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as the most eloquent political philosopher of modern times.
"I am well aware that I have no claim to engage your attention, but that of a countryman engaged in laborious public pursuits. I am well aware that I have no other pretensions than the love of letters. My life has been variegated, and has left little for the prosecution of projects that were formed in my early life, and the age of repose has been converted into an age of anxiety. I would advise those who are masters of their own time, that they would confine their life to one object, and not be distracted by diversity of pursuit. I would observe, Gentlemen, that the national partiality which we in Scotland feel for one another, may have had some share in this election. This has been considered by some as a reproach. But it is a singular circumstance, that one of the greatest writers of antiquity represents this quality as predominating among the inhabitants of the mountainous regions of Italy. It is designated as fautrix suorum regio,' to which some in modern times have made an approach.
"I should think myself culpable, Gentlemen, were I to pass over a few of the extraordinary honours that have distinguished this University in former times. It was founded by the Roman Catholic establishment was coeval with the art of printing-with a period when a few mechanics, by finding out the means of inventing a new copying machine, changed in some measure the whole system of letters, and almost of civil society. It is a curious fact, that this discovery was made at the period of the evacuation of France by the English troops. This was an event that was expected to work out a wonderful change on Continental politics. The other event was hardly known. Yet, in the course of so short a period, we now find it a difficult matter to settle the precise time of their leaving France-it is involved in obscurity, and interests no one. But this mechanical art has been extending and improving the condition of mankind-has been performing its part with silence, rapidity and security-and will never perish so long as man exists to be benefited by it.
of this office have uniformly been such as were recommended to the youthful minds of the students by some eminent claims to distinction in rank and station, or in science and literature, in legislation, in the useful arts, in the science of government, or in some department of public business beneficial to the country. Is it nothing that the youths of this University should be trained in their earlier years to exercise these functions of duty which they may in maturer years be called on to practise, in the election of the magistracy of the country, or of the framers of the laws, which it is the peculiar blessing of our happy constitution that the people are supposed to be privileged to exercise? This early acquaintance with the rights of freemen qualifies them to use them without any tumultuary or disorderly feelings, as habitual rights which lead to no disorder in their future exercise, whenever they have opportunities of using the elective franchise in any of the various forms which our constitution provides. It has ever appeared to me, that by this excellent Institution, the youth who are thus graciously entrusted with the choice of their aca demical magistrates, are consoled for their subjection to the academical laws, and are more submissive to the necessary discipline of the University, than in other situations where they are deprived of every power of elect ing their magistracy. So wisely had this election been managed by the youths of the University, that he was almost overwhelmed by the talents and worth of his celebrated predecessors. The youth of Glasgow had shewn the highest veneration for the productions of genius; he, too, could revere the philosopher, and admire the poet, and yet he still thought that due applause should not be withheld from those whose lives had been spent in studying the nature and utility of Government. In the year 1784, when, from the state of political affairs, it would have seemed peculiarly delicate for any literary body to have distinguished a person so strongly opposed to the administration of the day, this University elected to be Lord Rector, Edmund Burke, who had been called the most philosophical orator of his day, but whom I would rather describe
"This University might seem to have been deprived of its chief prop and stay by the Reformation: but it is not the course of reformation to sweep away the sciences-it only fixes them on a firmer foundation. The Reformation the emancipation of the human understanding, gave a new vigour to the University. Under the government of Melville, the able lawgiver of the Presbyterian Church, this University acquired a new impulse, which led it directly forward to that prosperity at which it was soon to arrive. In a brighter period, Dr. Gilbert Burnet, to whom England owes the history of her Reformation, and the exposition of her Creed, and to whom the liberties of England are deeply indebted, and whose language is elegant and his sentiments liberal, -he came from amongst you, and honoured the Divinity Chair of this University by his virtues and his genius. To me it seems fortunate that the sciences have not retired here, as elsewhere, to a hermitage, but have come and planted themselves in the heart of a great and populous city, which has risen to be the second in the island and the third in the empire, and in the very midst of this great city this University has been planted. It was owing to this that the two most important new sciences discovered in the eighteenth century-the sciences of chemistry and political economy-were both laid, at the same time, within these walls where I now address you. They are both of such a nature as to unite the active with the speculative duties of life. About the same time, the discovery of the steam engine was made by Mr. Watt, a person connected with this University-one of the most important discoveries in modern times. This great increase of scientific knowledge was the result of the union of recluse speculation with the active business of life, and of the intimate connexion which Dr. Smith and Dr. Black maintained with the practical business of this great city. This shows the advantage of men of scientific skill mixing with the various individuals who exert themselves in perfecting the arts, compared with those who dose away life in dreams of science, without applying them to the practical benefit of mankind. Give
me leave to say, that, in other branches of science, this University has been not less distinguished than in these. I hold in my hand an old edition of Ptolemy, printed in 1530, in which is given a character of the various nations in the world. The character assigned to the Scots is, that they are
1st, prompt to revenge-2d, full of the pride of birth, so that they boast of royal descent, though in a state of beggary-and 3rd, they are much addicted to logical and metaphysical subtleties. Now, happily, the reign of law and regulated government had restrained this love of revenge within reasonable bounds; and the progress of commerce and the arts had introduced a feeling of equality among persons of birth and merit. But it is curious that, even up to our own times, no change has been wrought upon the other part of our character. The disposition to abstract science still adheres to the Scottish nation. But the study of metaphysics has no where been more rationally or more successfully cultivated than amongst you, and while it has been stripped of its subtilties, has retained all its vigour and its usefulness. There is now, Gentlemen, none of that spirit of hostility to our countrymen of other persuasions, that formerly was said to distinguish the people of this country. This spirit of intolerance is fast wearing away from every country. Catholic chapels are now erected at Amsterdam and Geneva; I have seen a Catholic Bishop at Boston; and, even in Glasgow, is a Catholic Chapel, probably the most beautiful in the island." (Partial disapprobation.) When silence was restored, Sir James, in continuation, observed with great animation and effect, those who had manifested symptoms of disapprobation would probably have withheld them, had they waited for the following sentence: "Far be it from me ever to assert any sentiment inconsistent with my original convictions of the doctrines of a sincere Protestant, or with the most determined opposition to the arbitrary doctrines and dominant and intolerant spirit of the Church of Rome. On the contrary, the reason that I rejoice in the existence of such a Catholic edifice, is, that it proves that the stain of intolerance has been
GLEANINGS; OR, SELECTIONS AND
REFLECTIONS MADE IN A COURSE
wiped away from the Protestant Church.” (Universal Applause.) He was afraid that he had intruded too long on their time. (No no.) It would give him the greatest pleasure to prolong his intercourse with them, but he feared it would be inconvenient for them. He then delivered an elegant eulogium on the various distinguished individuals who had done honour to this University. The scientific and benevolent Hutcheson had led the way in a theory of morals, and his opinions had been illustrated in a life by Principal Leechman, which deserved to be better known, written with great elegance, and occasionally rising into eloquence. Dr. Smith had united great ancient learning with a familiar Knowledge of the affairs of active life; and in the science of political economy, as well as of morals and the principles of sound taste, had established a distinguished reputation. Dr. Reid had discussed with excellent good sense the principles of Metaphysics and Ethics. The lives and opinions of those eminent persons had been made known to all Europe by Professor Dugald Stewart, in a style of splendid eloquence, a philosopher, whose writings had infused the love of sound opinions and of virtue into more human bosoms than it had ever fallen to the lot of any other man to do. "I cannot conclude," said Sir James, "without warmly adverting to the distinction conferred on this University by my friend Mr. Millar, whose merits are too fresh in the recollection of all who hear me to justify me in dilating upon. Thus, gentlemen, to the great men who formed the University, a succession of illustrious men have been trained up, and it cannot be too much the practice of those who now so honourably and respectably fill the places of their illustrious predecessors, to hold up to the youth under their charge the example of the Smiths, the Hutchesons, the Blacks, and a host of other great names who have adorned the University, and benefited mankind by their discoveries or their writings. I return you, Gentlemen, my sincere thanks for the hohour you have conferred on me."(Loud and unanimous applause.)
No. CCCXCVI. A novel Plea.
A French paper gives an account of a felon who pleaded in his defence, that, having been born at the commencement of the Revolution, he had imbibed all its pernicious principles, and had never been able to discriminate between good and evil. court disregarded this ingenious plea; the man was convicted, and sentenced to six years' imprisonment.
Notable Instance of Self-Valuation.
Modesty has been commonly ac counted one of the true signs of intellectual greatness. A modern writer, of considerable notoriety, Mr. Cobbett, pronounces modesty mean and cowardly, and, acting up to his own standard of morals, thus appraises himself, in a letter to Mr. Canning, entitled, "Mr. Canning at School," in the Weekly Register, of October 26. [The extracts are from several paragraphs and are taken verbatim, with the writer's own memorable italics.]
"I found my pretensions to be your teacher upon the best of all possible grounds; namely, that, as to all the chief matters appertaining to your office, I have greater abilities than you. I care not who calls this vanity: the questions with me, and, indeed, with all men of sense, are, whether it be true, and whether it be useful to state it. A great deal of what passes for modesty, ought to pass for cowardice, or servility." "I know, that, compared with this department of knowledge, every thing of a literary character sinks out of sight. Yet this is of some importance; and here, too, I am your master. I can state more clearly and reason more forcibly than you. Matters intricate in their nature I can simplify with more facility than you. I shall insert at the end of this letter (if I have room) a copy of my Petition to Parliament in 1820. I give it as a specimen of perfect wri
ting. The matter of it is, at this moment, interesting beyond description. But I give it as a piece of writing and I defy you to equal it.". "Even in your own department of Foreign Affairs I am more skilled than you. In the first place, though I confess it is a trifle, I can write and speak the French language better than you can, and, perhaps, better even than any of your interpreters." "The principles and practice of Public Law I know as well as you can know them"
-“ and can write upon any subject appertaining to them with more ability than you, because I can state and reason more clearly and more forcibly than you, because I can illustrate better, and because I can, without the smallest leaning towards levity, render subjects naturally dry and wearisome, not repulsive to the mind. And, as to the interests of the nation, as these are dependant on its foreign concerns, I am convinced I understand them better than you.""" But, besides these grounds, there is, fur ther, the reputation for knowledge and talent, in which I am far the superior of you all." "The malice, the baseness, the cowardice, the cruelty, of my powerful foes had made my name as well known as that of the air or the sun; and now have come events to couple knowledge with that name." "It would be against nature, if, under such circumstances," (the fulfilment of his predictions,) men did not, as to public matters, confide in my judgment more than in that of any other man. You, who have places and pensions, and who are sent from the boroughs, may call yourselves, exclusively, public men; but, who is really so much of a public man as I am ?”do you gentlemen of Whitehall think that you, or your Ambassadors, have as much weight with foreign governments as I have? Talk of vanity! It must be vanity indeed, that can make you suppose, that any of the pretty palavering things called Notes and Despatches can have as much effect with foreign governments as the Register has." "It does not assert this or that it carries the proof: it shews that the state of things must be thus, and thus: and the reputation of the writer has gone before it."
No. CCCXCVIII. Curious Pulpit Satyr. In the church of Schwytz, erected in 1769, is a pulpit supported by three colossal figures, which by a horrible contraction of the muscles, express the constraint they suffer in this position. These figures represent the three celebrated Reformers, Luther, Zuinglius and Calvin; and the enor mous weight they here support is looked upon by the devout inhabitants of Schwytz, as an emblem of the chastisement which, in another world, weighs heavy on the heads of these guilty sectaries. The Zurichese disciples of Zuinglius offered forty thou sand florins for the removal of an emblem so injurious to their belief, and to the memory of their country
But at Schwytz, as at Zurich, religious zeal was more powerful than interest, and this offer was obstinately refused.-Raoul-Rochette, Lettres sur
The Chinese appear to have been Deists for at least forty ages: almost all their laws are founded on the knowledge of a Supreme Being, the dispenser of rewards and punishments. The inscriptions of their temples, of which we have authentic copies, are: "To the First Principle, without beginning and without end. He has made all things; he governs all things. He is infinitely good; he enlightens, he supports, he controuls all nature.” Voltaire, Histoire Générale.
In Scotland, especially among the Highlanders, the women nake a curtesy to the new moon, and our English women in this country have a touch of this. Some of these sit astride on a gate or stile the first evening the new moon appears, and say, “A fine moon, God bless her!" The like I observed in Hertfordshire.
MS. of Aubrey's, 1678, in the Ashmole Museum, quoted in Malcolm's Anecdotes of London, 8vo. I. 414, &c.
* About £4000.
LINES WRITTEN AT THE CLOSE And still, with watchfal, pitying eye,
Will shield my bosom from despair;
Arm me with fortitude to bear.
Say ye, who thro' this round of fourscore
Have proved its joys and sorrows, hopes and fears,
Say what is Life, ye veterans who have trod,
Step following step, its flow'ry, thorny road?
Enough of good to kindle strong desire, Enough of ill to damp the rising fire, Enough of love and fancy, joy and hope, To fan desire and give the passions scope, Enough of disappointment, sorrow, pain,
To seal the wise man's sentence "All is vain,"
And quench the wish to live those years again.
Science for man unlocks her various store, And gives enough to urge the wish for
Systems and suns lie open to his gaze, Nature invites his love and God his praise;
Yet doubt and ignorance with his feelings sport,
And Jacob's ladder is some rounds too short.
Yet still to humble hope enough is given Of light from reason's lamp and light from heaven,
To teach us what to follow, what. to shun, To bow the head, and say, be done."