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In Old Aberdeen stands the King's College, of which the first President was Hector Boece, or Boethius, who may be justly reverenced one of the revivers of elegant learning. When he ftudied 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 formed with great diligence upon ancient models, and wholly uninfected with monastic barbarity. His history is written with elegance and vigour, but his fabulousness and creduli. ty 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, when all men were credulous. Learning was then rifing on the world ; but ages fo long, accustomed to darkness, were too much dazzled with its light to fee any thing diftinctly. The first race of scholars in the fifteenth century, and some time after, were, for the most part, learn. ing to speak, rather than to think, and were therefore more ftudious of elegance than of truth. The contemporaries of Boethius thought it fufficient te 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 à 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 fo to raise the value of money, or so to diminish the demands of life, as to fuppose four and forty shillings a year, an honourable ftipend; 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 an 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 fhewn some curiosities; a Hebrew manuscript of exquisite penmanship, and a Latin tranflation of Aristotle's Politics by Leonardus Aretinus, written in the Roman character with nicety and beauty, which, as the art of printing has made them no longer neceffary, are not now to be found. This was one of the latest per formances 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 fame books have been since translated both by Victo
rius 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 task 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 fcarlet gowns, and the profeffors 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 public table, but the scholars of the Marischal College are boarded in town. The expence of living is here, according to the information that I could: obtain, somewhat. more than at St Andrews.
The courfe of education is extended to four years, at the end of which those who take a de. gree, who are not many, become masters of arts, and whoeverisa master, may, if he pleafes, immediate. lycommencedoctor. The titleof doctor, however, was for a considerable time beftowed 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 cenfured for ambition; and the doctorate in every faculty was commonly given or fold into other countries. The ministers are now reconciled to distinction, and as it muft al
ways lappen that some will excel others, lavethought graduation a proper testimony of uncom: mon abilities or acquifitions.
The indiscriminate collation of degrees bas juftly taken away that respect which they originally claimed as stamps, by which the literary value of men fo distinguished was authoritatively denoted. That academical honours, or any others, should be conferred with exact proportion to merit, is more than human judgment or human integrity. have given reason to expect.. Perhaps degrees in universities cannot be better adjusted by any genea ral rule than by the length of time passed in the public profeffion of learning. An English or Irish doctorate cannot be obtained by a very young man, and it is reasonable to suppose, what is likewise by experience commonly found true, that he who is by age qualified to be a doctor, has in so much time gained learning sufficient not to disgrace the title, .. or wit sufficient not to defire its.
The Scotch universities hold but one term or fefsion in the year.
That of St Andrews continues eight months, that of Aberdeen only five, from the first of November to the first of April.
In Aberdeen there is an English chapel, in which the congregation was numerous and splendid. The form of public worship used by the church of England is in Scotland legally practifed in licensed chapels served by clergymen of English or Irish ordination, and by tacit connivance quietly permitted
in feparate congregations supplied with ministers by the fucceffors of the Bishops who were deprived at the Revolution.
We came to Aberdeen on Saturday August 21. On Monday we were invited into the town-hall, where I had the freedom of the city given me by the Lord Provost. The honour conferred had all the decorations that politeness could add, and what I am afraid I should not have had to say of any city south of the Tweed, I found no petty officer bowing for a fee.
The parchment containingthe record of admiffion is, with the seal appending, fastened to a ribbandand worn for one day by the new citizen in his hat.
By a Lady who saw us at the chapel, the Earl of Errol was informed of our arrival, and we had the honour of an invitation to his feat, called Slanes Castle, as I am told, improperly, from the castle of that name,which once stood at a place not far diftant.
The road beyond Aberdeen grew more ftony, and continued equally naked of all vegetable deco. ration. We travelled over a tract of ground near the sea, which, not long ago, suffered a very uncommon, and unexpected calamity. The fand of the fhore was raised by a tempeft in fuch quantities, and carried to such a distance, that an estate was overwhelmed and loft. Such and so hopelefs was the barrennefs fuperinduced, that the owner, when he was required to pay the usual tax, defired rather to resign the ground.