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could not long continue. It seemed ing changes were taking place in other only necessary that the attention of kindred branches. The French ecomankind should be powerfully direct- nomists had already directed their speed to the imperfection of the opinions culations to the interior of the fabric hitherto embraced, in order to induce of human society, and the investigathem to start with alacrity into a bet- tions of Hume, in this new departter track of philosophical research; ment, had also shed an auspicious light and the useful impulse thus required on some of the most difficult problems was soon decidedly given. It was, as which these discussions embraced. It is universally known, about the mid was at this period that the author of dle of the last century, that Hume the Wealth of Nations submitted to began with unrivalled acuteness to the public his immortal work, the speculate on the origin and nature of fruit of many years of political reideas, and to form his speculations search, which, in his native town, at into a system of scepticism, which a short distance from this metropolis, , alarmed 'the minds ct all sober in- he had devoted exclusively to this quirers. A host of opponents was ac- great undertaking. It was not merely, cordingly roused, who combated, in however, by the fact of its publicaall the quarters to which their in- tion in Edinburgh, that this magnififluence extended, the obnoxious doc- cent monument of the genius of its trines which had been thus fearlessly author has added to the celebrity of advanced. And the natural effect of this seat of science. The doctrines it this agitation of opinions was the ul- contained, which have had so remarktimate refutation of doctrines which able an influence on some of the most were subversive of knowledge, and important concerns of mankind, were the discovery of some fundamental soon anxiously incorporated with the principles which have proved of much philosophical disquisitions of this Uniimportance to the progress of science. versity. And the fact is well known, It is, in fact, almost needless for me that Edinburoh continued, during to observe, that the ablest and most many years, to be one of the best fresuccessful of these opponents of Hume, quented and most efficient schools for not only completely refuted the un this new department of knowledge. philosophical assumption on which the The earlier part of the last century, controversy was founded, but byreform- so remarkable for the changes already ing fundamentally this department of considered, was further distinguished knowledge, recalled the attention of by one of the most important immetaphysical inquirers from the vague provements which science has ever respeculations in which they had for- ceived, and by which a new direction merly indulged, to a system of patient was very generally communicated to reflection on the operations of the the pursuits and studies of academical mind, and a judicious application to bodies. I here allude to the discovethis unemployed field, of the method ries of Linnæus, to whose enlightenand rules of the inductive philosophy. ed views the scientific world are so What is chiefly, however, to my pre- deeply indebted for a system of docsent purpose to observe is, that the trine, which may not perhaps confame of this University is now inse- tinue to be acknowledged as the most parably associated with the triumphs perfect exposition of the arrangements and success of this new philosophy; of Nature, but which has unquestionthe splendid character of its ablest il- ably had a most important influence lustrator has, in fact, long given to on the subsequent progress of knowthis city one of its most powerful at- ledge, and will ever remain an indistractions in the eyes of strangers; and putable evidence of the stupendous that fond attachment to metaphysical powers and industry of its author. It pursuits, which has long been con is well known to those who are even sidered as characteristic of this nation, moderately acquainted with the scienhas now been directed into a career of tific history of the eighteenth century, speculation which promises to afford that these improvements were immethe most beneficial results to every de- diately adopted by every university of partment of human knowledge. eminence in Europe, -that the col
While science was thus undergoing lections of those bodies were every an important alteration in one of its where arranged upon the new prinfundamental departments, correspond-ciples which Linnæus had unfolded,
and that the examination of the vari- nown for his original investigations. ous provinces of nature, began now to “ The number of his pupils (says Dr be conducted with an ardour and suc- Thomson) underwent a progressive cess which was quite unparalleled in and grarlual increase, during the whole the history of the world. I do not time that he was professor. His lecpretend to insinuate that this city has tures were always listened to by his ever been remarkable for the attention audience with inexpressible delight. of its students to this delightful por. His voice was low, but sweet and distion of the great field of knowledge. tinct. His language was simplicity itYet so animating a spirit of scientific self, but always apposite and never research could not well exist in every vulgar. His experimental illustraneighbouring country, without being tions were correctly suited to the obalso felt in some degree by the scholars ject in view, and carried full convicof this ardent and inquisitive nation, tion to the mind of the spectator; however much their predilections or ha- there was no glare, no parade, no bits might have previously indisposed showman exhibition, but an Attic elethem for this particular pursuit
. The gance and simplicity highly delightProfessorship of Natural History (on ful to a refined and cultivated mind.” which subject no lectures had ever The researches of Black afford, performerly been given in this Univer- haps, the finest models of experimensity) was accordingly conferred about tal investigation, next to the optical this period on a naturalist eminently inquiries of Newton, which science qualified for the duty assigned him, contains. The excellence of his puband although many of the other uni- lic prelections appears from the above versities of Europe were already far account of them, and, indeed, from the advanced in that career of improve concurring testimony of all who heard ment on which the scholars of this them, to have been proportioned to country were only preparing to enter, the value of his original discoveries. this appointment yet deserves to be We cannot wonder, therefore, that, mentioned, as an important addition with such various excellence, the meto a plan of instruction, which, in rits of this professor should have been this respect alone, had been formerly very widely acknowledged, and that deficient; and still more perhaps, as the splendour of his character should laying the foundation of a future pro- have shed something of its lustre upgress in the study of nature, to which, on the city which was the immediate from some obvious symptoms, we seem
theatre of his labours. entitled to look forward with very con I am far from pretending, in this fident expectation.
rapid sketch, to enumerate all the Perhaps, however, the greatest of eminent individuals who have conall the improvements which science tributed to the glory of this seat of received during the eventful period of learning. My only object, in fact, is the preceding century, was that which to present to your readers the followtook place in the department of Che- ing remarkable, but I apprehend well mistry; and it will ever be consider- founded, conclusion, that not only has ed as a fact, honourable to this city, the University kept pace in the libethat the most valuable of these im- rality of the views by which its memprovements were derived from a dis-bers have been guided, with the vast tinguished member of this University. advances which science has been makIt appears, indeed, from the facts ing during the preceding century, but which are known respecting the pro- that there is scarcely one of the great gress of the chemical discoveries of Dr improvements which have been made Black, that almost all his great specu- during that period, which has not a lations had been brought to maturity, more direct and intimate connection while he held the Lectureship of Che- with the high fame of this seminary. mistry at Glasgow. But it was the It is thus universally known, how celebrity he had acquired by these much the science of medicine has splendid investigations that 'secured been indebted to the original views him, on the resignation of Dr Cullen, which have distinguished the memthe vacant chair in this University ; bers of this school, the mathematical and it is well known that no professor department is well known to have been ever acquired a higher celebrity for filled, during the long period of more his public prelections, or a wider rea than a century, by a succession of some
of the ablest men whom this country haps, in any city or age. From the has produced; the philosophy of the list which has been preserved of the human mind may here almost be con names of those who constituted what sidered as in its native soil, from the was called the Select Society, it apcaptivating illustrations which have pears to have been composed of a been given of its doctrines, by the greater proportion of all the talent most eloquent of the members of and learning of that time, than could which this University can boast ; and perhaps have been collected in any the splendid career of chemical dis- other single spot; and from this great covery, which has given such lustre association of ability and information, to modern science, may refer to the we also know that a crowd of eminent original investigations of Black for one authors appeared, whose works are of the first steps in its progress. I still regarded as among the finest prowill not presume to speak with deci- ductions of British literature. It is sion upon a subject which I have not scarcely necessary that, for substanexamined with any very particular tiating this statement, I should now attention; but I certainly am not at recal to the recollection of your present aware that any other univer- readers the names of Hume, Roberto sity can boast, with truth, of a series son, Henry, Fergusson, Blair, Home, of more splendid distinctions; and, Kaimes, Monboddo, and Mackenzie ; when it is added, that its members these, however, it ought always to be have been as eminent in their cha- remembered, are only some of the racter as teachers, as celebrated for more conspicuous names, while the their original discoveries, we can no activity and successes of the lighter longer wonder at the high fame of troops will be found to have pretty this University.
generally corresponded with the more It is not merely, however, to the conspicuous prowess of the leading fame of its University that this city is champions, Numerous associations, indebted for the reputation it enjoys. also, for the encouragement of learnIt is well known, that, from a very įng, were about the same time estaearly period of the preceding century, blished in this metropolis: these were a strong predilection for literary pur- sometimes composed of men who have suits had very generally diffused it- since risen to the very first rank in self even among those classes of the the republic of letters, and, altogether, community who are less directly con- they laid the foundation of a system nected with the business of education; which has now been carried in this and those who have heard of the in- city to an extent unexampled, I betellectual character of the conversation lieve, in any other country. These of this metropolis, or of the variety associations, however, had the good and excellence of its literary produce effect of frequently bringing togetions, are in no danger of confounding ther those ingenious individuals who these distinctions with the reputation had devoted their leisure to the or efficiency of its public schools. I do cultivation of literature, by which not know, indeed, a finer field for the they supported and encouraged that historian of literature, than that which ambition of excellence which is neisafforded by this metropolis during the cessary for the production of works greater part of the past century. Much of merit; and also of diffusing among has, no doubt, already been accom the mass of the community the tastes plished, for illustrating this interest- and prepossessions of these more priing portion of our history, by the yate associations. They have contriwriters of the biography of some emin buted powerfully to form that relish nent individuals ; but a vast harvest for the pleasures of literary converyet remains for the patience and cu- sation, which is now considered as the riosity of future inquirers; and distant peculiar distinction of this metropolis. posterity will probably regard with It must be confessed that this city posinterest those literary treasures which sesses many advantages for the diffusion we now overlook. It is sufficient, of such a taste, which are not enjoyed however, at present to remark, that in the same degree by any other portion this city is known to have contained, of the British empire. It is remarkably about the latter part of the period al- free from that spirit of business which luded to, as bright an assemblage of never fails to communicate to conversaillustrious men as ever appeared, pera tion in a trading town so strong a tinc
ture of mercantile habits. It ought the limited nature of the society it conalso to be observed, that not only the tains, as well as by the other advanstudents by whom the University is tages already stated, is preeminently attended, but the numerous practi- adapted to sustain with effect the retioners and retainers of the law-men putation of a literary city. of course who are naturally attached, There is one circumstance peculiar in a certain degree at least, to literary to it which deserves here to be more pursuits-are iningled with the other particularly considered. From the inhabitants in the intercourse of soci- circumstances of Scotland, a considerety, and, of course, influence to a very able proportion of its gentry has alconsiderable extent the prevailing tone ways been trained to the study of the of conversation. This city is also, as law, either with the view of practising being the capital of the country, the it as a profession, or as a preparation natural resort, during a considerable for some other employment in which part of the year, of the fashionable legal knowledge is requisite. The inworld, the members of which are dividuals so educated have commonly usually fitted torelish those lighter exer- many advantages for the prosecution tions of intellect, and that easy discus- of study, which are not enjoyed in an sion of literary works, which is permit- equal degree by those who aspire to ted by the forms of polite society. The other liberal professions; and they are consequence of all this is, that it is connected, at the same time, by their impossible to mingle with any of the rank, with all the higher circles. It politer circles of this metropolis, with- is evident that so numerous a body of out meeting either with some man of ambitious individuals, with every adletters, the nature of whose pursuits vantage of education and leisure, must is pretty generally known, or with always have contained a very considersome younger scholar, devoted with all able share of the learning and talent the enthusiasm of his years to the pre-' which this country possessed, and vailing studies and discussions of the could not fail to exert a very decided time; or, lastly, with some of those influence upon the tastes and opinions fashionable loungers who are slightly of those around them. Some other acquainted with every prevailing to- circumstances, however, of a more acpic, and by whom the perusal of books cidental nature, have of late contriis chiefly considered as a necessary pre- buted in a remarkable degree to raise paration for polite conversation. It is this portion of our fellow-citizens to easy to see, that a society so constitut- that high literary rank which they are ed must differ essentially in its predi- now generally admitted to hold. The lections and habits from ordinary asso transcendant talents of some eminent ciations of active individuals; and that individuals have been particularly in discussions of the merits of literary strumental in throwing around their works, and of the character and views profession a more than ordinary splenof distinguished authors, will natural- dour ; and the consequence has been, ly prevail in conversation. It is im- that, while the Scottish bar has bepossible to name any other city of this come almost proverbial for the talent empire, in which society is placed which it contains, an ardent emulation exactly the same circumstances. The has also been awakened among those two seats of the English Universities who are only looking forward to this are filled almost entirely by those who profession, which cannot fail long to are devoted to the studies of the place, continue the same honourable distincand can scarcely, therefore, be said to tion. contain any other society but that of It is, in fact, by the successful comscholars by profession. The capital of positions of individuals of this body, the empire itself is not only by far too in the lighter departments of literature extensive in its range, but too much at least, that the character of this city, engaged in other concerns, to permit as a seat of learning, is now popularly the prevailing tone of its conversation estimated. It will be readily underto be guided by the influence and taste stood that I allude at present to the of its men of letters; while the other distinguished labours of that literary cities are either entirely commercial, association, who began about the comor are prevented by other obvious cir- mencement of the present century to cumstances from rivalling the fame of promulgate the decisions of an ena this Northern Metropolis, whicb, by lightened criticism with unexampled
authority and effect ; and to the no less below, in shadle, the antique mosspopular productionsof that eminent in- grown tomb of my forefathers, still dividual, whose fame is now so insepa- venerable, though broken and defaced, rably connected with the high character --the bright broad harvest moon of “his own romantic town.” I am well gleaming through the encircling wood, aware that the celebrity of a city which and the murmur of the Tweed behas acquired an established reputation yond-all was in unison, solemn, as a seat of learning, must ever be soothing, and sequestered ; and I was traced to some more permanent causes falling into a train of reflections, apthan the accidental character of some propriate enough the impressive fortunate individuals. Yet surely the character of the scenery, but more sework first alluded to will always be rious than would suit my present subregarded as a very splendid monument ject, when I was humorously recalof the learning and talents which this led (by a casual circumstance which city contained at the commencement I need not here rehearse) to the reof the present century; while to the collection of a story of the “ Fairy last mentioned author we are indebt- Folk,” which my worthy grandsire ed, in no ordinary degree, not only for was wont sometimes to relate. It had the lustre which has been thrown occurred in the immediate vicinity of around this city by his wonderful ta- the spot where I then stood ; and so lents, but still more for having given congenial seemed the scene to the to a country which is peculiarly adapt- poetical character and habits of these ed for such a distinction the high ce- elegant sprites, that I almost expected lebrity of classical association, and for to hear again their unearthly bugelet having identified the charms of his ringing through the broken arches, delightful productions with the scenery or see their tiny faces peeping from and the manners of this interesting the ivy-latticed windows. land.
It happened that the village school In a future communication, I shall of Dryburgh was undergoing some endeavour to present your readers with repairs, and the teacher and his pua sketch of the present state of the pils were in the meanwhile accommoscience of this metropolis.- Mean- dated with the use of the parish while, I am, Mr Editor, yours very church for their diurnal meetings. One respectfully,
P. fine summer evening, -according to
the report of my informant, who BORDER SKETCHES.-No. II.
was one of the scholars, --while the
setting sun was shining bright and Popular Superstitions. beautiful through the large western “ He might se him besides
window, a shrill whistle on a sudden Oft in hot undertides,
shook the casement, and instantly a The king of Fairi, with his route, myriad of tiny figures, dressed in Come to hunt him al about,
green, rushed in through the window, With dim cri and shrill bloweing, &c.— passed in a train along the gallery, Ac no best thai no nome,
fistle, fistle, fistling," as he expressed No never he nist whider they bi
it, and dancing over the pews with come. Romunce of Orfeo and Heurodis.
much agility and apparent merri
ment, and again as suddenly disap Dryburgh.-On my first visit to peared at the opposite end of the edithis place, where at no very remote fice. This vision, as the narrator period my ancestors had resided, I affirmed, was not only witnessed by was very much struck with the ap- himself, (and he was a man who pearance of the old Abbey. 'Twas could not possibly be suspectel of wilautumn and twilight-to me the ful fiction,) but was also distinctly seen most delicious season of the year and by the other scholars and their ashour of the day,—and the scene be- tonished pedagogue. This occurred fore me was more rich, romantic, and about 1720. The courteous reader enchanting, than any thing I had may account for the phenomenon in ever before witnessed :—the wild and the mode most agreeable to himself, arabesque aspect of the ruins, half- either poetically, as a real descent of shrouded in luxuriant wreaths of fruit Oberon and his merry imps,-or phiand foliage,—the last beams of depart- losophically, as a visual illusion, proing day gilding the shattered turrets, - bably analogous to the Fata Morgana