In these our three eldest foundations we are to seek the primitive constitution and the teaching system of our universities. In essentials, they were the same; only between the dates of Glasgow and Old Aberdeen occurred two great events. One was the taking of Constantinople, which spread the Greek scholars with their treasures over Europe. The other was the progress of printing. In 1451, when Glasgow commenced, there was no printed text-book. In 1494, when King's College began, the ancient classics had been largely printed; the early editions of Aristotle in our library show the date of 1486.
Our universities have three well-marked periods; the first anterior to the Reformation; the second, from the Reformation to the beginning of last century; the third, the last and present centuries. Confining ourselves still to the Faculty of Arts, the features of the pre-Reformation university were these:
First, as regards the teaching body. The quadrennial arts' course was conducted by so-called regents, who each carried the same students through all the four years, thus taking upon himself the burden of all the sciences—a walking encyclopædia. The system was in full force, in spite of attempts to change it, during both the first and the second periods. You, the students of arts, at the present day, encountering, in your four years, seven faces, seven voices, seven repositories of knowledge, need an effort to understand how your predecessors could be cheerful and happy, confined all through to one personality; sometimes juvenile, sometimes senile, often feeble at his best.
Next, as regards the subjects taught. To know these you have simply to know what are the writings of Aristotle. The little work on him by Sir Alexander Grant supplies the needful information. The records of the Glasgow University furnish the curriculum of Arts soon after its foundation. The subjects are laid out in two heads—Logic and Philosophy. The Logic comprised first the three Treatises of the Old Logic; to these were now added the whole of the works making up Aristotle's "Organon." This brought in the Syllogism and allied matters. There was, also, a selection from the work known as the "Topics," not now included in logical teaching, yet one of the most remarkable and distinctive of Aristotle's writings. It is a highly labored account of the whole art of disputation, laid out under his scheme of the Predicables. The selection fell chiefly on two books—the second, comprising what Aristotle had to say on Induction, and the sixth, on Definition; together with the "Logical Captions," or Fallacies. Disputation was one of the products of the Greek mind; and Aristotle was its prophet.
Now for Philosophy. This comprised nearly the whole of Aristotle's Physical treatises—his very worst side—together with his Metaphysics, some parts of which are hardly distinguishable from the Physics. Next was the very difficult treatise—"De Anima," on the Mind, or Soul—and some allied psychological treatises, as that on