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OBSERVATIONS ON THE LITERATURE OF SCOTLAND IN THE AGE OF A. MELVILLE,
"THE settlement of Melville at Glasgow forms an era in the literary history of Scotland." The confusions of the country had checked the study of letters introduced by the Reformation, so that a new impulse behoved to be given to the public mind, which the reputation of this highly gifted individual, fresh from the continental seminaries of the highest celebrity, served to impart. Under his authority improvements were introduced at Glasgow, which rapidly extended themselves over the kingdom. Classical learning, Biblical criticism, and universal history, were then cultivated with enthusiasm, all of which, before this period, were either entirely neglected or treated in the most superficial manner.
Before this period, however, there were eminent scholars in Scotland, among whom Buchanan was the most conspicuous; he, assisted by Peter Young, had the charge of the king, and of several young men of rank who were trained along with him. John Rutherford, who had studied in France, was at this time the most celebrated teacher of scholastic philosophy in Scotland. William Ramsay, Rutherford's colleague in St Andrews, cultivated polite letters along with divinity and philosophy. The teaching of Civil Law had commenced in Scotland at the Reformation; but in 1556 a pension was granted to Alexander Syme to be the Queen Regent's reader in Laws and Sciences in whatever place she might appoint. "William Skene was the first authorized to teach as a civilian at St Andrews, and to substitute the Institutes and Pandects in room of the sacred Canons and Decretals." Edward Henryson published several works, which made his name known to the learned. By his translations from the Greek he contributed to the diffusion of polite literature; and his law tracts are allowed to have considerable merit. One of the most distinguished of the men who then joined the study of polite letters to that of theology was
Alexander Arbuthnot, who studied in France, and was, in 1568, made Principal of the University of Aberdeen. He was skilled in mathematics, medicine, law, and theology, and was withal a person of the most amiable, manners. He published a work on the dignity of law. Thomas Smeton was the friend and associate of Melville. He studied abroad, where he became a convert to the tenets of the Reformed. He taught a school for a while in Essex, and was afterwards minister of Paisley. He was well acquainted with the ancient languages, wrote Latin with great purity, and composed in his native tongue with much propriety. Archbishop Adamson gave early proofs of his talents by the publication of several works; he was a polite scholar, an elegant poet, and a most persuasive and attracting of Melville's class-fellows, and the inpreacher. Thomas Maitland was one timate friend of Arbuthnot and Smeton; and belonged to a family, even the females of which were addicted to literary pursuits. Maitland was a poet of no mean genius. John Davidson, the minister first of Libberton and then of Prestonpans, was also a poet, and drew upon himself some trouble by a poem on pluralities.
Long before the Reformation all the principal towns had grammar schools in which the Latin language was taught." The vernacular tongue was cultivated at what were called "lecture, schools." After the Refor mation the means of education were extended over the country; and where regular schools were not established, the readers in the churches taught the youth to read the catechism and the scriptures. The grammar school of Glasgow was founded at an early period of the fourteenth century, and depended on the Cathedral Church; that of Edinburgh was originally connected with Holyroodhouse, and the appointment of the teachers was transferred from the abbots to the magis trates of the city.
The University of St Andrews, the oldest and long the most celebrated in Scotland, was founded by Bishop Wardlaw in 1411, and was formed on the model of those of Paris and Bo logna. Among its privileges was that of purchasing victuals free from cus
See Remarks on the Life of Melville tom within the city and regality of in our last Number. the abbey. Its members were divid
students of divinity were in priests orders, were obliged to attend the lectures regularly, and to preach three times a year in public.
"While the religious controversy was keenly agitated, the academical exercises were interrupted, and the number of students diminished." And on the triumph of the Reformation every thing connected with the Roman Catholic worship was removed; but the mode of teaching philosophy continued nearly on the former footing. All the students entering the College at the same time formed a class under the tuition of a regent, each of whom was in general bound to continue till he had taught two classes; but at St Andrews regents retained the profits of their situation till provided for in the church. The regular course of study lasted four years; the session began on the 1st of October and ended in August. The regent explained the books of Aristotle to his students three hours every day. The students were often employed in disputations; and the principal frequently read lectures, which all the students in the College were bound to attend. In the third year of their course they entered on trials for the degree of bachelor; and for laureation when they had completed their course. The examinations were similar in both cases, and were con-. ducted by three regents, one being taken from each college. The examination for laureation extended to the whole circle of arts, and the candidate was obliged to defend a thesis.
The theological faculty assembled along with their students at the opening of the session, when an appropriate sermon was delivered. The bachelors and masters met and arranged the subjects of their lectures during the year. The scriptures for that end were usually divided into five parts, namely, the Pentateuch or Legal books-the Historical booksthe Sapiential books-the Prophetical books-and the books of the New Testament. The students were exercised once a week in theological exercises from the 1st of July to the end of September. The lectures were delivered by those students who were proceeding in their theological degrees. At the commencement of each part of their course they delivered a probatory discourse before the faculty,
ed into four faculties, according to the sciences that were taught. And, attracted by the novelty of the institution, or animated by a thirst for knowledge, students came to it from every part of the kingdom. Robert de Montrose gave a house to the students of theology; and Bishop Kennedy appropriated to the classes of philosophy certain buildings, which retained the name of the pædagogium, until it was erected into St Mary's College. King James I. who had received a good education during his captivity in England, confirmed the privileges of the University by a royal charter; and in 1450, Bishop James Kennedy founded the College of St Salvator. This new erection consisted of three professors of divinity, called the provost or principal, the licentiate, and the bachelor, four masters of arts, and six poor scholars. Two of the masters of arts were chosen annually as regents to teach logic, physics, and metaphysics. The College of St Leonard rose out of an ancient hospital for the reception of pious strangers within the precincts of the Abbey. The charter of foundation was executed by John Hepburn, prior of the Abbey, and confirmed by Archbishop Stewart and by King James IV. This College was intended for the support and education of twenty poor scholars. Besides these two Colleges, there were both professors and students who belonged to the pedagogium, and here George Buchanan and other celebrated individuals received their education. Archbishop Stewart intended to have given it a collegiate form, but fell in the field of Flowden before he had put his design into execution; nor was it erected into a College till 1554, when Archbishop Beaton obtained a Bull from Pope Julius III. authorizing him to alter at his pleasure the arrangements made by his predecessor. It now assumed the name of St Mary's College, and had four professors of divinity, namely, the provost, licentiate, bachelor, and canonist; eight students of theology; three professors of philosophy, and two of rhetoric and grammar, sixteen students of philosophy, a priveser, cook, and janitor. The principal was bound to lecture or preach every Monday, the licentiate four times a week, and the canonist five times a week on canon law. The
which was viewed as a specimen of their mode of teaching. The lecturer first celebrated the wisdom of God displayed in the book on which he was to prelect- gave a summary of its contents-selected a particular passage started a question, stating the opinions on either side-laid down and illustrated propositions and finally solved objections. A lecturer on the legal books was called a cursory bachelor-on the prophetical bocks a formed bachelor-and on the New Testament a confirmed bachelor. Lectures composed by students of divinity of three years standing must, of course, have been far from recondite: the plan, however, was well fitted for exciting to industry, and afforded ample scope for the display of original talent, and acquired knowledge. The system of teaching was, however, soon remodelled and improved. Different schemes for that end were from time to time proposed, but none of them were adopted, till it was resolved to bring Melville from Glasgow. Robert Hamilton, provost of St Mary's, was enjoined by the General Assembly to demit that of fice, that its duties might not interrupt the discharge of those which devolved on him as minister of St Andrews. Two persons also of the name of Hamilton, in like manner, vacated their places in the same seminary, by avowing themselves Roman Catholics. The professors of law and mathematics in St Mary's College were transferred to that of St Salvator. And such of the regents as chose to remain were allowed to do so as bursars of theology. At this time several eminent men were "connected with the University of St Andrews; but the number of students is supposed not to have exceeded two hundred.
It has already been observed, that Melville was installed as principal of St Mary's College in the month of December 1580. And it may here be noticed, that he held the situation upwards of twenty-six years. During that period the interests of learning and science advanced with a steady progress. Three of the Universities of Scotland were founded by patriotic prelates," that of Edinburgh," (says Dr M'Crie, who loves in his heart to have an opportunity of giving a blow to the bishops,) "owed its erection to the fall of Episcopacy." "In
the year 1579, when the General Assembly had attacked the Episcopal office, and drawn up the model of Presby tery, the design of founding a College in Edinburgh was revived." In the end of the year 1583, classes were opened under the patronage of the Town Council, and the sanction of a royal charter. By donations from individuals and public bodies, and a legacy bequeathed by Bishop Reid, the patrons were enabled to extend the benefits of the institution. Many students resorted to it, and though it sustained a heavy loss in the death of Rollock, its principal, yet it was in a prosperous state when Melville was removed from Scotland. A school was established at Kirkwall by the munificence of Bishop Reid, for the benefit of the youth in bis diocese: it was also in agitation to erect a col lege in the Orkney Islands. The same year in which Presbytery obtained a legal establishment, the foundation of a University was laid by Sir Alexander Frazer in the town of Frazerburgh. The Parliament ra tified the institution, and Charles Ferme, a Regent in the College of Edinburgh, was chosen Principal; but a period was put to his labours, by his being imprisoned for keeping the General Assembly at Aberdeen, and it does not appear that he had any successor. About the same time, the Earl of Marischal endowed a Col lege at Aberdeen, which had better success. These facts are sufficient to shew, that the public attention had been awakened to the importance of education, and that a strong passion for literary pursuits was felt through the nation.
land at this period, is another important "The resort of foreign students to Scotand interesting fact in the history of our national literature. Formerly no instance of this kind had occurred. On the contrary, it was a common practice for the youth of this country, upon finishing their course of education at one of our colleges, to go abroad, and prosecute their studies at one or more of the universities on the continent. Nor did any one think himself entitled to the honourable appellation of a vantages of a foreign to those of a domes learned man, who had not added the adtic education. But after the reformation of the universities of St Andrews and Glasgow, and the erection of the college of Edinburgh, this practice became gradually less frequent, until it ceased entirely ex
cept with those who wished to attain proficiency in law or in medicine. If students in languages, the arts, or divinity, now left Scotland, it was generally to teach, and not to be taught, in foreign seminaries." Vol. II. pp. 289, 290.
1. Many Scotsmen distinguished themselves as teachers in the foreign Universities. Among these, James Fullerton, and James Hamilton, who obtained professorships in Trinity College, Dublin, deserve to be particularly mentioned. In this situation, Archbishop Usher was among their first pupils. Fullerton was afterwards knighted, was admitted of the Bed chamber, and usually resided at Court after the accession of James. Hamilton was created Viscount Claneboy, and afterwards Earl of Clanbrissel. Fullerton was one of Melville's scholars, and was distinguished by his friendship. Hamilton is also supposed to have been his pupil; but the fact has not been distinctly ascer tained.
It is a mistake to suppose that the parochial schools of Scotlar.d owed their origin to Parliamentary enact ments. The persuasions of the ministers, and the authority of the church courts, were, in a multitude of instances, sufficient to determine heritors or parishioners to endow schools. As every minister examined his people, he was careful to have a schoolmaster for the instruction of youth. Statutes were subsequently of great ad vantage, but would have for ever remained a dead letter, had it not been for the exertions of the church. Classical schools were also increased in number, and many of them were ably conducted. "Before the year 1616, a fifth class was taught in the High School of Edinburgh, and during their attendance on it, the boys were initiated into Greek grammar."
In logic, the writings of Ramus supplanted those of Aristotle, or at least prevented them from being regarded as infallible oracles, as hitherto had been the case. Bacon's merit as a philosopher also began to be appreciated. No collections of sermons had appeared in Scotland till those of Rollock and Bruce were published. As a composition Archbishop Spotswood's History of the Church of Scotland is a work highly creditable to the talents of its author. Sir John Skene's edition of the acts of Parliament from
the reign of James I. shews the improvement which had taken place in Thomas Craig's book, De Feudis, was the department of jurisprudence. Sir the first regular treatise on law composed in Scotland. Wellwood, Professor of Law at St Andrews, also published several valuable legal treatises, particularly his Ecclesiastical Forms of Process. Wellwood's name is also associated with the improvement of physics and the arts. The chronology of Pont confirms the testimony borne to his skill in mathematics and astronomy. Napier, the inventor of logarithmic calculation, is a name sufficient to give celebrity to the age in which he lived, and to the country which has the honour to own him as a son. Medical knowledge at this time, and down to a much later period, was acquired chiefly at foreign schools; but Dr Peter Lowe, and Dr Duncan Liddel, were then authors on that subject,
Among the miscellaneous writers of this age, Hume of Godscroft, one of Melville's intimate friends, deserves to be particularly mentioned. He possessed an extensive knowledge of ancient and modern languages, theology, politics, and history; wrote his Apologia Basilica in refutation of the Princeps of Machiavel; and his History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus in illustration of public events, and of the manners of the times. Poetry was then, as it is still, assiduously cultivated. Montgomery, Hume, Lady Culross, Cockburne, Drummond of Hawthornden, Sir Robert Ayton, the Earl of Stirling, and Sir David Murray, are among the poets of the period, and the names and works of some of them are still, we presume, familiar to many of our readers. Latin poetry was then especially cultivated by our countrymen, as the collection entitled Delitiæ Poetarum Scotorum bears ample testimony; so that, "if this was not the classic age of Scotland, it was at least the age of classical literature in it." In this department Melville himself holds a conspicuous place; and besides Ayton and Hume, names already mentioned, Sir Thomas Craig, Hercules Rollock, John and Arthur Jonston, deserve also to be mentioned. Buchanan may be regarded as belonging to an earlier age; yet he died after Melville had taken up his resi
dence at St Andrews. The greater part of Melville's writings consist of Latin poems, many of which are short and occasional, others are of greater length, and of more permanent interest. Though he was the avowed and formidable enemy of the form of church government established in England, yet Isaac Walton, though displeased with the freedoms which he took with his favourite church, does justice to his talents.
"He was,” says he, " master of a great wit, full of knots and clenches; a wit sharp and satirical; exceeded, I think, by none of that nation, but their Buchanan."
And a modern English divine (Dr Zouch) speaks of him thus :
"The learning and abilities of Mr Melville were equalled only by the purity of his manners, and the sanctity of his life. His temper was warm and violent; his carriage and zeal perfectly suited to the times in which he lived. Archbishop Spotswood is uniformly unfriendly to his memory. He seems to have been treated by his adversaries with great asperity."
And having quoted Duport's poem against him, he continues
"Let it not, however, be inferred from these verses, that Andrew Melville always sought to dip his pen in gall; that he was principally delighted with the severity of satire and invective. He occasionally diverted his muse to the subject of just panegyric. In many of his epigrams he has celebrated the literary attainments of his contemporaries. He has endeared his name to posterity by his encomium on the profound learning of the two Scaligers, and the classic elegance of Buchanan his preceptor, and the parent of the muses. His Latin paraphrase of the song of Moses is truly excellent, exquisitely beautiful." Vol. II. pp. 468, 469.
want of spirit in her inhabitants, or to the genius of her ecclesiastical constitution.
"In asserting that Melville had the chief influence in bringing the literature of Scotland to that pitch of improvement which it reached at this time, I am supported by the site parties, as well as by facts which have testimony of contemporary writers of oppobeen stated in a former part of this work. His example and instructions continued and increased the literary impulse which his arrival from the Continent first gave to the minds of his countrymen. In languages, in theology, and in that species of poetical composition which was then most practised among the learned, his influence was direct and acknowledged. And though he did
not himself cultivate several of the branches ing sketch, yet he stimulated others to culof study which are included in the precedtivate them by the ardour with which he inspired their minds, and by the praises, which he was always ready to bestow on their exertions and performances." Vol. II. p. 335, 336.
"The facts which have been pointed out in the course of this brief review, will, it is hoped, assist the reader in forming an idea of the state of our national literature at this period. They may perhaps convince him, that Scotland was not so late in literary improvement as is commonly imagined; that she had advanced at the time of which we write, nearly to the same stage in this honourable career with the other nations of Europe; and that, if she did not afterwards make the progress which was to be expected, or if she retrograded, this is to be imputed to other causes than to
REMARKS ON MATURIN'S SERMONS.
THE author of these Sermons has already acquired an extensive celebrity from the publication of various works of fiction, especially from his powerful, but ill-imagined, drama of
Bertram," and his very singular novel of " Women, or Pour et Contre." In addition to these, and several other pieces, both in poetry and prose, we observe that a new set of Tales are announced as just about to make their appearance from his prolific pen. This association of the theatre with the church, and of fictitious tales with pulpit discourses, is, we believe, something new in the history of literature. The tragedy of Douglas, it is true, was the production of a clergyman, but we are not aware that he ever published sermons. We shall conclude with one quota- the author of a drama, but his serMr Logan, too, was mons were not printed till after his death. Swift was a deservedly popu lar writer of fiction and of political satire, but if we take his own word, his sermons became nothing but pamphlets. Sterne, as every one knows, is the author of a most amusing novel, and also of very impressive sermons, but he never aspired to the drama; in this respect, therefore, the author of
Sermons, by the Reverend Charles Robert Maturin, Curate of St Peter's, Dublin, 1 Vol. 8vo. London, 1819.