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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


196 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH, [Great King Street, in July, .1836, was appointed to the chair of logic and metaphysics, in succession to Professor David Ritchie. In the interval between his appointment and the commencement of the college session, in the November of the same year, he was assiduously occupied in preparing to discharge the duties of the chair, which (according to the practice of the University) consist in the delivery of a course of lectures on the subjects assigned to it. On his appointment at first, Sir William Hamilton would seem to have experienced considerable difficulty in deciding on the character of the course of lectures on Philosophy, which, while doing justice to the subject, would at the same time meet the requirements of his auditors, usually comparatively young students in the second year of their University curriculum. His first course of lectures fell to be written during the currency of the session 1836-7. He was in the habit of delivering three in each week; and each lecture was usually written on the day, or more probably on the evening and night, before its delivery. His ? Course of Metaphysics? was the result of this nightly toil. His lectures on Logic were not composed until the following session, 1837-8. A commonplace book which he left among his papers, exhibits in a very remarkable degree Sir William?s power of appreciating and making use of every available hint scattered through the obscurer regions of thought, through which his extensive reading conducted him, says the editor of his collected work, and no part of his writings more completely verifies the remark of his American critic, Mr. Tyler :-? There seems to be not even a random thought of any value which has been dropped along any, even obscure, path of mental activity, in any age or country, that his diligence has not recovered, his sagacity appreciated, and his judgment husbanded in the stores of his knowledge.? The lectures of Sir William Hamilton, apart from their very great intrinsic merit, possess a high acapemical and historic interest From 1836 to 1856-twenty consecutive years-his courses of Logic and Metaphysics were the means by which this great, good, and amiable man sought to imbue with his philosophical opinions the young men who assembled in considerable numbers from his native country, from England, and elsewhere ; ?? and while by these prelections,? says his editor in 1870, ? the author supplemented, developed, and moulded the National Philosophy-leaving thereon the ineffaceable impress of his genius and learning -he at the same time and by the same means exercised over the intellects and feelings of his pupils an influence which for depth, intensity, and elevation, was certainly never surpassed by that of any philosophical instructor. Among his pupils are not a few who, having lived for a season under the constraining power of his intellect, and been Led to reflect on those great, questions regarding the character, origin, and bounds of human knowledge which his teaching stirred and quickened, bear the memory of their beloved and revered instructor inseparably blended with what is highest in their present intellectual life, as well as in their practical aims and aspirations.? At the time of his death, in 1856, he resided, as has beeu stated, in No. 16 Great King Street, and he was succeeded by his eldest son, Willigm, an officer ofthe Royal Artillery. Since his death a memoir of him has appeared from the pen of Professor Veitch, of the University of Glasgow. In No. 72 of the same street lived and died another great Scotsman, Sir William Allan, R.A., whose fame and reputation as an artist extended over many years, and whose works are still his monument. We have already referred to his . latter years in our account of the Royal Academy and the ateZier of his earlier days in the Parliament Close, where, after his wanderings in foreign lands, and in the first years of the century, he was wont to figure ?by way of robe-de-chambre, in a dark Circassian vest, the breast of which was loaded with innumerable quilted lurking-places, originally, no doubt, intended for weapons of warfare, but now occupied with the harmless shafts of hair pencils, while he held in his hand the smooth cherry-wood stalk of a Turkish tobacco-pipe, apparently converted very happily into a palette guard. A swarthy complexion and profusion of black hair, tufted in a wild but not ungraceful manner, together with a pair of large sparkling eyes looking out from under strong shaggy brows full of vivacious and ardent expressiveness, were scarcely less speaking witnesses of the life of romantic and roaming adventure I was told this fine artist had led.? In spite of his bad health, which (to quote ?Peter?s Letters?) ?was indeed but too evident, his manners seemed to be full of a light and playful sportiveness, which is by no means common among the people of our nation, and still less among the people of Scotland; and this again was every now and then exchanged for a depth of enthusiastic earnestness still more evidently derived from a sojourn among men whose blood flows through their veins with a heat and rapidity to which the North is a stranger.?
Volume 4 Page 196
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