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pose themselves under the shade of their laurels, while Edinburgh cultivates hers. The exterior of the establishment of education is very modest in. deed. The professors are soldiers of fortune, who live by their sword, that is to say, by their talents and reputation. They generally depend for their income on the number of students who attend their lectures, and who pay each L. 3, 6s. for the course. The number is from 30 or 40 to 300 or 400. Mr Playfair, professor of natural philosophy ; Dr Hope, of chemistry; Dr Brown, successor of Mr Dugald Stewart, of moral philosophy; Dr Gregory, of medicine; Mr Leslie, of mathematics ; Dr Thomson, of surgery, &c. are, I believe, those who have the greatest number of students. The students do not appear to me subject to much, if any, collegial discipline. They board out, wéar no parti. cular dress, and make what use they please of their time. I understand, however, they are in ĝeneral studious, and I have certainly observed much zeal and emulation among them. A few of the richest live in some of the professors” fa. inilies. It is not uncommon to see grown men, even old men, inhabitants of the place, and strangers, attend such of the lectures as interest them, Half of the audience of the professor of agriculture, Mr Coventry, appeared to me composed of farmers. This professor is, I am told, a person of eminent merit. I wish his friends would advise him to speak a little louder. From the third seat, I was not able to hear more than half he said, and I have no reason to suppose that his country au. ditors caught more than I did. The learned professor loses, I am persuaded, by this bad habit, at least one hundred students, but the fields of Scotland must be the greatest sufferers,
EDINBURGH-UNIVERSITY-DR GREGORY. 577
Dr Gregory lectures in a manner peculiar to himself. Seated in the centre of a vast amphi. theatre, covered with 500 heads, his hat on, and playing with the case of his spectacles, he speaks without any notes, and in a tone of conversation. The only time I was present, the subject was the disorders of the liver, occasioned, he said, almost ex. clusively, by the heat of southern climates, and by intemperance. He reproved, in strong terms, the vulgar expression of keeping the liver afloat, that is to say, continuing to drink as a cure for what is the effect of drinking. To illustrate this, he told us a story of certain British officers who had fallen into the hands of Tippoo Saib, and were detained three years in irons, because they refused to enter his service. They were treated with barbarous rigour.
A handful of rice, boiled into gruel, was the daily ration to each. They were chained two and two, and several of them dying of their wounds, the dead bodies remained, in some instances, fastened to the living, until they fell into decay. None of them hoped to live long; yet they not only lived, but the liver-complaints, under which several of them laboured, disappeared by degrees; and when, after their long captivity, they returned to Calcutta, they found many, whom they had left well, dead of the very disorder of which they had been cured by the terrible prescription of Tippoo Saib. This medical anecdote is possibly very well known, but it was new to me, and to a great number of students, who evidently listened to it with great interest, as well as to some others, which Dr G. introduced very naturally, and with great effect. He has certainly the art of commanding the attention of his pupils. They manifested their interest from time to time, by a little mur
mur of applause, which the professor checked by a motion of the hand, and went on. He observed, that the disorders of the liver are always more rapid in their progress at the pay time of the troops, in the East and West Indies. The weight of the liver, which, in healthy subjects is about three pounds and a half, increases to eighteen or twenty-four pounds, and becomes so hard, that the sharpest instruments penetrate it with difficulty.
Mr Leslie, known in the scientific world by many ingenious researches on the subjects of light and heat, and by his late discovery of congelation in vacuo, is professor of mathematics in this university. He was so obliging as to repeat several times, in our presence, this brilliant experiment. In seven minutes, a cup of pure water, under the recipient of the pneumatic machine, became a mass of ice. Had it been warm weather, the process would not have taken more than five minutes, by the greater rapidity of evaporation. This circumstance renders his discovery the more valuable in tropical climates ; and Mr Leslie has contrived a simple apparatus, for 'practical use, which costs, I think, twenty guineas.
It was the fortune of this philosopher à la glace to kindle, some years ago, a metaphysical flame between the men of letters and the churchmen of this learned town. He chose, I do not know exactly why, to allude, in a work of physical science, to the doctrine of Hume concerning the relation of cause and effect. This was supposed to be an indirect attack on the great First Cause,-and I would not answer for it that it was not, for the Scotch philosophers have been grievously suspected of a leaning towards infidelity. The clergy of the kirk thought it their duty to oppose the election of an
infidel to the professorship ;the men of letters drew the
in defence of their brother philosopher, and
thus a war à toute outrance was waged. Professor D. S. wrote with great severity ;-Professor P. with keen irony ;-Dr T. B. logically. The doctrine of causation, as it is called, shows, to the great satisfaction of the learned, that the constant return of light with the rising sun, is no proof that the light proceeds from that body. It teaches you to say, that one event has invariably followed the other, but warns you against the rash assertion that it is the cause of it, as, in fact, we know nothing about causes-the old yulgar apophthegm of no effect without a cause, being, for anything we know to the contrary, wholly erroneous. Hume, to be sure, did not doubt of the existence of causes alone, but of effects likewise ; – that is to say, of the existence of the whole external world, as it appears to our senses. He substituted to external reali. ties certain ideas existing in the mind, which, at the same time, does not itself exist, or is only a simple modification of matter ; “ most ingeniously reasoning us out of every ground of certainty, and every criterion of truth ; involving self-evi. dent questions in obscurity and confusion, and entangling our understanding in metaphysical abstractions;" or, as Hume himself said of Berkeley, “ His arguments admit of no answer, and produce no conviction, but only momentary amazement and irresolution.”
Metaphysical researches lead you back at last to some self-evident proposition, for the truth of
which consciousness is the only evidence; as, in the system of the world, attraction is admitted as a cause, although this occult property of matter can only be proved by its effects.
With minds so keenly alive to abstruse inquiries as these northern philosophers possess, they could not possibly pass hy that most inextricable of all metaphysical puzzles, free-will and necessity. We find them accordingly to have been most warmly engaged in debates on the subject, reasoning always victorious on one side, and conviction on the other. * One of the inevitable consequences of the doctrine of necessity, and explicitly admitted by its advocates, is, that remorse, or self. blame, is an erroneous feeling. Such a result might well have made them pause, and suspect that there was a fallacy somewhere in the chain of arguments which proved so much. The deliberate character,--the sanity and rectitude of judgment of a people like this, neutralize dangerous opinions, and prevent their abuse. They are in no haste to decide,-hear both sides,-can follow the thread of a metaphysical dispute without going astray, or acting rashly upon mere speculative demonstration. It has been said of Voltaire, that " il n'avoit pas les reins assez fort, pour porter à terme une idée metaphysique.” Philosophical conceptions are not subject here to such untimely births; the fruit may be bad, but it is not for want of maturity. The French are; on the
* Adam Smith, so well known on the Continent of Europe, by his great work on the wealth of nations, treated, in another work much less known, (Theory of Moral Sentiments) certainly very prolix and heavy, this thorny question of free-will and necessity, and proved, of course, necessity.