Puslapio vaizdai

and Chalmers' turn to pray, though only a youth of sixteen, always produced a full hall, and the prayers as described were high-wrought rhetorical declamations on the works of God, and the miseries of society, and the horrors of the French war. He is perhaps the only instance of a man of real eminence who, in the maturity of his mind, found it possible to use the compositions of his boyhood. Dr. Hanna tells of him, that in his sixty-second year, “Dr. Chalmers met in solemn convocation with upwards of 400 of the Evangelical ministers of the Church of Scotland, assembled in Edinburgh to deliberate in prospect of the Disruption; and when, standing in the midst of them, the veteran leader of that noble band sought to stir up all around him to an enthusiasm equal to the great occasion which they were about to face, he took up the very words of an old College exercise, and no passage he ever wrote was uttered with more fervid energy or a more overwhelming effect.” This is really a remarkable anecdote; but it gives an air of unreality to the whole scene. Here is the objectless effusion of his youth, which Dr. Chalmers used as if it had just been struck out into life and utterance by the excitements and responsibilities of a great occasion :

“How different the langour and degeneracy of the present age from that ardour which animated the exertions of the primitive Christians in the cause of their religion. That religion had then all the impressive effect of novelty. The evidences which supported its divine origin were still open to observation. The Miracles of Christianity proclaimed it to be a religion that was supported by the arm of omnipotence. The violence of a persecuting hostility only served to inflame their attachment to the truth, and to arouse the intrepidity of their characters. Enthusiasm is a virtue rarely produced in a state of calm and unruffled repose. It flourishes in adversity. It kindles in the hour of danger, and rises to deeds of renown. The terrors of persecution only serve to awaken the energy of its purposes. It swells in the pride of integrity, and, great in the purity of its cause, it can scatter defiance amid a host of enemies. The magnanimity of the primitive Christians is beyond example in history. It could withstand the ruin of interests, the desertion of friends, the triumphant joy of enemies, the storms of popular indignation, the fury of a vindictive priesthood, the torments of martyrdom. The faith of immortality emboldened their profession of the gospel, and armed them with contempt of death. The torrent of opposition they had

to encounter in asserting the religion of Jesus, was far from repressing their activity in his service. They maintained his cause with sincerity—they propagated it with zeal—they devoted their time and their fortune to its diffusion. Amid all their discouragements they were sustained by the assurance of a heavenly crown. The love of their Redeemer consecrated their affections to his service, and enthroned in their bearts a pure and disinterested enthusiasm. Hence the rapid and successful extension of Christianity through the civilized world. The grace of God was with them. It blasted all the attempts of opposition. It invigorated the constancy of their purposes. It armed them with fortitude amid the terrors of persecution, and carried them triumphant through the proud career of victory and success."-Vol. I. p. 24.

From College, in his eighteenth year, Chalmers went to be private tutor to ten children in a family where from unbecoming treatment, and his own high temper, he found a most uncomfortable residence. He quarrelled with the ladies, because he would not spare and injuriously indulge his elder pupils. He quarrelled with the master, because he would not submit to be treated as a menial, to keep in his own room when visitors were expected, and hold his tongue in company. He quarrelled with the servants, because they were inoculated with the insolence of their employers. The natural man was evi. dently very strong in him at this period, and he was far enough from being meek and chastened in a wise dignity, but the arrogance that wounded and provoked him was far more unjustifiable than the proud spirit of the youth.

Sir,” said his employer, "you have too much pride.” There are two kinds of pride,” was the reply; "there is that pride which lords it over inferiors, and there is that pride which rejoices in repressing the insolence of superiors. The first I have none of—the second I glory in.” Such scenes could have but one termination, and Chalmers, at the age of nineteen, now licensed as a preacher, the objection of his youth being overcome by the consideration, that he was “a lad o' pregnant pairts," betook himself from the ungenial tutorship, after a brief interval at Edinburgh, where he studied under Playfair, Hope, Stewart, and Robinson, to the more dignified offices of Assistant Minister at Cavers, and Assistant Mathematical Professor at St. Andrew's. He devoted himself to his


Professorship with an enthusiasm which he did not feel for his Ministry. He taught Mathematics with the ardour of a poet, and lectured upon it in such an imaginative and declamatory style, that the old School of instructors, summarily and unjustly, concluded that all close and scientific teaching must necessarily be neglected. We cannot wonder, indeed, at Mathematicians, whose conventional instruments of instruction never exceeded black boards and white chalk, taking fright at a youthful professor addressing his class in this style :-" Newton, we

-, invoke thy genius! May it preside over our labours, and animate to the arduous ascent of philosophy. May it revive the drooping interests of science, and awaken the flame of enthusiasm in the hearts of a degenerate people. May it teach us that science without virtue is an empty parade, and that that philosophy deserves to be extinguished which glances contempt on the sacred majesty of religion.” The eloquent Mathematician carried with him the young students, but disgusted his more sober colleagues. The superannuated professor, whose assistant he was, expressed his scruples; and Chalmers, we fear, fired up on the score of his independence, and lost his dignity. He made an appeal to the students, reproved and reproached his principal before the whole College, and was dismissed. He was not a man to sit passive under such an affront. Although only just presented to the living of Kilmany, by the College of St. Andrew's, in whose gift it was, he resolved under the provocation of his injuries to open rival Mathematical Classes the next Session, at St. Andrew's. Kilmany was but nine miles distant, and Chalmers, who at this time had no idea that any intellectual man could be engrossed with the duties of a Clergyman, thought St. Andrew's, as a winter residence, quite near enough to his village charge. He succeeded, to a considerable extent, in attracting the University Students, but the very questionable spirit of the whole proceeding peeps out in the Introductory Lecture, which must have been curiously unacademical.

“I feel not that science has deserted me, though I breathe not the air which ventilates the halls of St. Salvator.--I have only to lift my eyes and behold the students of a former Session. With them I was wont to indulge in all the intimacies of friendship. A summer spent in the

labours of my profession has not effaced them from my memory. I will say more : it has not effaced them from my affections. I bless the remembrance of that day when they first attempted the high career of science. It was to me a day of triumph. It is from that day I date the first rising of my literary ambition-an ambition which can only expire with the decay of my intellectual faculties. My appearance in this place may be ascribed to the worst of passions ; some may be disposed to ascribe it to the violence of a revengeful temper-some to stigmatize me as a firebrand of turbulence and mischief. These motives I disclaim. I disclaim them with the pride of an indignant heart which feels its integrity. My only notive is, to restore that academical reputation which I conceive to have been violated by the aspersions of envy. It is this which has driven me from the peaceful silence of the country—which has forced me to exchange my domestic retirement for the whirl of contention.”

Unseemly disputes grew out of this state of things. The University was braved, and attempted to coerce the students. One of the professors alleged that Chalmers had broken faith with him, inasmuch as he had given him his vote for Kilmany, on the express condition that he was not to continue to teach in St. Andrew's. Chalmers wrote to contradict the charge, and receiving no reply, met the professor in the streets, and summoning witnesses, pronounced him the author of a false and impudent calumny. He then extends his warfare, and adds Chemistry to Mathematics. With three classes of mathematics, with his lectures on Chemistry, in which he seems to have combined great industry with his usual eloquence, and with the pulpit of Kilmany, all upon his hands together, he writes thus buoyantly to his father :-"I am living just now the life I seem to be formed for-a life of constant and unremitting activity. Deprive me of employment, and you

condemn me to a life of misery and disgust.” A contest of so singular a character, maintained with great spirit, and exhibiting so much of the fertility and self-reliance of genius, could not be witnessed without attracting zealous favourers, and conciliating many who could not altogether approve; and it speaks well for all concerned that an enterprize originating in hurt feeling, was carried on so chivalrously, that even enemies were

won over to interest and admiration, and the very professor who was the most likely to be injured, was among the first to do justice to the impetuous purity of his rival. Chalmers seems at all times of his life to have been extremely sensitive to anything like personal offence, and to have been absolutely uncomfortable and incapable of repose, until he had done something to rebuke it. This breaks out on the slightest occasions in very amusing forms. We shall cite two instances, which are also not

. bad specimens of his picturesqueness of style, which always consisted more in a happy selection of lively and graphic words, especially in moral descriptions, than in any direct exercise of imagination. He travels to London and meets an Exclusive in the coach:


“ Found in the coach from Carlisle this morning, a lady and gentleman from Carlisle. The former disposed to be frank and communicative, but apparently under some controul from the gentleman, who had probably prepared her to expect a very vulgar company. He had the tone and the confidence of polished life, but I never in my life witnessed such a want of cordiality, such a cold and repulsive deportment, such a stingy and supercilious air, and so much of that confounded spirit too prevalent among the bucks and fine gentlemen of the age. They give no room to the movements of any kindly or natural impulse, but hedge themselves round by sneers, and attempt to awe you into diffidence by a display of their knowledge in the polite world. Give intrepidity to weather them out. I sustained my confidence. I upheld the timidity of the compony, and had the satisfaction of reducing him at last to civility and complaisance."

In this same visit to London, he meets a lady whose repressive stiffness and coldness are thus hit off :

By the way, I have no patience for Mrs. - ; not a particle of cordiality. about her; cold, formal, and repulsive; a perfect stranger to the essence of politeness, with a most provoking pretension to its exterior ; a being who carries in her very eye a hampering and restraining criticism ; who sets herself forward as a pattern of correct manners- —while she spreads pain, restraint, and misery around her ; whose example I abominate, and whose society I must shun, as it would blast all the joy and independence of London.”

Indeed at this early period of his life his sensitiveness

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