Page images

cuous ornament, and philosophy of a zealous and able investigator of truth, was a loss more immediately and sensibly felt at the university of Glasgow, where his life had long constituted a source of usefulness, of gratification and delight to all around him. By his assiduous attention to the duties of his public situation, and the ability which characterized his performance of these duties, Mr. Millar conferred a splendour upon the law department at Glasgow, which attracted students from every part of the kingdom, and was advantageous in the highest degree to the interests of the university. To a most perfect knowledge of the principles of theoretical and practical jurisprudence, and of all the circumstances connected with national government and economy, he conjoined a method of conveying his instructions, which at once captivated the fancy, and informed the understanding, of the student. Since his death, the creation of his genius has experienced a very considerable decline. Some sessions elapsed without the delivery of any lectures in this department, and it is only within the last two years that Mr. Davidson, the present professor, has re-established the class, by giving a course of Scotch law. The attendance has hitherto been tolerably good, and the lectures evince much reading and a thorough acquaintance with the subject. The students are principally those who are engaged in acquiring a practical knowledge of the profession in the city of Glasgow.

Independently of the lectures delivered in the public classes, and those connected with the professional studies of medicine, divinity, and law, there are several other courses given in the college on particular branches of literature and science, some of which are well deserving of attention. A series of lectures on political economy was long a favourite object with Mr. Millar, and within the last few years his wishes and suggestions have been realized by the establishment of such a course under the conduct of Professor Mylne. The increasing reputation of these lectures, while it indicates their general utility and importance, affords at the same time an honourable testimony to the abilities and industry of Mr. Mylne in his management of this department. In that part of the course which is devoted to a consideration of the various opinions with respect to the nature and origin of public wealth, a detailed account is given of the doctrines of the French economists, accompanied by an impartial and satisfactory discussion of their merits. Here Mr. Mylne assumes some particular points of difference with Adam Smith, on which he reasons with much ingenuity and force of argument: in general, however, his opinions very nearly coincide with those professed by this distinguished philosopher. Among the other points to which the attention of the student is particularly directed, are, the general doctrines of commerce, the funding and banking systems, and the principles and practice of taxation; all of them subjects which, with a reference to our own country, possess a peculiar interest and importance; and more especially at a period when the aspect of our foreign relations and internal economy is such

as scarcely meets with a parallel in the history of nations. The attendance upon these lectures is numerous, comprehending not only many of the students who are regularly engaged in the business of the college, but some of the most respectable inhabitants of Glasgow and its neighbourhood. The encouragement derived from the latter source affords at once a pleasing evidence of the literary dispositions of the place, and a secure pledge of the future prosperity and success of the institution.

Among the other lectures delivered in the college may be mentioned, the two courses of astronomy by Dr. Cooper; the second, or higher of which is rendered particularly valuable to the mathematical student by the mode of illustration necessarily resorted to in the more advanced prosecution of this science. A course of lectures on geography and the use of the globes is likewise given by Mr. Millar, the mathematical professor, but is not so numerously attended as might have been expected.

The Glasgow students, like those at the Edinburgh college, have little further connection with the university than is rendered necessary by an attendance on the several departments of public business. With the exception of a few who live in the houses of the professors, and of those who are natives of Glasgow or its vicinity, they are dispersed in different parts of the town, in lodgings with which they provide themselves at the commencement of the session. These lodgings cannot, in general, lay claim to much superiority of cleanliness or comfort; and though the domestic habits of the middle classes in Scotland are probably in a state of gradual amelioration, the Englishman is still sensible to numerous inconveniences in their modes of life, to which he finds it extremely difficult to reconcile his own ideas. The external appearance of a Scotch maid servant is alone sufficient to "harrow up the soul" of one not thoroughly habituated to this order of beings; nor would the original impression of disgust be palliated in any degree by an increasing acquaintance with their culinary habits and practices. The most comfortable lodgings, upon the whole, are those situated in the new part of the town, in the neighbourhood of George's-square.

The society of the students among themselves, though determined in a great measure by their several occupations, is not, however, so completely limited in this respect as at the Edinburgh college. The greater number of the professional students having been engaged, at a previous period, in the routine of the public classes, they retain their habits of association and intercourse, even when the immediate connection of pursuits is lost in the difference of their plans for future life. The Irish students, however, who are very numerous, compose a body almost entirely distinct from the rest: They usually make their appearance at the college about a mouth or six weeks after the commencement of the session, and as their pecuniary resources are not, in general, very abundant, the greater number of them take wing several weeks before the termination of the public business; thus


resigning all prospect of the prizes, and other honorary distinctions of the college. The number of English students at Glasgow, though it has been gradually increasing for the last few years, is at present by no means considerable. They generally come to the college when between sixteen and eighteen years of age, and entering themselves first to the logic class, pursue their course forwards through the classes of moral and natural philosophy, occasionally concluding their studies by taking out a degree of Master of Arts. As the student, if he possesses active and industrious dispositions, may easily conjoin two or three separate courses of lectures with the business of the public class in each session, this general plan of study seems the most judicious and complete that can be pursued; and it is probable that there are few modes of education which would furnish a more secure and substantial basis for the business and pursuits of after life.

The literary and debating societies in the college are numerous, and in some instances conducted with considerable spirit. The principal among them is that of which the several professors are members: at the meetings of this society papers are read on various literary topics with a view of promoting their fair and liberal discussion; and not unfrequently their debates are distinguished by much animation and ingenuity. Another society for the investigation of theological questions has been instituted among the divinity students, to whom, of course, an admission into it is exclusively confined. The remainder are of a more general description, and in some cases established only for a single session; the questions proposed for discussion being usually those of an historical, political, or moral nature. Habits of dogmatism and self-conceit may occasionally be produced by a familiarity with the forms of argumentative debate; but, upon the whole, it may safely be presumed, that the operation of these societies is favourable to the general interests of education.

Such, Sir, is a brief sketch of the present state of the university of Glasgow. Its deficiencies are probably numerous, but I believe I may venture to say, that it possesses the merits of accuracy and impartiality. With the earnest wish that it may afford some gratification to the readers of the Athenæum,

I remain, Sir, yours, &c.




To the Editor of the Athenæum.

WILL you have the goodness to rectify a mis-statement in your last Number, contained in the communication of a correspondent who signs himself Vigilius. If he really resides in Newcastle, he is, it is believed, one of very few who are ignorant, that the lines in question were not the production of a Dissenting Minister, but of an VOL, III.



intimate friend of the excellent deceased person, who ranks deservedly high among the members of another liberal profession.

You are the rather requested to admit this correction, as there is a Dissenting Minister in Newcastle, whose father, many years ago, in a valuable theological work, gave some celebrity to the signature which your correspondent has assumed; and who has himself been ambitious to record his relationship to that venerable man, by generally adopting a signature grounded upon it. To this circumstance it is, probably, owing, that an article with the same signature, already inserted in your Magazine, on the literary undertakings of Mr. Carlyle, has, without the slightest foundation, been imputed to him; but he has no desire to assume credit to himself from the literary labours of any other person.

It would be difficult to comply with the request of your correspondent, by presenting your readers with a detailed account of the plan of education pursued by Mrs. Wilson, because her peculiar excellence consisted not so much in any particular course of instructions, as in the skill which she exercised in forming a just estimate of the characters and talents of the young persons committed to her care, and in the steady and patient application of a consummate judgment in adapting her instructions to the cases of her several pupils; but above all, in the unblemished excellence of her conduct, and the dignity and gentleness of her manners, by which she exemplified the instructions which she gave, and led her pupils to imitate a character which they at once reverenced, admired, and loved.

Newcastle, Dec. 9, 1807.

V. F.



ON THE CYCLIC, AND OTHER ANCIENT EPIC WRITERS. THE poems of Homer were doubtless no less superior in merit than in fame to those of the other epic bards, who succeeded him after a short interval, and imitated his style. In consequence of that superiority, the performances of the latter were at all times comparatively neglected, and have, in the process of time, been wholly lost. Some of them, however, acquired a considerable share of temporary fame, and even aspired to be ranked with the genuine works of the poet. It will be the object of this paper briefly to collect what has been said by the best writers respecting some of the more celebrated of these poems. The subject is obscure, but considerable additional light has been thrown upon it by some recent discoveries.

One of the most noted of the early narrative poems was known un der the name of the Cypria, and is frequently quoted by ancient authors. It has been confounded with a poem which was entitled the

[blocks in formation]

lesser Iliad, but is now clearly ascertained to have been a distinct work, as might indeed be inferred from the manner in which it is mentioned by Aristotle. The argument of this poem has been recently discovered in a fragment of the Chrestomathia of Proclus, contained in a MS. of the Escurial, which was published in a German journal, and thence reprinted by Tyrwhitt in his edition of Aristotle's Poetics. The following is its purport. The poem commenced with describing a consultation of Jupiter and Themis respecting the Trojan war. The author then proceeds to relate that the gods were assembled at a feast in celebration of the nuptials of Peleus, when Discord made her appearance, and excited a contest between Juno, Minerva, and Venus, for the superiority of beauty. By the command of Jupiter, and under the conduct of Mercury, the rival goddesses repaired to Mount Ida, to refer the decision of their claims to the judgment of Paris, who, allured by the promise of marrying Helen, gives the preference to Venus. At the instigation of Venus, Paris builds a fleet, and the goddess directs her son Aeneas to accompany him on the voyage. When he is on the point of departure, Helenus and Cassandra ineffectually predict the fatal consequences which were destined to result from the expedition. Paris then sailing to the territory of Lacedæmon, was hospitably entertained by the Tyndaride, and afterwards at Sparta by Menelaus, and began to insinuate himself into the affections of Helen by rich presents. Meanwhile Menelaus sails to Crete, having directed Helen in his absence to entertain the strangers, and furnish them with requisite supplies till their departure. Venus takes the opportunity of tempting Helen to the violation of her faith, and the guilty pair, having laden their ship with riches, set sail by night. Juno sends a tempest, ard Paris, being driven from his course to Sidon, takes the city, and then sailing to Troy, completes his marriage with Helen. During this time Castor and Pollux were surprized while seizing the oxen of Idas and Lynceus; Castor was slain by Idas, Lynceus and Idas by Pollux, and Jupiter assigned to the two brothers the enjoyment of existence by alternate days. Iris is dispatched to Menelaus for the purpose of informing him of his domestic misfortunes. On his return he plans, in conjunction with his brother, the expedition against Troy, and then proceeds to Nestor. Nestor, preserving his character of garrulity, by way of digression relates the conquest of Epopeus, who had violated the daughter of Lycurgus; the history of Edipus; the madness of Hercules, and the story of Theseus and Ariadne. They traverse Greece and summon the chiefs. To avoid the expedition, Ulysses feigns himself mad, but is discovered by a stratagem, suggested by Palamedes. The Greeks assemble at Aulis, and offer sacrifices. The prodigy of the serpent and the sparrows is related, and the interpretation of it declared by Calchas. Setting sail, the army lands at Teuthrania, which they destroy. Telephus slays Thersander, the son of Polynices, and is himself wounded by Achilles. As the fleet sails from Mysia, it is scattered by a tempest. Achilles, arriving at Scyrus, marries Deidamia, the daughter


« PreviousContinue »