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Memoirs of John Urquhart
Chapter 3 Part B


The reader, I am sure, will join me in admiring the beautiful combination of Christian principle and brotherly affection contained in these letters. There is no affectation of feeling; but the utterance of it in the simplest and most impressive language. He dwells on the slight indications of religious feeling which his brother could give, with evident delight; and fondly cherished hope as far as the circumstances admitted. The account of the progress of religion and of the juvenile association, is also very interesting. It shows how completely his heart was not engaged; and, from this time, I considered him devoted to the work of God among the heathen, should Providence be pleased to spare his life. I accordingly wrote to him to encourage and cherish, rather than to stimulate him, which, I perceived, he did not require. The sermon to which he refers, as his first essay in this kind of composition, remains among his papers; and would do credit, in point of sentiment and expression, to a minister of some years standing.

Having been the principal means of establishing the University Missionary Society, he appears to have taken a very active part in its management. And as an evidence how much it engaged his mind, and how fully he thought on all the bearings and aspects of the great work, I must introduce an essay which he read at one its meetings, held on the 12th of February; a few days before the writing of the preceding letter. [See Appendix D.]

He was too busy about this period to spend much time in correspondence; but a few of his letters, though short, I must introduce. They will show the strength and delicacy of his natural feelings, and how tenderly he was alive to all the charities of human life. A sentence is sometimes more indicative of feeling and sentiment than a volume.

"ST. ANDREW’S, February, 1825.

"MY DEAR MOTHER — If ever in my life I felt quite oppressed and burdened with kindness, it was on the receipt of your very kind communication after my brother’s death; and I am quite ashamed that I have not long before now found means to express my gratitude. My friends seem to have vied with each other, who should be kindest, and who should pay me most attention; and had I not been quite overburdened with business, you should have had a letter long before now. At the time you sent, I had a very severe cold, which seemed to show some disposition to settle in my breast; but I am now tolerably well again. Nothing, however, could prevent my good landlady, on the recommendation of Mr. Smith, who called on me, from ordering flannels for me, which of course has greatly assisted in emptying my slender purse. I have just received my father’s letter of the 4th, and am exceedingly happy to hear that the church have all come to one mind concerning Mr. Jack. The choosing of a minister is in general one of the most trying times to our churches; and I think we have much reason to bless God that roots of bitterness have not been permitted to spring up and trouble us. Things are going on pretty well among us. The people round about seem to be hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Mr. Adam preached in the country on Friday, at a new station, where the people themselves had requested that some one should come. There is a great want of labourers — they have pressed Mr. R-- into the service, but still there is employment which is more than enough for them."

"ST. ANDREW’S, February 22, 1825.

"My DEAR BROTHER — I have sometimes blamed, or rather pitied you, (for it is not a legitimate subject of blame,) for a want of feeling; and I am quite sorry I have ever done so; for the deep pathos that runs through some of your letters, which are, notwithstanding, expressed in all the unaffected and unstudied simplicity of nature, convinces me that I have been very far mistaken. I recollect of being very much struck by your truly pathetical, yet artless account of the death of T. Greig, which was contained in a letter you sent me about a year ago; and I have been still more affected by your very touching allusion, in your last, to the death of our brother. I would indulge the hope that this event may have proved a blessing to us as a family. In all the communications I have received from home, there has, I think, been displayed a spirit of greater tenderness than usual. With your own short letter I have been particularly pleased. You could not have given me a more satisfactory proof that this dispensation has been in some degree blessed to you than the feeling of self-condemnation which your letter breathes."

"MY DEAR SISTER — I have the expectation of seeing you so soon, that it may be thought almost unnecessary for me now to write to you: but I cannot think of letting the session pass without sending you a letter. I was gratified to hear from Mr. Muir that you had written a letter for me. I am quite sorry you did not send it, for I am sure that those very things which seemed blemishes to you would have enhanced its value to me. It is an easy and unstudied effusion of sentiment which constitutes the great charm of epistolary correspondence. I wish you would always write to me the simple dictates of your own heart without any external interference whatever, and with the fullest confidence, that, what you write will never meet any eye but my own. I hope to see you now in a few weeks, and to be able to devote a good part of my time in the summer months to your education. I hope you have been going on with your French. I should have written you a much longer letter had it not been that I expect so soon to see you personally."

In these letters the feelings of nature are expressed in a very interesting manner. The letter to his brother contains some very delicate touches, and manifests much tact and discrimination, as well as great ingenuousness and deep concern for the salvation of his soul. May his prayers and expostulations not be in vain!

The two following, though the last is without date, appear to have been written during this session.

"ST. ANDREW’S, March 13, 1825.

"MY DEAR FRIEND — This is Sabbath evening, and it is now pretty late, yet I cannot think of letting my father go without writing by him. I have had but little experience in the feelings of the afflicted, but yet I can remember how the receipt of a letter from a friend, or any such little incident, would sometimes mitigate, in a degree, the pains of disease, by chequering the dull and tedious hours of confinement. And, if in this way I can have any hope of ministering to your comfort, it were surely most ungrateful of me to let slip, through negligence, a single opportunity of doing so. My father tells me that you are still very poorly; but you know, from experience, far better than I can tell you, that every affliction works for the good of them that love God. You must have a satisfaction in feeling that every trial through which God has carried you, has been an additional proof of his love to you, and of your interest in a Saviour! A satisfaction which that individual, whose religion (like mine) has been all in the sunshine of prosperity, cannot enjoy. I have not yet proceeded far on the voyage of life, and hitherto all has been smooth and prosperous; but I sometimes look forward with dread foreboding to the many tempests which I may have to encounter on life’s rough sea, and to the many waves of trouble and distress which roll between me and that peaceful shore, where ‘billows never beat, nor tempests roar.’ And at such times I could envy the case of that bark, which, like yours, has long been tossed by many a tempest, but which has weathered them all, and is just about to drop anchor in the peaceful haven. But I feel that this is a sinful feeling, and proceeds from weakness of faith. It is doubting his word, who has said, ‘when thou walkest through the fire it shall not burn thee; and through the waters, they shall not overflow thee.’ I am sorry that I am obliged here to conclude abruptly, as my time is gone. May the Lord support you in all your trials!"

"MY VERY DEAR FRIEND—I cannot think of leaving you, as we parted last night, without some expression of what I feel at your often repeated kindness which has entailed upon me a debt of gratitude which I can never discharge. All that I am, and all that I have, are devoted, I trust, to the service of God; and the only way that I can ever repay the kindness of Christian friends is by redoubling my ardour in the great cause for which we all live, and for which we all die. If this shall be the effect of your generosity, it will produce to you a double reward, and to me a double benefit. You will not only enjoy the thought that you have gained the lasting gratitude and good wishes of a fellow-pilgrim in this world, but when this world, and all the things that are therein, shall be burnt up, you will be rewarded a thousand-fold as having contributed, in some degree, through that unworthy individual, to promote the interests of a cause, the noblest that ever occupied the thoughts of men or of angels; I had almost said, of God himself.

"And if your kindness prove to me, as I trust it will, a stimulus to greater exertion in the cause to which I am devoted, that will be an infinitely greater benefit than all the advantages it may directly confer. Thus may the Lord make your kindness a double blessing both to the giver and to the receiver. And to his name be all the thanks and all the glory."

The two preceding letters would do credit to any pen as specimens of natural and unaffected epistolary correspondence; while the sentiments they contain, and the spirit which they breathe, would not be unworthy of the most mature Christian. The fears respecting the future, which he so beautifully expresses, were never realized. His tender bark was indeed ill fitted to encounter the storms and perils of this world; and therefore infinite goodness brought it speedily to "the land of glory and repose."

Dr. Chalmers’ class seems to have occupied the principal share in his attention during this winter; and in moral philosophy and political economy, he appears to have made great proficiency. Besides his notes of the Professor’s lectures, and the papers which he wrote on the various subjects which were assigned, or voluntarily undertaken, he composed a synopsis, or analysis of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, the favourite class-book of Dr. Chalmers, and which has contributed more to produce correct views of society, and of the science which is now so popular, than any production of the age. My young friend read this work evidently with great care; and though he must have generally admired it, and agreed in its statements and reasonings, he did not blindly adopt them. His essay on the Distinction between Productive and Unproductive Labour, will evince that he could think for himself, and discover even in the able work of that most profound thinker, positions that are not altogether tenable. [See Appendix E.]

Every one must admire the acuteness and talent displayed in this essay. More than common discernment was necessary to catch the author of the Wealth of Nations tripping; but still greater talent was required to detect the fallacy and expose the mistaken reasonings by which the theory was supported. A discovery, when made, often appears very simple and easy; but the mind which makes that discovery, and the process which leads to it, belong not to the common order, and may be far removed from vulgar apprehension.

Among his papers, which were written about this time, are several fragments, on subjects of great importance, and while I feel deep regret that they are imperfect, I cannot throw aside even the fragments of such a mind. The first is on Written Language, in which his object appears to have been to prove that it is of divine origin. This is a view of the subject not peculiar indeed to him, but still not usually adopted by philosophers and philogists; though I confess it has long appeared to me the only tenable hypothesis. The employment of heiroglyphics, and the use of them to record facts of a certain kind, are easily accounted for; but the discovery of alphabetic writing is a very different matter. The extraordinary simplicity of alphabetic characters, and their still more extraordinary power, render it improbable that they should be the discovery of chance, or the invention of a barbarous people: while the impossibility of arriving at any great degree of civilization or scientific advancement without them, supposes that the discovery must have preceded. If reason and language are the gifts of God, it is not going too far to say, that both are imperfect and very limited in their operation without the use of a written language. In order to preserve and authenticate a divine revelation, a fixed medium of that revelation seems absolutely necessary; and, perhaps, it would not be difficult to suggest reasons amounting to high probability, that when the law was given to Moses, the first knowledge of alphabetic writing, and the first specimen of it were then communicated. But this is not the place to pursue such an inquiry. [See Appendix F.]

Among his other pursuits during this busy session, he wrote several discourses on passages of Scripture. Some of them were read to Mr. Lothian, others of them to a small number of his fellow-students; but none of them, I believe, was used in any other way. They are all illustrative of the soundness and clearness of his mind; the accuracy and extent of his knowledge of the Scriptures; the philosophical turn of his thinking; and his prevailing disposition to connect all his pursuits with the missionary enterprise, in which even then, he ardently wished to engage. I am very much deceived if the discourse, which I give as a specimen, will not be considered an extraordinary effort of so young a mind. [See Appendix G.]

I do not know whether the writer of this admirable discourse ever saw the "Hints on Missions," by Mr. Douglas; but there is a passage in that little work so applicable to the subject of this discourse, and so important in itself, that I shall here take the liberty to introduce it: —"While belief is connected with truth, we shall never want converts; and while the belief of truth impels to the communication of truth, we shall never want preachers.

"‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken.’ Here is a measure derived from heaven to judge of the sincerity of belief. The laws of the human mind are not circumscribed within degrees and parallels. He who has no desire to proclaim the gospel abroad, has none to proclaim it at home, and has no belief in it himself; whatever professions he may make, are hollow and hypocritical. Bodies of Christians who make no efforts to christianize others, are Christians but in name; and the ages in which no attempts are made to send the glad tidings to heathen countries, are the dark ages of Christianity, however they may suppose themselves enlightened and guided by philosophy and moderation.

"The ages of Christian purity have ever been the ages of Christian exertion. At the commencement of Christianity, he who believed in the gospel, became also a preacher of the gospel. ‘We believe, and therefore we speak.’ The effort was correspondent to the belief, and the success to the effort. Christians grew and multiplied, and their very multiplication insured a fresh renewal of their increase. The primitive prolific blessing was upon them, and one became a thousand."

If the subject of these memoirs borrowed the hint from the above passage, of which I have no evidence, it is very clear that he has duly improved upon it. His discourse exists but in the first rough draft, and appears therefore under every disadvantage. I have not altered one sentence, and scarcely corrected even a word; yet with all these drawbacks, it affords evidence that it is the production of a master-mind. The argument is exceedingly ingenious, and is sustained with a degree of ability and felicity of illustration, which reflects the highest credit on the powers of the author. The simplicity of his own views of religion, and the deep earnestness with which he pleads for the full practical influence of Christianity are truly delightful. How happy would it be for the individuals themselves, for the church, and the world, did all who enter on the office of the ministry feel the force of the high and hallowed views which are here stated.

The references to natural religion, as it is called, contained in this discourse, induced me to introduce an essay on that subject, which he wrote as a class exercise at the close of this session. The subject is one on which a great deal of ignorance has been discovered, and a vast portion of error propagated. The religion of nature will, I fear, go a very little way to inform the understanding, still less to regulate the affections, and no way at all to satisfy God, or pacify the conscience of a sinner. Whether unassisted reason is capable of accomplishing all that my young friend, with many others, contends for, is not perfectly clear; but no one can doubt the admirable and beautiful manner in which he conducts his own argument, and the justice which he does to the claims of the revelation of God. [See Appendix H.]

From his correspondence I select the following letter to a young friend, who was then about to sustain a severe loss in his mother, a most amiable and eminently devoted Christian. It is marked with much tenderness and faithfulness.

"ST. ANDREW’S, March 12, 1825.

"On looking over your last letter, the most important, indeed the only intelligence it conveys, is an answer (which I regret is such a painful one) to my inquiries about your mother’s health. From what my father tells me, I fear the worst, and I cannot help dreading you may have lost her ere now. At all events, from the nature and virulence of her disease, your hopes cannot be very sanguine. I am writing to one who has either just lost or who is every day expecting to lose, the dearest of all earthly relatives; and in either case, I should feel I was doing violence to all the finer feelings of our common nature, did I indulge in a strain of writing that was light or frivolous. There is something in the near view of death, either prospectively or retrospectively, which solemnizes the gayest heart, and disposes the most thoughtless to serious reflection. There is something in that tender sorrow, which attends the death of one that is dear to us, which, for a time, subdues the pride of the haughtiest, and turns the eye of the most worldly, for a time, to heaven. If ever that spiritual blindness is removed, which hides from our view all that is beyond the grave, it is, when by the death of a near friend, we are led, as it were, to the very outskirts of this world, and can thus take a nearer view of that world which lies beyond it. You will excuse me, then, if, in such circumstances, I call to your remembrance, and press upon your attention, those sacred precepts which your mother has often taught you, and of which she herself has been a living exemplification. I know the dislike of the young mind to religion; I have felt it, but it is a dislike which should be fought against. I know the alluring prospects of happiness which this world holds out; but short, as has been my experience, I have found that they are deceitful. I know the difficulty that there is in standing out against the laugh and sneer of young and gay and light-hearted companions; but, I can assure you, that you will be enabled to bear it, and even to rejoice under it. All that I wish you to do is, to consider the things of spirituality: if you but do this, your belief will follow; and your joy, in believing, as a natural consequence. Perhaps your mother is yet lingering in this world; if so, it is my prayer, that she may yet be restored to you. But perhaps, even now, you are mourning her loss; if so, it is my prayer, that your affliction may send you to seek for consolation in the exercises of devotion. If this be the result of your trial, it will prove to you a real blessing, and you will find you have exchanged an earthly parent for an heavenly one."

It was towards the close of the session, he wrote for the prize at the Moral Philosophy class, proposed by Dr. Chalmers. It appears, that, till near the end of the term, he had no intention of becoming a competitor, and that it was not till within four or five days of the period fixed for the giving in of the essays, that he set himself in good earnest to the task. To this, and several other subjects of importance he refers, in the following letter to his father: —

"ST. ANDREW’S, April 18, 1825.

"MY DEAR FATHER — I am happy to be able to inform you, that I did not speak at the meeting at Cupar, nor ever had the slightest intention of doing so. I have been intreated by some of our friends, and have been reproved for want of zeal by others, because I did not come forward and preach in the country, but I have withstood both intreaties and reproofs. Mr. Reid has been pressed into the service, and even Mr. -- , at the risk of being called to an account by the Presbytery, preached one Sabbath at Denino. I acknowledge that I have much higher ideas of preaching than are generally entertained among our brethren; and I do sincerely think, that it has been one of the greatest evils (perhaps, for a time, a necessary one,) in our system, to bring forward people to preach who were not rightly qualified for this most important of all engagements. I think, from what you say in yours, you do not seem to have a right idea of the prize essay which I said I was writing. Most perfectly do I agree with you, that I stand no chance of gaining it; but, at the same time, I should have thought it a breach of duty, and was afraid it might offend Dr. Chalmers, did I not give it in. They were entirely motives of this nature, which induced me, after I had burned an essay I had written, in order to compete for the prize, to write another when the time was almost run out. I am sure you will not think me capable of so much presumption, as to expect that a production which cost me only five days’ labour, at spare hours, should come into competition with those which have cost my competitors the continued application of four months.

"I feel sincerely grateful for your letter. It is exactly what I need at present. I feel the praise which is of men, to be one of the severest trials I can meet with, and to be more especially the besetting temptation of an academic career."

The modesty which formed a marked feature of his character, is strongly indicated in this letter. Though he had been frequently urged to preach, and to speak at some public meetings, he had decidedly refused to do so. He considered himself much too young to appear in public; and in his ideas of preaching, I most fully concur. Those who did not know him, might suppose there was something of affectation in his intimations of having no expectation of the prize. But his friends at College, as well as myself, are persuaded that this was really the state of his mind, notwithstanding the effort which he made.

"He was distinguished," says Mr. Duff, "for a remarkable diffidence in his own abilities, uncommon though they were. An instance of this occurred during his second session. The subject of a prize essay was proposed by the Professor of Logic. Mr. Urquhart began to write the essay, and brought it nearly to a close; when, upon readnig it, he was so dissatisfied with its merits, that he threw it into the fire He was, however, encouraged to renew the attempt, and prosecuted the subject with vigour. He submitted the performance to a fellow-student, whose tried abilities rendered him capable of estimating the talent with which it was executed. He was much struck with the superior excellence of the essay, and strongly advised Mr. Urquhart to give it to the Professor. Notwithstanding this encouragement, having once more read the essay himself he was so much displeased with its execution, that he burnt it without any hesitation."

The highest prize was assigned him for the essay composed under the circumstances adverted to in the letter to his father. The opinion of Dr. Chalmers is evident, from his having awarded it, and from the sentence which he has written upon the last page of the essay itself. In this opinion, not only did the class in general concur, but even those individuals from whom he had carried off the boon. [See Appendix I.]

Besides gaining the first prize at the Moral Philosophy Class, on the subject prescribed by the Professor; he gained also the first prize for the best essay read in the Class. He had also distinguished himself in the private Greek class; and, indeed, in all the departments to which he directed his attention. "In estimating his success," says a fellow-student, "it must be remembered, that there never was at St. Andrew’s a more brilliant assemblage of talent and of genius, attracted from all parts of the kingdom, by the fame of Dr. Chalmers, than there was during the session of 1824-25." In this opinion, it will be seen from Dr. Chalmers’s letter, how fully he concurs.

Perhaps I cannot do better than introduce, at the conclusion of the course of Moral Philosophy, the account of him, with which I have been favoured by another of his fellow-students, and a competitor along with him for the prize. It contains some traits of character worthy of being preserved, and besides showing the estimate which was formed of him by others, is highly creditable to the talents, and still more the generous feelings of a fellow-candidate. It is not necessary that I should subscribe to every sentiment which it expresses; but the description is, on the whole, correct and faithful: —

"The seeds of talent, wherever they were sown, could not fail to spring up under the fostering eloquence of Dr. Chalmers. His enthusiasm, intense, and almost approaching to juvenile extravagance, communicated its ardour to every mind that could appreciate his bold and original speculations in moral and political philosophy, or could be animated by the eloquence with which they were illustrated and enforced. Mr. Urquhart caught, in common with his fellow-students, the contagion of the example, which emanated from the chair. The activity of his mind was awakened, and the veneration which he entertained for the character, and admiration of the genius of his professor, were the strongest motives to exert his own. I remember well the impression which his first essay made upon his class-fellows, and the flattering, though merited approbation it received from his professor. He began in a low, timid, faltering voice, shrinking from the silent and fixed attention of a public display, till by degrees his voice assumed a firmer tone, and when he closed it was not without animation and feeling. As his unpretending manners, and his previous public examinations, had given but little promise of his talents, the triumph was the more complete, as it was unexpected. Not to feel vain or proud of the distinction which literary eminence confers, is a modesty of nature but rarely found, even among those who have been longest accustomed to the homage of the public. To a young man, though the sphere in which his merits are displayed is narrower, yet the novelty of the feeling, combined with the gentler sensibility of his mind, renders the impression irresistible. It is, perhaps, the proudest moment of his life, when he is first commended for his literary acquirements, his taste, or his promise of future talent. That Mr. Urquhart was insensible to this praise, would be saying too much. Such an indifference would have proved rather a want of feeling, than an absence of vanity. But whatever secret pleasure he may have felt, it was betrayed by no assumed airs of consequence or pride. Those who were attracted by his talents were not repelled by his vanity. He levied no contribution of admiration from his friends, as a tax to his merit; and as no one could be less disposed to gratify others at the expense of truth, so none was ever less solicitous of flattery. In his intercourse with his fellow-students, there was a total absence of all ostentation or pretension. No one was forced in his presence upon the disagreeable conviction of his own inferiority, so that without any of the arts of pleasing, or those popular qualities that attract general favour, he had made many friends, but no enemies. Few fancied they saw in him a rival to their own ambitious hopes; and when he crossed the path, and gained the hill in advance, it was with so noiseless a step, and with so little show of a triumph, that he either escaped the vigilance of his competitors, or they pardoned his success for the manner in which it was obtained. What they might imagine themselves entitled to, for their superior talents, they willingly resigned to his virtue. Indeed, a little observation of the world shows, and the remark is applicable to every period of life, that men are more easy under a defeat than a triumph, and that the prosperous might enjoy their success without envy, if they had the prudence to conceal it. Not that by this reflection we mean to resolve Mr. Urquhart’s modesty into a refinement of selfishness. His conduct was equally remote from that haughtiness, which is one of the forms of pride; and from that affectation of humility, which is often the same passion under a new disguise. Nature in him had not learned to conceal her feelings, and still less to assume those which did not belong to her. Reserved without pride, and grave beyond his years, without any mixture of severity, he avoided the promiscuous society of his class-mates, not from any feeling of superiority, but partly from the timidity of his disposition, and from a want of sympathy in their ordinary sports and conversation.

"‘Concourse and noise, and toil, he ever fled.’

"This disposition was as beautifully illustrated as the action was characteristic of his modesty, in his conduct on that day in which the prizes were distributed, at the close of the session, and of which he was to bear away some of the most distinguished and honourable. While the more ambitious and showy youths, had selected a distant station in the hall, that they might advance to the spot where the prizes were distributed, through a line of admiring spectators, Mr. Urquhart had shrunk unobserved into the corner of a window, near to the seat of the Professors, and no sooner was his name announced, than he had again drawn back and disappeared. There was scarce time to put the usual inquiry of who he was, when a new candidate for attention was summoned. The same simple, unostentatious manner, and aversion to display, which appear in this action, was the result of his general habits and feelings, and not of singular or accidental occurrence. It was in consistence with the other parts of his conduct. No one knew when Mr. Urquhart entered or retired from his class. He had no circle of literary dependants who crowded around him, to receive his philosophical dicta, or his canons of criticism. Yet, to those who observed him, there was something in his appearance in the class, singular and interesting. He had an awkward habit of biting his nails, a practice in him not disagreeable, it was so much of a piece with the simplicity of his look. His head generally inclined to one side, and as he sat it was supported by his arm. This was his usual position while listening to the lecture. As Dr. Chalmers’s animation increased, Mr. Urquhart gradually elevated his head, and when he rose into eloquence, you would have seen his arm drop by his side, and his eye steadfastly fixed, looking the orator broad in the face. I know not whether Dr. Chalmers marked these changes in the attitude of his pupil; but if he had, they would have afforded no inaccurate test of the degree to which his eloquence had risen. These incidents are of little value in themselves, but they will convey more truth and effect than any description of the disposition and manners of Mr. Urquhart.

"Of his intellectual character, the most distinguised feature, I would say, was a sound understanding; more clear and judicious, however, than either subtle or comprehensive. Endowed with a mind thoughtful and considerate, he adopted none of the rash speculations and dazzling paradoxes which so often delude the inquirer of his age. Temperate and cautious in the exercise of his own judgment, he was the less disposed to receive the unripe and hasty inventions of others. In a conversational society of his fellow-students, for the discussion of the opinions on moral and political philosophy, that were delivered from the chair, Mr. Urquhart took an intelligent and sometimes active part. The subjects were intricate, and did not admit of an easy flow of conversation. But, such as they were, Mr. Urquhart, when he hazarded his sentiments, generally spoke with clearness and precision. Profound remarks, exhibiting mature knowledge and previous speculative habits, were neither required on such an occasion, nor expected. Plain and natural in his tunrs of thought, and not venturing beyond what he understood, he escaped those unintelligible extravagances into which more fearless thinkers on intricate subjects not unfrequently fall. If he was unsuccessful in communicating new instruction by his remarks, he pleased from the simplicity with which he expressed ideas that were familiar; and every one eagerly invited and listened with pleasure to Mr. Urquhart as he spoke. There was an air of candour and truth in whatever he said, and the modesty with which he urged his opinions, was only surpassed by the readiness and good nature with which he retracted them when convinced of his error. His name will not soon be forgotten by the members of that society of which, if he was not the brightest ornament by his talent, none was more beloved.

"In his class essays, which, I believe, were among his first attempts at regular composition, there was a correctness of taste, felicity of illustration, and perspicuity in the arrangement of his thoughts, such as is rarely to be found in the early efforts of the juvenile pen. There is often an irregular exuberance in the productions of youthful talent, which it requires years of study to prune into form. The crop of Mr. Urquhart’s imagination, if less luxuriant than many, was more free from tares, and more beautiful in its growth. He never blundered into a conceit or extravagance in search of ornament. His mind rested rather upon the broad analogies of things, and converted them into illustrations of his subjects, than upon those nice and secret resemblances which wit discloses in unexpected allusions and metaphors. It was imagination rather than fancy, which he possessed. Though he enjoyed the humour and lighter attempts at wit, of his companions, yet these were fields into which he seldom strayed. His excellencies consisted not in brilliant ornaments of style, or in the higher flights of imagination; but in illustrations happily conceived, and closely incorporated with his subject. The same simplicity, which was the charm of his manners, and the prevailing feature in his character, was the grace of his compositions. So chaste, and yet so young, was a union of circumstances so rare, that it opened prospects the most sanguine, of future excellence, when his mind should be enriched by knowledge, and disciplined by cultivation."


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