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The Philosophical Society of Edinburgh 1768–1783

  • Roger L. Emerson (a1)

The Philosophical Society of Edinburgh Throughout the years 1768–1783 looked to the outside world like a flourishing and important body. By 1771 it had sponsored the publication of five volumes of papers which had gone through several printings and translations. It had a distinguished foreign membership which assured its recognition abroad as one of the important academic bodies in the cosmopolitan Republic of Letters. From its foundation in 1737 until his death in 1768, its President had been the Earl of Morton, better known as the President of the Royal Society of London and as an astronomer who had been active in the practical work of the London society. Another member, Sir John Pringle, became President of the Royal Society in 1772. It was also known abroad that among the Edinburgh philosophers were to be found the most important professors of the town's university, not only those of its distinguished medical faculty but also men like William Robertson, Adam Ferguson and later John Robison. David Hume had been at one time a Secretary of the Society and probably remained a member to the end of his life in 1776. In the British colonies, the Society could point to members in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Jamaica and other West Indian islands and it had contacts in a far-flung network reaching from China and Siberia in the east to places less remote in Europe and America. Within Britain, the Society had members in London and in provincial towns of whom William Brownrigg was the most important. From these men and from others scattered in Scotland, the Society drew information and projected its image as a successful learned society. These appearances, however, are far clearer than the Society's record of accomplishment during its last years. It is not accidental that so little pertaining to its work survives. The Society in reality had a career far from brilliant and by 1778 hardly deserved the reputation it had acquired. During its last five years it revived but even then it probably did not reach the level of activity seen in the early and mid 1750s.

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For permission to use and quote manuscripts in their possession or keeping I should like to thank Miss Catherine Armet, Librarian at Mount Stuart; Mr. B. Skinner; the Seafield Trustees; Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, Bt.; Dr. John Imrie, Keeper of The Records of Scotland; Dr. I. G. Brown, Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts, The National Library of Scotland; Miss Joan P. S. Ferguson, Librarian, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; Mr. James Baldwin, formerly Keeper of Manuscripts, Glasgow University; and Dr. J. T. D. Hall, Keeper of Special Collections, Edinburgh University.

1 Medical essays and observations, revised…, 5 vols in 6, 5th edition. T. Caddel, London and J. Balfour, Edinburgh, 1771. Essays and observations, physical and literary, vol. 3, Balfour J., Edinburgh, 1771; vols. 1 and 2 were also reissued in new editions in 1771.

2 The foreign academic memberships and affiliations of the Philosophical Society members are given in the appended membership list. Biographical sketches and a complete list of members can be found in Scotland's Cultural Heritage, ed. R. L. Emerson, (forthcoming).

3 See Emerson R. L., ‘’The Philosophical Society of Edinburgh 1748–1768’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 1981, 14 (hereafter PSE-2), 153.

4 Franklin Benjamin to Home Henry, Kames Lord, 21 02 1769, Abercairny MSS. Scottish Record Office (hereafter SRO), GD 24.1. 562; The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Willcox William B., New Haven, 1972, xvi, pp. 46–8. In this letter from London, Franklin informed Kames that he was sending a collection of his books to the Society. For further information on Franklin's contacts with Society members see, Ross Ian S., Lord Kames and the Scotland of his day, Oxford, 1972, pp. 197201, 340–1, 356.

5 Small Alexander to Clerk-Maxwell George, 2 01 1766, Clerk of Penicuik MSS, SRO, GD 18/5492. Small's letter contains a summary on a printed record form of the London weather for December 1765 and the interesting proposal that Customs officers be required to keep barometric and thermometric records ‘to be sent to proper authorities.’ John Rogerson to? (probably George Clerk-Maxwell), 23 August 1772, 22 May 1773, n.d. (? 1774), SRO, GD18/5121/1–3; Clerk-Maxwell George to Walker John, 12 05 1774, Laing MSS, Edinburgh University Library (hereafter EUL;, La III. 352.1.

6 Erlam H. D., ‘Alexander Monro, primus’, University of Edinburgh journal, 19531954, 17, 88; Monro Alexander, tertius, Essays and heads of lectures on anatomy, pathology and surgery… with a memoir… by his son and successor, Edinburgh, 1860, p. ciii; Finlayson C. P., ‘Alexander Monro (Secundus)’ in Gillispie C. G. (ed.) Dictionary of scientific biography, (hereafter DSB), New York, 1974, ix, 482–4. Monro III says his father resigned his position as Secretary in 1782 and Finlayson says Monro II was sole Secretary after 1763 until the formation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (hereafter RSE) twenty years later. Neither claim is correct.

7 The Society's officers are noted on ‘A List of the Members’ published in The London medical register, London, 1779, p. 161–2. A similar list was published in the London medical register for 1780, p. 179–80.

8 In neither of the documents concerning these efforts which are discussed below does Robison appear to be a Secretary in May 1778.

9 Cullen and Clerk-Maxwell were still spokesmen for the Society in 1782; Keith's and Robison's continuance in office can be inferred from their election to similar posts in the RSE. The Duke of Buccleuch's election as President is recorded; Buccleuch to Cullen William, 3 03 1783, Thomson/Cullen MSS, Glasgow University Library (hereafter GUL), Ms. 2255; Cullen to Walker John 18 10 1782, EUL, La. III. 352/4; Transactions, of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (hereafter TRSE), 1788, i, 10.

10 The constitution and structure of the RSE adopted 4 August 1783 may well reflect the Philosophical Society's organization at the end of its career. If it does so then a council, and publications committee would have existed; the election of new members would have been semi-annual and they would have been classed as ordinary resident or non-resident and honorary with only the former ‘required to defray, by an annual contribution, the current expenses of the institution.’ Ibid.

11 See Emerson R. L., ‘The Philosophical Society of Edinburgh 1737–1747’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 1979, 12, (hereafter PSE-1), 162–7.

12 See Ross , op. cit. (4), pp. 295372.

13 Shapin Steven, ‘The Audience for Science in Eighteenth-Century Edinburgh’, History of Science, 1974, xii, p. 103.Black Joseph to Kames , 23 05 1775, 15 September 1775, SRO, Abercairny MSS, GD 24.1.553, 142, 139, Ross , op. cit. (4), p. 363 n.2.Reid Thomas to Kames , 1 10 1775, loc. cit. (15), GD 24.1.569.13; Reid Thomas, Philosophical works, SirHamilton William (ed.), Hildesheim, 1967, i, 52–3.

14 Shapin Steven, ‘The Royal Society of Edinburgh: A Study of the Social Context of Hanoverian Science’, University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. dissertation, 1971, pp. 150–4; Barron William to Kames , 3 05 1777, Abercairny MSS, SRO GD 24.1.585.

15 For Kames and other members of the Society who sat on these boards see, Smith Annette M., ‘The Administration of the Forfeited Annexed Estates, 1752–1784’, in Barrow G. W. S. (ed.), The Scottish tradition. Edinburgh, 1974, pp. 198210; Wills V. (ed.), Reports on the Annexed Estates 1755–1769, Edinburgh, 1973; Durie Alastair J., The Scottish linen industry in the eighteenth century, Edinburgh, 1979, passim. William Smellie's comments on Kames's position on these bodies was short and apt: ‘Lord Kames was remarkable for public spirit, to which he conjoined activity and great exertion. He, for a long tract of time, had the principal management of all our Societies and Boards for promoting the trade, fisheries, and manufacturers in Scotland. As conducive to those ends, he was a strenuous advocate for making and repairing turnpike roads through every part of the country. He had likewise a chief lead in the distribution and application of the funds arising from the estates in Scotland which had unfortunately been annexed to the crown. He was no less zealous in supporting, both with his writings and personal influence, literary associations… [and] was, in some measure, the parent of what was called the Physical and Literary Society.’ Smelile William, Literary and characteristic! lives …, Edinburgh, 1800, pp. 142–4.

16 For the British Linen Company and other banks see Checkland S. G., Scottish Banking: A History, 1695–1973, Glasgow & London, 1975; Munn Charles W., The Scottish Provincial Banking Companies 1747–1864, Edinburgh, 1981; Shaw John Stuart, The Management of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1983, pp. 154–63.

17 Baron Duckham notes the importance of this pamphlet and its relation to increasing demand and production of coal some of which Scots hoped to ship to England; A History of the Scottish coal industry Newton Abbot, 1970, i, 39, 319.

18 PSE-2, pp. 158–9. Ross I. S., “Unpublished Letters of Thomas Reid to Lord Kames, 1762–1782”, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 1965, vii, 1765, 3665passim.

19 Ross , op. cit. (4), p. 381.

20 The best biographical work on Cullen remains Thomson John's An account of the life, lectures and writings of William Cullen, M.D., 2 vols. Edinburgh & London, 1859; the most recent study of his work as a chemist is Donovan Arthur L.'s Philosophical chemistry in the Scottish enlightenment, Edinburgh, 1975.

21 John Clerk of Eldin, ‘Account of Sir George Clerk-Maxwell, Baronet’, TRSE, i, 51–6; Scotland's cultural heritage, Devlin-Thorp Sheila (ed.), Edinburgh, 1982, i. Most of the later members of the Philosophical Society (hereafter PSE) are noticed in these volumes.

22 Emerson R. L., ‘The Edinburgh Society for the Importation of Foreign Seeds and Plants 1764 c. 1774’ in Science & technology and their cultural contexts, Maccubbin Robert P. (ed.), in Eighteenth-Century Life, n.s. 2 (1982), pp. 7395. No list of the members of his society has been found but it was managed by John Hope and probably numbered among its supporters at least the following members of the Philosophical Society: Seafield, Clerk-Maxwell, Dick, Grant, Naysmith, Kames, Monro II, Ankerville and Smollett.

23 Clerk-Maxwell to Walker , loc. cit. (5).

24 Playfair John, ‘Biographical Account of the late Dr. James Mutton’, TRSE, v, 3999; also reprinted in facsimile in White George W. (ed.), Contributions to the History of Geology, v, 141203; p. 45.

25 Rogerson John to? Clerk-Maxwell , loc. cit. (5).

26 Finlayson , op. cit. (6); Clair R. E. Wright-St., Doctors Monro: a medical saga, London, 1964, pp. 6995.

27 Devlin-Thorp , loc. cit. (21), i.

28 Hume David to Robertson William, 29 05 1759, Klibansky R. and Mossner E. C., eds., New letters of David Hume, Oxford, 1954, p. 56–9.Drummond George to Fletcher Andrew, Milton Lord, 26 06 1759, Saltoun Correspondence, National Library of Scotland (hereafter NLS). John Home to Lord Bute,?-? (1759), Bute MSS at Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.

29 ‘… [Russell] besides a consummate knowledge of his Business has a very ingenious turn for mechanical contrivances and is very ready at inventing machines for the Purposes of natural Philosophy so that you may suppose his conversation will not only be very useful to me but also extremely agreeable;’ Black Joseph to Black John, 2 12 1752, Black MSS, EUL, Gen. 874/V/6. See also Home and Drummond , loc. cit. (28). Medical and philosophical commentaries, Edinburgh, 1773, ii, 99.

30 Hume David to Franklin Benjamin, 10 05 1762, Greig J. Y. T. (ed.), The letters of David Hume, Oxford, 1969, i, 357.

31 The Medical Commentaries, (Edinburgh, 1775, iii, 394–6) printed ‘An Account of Electricity in different Diseases’ by James Saunders a physician in Banff which adds to our knowledge of the Society's work in the 1760s if not earlier: ‘The following cases, the last only excepted were selected from a journal of electrical cases which occurred to me from 1752 to 1761. About that time, [1761–2] they were read by Dr. Cullen in the philosophical society at Edinburgh, and a report of them soon thereafter sent me by Professor Russell…. I was engaged in these inquiries by a correspondence with Dr. St. Clair…, on the success of electricity in the case of one Moubray from Stirling, an infirmary-patient.’ Saunders went on to relate his work to reports and comments on the medical uses of electricity by Nollet, Munsch, De Haen and Van Swietan. His last reported case was dated November 1772.

32 Playfair John, ‘Biographical Account of the late John Robison …’, TRSE, vii, pp. 495539; Dorn Harold, ‘John Robison’, in DSB, op. cit. (6), xi, 495–8.

33 Many of his letters to Joseph Black and James Watt are contained in Robinson Eric and Mckie Douglas (eds.), Partners in science: letters of James Watt and Joseph Black, Cambridge (Mass.), 1970.

34 Playfair , op. cit. (32), p. 513.

35 A good history of this company exists: Campbell R. H., Carron company, Edinburgh, 1961.

36 What is known about Macgown is summarized in Devlin-Thorp , op. cit. (21), i. and Emerson et al. , op. cit. (2); TRSE, 1788, i: 333–5.

37 Devlin-Throp , op. cit. (21), i.

38 Kames Lord, The gentleman farmer; being an attempt to improve agriculture, by subjecting it to the test of rational principles, 5th ed., Edinburgh, 1802 (1st ed. 1776), p. 405–6.

39 Cullen William, ‘Memorial for the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh’, Cullen MSS, Gul, Box 9.7.

40 Op. cit. (7).

41 TRSE, p. 11.

42 Cullen's ‘Memorial’ refers to ‘above Sixty Members of the Society’ in which he very likely included some of the honorary members since in 1779 the Society had on its published list sixty-five names of which nine (including Benjamin Franklin) were foreigners; another seventeen Scots and Englishmen can be presumed to have been non-resident. The list may not be complete since it names only one James Lind (b. 1716) and omits William Franklin. The list of members in 1783 can be partially inferred from that given of those belonging to the RSE in November 1783 and published in TRSE, i, 83100. This shows thirty-five resident members (to which Lord Buchan should perhaps be added), twenty-one nonresidents and fourteen foreign honorary members.

43 Lorentz Crell seems to have been elected between April and August 1782; Crell to Black Joseph, ? 04 1782; 5 August 1782, EUL, Gen. 873/II/48–51.

44 Robison John to Walker John, 13 09 1785. EUL Laing MSS, La. III. 352: ‘I have just the following papers left in my hands by the Members of the Philosophical Society’; this is followed by a list of ten essay titles of which six were noted as having reports with them.

45 Gray James, The History of the Royal Medical Society 1737–1937, Edinburgh, 1952, p. 77.

46 Arnot Hugh, The History of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 1779, pp. 427–8.

47 Op. cit. (39). Thomson wrongly through this Memorial was related to a scheme of incorporation for the Society; op. cit., (20), ii, 218.

48 PSE-1, pp. 180–1; PSE-2, pp. 133–4. See Tables 1 and 2 which show declines in the numbers of known and conjectured topics of discussion. Playfair's ‘Account of John Robison’, (op. cit. (36)), has dates for the Society's decline which are clearly wrong: the Society ‘… had published three volumes of Memoirs, under the title of Physical and Literary Essays; the last in 1756 [read 1771] from which time the Society had languished, and its meetings had become less frequent. At the time I am now speaking of[c. 1774 but really 1778], it was beginning to revive, and its tendency to do so was not diminished by the acquisition of Mr. Robison, who became a member of it soon after his arrival [in 1774].

49 James Hutton was admitted to the Society in 1768. In 1779 only seven names stood between his and Robison's on the published membership list and none were, for reasons of age and residence, likely to have been added before 1771. Since Robison's name is preceded by those of Dugald Stuart and William Smellie, who probably joined c. 1775, Robison too may not have been immediately elected because of a lack of regular meetings. On 1 August 1810, Andrew Duncan wrote Smellie's son Alexander, ‘… I believe in the year 1776, I proposed your father as a member of the Philosophical Society, where I had often the satisfaction of receiving much instruction and entertainment from his papers and observations.’ Kerr Robert, Memoirs of the life, writings, and correspondence of William Smellie, Edinburgh, 1811, ii, 242. Smellie was definitely a member by 1778. Medical Commentaries, op. cit. (31), V, 338.

50 Some resignations clearly were received. By 1779 Boswell, Brydone, Fell, Horseburgh, Lind (b. 1736), Livingstone, MacFait, Ankerville, Skene and Swain were no longer on the roster although seven are known to have been living. Between 1779–80 no one seems to have resigned but Bute, Brownrigg, Bryce, Clason, Lindsay and Wilson, although alive, had either resigned by 1783 or chose not to accept membership in the Royal Society of Edinburgh since their names are missing from its first published ‘List of all Members or Fellows’, TRSE, i, 8397.

51 The Medical and philsophical commentaries and its successors are noticed by Couper W. J. in The Edinburgh periodical press, Stirling, 1908, ii, 122130; and by Comrie John D., History of Scottish medicine, London, 1932, ii, 507–8. The name Medical commentaries was adopted in 1780 in volume VII. The Scots magazine's, account of the new journal in April 1773 stated that Duncan was ‘secretary to our society’; ibid., xxxv, 204–5.

52 For example, Lorentz Crell in 1779 sent Black an article ‘to be inserted into the Medical Commentaries’; Crell to Black , 24 10 1779, Black MSS, EUL, Gen 873/I/93–6.

53 Couper , op. cit. (51), p. 123.

54 Medical Commentaries op. cit. (31), iv, 117, 460; v, 326, 453; vi, 177.

55 Cullen , op. cit. (39), Thomson , op. cit. (20), ii, 218–9.

56 In the margin Cullen wrote ‘Intrants to be subjected to it as a law except Associé libre’. Since this was a designation hitherto unknown in the Society, Cullen may have had in mind some redefinition of the categories of membership which would have expanded the numbers of non-resident men of science not qualifying for merely honorary affiliation. For the definition of this rank in the Académie Royale des Sciences of Paris see, Hahn Roger, The Anatomy of a scientific institution: the Paris academy of sciences, 1666–1803, Berkely, Los Angeles, London, 1971, pp. 77–8.

57 Cullen at first wrote ‘twenty’ and then scratched it out.

58 The draft ends rather abruptly on its seventh folio page without a period; this page is also unnumbered but the whole neatly folded packet has on its outside the full title with a line under it. Cullen's mention of only one Secretary may be significant.

59 Robison's letter about the proposals is dated 6 May 1778, the day before the scheduled May meeting. On 7 May 1778, Smellie, Duncan, Gregory, Rutherford, Dugald Stewart, Russell, Wardrop, Keith, Hope and Gardiner formed the Newtonian Club. They met again, probably after the Society's meeting, on 18 June (the date called for by Cullen's Memorial’) and adopted six rules, two of which (I, VI) almost certainly record a protest against complex changes in the Society's regulations. Smellie and Duncan were later supporters of the Society of Antiquaries and both had frustrated professorial ambitions, in Duncan's case by James Gregory in 1776 and in Smellie's by John Walker later in 1778. Kerr Robert, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Correspondence of William Smellie, Edinburgh, 1811, i: pp, 132–4, 146163. Duncan recounted his own problems in the Medical commentaries iv, 99107, 244–5.

60 The Medical Register account of the Society in 1779 may reflect both a. revival and a very limited constitutional change.

61 TRSE, i, 6; this ‘History of the Society’ was reprinted in TRSE: general index to the first thirty-four volumes (1783–1888), Edinburgh, 1890, p. 3. This revival like the earlier one in the 1750s may have involved the preparation of a new volume of essays. Such a volume never appeared but seems to be mentioned in Medical commentaries, 1778, v, p. 218 and The London medical register, 1779, p. 161. Arnot's account of the Society mentioned above (46) may also be referring to this project.

62 PSE-1, pp. 164–5; PSE-2, pp. 148–150.

63 These thirty-five men exclude Matthew Gutherie, James Byres, and John Rogerson and Andrew Lumsden, who, although they were Scots, made their careers outside Scotland. Also excluded are Edward Stevens, a West Indian of Scottish extraction and two Englishmen, James Amyatt and Sir James Adolphus Oughton. K. B. Byres was a Jacobite in exile in Rome who served a short time in the French service as a Lieutenant in Ogilvie's Regiment and later made a notable career as an architect and dealer in antiquities. Lumsden, who trained as a Writer, was once secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Pardoned in 1778 he lived in Paris throughout most of this period. The Gutheries were also a Jacobite family but Matthew went to Russia in 1770 as a young surgeon seeking employment, not as an exile. This was also the case with Dr. John Rogerson. Stevens was in Edinburgh as a medical student and physician between 1774–80 and later taught the practise of medicine at what is now Columbia University. All of these men came from respectable families. The fathers of Lumsden and Gutherie were Writers to the Signet; Rogerson's was apparently a physician, Stevens's a merchant with plantations.

64 Nicholas Phillipson has traced declining matriculations of Scottish law students at Dutch universities and the rising numbers of the ‘sons of “non-landed” men’ in the Faculty of Advocates during these years: ‘Lawyers, Landowners, and the Civic Leadership of Post-Union Scotland’, Juridical Review, 1976, 21 NS, 97120.

65 Comrie quotes Benjamin Bell on the continuing need for surgeons to travel: ‘Had I been now entering to the world as a physician [c. 1770], I should never have thought of going farther than where I have been; but for a surgeon, I assure you Edinburgh comes greatly short of either Paris or London and for that reason, Dr. Monro and any others that I have spoke to here upon the subject approve of the scheme very much.’ Bell spent the years 1770–2 in London and Paris. Earlier in the eighteenth century this would not have been thought necessary and was in any case beyond the means of most surgeons who were also less specialized as saw-bones, Comrie , op. cit. (51), i, 331.

66 PSE-1. p. 171.

67 The age at presumed entrance is known for twenty-eight of the thirty-five recruits. Their average ages were 31.8 with the median falling between 32 and 31.

68 Four were not married, five are unknowns and the average age of marriage for sixteen of the rest is 29.

69 James Hutton is included here although he practised farming more than medicine.

70 There were 108 Britons in the Society during this period if Benjamin Franklin and his son William are excluded.

71 The Earl of Hopctoun's papers show him consulting Clerk-Maxwell, Hutton and Blackin 1771–3 about a gold mine, coal and lead deposits containing some silver. Linlithgow MSS, SRO TD78/169/ Box/122/bundle 611; Box 122/bundle 347.

72 Black's papers at EUL and the Erskine-Murray MSS at NLS make it clear that between 1759 and 1783 Black was consulted on mining affairs by many groups or individuals among whom were included not only Hopetoun, Hutton and the Clerk brothers but also Roebuck, Crosbie and Stirling. See also, McKie Douglas and Kennedy David, ‘On some letters of Joseph Black and others’, Annals of science, 1960, 16, pp. 129–70.

73 See, Walker John, Lectures on geology including hydrography, mineralogy, and meteorology, with an introduction to biology, ed. Scott Harold W., Chicago, 1966.

74 The best general discussion of the philosophers' involvement in industry is still that of Archibald and Clow Nan, The Chemical revolution, London, 1952 (Freeport, N.Y., 1970). For Black and Robison see Robinson and McKie , op. cit. (33).

75 Roebuck's career is sketched by Clow A. in DSB, op. cit. (6), xi, 499. His work for the Carron Co. is discussed by Campbell , op. cit. (35), passim.

76 Robison John to Watt James, 22 04 1771 (O.S.), in Robinson and McKie , op. cit. (33), p. 24. Perhaps the Society members’ concern with this company accounts for ‘dr. Hutton ['s paper] on Theories of Artillery’ which Robison still had in hand in 1785. Robinson to Walker John, loc. cit. (44).

77 The Clows printed part of a letter from Hope John to Boulton Matthew, 22 05 1784 which describes an Oyster Club meeting attended by ‘Henry Cort, Lord Dundonald, Hutton, Black, MacGowan, etc. Dr. Hutton whispered to me, what a number of projectors, and Black said I was a fool of one myself. We had as usual a great deal of pleasantry and every now and then some useful and interesting information.’ Clow and Clow , op. cit. (74), 415.

78 See (22).

79 Much of this Scottish discussion is analyzed in essays contained in Hont Istvan and Ignatieff Michael (eds.), Wealth and virtue: the shaping of political economy in the Scottish Enlightenment, Cambridge, 1983.

80 Munro Neil, The History of the Royal Bank of Scotland, 1727–1927, Edinburgh, 1928, pp. 397403; see also (16).

81 Scots magazine, 1772, xxxiv, pp. 304–11, 637; 1773 xxxv, 668.

82 Among those active in the Commissions appointed to build the new exchange, to improve Leith harbour and to provide better streets, light and water to the city were Hopetoun, Kames, Sir Alexander Dick, and Alexander Monro II. Black also was consulted by the city about the purity of its water sources.

83 Scots magazine, 1767, xxix, 253–4; 1768, xxx, 289–90; 360.

84 Scots magazine, 1768, xxx, 292–3.

85 Ibid., p. 293–296. John Walker between 1765 and 1767 was also trying to promote interest in a ‘Navigation between the Murray [Moray] Firth and the Sound of Mull’, which he also saw as having all of these good effects. The later Caledonian Canal fulfilled this dream but did not bring the hoped for social consequences. ‘Memorial concerning the proposed navigation’, Walker Papers, Laing MSS EUL La III. 352.1.

86 Peers, expatriates and colonials have been excluded from these calculations.

87 PSE-1, p. 171; PSE-2, p. 142.

88 Of the 110 British and colonial members of the Society after 1768 at least fifty-seven (51·8%) held some sort of civil, naval or military, ecclesiastical or municipal office. Ten others had hospital appointments and five professorships and three clerical livings could well be added to this total. The thirty Scottish civil orfice holders were in only eleven cases occupying offices with patronage power or supplying their incumbents with salaries in excess of £200. Again, the professorships also possessed by many members somewhat complicates this picture which is also affected to some extent by the relative youth of the men recruited after 1768.

89 Cullen Willian to Mure Baron William, 19 09 1770, Selections from the family papers preserved at Cladwell. Paisley, 1885, ii, II, 176–7?; Chalmers Robert, A Biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, Glasgow, 1856, ii, 170; Gray James (ed. by Gutherie Douglas), History of the Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh, 1952, pp. 3940.

90 Shapin , op. cit. (14), p. 155157.Walker John to Dalrymple David, 28 02 1778, Newhailes MSS, XLS, 7228/24.

91 sMedical Commentaries, op. cit. (35), iii, 445; V, 106.

92 The Moderates are the subject of a monograph by Richard Sher whose work supports this conclusion. See Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment: the Modem Literati of Edinburgh 1720–1800, Princteon University Press, 1985.

93 Essays and observations physical and literary (hereafter EOPL), Edinburgh, 1771, iii, Nos. 25, 31; pp. ixxiii, xvixvii, xviiixx.

94 Scots magazine, 1768, xxx, pp. 511–12, ‘On Stewart's method of determining the sun's distance’; 1770, xxxii, p. 120, ‘Queries relating to lime used as a manure’; pp. 172–4, ‘Memorial concerning the contagious disease affecting the horned cattle’; pp. 382, notice of Donald Monro's ‘A treatise of mineral waters’; p. 408, ‘Some account of … Venus's FLY-TRAP’; 1771, xxxiii, pp. 399400, excerpts from EOPL iii, No. 30; pp. 426, ‘Animadversions on Dr. Stewart's computation of the sun's distance from the earth’; 1772, xxxiv, passim; Agricola's essays by James Anderson on planting and husbandry.

95 Medical Commentaries, i, 432; this was later published, TRSE ii, 1790, pp. 5972.

96 Ibid., v, 111–3.

97 TRSE, ii, 1790, p. 7379.

98 Medical Commentaries, 1778, v, 218–9.

99 This paragraph draws on information given in more detail in Emerson , op. cit. (26).

100 Hope John to Loudoun Lord, n.d. (1766), Loudoun MSS, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.

101 Hope to Loudoun Lord, 17 10 1776, loc. cit. (105).

102 Scots magazine, 1767, xxix, p. 166; Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1769, 59, pp. 241–2; The Weekly magazine or Edinburgh amusement, v, 19 10 1769; V. A. and Eyles Joan, ‘Some Geological correspondence of James Hutton’, Annals of science, 1951 7, pp. 316336, 328.

103 Scots magazine, 1765, xxvii, p. 334; 1766, xxviii, p. 280; 1767, xxix, p. 327; Fletcher Harold R. and Brown William H., The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670–1970, Edinburgh, 1970, p. 61

104 Ibid., pp. 62–3.

105 Ibid., pp. 59–60.

106 TRSE, 1788, i, 15, 17; Allen D. G. C. and Schofield Robert E., Stephen Hales: scientist and philanthropist, London, 1980, p. 134. A fragment of this paper exists in manuscript at the NLS and shows that Walker's experiments were made as early as 1 February 1761. Saltoun Papers, NLS, S Misc. 54.

107 SirNaysmith James to Kames Lord, 8 11 1773 (instincts in plants and animals), 26 October 1776 (on locomotion), Abercairny MSS, SRO, GD 24/1/576; Kames to John Walker, n.d. (early 1770s), EUL Laing MS La III. 352/4; Kames , op. cit. (4), pp. 413–38. The Medical Commentaries 1779, vi, 177–9 printed an account of ‘the moving plant, the seeds of which were also sent’ to the Botanical Garden by [?William] Kerr who ‘favoured us with the following account of it, transmitted from India.’ See also Kames , op. cit. (38), pp. 413–38.

108 Walker , loc. cit. (107).

109 Robison John to Walker John, loc. cit. ‘48); Miscellaneous Papers of John Walker, EUL, DC.2.39.1 no. 13, has descriptions of eight species of tremella.

110 The papers of Lord Hopetoun contain a number of essays on Russian topics including an ‘Account of Russia’, a ‘Natural History of Russia’ and several pieces on Russian mines. Linlithgow MSS, SRO TD78/169/box 122 bundle 347. Matthew Gutherie was a frequent contributor to the Medical Commentaries and a naturalist as well as an MD. See also, Sweet Jessie M., ‘Matthew Guthrie (1743–1807). An Eighteenth-Century gemmologist’, Annals of science, 1964, 20, 245302; Papmehl K. A., ‘Matthew Guthrie The Forgotton student of 18th century Russia’, Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue Canadienne de Slavists, 1969, xi, 167–81; Devlin-Thorp , op. cit. (21), 3, ‘John Grieve’.

111 Medical Commentaries, op. cit. (35), 1778, v, 434; Medical Commentaries for theyears 1780, 1781, 1782, Philadelphia, 1795, p. 488.

112 PSE-2, p. 159.

113 See n. 27.

114 Devlin-Thorp , op. cit. (21), i, ‘James Anderson’; James Anderson to William Cullen, 8 December 1782, ‘I have a paper ready to send to the Philosophical Society …’ Anderson expected to be in Edinburgh in the spring and seemed to be then very interested in ‘a set of machines for carrying on the woolen manufacture’ although he did not write that the paper concerned these. Cullen Correspondence, Royal College of Physicians Library. Vol. 32.

115 Willcox William B. et al. (eds.), The papers of Benjamin Franklin, New Haven and London, 1972, xv, 50, 60–2; Franklin to Kames , 16 01 1769, ibid., 1972, xvi, 3. In this letter Franklin told Kames that James Russell and George Clerk-Maxwell could ‘give you as good Advice’ about smoky chimnies as could the ‘universal smoke Doctor’ himself. In 1776 James Anderson published A practical treatise on chimneys containing full direction for preventing or removing smoke in houses, Edinburgh, 1776.

116 Robison to Walker , loc. cit. (44). The paper was not surprisingly, byjohn Macgowan; stoves and grates were a principal manufacture of the Carron Company. Campbell , op. cit. (35), p. 77.

117 Campbell's account of the development of the carronade between 1776 and 1779 shows why there might well be an interest in guns. Ibid., p. 88–94.

118 Pulteney William Johnstone to Kames , 10 05 1771, Abercairny MSS, SRO CD 24.1.574. Two memorials on coal and culm, one from Kames sent to Lord Seafield but undated, exist in the Seafield Papers, SRO, GD248/954/5/ 35, 41.

119 Historial Manuscripts Commission, Report 14, App. 3, London, 1894 Manuscripts of the Countess Dowager of Seafield, pp. 229–30.

120 Playfair , op. cit. (24), p. 48–9; Duckham , op. cit. (17), p. 37.

121 Robison to Walker John, loc. cit. (44); Robison, ‘Report to the philosophical Society Concerning Dr. Stedman's Instrument for measuring the Inclination of the Ground in Earthquakes’, EUL La III 352/1.

122 EOPL, iii, No. 9. This paper was read in the Society 14 January 1765.

123 Philosophical Transactions, 1777, 67, pp. 493503. Stedman was primarily concerned to assess the probable usefulness of windmills in draining coal mines.

124 Ibid., 1775, 65, pp. 353–365.

125 Lind James (b. 1736) to Lord Loudoun, 27 10 1764, Loudoun MSS, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.

126 Lind James to Loudoun Lord, 23 06 1769, loc. cit. (125).

127 Philosophical Transactions, 1778, 67, 725–6.

128 Medical Commentaries, 1775, iii, 2532; DeLuc Jean André to Cullen William, 9 04 1773, 13 ‘8bre’ 1773, Thomson/Cullen MSS, GUL. 2255/84; Playfair , op. cit. (24), pp. 65, 69. Cullen had collected subscriptions for DeLuc 's Recherches sur les modifications de l'atmosphere, Geneve, 1772. The Society had in the past been used as a subscription collection agency. See, Wallis P. J., ‘The MacLaurin “Circle”: The evidence of Subscription Lists', The Bibliotheck, 1982, ii, pp. 3854.

129 Philosophical Transactions, 1774, 64, pp. 105–7; 1771, 61 pp. 326–31. Experiments with cold were also reported by Wilson's son Patrick in 1780, ibid., 1780, 70, pp. 450–73; TRSE, 1788, i, 22; The Black papers at EUL contain numerous letters from Alexander and Patrick Wilson from 1768, 1780–1 dealing with ‘Thermometrical Observations & Experiments’ concerning cold and heat.

130 TRSE, 1790, ii, 1416.

131 EOPL, iii, pp. ixxxii; Philosophical Transactions, 1775, 65, pp. 459–62; ibid., 1778, 68, pp. 564–5. Roebuck's interest in mean temperatures related to agricultural interests in crops ideally suited to different climates.

132 Playfair , op. cit. (24), pp. 6266.

133 Philosophical transactions, 1775, 65, pp. 296300; 1778, 68, pp. 318–343.

134 Dr. William Keir's Edinburgh medical thesis (1778) was entitled, ‘De Attractione chemica’; his Society paper was ‘on Chemical Saturation.’ Dr. Daniel Rutherford in 1772 produced a well known thesis ‘De Aere fixo’ and a paper ‘on Nitre’. See (44). See also, Duncan A. M., ‘William Keir's de Attractione chimica 1778 and the concepts of chemical saturation, attraction and repulsion’, Annals of Science 1967, 23, pp. 149173.

135 Medical Commentaries, 1773, i, pp. 102, 320; 1775, iii, p. 102; Philosophical transactions, 1775, 65, pp. 124–8.Gutherie Matthew to Walker John, 23 01 1783, Black MSS, EUL. Gen 873/11/83–6F.

136 Surviving correspondence allows one to infer that the following men had or had access to telescopes: Buchan, Hopetoun, Bute, Stuart-Mackenzie, Bryce, Brydone, Lind (b. 1736), Alemore, Ramsay, Russell, Matthew and Dugald Stewart, Stirling, Wilson; Playfair and Robison.

137 On 25 July 1776 ‘the Lord Provost and Magistrates of Edinburgh, attended by the Principal and Professors of the University, went to the Caltonhill, and laid the foundation-stone of the Observatory, which is to be erected there, according to a plan proposed by the Professor of Natural Philosophy, and designed by Mr. James Craig, architect.’ The Scots magazine went on to describe the building and equipment. It did not note the presence of the quadrant given by Hopetoun to the Philosophical Society, Morton's contribution to an observatory or any money raised by Colin MacLaurin for this purpose. Scots magazine, 1776, xxxviii, 393–4. The sorry history of this new observatory, which remained virtually useless until c. 1812, is recounted by SirGrant Alexander, The story of the University of Edinburgh, London, 1884, i, 378–80.

138 ‘… Lord Alemore has built me an observatory at his house at Hawkhill where we had the good fortune to have a very favorable day to make our observations [of the Transit of Venus].’ James Lind (b. 1736) to Lord Loudoun, 23 June 1769, Loudoun MSS, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute; Philosophical Transactions, 1769, 59, pp. 339–46. Observations were also reported by Alexander Wilson, ibid., pp. 333–8. That the preparation lor these observations had been long in the making is suggested by notices in the Edinburgh papers about preparations elsewhere, e.g., Scots magazine, 1768, xxx, p. 288. This reprints a letter from J. de Stehlin, Secretary of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at Petersburg to James Short who with Lord Morton had helped to organize the British observations.

139 Philosophical Transactions, 1769, 59, pp. 363–5; 1773, 63, 163–70; 1774, 64, pp. 1–30. Lind James to Loudoun Lord, 2 09 1769, Loudoun MSS. Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.

140 EOPL, III, No. 5.

141 Examples of such systematic views are common; e.g. Scots magazine January 1762, unpaginated table bound after the fly-leaf and explained on pp. iii–xii.

142 This development is traced by Dwyer John and Murdoch Alexander in ‘Paradigms and politics: Manners, morals and the rise of Henry Dundas, 1770–1784’, in New perspectives on the politics and culture of early modern Scotland, ed. Dwyer John, Mason Roger A., Murdoch Alexander, Edinburgh, 1982, pp. 210–48 and by Shaw John, op. cit. (16).

143 Of the men recruited to the Society after 1768 only five seem to have sat in the General Assembly before 1784. Of their older colleagues in those years twelve did so and for many more years.

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