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STUDENT LIFE IN SCOTLAND.
If the latest lingering summer tourist in Scotland should perchance delay his departure until he is driven southward by the chill evenings of November, he may chance to see arising around him, in some considerable town, a race of young men, whose loose robes, varying from the brightest of fresh scarlet to the sombrest hue which years of bad usage can bestow on that gay colour, attract him as peculiar and funny, and as, on the whole, a phenomenon provocative of inquiry. He is told that the session has begun, and these are the students of the university. The information will perhaps be surprising to him, whoever he be if he be an Oxonian or Cantab, a sneer of derision will perhaps curve his lips when he remembers the gentleman commoners, and tufted noblemen, who crowd the streets of his Alma Mater in haughty exclusiveness and unmeasured contempt of the citizen class, who evidently have no respect whatever for the scarlet gown men of poor Scotland. Indeed, the luxurious academic ease, the placid repose of dignified scholarship, are strangers to these wearers of the flowing toga. It is evident that many of them have felt the pinch of poverty. No pliant gyp attends the toilet, or lays forth the table for the jovial"night-cap." Hard work and hard fare are their portion, and their raiment shows that they have been rubbed roughly against the world, instead of being set apart from its toils and cares and vulgar turmoil in aristocratic isolation. Some of the gowns are bright and new, indeed, and the faces in which they culminate are ruddy, fresh, and warm. Yet the youths endowed in these blushing honours seem not to exult therein, but rather to give place to the hardfeatured brethren, whose threadbare togas bear the grim marks of mud and soot, or hang in tatters like a beggar's cloak. The truth is, that the wear and tear of the gown is held indicative of advancement in the academic curriculum, and is rather encouraged than avoided. And of those who wear it, many, though they may
VOL. LXXVI.—NO. CCCCLXVI.
have been sufficiently tutored in the economy of their more serviceable clothing, have not made acquisitions in the school of finery, or acquired a weakness for decorative vanity. We remember an instance of a hard-featured mountaineer, who afterwards rose to distinction in an abstruse department of science, being charged by his fellow-students with having so far desecrated the gown as to have perambulated the streets with a barrow hawking potatoes, by the cry of "Taties-taties!" He admitted the commercial part of the charge, but denied the admixture of potato-vender and student by the desecration of the robes. He was careful to put off his gown while he cried "taties."
With all these and other indications of poverty, there is something to our eyes extremely interesting in the Scottish universities, as relics preserved through all changes in dynasties, constitutions, and ecclesiastical polities, through poverty, neglect, and enmity, of the original characteristics of the university system, as it existed in all its grandeur of design in the middle ages.
A collection of remarkable papers, now before us, opens up and presents, in valuable and full light, the progress of a portion of our Scottish universities. They consist of two works of that class commonly called "Club Books." The one is a collection of records and other documents connected with the University of Glasgow, printed under the auspices of the Maitland Club; the other a "Fasti Aberdonenses," appropriately collected by that northern association which, in honour of the Cavalier annalist of "The Troubles," is called the "Spalding Club." Both works are edited with that peculiar archæological strictness which has been applied to this class of documents, through the special skill of Mr Cosmo Innes. They are both edited by him, with some partial aid, in the case of the Glasgow documents, from his ablest coadjutor in Scottish archæology, Mr Joseph Robertson. These volumes form a very apt supplement to that collection of
ecclesiastical records which, arranged and printed under the same able management, are an honour to our country. With the exception of their curious and agreeable prefaces, neither the chartularies nor the volumes before us profess to be readable books. They are collections of records, and must have all the substantial dryness of records. But then they contain in themselves the materials of the social and incidental history of the classes of persons to which they refer, and contain imbedded within them the materials of instruction, both valuable and curious. With some labour we have driven shafts through their strata, and we may have occasion to lay before our readers a few of the specimens we have excavated-confining ourselves, in the mean time, to the characteristics developed by the collection of documents.
The direction of these is chiefly to show how thoroughly these remote institutions partook in the great system of the European universities, and how many of its vestiges they still retain. The forms, the nomenclature, and the usages of the middle ages are still preserved, though some of them have naturally changed their character with the shifting of the times. Each university has still its chancellor, and sometimes a high State dignitary accepts of the office. It was of old a very peculiar one, for it was the link which allied the semirepublican institutions of the universities to the hierarchy of St Peter. The bishop was almost invariably the chancellor, unless the university were subordinated to some great monastic institution, when its head was the chancellor as in Paris the Prior of St Genevieve exercised the high office. In the Scottish universities the usual Continental arrangement seems to have been adopted prior to the Reformation as a matter of course, the bishop was the chancellor.
But while the institution was thus connected through a high dignitary with the Romish hierarchy, it possessed, as a great literary community with peculiar privileges, its own great officer electively chosen for the preservation of those privileges. It had its rector, who, like the chief magistrate of a municipal corporation, but
infinitely above him in the more illustrious character of the functions for which his constituents were incorporated, stood forth as the head of his republic, and its protector from the invasions either of the subtle churchmen or the grasping barons. The rector, indeed, was the concentration of that peculiar commonwealth which the constitution of the ancient university prescribed. Sir William Hamilton has shown pretty clearly that, in its original acceptation, the word Universitas was applied, not to the comprehensiveness of the studies, but to that of the local and personal expansion of the institution. The university despised the bounds of provinces, and even nations, and was a place where ardent minds from all parts of the world met to study together, and impart to each other the influence of collective intellect working in combination and competition. The constitution of the rectorship was calculated to provide for the protection of this universality, for the election was managed by the procurators or proctors of the nations or local bodies into which the students were divided, generally for the purpose of neutralising the naturally superior influence of the home students, and keeping up the cosmopolitan character imparted to the system by its enlightened founders. Hence in Paris the nations were France, Picardy, and England, afterwards changed to Germany, in which Scotland was included. Glasgow is still divided into four nations: the Natio Glottiana, or Clydesdale, taken from the name given to the river by Tacitus. In the Natio Laudoniana were originally included the rest of Scotland, but it was found expedient to place the English and the colonists within it; while Albania, intended to include Britain south of the Forth, has been made rather inaptly the nation of the foreigners. Rothesay, the fourth nation, includes the extreme west of Scotland and Ireland. In Aberdeen there is a like division into Marenses, or inhabitants of Mar, Angusiani or men of Angus, which we believe includes the whole world south of the Grampians as the Angusiani, while the northern districts are partitioned into Buchanenses and Moravienses.
The procurators of the nations were, in the University of Paris, those high authorities to whom, as far separated from all sublunary influences, King Henry of England proposed, in the twelfth century, to refer his disputes with the Papal power. In England they are represented at the present day by the formidable proctor, who is a terror to evil-doers without being any praise or protection to them that do well. But it may safely be said that the chubby youths who in Glasgow and Aberdeen go through the annual ceremony, as procuratores nationum, of representing the votes of the nations in the election of a rector, more legitimately represent those procurators of the thirteenth and fourteenth century, who maintained the rights of their respective nations in the great intellectual republic called a Universitas. The discovery, indeed, of this latent power, long hidden, like some palæontological fossil, under the pedagogical innovations of modern dayswhich tended to make the self-governing institution a school ruled by masters-created astonishment in all quarters, even in those who found themselves in possession of the privilege. In Aberdeen especially, when some mischievous antiquary maintained that by the charter the election of a lord rector lay with the students themselves, the announcement was received with derision by a discerning public, and with a severe frown, as a sort of seditious libel, enticing the youth to rebellion, by the indignant professors. But it turned out to be absolutely true, however astounding it might be to those who are unacquainted with the early history of universities, and think that everything ancient must have been tyrannical and hierarchical. The young ones made a sort of saturnalia of their fugitive power, while the professors looked on as one may see a solemn mastiff contemplate the gambols of a litter of privileged spaniel pups. The privilege was, however, used effectively, we may say nobly. There has been no fogyism, or adherence to any settled routine of humdrum respectability, in the selection of the rectors. From Burke to Bulwer Lytton and Macaulay, they have, with a few exceptions, been men of
still more remarkable result than that the first intellectual rank. What is a they should often have been men of genius, there is scarcely an instance of a lord rector having been a clamorous quack or a canting fanatic.
of the ancient university commonIn Edinburgh there is no such relic stinctively supplied the want by wealth, and the students have inaffiliating their voluntary societies, and choosing a distinguished man to be the president of the aggregate lege of Edinburgh, indeed, was not group. The constitution of the Colmatured until after the old constitureaction, and, far from any new ones tion of the universities had suffered a being constructed on the old model, the earlier universities with difficulty preserved their constitution. Some dignitary who presides over the inteperson called a College Bailie is the rests of the University of Edinburgh Council. By that body the greater as one of the appendages of the Town part of the patronage of the institution is administered, and now it is decided that they have the sole and absolute right of making bye-laws for the regulation of this, the leading There is something transcendently educational institution of Scotland. ludicrous in a civic corporation. tensely respectable-extending those conclave of demure tradesmen, infunctions of administration which are appropriately applicable to marketing and adjustment of the highest ranges and street-cleaning to the direction of human instruction. Yet somehow it has worked well, on account of the town-councillors, in selecting a provery anomaly involved in it. The fessor, like the students in choosing a rector, are afraid of their own powers, and never venture to use their own discretion. Absolutely ignorant of the branches of knowledge to which the rules they frame apply, they berules are moulded by others, and a come a medium through which these certain commercial sagacity enables them to divine who are the most sagacious advisers. So also in the exercise of their patronage, being utterly unable to test the capacity of a candidate, they dare not give way to any partiality founded at least on this ground, and they are generally acute
enough to find out who is most highly estimated by those who are competent to judge.
That principle of internal self-action and independence of the contemporary constituted powers, of which the rectorship and some other relics remain to us at this day, is one of the most remarkable, and in many respects admirable, features in the history of the middle ages. It is involved in mysteries and contradictions which one would be glad to see unravelled by skilful and full inquirers. Adapted to the service of pure knowledge, and investing her with absolute prerogatives, the system was yet one of the creatures of that Romish hierarchy, which at the same time thought by other efforts to circumscribe human inquiry, and make it the servant of her own ambitious efforts.
It may help us in some measure to the solution of the phenomenon to remember that, however dim the light of the Church may have shone, it was yet the representative of the intellectual system, and was in that capacity carrying on a war with brute force. Catholicism was the great rival and controller of the feudal strength and tyranny of the ageinforme ingens cui lumen ademptum. As intellect and knowledge were the weapons with which they encountered the sightless colossus, it was believed that the intellectual arsenals could not be too extensive or complete-that intellect could not be too richly cultivated. Like many combatants, they perhaps forgot future results in the desire of immediate victory, and were for the moment blind to the effect so nervously apprehended by their successors, that the light thus brought in by them would illuminate the dark corners of their own ecclesiastical system, and lead the way to its fall. Perhaps such hardy intellects as Abelard or Aquinas may have anticipated such a result from the stimulus given by them to intellectual inquiry, and may not have deeply lamented the process.
learning with a noble reliance and a zealous energy which it would ill become the present age to despise or forget. And even if it should all have proceeded from a blind confidence that the Church placed on a rock was unassailable, and that mere human wisdom, even trained to the utmost of its powers, was, after all, to be nothing but her handmaiden, let us respect this unconscious simplicity which enabled the educational institutions to be placed in so high and trusted a position. The Church supplied something then, indeed, which we search after in vain in the present day, and which we shall only achieve by some great strides in academic organisation, capable of supplying from within what was then supplied from without: and the quality thus supplied was no less than that cosmopolitan nature, which made the university not merely parochial, or merely national, but universal, as its name denoted. The temporal prince might endow the academy with lands and riches, and might confer upon its members honourable and lucrative privileges, but it was to the head of the one indivisible Church that the power belonged of franking it all over Christendom, and establishing throughout the civilised world a freemasonry of intellect, which made all the universities, as it were, one great corporation of the learned men of the world.
But however it came about whether in the blindness of all, or the far-sightedness of some-the Church, from the thirteenth to pretty far on fifteenth century, encouraged
It must be admitted that we have here one of those practical difficulties which form the necessary price of the freedom of Protestantism. When a great portion of Europe was no longer attached to Rome, the peculiar centralisation of the educational systems was broken up. The old universities, indeed, retained their ancient privileges in a traditional, if not a practically legal shape, through Lutheranism and Calvinism carrying the characteristics of the abjured Romanism, yet carrying them unscathed, since they were protected from injury and insult by the enlightened object for which they were established and endowed. When, however, in Protestant countries, the old universities became poor, or when a change of condition demanded the foundation of a new university, it was difficult to
restore anything so simple and grand as that old community of privileges which made the member of one university a citizen of all others, according to his rank, whether he were laureated in Paris or distant Upsala -in the gorgeous academies close to the fostering influence of the Pope, or in that humble edifice endowed after the model of the University of Bologna, in an obscure Scottish town named Glasgow.
The English universities, by their great wealth and political influence, were able to stand alone, neither giving nor taking. Their Scottish contemporaries, unable to fight a like battle, have had reason to complain of their ungenerous isolation; and as children of the same parentage, and differing only with their southern neighbours in not having so much worldly prosperity, it is natural that they should look back with a sigh, which even orthodox Presbyterianism cannot suppress, to the time when the universal mental sway of Rome, how ever offensive it might be in its own insolent supremacy, yet exercised that high privilege of supereminent greatness to level secondary inequalities, and place those whom it favoured beyond the reach of conventional humiliations.
prizes and rewards among their own alumni, but to invest them with insignia of literary rank current for their value over the world-it would be equally difficult for any of the ancient universities in Protestant states to claim an exclusive right to such a power, since this could only be done through Papal authority. It will be said that there isjust the same practical difficulty in this as in all other departments of human institutions, and especially those which, like rank, are transferable from country to country, so as to require and obtain an estimate of their value in each. It will be said that the exelusiveness which denies the Heidelberg Doctor of Philosophy a parallel with the LL.D. of Oxford is just the same as that which will by no means admit the count or baron who is deputy-assistant highways controller, as on a par with an earl or baron in the peerage of England. The Kammer Junker of Denmark is not looked on as a privycouncillor. The Sheriff of Mecca, the Sheriff of London, and the Sheriff of Edinburgh, are three totally different personages, and would feel very much puzzled how to act if they were to change places for a while. Some Eastern dignitaries-Baboo, Fudky, and the like, must occasionally puzzle even the adepts of Leadenhall. Nor are we without our instances near at hand. What is the Knight of Kerry, what the Captain of Clanranald, what The Chisholm-and how do the authorities at the Herald's Office deal with them? Has not an Archbishop of York been suspected of imposture in a Scottish bank when he signed with the surname of Eborac; and have not our Scottish judges, with their strange-sounding peerage-titles, made mighty confusion in respectable English hotels, when my Lord Kames is so intimate with Mrs Home, and my Lord Auchinleck retires with Mrs Boswell? But admitting the confusion to be irremediable in the department of political and decorative rank, the absence of a uniform intellectual hierarchy is not the less to be regretted, while the great effort made to secure it in an early and imperfect condition of society should be contemplated with a respectful awe. There is just one man who professes
To keep up that characteristic which the Popedom only offered, the monarchs of the larger Protestant states have endeavoured to apply the incorporation principle to universities. In small states and republics the difficulty of obtaining a general sanction to frank their honours to any distance from the place where they are given is still greater; yet it is in such places that, through fortunate coincidents, an academy sometimes acquires a widespread reputation and influence. To what eminence the universities in the United States are destined who shall predict? yet, in the estimate of many, they have no right to be called universities at all; and of the doctors' degrees which they freely distribute in this country, much doubt is entertained of the genuineness. Yet if it would be difficult to lay down how it is that these American institutions have acquired any power to grant degrees-that is to say, the power not only to confer