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A survey of Scottish literature in the nineteenth century (with some reference to the eighteenth) online

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M. ' . (5». Andrews). F.'?.5 (I -iii ,

APR 1 8 1929

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DEC 2 «*«

















M.A. (St. Andrews). F.R.S.-(Ldin.)



Printed at the State Printing Office, Sacramento.
W. W. SHANNON, Superintendent.

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DUCTION - - - 5



^ III. THE LANGUAGE - - - - 23







ETC. 36



5. PHILOSOPHERS - - - - 38

6. HISTORIANS - - 42






• At the beginning of the nineteenth century, owing to vari-
ous causes, the Scottish capital might perhaps be termed the
focus of literature in the British isles. The isolation of the
Anglican Church in Europe, its antagonism on tlie one hand
to Roman Catholicism, and, on the other hand, to non-episco-
pal reformed churches, had a chilling effect on literature.
With all his greatness, Samuel Johnson was singularly con-
tracted in his principles of judgment, and prejudiced in his
outlook. Moreover, the English universities were so situated
as to be out of the main current of the nation, being at a dis-
tance from the capital, and located in suburban towns. The
very fact that politics in English life exercised so complete a
sway was deadening to literature, for excessive devotion to
politics tends immediately to localism and provincialism.

But in the northern capital, which, as the home of a sepa-
rate national church assembly and organization and of a
separate national law system, had never ceased to continue
the high literary traditions of the Scotland of the Stuarts,
politics had ceased to be a main issue. The statesman,
Viscount Melville, whose statue on a high pillar decorates one
of the most elegant squares in the capital, and who gives his
name to other important streets, was all powerful, and carried
in his pocket the disposal of all political preferment. The
thoughts of Scotchmen at this period did not run on politics
in any local sense.

Aspiring young men were given a career by being drafted
abroad to India and other dependencies of^the Crown, whence


they usually returned after middle age with fortunes, to spend
the remainder of their lives at home. This element has had
quite a bearing on Scotch social and literary life. Not to
mention others, Laurence Oliphant, diplomatist and writer,
and Arthvir J. Balfour, statesman and author, come of this
" nabob" strain.

\There were, then, in the year 1809 four distinct elements in
Scotch life, ready to influence thought, society, and literary
production :

(1) The old aristocratic, Jacobite stock, associated with
Catholic ideals. To it we owe the survival of ballad literature.
The Baroness Nairne was an excellent type of the Jacobite
lady, and Sir Walter Scott's sympathies lay wholly with this
stock. It represented the hereditary principle in life, the
fighting national spirit, and the race type.

(2) The rationalizing clergy and legal fraternity, including
university professors and government officials. They were
keenly alive to French influences. Dr. William Robertson,
Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Dr. Thomas Brown, and, gener-
ally, the founders in 1802 of The Edinhurgh Review belonged
to this class. They prided themselves on their cosmopolitan-
ism, and freedom from cant and prejudice.

(3) The militant Evangelical clergy, of the Andrew
Thomson type, including some sturdy seceders, like Thomas
McCrie and John Jamieson.

(4) The Highland Celtic population, which, until 1745, was
virtually outside the pale of Edinburgh influence, and became
specifically Protestant only in the latter half of the eighteenth

Had Burns lived, he would have drifted into association
with the second group, among whom he counted most of his
friends. As it was, the founding of a professorship of agricul-
ture at Edinburgh was mooted, and his name was mentioned
for the post. He can hardly be said to have represented a
current tendency; and his imitators have been a remarkably
feeble set. He rather summed up previous forces; but he was
antagonistic to those mentioned under groups 3" and 4.

Several regiments in the Peninsular army of Wellington
were officered by Highlanders who preferred to speak Celtic
at mess. This marks the return of Celtic ideals into the main


national life. These army officers, returning to their early
homes, exercised a civilizing and unifying influence. Before
the Forty-five, the Celtic connection between Scotland and
Ireland was unbroken, but thereafter the Scotch and Celtic
Gaels became unintelligible to one another. Scottish Celtic
literature, as independent of Irish, ])egins with the close of
the eighteenth century. In 1809 was published P. Turner's
enlarged edition of Ronald MacDonald's Collection of Gaelic
Poems (1776).. With the breaking up of the clan system after
1745, a new school, dealing with love and nature, sprang up,
and thrust aside the old personal poetry of the bards. All
Gaelic verse depends far more on its form than on its matter;
and the melody dominates the logic. It is interesting to note
how this new element will affect literary forms, since the
measures preferred by the Celts differ radically from those
appealing to Saxon ears.

The century therefore opened with an almost complete
assimilation of the people of the Northwest, who were now
ready to take their place with the Lowlanders in the universi-
ties, the church covmcils, the government services, and else-
where. The universities had begun to receive a steady infiux
of Highland students.

Only two of the universities remained wholly Scottish in
their student constituency. Glasgow has ever been a univer-
sity for the Protestant North of Ireland. Francis Hutcheson,
the founder of the Scottish school of philosophy, Lord Kelvin,
James Bryce, the historian and statesman — among many
others — may be mentioned as of North of Ireland stock. Wales
and Northwest England also sent a regular contingent of stu-
dents to Glasgow. Prof. Henry Jones, for instance, successor to
Edward Caird in the chair of Moral Philosophy, is a Welsh-
man, who went northward to the Ch^de for his higher education.

Edinburgh began the century as a cosmopolitan city edu-
cationally, and has continued to be such, especially in her
medical schools. Aberdeen and St. Andrews, however, have
remained Scottish. As graduate schools, none of them have
developed. A close connection was set up between Glasgow
and Oxford by the Snell Exhibitions which drafted her best
students, after graduation, to the banks of the Isis, and made
Balliol College virtually a graduate school for the West of


Scotland. Adam Smith was a Snell Exhibitioner (though
he felt unhappy and out of place in Oxford) ; and the dis-
tinguished Scotchmen who have followed him and gained by
the change are very numerous: Sir William Hamilton, Arch-
bishop Tait of Canterbury, John Campbell Shairp, Lord Presi-
dent Inglis, John Nichol, George Douglas Brown, author of
The House with the Green Shutters, and others.

Similar scholarships were founded at Edinburgh Univer-
sity, and also at St. Andrews and Aberdeen, which drafted
graduates to Oxford and Cambridge. The professorate at the
different universities has been largely made up of men who
were thus doubly trained. The connection between Aberdeen
and Cambridge is close, Aberdeen for a long time having a
particularly efficient professor of mathematics, who prepared
a succession of young Aberdonians for success in the South.

The country practically ceased to educate her aristocracy,
who went south to Eton, Harrow, and the English public
schools, and thence to Cambridge and Oxford. The standard
of living at the national universities was thus kept low, and
they became thoroughly democratic. While giving up her
aristocracy, however, to England to educate, she received in
return English Dissenters, like Thomas Spencer Baynes, who
were debarred from their own universities by the Test Act.
This contingent gave a valuable thinking element to the

The Duke of Argyle, father of the present Duke and author
of the Reign of Law and other works — whose autobiography
has just been published (1906) — was a student at Edinburgh
University, early in the forties. In the seventies, under his
auspices as Chancellor, a hall was founded at St. Andrews
University after the model of the Oxford colleges, and he sent
some of his sons to study there ; as did the Marquis of Bread-
albane, the Earl of Aberdeen, the Earl of Southesk, and other
noblemen. The institution was short-lived, but in a literary
way has not been unproductive. Andrew Lang was a resident
— the most prolific pen among modern Scottish litterateurs.
Lord Archibald Campbell, another St. Andrews Hall student,
established the "Argyleshire Series," to which we owe several
excellent books, notably J. G. Campbell's Waifs and Strays of
Celtic Tradition.


Close as has been the relation between the universities and
literature, it has been of an amateurish and not systematic
kind. Professors of Law and Logic, of tlie Latin and Greek
Classics, and of Theology have often devoted their chief labors
to literary production. At the beginning of the nineteenth
century there was a chair of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres at
Edinburgh University. It was founded in 1762, and W. E.
Aytoun, author of the inimitable Bon GavUicr Ballads, and of '
Lays of the Scottisli Cavaliers, became its occupant in l.S4o.
He was followed by David Masson, a rugged writer and thinker
of the Carlyle type, but not a stylist; and Masson was followed
in 1895 by George Baintsbury, who has given us perhaps the
best compendium of English literature available for college
purposes, besides authoritative work in French literature. His
assistant, G. Gregory Smith, who received his later training at
Oxford, is the most systematically equipped teacher of the
subject at present in the Scottish universities. He has done
much for the Scottish Text Society, founded in 1882, as general
editor, and has written The Days of James IV., and Specimens
from Middle Scots, the first compendium of the kind for college
use, on the basis of Morris's Selections from Early English

Glasgow University established a chair of English Litci-a-
ture in 1862, and its first occupant was John Nichol, a man of
literary gifts and judgment, himself an author. He contrib-
uted the Byron volume to the " English Men of Letters " series,
and the introductory sketch of Burns in the fine Scott Douglas
edition of the poet (Edinburgh, Paterson, 1896). He was suc-
ceeded by A. C. Bradley, late Professor of Poetry at Oxford,
w4io resigned in 1900 after two years' service; and Mr. Brad-
ley's place was taken by the distinguished literary critic,
Walter Raleigh,* an Edinburgh-Oxford man, for several years
Professor in University College, Liverpool. His Milton, Wonls-
ivorth, and Stevenson are in the best traditions of the Scottish
literary school of the beginning of the nineteenth century.
He has been succeeded by ^\'illiam Macneile Dixon, a graduate
of Trinity College, Dublin, trained under Edward Dowden.

* Walter Raleigh left for Oxford in 1904, to become Professor of English
Literature and Language there; and in 1906, A. C. Bradley was succeeded in
the cliair of Poetry at Oxford by John W. Mackail, an Ayrshire student, and
a graduate of Edinburgh and Oxford universities.


Rhetoric is still attached to the chair of Logic at Glasgow,
and this was no dead letter in John Veitch's time.

There was no separate chair of English Literature at St.
Andrews University until the very close of the century,
although Dundee University College, founded in 1887, and
affiliated to St. Andrews University in 1897, had and has a
separate chair. Under Professors Spalding and Baynes,
however, English literature did not suffer neglect. The first
occupant of the separate chair. Rev. A. Lawson, D.D.,
appointed in 1897, has since edited The Poems of Alexander
Hume for the Scottish Text Society. William Knight, who
occupied the chair of Moral Philosophy from 1877 to 1902, has
contributed much to current literature, notably by his Works
of William WordswortJi and Dorothy Wordsworth, 12 vols.

As Principal of the United College, St. Andrews University,
a post which he held along with the Professorship of Poetry
at Oxford, John Campbell Shairp did much for literary criti-
cism, and something in the line of literary production. John
Tulloch, Principal of St. Mary's College, was also rather a
literar}' man than a theologian. He wrote Rational Theology
and Christian Philosophy in the XVIItli Century, and a
biography of Pascal.

W . A. Craigie, a St. Andrews man, now associated with Dr.
J. A. H. Murray and Henry Bradley in the editing of the
great Oxford Dictionary, has published a Primer of Burns,
which supplies some new and useful philological material.
He has given, through the Scottish Review, several timely
articles on Scandinavian topics, thus returning to a field that
lay open before John Jamieson at the beginning of last cen-
tury, when he was working at his dictionary.

Aberdeen University has contributed in the nineteenth
century less than any other of the Scottish universities to the
department of English literature. In Burns literature, for
example, where Edinburgh has produced contributions by
Carlyle, J. G. Lockhart (also a Glasgow University man), Alex-
ander Smith, R. L. Stevenson, Scott Douglas, and others;
where Glasgow has given us the critical writings of Nichol, as
well as tlie famous Burns Concordance ; where St. Andrews
has given us Shairp's volume in the " English Men of Letters"


series, W. A. Craigie's Primer, and T. F. Henderson's excellent
work in the Centenary Edition; Aberdeen can claim nothing,
except that J. Stuart Blackie, an Aberdeen man who became
an Edinburgh professor, wrote the life of Robert Burns in the
" Great Writers " series. English Literature remained attached
to Logic at the University until 1894, when the Chalmers chair
was founded. Professor William Minto (ob. 1893) was author
of two compendiums of literature, Manual of Enijliah Prone
Literature (1872) and Characteristics of English Poets, neither
of them contributions to Scottish literary criticism. His
Literature in the Georgian Era appeared posthumously.* Yet
he preferred to keep the chair of Logic at the time of the
division of the chairs.

The century opened, then, with professors of English Lit-
erature and lecturers at each of the four universities, and
excellent immediate prospects at both Glasgow and Edinburgh;
but much need of systematic philological work to strengthen
the hell es-lett res. For instance, the new material in the Henley
and Henderson Poetry of Robert Burns, showing how Scotland
received poetical forms from France and carried them on while
they were suffered to die out in England, should have come
direct from the universities. In etymology there is to-day no
strong school in any of the four.

If we now consider literary productions, topographically, we
find that the country has various districts which have never
failed, from generation to generation, to produce able men.
From "True Thomas" onward, the vale of Tweed has sent
forth its quota; and Edinburgh University and city have drawn
them thither. Next come the men of Galloway and the vale
of Nith, large of stature, with a strong Celtic race element in
them. Brythonic and not Goidhelic. They have also tended
Edinburgh-ward. The vale of Clyde — Ayrshire, Renfrewshire,
Lanarkshire, Dumbartonshire— is the old home of the Strath-
clyde Celts, in touch by water with the Gaels of Argylcshire;
and Glasgow is their natural metropolis. And yet the ancient
burgh of Paisley near by has not been effaced, but has ever kept

*The above remarks on Aberdeen XTniversity sbould perhaps be (lualified.
Spalding, George MacDonald the novelist, David Masson, and Hill Burton
the historian, among others, came from Aberdeen halls; and Aberdeen is
doing her full share in contributing to the .Sro//w/i Text Societ;/ Y>uh\\cui\ons.
See also under Bibliography, VI, Historians.

12 SCOTTISH literati;re in the nineteenth centiky.

asserting herself, in u literary way. This Strathclyde district
was the home of militant Evangelicalisn), so distasteful to
Burns; it was also the home country of Wallace and of Bruce,
national Scottish heroes; as well as the historic seat of the
Covenanters. Waldensian Lollards are said to have settled
there in mediaeval times, and they have left a legacy of song
as a heritage.

Next comes a preeminently Scottish country, where more of
the pure Pictish clement remains than anywhere else; more
ballad lore ; more quaint burghs ; more of Scotland as she
appeared in Stuart times under French architecture and
Franco-Flemish influences. This is the "kingdom" of Fife,
with a university of her own, St. Andrews, and an easy access
by water to Leith and Edinburgh.

Immediately to the north lies one of the most productive
districts, intellectually speaking, of Scotland, with its ancient
abbey of Arbroath and its cathedral of Brechin ; strongly
Scandinavian in the temper of its people, especially of the
fisher folk, who are so well described in Scott's Antiquary.
North of it lie Kincardine, the home of the noble Keiths, whom
Burns's ancestors served in peace and war, and Al)erdeen,
which retained more hereditary Episcopalians than any county
in Scotland. Its two colleges, King's and Marischal, have
always been active educational centers. An Aberdeen profes-
sor, Henry Scougal, at the close of the seventeenth century,
wrote a book, The Life of God in the Sovl of Man, which was to
influence profoundly Oxford religious men, and have a special
effect on both the Wesleys. Banffshire and Elgin have supplied
Aberdeen tFniversity with a steady stream of good students.
In Perthshire, the home of the Drummonds, Jacobitism and
Jacobite song were once strongly in evidence; it was Carolina
Nairne's county.

Stirlingshire and the vale of Forth natvirally sujiply Edin-
burgh with her best men. East Lothian, the home of William
Dunbar, of John Major, and of John Knox, has been producing
leading men in almost every generation.

[/Scotland has been exploited for us topographically by novelist
and story-teller since the time of Scott, whose own romances
are a storehouse of local description: — Lanarkshire in Old
Mortality: Glasgow and West Stirlingsliire in Rid) Rnj/ : Dum-


fries aiul the Solway in (In 1/ Ma ii mri mi -mhI li'cihin u ntlrt : the
Tweed district in The MonaMery and Tlir lihirl- Ihvarf ; For-
farshire in The Antiquary ; Kinross and West Fifeshire in The
Ahhol : tlie shores of the Tay mid Fife in The Fair Maid of
Perth : Edinburgh in The Heart of Midlotliian and Gvy Man-
nerirnj : Perthshire in Warerley ; the far Shetlands in The
Pirate: and the list might be enlarged from his romances in

Scott has been followed by John Gait, who gives us Ayrshire
in The Provost and The Ayrshire Legatees; by George Mac-
donald, who describes Aberdeenshire and the Northeast in Alec
Forbes of Hoivglen, Robert Falconer, and David ElginbroiJ : l)y
Robert Louis Stevenson, who deals with the Perthshire high-
lands and the Northwest in Kidnapped , and with Edinburgh
and Peeblesshire in Weir of ITerwiston; by Samuel R. Crockett,
who exploits South Ayrshire in The Grey Man of Avchendrane,
and Galloway in The Men of the Moss Hags ; by Mrs. Oliphant,
who reproduces the quaint gray coast of Fife in Katie Stewart ;
by William Black, who gives us the Hebrides in A Princess of
Thule and Argyleshire in Macleod of Dare; by Neil Munro,
wlio describes Inverary audits neighborhood in, John Splendid ;
and by David Gilmour,*who reproduces for us the weavers of
Paisley in his The Pev Foil-. The list might be extended

A magnet w^hich has attracted literarv men to Scotland has
been the triennial election by Scottish university students of
their Lord Rector. It brought back Thomas Campbell to his
own university and city in 1827; he had left Scotland for the
southern capital in his twenty-sixth year just as The Edin-
burgh Review was founded. Thomas Babington Macaulay had
also this connection, in 1849, with Glasgow University. There
were two other bonds of connection: his father, Zachary
Macaulay, was a Scotchman from the shores of the Clyde;
and in 1839 he himself became a member of Parliament for
Edinburgh, thus representing a Scottish constituency. Other
distinguished Lord Rectors have been Lord Beaconsfield and
John Bright at Glasgow; Gladstone, Carlyle, and Stafford
Northcote at Edinburgh; John Stuart Mill, Froude, Dean Stan-
ley, and Lord Selborne at St. Andrews; and James Bryce and
Lord Rosebery at Aberdeen. The addresses of these men have


frequently been replete with interest to students of the national
literature; for instance, Dean Stanley's rectorial address in 1875
led to a notable discussion on Scottish ecclesiastical history
in which Principal Robert Rainy took a prominent part.

From the time of Dugald Stewart, Scotland became a recog-
nized center of philosophic thought, and her universities con-
stantly drew students from England and elsewhere. During
the nineteenth century, no professor of philosophy, not a
native, or at least home-trained, was to be found at any one of
the four universities. Things have changed since the opening
of the twentieth century, the two recent appointments to St.
Andrews University being exceptions to the old custom. Henry
Frederick Stout, who succeeded David George Ritchie in the
chair of Logic and Metaphysics in 1903, is a native of the north
of England, and was trained at Cambridge University under
James Ward; and Bernard Bosanquet, who succeeded in the
same year to the chair of Moral Philosophy, held successively
})y Ferrier, Flint, and Knight, was educated at Harrow School
and at Balliol College, Oxford, and is also a native of the north
of England.

There has been a give-and-take in Scottish and American
university relations. The first President of Princeton had a
marked influence upon Scottish thought, as we know from the
tribute Thomas Chalmers paid to Jonathan Edwards; an
influence perhaps more marked than that exercised upon his
own countrymen. In the year 1868 Scotland gave a President
to the New Jersey institution, who proved a signal success.
James McCosh was a brilliant student under Sir William
Hamilton, receiving in 1834 the distinction of an honorary
M.A. degree at Edinburgh for philosophic speculation. Another
student of Sir William Hamilton's, John Clark Murray, crossed
to Queen's College, Canada, in 1861, and was transferred eleven
years later to McGill University, Montreal. He was succeeded
there in 1903 by another Edinburgh student, William Caldwell,
author of a valuable work on Schopenhauer. At Queen's, now
a university, Dr. Murray was succeeded by John Watson,
trained at Glasgow under Edward Caird. James Seth, brother
of Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, successor of Alexander

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Online LibraryJames Main DixonA survey of Scottish literature in the nineteenth century (with some reference to the eighteenth) → online text (page 1 of 5)