Printer Friendly

Francis Hutcheson's confusing university career.

It is commonly believed that Francis Hutcheson was a student of Gershom Carmichael at the University of Glasgow; this is stated in the Dictionary of National Biography(1) and is commonly taken as a fact in scholarly works, for example by Veitch, McCosh, Murray, Coutts, but there is no evidence for this contention.(2) In fact, there is evidence for a contrary hypothesis, namely that Hutcheson was a student of John Loudon. I wish to show that not Carmichael but John Loudon was Hutcheson's principal regent at the University of Glasgow.

In University of Glasgow records, 'Francis Hutcheson, Scoto-Hibernus' appears in a matriculation list of March 1711, as a student in the natural philosophy class of John Loudon;(3) he is also listed as receiving his MA November 1712 (Mun, 47).(4) This accords with Leechman's account that Hutcheson entered as a student in the natural philosophy class.(5) The records therefore seem to indicate that Hutcheson was the student of John Loudon in natural philosophy. Scott, Hutcheson's biographer, records this as a fact; he refers at one point, without explanation, to 'Loudon, Hutcheson's old teacher in logic'.(6) But Scott also seems to indicate at another point, quoting Veitch and McCosh, that Hutcheson was Carmichael's student.(7) Scott therefore tells us that Hutcheson was the student of both Loudon and Carmichael, but, at the University of Glasgow, before a professorial system was introduced in 1727, regents carried a single group of students through three years of philosophy classes, including, in turn, a year of logic, a year of moral philosophy and a year of natural philosophy.(8)

David Murray presents the following account of Hutcheson's university career: (DM, 513-15)

(1) The Francis Hutcheson listed as entering Loudon's natural philosophy class is mistakenly identified by Scott as Francis Hutcheson, later professor at the University of Glasgow.

(2) Francis Hutcheson, later professor, was a student of Gershom Carmichael, and, as was the common practice, studied logic, moral philosophy and natural philosophy with the same regent.

To support (1), Murray argues:

In a list of the Divinity class, in the University records, prepared in February, 1713, there occurs the entry, 'Francis Hutcheson, Britanno-Hibernus', to which there is appended the note 'postea Ethices Professor in hacce Academis.' (DM, 514)


Confusion has arisen from the fact that 'Francis Hutcheson, Scoto-Hibernus' appears in the University records ... as a student in the first or Natural Philosophy class in 1711 and in the graduation list of 14th November, 1712.... It is to be kept in view that in the University records Francis Hutcheson of 1711 and M.A. of 1712 is styled Scoto-Hibernus [Scottish-Irish], while the other is styled Britanno-Hibernus [British-Irish]. This seems to be intended to distinguish two different students.... (DM, 515)

It strains credulity to accept the claim that two Irish Francis Hutchesons attended the University of Glasgow at approximately the same time, though in five hundred years of university records there is no other Francis Hutcheson listed. This coincidence, though possible, is not very likely.

But even granting (1), namely that there were two Irish Francis Hutchesons, we find that to support (2) above Murray distorts the record. Accepting Leechman's account that Hutcheson entered the natural philosophy class as his first university course in 1710, and 'After he finished the usual course of philosophy he entered the Divinity class' (DM, 514), Murray states:

The Natural Philosophy class was of course the Magistrand or first class of which Gershom Carmichael was the regent in the session 1710-1711 ... I understand that Hutcheson after completing the Natural Philosophy course, took the other two philosophy classes, that is Logic and Moral Philosophy, in 1711-12 and 1712-13 of which Gershom Carmichael was regent; in other words he had a complete course in philosophy under Carmichael and next entered the Divinity class. (DM, 514)

That is, Francis Hutcheson, later professor at Glasgow, completed his MA not in 1712, the date stated for his namesake, but rather 1713, after which he began his studies in Divinity. To accept this analysis, we must assume that matriculation lists were prepared in the spring prior to the teaching of a course, for it is in the matriculation list of March 1710 that Carmichael is listed as master of the natural philosophy class, March 1711 of logic, and March 1712 of moral philosophy (Mun, 194-201). March 1710 is the spring prior to the 1710-11 academic year, when, according to Murray, Carmichael taught natural philosophy to Hutcheson. Further, it is in the February 1713 matriculation list for Divinity that we find Hutcheson's name (Mun, 253), that is the spring during which, according to Murray, Hutcheson completed his MA.

I would contend, on the contrary, that our evidence indicates that the university records apply to the year concurrent with the record. James Arbuckle, later associate of Hutcheson in Dublin, is listed as receiving his MA 8 July 1720 and as matriculating in Divinity 20 February 1721;(9) it would seem reasonable to assume that this means that Arbuckle entered the Divinity class the academic year following his graduation, that is 1720-1, but, following Murray's interpretation, if February 1721 is the spring before Arbuckle began his Divinity studies, he would not have entered the Divinity class until 1721-2, missing a year after receiving his MA. Further, we might ask how indeed could entering students, those listed in first year Latin class or Greek class, appear in a matriculation list the year prior to attendance.

In understanding the February or March date of the matriculation list, it might help to point out that early in the eighteenth century classes did not begin until December or January of the year. Hence, consistent with my hypothesis that matriculation lists indicate the class of the year stated, it could be presumed that once that all students were on campus and enrolled in their courses, matriculation lists were drawn up and published as of February, which was one or two months after the term began. Finally, we find stated in the Munimenta at the head of the March 1711 list of students in the natural philosophy class: 'Names of the students of the first class [i.e. the magistrand or graduating class] who entered this academic year under the presiding master John Loudon' [Mun, 196].(10)

But even were we to accept Murray's unlikely hypothesis that matriculation lists were prepared the spring prior to actual matriculation, Murray's account of Carmichael's teaching assignment of 1710-13 is inconsistent with the following:

(1) During this period, theses, composed by the regent of the magistrand or natural philosophy class, were printed and used for public disputation by the graduating students. Extant theses of Carmichael and Loudon were composed for the class graduating June 1707 and June 1708 respectively and so were composed for Carmichael's natural philosophy class of 1706-7, and for Loudon's natural philosophy class of 1707-8.(11) With the three year rotation system of regents, Carmichael would have been regent of natural philosophy in 1709-10 and again 1712-13 (i.e. in June 1710 and June 1713), Loudon in 1710-11.

(2) Colin Maclaurin, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh, appears in the Munimenta matriculation list of March 1710, entering the Greek class of Alexander Dunlop, (Mun, 195) and in the graduation list of June 1713 (Mun, 48). In the Dictionary of National Biography, as in the biographical introduction to his book An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, he is said to have entered the University of Glasgow in 1709.(12) This is consistent with the record that Maclaurin was a student of Carmichael and that he took a normal course of studies, namely, Greek in 1709-10, after which he was Carmichael's student in logic in 1710-11, in moral philosophy in 1711-12 and in natural philosophy in 1712-13 (hence graduating as indicated in the Munimenta in June 1713).(13) If Maclaurin, who entered the University of Glasgow in 1709, first appears in the matriculation list in the spring of the same academic year, that is 1710, then Hutcheson, who entered in 1710, should first appear in the matriculation list of 1711, when indeed we find a Francis Hutcheson listed in the natural philosophy class of John Loudon.

(3) Murray himself, in notes for a paper presented at the University of Glasgow on history of the university,(14) lists Carmichael as teaching the 1709-10 natural philosophy class and Loudon as teaching the 1710-11 natural philosophy class. We therefore find that, according to these records of Murray, John Loudon, who appears in the matriculation list of March 1711 as master of natural philosophy, March 1712 of logic, March 1713 of moral philosophy, is the regent who would have taught natural philosophy in 1710-11, logicin 1711-12, and moral philosophy 1712-13, the classes which, according to Murray, were attended by Hutcheson.

What then can we conclude about Hutcheson's university career? Our primary evidence is the Munimenta records and Leechman's account that in 1710 Hutcheson left Ireland and 'entered a student in the Natural Philosophy class in the University of Glasgow, and at the same time renewed his study of the Greek and Latin languages',(15) and that '[a]fter he had finished the usual course of philosophical studies, [Hutcheson's] thoughts were turned toward Divinity'.(16) From our evidence, it is probable that:

(1) Hutcheson entered the University of Glasgow in 1710 and studied natural philosophy in 1710-11 with John Loudon;

(2) Hutcheson followed his regent the next year, as was the common practice, and took Loudon's logic class 1711-12;

(3) Hutcheson received an MA degree in November 1712 and entered the Divinity class during the 1712-13 academic year;

(4) Hutcheson, while studying natural philosophy 'at the same time renewed his study of the Greek and Latin languages', and to do this, he may have worked with Dunlop, Professor of Greek, and Rosse, Professor of Humanities, in 1710-11.

Finally, in order to finish 'the usual course of philosophical studies', he would have had to study moral philosophy. Clearly he could not have taken Loudon's 1712-13 moral philosophy class prior to receiving an MA degree in November 1712. The likely possibilities are: either (i) he was excused from the moral philosophy class because of his previous studies at an Irish academy, or (ii) he studied moral philosophy on his own, or (iii) he studied moral philosophy in 1711-12 with Gershom Carmichael, who taught the moral philosophy class during that academic year. Each would have enabled Hutcheson to complete all required courses in the undergraduate curriculum in two years to receive, in fact, an MA in November 1712, and to enter immediately the Divinity class of 1712-13, as indicated in the university record. But (iii) is less probable than the other two suggestions.

That students could be excused from a class on the basis of prior preparation is clear from the following comment, written in a letter of 1737 by William Bruce, Hutcheson's cousin, explaining his goals as tutor to a particular ward, to Hutcheson, who was then professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow:

I shall never attempt teaching him mathematics but I incline to give him some little notion of Logicks, enough to save him the necessity of entring Mr. Loudon's class in case we are to be so happy as to go over to yr university....(17)

Further, classes of the same year in moral philosophy and in logic would have been held at the same time, so private lessons or some special arrangement would have been required. But there is no evidence in Leechman's comments nor in the record of any such special arrangements.

Hutcheson's Logicae Compendium,(18) an epistemological logic, departs radically in structure and content from the earlier published logic text of Gershom Carmichael,(19) but has a striking similarity to John Loudon's unpublished logic lectures of 1711-12.(20) These findings provide an explanation for this striking similarity. Further, if somehow Hutcheson did in fact study moral philosophy with Carmichael, this would provide an explanation of that commonly assumed influence on his development. In fact, though, Hutcheson developed a moral sense theory, which departed dramatically from the moral theory of Carmichael. Hutcheson did follow Carmichael in using Pufendorf's De Officio Hominis et Civis, along with Carmichael's notes on this work, in teaching political philosophy in his own moral philosophy class.(21) In Hutcheson's textbook on moral philosophy, he tells us:

The learned will at once discern how much of this compend is taken from the writings of others, from Cicero and Arisotle; and to name no other moderns, from Pufendorf's smaller work, De Officio Hominis et Civis, which that worthy and ingenious man, the late Professor Gershom Carmichael of Glasgow, by far the best commentator on that book, has so supplied and corrected that the notes are of much more value than the text.(22)

Carmichael influenced Hutcheson, in particular, in the area of natural jurisprudence, and this influence could have come, as we find in the above statement, from Hutcheson's knowledge of Carmichael's well-known published commentary on Pufendorf's De Officio Hominis et Civis.

EMILY MICHAEL Brooklyn College, New York

1 Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Stephen and Lee (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1917- ), x.333.

2 John Veitch, 'Philosophy in the Scottish Universities', Mind, ii (1877), 74-91 and 207-34; James McCosh, The Scottish Philosophy: Biographical, Expository, Critical, from Hutcheson to Hamilton (London, 1875); David Murray, Memoirs of the Old College of Glasgow (Glasgow: John, Wylie & Co., 1927); James Coutts, A History of the University of Glasgow (Glasgow, 1909) (noted as DM).

3 Munimenta Alma Universitatis Glasguensis (Glasgow, 1814), iii. 196 (noted as Mun).

4 See also W. Innes Addison, A Roll of Graduates of the University of Glasgow (Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons, 1898), 686, which lists 'Hutcheson, Francis, Professor Of Moral Philosophy, 1730-1746 ... M.A.Glasg. 1712'. The MA was the degree which indicated completion of undergraduate studies.

5 For Leechman's discussion, see F. Hutcheson, A System of Moral Philosophy (Glasgow: Foulis, 1755), vol. i, Introduction by Leechman, p. iii.

6 W. R. Scott, Francis Hutcheson (Cambridge, 1900), 61.

7 Ibid., 10, 14.

8 Natural philosophy was generally the course taken by the graduating class. It should be noted that Leechman tells us that, contrary to this general practice, Hutcheson's first class was the natural philosophy class, the magistrand (or senior) class.

9 Listed as 'Jacobus Arbuckle, Scoto-Hibernus', MA (Mun, 53); entered the Divinity class (Mun, 254).

10 'Nomina discipulorum primae classis qui hoc Anno Academiam intrarunt sub praesidio Joannis Loudun.'; Francis Hutcheson Scoto-Hibernus is among the names in the list that follows this heading.

11 G. Carmichael, Theses Philosophicae, 1707 (U. of Glasgow Library, Mu3-c.3); J. Loudon, Theses Philosophicae, 1708 (U. Of Glasgow Library, Mu.21-s.26).

12 DNB, xii.640; Colin Maclaurin, An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, ed. Patrick Murdoch (London, 1750), 2nd edn, Introduction, p. ii.

13 Maclaurin, op. cit., Introduction: 'In 1709 Colin was sent to the University of Glasgow and placed under the care of one of the best men, and most eminent professor of this age, the learned Mr. Gershom Carmichael' (p. ii).

14 University of Glasgow Library, MS Murray 534.

15 Hutcheson, A System ..., op. cit., p. iii.

16 loc. cit.

17 This letter is at the National Library of Scotland [NLS 9252 ff 104], dated 12 January 1737.

18 Francis Hutcheson's Logicae Compendium (Glasgow: R. & A. Foulis, 1756) was published posthumously by his son.

19 G. Carmichael, Breviuscula Introductio ad Logicam ... (Glasgow, 1720: Edinburgh, 1722).

20 These lectures survive in a notebook of Thomas Bowie in Glasgow University Library, Ms.Gen.406.

21 Samuel Pufendorf, De Officio Hominis et Civis juxta Legem Naturalem. Libri Duo. Supplementis et Observationibus in Academicae Juventutis usum auxit et illustravit Gershomus Carmichael (Glasgow, 1718: Edinburgh, 1724).

22 Francis Hutcheson. A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy (Glasgow, 1747), p. i.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Oxford University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Michael, Emily
Publication:Notes and Queries
Date:Mar 1, 1995
Previous Article:Dryden, John Harvey, and the Tenth Satire of Juvenal.
Next Article:Betterton's acting version of 'Hamlet.'

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters