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The Scottish Nation

REID, a surname, being the old spelling of Red. The family of Reid of Barra, Aberdeenshire, possesses a baronetcy of Nova Scotia, conferred in 1706 on Alexander Reid of Barra. The fifth baronet, Sir Alexander Reid, succeeded his brother, Sir John, Capt. R.N., in 1845; married, with issue.


General John Reid of Strathloch, the founder of the professorship of music in the university of Edinburgh, adopted that surname in preference to his patronymic, Robertson. He was the son of Alexander Robertson of Strathloch, a property near Strathardie in Perthshire, whose forefathers for more than three centuries were always called Barons Run, Roy, or Red, from the first of the family having red hair. They were descended from the youngest son of Patrick Robertson, the first of Lude. All the younger children bore the name of Robertson. The general, however, though the heir, chose the name of Reid. He was born Feb. 13, 1721, and educated at the university of Edinburgh. He became a lieutenant in the earl of Loudoun’s Highlanders, raised in 1745, and rose to the rank of general. He had a fine taste for music, and was one of the best flute-players of the age. In 1770 he published a set of Minuets and Marches, styled General Reid’s Minuets, inscribed to the Right Hon. Lady Catherine Murray. In this collection appeared the celebrated and well known air, composed by him when major of the 42d regiment, to the words of “The Garb of Old Gaul” written by Captain afterwards Sir Harry Erskine of Alva, baronet. It is there entitled “The Highland, or 42d Regiment’s March,” which it has ever since continued to be. He likewise published Six Solos for a German Flute of Violin, with a thorough bass for the harpsichord, in which he styles himself “a member of the Temple of Apollo.” These are usually called Captain Reid’s Solos, he having been only a captain when he composed them. He died at London, February 6, 1807, aged 85. In his will, dated at London, 19th April 1803, he describes himself as “john Reid, Esq. General in his Majesty’s army and Colonel of the 88th regiment of foot,” and states that he was “the last representative of an old family in Perthshire, which on my death will be extinct in the male line.” He left £52,000 in the 3 per cents, subject to the liferent of his daughter, for the purpose of establishing a professorship of music in the university of Edinburgh, where he was educated, the salary not to be less than £300 per annum. He directs in his will that annually on his birthday, the 13th of February, there shall be a concert of music held, including a full military band, to commence with some pieces of his own composition, to show the style of music that prevailed about the middle of the 18th century, among the first of which is that of ‘The Garb of Old Gaul.’ The chair of music was founded in 1839, when nearly £80,000 became available for its endowment.

REID, THOMAS, a philosopher and Latin poet of considerable reputation in his time, the son of James Reid, the first minister, after the Reformation, of Banchory-Ternan, in Kincardineshire, flourished in the seventeenth century. He studied at Marischal college, Aberdeen, and afterwards traveled through the greater part of Europe. Having maintained public disputations in several of the foreign universities, he collected into a volume the theses he defended. His Latin poems are preserved in the ‘Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum.’ On his return to Britain, he was appointed Latin secretary to James I. of England. While on the Continent he had purchased the best editions of all the classics which were printed from the time of Aldus Manutius until 1615, also several curious manuscripts, particularly a Hebrew Bible, of most beautiful writing, supposed to have been the work of the twelfth century, all of which he bequeathed to the Marischal college, Aberdeen, with a considerable sum of money as a fund for a yearly salary to a librarian. He belonged to the family from which the celebrated philosopher, Dr. Thomas Reid, was descended.

His brother, Alexander Reid, an eminent physician, was the first, it is said, who read physical lectures to the Company of barber-chirurgeons at London. In 1620 he was created doctor of physic at Oxford by royal mandate. He was afterwards physician to Charles I., and died about 1680. He published a ‘Manual of Anatomy,’ and other medical works.

REID, THOMAS, a distinguished moral philosopher, was born, April 26, 1710, at the manse of Strachan, Kincardineshire, a parish situated about twenty-three miles from Aberdeen, on the north side of the Grampian mountains. His father, the Rev. Lewis Reid, was minister of that parish for fifty years, and his mother, the daughter of Mr. Gregory of Kinnairdie, was sister to David, James, and Charles Gregory, the celebrated professors. After two years spent at the parish school of Kincardine-O’Neil, young Reid was sent to Aberdeen for his classical education. About the age of twelve or thirteen, being intended for the church, he was entered as a student in Marischal college, where his instructor in philosophy, for three years, was Dr. George Turnbull, who afterwards attracted some notice as an author, particularly by a book, entitled ‘Principles of Moral Philosophy,’ and by a voluminous ‘Treatise on Ancient Painting,’ published in 1741, but long ago forgotten. It does not appear that Reid gave any early indications of future eminence, although his industry and modesty were conspicuous from his childhood. At college, however, he excelled the other students in mathematics, for which he soon showed a decided predilection. He continued longer than usual at the university, in consequence of having been appointed to the office of librarian, which had been endowed by his ancestor, the subject of the previous notice. During this period he formed an intimacy with John Stewart, afterwards professor of mathematics in Marischal college, and author of a Commentary of Newton’s Quadrature of Curves. IN 1736 he resigned the librarianship, and accompanied Mr. Stewart on an excursion to England, when they visited London, Oxford, and Cambridge. His uncle, Dr. David Gregory, procured him a ready access to Martin Folkes, the philosopher and antiquary, at whose house he met many eminent men in literature and science. At Cambridge he saw the vain and erudite Dr. Bentley, and enjoyed repeated conversations with Sanderson, the blind mathematician, who presented a phenomenon in the history of the human mind, to which Dr. Reid has more than once referred in his philosophical speculations.

In 1737 he was preferred, by the King’s college, Aberdeen, to the living of New Machar, in the same county; but so great was the aversion of the people to the law of patronage, that his settlement not only met with most violent opposition, but he himself was exposed to personal danger. His unwearied attention, however, to the duties of his office, with the mildness and forbearance of his temper, soon overcame all prejudices, and in a few years afterwards, when called to a different situation, he was followed by the tears and benedictions of the very same people who would formerly have rejected him.

During his residence at New Machar, the greater part of his time was spent in intense study, more particularly in a careful examination of the laws of external perception, and of the other principles which form the groundwork of human knowledge. His chief relaxations were gardening and botany, to both of which pursuits he retained his attachment in old age. In 1740 he married his cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. George Reid, physician in London.

In 1748 he communicated to the Transactions of the Royal Society ‘An Essay on Quantity, occasioned by reading a Treatise, in which Simple and Compound Ratios are applied to Virtue and Merit.’ In 1752 he was elected professor of moral philosophy in King’s college, Old Aberdeen. Soon after his removal there, in conjunction with his friend, Dr. John Gregory, he projected a literary Society, which subsisted for many years, meeting once a-week for the discussion of philosophical subjects, and it numbered among its members the illustrious names of Reid, Gregory, Campbell, Beattie, and Gerard. IN 1764 he published his celebrated ‘Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense,’ one of the most original and profound works which appeared about that period. As its professed object was the refutation of Mr. Hume’s skeptical theory, with the view of avoiding any misconstruction of the historian’s meaning, he submitted, through Dr. Blair, some detached parts of the work to Mr. Hume for his perusal. With these the latter was so much pleased, that he at once addressed a letter to the author, expressing his satisfaction at the perspicuous and philosophical manner in which he had replied to his reasonings. Soon after the publication of the ‘Inquiry,’ he received the degree of D.D. from the university of Aberdeen. A short time previous, the university of Glasgow had invited him to the chair of moral philosophy, then vacant by the resignation of Dr. Adam Smith, the superior advantages of which professorship induced him to accept of it, and, accordingly, he entered upon its duties in 1764. In the class-room, Dr. Reid was careful to divest his lectures of all metaphysical and merely scholastic terms and theories, teaching moral science on the sound principles of inductive philosophy, as inculcated by Bacon. Although there was nothing attractive in his elocution or mode of instruction, his style was so simple and perspicuous, his character so full of gravity and authority, and his students felt such an interest in the doctrines which he taught, that he was uniformly heard with the most respectful attention.

In 1781, while his health and faculties were yet entire, though he was at this period upwards of seventy years of age, he withdrew from his public labours, in order to devote himself wholly to philosophical investigation. In 1785 he published his ‘Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man;’ and in 1788, those on ‘The Active Powers,’ which are generally published together, under the title of ‘Essays on the Powers of the Human Mind.’ These works, with his ‘Inquiry,’ the ‘Essay on Quantity,’ already mentioned, and a short but masterly analysis of Aristotle’s Logic, which forms an Appendix to the third volume of lord Kames’ ‘Sketches,’ published in 1773, comprehend the whole of Dr. Reid’s published writings. At different times he read some essays before a Philosophical Society, of which he was a member, among which were ‘An Examination of Dr. Priestley’s Opinions concerning Matter and Mind,’ ‘Observations on the Utopia of Sir Thomas More,’ and ‘Physiological Reflections on Muscular Motion.’ He outlived his wife and a numerous family of children, save one daughter, married to Patrick Carmichael, M.D. During the summer of 1796 he was prevailed upon by Dr. Gregory to pass a few weeks at Edinburgh. He returned to Glasgow in his usual health and spirits; but about the end of September of that year he was seized with his last illness. After a severe struggle, attended with repeated attacks of palsy, he died on the 7th of October following, at the advanced age of eighty-six. His portrait is subjoined:

[portrait of Thomas Reid]

His works were collected by Mr. Dugald Stewart, and published in four volumes in 1803, with his Life prefixed, on which all the biographical accounts of Dr. Reid are founded. A French translation of this great philosopher’s writings, by Jouffroy, with an Introductory Essay and Notes by Royard-Collard, appeared at Paris in 1828.

REID, JOHN, M.D., an eminent anatomist and physiologist, the sixth child of Henry Reid, a farmer and cattle-dealer, was born at Bathgate, Linlithgowshire, April 9th, 1809. He received his rudimentary education at the village school, and at the age of fourteen entered the university of Edinburgh, where for the first two or three years he chiefly studied Latin, Greek, and mathematics. He was originally intended for the church, but, preferring the medical profession, he devoted himself, for five years, with ardour to the requisite studies, and in 1830 took his degree of M.D. For a year he acted as clerk or assistant physician in the clinical department of the Edinburgh Infirmary, and in the autumn of 1831 he proceeded to Paris, for the purpose of improving himself in its medical schools. While in the French capital, as he himself tells us, his habit was to go to one of the hospitals for three hours in the morning before breakfast; after breakfast to the dissecting rooms for three or four hours more, and then he attended a lecture or two. The following year he returned to Edinburgh, and with three other medical men was sent to Dumfries, where the cholera was then raging, to assist the physicians of the district during the prevalence there of that fearful scourge. He subsequently became a partner in the school of anatomy in Old Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh, and for three years discharged the duties of demonstrator, with high reputation to himself and to the great advantage of the numerous students who attended there. In 1836 he was appointed lecturer on physiology in the Edinburgh Extra-Academical Medical School, and, two years after, practical pathologist to the Royal Infirmary of that city, of which institution in the ensuing year he became the superintendent.

At this time he was engaged in some of those interesting physiological researches which caused his name to be held in high estimation by his professional brethren. An abridgment or abstract of his great ‘Experimental Investigations into the Functions of the Eight pair of Nerves, or the Glossopharyngeal, Pneumogastric, and Spinal Accessory,’ made at this period, was intimated to the British Scientific Association at the meetings of 1847 and 1848, and published in detail in the ‘Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal’ for January 1848, and April 1849. In March 1841 he was appointed Chandos professor of anatomy and medicine in the university of St. Andrews, and besides the regular lectures which belonged to the chair, he delivered also a course on comparative anatomy and general physiology. Having directed his inquiries to the natural history of the marine animals on the coast of Fife, he communicated the results in several papers to the ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History,’ In 1848 he published in one volume his ‘Physiological, Anatomical, and Pathological Researches,’ being the papers and essays, twenty-eight in all, which he had for thirteen years contributed to various scientific journals.

Dr. Reid had long been afflicted with cancer in the tongue. In the year mentioned an operation was performed, and in consequence his health rallied so greatly that hopes were entertained of his ultimate recovery; but the insidious disease had made progress in his neck and throat, which caused his death, on 30th July 1849, at the early age of 41. In his latter years he gave evidence of having come under the power and influence of religion, and died a true Christian. By his wife, a lady of the name of Ann Blyth, he had two daughters, one of them a posthumous child. His Life, by George Wilson, M.D., was published in 1851.

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