Imágenes de página

year 1670, a sudden and singularly bold attempt appears to be made for their revival, a court of justiciary being held by the University, and a student put on trial on a charge of murder. The weighty matter is thus introduced :

"Anent the indytment given in by John Cumming, wryter in Glasgow, elected to be Procurator-Fiscal of the said University; and Andrew Wright, cordoner in Glasgow, neirest of kin to umquhile Janet Wright, servetrix to Patrick Wilson, younger, gairdner there, killed by the shot of ane gun, or murdered within the said Patrick his dwelling-house, upon the first day of August instant, against Robert Bartoun, son lawful of John Bartoun, gairdner in the said burgh, and student in the said University, for being guilty of the said horrible crime upon the said umquhile Janet." *

A jury was impannelled to try the question. The whole affair bears a suspicious aspect of being preconcerted to enable the accused to plead the benefit of acquittal; for no objection is taken on his part to the competency of the singular tribunal before which he is to be tried for his life; on the contrary, he highly approves of them as his judges, and in the end is pronounced not guilty. The respectable burgesses who acted as jurymen had, however, as it appears, their own grave doubts about this assumption of the highest judicial functions; and we find them in this curious little document, which we offer in full, expressing themselves with that cautious and sagacious scepticism which is as much a part of the national character as its ardour and enthusiasm.

by the Rector and his assessors that they opponed their being content to pass upon the said inquest in initio, and their making faith without contraverting their privilege; but notwithstanding thereof, for their satisfaction and ex abundanti gratia, they declared themselves and their successors in office enacted, bound, and obliged for their warrandice of all cost, skaith, danger, and expenses they or ane or other of them should sustain or incur through the passing upon the said inquest, or whilk could follow thereupon, through the said University their wanting of their original rights or writs for clearing to them the privilege and jurisdiction in the like cases. Whereupon the said Patrick Bryce, as Chancellor, for himself, and in name and in behalf of the haill remanent members of the said inquest, asked acts of court." +

"Patrick Bryce, chancellor, and remanent persons who passed upon the said inquest, before they gave in their verdict to the said court, desired that they might be secured for the future, lest they might be quarrelled at any time hereafter for going on, and proceeding to pass on an inquest of the like nature, upon ane warning by the officer of the said University; and that in regard they declared the case to be singular, never having occurred in the age of before to their knowledge, and

the rights and privileges of the University not being produced to them to clear their privilege for holding of criminal courts, and to sit and cognosce upon crimes of the like nature; whereunto it was answered

* Glasgow Records, ii. 341.

Though we are not aware of any instance in Scotland where the academic tribunals have arrogated, since the Reformation, so high a power, it is not difficult to find other instances where exemption has been claimed, even at a later period, from the ordinary powers that be. Thus the Glasgow Records of the year 1721 bear that

"The faculty, being informed that some of the magistrates of Glasgow, and particularly Bailie Robert Alexander, has examined two of the members of the University-viz., William Clark and James Macaulay, students in the Greek class-for certain crimes laid to their charge some time upon the month of February last, and proceeded to sentence against these students, contrary to and in prejudice of the University and haill members, do therefore appoint Mr Gershom Carmichael, &c., to repair to the said magistrates of Glasgow, and particularly Bailie Alexander, and demand the cancelling of the said sentence, and protest against the said practice of the said bailie or any of the magistrates for their said practice, and for remeid of law as accords." +

It was the principle, not the persons-the protection of their privileges, not the impunity of their students-that instigated the faculty on this occasion, since in their next minute they are found visiting William Clark and James Macaulay with punishment for heavy youthful offences. We offer no apology for quoting, on such an occasion, these scraps from Ibid., p. 343. Ibid., p. 422.


technical documents. It appears to us that when they are not oppressively long, or too professional for ordinary comprehension, there is no other way of affording so distinct a notion of any very remarkable social peculiarity, such as we account the exclusive liability of the members of universities to their own separate tribunals to have been.

Although the Scottish universities never boasted of the vast concourse of young men of all peoples, nations, and languages, which sometimes flocked to the Continental schools, and thus with their great privileges created a formidable imperium in imperio-yet naturally there has existed more or less of a standing feud between the citizen class and the student class. The records before us show repeated contests by the authorities of universities, against an inveterate propensity in the students to wear arms, and to use them. The weapons prohibited by the laws of King's College, Aberdeen, are so varied and peculiar that we cannot venture to do their Latin names into English, and can only derive, from the terms in which they are denounced, a general notion how formidable a person a student putting the law at defiance must have been. But for the difference in the Latinity, one might suppose himself reading Strada's celebrated account of the weapons in the Spanish Armada.*

the trade of the resurrectionist, the students had to help themselves. It needed but the very fact of their having an occasional "subject" in the dissecting-room to expose them to an odious reputation, which no argument about the blessed results of the healing art, and the necessity of studying it in the structure of the human frame, could in the slightest degree mitigate. The feud thus caused was of a kind which widened as the progress of scientific acquirement enlarged the study of anatomy; and it seemed as if a permanent and deadly hostility against the progress of an essential science were daily deepening and widening, until public wrath, concentrated and accumulated, might be expected at last to burst on the devoted pursuit, and annihilate it. Though the students of anatomy were generally among those who had passed through the ordinary curriculum of studies, and no longer wore the distinguishing scarlet robe, yet their younger brethren were, not entirely without cause, mixed up in their misdeeds. Horrible stories of their waylaying children, and of their clapping plasters on the mouths of grown men met in lonely byways, which stopped the breath, and instantaneously extinguished life, were greedily believed, and founded tales capable of superseding Bluebeard and The One-handed Monk at the winter chimney-corner. Young lads in their early blushing scarlet were sometimes savagely assaulted, as if the poor innocents were ghouls in search of the horrible prey peculiar to their order. The public frenzy reached its climax on the revelation of the crimes of Burke and Hare. It almost as suddenly collapsed after the passing of the Anatomy Act, which removed from dissection that odium which previous legislation had factitiously imparted to it as part of the punishment of murder, and accompanied the change with special facilities for the obtainment of subjects. Hence more than twenty years have passed since the

From some incidental causes, a slight tinge of the desperado habits, indicated by such restrictions, lingered around the Scottish universities, and perhaps was most loth to depart from that northernmost institution to which the prohibitions specially applied. The main cause of their continuance may be attributed to the exigencies of the anatomical classes which gradually attached themselves to the schools of medicine. In obtaining subjects there was a perpetual contest with unmitigable prejudices; and as in the smaller university towns there were few or no people who followed systematically

* "Gladios, pugiones sicas machæras rhomphæas acinaces fustes, præsertim si præferrati vel plumbati sint, veruta missilia tela sclopos tormenta bombardas balistas ac arma ulla bellica nemo discipulus gestato."-Fasti Aberdonienses, 242. The Glasgow list is less formidable: "Nemo gladium pugionem tormenta bellica aut aliud quodvis armorum et telorum genus gestet; sed apud præfectum omnia deponat."-Insti

tuta, 49.

habits of our students were tainted by this incidental peculiarity, and its social effect must now be matter of tradition.

It can easily, however, be believed that the revolting preliminary which the votary of science had to undergo must have had an influence on his habits very far from propitious. The nocturnal expedition was occasionally joined by those who had not the excuse of scientific ardour, and thus the influence of the practice spread beyond the limits of the medical profession. The mysterious horrors surrounding the reputation of such a pursuit were not without a certain fascination to the young gownsmen, and some of them were supposed placidly to cultivate rather than suppress charges which would have seriously alarmed their more knowing and practical seniors. Though there was thus a good deal of exaggeration and boasting both from without and from within, yet the practice did exist among the senior students, while at the same time an occasional junior, approved for his boldness and discretion, might be admitted to act a subordinate part in a "resurrectionising affair." Possibly he, if not the others, might find it necessary to employ some stimulant to brace his nerves for the formidable work in hand. Thus the adventure which provided the theatre of anatomy with the means of keeping a few students at hard work in one of the most important departments of human knowledge, had probably occasioned more than one night of fierce dissipation, and produced scenes which would have considerably astonished the good old aunts, deprecating the exhausting labours of their virtuous nephews in the nasty hospitals and that horrid dissecting-room.

changing places like the shifting of the side-slips in a theatre. Perhaps there may even be alive some who have witnessed or participated in such divertisements. Is there any one who will admit participation in that transmutation which scandalised the bailie, by exhibiting his suburban mansion under the auspices of the national achievement, as "licensed to sell spirits, porter, and ale," just at the moment when the licentiate of the Red Lion was lamenting the disappearance of his insignia? Are none of those virtuous youths alive, who called next day to express their horror of the deed, and hold confidential communion with the bailie, thus obtaining access to his arsenal, and receiving the comfortable secret information-valuable for future conduct

that the blunderbuss, the musket, and the brace of pistols, were loaded with powder only, "but he wad warrant the scounrels wad get a fleg"? Who was it, we wonder, that, on the myrmidons of justice coming to his chambers, under the well-warranted suspicion that he possessed an extensive and varied collection of shop signs, had recourse to his incipient Scripture knowledge by an apt quotation in reference to those who seek what they do not succeed in obtaining? Is it probable that in any private neuks in old dwellinghouses there may exist relics of those prized museums not acquired without toil and risk and exhibited with much caution only to trusted friends-which consisted mainly of watchmen's rattles and battered lanterns? Lives there yet one of that laborious group, who wished to illuminate the mansion of Professor Blanc in proper style, and to that effect carried out a cluster of street lamps, and planted them all a-light in his garden, so encountering labour and risk with no better reward than a reflection on the professor's puzzled countenance when he should awaken and behold the phenomenon? N.B. Street lamps in those days were fed with oil, and were supported on wooden posts, which it was not difficult for a couple of strong youths to uproot.

But we are shocking the virtue and civilisation of the age by such queries.

The excesses which concentrated themselves around this solemn and cheerless pursuit, ramified themselves into others of a more fantastic and cheerful character. Probably it is all changed now; but they are not very old men who remember how the smaller university towns were subject to fantastic superficial revolutions. Trees, gates, railings, street lamps, summerhouses, shop signs, and other "accessories of the realty," as lawyers call them, disappearing or

[ocr errors]

They hint at practices which we believe to be entirely eschewed by the superior class of young gentlemen who now frequent our universities. If we have created a throb of terror in an amiable parent's breast, we humbly beg his pardon. He may take our word for it that his hopeful son is incapable of such pranks. This is mainly an antiquarian article, and the matter contained in it belongs more or less to the past, and is founded on document or tradition.

a certain number of young men living in celibacy, and they naturally imitated the example set them in the construction of monasteries. The edifice and its use thus suggested something like the monastic disciplineand, indeed, an establishment filled with young men, having their separate dormitories and common table, yet without any head or system of discipline among them, would have been a social anomaly of the most formidable character. The university required to give its sanction to the well ordering of the separate institutions thus rising around it. At the same time munificent patrons of learning left behind them endowments for founding such institutions, indicating at the same time the method in which the founders desired that they should be governed, and appointing a portion of the funds to form stipendiary allowances to office-bearers. So arose those great colleges and halls which in England have buried the original constitution of the university beneath them.

The semi-monastic foundations by which the students live under the discipline of colleges or halls, and assemble together at a common table, are indissolubly connected in English notions with the idea of a university. Yet the system arose as an adjunct to the original universities, and, as late inquirers have shown, the parasites have so overrun the parent stem that its original character is scarcely perceptible beneath their more luxuriant growth. The origin of these institutions is simple enough. When the great teachers brought crowds of young men together from all parts of Europe, the primary question was how they were to obtain food and shelter? and a second arose when these needs were supplied how could any portion of the discipline of the parental home be administered to them among strangers? Certain privileges were given to the houses inhabited by the students, and streets and quarters sprung up for their accommodation, as we now see the rows of red-tiled cottages sprout forth like lichens around the tall chimney of a new manufactory. To prevent fluctuation, and preserve the academic character wherever it had once established itself, it was a frequent regulation that the houses once inhabited by students could be let to no other person so long as the rents were duly paid. We find traces of this expedient in the records of Glasgow, where there seems to have been great difficulty in accommodating the students of the infant university, on account of the extreme smallness of the town. Since the house once occupied by the student was thenceforth dedicated to his order, speculators were induced to build entirely view to the accommodation of

In the great Continental universities which contained separate colleges, these were more strictly under the central control. In Scotland, the wealth at the disposal of the academic institutions, and the numbers attending them, were never sufficiently great to encourage the rise of separate bodies, either independent or subordinate. The system of monastic residence and a common table was adopted under the authority of the university, but it is remarkable that while so many of the fundamental features of the original institution have been preserved, this subsidiary arrangement has totally disappeared. The indications of its existence, however, as they are preserved in the records, have naturally considerable interest as vestiges of a social condition which has passed from the earth.

In the Glasgow Records we have, of date 1606, a contract with Andrew Henderson touching the Boarding of the Masters and Bursars, commencing thus: "At Glasgow, the twentytwa day of October, the year of God Jm VJe and aucht yeares it is appoyntit and aggreit betwix the pairties following, viz., Mr Patrick Schairp, Principal of the College of

Glasgow, and Regentes thairof, with consent of the ordinar auditouris of the said College compts, undersubscrivand on the ane part, and Andro Hendersoun, Burges of the said burgh on the uther part, in manner following." Having afforded this initial specimen of the document, we shall take the liberty of somewhat modifying the spelling of such parts of the "manner following," in quoting such portions of it as seem by their curious character to demand notice; and herein we may observe that we follow the example of a judicious Quaker we had once the pleasure of being made known to, who, after a solicitous desire to know the Christian name of his new acquaintance, with a few preliminary thee's and thou's-as much as to say, you see the set I belong to afterwards ran into the usual current of conversation very Imuch like a man of this world. Well, the document, with much precision, continues to say :

"The manner of the board shall be this: At nine hours upon the flesh days-viz., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday-the said Andrew shall prepare to the said masters, and others that pay as they pay, ane soup of fine white bread, or ane portion of cold meat, as best may be had, with some dry bread and drink. At twelve hours the said Andrew shall cover ane table in the hall of the said College, and shall serve them in brose, skink, sodden beef, and mutton, the best in the market, rosted mutton or veel, as the commodity of the season of the year shall serve, with a fowl, or the equivalent thereof, with good wheat bread, the best in the market, without scarcity, and 'gud staill aill, aucht or ten dayis auld, that sall be bettir nor the haill aill in the town,' and at supper suchlike. And on fish days the said Andrew shall furnish every ane in the morning ane callour fresch eg, with sum cauld meit or milk and breid, and sum dry breid and drink; at noone, kaill and eggis, herring, and thrie course of fische, give thai may be had, or the equivalent thairof in breid and milk, fryouris with dry breid as of befoir,' and at supper suchlike. The mess of the bursars, which immediately

follows, must be given literatim: 'On the fleshe dayis, in the morning, everie ane of thame, ane soup of ait breid and ane drink; at noone, broois with ane tailye

[blocks in formation]

Probably such a bill of fare may dispel some notions about the sordid living of our ancestors, and the privations especially of those who dedicated themselves to a scholastic life. The existence of meagre days-or fish days, as they are called-in the year 1608, suggests explanations which we

have not to offer. It would almost dietary of the superior class, a fish appear, however, that, at least in the day was one in which fish was added to a comfortable allotment of meat, Another contract occurs in the year instead of being substituted for it. 1649, varying little from "the said Andrew's," except in the addition of a few luxuries. The mess to be laid in the hall for dinner is to be "broth, skink, sodden beef, and mutton, the best in the market, with roasted mutton, lamb, veal, or hudderin, as the season of the year shall serve, with wheat bread and good stale ale; and at supper suchlike, with a capon or hen, or the equivalent." The fish days continue to be distinguished less by the diminution of flesh-since there is to be two roasts in the day-than by the addition of fish. At supper there are to be sweetmeats and "stoved plumdamas," which may be interpreted stewed prunes. Another article there introduced is called "stamped kaile." The application of the participle is new to us, though, as every one ought to know, kail means broth, or what the French call potage; and a critic in such matters suggests that the word stamped may refer to the mashing of the materials. In the earlier of the contracts which we have referred to, the board-money was-for the master's table, £30 per quarter, (Scots money, of course); and for the bursars', £16, 13s. 4d.

The value of

money had so far risen that in the next period the sums were respectively £46 and £24. The master's table was frequented by the young aristo

* Instituta Univ. Glasg., p. 519, 520.

« AnteriorContinuar »