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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


University.] THE PROFESSORS AND THE TOWN COUNCIL. 15 - endof the year named, a body was, for the first time, regularly dissected in the city, after the celebrated Dr. Archibald Pitcairn-who left a distinguished position as a professor of medicine in the University of Leyden, to marry a lady of Edinburgh -had been induced to settle there, and seek a practice. . . , The Doctor, on the 14th of October, wrote to his friend 1)r. Gray, of London, stating that he was making efforts to obtain from the magistrates subjects for dissectiod, such as the bodies of those who died in the ,House of Correction at Paul?s Work, and had none to bury them. ?We offer,? he says, I? to wait on these poor for nothing, and bury them after dissection at our own charges, which now the town does; yet there is great opposition by the chief surgeons, who neither eat hay nor suffer the oxen to eat it. I do propose, if this be granted, to make better improvements in anatomy than have been made at Leyden these thirty years; for I think most or all anatomists have neglected or not known what was most useful for a physician.? The person who moved ostensibly in this matter was Alexander Monteith, who entered the Colleg? of Surgeons in December, 1691. He was a prominent Jacobite, and owner of Todshaugh, now called Foxhall, in West Lothian. He was an eminent surgeon, and a friend of Pitcairn?s. The Town Council on the 24th of October, in compliance with his urgent request, granted to him the bodies of those who died in the House of Correction and of all foundlings who died at the breast. They gave him, at the same time, a room for dissection, with permission to inter the mutilated remains in the College Kirk Cemetery, stipulating that he should inter all intestines within forty-eight hours, the rest of the body within ten days, and that his prelections should only be in the winter season. Though the College of Surgeons did not generally oppose this new movement, they greatly disliked his exclusive permission from the Council, and proposed to give demonstrations in anatomy as well, asking for the unclaimed bodies of those who died in the streets, and also of foundlings. Their petition was granted, on the understanding that they should have a regular anatomical theatre ready before the Michaelmas of 1697 ; but it was not until 1705 that the Anatomical Chair was founded in the university. In 1703 a struggle for emancipation from the Town Council was made by the professors. It had -wen usual f9r the former body to appoint a day for graduation, or laureation, as it was named in those days. This was for the first or senior class; and to preside at this learned ceremony a certain portion of the somewhat unlearned civic patrons were regularly deputed, with their robes, insignia, and halberdiers, to at ten d. The professors, as may be supposed, were becoming very impatient of this yearly interference with their internal arrangements, and perhaps imagined, not unnaturally, that literature, science, and philosophy, could derive but little lustre .? from the presence of men who, generally speaking, would have ears which heard not, and understandings which could not perceive.? Thus they bethought them of a plan whereby they hoped to get rid of such officious visitors in all time coming. Accordingly, when all the professors met in the Old College Hall, on the 20th of January, 1703, they, as an independent faculty, adopted the following resolution :- ? The Faculty of Philosophy within the city of Edinburgh, taking to their consideration the reasons offered by Mr. Scott . why his magistrand class should be privately graduated, and being satisfied with the same, do unanimously, according to fheir undoubfed yighf, confained in the charfer of erection, and their constant and uninterrupted custom in such cases, appoint the said class to be laureated privately upon the last Thursday of April next, being the twenty-seventh day of the said month. Signed by order, and in presence of the Faculty, by Robert Anderson, CZerk.? This was deemed by the Provost and bailies as the very tocsin of rebellion, and roused at once their wrath. A visitation accordingly followed, by the Lord Provost, Sir Hugh Cunningham, Knight, and the bailies, with the inevitable halberdiers, in the library of the college on the 15th of the following month ; there he informed the Senatus that among many other contumacious things,. he had become cognisant <? of an unwarrantable act of the masters of that college, viz., the Professors of Philosophy, Humanity, Mathematics, and Church Iiistory, wherein they assert themselves a FiicuZty, empowered by the charter of erection to appoint, &C.? It is difficult to know how this quarrel might have ended, had not the Lord Advocate, as mediator between the parties, effected a compromise, which, however, implied a surrender of the asserted point at issue by the four professors ; at the same time, so resolute were the magistrates and Council in their intention of upholding and defending their privileges as patrms of the university, that Bailie Blackwood, in the name of the rest, declared that the Council of the city ?would not be satisfied with the masters simply
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16 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [University. passing from the pretended act of their pretended Arcuh?y, unless it. were passed from as an act wanting all manner of foundation.?? On the 5th of May, 1703, the magistrates, flushed with triumph, ordained that Mr. Scott?s class should be publicly graduated, as of old, in the public hall of the university, which was accordingly done, without consulting that professor or any other member of the Senatus Academicus. A memorial, however, signed by the former and the other professors, so far succeeded in soothing the irate Provost and bailies, that they ultimately granted him that which he had so earnestly wished-a private graduation of his students ; but while doing so, they took the opportunity of loftily and sternly prohibiting the other professors, ?upon their peril, to graduate any in time coming but such as took out a certificate or diploma with the town?s seal, and poor scholars to have it gratis; and order that all certificates make honowabk mention of the magistrates and Council of Edinburgh as Patrons of the CoZZege.? Some curious matters of detail occurred about this time, when the Rev. William Carstares was principal, in connection with the museum of ? Rarities belonging to the College,? on the state of which the Council appointed a commission to report how far the said ?rarities ? in the drawers corresponded to the inventory thereof. Among other things, the commission reported that the wire-work in the presses was so wide that studeots and others visiting the museum, ??by putting their fingers into the holes, did disorder (the contents), and possibly might embezzle, some of them ; particularly there was wanting a coraline substance growing upop a piece of silver, much like unto a Spanish cob.? To remedy these mischances it was proposed that the wires should be more close. Of two cabinets they found that one contained the Materia Medica in three drawers ; and as to the other, they knew not what was in it, as it had no keys, and they had never seen it opened. The commission offered the further suggestion that ?the Rarities purchased in the time of Mr. Henderson?s father, such as the woman?s horn rei with siZver, and the skeleton, Src., be registrated and cataIogued by themselves.? The keyless cabinet was ordered to be broken open, and found to contain only a quantity ?of atheistical books, which the late principal, Dr. Gilbert Rule, had caused to sequestrate from the others.? These were delivered to the librarian, with orders that no one should be permitted to read them ? without the express permission of the Town Council. The Humanity Class, as a separate professoiship, was founded by the Faculty of Advocates, who, on being voted a sum of money for the endowment of a chair connected with their own profession, devoted it in the first instance to the cultivation of Latin, as the language in which the most valuable legal knowledge was to be found; and John Ray was the first professor, in 1597. In 1707, on the Treaty of Union with England, there was ratified by Parliament and in the Act of Security an Act of 1621, bf which the Scottish Parliament defined in ample form the rights, immunities, and privileges of the university. It was not until 1708 that a separate professorship of Greek was appointed. For some twenty years before that period the proposal to that effect had been made, and a master actually named, who was to teach within the college, without the rank or salary of professor. But in the year above named, on the 16th of June, the Town Council, ?considering that as a knowledge of the Greek tongue is a valuable piece of learning, and much esteemed in all parts of the world where letters and science do flourish, so they, being willing to contribute their utmost endeavour to advance the knowledge of that language, do judge that nothing can more effectually promote the said end than the fixing of a Professor of Greek in this burgh.? Consequently, William Scott, one of the regents, was appointed. Following Bower?s ? History,? we may give the following condensed view of the course of study which was introduced by Principal Rollock in In the beginning of October the session commenced, and lasted till about the end of the ensuing August, when an examination of the students took place before the Town Council and the senior members of the college. As the younger men were prepared for the perusal of the higher order of Latin Classics, the most of their time was passed in reading the most approved Roman authors, particularly Cicero, who in those days was in the greatest repute among the learned. Translations from English into Latin, and nice versa, were a regular exercise throughout the whole session, and the ? common theme,? as it was called, was prescribed by the principal towards its closei. e., the subject of a brief essay to be written in pure Latin, affording each student an opportunity of displaying his attainments in that language, and knowledge of the general principles of composition. The appointment of this subject was evidently 1583.
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