Charles Neaves, Lord Neaves
Charles Neaves, Lord Neaves FRSE (1800–1876) was a Scottish advocate, judge, theologian and writer. He served as Solicitor General (1852), as a judge of the Court of Session, the supreme court of Scotland (1854), and as Rector of the University of St Andrews (1872).
Neaves was born in Edinburgh in 1800, the son of Charles Neaves, a Forfar solicitor and clerk of the Justiciary Court in Edinburgh. Neaves was educated at the High School and Edinburgh University. He became a member of the Faculty of Advocates at age 22. He married Eliza Macdonald in 1835.
From 1841 to 1845, he was Advocate Depute, and from 1845 to 1852 sheriff, of the Orkney and Shetland islands. He became solicitor-general for Scotland in 1853, and served judge of the Court of Session from 1853 to 1858. From 1858 to his death, he was Lord of Justiciary, Scotland's supreme criminal court. Neaves lived the majority of his life in Edinburgh, but when associated with the Justiciary Court, he travelled to Glasgow thrice yearly and Lord Neaves (although elderly and almost without hearing capability by the 1875) acquired a reputation in Glascow as a man of justice and evenness.
Charles Neaves had acknowledged skills as a composer of verse.
He was vice-president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1859–67, 1868–73 and 1874–76), and a president of the Heriot-Watt Institution. From 1872 to 1874, he held the post of Rector at the University of St Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland. The Rector chairs meetings of the University Court, the governing body of the University of St Andrews. Neaves was a regular author of poetry and essays to Blackwood's Magazine, only a fraction of his work having been republished.
As a judge of the Court of Session, Neaves was familiar with one of his predecessors, James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, to whom he credited the origination of the concepts of the theory of evolution. In 1875, Neaves published a poem within a book of verse to establish this point:
|“||Though Darwin now proclaims the law
And spreads it far abroad, O!
The man that first the secret saw
Was honest old Monboddo.
The architect precedence takes
Of him that bears the hod, O!
So up and at them, Land of Cakes,
We'll vindicate Monboddo
In another instance he elaborates on Monboddo's writings again in Blackwood's Magazine, indicating the clarity with which Monboddo foresaw evolutionary theory:
|“||The rise of every man he loved to trace,
Up to the very pod O!
And, in baboons, our parent race
Was found by old Monboddo.
Their A, B, C, he made them speak,
And learn their qui, quae, quod, O!
Till Hebrew, Latin, Welsh, and Greek
They knew as well's Monboddo!
Poet and critic
Not only did Neaves produce poetry but he was a prolific critic, often in venues such as Blackwood's Magazine. One of his thematic elements was virtue, which naturally tied to his theological roots. He also conducted critiques of others' poetry based upon how their attitudes deviated from virtue and a common theme of under-recognition of women, as in the scalding criticism of the poet Thomas Carew.
|“||Pouter, tumbler and fantail are from the same source;
The racer and hack may be traced to one horse;
So men were developed from monkeys of course,
Which nobody can deny.
This quote became so famous in that early era that the authorship of the quotation became a matter of public dispute. Although Bartlett and Darwin clearly attributed the quotation to Neaves, Zachary Macaulay argued that he had made this statement three years earlier.
Lord Neaves may have also been an early thinker on the issue of women's rights with the following quote, that would have bordered on heresy in his era:
|“||So I wonder a woman, the Mistress of Hearts,
Should ascent to aspire to be Master of Arts;
A Ministering Angel in Woman we see,
And an Angel need cover no other Degree.
—O why should a Woman not get a Degree?
- Mitchell Library, Glascow, Scotland, Accession 4BAI
- British Authors of the 19th Century (1936)
- Watt, Archibald, A Goodly Heritage, Halcon Printing Ltd., Stonehaven, UK (1985)
- "The Memory of Monboddo: An Excellent New Song," Blackwood's Magazine 90 (Sept. 1861): 363-64
- Neaves, Charles, Lord Neaves, Songs and Verses, Fourth Edition, London p5 (1875)
- Charles Neaves, "Carew and Herrick," in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. XLV, No. CCLXXXIV, June, 1839, pp. 782-94. Reprinted in Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800, Vol. 13
- Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 1855
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- Bannatyne Club papers with register of selected papers relating to Neaves and contemporaries
- Reference to marriage contract with Eliza MacDonald
James Anthony Froude
|Rector of the University of St Andrews
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley