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tellectual gladiators-long red-haired Highlanders, who feel trousers and shoes an infringement of the liberty of the subject-square-built Lowland farmers flaxen - haired Orcadians, and pale citizens' sons, vibrating between scholarship and the tailor's board or the shoemaker's last. Grim and silent they sit for a day, rendering into Latin an English essay, and drop away one by one, depositing with the judges the evidence of success or failure as the case may be. The thing is very fairly and impartially managed, and honourable to all the parties concerned.


It is indeed, as we have hinted, a relic of the old competitive spirit which distinguished the universities as literal republics of letters, where each man fought his own battle, and gained and wore his own laurels. Nor was his arena confined to his own college. The free-masonry we have already alluded to opened every honour and emolument to all, and the Scotsman might suddenly enter the lists at Paris, Bologna, or Upsala, or the Spaniard might compete in Glasgow or Aberdeen. The records before us contain many forms in which the ancient spirit has now ceased to breathe. Already has been mentioned the competition for the regentship. The old form of the Impugument of Theses, so renowned in literary histories, has died away as a portion of the ordinary laureation. comprehensive challenges and corresponding victories attributed to the Admirable Crichton give this practice a peculiar interest in the eyes of Scotsmen; and it has a great place in the annals of the Reformation, since one of its main stages was the posting the twenty-five theses on the door of the church of Würtemberg by Luther. But in reading these remarkable events people are apt to forget the commonness of the practice; and Crichton has the aspect of a preposterous intellectual bully going out of his proper way to attract notice, instead of doing what was in its time and circumstances as ordinary and common sense an act as running a tilt, joining a crusade, or burning a witch. Goldsmith, in that account of the intellectual vagabond which so evidently describes himself, has noticed some relics of the prac

tice as he found it on the Continent. "In all the universities and convents there are, upon certain days, philosophical theses maintained against every adventitious disputant; for which, if the champion opposes with any dexterity, he can claim a gratuity in money, a dinner, and a bed for one night. In this manner, then, I fought my way towards England." A collection of German pamphlets, amounting, it is said, to upwards of a hundred thousand, and called the Dietrich Collection, was some years ago purchased by the Faculty of Advocates, and was found to consist chiefly of the academic theses in which the scholars of Germany-illustrious and obscure-had been disputing for centuries. In the same place, by the way, where this vast collection reposes, may be found the most complete living illustration of the old form of impugnment. The anxious litigant or busy agent entering the main door of the Parliament House at 9 o'clock of a morning, may find, by an affiche to the door-post, that there is to be a disputatio juridica under the auspices of the inclytus Diaconus facultatis. Since the year 1693 it has been the practice of each intrant to undergo public impugument, or, as the act of Faculty says, "the publict try all of candidates, by printing and publishing theses on the subject assigned with corollaries, as it is observed amongst other nations." title of the Pandects is assigned on each occasion. Thus the Faculty possesses more than one running commentary upon that celebrated collection; and it has always been deemed remarkable that, considering the number and varied talent of the authors of these theses, they should be so uniform in their Latinity and structure. A great innovation has lately taken place in sparing the cost of printing the theses, and applying the amount so saved to the Faculty's magnificent library.


Many of the old university theses are very interesting as the youthful efforts of men who have subsequently become eminent. Those connected with Aberdeen are apparently the most numerous. It is very noticeable, indeed, that in the remote rival institutions there established, the spirit and practice of the Continental universities, in

almost every department, had their most tenacious existence. As in England, the Church of Rome was succeeded there, not by Presbyterianism but Episcopacy, and there were fewer changes in all old habits and institutions. The celebrated "Aberdeen doctors," who carried on a controversy with the Covenanters, met their zealous religionists with something like the old pedantic formality of the academic system of disputation. They resolved the Covenant into a thesis, and impugned it. Of this remarkable group of scholars we have the following notice in Professor Innes's Preface:

"Their names are now little known, except to the local antiquary; but no one who has even slightly studied the history of that disturbed time is unacquainted with the collective designation of the Aberdeen Doctors' bestowed upon the learned 'querists' of the ultraPresbyterian Assembly of 1638, and the most formidable opponents of the Solemn League and Covenant.

"Of these learned divines, Dr Robert Barron had succeeded Bishop Forbes in his parish of Keith, and from thence was brought on the first opportunity to be made Minister of Aberdeen, and afterwards Professor of Divinity in Marischal College. He is best judged by the estimation of his own time, which placed him foremost in philosophy and theology. Bishop Sydserf characterises him as 'vir in omni scholastica theologia et omni literatura versatissimus:' 'A person of incomparable worth and learning,' says Middleton, 'he had a clear apprehension of things, and a rare facultie of making the hardest things to be easily understood.'* Gordon of Rothiemay says, 'He was one of those who maintained the unanswerable dispute (in 1638) against the Covenante, which drew upon him both ther envye, hate, and calumneyes; yet so

innocently lived and dyed hee, that such as then hated him doo now reverence his memorye, and admire his works.' Principal Baillie, of the opposite party, speaks of him as 'a meek and learned person,' and always with great respect and Bishop Jeremy Taylor, when writing in 1659 to a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, recommending the choice of books for the beginning of a theologicall library,' named two treatises of Barron's especially, and recommended generally everything of his.' That a man so honoured for his learning and his life should receive the indignities inflicted on Barron after his death, is rather to be held as a mark of the general coarseness of the time, than attributed to the persecuting spirit of any one sect.‡

"Another of the Aberdeen doctors, William Leslie, was successively Subprincipal and Principal of King's College. The visitors of 1638 found him worthie of censure, as defective and negligent in his office, but recorded their knowledge that he was 'ane man of gude literature, lyff, and conversatioun.'§ 'He was a man,' says James Gordon, 'grave, and austere, and exemplar. The University was happy in having such a light as he, who was eminent in all the sciences above the most of his age.' ||

"Dr James Sibbald, Minister of St Nicholas, and a Regent in the University, is recorded by the same contemporary: 'It will not be affirmed by his very enemyes, but that Dr James Sibbald was ane eloquent and painefull preacher, a man godly, and grave, and modest, not tainted with any vice unbeseeming a minister, to whom nothing could in reason be objected, if you call not his ante-covenanting a cryme.' ¶ Principal Baillie, while condemning his Arminian doctrines, says-The man was, there, of great fame.'

"Dr Alexander Scroggy, minister in the Cathedral Church, first known to the world as thought worthy to contribute to the Funerals' of his patron and friend,



Appendix to Spottiswood, p. 29.

+ Dr J. H. Todd, who first published this letter, (English Churchman, Jan. 11, 1849), supposed Bishop Taylor to be speaking of Dr Peter Barron of Cambridge, but afterwards, on the evidence being communicated to him, was entirely satisfied, and corrected his mistake. "The author referred to (writes Dr Todd) is certainly Dr Robert Barron of Aberdeen, a divine of whom the Church of Scotland may be justly proud."-Irish Ecclesiastical Journal, March 1849.

Upon an allegation of unsoundness of doctrine in some of his works, the General Assembly of 1640 dragged his widow, in custody of a "rote of musketiers," from her retreat in Strathislay, to enable them to search his house for his manuscripts and letters, a year after his death. The proceedings add some circumstances of inhumanity to the old revolting cases not unknown in Scotland, where a dead man was dug out of his grave to be placed at the bar, tried and sentenced.

$ P. 288.

Vol. iii. p. 331.

History of Scots Affairs, vol. iii. p. 231.

Bishop Forbes,* is described in 1640 by Gordon as a man sober, grave, and painefull in his calling;'+ and by Baillie as 'ane old man, not verie corrupt, yet perverse in the Covenant and Servicebook.' His obstinacy yielded under the weight of old age and the need of rest, but he is not the more respected for the questionable recantation of all his early opinions.

"Foremost, by common consent, among that body of divines and scholars, was John Forbes, the good bishop's son. He had studied at King's College, and, after completing his education in the approved manner by a round of foreign universities, returned to Scotland to take his doctor's degree, and to be the first professor in the chair of theology, founded and endowed in our University by his father and the clergy of the diocese. Dr John Forbes's theological works have been appreciated by all critics and students, and have gone some way to remove the reproach of want of learning from the divines of Scotland. His greatest undertaking, the Instructiones historicotheologica, which he left unfinished, Bishop Burnett pronounces to be 'a work which, if he had finished it, and had been suffered to enjoy the privacies of his retirement and study to give us the second volume, had been the greatest treasure of theological learning that perhaps the world has yet received.§

"These were the men whom the bishop drew into the centre and heart of the sphere which he had set himself to illuminate; and in a short space of time, by their united endeavours, there grew up around their Cathedral and University a society more learned and accomplished than Scotland had hitherto known, which spread a taste for literature and art beyond the academic circle, and gave a tone of refinement to the great commercial city and its neighbourhood.

"It must be confessed cultivation was not without bias. It would seem that, in proportion as the Presbyterian and

Puritan party receded from the learn. ing of some of their first teachers, literature became here, as afterwards in England, the peculiar badge of Episcopacy. With Episcopacy went, hand in hand, the high assertion of royal authority; and influenced as it had been by Bishop Patrick Forbes and his followers, Aberdeen became, and continued for a century to be, not only a centre of northern academic learning, but a little stronghold of loyalty and Episcopacy-the marked seat of high Cavalier politics and anti-Puritan sentiments of religion and church government.

"That there was a dash of pedantry in the learning of that Augustan age of our University, was the misfortune of the age, rather than peculiar to Aberdeen. The literature of Britain and all Europe, except Italy, was still for the most part scholastic, and still to a great degree shrouded in the scholastic dress of a dead language; and we must not wonder that the northern University exacted from her divines and philosophers, even from her historians and poets, that they should use the language of the learned. After all, we owe too much to classical learning to grudge that it should for a time have overshadowed and kept down its legitimate offspring of native literature. We never ought to forget,' writes one worthy to record the life and learning of Andrew Melville, that the refinement and the science, secular and sacred, with which modern Europe is enriched, must be traced to the revival of ancient literature, and that the hid treasures could not have been laid open and rendered available but for that enthusiasm with which the languages of Greece and Rome were cultivated in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.'||


"It is not to be questioned that in the literature of that age, and in all departments of it, Aberdeen stood pre-eminent. Clarendon commemorates the many excellent scholars and very learned men under whom the Scotch universities,

* Aberdeen, 1635.

+ Vol. iii. p. 227.

In the Presbytery of Aberdeen, 26th May 1642. He died in 1659, in the ninety-fifth year of his age.

§ Life of Bishop Bedell-Preface. Of most of these theological authors I am obliged to speak in the language of others. I have not even, in all cases, read the works which have formed their character.

Dr M'Crie's Life of Melville, vol. ii. p. 445. It is with hesitation that any one who has benefited by this work will express a difference of opinion from its author. But it seems to me that Dr M'Crie has been led by his admiration for Andrew Melville to rate too highly an exercise in which he excelled. The writing of modern Latin poetry, however valuable as a part of grammatical education, has, in truth, never been an effort of imagination or fancy; and its products, when most successful, have never produced the effect of genuine poetry on the mind of the reader.

and especially Aberdeen, flourished.'* 'Bishop Patrick Forbes,' says Burnet, 'took such care of the two colleges in his diocese, that they became quickly distinguished from all the rest of Scotland. They were an honour to the Church, both by their lives and by their learning; and with that excellent temper they seasoned that whole diocese, both clergy and laity, that it continues to this very day very much distinguished from all the rest of Scotland, both for learning, loyalty, and peaceableness.' +

"That this was no unfounded boast, as regards one department of learning, has been already shown, in enumerating the learned divines who drew upon Aberdeen the general attention soon after the death of their bishop and master. In secular learning it was no less distinguished. No one excelled Robert Gordon of Straloch in all the accomplishments that honour the country gentleman. Without the common desire of fame or any more sordid motive, he devoted his life and talents to illustrate the history and literature of his country. He was the prime assistant to Scotstarvet in his two great undertakings, the Atlas and the collections of Scotch poetry. The maps of Scotland in the Great Atlas (many of them drawn by himself, and the whole 'revised' by him at the earnest entreaty of Charles I.), with the topographical descriptions that accompany them, are among the most valuable contributions ever made by an individual to the physical history of his country. His son, James Gordon, parson of Rothiemay, followed out his father's great objects with admirable skill, and in two particulars he merits our gratitude even more. He was one of the earliest of our countrymen to study drawing, and to apply it to plans and views of places; and, while he could wield Latin easily, he condescended to write the history of his time in excellent Scotch.

"While these writers were illustrating the history of their country in prose, a crowd of scholars were writing poetry, or, at least, pouring forth innumerable copies of elegant Latin verses. While the two Johnstons were the most distinguished of those poets of Aberdeen, John Leech, once Rector of our University,S David Wedderburn, rector of the Grammar School, and many others, wrote and published pleasing Latin verse, which stands the test of criticism. While it cannot be said that such compositions produce on the reader the higher effects of real poetry, they are not without value, if we view them as tests of the cultivation of the society among which they were produced. Arthur Johnston not only addresses elegiacs to the bishop and his doctors, throwing a charming classical air over their abstruser learning, but puts up a petition to the magistrates of the city, or celebrates the charms of Mistress Abernethy, or the embroideries of the Lady Lauderdale-all in choice Latin verse, quite as if the persons whom he addressed appreciated the language of the poet.l

"Intelligent and educated strangers, both foreigners and the gentry of the north, were attracted to Aberdeen; and its colleges became the place of education for a higher class of students than had hitherto been accustomed to draw their philosophy from a native source.T

"If it was altogether chance, it was a very fortunate accident, which placed in the midst of a society so worthy of commemoration a painter like George Jamiesone, the pupil of Rubens, the first, and, till Raeburn, the only great painter whom Scotland had produced. Though he was a native of Aberdeen, it is not likely that anything but the little court of the bishop could have induced such an artist to prosecute his art in a provincial town. An academic orator in 1630, while boasting of the crowd of distinguished men, natives

* History of the Rebellion. Oxford, 1826. Vol. i. p. 145.

+ Life of Bishop Bedell-Preface.

+ Delitia poetarum Scotorum hujus ævi illustrium, and fifth volume of the Great Atlas-both published by John Blaeu at Amsterdam, the former in 1637, the latter in 1654.

§ Joannis Leochaei Scoti musa. Londini, 1620. Leech was Rector of the University in 1619.

"Ad Senatum Aberdonensem;" ""Tumulus Joannis Colissonii;" "De Abrenetha;” ""De aulæis acu-pictis D. Isabella Setonæ Comitissæ Laderdeliæ." Epigrammata Arturi Jonstoni, Scoti, Medici Regii, Abredoniæ: excudebat Edvardus Rabanus, 1632.

STRACHAN'S Panegyricus. Among the strangers he distinguishes Parkins, an Englishman who had, the year before (1630), obtained a degree of M.D. in our University. The earliest diploma of M.D. I have seen is that which I have noted (somewhat out of place) among the academic prints, and which was granted in 1697.

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and strangers, either produced by the University, or brought to Aberdeen by the bishop, was able to point to their pictures ornamenting the hall where his audience were assembled. Knowing by whom these portraits were painted, we cannot but regret that so few are preserved." *

Keeping, however, to the matter of academic impugnment, we shall now turn to an instance of its incidental occurrence in that University, which, from its late origin, was least imbued with the spirit of the Continental system.

The visit of King James to his ancient kingdom in 1617, afforded the half-formed collegiate institution in Edinburgh an opportunity for a rhetorical display, which ended in substantial advantages. Tired with business at Holyrood, and in the enjoyment of full eating and drinking, and "driving our" at his quieter palace of Stirling, he bethought himself of a rhetorical pastime with the professors of the new University, wherein he could not fail to luxuriate in the scholastic quibbling with which his mind was so well crammed, and he was pretty certain of enjoying an ample banquet of success and applause. Hence, as Thomas Crawford the annalist of the institution informs us, "It pleased his majesty to appoint the maisters of the college to attend him at Sterling the 29th day of July, where, in the royal chapel, his majesty, with the flower of the nobility, and many of the most learned men of both nations, were present, a little before five of the clock, and continued with much chearfulness above three hours."

The display was calculated to be rather appalling to any man who had much diffidence or reserve in his dispo

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sition, and hence Charteris, the principal, ". 'being naturally averse from public show, and professor of divinity," transferred the duty of leading the discussion to Professor Adamson. The form adopted was the good old method of the impugnment of theses, so many being appointed to defend, and so many to impugn; "but they insisted only upon such purposes as were conceived would be most acceptable to the king's majesty and the auditory."

The first thesis was better suited for the legislature than an academic body, and there must have been some peculiar reason for bringing it on. It was, "that sheriffs and other inferior magistrates should not be hereditary," which was oppugned by Professor Lands "with many pretty argu ments." The king was so pleased with the oppugnation, that he turned to the Marquis of Hamilton, hereditary sheriff of Clydesdale, and said, "James, you see your cause lostand all that can be said for it clearly satisfied and answered." N.-B. It is just worth noticing that the College and the Marquis were then at feud. There was a question about the possession of the old lodging of the Hamilton family, then constituting a considerable portion of the University edifices. The "gud old nobleman," his father, had been easily satisfied, but the young man was determined to stand upon his rights, and, though he could not recover possession, get something in the shape of rent or damages; nor would he take the judicious hint that "so honourable a personage would never admit into his thoughts to impoverish the patrimony of the young University, which had been so great an ornament, and so fruitful an

* "Patricius supremas dignitates scholasticas in viros omni laude majores (quorum cos hic vultus videtis) qui vel ipsas dignitates honorarunt, conferri curavit. Quid memorem Sandilandios, Rhætos, Baronios, Scrogios, Sibbaldos, Leslæos, maxima illa nomina. . . . Deus mi! quanta dici celebritas, quo tot pileati patres, theologiæ, juris et medicinæ doctores et baccalaurei de gymnasio nostro velut agmine facto prodierunt!" He alludes to the strangers attracted by the fame of the society -to the divines, Forbes, Barron, &c.-to the physicians. Quantus medicorum grex ! quanta claritas! Quantum uterque Jonstonus, ejusdem uteri, ejusdem artis fratres.. Mathesi profunda, quantum poesi et impangendis carminibus valeant, novistis. Arthurus medicus Regis et divinus poeta elegiæ et epigrammatis, quibus non solum suæ ætatis homines superat verum antiquissimos quosque æquat. Gulielmus rei herbaria et mathematum, quorum professor meritissimus est, gloria cluit. De Gulielmo certe idem usurpare possumus. 'Deliciæ est humani generis,' tanta est ejus comitas, tanta urbanitas."

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