Hastie, William (DNB12)

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HASTIE, WILLIAM, D.D. (1842–1903), professor of divinity at Glasgow, third son and fourth child in the family of four sons and three daughters of James Hastie by his wife Catherine Kell, was born on 7 July 1842 at Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire, where his father was a manager of lead mines. After education in the local school he taught in the neighbourhood, and studied privately. Entering Edinburgh University in 1859, he distinguished himself in both his arts and divinity courses, graduating M.A. with first-class honours in philosophy in 1867 and B.D. in 1869. He supplemented his theological studies at Glasgow (1870-1), attending the class of Dr. John Caird [q. v. Suppl. I]., professor of divinity. After becoming a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, he was for some years a wandering student among continental universities — in Germany, Holland, and Switzerland — mastering foreign languages and widening his theological knowledge. In the intervals passed at home he took occasional work as a university deputy, or as assistant to parish ministers, among them Paton James Gloag [q. v.; Suppl. II], at Galashiels.

In 1878 Hastie was appointed principal of the Church of Scotland College at Calcutta. There he showed zeal and energy alike as academic organiser, as missionary, and as writer. In 1881 he pubhshed the first part of 'The Elements of Philosophy,' and in "1882 he issued an enlarged version of Dr. Th. Christlieb's 'Protestant Missions to the Heathen.' In 1883 his 'Hindu Idolatry and English Enlightenment' (a reprint of six letters from the Calcutta 'Statesman') gave educated natives some offence. Complaints, too, of the discipline of the college led the Foreign Missions Committee to relieve him of his post of principal in November 1883, and his able appeal to the general assembly at Edinburgh on 29 May 1884 was rejected by 193 to 90. A period of exclusion from ecclesiastical office followed, and Hastie occupied himself in translating from German, Italian, and French works on theology, philosophy, and law. He gave proof, too, of a poetic temperament in a sonnet sequence entitled 'La Vita Ma,' which he published in 1896 after contributing some of the poems to the 'Scotsman' and other newspapers. In 1892 Hastie was chosen to deliver in Edinburgh the Croall lecture. His course of philosophical lectures on 'The Theology of the Reformed Church in its Fundamental Principles ' (published posthumously at Edinburgh in 1904) proved valuable. On 13 April 1894 Hastie received the honorary degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University, and in 1895 succeeded William Purdie Dickson [q. v. Suppl. II] as professor of divinity at Glasgow. There he was popular with Ina students, whom he impressed with his attainments and method. He died suddenly in Edinburgh on 31 Aug. 1903, and was interred in the family burying-ground at Wanlockhead. He was unmarried. A memorial 'Hastie Lecture' has been established in Glasgow University.

Besides his Croall lecture, Hastie contributed to learned dogmatic theology 'Theology as Science, and its Present Position and Prospects in the Reformed Church' (Glasgow, 1899), a compact and philosophic survey and argument. An intuitionist, he treated the divine immanence as a fundamental conception {Theology as Science, p. 98). In 1903 he gave a fresh illustration of poetical power and critical acumen in 'The Festival of Spring, from the Divan of Jelaleddin : Rendered in English Gazels after Rückert's Version, with an Introduction and Criticism of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám.' The trenchant discussion of Omar is virile criticism. Other experiments in verse were a group of sonnets written at Oban, 'The Glory of Nature in the Land of Lorn' (Edinburgh, 1903) and 'The Vision of God: as represented in Rückert's Fragments' (Edinburgh, 1898).

Hastie's principal translations are: 'The Philosophy of Art,' by Hegel and C. L. Michelet (1886) ; Bernard Punjer's 'History of the Christian Philosophy of Religion from the Reformation to Kant,' with a preface by Prof. Flint (1887); 'History of German Theology in the Nineteenth Century,' by F. Lichtenberger (1889); 'History of Christian Ethics,' by Luthardt, with a useful introduction (1889); Kant's 'Principles of Politics, including his Essay on Perpetual Peace' (1891); Pfleiderer's Edinburgh Gifford Lectures on the 'Philosophy and Development of Religion,' 2 vols. (1894–1904); and Kant's 'Cosmogony,' with an elaborate introduction (1900).

[The Aberdeen Doctors (introductory chapter), by the Rev. D. Maomillan, D.D.; The Curator of Glasgow University, by J. L. Galbraith; Scotsman, and Glasgow Herald, 1 Sept. 1903; private information; personal knowledge.]

T. B.