Edinburgh Bookshelf

Edinburgh Past and Present


THE OLD TOWN. 29 and motive with the clear vision and minute anatomy of a Fielding or a Shakespeare j and thence again to the 'large upper room' where Chalmers was discoursing with all the vehemence of the pulpit on theism and antitheism, Clarke, Hobbes, and Butler, and sometimes snatching up his AstrommfcaZ Discourses and reading a passage from them with the fire and freshness with which he had given it originally, fifteen years before, in the Tron Church of Glasgow j and thence once more to the hall where Sir William Hamilton was spreading out his enormous treasures of knowledge to an audience, few if fit. It seemed almost as if Plato and Aristotle, and Chrysostom and Copemicus, had come down from the higher spheres and alighted beside each other ! ' Such spells are past, and fled with these The wine of life is on the lees.' But still the College can boast of ingenious, learned, and celebrated Professors, among whom we name, because they are best known to us, the elastic, eloquent, eccentric, endless Blackie ; the strong, plodding, invincible Masson ; the profound and clear-headed Tait ; the massive and erudite Flint j not to speak of Sir Robert Christison, Sir Wyville Thomson, Hodgson, Bdfour, Calderwood, Lister, Spence, Sellar, Geikie, and others. Let us be permitted to step back out of the circle of the present Professors to others of the past-to one ' clearer than the rest,' the great-souled John Goodsir, and to the eminent Professor Sir James Y, Simpson, Bart., and also to drop a word of sorrow as we recall the untimely fate of the late accomplished and gifted Secretary to the University, our speciak friend the poet Alexander Smith; and among the many in Edinburgh who do not but might grace Professors' Chairs, let us not be accused of too much personal partiality if we single out Dr. Hutchison Stirling, the learned and ingenious author of The Secret of Hegeef. Pursuing our way southward, passing the Surgeons' Hall, we reach Nicolson Square, in the Methodist Chapel (hired for years for the use of his' congregation) at the south-west corner of which we remember ofte-n hearing in our early days the Rev. John Bruce, since of Free St. Andrew's Church, holding forth with all that weird power, that fervour and originality, *which rendered him, till the advent of Dr. Candlish, the most attractive preacher to the intellectual classes in Edinburgh, and where such youths as then were the late Patrick MacDougall, Professor of Moral Philosophy, Edinburgh College, the late Dr. Eadie of Glasgow,
Volume 11 Page 47
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