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Memoir of Sir William Hamilton
Professor of logic and metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh by John Veitch (1869)


There are few subjects of more just and keen regret in literature than the loss or absence of memorials of men who are known to have exercised a great power over their own generation. To have among us a great name and be conscious that it is nothing but a name, is a thing never realised without a touch of sadness. The blank felt by us in the absence of such a record is the measure of our obligation to him who worthily supplies it. Sometimes there are reasons only too sufficient why the world is disappointed. The lives of gifted men are not invariably clean lives. The companion who knows most about the vanished celebrity is conscious that he cannot present him to society as he was, so he is not presented at all. The world asks why but receives no answer, and the brilliant as well as the dark features in the character of the man are allowed to perish together.

It is impossible to be further from deserving such a fate than the late Sir William Hamilton. Morally and physically his nature was pure and honourable. He was peculiarly averse to courting effect in the eyes of men; he never did anything for fame or notice—anything that would leave a picture of his career or of any passages of it before the world. His life was therefore one that would have been peculiarly difficult to portray in a later generation, had no contemporary who knew him undertaken the task. Such are the considerations to be taken into account when we measure the service done to literature by this interesting volume.

Read the review of his book by the Edinburgh Review
Read the book.


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