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Fraser's Scottish Annual
Queen's University, Kingston


QUEEN'S was founded by graduates of Scottish Universities, who had "cultivated learning on a little oatmeal" in the old land, and who believed that the youth of Canada were animated by the same spirit. Having the characteristic caution of their race, they did not enter on the undertaking without counting the cost, nor until they saw no other way of having a native ministry, trained too—as their Scottish spirit demanded—in an institution where they would meet competitors on equal terms; for it was an educated ministry that they chiefly had in view, although the education the Scottish Church requires on the part of its ministers is one equally suited to all professions, because it aims at a mental training, such as a man is the better of having, though he should never rise to be anything higher than a ditcher and delver. Obtaining a charter from Her Gracious Majesty early in her reign, and taking her title, by her express permission, for the new University, they naturally decided to model it after the Scottish type with which they were best acquainted. That type it still retains, though its professors are from Oxford, Cambridge and Canadian, as well as from Scottish and German Universities. I am asked to indicate in a brief paper some of the characteristics of this type.

In the first place, as to method. The instructors are professors, instead of fellows or tutors as inthe great English Universities. The difference results from their respective origins and historical conditions. A professor is expected to lecture to and inspire men, and a tutor to drill boys. It depends on circumstances which is the better method. If the classes are as large as they were in my day in Glasgow or Edinburgh, and the professors are left without assistance, and if in addition the students come without the preparation that a good secondary school or gymnasium gives, then in the subjects in which thorough drilling is obligatory the result is not good, save in those exceptional cases in which talent and determination triumph over all difficulties. Hence, the Scottish Universities cannot turn out such classical or mathematical scholars as Oxford and Cambridge. Things have greatly improved, however, during the last twenty-five years. In consequence of the liberality of the Government, assistants have been provided, and what is of even more consequence, a matriculation examination has been made compulsory. In my day, the Professor of Greek—Lushington, the brother-in-law of Tennyson, celebrated by him as

"bearing all that weight
Of learning, lightly as a flower,"

had to begin his Greek junior class with the alphabet. Putting an Arab of the best breed to the task of a dray horse is an inadequate simile to describe such waste of material. But the students who had to struggle through easy classics and easy mathematics found their feet on their native heath when they came to the classes in Logic and Ethics. The amount of intellectual energy, reflective power and good essay writing developed in these classes was prodigious. The course in Philosophy alone was an education. In this subject, Scotland has always far excelled the other two kingdoms.

This leads me to point out, in the second place, that a characteristic of the Scottish Universities is the importance attached by them to Philosophy. They teach men how to think, and they do so by forcing them to grapple with the fundamental questions of thought. It may be said that Theology deals with these questions. It does so, but not scientifically. It presents them as dogmas of revelation. But Protestantism insists on appealing from authority to reason; and therefore, in the German and Scottish Universities, in both of which the method of instruction is by professors, whose aim is to quicken and stimulate thought rather than to act as drill-sergeants, the fundamental questions which the mind asks concerning all existence are grappled with, in the assured confidence that the universe is not a riddle, but rational throughout and comprehensible by reason. Hence it is that a student for the ministry, in any Protestant Church should never dream of beginning the study of Theology until he has had a two years' course, at the least, in Philosophy. The Scottish pulpit has been the great educator of the Scottish people, just because its ministers have been so trained that they look at all subjects rationally and are able to reason logically. They do not demand blind faith on the part of the people. "We speak as unto wise men," is their attitude in the pulpit, and they know that the people judge them, as a rule, by the matter of their sermons, rather than by anything external.

In the two points indicated above, Queen's has been true to the best Scottish traditions. The system is professorial and not tutorial. Hitherto, the classes have not been so large as to prevent the professors from adding to their daily lectures the work of personal supervision and instruction, which is the essence of the tutorial system. Essays are prescribed, examined and commented on in class. Class examinations are held from time to time. Attendance is marked. The student thus knows that he is under super- vision, though a large freedom is allowed him, for he is treated as a man to be led rather than as a boy to be driven. But, the classes in some subjects are becoming so large that a system of assistants and tutors will soon be called for. Beginnings in this direction have already been made. We are determined to combine the dignity, the leadership in the world of thought, and the inspiring power of professors with the best features of the tutorial system.

I may say that we attach quite as much importance to a thorough philosophical training as the best Scottish University does. A look at the calendar is sufficient to show how extensive and thorough the course is. No man can get first- class honours without at least four years' study, whether he tries along the line of Mental, Moral, or Political Philosophy. It is rather remarkable that, whereas many Universities, calling themselves "great," have been satisfied with one Professor of Philosophy, Queen's has had for years three, one for each of the departments just specified, and that she has added a fourth instructor to the staff, chiefly for extra-mural students; although her endowments have been so scanty that she could appoint only one professor of English and one of French and German. No better proof could be given of the importance attached in Queen's to Philosophy, and no one will call this exaggerated who reflects that "no problem appears in Theology that has not first appeared in Philosophy," and that all life is in the end determined by thought. As to the men who represent the high cause of Philosophy in Queen's, Watson, Shortt, Dyde and Sharp, it is needless for me to speak.

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