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The roads beyond Edinburgh, as they are less frequented, must be expected to grow gradually rougher; but they were hitherto by no means incommodious. We travelled on with the gentle pace of a Scotch driver, who having no rivals in expedition, neither gives himself nor his horses unrecessary trouble. We did not affect the impatience we did not feel, but were satisfied with the company of each other, as well riding in the chaise, as fitting at an inn. The night and the day are equally folitary and equally safe ; for where there are so few travellers, why'should there be robbers?
A B E R D E E N.
We came somewhat late to Aberdeen, and found the inn so full, that we had soine difficulty in obtain. ing admiffion, till Mr. Boswell made himself known: his name overpowered all objection, and we found a very good house and civil treatment.
I received the next day a very kind letter from Sir Alexander Gordon, whom I had formerly known in London, and, after a cessation of all intercourse for near twenty years, met here professor of physick in the King's College. Such unexpected renewals of acquaintance may be numbered among the most pleafing incidents of life.
The knowledge of one profeffor foon procured me the notice of the rest, and I did not want any token of regard, being conducted wherever there was any thing which I desired to see, and entertained at once with the novelty of the place, and the kindness of communication.
To write of the cities of our own island with the folemnity of geographical description, as if we had been cast upon a newly discovered coast, has the appearance of a very frivolous oftentation; yet as Scotland is little known to the greater part of those who may read these observations, it is not fuperfluous to relate, that under the name of Aberdeen are comprised two towns, standing about a mile distant from each other, but governed, I think, by the same magistrates.
Old Aberdeen is the ancient episcopal city, in which are still to be seen the remains of the cathedral. It has the appearance of a town in decay, having been situated, in times when commerce was yet unstudied, with very little attention to the commodities of the harbour.
New Aberdeen has all the buslle of prosperous trade, and all the show of increasing opulence. It is built by the water-side. The houses are large and lofty, and the streets spacious and clean. They build almost wholly with the granite used in the new pavement of the streets of London, which is well known not to want hardness, yet they shape it easily. It is beautiful, and must be very lasting.
What particular parts of commerce are chiefly exercised by the merchants of Aberdeen, I have not enquired. The manufacture which forces itself up. on a stranger's eye is that of knit-stockings, on which the women of the lower class are visibly employed.
In each of these towns there is a college, or in stricter language an university; for in both there are professors of the same parts of learning, and the colleges hold their seffions and confer degrees feparately, with total independence of one on the other.
In Old Aberdeen stands the King's College, of which the first president was Hector Boece, or Boethius, who may be justly reverenced as one of the revivers of elegant learning When he studied at Paris, he was acquainted with Erasmus, who afterwards gave him a public testimony of his esteem, by inscribing to him a catalogue of his works. The style of Boethius, though, perhaps, not always rigorously pure, is forma ed with great diligence upon ancient models, and wholly uninfected with monastick barbarity. His history is written with elegance and vigour, but his fabulousness and credulity are justly blamed. His fabulousness, if he was the author of the fictions, is a fault for which no apology can be made; but his credulity may be excused in an age wlien all men were credulous. Learning was then rising on the world; but ages so long accustomed to darkness, were too much dazzled with its light to see any thing distinctly. The first race of scholars in the fifteenth century, and some time after, were, for the most part, learning to speak, rather than to think, and were therefore more studious of elegance than of truth. The contemporaries of Boethius thought it sufficient to know what the ancients had delivered. The examination of tenets and of facts was reserved for another generation.
Boethius, as president of the university, enjoyed a revenue of forty Scottish marks, about two pounds four shillings and fixpence of sterling money. In the present age of trade and taxes, it is difficult even for the imagination so to raise the value of money, or so to diminish the demands of life, as to suppose four-and-forty shillings a year an honourable stipend; yet it was probably equal, not only to the needs, but to the rank of Boethius. The wealth of England was undoubtedly to that of Scotland more than five to one, and it is known that Henry the Eighth, among whose faults avarice was never reckoned, granted to Roger Ascham, as a reward of his learning, a pension of ten pounds a year.
The other, called the Marischal College, is in the new town.
The hall is large and well lighted. One of its ornaments is the picture of Arthur Johnston, who was principal of the college, and who holds among the Latin poets of Scotland the next place to the elegant Buchanan.
In the library I was shewn some curiosities; a Hebrew manuscript of exquisite penmanship, and a Latin translation of Aristotle's Politicks by Leonardus Aretinus, written in the Roman character with nicety and beauty, which, as the art of printing has made them no longer necessary, are not now to be found. This was one of the latest performances of the tranScribers, for Aretinus died but about twenty years before typography was invented. This version has been printed, and may be found in libraries, but is little read; for the same books have been since translated both by Victorius and Lambinus, who lived in an age more cultivated, but perhaps owed in part to Aretinus that they were able to excel him. Much is due to those who first broke the way to knowledge, and left only to their successors the talk of smoothing it.
In both these colleges the methods of instruction are nearly the same; the lectures differing only by the . accidental difference of diligence, or ability in the professors. The students wear scarlet gowns, and the professors black, which is, I believe, the academical dress in all the Scottish universities, except that of Edinburgh, where the scholars are not distinguished by any particular habit. In the King's College there is kept a publick table, but the scholars of the Marischal College are boarded in the town. The expence of live ing is here, according to the information that I could obtain, fomewhat more than at St. Andrews.
The course of education is extended to four years, at the end of which those who take a degree, who are not many, become masters of arts; and whoever is a master may, if he pleases, immediately commence doctor. The title of doctor, however, was for a considerable time bestowed only on physicians. The advocates are examined and approved by their own body; the ministers were not ambitious of titles, or were afraid of being censured for ambition ; and the doctorate in every faculty was commonly given or fold into other countries. The ministers are now re. conciled to distinction, and as it must always happen that some will.excel others, have thought graduation a proper testimony of uncommon abilities or acquisitions. Vol. VIII. Q