« AnteriorContinuar »
would give me the bracing that I required; but we made the most of the place, driving about in the surrounding country. On the way home, we stayed at Paris some days, and saw the huge exhibition of that year. Arriving in London on the 25th of June, I consulted Dr. James Anderson, and was assured that there was nothing seriously the matter with me, and that the nervous symptoms were merely want of tone. It was after this assurance that I gave my consent to Hunter and Bryce to be nominated as one of the Commission to be appointed in the Universities Bill then going through Committee in the House of Commons.
The following insertion was made in the two local papers:—
"Dr. Bain desires us to state, with reference to the discussion in the House of Commons on the propriety of including him in the Universities Commission, that he has been for some time pressed by both the city members to allow his name to be proposed, but held back from dread of the fatigue of so many Edinburgh journeys, with his advanced years and not strong health. Only when Government's seemingly final list was submitted, without a single man that could, by possibility, have the means of knowing our system, past and present, was his reluctance overcome. It was not merely that such a Commission could hardly help being unjust to Aberdeen in the scramble of interests, but because the misunderstandings that would arise, with no one to correct on the spot, must lead to a waste of time in correspondence and deputations, and be otherwise injurious."
UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION. 399
It was on the 17th and 25th of July that the debates and divisions on the Commission took place; Mr. Hunter's motion being defeated by large majorities. It was a fortunate circumstance that the appointment was not made, as, from what happened afterwards, I could not have regularly acted.
On the 3rd of July, we reached Aberdeen. In August, we had a week's excursion to Strathpeffer, Loch Maree, and Gareloch.
At the meeting of the General Council, in October, three new Assessors fell to be elected under the Universities Act. This gave rise to a good many meetings; and consultations wherein I was more or less involved lasted for several weeks.
On the 15th of October, I went to Crieff Hydropathic. Early in November, I was attacked by whooping-cough and laid up for nearly two months, after which, my convalescence was protracted.
The preceding.chapter concludes Professor Bain's Autobiography. The supplementary chapter can be only a brief record of the last thirteen years of his life—from 1890 till his death in September, 1903. The period divides naturally into two epochs, —which are distinguished as before and after a temporary breakdown in his health in the summer of 1896. On recovering from the illness to which he refers in the closing words of the Autobiography, his health remained normal until the month of July, 1896, and he was able to continue the course of life which he had maintained since his retirement from the Chair of Logic. In his daily walks, for many years, he had almost invariably covered a distance of not less than twelve miles; but, by this time, his walking exercise was curtailed, although still amounting to nine miles a day. He had ceased to take part in public gatherings of a social character, but he enjoyed the visits and the society of his friends; while his
BREAKDOWN IN HEALTH. 401
work, both public and private, was uninterrupted. The breakdown in his physical system, already referred to, resulted in a lowered tone during the two following years. He was never actually an invalid, but he found it necessary to readjust his habits to new conditions involving a series of experiments with varying results. His power of sleeping was affected, and this naturally led to a modification in his diet, which was arranged on a still more restricted standard than before. His intercourse with his friends had also to be considerably curtailed—a deprivation which he deplores in his notes of the period; and, for a short time, he took less interest in public events, although any occurrence affecting the interests of the University of Aberdeen rarely failed to elicit a quick response, and he not infrequently referred with pleasure to his early academic experiences. His own carefulness and the accumulated wisdom of nearly eighty years of strictly regulated life, together with unfailing domestic attention to his needs, gradually produced a recovery from this loss of tone. It had become apparent, however, that the strain of so large an amount of walking had told unduly upon his muscular energy, and, for several years before his death, he was content with one afternoon walk, which always followed his carriage
drive. By this change in his habits, he was soon greatly relieved from severe attacks of cramp; and, there being an improvement in his health otherwise, his interest in public affairs and in other matters revived, he read much more than he had done formerly, talked with ease and enjoyment, and welcomed the small number of friends who were still privileged to enjoy his society; conversing freely on a wide range of topics, opening his stores of reminiscence without restraint, and indulging not infrequently in sallies of wit and humour.
The vears from 1890-1896 were devoted, for the most part, to academical reform, to the revision of The Senses and the Intellect, and to certain philosophical articles and other literary efforts, including the greater part of the Autobiography.
The appointment of the Scottish Universities Commission, from which he had himself been excluded by political prejudice, made University reorganization a pressing question, and Professor Bain considered it a matter of first importance to give the members of the Commission some guidance as to the feeling and wishes of the Universities themselves. This could best be done by means of the General Council; and, on the 9th April, 1890, he moved for the appointment of a Committee "to investigate and report upon the changes desirable for increasing the efficiency of the University, in as far as the Universities Commission has the power to carry into