. It is not too much to predict, that in a few years this study under its present auspices, will be as popular in the northern, as ever it has been in the southern Universities.

The business of the public class consists principally of translations from the classics and exercises in grammar. The students are daily examined, or as the phrase is " called up." In the private class which is open to the whole college, there are no examinations, and the Professor takes a wider range of prelection. Part of the hour is occupied in reading a difficult or instructive classic. Here the object of the Professor is not more to make us acquainted with the style, than the meaning of his author. For this purpose he borrows his illustrations chiefly from the English classics, and enlivens the whole by appropriate anecdotes so that the reading of Juvenal or Persius, which in the hands of a mere schoolman, is nothing but a torture of words, becomes a task equally pleasant and improving. He always quotes parallel passages from the British, when reading the Roman poets-a practice which has been completely successful; for besides making us better acquainted with both, it goes to correct an error in the common system of education, which has prevailed much longer than we can say, and which is imputable to almost every seminary in the country-we mean the excessive wish to imbue the youthful mind, with the spirit of the Roman, to the total neglect of the British classics-whereas, they can never be better studied than in conjunction. To such a length has this practice been carried, that we know many, and have heard of more, most respectable teachers, who know little else of our poets than their names- who will quote Horace and Virgil with great quickness, but would regard a quotation from Pope or Young, though more applicable, as unscholarlike, and only excusable in a lady.*

* Fielding was well aware of this defect in our education. in drawing the character of Parson Adams, The good Parson thought life was only to be studied in Plato and Seneca, and that there was scarcely any poetry save in Homer and his beloved Eschylus.

« PreviousContinue »