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memories of Chaucer, assuring me that John Donne deserved the epitaph :
“Here lies a king that ruled, as he thought fit,
The universal monarchy of wit.”
It was, however, on the occasion of his attempt to resume work for the second time that his mental heroism was most apparent. He told me repeatedly that he felt it to be his only chance of recovery, and that if he could not lecture he might surrender all hope. Doubtless this feeling was genuine, but I saw that he was prompted also by the desire to relieve myself of at least half the work. I was present in his anteroom when he literally staggered into the class-room to deliver his last lecture ; and I can conceive no greater effort of will than that which enabled him to triumph over his pain, and to deliver a brilliant lecture on the decline of the Elizabethan drama.
Of the value of his own literary work he was ever dubious. On more than one occasion during his illness he spoke hesitatingly of what he had written as not “half good enough for publication," and the only time I remember him speaking with confidence of his unpublished work was, curiously enough, the last occasion on which he spoke to me of literary matters. Asking me whether I saw my way clear to the end of the session, he begged me to do all the justice I could to the lecture on Burns, repeating, with unusual emphasis, that his lecture on Burns, formerly delivered at Edinburgh, was “most
' distinctly the best thing” that he had ever written.
It would be an injustice to Professor Minto's memory, and one specially unpardonable for me to commit, were I not to record the appreciation he had of the sympathy extended him by the students. It will always be a pleasure for the English and Logic students of 1892–93 to know that Professor Minto repeatedly said that
nothing had ever touched him more deeply than the way in which the students had reciprocated the feelings he had always entertained for them.
During the past eighteen years it has fallen to my lot to suggest many distinguished men for the St. Andrews honorary degree of Doctor of Laws; but there is no one whom I ever proposed with greater satisfaction than Professor Minto.
The spontaneous tributes borne to him after his death in the Aberdeen University Magazine, -Alma Mater,-alike by students and professors, were more significant of the work he did, and of the esteem in which he was held, than the tributes recorded of any other Scottish teacher at the close of this century. From Alma Mater of March 1, 1893, the following extracts may be made :
The first notice in “In Memoriam” is entitled “Vale!” In it the following occurs :
The highest tribute we can pay to Professor Minto's memory is to say that he was the students' friend. With that disinterestedness and that perseverance which we must ever identify with his life, he has often pleaded our cause when we least knew it, and in his contact with the members of his own classes bis genial manner, his winning expression of face, and above all his kindly word, stand out even more strongly than his more immediate teaching. If there was ever a man who touched the heart of studentdom, that man was William Minto. His life was a living emblem of the power of sympathy. He felt for us and with us, and, naturally enough, we came first to respect and then to love him. In the words of Alfred Tennyson, he was
“most a man," and, while we reverenced his intellect and gloried in his fame, it was for his manliness, his human nature, that we loved him. “ His students almost adored him," said a press writer, in commenting on his death, and there is no exaggeration in the statement. To the outside world he was known for the fame of his mental powers, to us rather for his unfailing courtesy of manner, his rare loveliness of spirit. It was no mere precept that he gave when he told us to do our best to leave one small corner of earth the better for our being in it, for was not this his own constant endeavor ? Of his devotion to duty one can scarcely speak, for had it been less, we cannot but feel that he might have been with us to-day. When public spirit, kindliness of disposition, and intellectual force unite to make a man and a teacher who is brought into contact with those whose characters have in great measure to be formed, need we wonder that his removal should leave a gap which it seems well-nigh impossible to fill, and make the unspoken thought of every student in Aberdeen University to-day : “Without you, William Minto, our world seems lonesome”
Mr. H. J. C. Grierson, Professor Minto's successor in the Chair of English Literature, wrote:
Professor Minto has passed away, and with him a gifted and inspiring teacher. Some who have spoken of him have done so from the position of those who knew his great predecessor, and could compare the two. We knew only the one, and found in him the one true teacher of our experience.
Perhaps it is for this reason that we cannot draw the usual distinction between his teaching of literature and of philosophy. It may be that in the former he had
done more original and valuable work, but it was in his Logic class that, for my own part, I first felt his full power as an instructor, and caught the spirit of his method. Dr. W. L. Mackenzie bas said justly that that method was historic, but it was also dialectic in the Socratic sense of the word. He realized to no small extent that the truest function of the teacher was not to fill the mind with information from without, but to elicit its own latent thoughts and faculties and interests. I bave had occasion to compare bis method with that of other lecturers in Logic, and it has deepened my sense of its value. He began with no abstract defini. tions, and he uttered no dogmatic statements, but he led us easily, and acquiescing with him at each step, from the simplest facts of our every day consciousness to a realization of the great problems of truth and reality.
In fact, the spirit of Professor Minto's philosophic teaching and literary criticism recalls the spirit of the greatest of teachers and critics, the Socrates that we know in Plato. It pursued the same enquiring method, it subjected to the same searching criticism all traditional dogmas, it glowed with the same enthusiasm for truth, and the best expression of truth.
Nor in other respects was he unlike that great teacher. Like him he loved young men, and met them with openness and freedom from all assertions of superiority. When but Bajans we were “gentlemen " to him, with opinions of our own, and minds to be appealed to ; and when we came to know him personally, we found the same openness, and a close personal interest in our lives and futures. He discussed with us; he planned with us; he laughed with us—and we loved him; but now,
A like Socrates, he is taken from us when our esteem and affection were still growing, and we know not when we shall behold him again. “The hour of departure is
we go our ways—I to die, you to live ; but whose lot is happier is hidden from all save God.”
The following recollections are by his colleague Professor W. M. Ramsay:
It is not an easy task that the editors of Alma Mater have proposed to me; but I will try, at their request, to perform it, however inadequately and imperfectly. To describe on the moment a character so marked, so powerful, so self-contained and complete, so independent and individual, so true to his friends, so difficult for his enemies, is beyond my poor powers. I can only try to relate what I actually saw of William Minto, and the impression he made on me in old times, and this may perhaps help to give some shadow of his personality. At this moment I should like, as far as possible, to avoid any thing that should l'ouse any feeling except sympathy.
When I entered College, Minto was Assistant Professor of Natural Philosophy, and it is a curious proof of the ignorance of University business and University life that used to characterize some Bajans that I never, during that winter, heard a word about the great controversy in which he was involved. It was not till years had passed that I came to know what had occurred. After more than twenty years had passed I found out the facts by consulting the files of the Aberdeen papers ; and then I learned for the first time how splendidly the late Principal Pirie had advocated his cause in the Court. My ignorance at the time will therefore serve as an excuse for passing over the subject; but no one could refrain from alluding to the moral triumph which he gained in the long-run over those who had defeated him-so far as worldly appearance went-at the time. Few men in my time have had such a hard trial as he had when, at the conclusion of a most brilliant University career, crowned with a Ferguson Scholarship, his alma mater closed her gates against him for an action which at the present time would be applauded and