`Plug, art thou rank? then milder twist must be; Plug, thou art milder: rank is twist to me. O twist, if plug be milder, let me buy.
`Rank twist, that seems to make me fade away, Rank plug, that navvies smoke in loveless clay, I know not which is ranker, no, not I.
`I fain would purchase flake, if that could be; I needs must purchase plug, ah, woe is me! Plug and a cutty, a cutty, let me buy.
His was the best good thing of the night's talk, and the thing that was remembered. He excited himself a good deal over Rectorial Elections. The duties of the Lord Rector and the mode of his election have varied frequently in near five hundred years. In Murray's day, as in my own, the students elected their own Rector, and before Lord Bute's energetic reign, the Rector had little to do, but to make a speech, and give a prize. I vaguely remember proposing the author of Tom Brown long ago: he was not, however, in the running.
Politics often inspire the electors; occasionally (I have heard) grave seniors use their influence, mainly for reasons of academic policy.
In December 1887 Murray writes about an election in which Mr. Lowell was a candidate. `A pitiful protest was entered by an' (epithets followed by a proper name) `against Lowell, on the score of his being an alien. Mallock, as you learn, was withdrawn, for which I am truly thankful.' Unlucky Mr. Mallock! `Lowell polled 100 and Gibson 92 . . . The intrigues and corruption appear to be almost worthy of an American Presidential election.' Mr. Lowell could not accept a compliment which pleased him, because of his official position, and the misfortune of his birth!
Murray was already doing a very little `miniature journalism,' in the form of University Notes for a local paper. He complains of the ultra Caledonian frankness with which men told him that they were very bad. A needless, if friendly, outspokenness was a feature in Scottish character which he did not easily endure. He wrote a good deal of verse in the little University paper, now called College Echoes.
If Murray ever had any definite idea of being ordained for the ministry in any `denomination,' he abandoned it. His `bursaries' (scholarships or exhibitions), on which he had been passing rich, expired, and he had to earn a livelihood. It seems plain to myself that he might easily have done so with his pen. A young friend of my own (who will excuse me for thinking that his bright verses are not BETTER than Murray's) promptly made, by these alone, an income which to Murray would have been affluence. But this could not be done at St. Andrews. Again, Murray was not in contact with people in the centre of newspapers and magazines. He went very little into general society, even at St. Andrews, and thus failed, perhaps, to make acquaintances who might have been `useful.' He would have scorned the idea of making useful acquaintances. But without seeking them, why should we reject any friendliness when it offers itself? We are all members one of another. Murray speaks of his experience of human beings, as rich in examples of kindness and good-will. His shyness, his reserve, his extreme unselfishness,-- carried to the point of diffidence,--made him rather shun than seek older people who were dangerously likely to be serviceable. His manner, when once he could be induced to meet strangers, was extremely frank and pleasant, but from meeting strangers he shrunk, in his inveterate modesty.