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He was never married, but lived with his sisters, three excellent women, who managed his domestic affairs ; and of whom, only one, Miss Isabella Hutton, remained to lament his death. By her his collection of fossils, about which he left no particular instructions, was presented to Dr Black ; who thought that he could not better consult the advantage of the public, or the credit of his friend, than by giving it to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, under the condition that it should be completely arranged, and kept for ever separate, for the purpose of illustrating the Huttonian Theory of the Earth.
JOHN ROBISON, LL. D. F. R. S. EDIN.
AND PROFESSOR OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.
JOHN ROBISON, LL. D. *
The distinguished person who is the subject of this memoir was born at Boghall, in the parish of Baldernock, near Glasgow, in the year 1739. His father, John Robison, had been early engaged in commerce in Glasgow, where, with a character of great probity and worth, he had acquired considerable wealth, and, before the birth of his son, had retired to the country, and lived at his estate of Boghall.
His son was educated at the grammar school of Glasgow. We have no accounts of his earliest acquirements, but must suppose them to have been sufficiently rapid, as he entered a student of Humanity, in the University of Glasgow, in November 1750, and in April 1756 took his degree in Arts.
Several Professors of great celebrity adorned that University about this period. Dr Simson was one of the first geometers of the age ; and Mr Adam Smith had just begun to explain in his lectures those principles which have since been delivered with such effect in the Theory of Moral Sentiments, and in the Wealth of Nations. Dr Moore was a great master of the Greek language, and added to extensive learning a knowledge of the ancient geometry, much beyond the acquirement of an ordinary scholar.
* From the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edins burgh, Vol. VII. (1815.)-Ep.
Under such instructors, a young man of far inferior talents to those which Mr Robison possessed, could not fail to make great advancement. He used, nevertheless, to speak lightly of his early proficiency, and to accuse himself of want of application, but from what I have learnt, his abilities and attainments were highly respected by his contemporaries, and he was remarked at a very early period for the ingenuity of his reasonings as well as the boldness of his opinions. According to his own account, his taste for the accurate sciences was not much excited by the pure Mathematics, and he only began to attend to them, after he discovered their use in Natural Philosophy.
In the year following that in which he took his degree, Dr Dick, who was joint Professor of Natural Philosophy with his father, died, and Mr Robison offered himself to the old gentleman as a temporary assistant. He was recommended, as I