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FAMOUS EDINBURGH STUDENTS




Ull.MA.M DKUMMONDOK HAWTHOl-



FAMOUS
EDINBURGH
STUDENTS



T. N. FOULIS, PUBLISHER
EDINBURGH, LONDON ^ BOSTON MCMXIV



Published October 19 14



TURNBULL AND SPEARS, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH



PREFACE

THE majority of the articles contained in
this book appeared in The Student^ the
official magazine of EdinburghUniversity,
in Session 1907- 1908. The series was sug-
gested by Mr Basil H. Watt and the arrangements
were supervised by Mr A. F. Giles (now Lecturer in
Ancient History). The idea of publication in volume
form was brought forward more than once, but on each
occasion it was dropped. When the Students' Repre-
sentative Councildecided finally torepublish the series
it was felt that the list should be somewhat expanded,
andthishasbeen done, though for reasons of time and
space it is still far from being exhaustive.

The reader will find in the articles, many of them
written by famousEdinburghstudentsof alater date,
a number of interesting facts connected with the
earlier days of our Alma Mater. For example, it is
food for thought to note that Carlyle w^alked a hun-
dred miles to his first matriculation and thatNasmyth
was enabled to pay his class fees with the proceeds
of his model-making. Medicals of the present gener-
ation will be interested in the concise entries of James
Y. Simpson's cash-book, e.g.^ "FinnenHadies 2d. and
Bones of theLeg^i, is.," andinthefact that Materia
Medica left on the mind of Charles Darwin "nothing
but the memory of cold breakfastless hours on the pro-
perties of rhubarb." Students of literature will shud-
der at the narrow escape Johnson had when, but for
the intervention of the Duke of Argyll, Bos well would
have received a commission in the Guards, and a de-



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

scriptionof OliverGoldsmith's wardrobe would make
many sigh for the brave days of old, were it not for the
fact that the picture of the "Assemblies" of the eight-
eenth century seems scarcely so inviting.

So in the earlier struggles and experiences here
portrayed of these illustrious sons, we have an insight
into their lives which endears to us both themselves
and the University whose fame they have helped to
establish. It is our hope that this little book may
bring those of our own time to a knowledge of and
an intimacy with these alumni who are too often for-
gotten or neglected to-day.

In closing, it remains only for me to record my
thanks to those to whom I am indebted in the com-
pilation of this volume. The goodwill of the original
contributors has alone made the volume possible, and
the new articles have been written at short notice
and with no mention of inconvenience by Dr Bruce,
Dr Knott, Mr Horsburgh, Rev. Mr Crockett, Mr
J. Ian Macpherson,and Mr Blyth Webster. To these
manyanddistinguishedauthorsisdue any merit which
the volume possesses, while for the mere preparation
and arrangement of their work, as an official of the
Students' Representative Council, I append my name.

W. Scott Stevenson



THE LIST OF CONTENTS

DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORN DEN . . Page i

BY A. BLYTH WEBSTER

JAMES THOMSON 13

BY PROFESSOR G. GREGORY SMITH

DAVID HUME ...... 21

BY PROFESSOR A. SETH PRINGLE PATTISON

PRINCIPAL ROBERTSON .... 29
BY PROFESSOR P. HUME BROWN

OLIVER GOLDSMITH . .... 35

BY OLIPHANT SMEATON

JAMES BOSWELL 43

BY SIR WILLIAM ROBERTSON NICOLL

SIR WALTER SCOTT 53

BY PROFESSOR SAINTSBURY

MUNGO PARK, EXPLORER .... 59
BYW. S. BRUCE, LL.D.

JOHN LEYDEN, POET AND ORIENTALIST . 69
BY W. S. CROCKETT

HENRY, LORD BROUGHAM . . . . ^^

BY J. IAN MACPHERSON, M.P.

SIR DAVID BREWSTER .... 85

BY A. P. LAURIE

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON .... 93
BY A. F. WHYTE, M. P.



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

THOMAS CARLYLE .... Page 99

BY SIR JAMES CRICHTON-BROWNE

LORD JOHN RUSSELL . . . • "S

BY WILL C. SMITH, K.C.

JAMES SYME, SURGEON . . . .121

BY JOSEPH BELL, M.D.

JAMES NASMYTH, ENGINEER . . -133

BY E. M. HORSBURGH

CHARLES DARWIN I43

BY PROFESSOR J. ARTHUR THOMSON

SIR JAMES Y. SIMPSON, BART. . . .149

BY SIR A. R. SIMPSON, BART.

DOCTOR JOHN BROWN . . . -157

BY A. CRUM BROWN

PROFESSOR JOHN GOODSIR . . .165

BY SIR WILLIAM TURNER

JAMES CLERK MAXWELL . . . .173

BY CARGILL G. KNOTT

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON . .181

BY REV. JOHN KELMAN, D.D.



THE LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

WILLIAM DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN

Frontispiece
From a Painting at Hawthornden, by kind permission of Sir
J. H. Williams-Drummond, Bart.

JAMES THOMSON .... Page 16

From an Engraving after Aikman

DAVID HUME 24

From an Engraving after Allan Ramsay

PRINCIPAL ROBERTSON .... 32

From an Engraving after Sir Henry Raeburn

OLIVER GOLDSMITH ..... 40

From a Mezzotint after Sir Joshua Reynolds

JAMES BOSWELL 48

From an Engraving after Sir Joshua Reynolds

SIR WALTER SCOTT 56

From an Engraving by Heath after James Saxon

MUNGO PARK 64

From a Photogravure after a copy of Edridge^s paintings by
kind permission of J. L. Caw, Esq.

JOHN LEYDEN 72

From a Print in the National Portrait Gallery, by kind per-
mission of the Trustees

LORD BROUGHAM 80

From an Engraving after Sir Thomas Lawrence

SIR DAVID BREWSTER . . . .88

From an Engraving after Sir Henry Raeburn

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON . . . .96

From an Engraving after Lucas



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

THOMAS CARLYLE .... Page 112

From a Photograph by Johi Patrick, Edinburgh

LORD JOHN RUSSELL . . • .120

From an Engraving, by kind permission of Messrs Longmans,
Green St' Co.

JAMES SYME 128

From a Drawing in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery,
by kind permission of the Trustees

JAMES NASMYTH 136

By ki?id permission of Mr John Murray

CHARLES DARWIN ..... 144
By kindpermission of the Proprietors of '^Harper's ATagazine"
and Mr John Murray

SIR JAMES SIMPSON, BART. . . .152

By kind permission of Sir A. R. Simpson, Bart.

DR JOHN BROWN . . . . .160

From Painting by Sir George Reid, by kind permission of the
Trustees of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

PROFESSOR JOHN GOODSIR . . .168

By kifid permission oj Sir William Turner

JAMES CLERK MAXWELL . . . .176

By kind pertnission of Messrs Afacmillan &' Co., Ltd.

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON . . .184

By kind pertnission of Miss E. B. Simpson



DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORN-
DEN ^ BY A. BLYTH WEBSTER



studia hilaritate proveniunt . . ."



DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORN-
DEN ^ BY A. BLYTH WEBSTER

HE came to the University from the High
School in his sixteenth year, and on July
the twenty-seventh, 1605, departed with
a Mastership. Of his qualities as pupil, of
his love of books, so gentle, tolerant, mingled, and so
fruitful, and of certain lovable habits found early and
at all times in his life. Bishop Sage tells us in the brief
unaffected Memoir which begins the Folio of 171 1.
"The early signs of that worth, " he says, ' 'which after-
wards appeared to the world were very conspicuous,"
and again, "his greatest familiarity and conversation
was with the University men and men of learning."
He is said to have understood well the common meta-
physical learning which then obtained in the schools,
yet not to have taken up all his time that way, for he
"applied some of it to the reading of the Classic Au-
thorsandof Mathematics."The University of hisday,
gaining its majority in the year inwhich he entered it,
taught in Theology and Arts only, and offered no
training for the lawyer's life his father, it would seem,
had determined forhim; so hewas sentabroad forfour
years to study civil law at Bourges and Paris, "being
then twenty-one years of age and of more sense and
better instructed in letters than many of his years."'
Sage says that he did this with great diligence. But as
a list in our Library, in his own hand, of the books he
read during these years contains but one work of jur-
isprudence — Justinian, it is probable that he studied
law less than poetry. And in another passage in Sage

3



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

we may read that "he neither loved the fatigue nor
harshness of the Law, though it indeed brings great
gain and advantages along with it; for the delicacy of
his wit always run on the pleasantness and usefulness
of History, and on the Fame and softness of Poetry."

One of his teachers, Mr John Ray, Professor of
Humanity, Drummond praised in a sonnet written to
the memory of this "much loving and beloved mas-
ter." The Professor who thus came to be praised by
a poet, and for his verse albeit Latin, and who was
charged at the desire of another poet. Sir William
Alexander of Menstrie, with the collection of the
Scottish Poets who had written in Latin, wrote once
of Drummond's mother, herself a poet's sister, prais-
ingherindefaultofothermerits,itseems,forbeingmo-
ther to her son. Quis Semelem nosset si non genuisset
lacchum? is the unobstrusive and questioning tribute
of this Latinist. Between this mother and her son, it
should be said, there was some unpleasantness and a
legal proceeding. Yet she was stated, again by Sage,
to be "a woman of excellent breeding and of good
and virtuous Hfe." Mr Ray in his turn was celebrated
by his pupil, a little playfully in the fashion of the
time, and with puns to which his name lent obvious
occasion. He is then "the priest of Phoebus" and "of
Latin Muses greatest praise": but in a later line ap-
pears also as "Quintilian once more dead again" —
which makes one doubtful.

Drummond, we may believe, was a true student,
responsive to the Phoebus if not to the Quintilian in

4



WILLIAM DRUMMOND

the "soul which so many souls did frame." Listen to
the helpful Sage: — "Having passed his course at the
University, he did not, according to the commom cus-
tom, give over reading, or think that hehad a full stock
of learning, as a great many vainly imagine: he had
more sense andknewbetter things; that the short time
spent at schools and colleges is only designed to begin
youth in their studies, and set just rules and true me-
thods for the prosecuting them. So he continued close
some years reading the solid and unaffected authors
of Antiquity, which he not only retained in his me-
mory, but digested in his judgment: which was of
great use to him afterwards, as maybe seen frequently
in his excellant works both in prose and verse. . . . He
was not much taken up with the ordinary amusements
of dancing, singing, playing, etc., though he had as
much of them as a well-bred gentleman should have,
and when his spirits were too much bended by severe
studies, he unbended them by playing on his lute,
which he did to admiration."

His father's death in 1610 having removed the
only reason for continuing the unwelcome study of
Law, he retired in his twenty-fifthyear to Hawthorn-
den, "a sweet and solitary seat, and very fit and pro-
per for the Muses; and fell again to the studying the
Greek and Latin authors." 'Tis true. Sage goes on,
"he loved Obscurity and retirement for which he was
mightily to blame; for it's a great disparagment to
Virtue and Learning that those things which make
men useful to the world, should incline them to go

5



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

out of it. But this liberty ought to have been granted
to him as soon as to any man; for he did not spend his
time in ease and indolencewith a design only to please
himself but withdrew out of the crowd with desires
of enlightening and instructing the minds of those
that remained in it."

This life of careful seclusion and so gracious study
and of a suavity, which was itself perhaps part of the
good fortune of his genius, was, at the end only, brok-
en in upon by political and sectarian trouble. He lived
aloof, travelling little or not at all, and spent his soli-
tary energies in a continual service of his art. Remar-
ried in his forty-sixth year, and had many children;
rebuilt his house; wrote topical pamphlets and some
history; took out patents for twenty-seven ingenious
inventions; and was the close friend of poets, Dray-
ton's correspondent and Ben Jonson's host. He cared
nothing for preferment, avoiding rather than seeking
it, and writingof riches in his Cypress Grove, "They
are like to thorns which, laid on an open hand, are
easily blown away, and wound the closing and hard
gripping." In 1627 he gave to the University — add-
ing further to the gift in 1628 and 1630 — some five
hundred volumes in various languages, and a few
manuscripts. In this collection a Latin catalogue was
afterwards supplied, containing a translation of what
appears in the 1 7 1 1 volume as a brief essay of but a
page, in English, Of Libraries.

Andof this scholar and recluse, this ardent student
of the books, the art, the poetry of the Classic world,

6



WILLIAM DRUMMOND

and evenmoreardently of the age of theRenaissance,
a Bishop, remember, was able to write: — "He never
thought rehgion consisted in peevishness or sourness
of mind: on the contrary his humour was very jovial
and cheerful, especially among his friends and com-
rades, with whom sometimes he took a bottle only ad
hilaritatem, according to the example of the best of
the ancient and modern poets, for the raising his
spirits, which were much flagged with constant read-
ing and meditation; but he never went to excess or
committed anything against the rules of religion and
good manners."

Meis libris^meis oculis contenius — BishopSagetrans-
fers them to Drummond, these words of that perfect
humanist of the fifteenth century, Pico Delia Miran-
dola. To such an artistic temper what is local, what is
visible, counts for so much that it may be almost said
to count for everything. To find the formula for Drum-
mond there is no way so sure as that of pilgrimage
from Roslin Chapel by the banks of the Esk to Haw-
thornden, and thence to Lasswade Church. Here
were his true sources, his inspiration. Here was his
life. Here, early in it, he met and mourned a love.
Here he wrote one of the most melodious descants
ever consecrated to the majesty of Death, in prose
that foreshadows and is not shamed by Sir Thomas
Browne's. Here was his "green mother in the shady
grove."

"Here Damon lies, whose songs did sometimes grace
The murmuring Esk; may roses shade the place."



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

There are those who deny to the Elizabethan son-
net any measurable sincerity or personal veracity in
its expression of emotional experience; who will oc-
cupy themselves, and rest content, with such de-
nouncing phrases as"mosaic of plagiarism,""medley
of imitative conceits," "fashionable exercise in Ar-
cadianism" and the like; or attempt even to dismiss it,
in Ben Jonson's manner at Hawthornden himself, as
exotic — a tissue of words and phrases stolen from
Italy and France. And, in a slight sense, the sonne-
teers themselves give evidence against their own
form; Gabriel Harvey and Chapman writing parodies
of the prescribed convention, Davies grumbling at
those "base rhymers who daily beget bastard sonnets
to their own shames and poetry's disgrace," Drayton
freely admitting his own andderiding others'borrow-
ings, Watson so brazenlypublishing his subservience
to foreign models. Yet it must be obvious, one would
think to the least happy of critics, how merely capti-
ous it is to draw anything in the nature of final infer-
ence from the derivative elements in the sonnet's
vogue. Its habit, certainly, like that of the ceremonial
and etiquette it partly mirrored, was the monopoly
of a minority, of Sidney's circle and its followers, who
fathered it on a motley company of poets first, then
poetasters. And a poetic mode thus limited and de-
fined, with the resulting commonalty of thought and
idea, and with a poetical citizenship that did imply
fixed ordinances, naturally and too soon became a
more or less frivolous convention. So that the sonnet

8



WILLIAM DRUMMOND

came to be indeed an instrument, susceptible on the
one hand of a wonderful polish and cunning of hand,
and on the other of caprice, of wanton ingenuity and
expression. And just because of that, its originality,
its integrity as poetry, resides not so much in its acts
of imagination as in its forms, colours, patterns, tex-
tures: and depends not so much on the idea, as on
something in the moment and manner of its embodi-
ment.

Now it is not till this distinction of a possible sec-
ondary or subsequent originality, so to speak, in poe-
try is reached that Drummond's achievement is to be
rightly known. You will find in his more ephemeral
verse some indiiferent frolicking with language; and
in epigram, satire, and complimentary piece much
that is pedestrian. In the Madrigal he gives himself
almost wholly, yet with two great exceptions, to a
nice verbal daintiness and experiment. There, and in
these, his trifles, he is, if you like, artificer. But in the
sonnets — never. For those he must have known some
not restless but impassioned hours, and there is no
dalliancethere. Hisculture, his refinement, the choice-
ness of his natural vein, his scrupulous rejection of
alien analogies, his keen sense of proportion and ad-
justment, his gifts of melody — these have strained
out and away impure extraneous matter, producing
in their highestfaculty of symmetry an almost perfect
example of the accommodating of inspiration to act-
ual given conditions of composition. Something still
in the wont and use of a familiar imagery is to be

9



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

traced to models, to Petrarch, Tasso and Marino or to
the nearer poets of the P/eiad. But his true originality
begins as their thoughts take form and order from
his mind, take from him delicacy and a uniform senti-
ment, a colour, too, and blend of language outside the
possibilities of more restrained French or Italian. The
vital question, the only question that is criticism, must
be how, not how much, has he borrowed; how has he
made it his own; how wrought it together withhisown
art; how steeped it in his own qualities and graces?

For instance, a number of the sonnets refer to the
loss of his first bethrothed, Miss Cunningham, and
speak or sing in terms of a spiritual and elegiac pen-
siveness of which he thus came to know the secret.
And they are pre-eminent in unity of form and feel-
ing over those that express more abstract or less per-
sonal moods. Read his "What doth it serve to see
Sun's burning face," and then the "Las que me sert
de voir ces belles pleines" of Desportes, and note
that there is initial verbal resemblancebut no further
imaginative affinity at all. Or study the "Dear chor-
ister who from these shadows sends," to feel beyond
the silken texture, the delicate grace of workmanship,
the Tightness, fitness, and completeness of the form,
beyond these — the tender agitation, real then, real
now, of the actual lover finding a bird's song at once
mysteriously sad, mysteriously fervent. Sonnets such
as these, with the "Sad Queen of Silence," and above
all the perfect "Sleep, Silencechild,"areof that order
of poetry that undertakes to replace an actual beauty

lo



III



WILLIAM DRUMMOND

of the earth that must be broken by one that shall
not easily be worn out. Passion is ordered with a
strange decorum, is mindful of the pieties and polite-
ness of old art, accepts and is obedient to appointed
rules of courtesy, yet is itself.So that when he leaves
the narrow limits of the sonnet for the ampler ode
as in that salutation of his century to morning,
"Phoebus Arise," which for two generations has
stood in the forefront of the "Golden Treasury," he
passes, as our living poet among women* has written
"out of the gates of the garden of stanzas and walks
(not astray) in that further freedom where all is in-
terior law."

Quietist of the Renaissance, into the untroubled
waters of whose soul the devotional thought of his
age sank deep, yet with a"sweet calmness"(Milton's
nephew gives the words), there to undergo a change,
a spiritual process that is his real claim to originality,
and behind whom, if only far behind, is always the
figure finally of Plato — he did not so much bring his
art of song and sonnet into existence with himself,
as inherit it and then carry it on and perfect it by a
number of grateful and loyal yet distinct retouch-
ings. But in its secret of perpetual indebtedness and
no less perpetualinitiative he madeit secure, and with
double immunity. And like Pater's Raphael, type of
the scholar artist of the entire Renaissance, may be
fancied to have said, "I, too, am utterly purposed that
I will not offend."

* Mrs Meynell in "The Flower of the Mind."
II



JAMES THOMSON ^ BY PRO-
FESSOR G. GREGORY SMITH



JAMES THOMSON ^ BY PRO-
FESSOR G. GREGORY SMITH

DR JOHNSON found it hard, even with
the aid of Bozzy, to collect information
of the early career of the author of the
Seasons. A few facts have been added in
recent years, and one or two of the Doctor's state-
ments have been revised. It is, for example, now
settled, to the honour of Scotland and the Muses,
that the poet's boots were not in sad disrepair when
he reached London.

Thomson's coming to Edinburgh College, in 1 7 1 5,
appears to have been unhappy. He had ridden forty-
five miles from Ednam Manse, mounted behind his
father's man; but he was no sooner left by his charge
than he tramped homewards, and arrived at his
father's door before the horse brought back the ser-
vant from his shopping and revels in the capital. The
truant maintained that he could study to more profit
in the country. It may have been that painful strug-
gles with Latin prose at Jedburgh school had un-
nerved him for the work of the college class-rooms,
and that he had already acquired that indolent habit
which had an important influence, good as well as bad,
on his later life. He had, of course, to return, and to
make the best of his exile as an Arts student. A few
months later his father died, a victim of "diabolical
malignity," during pastoral efforts to lay a ghost in
his parish; and soon thereafter his mother wound up
the family aflfairs, and removed to Edinburgh.
Thomson pursued his Arts course for four years,

15



EDINBURGH STUDENTS

and then enteredthe Divinity Hall. He did notgradu-
ate, for in those days collegians, even the best, had no
magisterial ambition. Academic duty, as the stren-
uous modern understands it, was not severe; one
man was as good, and as happy, as his neighbour.
Many youths who afterwards made their mark had,
through no fault of their own, and to no hurt to
themselves,undistinguished careers at college. Thom-
son read his Spenser and Shakespeare without fear
of examination.

Of his course in theDivinityHall,whichhe entered
in 1719, the record is not quite so bare. He appears
to have enjoyed the slender emoluments of a bursary
in the gift of thePresbytery of Jedburgh, and to have
taken part in sundry oratorical 'exercises' in the
classes. A tale of the year 1 724 is of special interest.
Thomson had delivered a 'discourse' on a portion of
the 1 1 9th Psalm before Professor Hamilton and the
Divinityclass.lt was much to the liking of his fellow-
students, but Hamilton condemned the style. Its lan-
guage was, in Johnson's phrase, "too poetically splen-
did": the collegian, like the later poet, had buried
himself "in a cloud of words." The rebuke brought
home toThomson how ill-suited he was for the prose
of a country kirk. We may guess too shrewdly at the
motives which induced him to leave college soon after
this and to sail for London (February 1725). There
are, however, some interesting facts recoverable
from his life in Edinburgh which made his decision
inevitable.

16




lAMBiS THOMSO^



JAMES THOMSON

The Seasons, at least, was inevitable. Before his
schooldays at Jedburgh, Thomson had been the pet
of a Robert Riccaltoun, farmer at Earlshaugh, and
afterwards minister of Southdean. That worthy had
written verses on Winter, which, as we learn later,
stirred the boy's imagination. The influence was last-
ing. If the formal round of humanities and philo-
sophies at college served ill his poetic ambition,
there was solace in the companionship of a few class-
fellows who found an outlet for their good spirits and
bad rhymes in the Grotesque Club and the Athen-
ian Society. Literature was not the chief concern of
the former of these, a junior club of the roistering
'Ugly,' or 'Hell-fire' type, familiar to Allan Ramsay's
Edinburgh; and there the country lad may have lost
something of his fault of "dulness,"and acquired the
Addisonian fondness for claret which has interested
his biographers. The Athenian Society, on the other
hand, with Hamilton of Bangour, and David Mal-
loch (not yet Mallet) as leading members, affected


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