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The Scottish Nation

GERARD, ALEXANDER, D.D., a learned divine of the Church of Scotland, and ingenious writer on polite literature, eldest son of the Rev. Gilbert Gerard, minister of Chapel Garioch, Aberdeenshire, was born there February 22, 1728. He received the rudiments of his education first at the parish school of Foveran, and afterwards at the grammar school of Aberdeen, whither he was removed on the death of his father, when he was only ten years of age, and two years later was entered a student at Marischal college. He took the degree of M.A. in 1744, and immediately commenced his theological studies in the divinity hall of Aberdeen, which he afterwards completed in the university of Edinburgh. In 1748 he was licensed to preach the gospel, and in 1750 he was appointed to lecture on natural philosophy in Marischal college, Aberdeen, in the room of Professor David Fordyce, who had gone on a visit to the Continent. Two years thereafter, on that gentleman being unfortunately drowned on the coast of Holland on his return home, Mr. Gerard succeeded to the vacant chair. He had the merit of introducing into the university an improved plan of theological education, and, in 1755, printed at Aberdeen a well-written pamphlet on the subject, which he had drawn up by order of the faculty of his college. In 1756 he gained the prize of a gold medal offered by the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh for the best ‘Essay on Taste,’ which he afterwards published. He belonged to a literary society at Aberdeen, which numbered among its members Drs. Blackwell, Gregory, Reid, Campbell, and Beattie, men who not only raised the character of te university which they adorned, but shed a lustre on the literature of their country.

      In 1759 Mr. Gerard was ordained minister of Greyfriars church, Aberdeen; in 1760 he was chosen professor of divinity in the Marischal college, and about the same period he took his degree of D.D. Having, in 1771, resigned both his church, and his professorship in Marischal college, he was preferred to the theological chair in King’s college, Old Aberdeen, where he remained till his death, on his 67th birthday, February 22, 1795. His funeral sermon was preached by his friend and pupil, Dr. Skene Ogilvy of Old Aberdeen.

      His works are:

      An Essay on Taste. Lond. 1759, 8vo.

      A Thanksgiving Sermon, on Ezek. xxxvi. 32. 1759, 8vo.

      A Sermon on Titus i. 7. 1760, 8vo.

      The Influence of the Pastoral Office on the Character examined; with a view especially to Mr. Hume’s representation of the Spirit of that Office; a Sermon. Lond. 1760, 8vo.

      On 1 Peter ii. 16. 1761, 1778, 8vo.

      Dissertations on subjects relating to the Genius and the Evidences of Christianity. Edin. 1766, 1767, 8vo.

      An Essay on Genius; treating of its nature, of the general sources, of the varieties of genius in the imagination, memory, judgment, &c. Lond. 1767, 1774, 8vo.

      Influence of Piety on the Public Good; on Deut. Vi. 24. 1776, 12mo.

      Liberty the Cloak of Maliciousness, both in the American Rebellion and in the manners of the times; a Fast Sermon, London, 1778, 8vo.

      Nineteen Sermons on various subjects. Lond. 1780-2, 2 vols. 8vo.

      The Pastoral Care. Lond. 1799, 8vo. Edited by his son, Dr. Gilbert Gerard.

GERARD, GILBERT, an eminent divine, son of the preceding, born in Aberdeen on August 12, 1760, was educated for the ministry of the church of Scotland. At the age of twenty-two, he went to Holland, as minister of the Scottish church at Amsterdam, where he remained for several years, and during his residence there, assisted by two literary friends, he wrote and edited a Dutch periodical, called ‘De Recensent,’ He also contributed to the ‘Analytical Review,’ principally articles on foreign literature. While still resident in Amsterdam, the university of his native city conferred on him the degree of D.D. In April 1791, he returned to Scotland, and soon after obtained the vacant professorship of Greek at King’s college, Old Aberdeen. In 1795 he succeeded his father as professor of divinity in the same college; and in 1811 he was appointed to the second charge of the collegiate church of Old Machar. He also acted as master of mortifications for King’s college, and was appointed one of the royal chaplains for Scotland. Dr. Gerard died suddenly, September 28, 1815. – His works are:

      On Indifference with regard to religious truths; a Sermon. Lond. 1797, 8vo.

      Institutes of Biblical Criticism, being the heads of his course of lectures on that subject. Lond. 1806, 1808, 8vo. This work, styled by the Biographie Universelle, a work full of erudition, and written in a good spirit, was dedicated to Dr. Herbert Marsh, afterwards bishop of Peterborough.

GERARD, ALEXANDER, a distinguished scientific traveller, son of the preceding, was born in Aberdeen, and at the early age of sixteen went out to India. Not long afterwards he was sent by Sir David Ochterlony to survey Malacca, a survey which he executed with great accuracy, mostly at mid-day under a burning sun. He held the rank of captain in the East India Company’s service, and during a period of above twenty years was employed in exploring, surveying, and mapping the northern districts of India, having been selected by the Bengal government for the purpose, on account of his acknowledged skill in those departments of professional duty. He was in particular appointed to many of the surveys which were deemed difficult and important, and this led to his residing for many years in the then almost unknown district of Chinese Tartary, and amongst the mountains of the Himalaya. He traversed those gigantic regions in paths before untrodden by any European, and attained heights which had previously been deemed inaccessible. At one part he ascended above 20,000 feet, and by ways steeper than it had been deemed possible to climb. In these excursions he suffered the extremes of heat, cold, and hunger, and endured privations of every description. And it was not until his health had been completely sacrificed that he could be persuaded to abandon his labours and return to his native country.

      While engaged in his exploratory expeditions, Captain Gerard made patient researches not only into the customs and antiquities of the tribes he encountered in his travels, but also into the geology and natural history of the districts through which he passed. The Himalaya mountains are inhabited at extraordinary altitudes; he found cultivated fields and crops of corn at heights of from fourteen to sixteen thousand feet above the level of the sea; and flocks of sheep, and tribes of Tartar shepherds, with their dogs and horses, obtain subsistence at these immense elevations. The notices of the state of literature in Chinese Tartary are also very interesting. It would appear that when science and letters, flying from tyranny, abandoned the plains of Hindostan, they took refuge in the mountains of Thibet, where they have flourished to an extent of which we have been hitherto little aware. In the Thibetan language an Encyclopaedia was discovered, of 44 volumes, treating of the arts and sciences, and the medical part of which work formed five volumes. Captain Gerard’s brother, Dr. James Gilbert Gerard of the Bengal Medical Establishment, who accompanied him in many of his excursions and surveys, had fallen in with a learned Hungarian, named Cosmo de Konas, who resided in Thibet, and who had made great progress in bringing to light much curious information respecting that hitherto little known people. The art of lithography had been practised in the city of Thibet from time immemorial, and it had been used, amongst other purposes, for displaying the anatomy of different parts of the human body.

      Captain Gerard died at Aberdeen December 15, 1839. Soon after his death appeared the ‘Narrative of a Journey from Caunpoor to the Boorendo Pass in the Himalaya Mountains, by Major Sir William Lloyd; and Captain Alexander Gerard’s Account of an Attempt to penetrate by Bekhur to Garoo and the Lake Manasarowara, with a Letter from the late J.G. Gerard, Esq., detaining a Visit to the Shatool and Boorendo Passes, edited by George Lloyd,’ 2 vols. 8vo. 1840.

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