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Carlyle and Scottish Thought by Ralph Jessop (auth.)

By Ralph Jessop (auth.)

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In March 1866, Carlyle travelled to Scotland accompanied by John Tyndall and Thomas Huxley who were both to receive honorary doctorates at Carlyle's inauguration on 2 April. In his inauguration address, which exhorted his student audience 'to be assiduous in [ ... their] reading', he said little about his 'dear old Alma Mater', his early student days, or his friends and acquaintances at Edinburgh. 2 The ceremony was a huge success. Carlyle was obviously highly pleased at receiving this late honour from the students of his former university.

3 Several of those who signed were Scottish philosophersAlexander Bain, Edward Caird, Henry Calderwood, Robert Flint, Alexander Campbell Fraser, James Hutchison Stirling, John Veitch. The letter accompanying the list of signatures declared that 'It is a matter for general rejoicing that a teacher whose genius and achievements have lent radiance to his time still dwells amidst us'. The intellectual world of nineteenth-century Britain seemed pleased to acknowledge Carlyle's inspiration, influence and status.

Certainly Fraser was later to write a good short biography of Reid for the Famous Scots series, but by comparison with Hamilton he did little to promulgate or advance Reidian thought. 5 Shortly after Carlyle's eightieth birthday Veitch would offer some crude criticisms of Reid in the new philosophical journal, Mind. 6 Veitch may have been one of Hamilton's strongest defenders but the last and most powerful representatives of the Scottish school, Hamilton and his more Germanized student James Frederick Ferrier, were both dead.

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