The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

Publishers of Protestant, Reformed Christian Literature

Memoirs of Rev James Begg, D.D., by Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D.

CHAPTER VIII.

GLASGOW DIVINITY HALLS.

A LTHOUGH it is probable that in every day and every hour of a young man's life he is subjected to influences which contribute to the formation or modification of his intellectual, moral, and spiritual character - as every ray of light and every drop of dew has its part in the production of the harvest - yet it seems to be a fact that the development of the student's mind is not usually continuous and regular, but rather that it is effected by a succession of upward steps occurring at intervals after periods of advance along a plane. Such an elevation appears to have occurred in Dr. Begg's mental history, cotemporaneously with his entrance upon his properly professional studies. At the close of last chapter it is stated, on the authority of Mr. Wilson, that he was held in higher repute as a theological student than he had been as an undergraduate. This might, of course, be attributable to various causes. His tastes and mental habitudes might be more in the direction of theology than of literature, or science, or philosophy; or it might be because the juvenility to which I referred as necessarily prejudicial to his success in the earlier half of his course had ceased to act so unfavourably during the latter half of it. I have no doubt that both these causes operated to some extent. But I suspect that the main cause of his sudden ascent to a higher level was his being then brought under the influence of Dr. Stevenson MacGill, the Professor of Theology in the Glasgow University. I have no doubt that this constituted a crisis in his mental history. It was impossible to be much in his company in private without perceiving how high was his estimate of Dr. MacGill, while he very often referred to him in public as hisbeau ideal of a theologian and a professor. No one who knows the character of Dr. Begg's sentiments, and the particulars of his career, can read the Life of Dr. MacGill without perceiving that the points of resemblance between the two men were too numerous and too exact to have been undesigned, and therefore that the younger man must, consciously or unconsciously, have formed himself after the model of the elder. The very measures which Dr. MacGill continually advocated in the social department, relating to pauperism, the treatment of prisoners, education, and the economical elevation of the people, were the measures whose advocacy afterwards occupied much of the time and thought of Dr. Begg. On ecclesiastical questions, too, their views were practically identical, although Dr. MacGill was not so thorough an anti-patronage man as Dr. Begg. Even on questions respecting which they differed from the great body of those with whom they generally agreed - as, for example, on the question of "Catholic Emancipation" - they entirely agreed with one another. With secular politics they inter-meddled more than earnest ministers of the Gospel generally do, and their political views were identical. They regarded the Revolution Settlement as the real Magna Charta of British rights and liberties, and, with an equal abhorrence of Toryism and Radicalism, trod the via media of the Whiggism of 1688.

Although it would ordinarily be unwarrantable to occupy any considerable portion of a biographical book with a notice of one of the teachers of the subject of the biography, yet I believe that a brief notice of Dr. MacGill will materially aid the reader in tracing the development of the character of Dr. Begg, and therefore I consider myself justified in presenting such a notice, derived from the Life of Dr. MacGill, 13 by the late Dr. Robert Burns of Paisley, afterwards of Toronto.

[Footnote 13: "Memoir of the Rev. Stevenson MacGill, D.D., Professor of Theology in the University of Glasgow, and Dean of the Chapel Royal." By Robert Burns, D.D., Minister of St. George's, Paisley. Edinburgh, 1842.]

Dr. MacGill began his professional work as minister of the parish of Eastwood, near Glasgow. From the first he was an evangelical preacher, and gave himself faithfully to pulpit preparation, and to diligent study of Biblical truth. Yet the impression made on my mind by the perusal of Dr. Burns' Memoir is that his highest motive at this time was a sense of duty and responsibility, rather than any enthusiastic zeal for his Master's glory, or for the salvation of the souls of his hearers. His conscientiously prepared discourses were, I suspect, rather devoid of faults in matter or manner than very richly distinguished by fervour, or the fruits of spiritual experience. But if he had no very enthusiastic longing for the spiritual well-being of his flock, he had for their temporal well-being, and their social and economical improvement. And while the former longing waxed stronger and stronger, the latter happily remained in undiminished strength throughout his long life, although I would not say that to the last he was not more of a philanthropist and a social reformer than an evangelist.

"Dr. MacGill" (says his biographer), "while minister of Eastwood, was conspicuous for his diligent attention to pastoral duties. He was careful in his preparations for the pulpit, and he was practically alive to the importance of the more retired parts of the ministerial office. There is one branch of duty to which, as a parochial minister, he was particularly attentive; I refer to the religious and moral education of the youth of his parish.... Dr. MacGill entered at once into the spirit of those regulations which the Church of Scotland has laid down on this subject for the guidance of her ministers. Not only did the business of individual examination form part of his ordinary family visitations; he held in addition regular diets of catechising in different districts of the parish, and his affectionate and solemn manner of address rendered these meetings highly agreeable and useful both to old and young. He regularly superintended also the parochial and other schools within the bounds, not satisfying himself with the annual and perhaps formal inspection of them by the members of Presbytery, but frequently looking into the village seminary, affectionately and respectfully encouraging the teacher, speaking in the language of condescending tenderness to the youngest of the pupils, and addressing to them the words of instruction....

"In connection with the education of youth, Dr. MacGill was most assiduous in the general management of the poor of the parish. Eastwood at that time had not become so much a manufacturing locality as it has been of late years, and the number of public works was small. Still it was an extensive and populous parish, and the poor were on the increase. Dissent had drawn away considerable numbers from the parish church, and the weekly collections, thus diminished, required to be augmented by means of assessment. Dr. MacGill, along with a body of faithful elders, paid a very minute attention to the management of the poor, both in principle and in detail, regularly attending the meetings of heritors and session, and guiding their proceedings with that calm dignity and order which ever distinguished him in public matters.... Dr. MacGill retained through life his deep impressions of the duty of a clergyman to be peculiarly attentive to the physical and moral wants of the poor. Although properly belonging to a much later period of his history, we may here notice his admirable tract on the subject of 'Public Provision for the Poor,' published in 1820, because it contains an exposition of the principles on which he began to act while minister at Eastwood, and which developed themselves more and more in all his future relations. Competent judges have long ago pronounced this work to be one of the most valuable compends of all that is really useful in principle and in detail on the subject of which it treats.... At a time when it was not so common as it is now for clergymen to tell their minds freely from the pulpit or the press on such subjects, Dr. MacGill boldly reminded the affluent and the gay that their idleness and extravagance, irreligion and profligacy, had produced sad 'havoc' among the humbler classes, and that thereby they had contributed both to corrupt the general manners, and to ruin individuals; and he boldly called upon rulers and statesmen, landed proprietors, merchants, manufacturers, and masters of trades, nay, on our literary men and our instructors of youth, who are apt to look on such things as beneath their notice, to consider what example of attention to religious principles, and ordinances, and duties they had for many years given; and he plainly tells them not to be surprised if they should see some portion of the fruit of their own conduct appearing among the people....

"Dr. MacGill was not one of those puling sentimentalists who imagine that a Protestant minister has nothing to do with the great public events of the times, or the influence of civil government on the habits and condition of men. It was during the period of his residence at Eastwood that certain political opinions were extensively circulated among the people, the tendency of which appeared to him, and to many others, unfavourable to the peace and prosperity of the country. His views of the French Revolution had been greatly modified by events; and expectations which he, in common with many intelligent and liberal men, may at one time have formed, were speedily blasted. Anxious for the best interests of his people, he published, in 1792, a small tract entitled 'The Spirit of the Times,' addressed specially to 'the people of Eastwood.' There are seasons when pious and faithful ministers ought to depart from their ordinary round; yea, even to leave the retired and peaceful walks of pastoral duty, in order that they may, by methods somewhat unusual, endeavour to do good to their fellow-citizens. Dr. MacGill felt himself so situated, and he lifted up a seasonable warning against prevailing anarchy, infidelity, and crime. While he was far from inculcating passive obedience, or 'the right divine of kings to govern wrong,' he inculcated the lessons of wisdom and brotherly love. It is possible that later events and growing experience may have modified his views on some points; but taking it as a whole, his address abounds in sound maxims on the subject of established government, and the dangers of anarchy and a revolutionary spirit; while the acquaintance it exhibits with the history of the English Constitution, as contrasted with the government of France under the Bourbon dynasty, is exceedingly creditable to his intelligence and his judgment at this early period of his life. There is reason to think that the practical effect of the publication was beneficial; and certainly no man dared to charge its author with the fault of stepping out of his appropriate province in putting it forth.... There are great questions of political economy which ought to be viewed apart from all low partisanship, and in connection exclusively with the general social welfare of mankind. A Protestant clergyman ought to be the most enlightened of citizens. In ordinary times, indeed, he may safely leave the details of public measures to those whose habits qualify them better for their development; but at no time should he be ignorant of great principles, or indifferent to their practical application."

If the introduction of these extracts can be justified at all, it can only be on the ground of the personal influence which Dr. MacGill exerted in moulding the character of Dr. Begg; and even on that ground I confess that I am not quite confident of obtaining unanimous acceptance of the plea. But however important it be that we know what men are, it is abundantly more so that we know how they become what they are.

In 1797, Dr. MacGill was "translated" to the Tron Church parish in Glasgow. There he made full proof, in a large city parish, of that ministry which he had begun to exercise in a comparatively small and rural one; although I believe that Eastwood was, even in the days when he was minister of it, neither absolutely small nor strictly rural. Now it is embraced in the ever-widening circuit of Glasgow. His ministry in the Tron parish was most faithful and laborious. He wrought under the depressing feeling that the work given him to do was far more than any man could do; but he humbly trusted in God, and faithfully and conscientiously did what he could. In 1814 he was appointed to the Theological chair in the University, his successor in the Tron Church being Dr. Chalmers. By this time Dr. MacGill had become known in the Church as a sound evangelical preacher, and as an advocate in the Church courts of anti-moderate views and measures. His appointment to the chair was therefore hailed by the friends of evangelism as in some sort a triumph, or at all events as an indication of a turn of the tide. It was matter of great rejoicing to such men as Sir Henry Moncreiff and Dr. Andrew Thomson.

I am not aware whether Dr. Begg had been brought in any way into contact with the Professor before he became a member of his class. Most likely he would have been introduced to him by his father, who must have been on terms of intimacy with him. But it was when he became a student of theology, in the technical sense of the term, that he was brought into close relation with one who exerted so potent an influence over him. As to that influence I am disposed to think that it was rather personal than strictly academical. From Dr. Burns' "Memoir" I should infer that this was the case generally; and I have no doubt that it was so in this instance. Indeed, the Professor himself seems to have aimed more at the exercise of a salutary and sanctifying influence over his students, than at turning them out as very profound or erudite theologians. 14 His prelections would certainly be sound, and clear, and candid. But we hear more of his efforts to make his students, with God's help, honest-minded, and upright, and generous, and noble men, and faithful preachers, and diligent pastors, than of any special endeavours to imbue them with very fervent zeal for theological research. He seems to have bestowed very special pains upon the criticism of the exercises which the students were statutorily required to deliver, as well as of other exercises which he prescribed to them. Altogether, the impression made on my mind has been that other theological professors may have been better instructors than he was, but that he was eminently an educator of those under his charge. I need not say that instruction and education are by no means identical, although the former is certainly an important means towards the latter. It will not be disputed that a combination of the two is greatly preferable to either of them singly, and, indeed, that they must always be combined in some proportion or other. But as perfection of proportion is, like all other perfection, unattainable so long as men are imperfect, it will probably be admitted that a larger proportion of the latter with a smaller of the former is much preferable to the converse. Dr. Begg's complaint, however, that the "art of preaching " was not taught - a complaint which he constantly reiterated in public and in private - is not to be carried too far. The elaborate teaching of the "art of preaching" is too apt to degenerate into the regarding of preaching simply as an art. Certainly, the ordinary books on homiletics do not seem to indicate that such teaching is capable of doing much good to the learner. The art of preaching consists essentially in having something to say, and in saying it naturally and unaffectedly, under a deep sense of the awful responsibility of delivering a message from God to men. In my student days in Edinburgh, Dr. Welsh gave us every Friday a lecture on preaching. The lectures, it needs not be said since the lecturer has been named, were most admirable. I remember little of them except the following sentence, a priceless gem, "When you write a particularly fine passage - draw your pen through it!"

[Footnote 14: Dr. Wilson, in his "Memorials of Dr. Candlish," says:- "Of the theological professors, Stevenson MacGill was the one he respected most, and got most good from; but he often spoke of the inadequacy of the theological training of those days. Even MacGill mentioned no books to the students, and so left them quite at sea in the prosecution of their studies." I should suppose that this is an exaggerated statement, but not an unfounded one. - T. S.]

Without question, however, the state of theological education in our Scottish Colleges, in Dr. Begg's student days, was very unsatisfactory. The great evil was that more was given to the Professor of Theology to do than it was possible for any man to do efficiently. In my time in Edinburgh the Theological Faculty consisted of the Professors of Systematic Theology, Church History, and Hebrew: I believe it was the same in Glasgow in Dr. Begg's day. The three professors had, in all, five classes each day. Since that time the Theological Faculties have been increased by the foundation of professorships of Biblical Criticism. But the greatest improvement has been made in the Theological Schools outside the University. The Free Church College in Edinburgh has six professors, who have eleven classes each day, while a seventh has two classes during a portion of the session. The Glasgow and Aberdeen Colleges, each with a professor fewer, have as many classes. The United Presbyterians also have a fully equipped hall, and a long session, instead of a session of six weeks conducted by professors who were also ministers of congregations. The Congregationalists also have materially extended their course. Certainly the means and appliances for theological study are greatly extended. The valley is made full of ditches (2 Kings iii. 16); would that the heaven-sent rain might fill the pools (Ps. lxxxiv. 6).

Of Dr. Begg's residence as tutor in the family of Mrs. Neilson (see p. 59), I have received the following interesting account from Mr. Stuart Neilson, W.S., who was not himself under Dr. Begg's tutorship, but who was at home in his mother's house while Dr. Begg was an inmate of it.

"1 NORTH CHARLOTTE STREET, EDINBURGH, 5th July 1884.

"DEAR SIR, - In compliance with your request, I shall now, with the aid of my brothers, note down some reminiscences of the late Dr. Begg while residing in our family at Millbank, near Edinburgh, about fifty-five years ago; but I regret that I can communicate very little.

"Mr. Begg was licensed, I believe, by the Presbytery of Paisley, when he was only twenty years of age, on condition that he should not preach till he had completed his twenty first year. 15 It was arranged that during that year he should reside with us as tutor to my youngest brother, who died many years ago, that he might have the opportunity of attending Dr. Chalmers' Theological Lectures; and as he was only occupied with my brother for part of the evening, he had the whole day at his disposal. He attended Dr. Chalmers' class, where he became acquainted with the late Principal Cunningham, commonly known among the students as 'clever Cunningham.'

[Footnote 15: This is not strictly accurate; he was not licensed when he came to Edinburgh; and he was licensed by the Presbytery of Hamilton. - T. S.]

"Mr. Begg generally spent his forenoon in town, or in walking in the country with some of the students. In the afternoon he was generally occupied with his theological studies. He was especially fond of Jeremy Taylor, 'Pearson on the Creed,' and the old Fathers, and, having an excellent memory, often introduced quotations from them in conversation, but without any ostentation. He was very intelligent and fond of argument, but very good-tempered. I remember an instance of his enthusiasm. A military friend of ours who had been in India and was in delicate health paid us a visit. He went to bed early, but could seldom fall asleep for a considerable time, and after he was in bed Begg generally entered with 'Pearson on the Creed' under his arm, and then there would be at least an hour of reading and discussion, though our friend acknowledged that his eyes were sometimes closed in slumber before the end of it.

"Mr. Begg conducted family worship morning and evening. During his residence with us one of my sisters who had long been delicate became dangerously ill. She was a very devoted and consistent Christian, intimate with the late Dr. Gordon, and a member of his congregation, but of a very retiring and timid disposition, so that she shrank from expressing her opinions. On the night when she died, the family were around her bed, Begg being present, and her natural timidity disappeared, and she gave a bold and striking testimony to the truth. Begg told a friend that his experience of that night first gave him an adequate sense of the power of the Gospel.

"My brothers and I were fond of leaping, vaulting, quoits, throwing the hammer, &c., and Begg always joined in these sports with great enjoyment, and excelled in them all. He had then a spare sinewy figure, and gave the impression of a man who could undergo a great amount of work without being fatigued, and he entered heartily into merriment. He had a great fund of humour, and an unlimited stock of comic anecdotes. He was not impulsive, but had a cool persistency which fitted him for overcoming difficulties and accomplishing what he designed. This manifested itself in a short pedestrian tour in the Highlands, which my three brothers and their friend, Mr. George Ross, afterwards a legal professor in the University of Edinburgh, had arranged. Begg, gladly joined the party, and being the senior, was made guardian of the purse.

"At that time 'a natural' walked on the slopes of Stirling Castle, having always in his hand a large iron key. He was famed for his great memory in connection with the Bible, so that if any chapter and verse were mentioned he could at once repeat the text. Begg made a point of seeing him and putting him to the test, and was much impressed with the astonishing memory of the man. From Stirling the party walked to Callander. Having dined, they went up the Pass of Leny, and when they reached the road to the Trossachs on their return, heavy rain was falling, and the hills were covered with mist, and it was proposed that they should return to the inn at Callander, but Begg would not hear of that. He said they must go through with their day's work of thirty miles as arranged, and if they were prevented by the mist from seeing the hills, he said, 'So much the better, for you can fancy them any height you please.' My brothers still persisted�that they would return to Callander, when he said, 'Well, of course, you may do as you please, but I have the purse, you know;' and that was conclusive; so during their walk of nine miles they had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a Highland shower. That night they slept at the old small hotel at the Trossachs, and next day, there being then no steamer on the Loch, they were rowed up Loch Katrine to Stronachlacher. On landing, some 'sma' still whisky was brought out, but Begg would have none of it, being a strict abstainer, which was a rare thing in those days. ln fact, cold water was a hobby of his, so that there would be a general smile when he enlarged, as he frequently did, on the virtues of pure cold water.

"On arriving at Glasgow my brothers thought that he guarded the purse too conscientiously, for he took them to a third-rate hotel, and when they grumbled at the shabby entertainment, he, in his pleasant way, consoled them with the assurance that they might have been worse off.

"From Glasgow he took them to his father's manse, where they spent two pleasant days with the family. Some time before this a coloured window representing a figure had been introduced in a church in Glasgow, which roused the indignation of Begg's father, who published two pamphlets on 'The Painted Image.' Begg not being impressed with this innovation as indicating 'the thin end of the wedge,' used to joke in a mild way about the 'Painted Image,' but not in any spirit of disrespect to his father.

"The first time that Begg was a member of Assembly his father made a speech to which some one replied in rather a free way, on which Begg rose and defended his father so ably that the late Lord Moncreiff came forward and shook hands with him, and congratulated him on the success of his first appearance.

"On the first Sabbath after completing his twenty-first year, he preached three times in Edinburgh, his evening service being in Lady Glenorchy's Chapel, where he afterwards became the popular assistant of the late highly esteemed Dr. Jones. - I am, dear sir, yours truly,

"STUART NEILSON."

In days when the distance between the east and the west was practically much greater than it is now, Dr. Begg's sojourn in the eastern capital brought him into contact with many men and many minds which else would have been unknown to him. And it was a grand privilege to be a member of Dr. Chalmers' class for even a single session. I only repeat what has been said hundreds of times before, when I state that his students received from their great teacher an impulse and a quickening which they could not have received otherwise, and for the bestowal of which, as a precious gift from the Father of lights, he was specially raised up. I have no doubt that Dr. Begg received it to a far greater extent than it would appear from his narrative that he was conscious of. Or perhaps it was that he shrank from the "ridiculous excess of gilding refined gold, or painting the lily, or adding a lustre to the diamond." It has become common to speak slightingly of Dr. Chalmers as a theologian and a theological teacher. It is no doubt true that he had not a great amount of scholarship or erudition; and I have no wish to deny that this was a drawback. But even in this respect his deficiency is commonly exaggerated. The truth is, that he had a habit of unduly depreciating his own scholarship; and, however it may be with those who form too high an estimate of their own attainments, those who follow the opposite course are generally taken at their own valuation. And then his deficiency was precisely of the kind which is most conspicuous. Whether it was from defect of musical ear, or from lack of early training, I do not know, but he could scarcely quote a Greek or Latin sentence without a "false quantity;" and most amusing was his humility when a titter intimated to him that he had thus stumbled. But this was not incompatible with the ability to apprehend the meaning of the passage and its argumentative bearing. And then it is to be remembered that a very small portion of the theological system is dependent on the nice distinction of Greek particles, or the explication of doubtful phrases in Greek or Latin fathers. I am confident that an intelligent reader of Dr. Chalmers' lectures on the Romans will conclude that he had powers which compensated for his lack of nice scholarship, even in those departments in which that is most brought into play. We all know how, in conversing with a very intimate friend, with whose train of thought and form of speech we have become familiar, we seize upon his meaning before his sentences are fully uttered; or when they are not very clearly expressed. Now Dr. Chalmers had that intimate familiarity - the old writers called it inwardness - and that entire sympathy with the fervent apostle, and that apprehension of the spirit of his writings and the substance of his arguments, which put him into a far better position for apprehending and interpreting the epistle, than the position occupied by many accurate scholars who have been without this sympathy. It is a sound institute of criticism -

"A perfect Judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ,
Survey the whole;"

and hence the first essential to interpretative criticism is sympathy with the spirit of the author. Given this, and the more of scholarship the better; without this, no amount of mere scholarship will be of much avail. If interpretation must generally proceed from multitudinous parts to a well-constructed whole, it will lose nothing by frequently viewing the parts in the light of the whole.

I believe that I speak the common sentiment of myquondam fellow-students, when I say that we do not feel our obligation to Dr. Chalmers so much for the theology he taught us, as for his inculcation and exemplification of the right methods of theological study, and the lines and limits of theological research - what I may be allowed to call the philosophy of theology. His lectures on Hume's "Argument on Miracles," and his examinations on Butler's "Analogy," no one of us has forgotten or will ever forget. None the less logical because they were so rhetorical, they were at once the rein and the spur; and I am sure that all of us, in our subsequent studies, have often reverted to them, and have been led to self-questioning as to the manner and the spirit in which we were prosecuting these studies. If Chalmers may not occupy the position of a theological Newton, I am sure that his disciples revere him as a theological Bacon, whose "Organon" contained the germ whence many a goodly harvest was to spring.

It does not appear that Dr. Begg attended any class in the Edinburgh University besides that of Dr. Chalmers. If he attended any other, it would presumably be the Church History class; and it was before the day when the chair was occupied by Dr. Welsh, who first made the class memorable for aught but weariness. We have therefore no such reminiscences of the Edinburgh as we have of the Glasgow University. But indeed, when Dr. Chalmers and Professor Wilson have been named, the celebrities of the College have been well-nigh exhausted. There were indeed many most respectable men and painstaking teachers, whose memories, as such, their students cherish; and there were a few men more widely known, as Sir John Leslie and Professor Wallace. The Medical Faculty, too, had its Munro, and its Hope, and its Alison, and its Christison, the last-named destined subsequently to acquire world-wide fame. But the University had not then attained the unification which now pertains to it, and the theological and the medical portions of it were more widely separated than they happily are now.

It is more remarkable, and more regrettable, that Dr. Begg notices none of his fellow-students excepting him to whom we shall often have to refer in the sequel, Dr. Cunningham. 16 It is almost strange that he has not a word to say of one with whom he must have been cotemporary, of whom all Edinburgh students are proud, as perhaps the most distinguished as a student of all her thousands of alumni in the three hundred years of her existence - John Brown Paterson.

[Footnote 16: Dr. Begg's earliest remembrance of Dr. Cunningham is given in the "Life" of the latter. "James Begg came to Edinburgh that winter to enjoy a closing session under Chalmers. He joined a debating society connected with the University. It was the hot time of the Row heresy, and the subject of debate one evening was, Whether assurance is, or is not, of the essence of faith. The debate was opened for the affirmative by one student. Then a very tall and thin young man rose and delivered a speech on the other side, of astonishing power, and showing a wonderful command of language. This was William Cunningham, and Dr. Begg says that, magnificently as he spoke in after years, he perhaps never surpassed this speech in the debating society." - Life of William Cunningham, D.D., by Robert Rainy, D.D., and the late Rev. James Mackenzie. ]

To an Edinburgh student it seems strange that Dr. Begg should have passed over without note or notice two men who in those days occupied a unique position in the College. The prominence which he gives to "Blind Alick" (p. 53), who, after all, does not seem to have had any special relation to the Glasgow University or its students, - to have been, in fact, a mere townsman, and in no sense a gownsman, - makes it all the more remarkable that he takes no note of Dr. Syntax and Sir Peter Nimmo. The former of these, whose real name was Sherriff, and whose academical prefix, like the knightly one of his confrère, belonged to the courtesy class, was said to have been at one time a medical student. He had considerable ability as a sketcher of portraits, and it was understood that he maintained himself by taking likenesses of the professors in their classes, and of ministers in their pulpits, and selling them to them or their friends. Sir Peter had no talent of any kind, and depended for support on simple charity. He had been a fellow-student of my father in the divinity classes, as he was mine after an interval of some forty years. The Doctor did not come very often to the theological classes, giving his preference to the Faculties of Arts and Medicine, while the knight was generally found browsing on his old theological pastures. They seemed to have undisputed right of entrance into all the classes. They must have caused considerable annoyance to the professors; but I never heard of any proposal to exclude them; and, indeed, their exclusion would have been seriously regretted by the students. After all, they did no great harm, as they always comported themselves with perfect decorum in the classes; and it was only at the beginning of a session, before the new-comers had learned to realise their position, that in the corridors and the quadrangle one or other of them might occasionally be made the object of a somewhat too boisterous fun. The seniors would certainly have repressed the carrying, even of this to excess; and ere two or three weeks had passed, thegenius loci constrained the juniors to respect the traditions of the University, and to regard�Sir Peter and the Doctor as indispensable adjuncts of the institution. I suppose that such characters would not be tolerated in any educational institution now, and probably it is right that they should not; but I am sure that the tolerance of them then has furnished to those who were students in the former half of the century one pleasant memory the more of the dear bountiful mother; - for bountiful she was, and dear she is to us all, however Mrs. Oliphant and other outsiders may sneer.