Old and New Edinburgh

Old and New Edinburgh

Volume V

University. 1 A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY. ‘3 one with a dark lantern ; but notwithstanding that a pardon and zoo merks (about 6110 sterling) were offered by the Privy Council to any who would discover the perpetrators of this outrage, they were never detected. The gates of the college were ordered to be shut, and the students to retire at least fifteen miles distant from the city; but in ten days they were permitted to return, upon their friends becoming caution for their peaceable behaviour, and the gates were again thrown open ; but all students “ above the Semi-class ” were ordered by the Privy Council to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and go regularly to the parish churches ; but, says Fountainhall, ‘‘ there were few or none who gave thu conditions.” -the seat of Sir Jarnes Dick, Lord Provost, the family being in town-was deliberately set in flames by fire-balls, and burned to the ground, with all its furniture. A barrel ha.Y full of combustible materials, and bearing, it was said, the Castle mark, was found in the adjacent park, and several people deposed that on the night of the conflagration they saw many young men going towards the house of Priestfield with unlighted links in their hands, and ’ repress faction and panish disorder ; to correspond with the other Scottish Universities, so that a uniformity of discipline might be adopted; and to report fully on all these matters before the 1st of November, 1683. “What the visitors did in consequence of this appointment,” says Amot, “ we are not able to ascertain.” As this visitation was to be for the suppression of fanaticism, upon the accomplishment of the Revolution a Parliamentary one was ordered of all the universities in Scotland by an Act of William and Mary, ‘‘ with the purpose to remove and ’ oppress such as continued attached to the hierarchy or the House of Stuart. From such specimens of their conduct in a visitorial capacity as we have been able to discover, we are entitled to say,” re- To prevent a recurrence of such outbreaks, Charles 11. appointed a visitation of the university, naming the great officers of state, the bishop, Lord Provost, and magistrates of the city, and certain others, of whom five, with the bishop and Lord Provost should be a quorum, to inquire into the condition of the college, its revenues, privileges, and buildings; to examine if the laws of the realm, the Church government, and the old rules of discipline were observed j to arrange the methods of study; to PART OF THE BUILDINGS OF THE saum SIDE OF THE QUADRANGLE OF THE OLD UNIVERSITY. (From am Engraving ay W. H. Lienn of a Drawing ay Payfair.)
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I4 .OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [University. marks Arnot, “ that these Parliamentary visitors proceeded with great violence and injustice.” Before the autumn of 1690 the professors who were faithful to the House of Stuart were expelled by a royal commission. Proclamation was made at the Cross, and an edict fixed to it and the college gates, and at Stirling, Haddington, and elsewhere, warning the principal and professors, and all schoolmasters in Edinburgh and the adjacent counties, to appear before the Committee of Visitors on the 20th of August, to answer upon the points contained in the .Act of Parliament. “ ‘AZso summoning and warning aZZ the &gees who haw anything to oyect against the said pinc$aZ, professors, &c., to appear befare the said Cammittee, the said day and $ace, to giw in olyedions, Erc.’ After an edict which bespoke that the country, although it had been subjected to a revolution, had not acquired a system of liberty nor the iudiments of justice: after an invitation so publicly thrown out by the Commissioners of Parliament in a nation disturbed by religious a d political factions, it is not to be supposed that informers would be wanting.” (Ibid.) Sir John Hall, Knight, the Lord Provost, sat as president of this inquisition, which met on the day appointed ; and after adjourning his trial-for such it was-for eight days, they brought before them Alexander Monro, who had succeeded Cant as principal in 1685, and Sir John Hall, addressing him, bade him answer to the various articles of his indictment, and commanded the clerk to read them aloud. To the first two articles (one of which was that he had renounced the Protestant faith) the principal replied extempore. But when he discpvered that the clerk was about to read from a list, bringing forward he knew not what charges, ‘( he complained of proceedings so unjust and illegal, desired to know his accusers, and be allowed’ time to prepare his defences.” Thereupon he was furnished with an unsigned copy of the informations lodged against him, and had a few days given him to prepare replies. Having sent in these, containing an acknowledgment of certain matters of small moment, and a denial of the rest, he was asked by the commissioners if he was prepared to take all the tests, religious and political, imposed by the new laws of the Revolution. To this he replied in the negative, on which a sentence of deprivation was passed upon him, in which his acknowledgment of certain charges made against him and his refusal to embrace the new formulas were mingled as grounds for the said sentence. (Presbyterian Inquisition, as quoted by Arnot.) Dr. John Strachan,’ Professor of Divinity since 1683, was next brought before these commkioners. Like the principal, he was served with an unsigned indictment. His case and the proceedings thereon were identical with those of the principal, and he too was expelled from his chair; but it does not appear that any more than these two were served thus. Gilbert Rule, the new principal, held his chair till 1703, and was famous for nothing but seeing “a ghost ” on one or two occasions, as we learn from Wodrow’s “Analecta.” In the year 1692 the professors of the university seem to have held several conferences with their patrons, the Town Council and magistrates, as to the expediency of restoring, or perhaps establishing permanently, the oftices of rector and chancellor, which, owing to civil war and tumult, had fallen into disuse or been permitted to pass away; and now the time had come when a spirit of improvement was developing itself among men of literary tastes in Scotland, and more particularly among the regents of her universities generally. In a memorial drawn up and prepared by the principal, Gilbert Rule, the professors urged, “That in obedience to the commands of the honourable patrons, they have considered the rise and establishment of the university; and they find from authentic documents that she has been in the exercise of these powers, and for a considerable time governed in that manner, wherein consists the distinguishing character of a university from the lesser seminaries of learning. She continues in the possession of giving degrees to all the learned sciences; but her government by a rector has now, for some considerable time, gone into disuse. To what causes the sinking the useful office of rector is most likely to have been owing, they are unwilling to explore, lest the scrutiny should lead them into the view of some unhappy differences, whereof, in their humble opinion, the memory should not be recalled. It is plain, however, the university in former times was more in the exercise of certain rights and privileges, and in certain respects carried more the outward face of a iiniversity than she has done for some time past.” Whether the Lord Provost, Sir John Hall, and the Council, were hostile to these wishes we know not, but the memorialists failed to achieve their end. In 1694 we hear of an advance in medical education in Edinburgh, eleven years before the first professor of anatomy was appointed. In the latter
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