NATURAL PHILOSOPHY AT EDINBURGH –
C17 STUDENT NOTES
Commentarius analyticus in duos libros posteriorum Aristotelis. [with] Metaphysicae […] compendium. [with] Annotamenta in Ethica Nicomachea. [with] Commentarius analyticus in libros naturalis auscultationis. [with] Commentarius analyticus in quatuor libros de caelo. [with] Commentarius in libros de ortu. [with] Epitome doctrinarum meteoris. [with] Commentarius in libros de anima. [and] De argumentatione.
Manuscript, on paper, Edinburgh, 1660-62.
Small 4to. pp. (iv) 1-199, 100 [i.e., 200]-300 [i.e., 200], 301 [i.e., 201]-400 [i.e., 300], 401 [i.e., 301]-546 [i.e., 446] (xi), most of one leaf (pp.151-2) torn away, loose last leaf with doodles. Latin MS, in brown ink, chancery hand, approx. 40 lines per page, all single ink ruled, 6- to 9-line decorated initials, some hand-coloured, occasional diagrams (one pasted to 27 8 ), flourishing or decorative borders to few titles. First leaf partly detached, small tear from upper margin possibly affecting doodles, another to centre page just touching text, lower edge of first and last few ll. a little frayed, slight browning, edges dusty, scattered tiny worm holes at blank gutter of a few gatherings, occasionally just touching border, bifolium 10 5-6 loose, paper slip and cancelling text pages pasted to 21 1-2 partly concealing underlying text, 35-36 8 loosening. A remarkably well-preserved ms. in contemporary vellum, dust-soiled, upper hinge starting, extremities a bit rubbed. Extensive contemporary annotations to first leaf and loose paper slip, scribe’s name (Georgius Dalgliesh) or initials often repeated throughout, a few amusing doodles.
Fascinating ms. survival from a momentous period in the history of Scottish philosophical education. This notebook belonged to the philosophy student George Dalgliesh, and contains commentaries to Aristotle’s major works ‘transcribed’ by George and dictated by Thomas Craford (also Crawford or Crawfurd, fl. 1620-62), ‘magister’. Craford was professor of Mathematics and ‘Regent’ (tutor) of Philosophy at Edinburgh (Steven, ‘History’, 53-54; Dalzel, ‘History’, II, 336-39; ‘Catalogue’, 64). The author of ‘The History of the University of Edinburgh from 1580 to 1646’, a Latin grammar and a work on Buchanan’s ‘History’, all published posthumously, he died in 1662, the date of the last few sections of the present notebook.
These notes provide major insights into the work, knowledge and teaching of ‘Regents’ in ‘philosophy’, which at the time encompassed logic and metaphysics as well as natural science, physics, astronomy and anatomy. Of medieval origin, the rotating system of Regents ‘was a tutorial as distinguished from a Professorial system’: ‘while the Professor or Reader has his particular subject to teach to all pupils who may come to him, the rotating Regent or Tutor has his particular pupils to instruct in all the subjects of a prescribed curriculum’ (Grant, ‘Story’, 147). Despite the critique of educational reformers like Melville, who turned Regents into subject-specific Readers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and other colleges continued to follow this system until the early C18. At Edinburgh there were four Regents of Philosophy, who led their own class from day one to graduation.
The texts (or ‘dictates’) transcribed here replicate the Philosophy curriculum of the third (Bachelor) and fourth (Magistrand) years (Grant, ‘Story’, 149): the third, with Aristotle’s ‘Posterior Analytics’ and a description of human anatomy, and the fourth with his ‘De Celo’, ‘De Ortu’, ‘Ethica’ ‘Metereologica’ and ‘De Anima’. They reflect the Regent’s notes, which were dictated to students; sometimes they were also printed out as handouts. Dalgliesh even specified the dates in which he wrote specific sections, which provides fascinating insights into his teaching schedule. Craford’s classes were delivered at a momentous period in the history of philosophy, just as the break with the old traditions, revolving around Aristotle, was forced by the likes of Descartes, Boyle and the Cambridge Platonists (Emerson, ‘Change’, 123). The first two leaves summarise theses on ‘genus’, ‘differentia’ and ‘logica’. The Year Three part begins with a commentary on Aristotle’s ‘Posterior Analytics’, from the ‘Organon’, on syllogistic logic in relation to its subject matter, illustrated by definitions, solutions and responses. There follow similarly structured compendia of ‘Methaphysics’, ‘Nichomachean Ethics’ and ‘Naturalis auscultationis’, plus a compendium of human anatomy on topics including bones, the skull, cartilage, veins and arteries. Year Four features dictates on ‘De caelo’ (with a pasted ms. diagram of the heavens), ‘De ortu’, ‘De meteoris’ (with discussions of comets to the years 1660 and 1662) and ‘De anima’. The notebook concludes with a rhetorical appendix with sections on argumentation, propositions and types of syllogisms. The student, Dalgliesh, added numerous inked decorations and humorous doodles (faces, a peacock, a figure holding a gun, wearing spurs and a Puritan hat, glossed ‘Caesar’), and very large ‘FINIS’ at the end of several chapters, one preceded by the Latin for ‘and here we happily finish this chapter’.
W. Steven, The History of the High School of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1849); A. Dalzel, History of the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1862); A Catalogue of the Graduates in the Faculties of Arts, Divinity, and Law, Of the University of Edinburgh, Since Its Foundation (Edinburgh, 1858); A. Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its first three hundred years (Edinburgh, 1884); R.L. Emerson, ‘Scottish Cultural Change, 1660-1710’, in A Union for Empire, ed. J. Robertson (Cambridge, 1995), 121-44.