The History of a Historian - A.R. MacEwen. II
We should not underestimate the influence of a good home to a child. A. R. Macewen was brought up in Claremont United Presbyterian Manse. His father was the much-loved pastor of Claremont United Presbyterian Church (illustrated), a devoted pastor who was known as the friend of all, rich and poor. He was also a cultured man, a lover of Church History, a love that he would transmit to his son. More importantly, he was a man of prayer.
A.R. MacEwen was sent to the Glasgow Academy for his education. In his nine years there he showed a great deal of ability, winning class medals in his final year for Latin and Modern Languages. Thus he laid a foundation of good scholarship. From the Academy, he passed to the University. Glasgow at that time had an excellent faculty, with Sir William Thompson, later Lord Kelvin, Edward Caird, Professor of Moral Philosophy, John Veitch the logician, and others. Those MacEwen gained the most from were Professor G.G. Ramsay, Humanity, and Edward Lushington, Greek. His father, wanting the best education for him, decided that the long vacation would be an opportunity for MacEwen to get some extra study under his belt and sent him to study with a private tutor, Mr. Evelyn Abbott, at Filey in Yorkshire. Mr. Abbott was a good teacher, and MacEwen also had the opportunity to play cricket with his fellow-pupils. He returned the Glasgow for the winter session, and there fell under the spell of Edward Caird. Though devoted to Caird for a season, his later thought showed little permanent influence from the great thinker.
The philosophy classes raised issues in the young student's mind that he had not thought of before. The problem of evil, a common problem, came before his mind, unsettling him a little. His father wrote on his behalf to John Cairns, then the most brilliant of the ministers in the denomination. Cairsn gave no easy answers, but the answers that he did give were apparently satisfactory, as the problem of evil troubled him no more.
1870 saw a more auspicious event. A.R. MacEwen won the Snell Exhibition in the Arts Faculty of the University. This meant a scholarship to Oxford University.
God willing, next time we shall see how MacEwen did at Oxford.
Labels: Alexander Robertson MacEwen