William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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morals, influences even the mutual inter-


( 39 )

courfe of nations. A Chinefe fcarcely con-
fiders it as a deviation from duty, to cheat
and fpoil an European ; and an European
fancies that he is not under the fame moral
reftraints in his dealings with Indians and
Africans, that fhould regulate his conduct to
an Englifhman or a Dutchman. It may
alfo be obferved, that the fhame of begging,
or the fenfe of honour and independence,
which is very ftrong among the very poorer!
ranks in Scotland, is naturally blunted by
living : and being loft to the eye of their kin-
dred and neighbours, in the magnitude of
populous and extenfive cities, a Scot will
beg in London or Edinburgh, who would be
aihamcd, who durft not to do fo in his native

About five and twenty years ago, when
that excellent nobleman, the late Earl of
Kmnoujl, already mentioned in the courfe of
thefe notes, retired from England and public
life, to his paternal eftate in Perthfhire, he
was aitoniilied to find that there was not K>

U 3 much

( 3 10 )

much as one pauper in the parifh. The col-
lections at the church door were either lent
to other pari flies, or laid out at intereft, as a
growing fund for contingencies . Lord Kin-
noull, the fole proprietor of the parifh, (truck
with this circnmftance, recommended to the
kirk-feflion, that is, the minifter and the
elders, the adminiftrators in Scotland of the
voluntary parochial charities, to diitribute
the weekly collection among poor cottagers.
Of thefe, however, there was not one who
would accept a (hilling. It was therefore
put into the form of flax, which was diflri-
buted as prefents among poor, but induf-
trious women, who, even then, did not ac-
cept of it without reluctance and heiitation.
This fenfe of honour, among the lowed
people in Scotland, is a powerful reftraint on
ciflipation, and incentive to induftry : while
the provifion that is made for the poor in
England, by acts of parliament, encourages
idlenefs, infolence, and debauchery, and preiTes
down the load of taxation on the induftrious


( 3" )

and fober part of the nation. The church*
wardens, veftry-clerks, and other parifh-ofH-
cers in England, are, in general, as great nui-
fances, and as oppreflive to the people, as
the greateft beggars, to whofe vices and follies
they adminifter fuel and fupport from the
vitals of the people. It is high time that the
ftate of the poor and poor's rates were made
an objecl: of ferious attention by the legif-

The funds of the poor in Scotland, though
fmall, are faithfully adminiftered - t and not
one farthing is ever wafted by the kirk-fef-
fions, on any pretence. But in England, there
is nothing to be done without a feaft. If
the parifh-officers will feaft, it is reafonable
at leaft that they fliould confine their bill of
fare to the rate of that of the work-houfes
jthey regulate.

Cum fueris Rama Romano vivito more.

The principal hofpitals in Edinburgh are,

Herriot's Hofpital, Watfon's Hofpital, the

Charity Work-houfe, the Infirmary, the

U 4 Mer-*

C 3 12 )

Merchants Hofpital, the Trades Maiden
Hofpital, the Orphan Hofpital, and the Tri-
nity Hofpital.

Herriot's Hofpital, fo called from the foun-
der of it, a goldfmith in Edinburgh, is a mag-
nificent fabric, which was begun to be raifed
in July 1628, and was finifhed in the year
1650, at an expence of upwards of 30,000!.
It was opened for the reception of the
fons of burgeffes, and thirty boys admit-
ted into it on the nth of April, 1659. From
time to time this number has been increafed,
till it is now upwards of an hundred. The
revenues of this hofpital amount to about
iSool. in real eilate. Here the boys are in-
ftructed in reading, writing, arithmetick, and
the Latin tongue. Their appearance is de-
cent, and their manners are generally void of
reproach. The profperous ftate, both of the
boys and the funds belonging to the hofpital,
is chiefly to be attributed to the truly pater-
nal care and attention which are beftowed
en its affairs by the governors.


Watfon's Hofpital was instituted for the
maintenance and education of the offspring of
decayed merchants, and for boys the children
or grand-children of decayed merchants, in
Edinburgh. The founder, George Watfon,
was himfelf defcended from progenitors, who
had long been merchants in that city. Upon
his death, which happened in April, 1723, he
bequeathed to this chanty all his fortune,
which confided of 12,000!. At prefent up-
wards of fixty boys are maintained and edu-
cated in this afyluni. Thefe, as well as the
youth in Herriot's Hofpital, are treated with
all due attention. The funds of this hof-
pital are vefted in truft with the Merchants
Company of Edinburgh. This is a good,
fpacious and regular building, but far infe-
rior to Herriot's, which, {landing to the fouth-
weft of the caftle, in a noble fituation, pre-
fents to the eye of the beholder a grand ap-
pearance. It is the fineft and mofl regular
fpecimen which Inigo Jones, whom James

VI. of

( 3H )

VI. of Scotland brought over from Den-
mark, has left us of his Gothic manner, and
far exceeds any thing of that kind to be feen
in England.

The Chanty Work-houfe of Edinburgh
was built A. D. 1743, theexpence being de-
frayed by a voluntary fubfcription or collec-
tion made among the different focieties or
companies, and alfo among individuals in
the place -, and the houfe was opened for the
reception of the poor that fame year, at mid-
fummer. The poor are employed in fuch
pieces of labour as they are befl fitted for, and
are allowed two-pence out of every (hilling
they earn. The government of the houfe is
veiled in ninety-fix perfons, who meet quar-
terly 5 but its ordinary affairs are under the
direction of fifteen managers, who meet
weekly. There is a treafurer, chaplain, furr
geon, and other officers.

The Royal Infirmary is another noble in-
ftitution in Edinburgh, reared by the hand
of charity, for relieving the difeafes of thofe


who are unable to purchafe comfort and a&
fiftance. The revenues of this houfc, raifed
originally by voluntary contribution, and
from time to time augmented by occafional
donations, are very confiderable, and the
number of patients equally fo. The fabric
confiUs of a body, and two wings, all of them
full three flories high - y and the whole is laid
out in a judicious and commodious manner.
It is under admirable management, and equally
contributes to the relief of the afflicled poor,
and the 1 advancement of medical knowledge.
T\e Merchants Maiden Hofpital is a cha-
ritable foundation, eftablifhed in the end of
the laft century by voluntary fubfcription, to
which the Company of Merchants in Edin-
burgh, and Mrs. Mary Erfkine, a widow-
gentlewoman, lent particular afllftance. It
is deftined for the maintenance and educa-
tion of young girls, daughters of the mer-
chant burgeiTes in Edinburgh. The governors
were elecled into a body-corporate by act of
parliament, in the year 1707. At prefent,


feventy girls or upwards, are maintained by
this inftitution. The annual revenue is
about 1,350!.

The Trades Maiden Hofpital is another
charitable inftitution, fomewhat fimilar to
that juft defcribed. The incorporations of
Edinburgh, excited by the good example of
the Company of Merchants, became defirous
to eftablifh, for the daughters of decayed
members, a fimilar foundation. Accordingly,
fifty girls are maintained in this houfe. The
revenues amount to about 6ool. a year.

The Trinity Hofpital was founded by
Mary of Gueldres, confort of King James II.
and amply endowed. At the Reformation
it fuffered in the common ruin of Popifh mo-
numents : but it was again reflored by the
care of the magiftrates and town-council.
It was deftined for the fupport of decayed
burgefTes of Edinburgh, their wives, and un^
married children not under fifty years of age.
The prefent funds are a real eftate in lands
and houfes, aljout 762!. and 5,500!. lent out

( 3'7 )

in bonds at 4 per cent. The town-council
of Edinburgh, ordinary and extraordinary,
are governors of this hofpital.

The Univerfity of Paris, founded at an
early period, has been long reputed, and not
improperly called the mother of all others :
for, after the model of this, mod of the uni-
verfities in Europe were eftablifhed. The
firft univerfity founded in Scotland, was that
of St. Andrews, A.D. 1412. The circum-
flances of Edinburgh not being creeled into
an epifcopal fee till long after the Reforma-
tion, and that it was unufual, if not unpre-
cedented, to have univerfities creeled any
where but in metropolitan cities, was perhaps
the reafon why no college was eftablifned at
Edinburgh during the times of Popery. It
was not, however, deftitute of feminaries of
learning : in the convent of Gray Friars, in-
flituted by James I. divinity and philofophy
were taught by eminent mailers, till the Re-


Univerfities were originally bodies cor-
porate : and, as eccleliaftical corporations
could hold and purchafe property, and fue
and be fued, not only the profeflbrs, but the
fludents alfo, were themfelves of the body-
corporate ; over which its diltinguifhed offi-
cers poifefTed an ample jurifdic~lion, extend-
ing to all civil cafes, and to fuch criminal
ones, as were not of a capital nature.

The chancellor Was the fupreme magif-
trate in moll univernties. This office was
formerly held by the biihop of the diocefe,
who preiided in the general councils of the
univerfity, and exercifed over it a vifitorial
authority. The officer next in rank to the
chancellor was the rector, chofen annually
by the whole members of the univerfity.

Popery, and the inflitutions belonging to
it, whether founded for the propagation of
piety and learning, or from charitable mo-
tives, fell in one common ruin. The demo-
lition of the public edifices gratified the bar-
barous zeal of the reformers, and the fpoils


of the revenues their avarice. On the efta-
blifliment of the Reformation, the citizens,
accordingly, made loud complaint of the in-
creafmg number of poor, and the ruinous ftate
of fchools. To fatisfy and flop their juft cla-
mours, Queen Mary beftowed upon them all
the houfes belonging to any of the religious
foundations in Edinburgh, with the lands,
and other revenues appertaining to them, in
any part of the kingdom. This grant was
confirmed by James VI. who alfo beftowed
on them the privilege of creeling fchools and
colleges, for the propagation of fcience, and
of applying the funds beftowed on them by
his mother, Queen Mary, to the building of
houfes for the accommodation of profefTors
and ftudents. All the grants made by James
VI. in favour of the univerfity, were ratified
by parliament ; and all immunities and pri-
vileges beftowed upon it, that were enjoyed
by any college in the kingdom. The town-
council of Edinburgh, the abfolute patrons
and governors of this univerfity, cannot only


( 3 20 )

inftitute new profeflbrfhips, and elect pro-
feffors, but depofe them alfo; the forma-
lity, but not the juftice of their proceed-
ings, being liable to review,

There never was in the Univerfity of Edin-
burgh an officer fimilar to that of Chancellor
in other univerfities, which is commonly be-
frowed by the profeffors on fome nobleman of
dirtinction, who is a patron of letters, by
way of compliment. There was, however,
in the College of Edinburgh, a Rector ; but
that magiftrate by no means enjoyed the ex-
tenfive jurifdiction annexed to the office in
other univerfities. At the Reiteration, the
itudents at the Univerfity of Edinburgh ap-
pear to have been much tainted with the
fanatic principles of the covenanters : but
fince the reign of William, all difputes of the
religious kind have ceafed, and the fole object
of conteft and emulation is advancement in
knowledge. Cherifhed by the munificence
of her fovereign, and by the faithful care
and attention of the magistrates of Edin-
burgh, the univerfity has been daily be-

( 3 21 )

coming a more extenfive feminary of learn-
ing. New profefTorfhips have been infti-
tuted, as men of eminence appeared qua-
lified to inftruct youth in the different
branches of fcience, and in the faculty of
medicine. From fome titular profeflbrs, with-
out lectures or frudents, Edinburgh has rifen
to be perhaps the firft medical fchool in Eu-
rope. The number of fcholars, in the dif-
ferent profeffions, or who are fludying phi-
lofophy and languages, annually reforting to
this feminary of learning, have of late
amounted to a thoufand, of whom about four
hundred are purfuing the fludy of medicine.

The different profefTors are clafTed into
four faculties, thofe of theology, law, medi-
cine, and arts.

There is alfo at Edinburgh a grammar-
fchool, commonly called the High School.
It has gone through many changes and revo-
lutions 5 but is, at this prefent time, a moil
refpeftable feminary of learning. The build-
ing is extenfive and good, being in length,.

X from

from fouth to north, one hundred and twenty
feet, and in breadth from thirty- fix to thirty-
eight, and the whole furroundedwith walls.
With refpect to what is of moft importance
in the Scotch metropolis, the ftate of fociety
and manners, they may be confidered under
the different particulars by which they feem
to be moft materially influenced. Thefe are,
firft, the perfons that refort to it. Secondly,
the courts of jufEce. Thirdly, the uni-
verfity. And Fourthly, the ftate of religion.
People come to Edinburgh on three dif-
ferent accounts : bufmefs, amufement, and
education. The character of men of bu-
finefs, whofe immediate object is gain, and
the advancement of their fortune, is, in all
countries, nearly the fame, and varied only
by perfonal character. It may be obferved,
that, as the offices of drudgery and of labour,
that require not any fkill, are generally per-
formed in London by Irifhmen, and Welch
people of both fexes ; fo all fuch inferior de-
partments are filled in Edinburgh by High-

( 3 2 3 )

landers. The rifmg generation acquire more
enlarged views than their fathers, and ilrike
into other paths of life : fo that there is a
conftant influx of ftout healthy men from
the mountainous country into Edinburgh,
as well as into other cities of note in Scot-
land, to fupply the places of porters, barrow-
men, chairmen, and fuch like. It is alfo
Highlanders, chiefly, that compofe the city-
guard of Edinburgh, The refort of High-
landers to the Scottifh metropolis is fo great,
that there is a chapel, where divine fervice
is performed in the Erfe language. The
Highlanders naturally afibciate with one
another, and live chiefly together, as a dif-
ferent people from the Lowlanders, which
indeed they are. Their children are taught
the Erfe language, in the fame manner that
the children of the Jews are taught Hebrew,
juft as in London.

It has always been cuflomary for genteel

families in Scotland, to live a good deal in

Edinburgh, not only for the pleafure of fo-

ciety and amufement, but for the education

X 2 of

( 3 2 4 )

of their children, both males and females*
This practice grows every day more and
more frequent j and the fame of the uni-
verlity, and other fchools, the elegance and
accommodation of the place, the public di-
verfions, and the expence of living not yet
fo high as in London, invite to Edinburgh
many families of moderate fortune from the
northern counties of England, to whom, be-
fides other circumftanees, it is not a little
recommended by vicinity of fituation. The
proportion of gentlemen and ladies, to the
trading and manufacturing part of the in-
habitants, is, on thefe accounts, greater in
Edinburgh, though it wants the advantage
of a court, than in moil other towns of
equal extent in Europe.

It may appear, perhaps, doubtful, whe-
ther this proportion be increafed or dimi-
nilhed, by the great multitude of lawyers
that refide, and indeed, in fome meafure,
give the tone to the manners of the Scotch
metropolis. There is nothing in Edinburgh


of equal dignity and importance to the -Court
of Seffion, nor any profefllon fo much fol-
lowed as that of the law. The lawyers, in
fhort, are the principal people in that city ;
and the bar is there the grand ladder of am-
bition. Hence, among the young men par-
ticularly, there Is a difputatious dogmatifm
and captious petulance, which to a well-
bred ftranger appears highly difgufung : but
hence, too, a certain argumentative acute-
nefs, which we no where find fo generally

But this logical acutenefs, and flrong paf-
fion for difplaying it, is, no doubt ? to be
afcribed, in part, to that fpirit of philofophy,
which has been excited by the profeflbrs of
the univerfity, and certain individuals, inha-
bitants of Edinburgh, particularly the cele-
brated David Hume, fince whofe days ew.y
young man of education and genius is a me-
taphyfician. The two branches of fcience
that are ftudied with the greateft ardour in
Edinburgh, arc metaphyfics and medicine :
X the

( 326 )

the firft comprehending, or at leaft running
into moral philofophy and logic : the fecond,
being connected with natural hiflory and
philoiophy, particularly anatomy and che-
miftry. The fludy of chemiftry, raifed to
eminence and diftindlion by the iluftrious
Doctors Cullen and Black, became, fome years
ago, fo fafhionable among the lawyers, and
other gentlemen in Edinburgh, that many of
them attendedthe chemical lectures and ex-
periments, as regularly as the ftudents. It was
the natural fagacity, ardour, and good fenfe
of the anatomiil Doctor Monro, the father
of the -prefent Monro, that firft brought
Edinburgh into repute, as a phyfical fchool.
He has been followed by men who have im-
proved, not only medicine, but fcience in
general : who have been an honour to their
country, and to human nature.

The names of Smith, Robertfon, Black,
Ferguflbn, Cullen, Monro, Gregory, and
other Edinburgenfes, diftinguifhed by their
writings, are well known. J mail only ob-


( 3 2 7 )

ferve here, that there are fome among the
profefTors who have not yet made a figure
as authors, who by thofe who know them
beft, and are competent judges, are confidered
of equal rank with thofe who have. Mr. Du-
gald Stewart, profefTor of moral philofophy,
and Mr. J. Playfair, profeflbr of mathema-
tics, excell in every branch of literature and
fcience, know how to appreciate each, trace
them to their firfl principles, and view them
as connected together, and forming one
whole. Such men are well fitted to raifethe
views of the mere mathematician and dealer
in folitary and unconnected experiments to
the nature and the relations of general truth
or knowledge, and to temper the aiiy eleva-
tions of the unfubftantial metaphyfician, by
frequently checking him in his flights, and
calling back his attention to the objects of
fenfe, from which, or, at leafl, by means of
which, our moft abftracted ideas are origi-
nally derived.

X 4 The

The grand incentive to thofe admirable
efforts that are made by the profeflbrs of
Edinburgh, for the inftru&ion of youth, and
advancement of knowledge, is neceffity.
Their falaries are, on the whole, Lnfignifi can t :
they depend chiefly on the fees given by their
pupils. The ftudents here, as at the other
univerfities in Scotland, are called upon to
give an account of the lectures or leffons
they receive in the public clafs, in the fame
manner that th6 fcholars are examined at
Weilminfter, or other fchools. Thus the
induftry of the young gentlemen is excited by
a principle of honour and ambition. In
the French univerfities, particularly the two
moft celebrated, thofe of Paris and Douay,
it is the cuflofh for the ftudents to give an
account of the iedlures of the profefibrs in
writing. This practice is excellently calcu-
lated to fix attention, to improve memory,
and to ftrengthen the habit of reafoning, and
referring, in the way of analylis, different
particulars to general heads or principles.


( 3 2 9 )

In moft of the eludes, this might be adopted
by the profeifors of Edinburgh, without in-
terfering with any of thofe other practices by
which their univerfity has rifen to its pre-
fent celebrity.

As the minifters of Edinburgh are chofen
by the town-council, who are inclined, for
the moft part, to confult the humours of the
people, the clergy may be confidered rather in
the light of indexes, or fymptoms, than as
influencing, in any material degree, the fen-
timents and manners of their hearers. On
all extraordinary occafions, however, the
clergy, who are in general well refpecled by
the people, are of confequence. Ever fmce
the days of the congregation^ there has been a
great party in Scotland, who fludy to raife
the ecclefiaftical above the civil power, in all
matters that bear the moil diftant relation to
the church. They contend, not only that
the people have a right of chufing their own
fpiritual parlors, but alfo, that to them be-
longs the right of difpofing of thofe tem-

( 33 )

poralities which had been afligned, in times
of popery, by lay patrons, for the mainte-
nance of the clergy, and for the falvation of
both their anceftors and their pofterity.
This is the grand pomum eridos, the main fub-
ject of divilion in the Scottifh ecclefiaftical
courts, and thejhibboktb, by which the zea-
lots for what they call the rights of Chrift,
try if the root of the matter be within their
minifters. Let a man be avaricious, fevere
in his manners, unjuft in his dealings ; let
him be malignant, earthly, fenfual, devilifh ;
nay, let him be gaudy in his apparel, and
even gallant to the ladies, yet fhall zeal
for the rights of the Chriftian people co-
ver the multitude of all thofe fins, and
raife the facred fmner to the very fummit of
popular promotion. On the other hand,
let a candidate for an ecclefiaftical benefice be
generous, affable, andjuft j be he kindly af-
fectioned, heavenly-minded, and inoffenfive
in the whole of his conduct; nay, be he
humble, and even floyenly in his attire, and


an open rebuker, like the feel: of the Seceders*
of promifcuous dancing ; yet if he maintain
the civil rights of lay patrons, he is not deem-
ed a fit perfon to take the charge of fouls.

This doctrine of the rights of the Chriftian
people, to difpofe of the patrimony of the
church, is not a little dangerous to the civil
government. Were the people permitted to
govern the church, they would go on with
their encroachments, and the days of the
Covenant would be renewed. For, it is
ftrongly imprefled on the minds of all fana-
tics, that thcfajnts alone have a right to in-
herit the earth : and a pretext can never be
wanting for controlling the affairs of this


The Seceders, who are very numerous, are religionWtj
who broke off about fifty years ago from the communion of
the church, on account of various corruptions that had crept
into her, but chiefly becaufe the eftabliflied clergy maintain-
ed, or at lead acquiefced in lay-patronage, and neglc&ed to
renew the covenant. The Seceders allow men to dance whh
men, and women to dance with women ; but for men to
dance with women, which they call fromifcueuf dancing, they
oU to b: a g reat abomination.

( 332 )

world, to thofe who imagine themfelves to be
pofTefTed of the exclufive favour of Heaven.
The magiftrates of boroughs in Scotland
have frequent occafion to obferve the ftrong
difpofition of the popular clergy to take the
trouble, not only of conducting fpiritual,
but alfo temporal affairs. A magiftrate of
Edinburgh, reflecting on this pragmatical
turn in a clergyman, faid, lf I ventured my
f< life in a ftorm to bring him acrofs the
<c Frith, and I would now venture it, a fe- '
" cond time, to fet him back again."

During a full century, there has exifted
in Scotland a feel, partly religious and part-
ly political, the members of which are vul-
garly diftinguifhed by the name of Jacobites.
It exhibits a refemblance, in miniature, of
that felect nation, the Jews, who, buffeted
and fpurned by all people and languages on
the face of the earth, perfifl inflexibly in the
doctrines of their fathers. At the Revolu-
tion in 1688, King William, it is faid, made
an offer to the Scotch prelates, of fupporting


( 333 )

Eplfcopacy in Scotland, on condition that
they would own and fupport his right to the
crown. ce Full of heavenly fluff " and endued

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 14 of 16)