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The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk
Supplementary Chapter by John Hill Burton


AT this point the Autobiography stops, the pen having literally dropped from the dying Author's hand. It would be vain and presumptuous to attempt to carry out his purpose—the intended remainder must be counted among the world's literary losses. But it may be considered proper that the Editor should briefly notify, for the reader's instruction, the subsequent events of Carlyle's life, uttering them, as far as possible, in his own words, by enlivening the narrative with such passages from his letters and other writings as make the nearest approach to the characteristics of his Autobiography. The project he had undertaken for the relief of his brethren from the window-tax was a tedious and tortuous affair, and cost him much travelling, talking, and writing before it was effected. If he had lived to tell the story of his labours, we would have had vivid sketches of many a little scene and character, so adorning as almost to conceal the train of unimportant and uninteresting transactions. But no one would be thanked in the present day for extracting the tenor of the narrative out of the official despatches, committee minutes, and other like documents in which it is imbedded.

It is not until the year 1782 that this matter is wound up, in a letter to Dundas, thanking him for the assistance, "without which," he says, "I could not have so satisfactorily concluded my little affair in London;" and as this letter, after some news about the General Assembly and the new Moderator, breaks in upon some larger political transactions, a passage from it may not be unacceptable. It refers to a project for sending Dundas out as Governor-General of India.

"I don't know well whether to be glad or sorry, to hear it repeated again and again that you are going out supreme governor of the East Indies, with full powers. I am sorry you should disappear at this time from our hemisphere, as I have a chance of being set myself before your return. I am much more sorry that Britain should lose the advantage of your virtue and abilities at so critical a period. At the same time, I must own that this is but a partial view of the subject ; for when I consider how many millions of the human race look for a guardian angel to raise and perfect them, I see a shining path in the East that leads to a pinnacle of glory and virtue. Go, then, and pursue the way that Providence points out. Your health may be in danger, but, with a principality, who thinks of health? besides, a sore throat or a collie is as dangerous in obscurity."

The window-tax discussion does not, however, afford many extracts so good as this ; and, indeed, the greater portion of Carlyle's existing correspondence lies under a like disqualification to be the companion of his animated Autobiography. The letters which the world would pick out from the correspondence of a man of rare gifts are those written to his familiar friends; but he himself is apt to preserve as the more important the correspondence upon business affairs affecting public or private interests at the moment. Hence, among the stores placed at the Editor's disposal, by far the larger portion refer to matters of local interest—literally parochial affairs, which called for dutiful and laborious attention in their day, but cannot be resuscitated with either profit or pleasure at the present time. There are, for instance, the proceedings of a presbytery or a synod to be watched and managed: Some leading man in the Church court has got into bad hands, and must be rightly advised, otherwise harm will come of it: The right man must be thoroughly backed for this perferment—the wrong man will get that if So-and-so be not spoken to, and so forth. Such affairs had their little world of living interest, now no more.

It is sufficient to say that Carlyle had a great voice in the selection of the men who were either to be brought into the Church by ordination to charges, or who were to be advanced as leaders from having proved themselves worthy in the ranks. No one will expect an inquiry to he here pursued into the manner in which he exercised in each case the influence he possessed. If the lighter motives had some effect the heavier would have a greater; and it would be wrong to suppose that his patronage was exercised on no better ground than what is stated in the following little characteristic passage, though he no doubt thought the considerations stated in it should have their own weight:-

"Lord Douglas is here and well. A church of his in the Merse, called Preston, is vacant just now. The incumbent was so very old that it is more than probable that he may be engaged, otherwise perhaps your Grace might take the opportunity of providing for Mr. Young, the handsome young man and fine preacher, who is a native of Dalkeith. My presentiment in his favour has been confirmed by inquiry. If Lord Douglas should be engaged, suppose you should try for Bothwell, which can't be long of being vacant ? I think it of great consequence to a noble family, especially if they have many children, to have a sensible and superior clergyman settled in their parish. Young is of that stamp, and might be greatly improved in taste, and elegance of mind and manners, by a free entree to Lady Douglas. The late Lord Hopetoun, who was a man of superior sense, was very unfortunate in his first lady's time. By some accident the highflying clergy were chiefly admitted about them. Weak heads and warm imaginations lie open to the zeal of fanaticism or the arts of hypocrites. He found his error when it was too late, and was sorry he had not encouraged the Wisharts and Blairs to come about him."

Carlyle's influence in ecclesiastical promotion appears not to have been entirely limited to Scotland. Occasionally his distinguished friends would find a place for a student who could not get on with the Presbyterian system, in the more manageable Church of England and Ireland; as, for instance:-

"There is an old assistant of mine, J-- W-- by name, who, having grown impatient at not obtaining a church here, took orders in the Church of England—sold a little patrimony he had, and bought a chaplaincy to a regiment. Since that time he has been always unhappy. He was for some years in Minorca, where he lost his health. He followed the regiment to Ireland, where he lost his sight. He came to Bath and recovered his health and sight, but lost his substance. He applied to me for God's sake to get him a curacy anywhere, that he might be able to pay for a deputy-chaplain. I recommended him to a friend of mine in London, who procured the curacy of Hertford for him. Soon after he wrote me from thence that he was so much despised in that town that he was in danger of hanging himself."

He was to have got this hopeful personage on the Chancellor's list, but there were technical obstacles ; and now if the correspondent would obtain for "my poor despised friend a small living of £100 a-year or so," it would be "to serve a worthy creature, humble as he is."

There are more pleasing associations connected with a scrap of writing—undated, but of course belonging to a late period of life. Every one will recognise him who is its object, though he is more aptly remembered as the venerable pastor and philosopher than as the young Oxonian.

"Dr. Carlyle begs leave to recommend Mr. Alison [Rev. Archibald Alison returned to Edinburgh in 1800 to become senior clergyman of the Episcopal Chapel in the Cowgate —at that time the most fashionable church in the City. He removed to St. Paul's, York Place, when the congregation built that church, where he ministered till 1831. An interesting sketch of Mr. Alison is given in Lord Cockburn's Memorials.] to Mr. Dundas's best offices, as a young divine bred in the Church of England, of uncommon merit and accomplishments. After the usual academical education at Edinburgh, Mr. Alison studied two years at Glasgow, and from thence was sent as an exhibitioner to Baliol College in Oxford, where he resided for nine or ten years, and where he received ordination."

In another letter we find him thanking Dundas for taking "Archy" by the hand, and explaining that it will thus, in this instance, be unnecessary to draw upon the patronage of Sir William Pulteney, with whom also Carlyle had corresponded about his young friend. [It has been said, however, on good authority, that it was to Pulteney that Alison owed his promotion in England. See Memoir of Alison in the fragment of a Biographical Dictionary by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. In a letter by Pulteney, dated 22nd June 1784, there is this pleasant account of Alison's marriage to the daughter of Dr. John Gregory:—"Andrew Stewart and I accompanied Mr. Alison to Thrapston, and the marriage took place on the 19th by a licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury. I conducted them afterwards to their residence, and we left them next morning after breakfast as happy as it is possible for people to be. Mr. Alison was obliged to come round by London in order to take an oath at granting the licence, and I was glad of the opportunity which the journey afforded me of making an acquaintance with him ; for though I had little doubt that bliss G. had made a proper choice, yet I wished to be perfectly satisfied; and the result is that I think neither you nor Mr. Nairne have said a word too much in his favour."]

In the same letter in which he thus holds out a hand to a young aspirant, he pleads at greater length and with deeper earnestness the cause of his old friend Adam Ferguson, whom he expected to die before he had been paid the debt of fame and fortune which the world owed to him, or even realised the means of securing his family from destitution. It so happened that Ferguson, though attacked with hopeless-looking symptoms in middle life, wore on to a good old age; and that, through various chances, he became wealthy in his declining years. That the world had done gross injustice to The History of the Roman Republic, was a fixed opinion with Carlyle; and, in pleading for its author's family, he says:-

"I do not know by what fatality it is that the best and most manly history (with some imperfections, no doubt) of modern times, has been so little sought after. The time will come when it will be read and admired. That time, I hope, is not at a great distance. Germany is the country where it will receive its name; and when the report returns from the learned there, the book will begin to be prized. But Ferguson may be dead by that time, and an Irish edition may glut the market. I was always in hopes that some of you would have quoted it in the House of Commons, as Charles Fox did Principal Watson's Philip, for some of his purposes in the time of the American War. I am sure Ferguson's contains ten times more instruction for the statesman and legislator than the other does; but I have been disappointed."

By far the greater portion of Carlyle's letters which have been preserved relate, as has been said, to matters of business—such as those dealt with in the preceding quotations, or even affairs of still less interest. Some bundles of epistles, addressed to him, show that he had a wide correspondence of a lighter cast; and he is reported to have been famous as a fashionable letter writer—a highly-prized accomplishment in his day. Much of this correspondence was with the female aristocracy, including members of the two great Scottish ducal families, Argyle and Buccleuch. He was, indeed, as he said his parishioners hinted against him when he became their clergyman, partial to the company of his superiors. But if he liked the aristocracy, the aristocracy liked him; the two met half-way, and he was a man who could hold his own with them. Thus he occupied the happy though often rather precarious position, of one who is alike removed, on the one hand, from the tuft-hunter, possessing nothing but sycophancy to give for the countenance he seeks; and on the other hand, from the surly cynic, who cannot trust that his independence will hold good beyond the circuit of his tub. No doubt, whatever society one keeps, one must give a deference to its laws and customs—which is a different thing from paying undue deference to its individual members. There was, in that day, among the enlightened women of rank who cultivated men of genius, a propensity to get the most out of them, by drawing upon their talents, in conversation and correspondences of a peculiarly allegorical, or, as he terms it, "Parnassian" character, a little like the euphuism of the seventeenth century, though not so absolutely hard and unnatural. Moderate as it was, however, it is difficult to suppose a person of Carlyle's acute and sarcastic character well adapted to it; and we can suppose him as little at home in it, as his friend David Hume, when he had to perform the Sultan between two rival beauties in Madame de Tesse's salon. Such efforts of this kind as he unbent himself to, appear, however, to have been very acceptable. Here, for instance, follows a letter to his amiable friend, Lady Frances Scott. In pursuance of some jocular fiction, of which the point is not now very obvious, he had been addressing her as the ghost of Mrs. M'Cormick—an elderly female, whose death has been brought about by the neglect and cruelty of the lady—characteristics, of course, entirely the reverse of her true qualities. She writes back "from the Elysian fields," where "we have never ceased gliding about the heavens with the happy spirits our companions; for you must know that the chief source of happiness here arises from the power which our wings give us of never being two minutes in a place." There is a certain materiality, however, in the elysium, for the angels or goddesses are looking after affluent gods with broken constitutions; while impoverished deities of the male sex worship where there is neither youth nor beauty, but plenty of wealth, to attract. Olvmpian Jove is but a master of the ceremonies, and "Juno is neither endowed with celestial loveliness nor awe-inspiring dignity." This is the way of stating that the family are at the Bath waters, then in their pride, with the successor of Beau Nash playing the part of Olympian Jove. Carlyle's answer, instead of aiding and developing the allegory, is apt rather to scatter its filmy texture by outbreaks of practical sagacity and homely wit.

"At my return from the south, ten days ago, I found your ladyship's, dated from Elysium, which transported me so, that I had to receive sundry twinges in the region of the heart, by the daily decline of a child and the grief of her mother, who is the greatest martyr to sensibility that ever was born, and at last to get a great knock on the pate by the sudden death of Dr. Gregory, who was our chief stay and support, before I could recollect that I was still in the body. were I to wait till I could answer yours from the abodes of the happy in the manner it deserves, millions of more ghosts might have time to pass the Stygian ferry. But why should I be mortified, that as much as heaven is above hell, your ladyship's description should surpass mine? Though I dare say by this time you imagine that I am to behave to you as an old humourist, a friend of mine, did long ago to me. We were in use of corresponding together, and many a diverting letter I had from him. At last he took a panic about his son, who was at school here, and wrote me a long letter, complaining of what he was well informed—viz., that the schoolboys had got gunpowder, and were in daily use of firing pistols and carabines, and that they made squibs and crackers, to the infinite danger of their own lives; and then he quoted me an hundred fatal accidents that had happened by means of gunpowder, and prayed my interposition to save the life of his son. As I knew it was impossible to prevent the evil of which he complained, as three regiments of foot, with a train of artillery, were encamped in the Links, I first read one of the most extravagant chapters in all Rabelais, and then wrote him a letter assuring him that he had not heard the hundred part of the truth; for that the boys were arrived at the most dangerous and incorrigible use of powder, and then gave him instances—such as that they came to church every Sunday with swivel-guns screwed on their left arms, with which they popped down everybody whom they disliked, etc. The effect of this letter was that the old gentleman found himself so far outdone, that it entirely broke up our correspondence. And when I employed somebody to ask him the reason of his silence, he said that the young folks nowadays (this was fifteen years ago) went such lengths in fiction, that it was impossible to answer them.

"But your ladyship shall see that I am not in the least mortified by your letter, but that, on the contrary, I am highly delighted with it, and value it more than I would do a new volume of the Arabian Nights Entertainments. Before I left the shades below, I had a peep into Elysium myself ; and though I did not find things exactly in the same state your ladyship did, as I happened not to be in the same region of heaven, that can be no objection; for surely there can be no Elysium without variety ; but that may possibly be the subject of another letter. In the mean time, I may give your ladyship some intelligence of what is going on here.

"By By the by, though I have no great taste now for that part of bliss, which your ladyship says consists in everlasting fleeting about by means of the wings that make a part of the celestial body, yet I remember the time when I should have thought such a power very material to happiness. Bless me! how I envied the happy in some island in the Pacific Ocean—not Atlantic—whom Peter Wilkins represented as having most powerful and trusty pinions. But in those days I used to be in love, and thought that wings would make me everywhere present with my mistress.

I am very glad to hear that Jupiter is henpecked, since he suffers the name of angel to be prostituted for gold in his dominions. I suppose he draws a good round sum by way of tax for liberty to go by that name. We have known titles of honour sold upon earth, you know, and why not the privilege of being angels? When they have once given their hands, they'll not long boast of their angelic appellation.

"No; really we are very much imposed upon. Happiness does not consist in the place—it resides in the disposition of the person, and the company. The material difference in your abode and mine consisted in the long stories that were such a torment to me, and that you were free of.

' But to return to sublunary things. First, as to public diversions: I have neither had time nor inclination to mix with the conversable world in the capital, near which I reside; so that I can entertain your ladyship with a very few pieces of news of any kind. You would hear, no doubt, of the mock masquerade they had some time in January. That piece of mummery was carried on so ill, that I daresay they won't attempt another in haste. The two Turks met with rather hard usage, considering the natural as well as assumed gravity of their characters. The one was excluded his own house all night by the custom-house porter, being mistaken for a vagrant Turk who had been begging on the streets all winter; and the other got a sad curtain-lecture from his wife for having embraced a religion, even but in disguise, that allows no souls to women, and allows of four wives and innumerable concubines.

''The playhouse has been much frequented since Mrs. Yates arrived, who receives infinite applause. For though she often appears on the stage more than half-seas-over, she's not the less agreeable to all the male part of her audience, who come there a little disguised themselves; and in this land of obsequious wives, you know, there is no disputing the taste of the men.

"With respect to the fine arts, I have reason to believe that cookery is still the favourite; and as we were a little behind in that article, it is very right that it should continue to be progressive for some time. The men of genius and taste who frequent that temple of pleasure that goes by the name of Fortune's, have subscribed very handsomely to enable the chief priest there to hire a French cook of the first accomplishments. There are hundreds of people, indeed, on the point of starving, but the eminent critics have observed that there is the greatest race of genius, and that the fine arts thrive best, in the time of public calamities—such as civil war, pestilence, or famine.

"General Scott, who is here this winter looking out for another wife to make him uneasy, gives the most superb, elegant, and refined entertainments that ever were in this northern region. Poor Mr. Stuart Zoncrief, who had no other department in the Temple of Fame but that which is allotted to the makers of great feasts, after witnessing one of the General's most magnificent repasts—for you're certain he could not be a partaker—went home and wept for two hours over his vanquished reputation, sickened, and went to bed, and died, for anything I know, next day. Dead, he certainly is, to glory! M'Queen the lawyer, who felt a very different passion from envy, after having devoured of twenty-seven several dishes, attacked at last ancient pye with so much vivacity, that he had nigh perished in the cause—at least he was able to attend no other cause for a fortnight.

"We are to propose to next General Assembly that a certain deadly sin, for which both men and women used to do penance and be severely rebuked in the Church, shall be blotted out of our Statute-Book, and the sin of Gluttony put in its place.

"As to the state of learning this winter, I am told there are many poorer students than usual. But they say they are better boys, and mind the ladies less than they used to do. The English of that is, I fancy, that as there are but few men of fortune among them, the aunts and the mothers don't mind them. The misses, dear angels, I hope, are above valuing any man but for his personal merit. Lord Monboddo, one of the most learned judges, is just about publishing a book, in which he demonstrates that mankind walked originally on all-fours, like other animals, and had tails like most of them ; that it was most likely 5000 years before they learned to walk in an erect posture, and 5000 more before they could learn the use of speech. The females, he thinks, might speak two or three centuries sooner."

Here is a specimen of what may be considered the same order of composition, although it is varied to suit the taste of a male correspondent. It is taken from the

"Scroll of a Letter to Sir JOHN MACPHERSON, Bart. 1797.

"Although one's correspondence with one's friend should be never so much interrupted by business or idleness, there are certain occasions when they must not be neglected, such as marriages and births, and even death itself. As the last has lately befallen me, though I am happily restored to life, I think it is proper to announce to you, my very good friend, my return to this world, and to give you some account of the slight peep I had into the other. About a month ago I was suddenly seized, after a hearty dinner, with a dreadful collic, which lasted for fifty hours, which threatened immediate dissolution, and actually sent me out of the body for a few minutes. During that short period (like Mahomet in his dream) I had a view of Elysium, hanging, as I thought, on the brink of a cloud, and every moment ready to descend. But, as I saw clearly before me, the first group I perceived was David Hume, and Adam Smith, and James Macpherson, lounging on a little hillock, with Col. James Edmonstone standing before them, brandishing a cudgel, and William Robertson at David's feet in a listening posture. Edmonstone was rallying David and Smith, not without a mixture of anger, for having contributed their share to the present state of the world; the one, by doing everything in his power to undermine Christianity, and the other by introducing that unrestrained and universal commerce, which propagates opinions as well as commodities. The two philosophers, conscious of their follies, were shrunk into a nutshell, when James the bard, in the act of raising himself to insult them, perceiving my grey hairs hanging over them in the cloud, exclaimed, 'Damn your nonensical palaver; there is Carlyle just coming down, and John Home and Ferguson cannot be far behind, when I shall have irresistible evidence for the authenticity of Ossian. Blair, I daresay, is likewise on the road, and I hope he'll bring his dissertation on my works along with him, which is worth a thousand of his mawkish sermons, which are only calculated to catch milk-sops and silly women.' Upon this Robertson rose to his feet, and seemed to be in act to speak one of his decisive sentences in favour of the winning side, when Joseph Black, and Charley Congalton, and Sandy Wood, who had hold of the skirts of my coat, fearing I should leap down at the sight of so many of my friends, and carry them after me, made a sudden and strong pull altogether, and jerked me back into life again, not without regret at being disappointed in meeting with so choice a company."

The social habits of Carlyle were, doubtless, like other men's, much influenced by his domestic position. It was his lot to taste of more than the average amount of human sorrow, for he lost all his children at an early period, and while there were yet above thirty years of his own earthly pilgrimage to be performed. The last, his son William, born in 1773, died in 1777. Had it been otherwise, perhaps his memoranda might not have left traces of so continued a succession of visits and receptions of guests. While they show him to have been much in the world, however, they bear no trace of his being addicted in later life to the social convivialities where males only can be present; for his faithful partner, Mary, is his almost constant companion, whether his visits be to a ducal mansion in London, or to the quiet manse of some old companion. How it continued to fare with him and with his chosen friends may best be told in one or two extracts from the letters in which he communicates the passing news to his correspondents. One of his early companions—a John Macpherson—had been signally fortunate in life. Getting into the service of the East India Company, he rose by stages, though not without unpropitious casualties, until he became Sir John Macpherson, and the successor of Warren Hastings as Governor of British India. To him Carlyle thus reports, in 1796, about some of their common friends:—

"Now for an account of your old friends, which, if you saw Ferguson as he passed, which I think you did, I might spare.

"To begin with Robertson, whom you shall see no more. In one word, lie appeared more respectable when he was dying than ever he did even when living. He was calm and collected, and even placid, and even gay. My poor wife had a desire to see him, and went on purpose, but when she saw him, from a window, leaning on his daughter, with his tottering frame, and directing the gardener how to dress some flower-beds, her sensibility threw her into a paroxysm of grief; she fled upstairs to Mrs. Russell and could not see him. His house, for three weeks before be died, was really an anticipation of heaven.

"Dr. Blair is as well as possible. Preaching every Sunday with increasing applause, and frisking more with the whole world than ever he did in his youngest days, no symptom of frailty about him ; and though he was huffed at not having an offer of the Principality, he is happy in being resorted to as the head of the university.

"John Home is in very good health and spirits, and has had the comfort, for two or three winters, of having Major Home, his brother-in-law, a very sensible man, in the house with him, which makes him less dependent on stranger company, which, in advanced years, is not so easy to he found, nor endured when it is found.

"With respect to myself, I have had many warnings within these three years, but, on the whole, as I have only fits of illness, and no disease, I am sliding softly on to old age, without any remarkable infirmity or failure, and can, upon occasions, preach like a son of thunder (I wish I were the Bold Thunderer for a week or two against the vile levelling Jacobins, whom I abhor). My wife, your old friend, has been better than usual this winter, and is strong in metaphysics and ethics, and (can) almost repeat all Ferguson's last book of Lectures, which do him infinite honour. I say of that book, that if Reid is the Aristotle, Ferguson is the Plato of Scotch philosophers; and the Faculty of Arts of Edinburgh have adopted my phrase."

The following, from a letter to Principal Hill, dated 25th September i8oi, gives an account of a visit to Lord Melville when he had retired with Pitt on the formation of the Addington Administration:—

"We had Jesse Bell and her husband, Mr. Gregg, and their son from London, for ten days, in the middle of August, which gratified and amused us: and about the end of it John Home and I had a fine jaunt to Duneira. we set out on the 25th of August, and returned on the 1st of September, and were much pleased with our reception everywhere, as well as with the country, which was then in the highest beauty, and where we had never been before.

"Our great object, no doubt, was the retired statesman, whom it delighted us to see so well and so happy, and as easy and degage as he was in his boyish days.

"I was afraid that, like most of ex-ministers, his gaiety might be put on to save appearances. However, as his was not a fall, but a voluntary and long-projected retreat, and as he is conscious that his great exertions have not only saved his own country, but put it in the power of Europe to save themselves, while the applauses of his country, universal and unreserved, at once resound his uncorrupted integrity, as well as his unbounded capacity,—I believe him genuine and sincere.

"I compared his place to an eagle's nest, which pleased him. But I did not add, that he was like the thunder-hearing bird of Jove, whom his master had allowed to retire awhile, after his war with the giants, to recreate himself from the toils of war, and sport with his own brood ; but who, in the midst of carelessness and ease, still throws his eyes around him, from his airy height, to descry if the regions of the air are again disturbed, and to watch the first nod of the Imperial King, to take wing and resume his place in the Chariot of War.

"We passed three days and three nights with him, one at Ochtertyre and another at Ionzie, and fain would I have gone down the country, as I had never been farther up before than at Lord Kinnoul's. But my partner, in spite of all his heroic tragedies, was too much afraid of the water to take any other road than Stirling Bridge. The country was truly rich and yellow with grain, and the harvest far advanced for the 1st of September.

"Plenty, thank God, has returned, but I am afraid peace is still at a distance.

"Buonaparte is entirely governed by personal considerations, and he has still the chance of an invasion in Ireland to establish his throne awhile. I can hardly think he will venture to invade Britain. Yet, if Admiral de Winter should fight an obstinate battle off our coast, and, in the mean time, a few transports should land with 2000 men anywhere between this and Newcastle, it might prove very troublesome, while their main effort was made on Ireland. In the interval left us, we are in high preparation here, and our camp, with the force in Edinburgh, are put in condition to act together with effect on the shortest warning.

"There was a fine show on Tuesday, as you would see in the papers, and there is to be a repetition of it on Braid Hills next week.

"Major Elliot, of the Lanarkshire, said to me that their Tuesday's work was worth all they had been taught before, and he is a soldier of name."

The reader will have noticed the keen zest with which Carlyle always watched the politics of the time, whether home or foreign. It is infinitely to be regretted, therefore, that he did not bring down his Autobiography through the French Revolution and the Great War. He would have spoken, no doubt, entirely on one side, but with that breadth and fixity of opinion which partakes more of devotion than of mere partiality or prejudice, and is both respectable and interesting in the eyes of those who think otherwise. His politics, indeed, were a political faith that never swerved. While many of his friends were frightened into their Conservative opinions by the terrors of the French Revolution, he took and kept his position calmly in the very front of his party, like a soldier at his post. The resoluteness of the resistance offered by such men, not only to innovation, but to the mere raising of the faintest question of the necessity of matters being as they are, is a thing which it is difficult for men of any party to realise in the year 1860.

By the Test Act, the members of the Church of Scotland were in England placed legally in the same position as other dissenters from the Church. Loving and admiring his own Church as lie did, it might have been anticipated that he would rather further than repress a remonstrance by the General Assembly of 1791, in which they represented that the members of the Church of Scotland were unequally dealt with, since they could not hold any office in England without taking the communion according to the Church of England; while, on the other hand, no similar compliance was required of Episcopalians holding office in Scotland. But he was not to be caught by this bait, nor was he to remain silent while it was held out to the weak and inexperienced. He came forth not merely in favour of the Test, but in strong championship of it. It was to be supported upon grounds of toleration towards the Established Church of England, which well merited such protection. "In this enlightened and liberal age, when toleration has softened the minds of men on religious opinions, it would disgrace the General Assembly to do anything that might seem to separate the two Established Churches farther from each other. Their doctrines are nearly the same; and he must be but a very narrow-minded Presbyterian who, in the various circumstances in which he might be placed, could not join in the religious worship of the Church." This doctrine must have been a little startling to those brethren who inherited even but a small portion of the doctrine prevalent in his youth—that the bare toleration of Episcopacy in any shape, and in any portion of the empire, was one of the great national sins for which Divine vengeance might be anticipated. Nor is it easy to realise the feelings with which the representatives of the Covenanters would receive this climax of a speech delivered in 1791:-

"Nay, Moderator, had I the talents of, etc., I think I could show that the Test Act, instead of an evil, is a blessing. The Test Act has confirmed the Union. The Test Act has cured Englishmen of their jealousy of Scotsmen, not very ill-founded. The Test Act has quieted the fears of the Church of England. The Test Act has enlarged and confirmed the principles of toleration ; so far is it from being a remnant of bigotry and fanaticism as the memorial would represent. The Act, sir, has paved the road to office and preferment. The Test Act, sir, for there is no end of its praises, is the key that opens all the treasures of the south to every honest Scotchman."

But, in small matters, the keenness of his antipathy to any innovation or interference with established authorities might perhaps be even more distinctly exemplified. For instance, in 1795, a Lady Maxwell represented to him that certain Highland soldiers at Musselburgh were in religious destitution from want of a clergyman speaking Gaelic. She calls them "well-disposed officers, sergeants, and privates," though it is difficult to suppose that there could then be commissioned officers unacquainted with the general language of the empire. She offers the services of an enthusiastic youthful missionary for the occasion, and this suggested interference with the established order of things in his Majesty's army and the parish of Inveresk calls from its minister the following severe rebuke:—

"Dr. Carlyle presents respectful compliments to Lady Maxwell. lie received her ladyship's card, in answer to which he has to observe, that she proceeds on misinformation. The officers who command the several regiments encamped are too conscientious, and understand their duty too well, to let their soldiers be without the ordinances of religion in a tongue they understand. Two chaplains, men of respect and of standing in the Church, have performed public worship in the Gaelic language every Lord's day in camp since ever it was established.

"With respect to her ladyship's design, of the purity of which Dr. Carlyle has not the smallest doubt, it belongs to the commanding officers to approve of it or not, and not to him; but perhaps. on being better informed, Lady Maxwell may not think it necessary to employ her student in theology, however well qualified she may hold him to be, to interfere officiously with the duty of the two clergymen of mature age and acknowledged ability. The young man, at least, seemed not to abound in prudence, when he pressed so earnestly as he did to be allowed to visit the condemned prisoners, whom two clergymen had been anxiously and diligently preparing for their fate for the whole preceding week.

"Those times of sedition and mutiny seem to require that every person in office should be left to do his own duty, and that strangers should be cautious of intermeddling with the religious tenets or principles of any set of people, especially those of the army.

"Mussb., July 17, 1795.
"To Lady Maxwell, Dowager of Pollock,
"at Rosemount, near Edinburgh."

If there be something a little incongruous to the small occasion in the tone of this rebuke, it will perhaps be admitted that there is something sublime in the following brief testimony to his principles, delivered to the General Assembly in 1804—two years after he had passed his eightieth year, and one before his death:-

"Note of what I said (Assembly 1804), when an address to his Majesty was read, in which was an expression, the awful state, or the awful situation of this country:-

"MODERATOR,—I was so unlucky as not to be able to attend the committee who drew up this address, and consequently have heard it now for the first time. In general I am well pleased with the address. But there is one phrase in it, which has just now been read, that I do not like. I do not like to have it known to our enemies, by a public act of this Assembly, that we think our country in an awful state, which implies more terror and dismay than I am willing to own. When the Almighty wields the elements, which are His instruments of vengeance on guilty nations—when heaven's thunders roll and envelop the world in fire—when the furious tempest rages, and whelms triumphant navies in the deep—when the burning mountain disgorges its fiery entrails and lays populous cities in ashes;—then, indeed, I am overawed: I acknowledge the right arm of the Almighty: I am awed into reverence and fear: I am still, and feel that He is God: I am dumb, and open not my mouth. But when a puny mortal, of no better materials than myself, struts and frets, and fumes and menaces, then am I roused, but not overawed; I put myself in array against the vain boaster, and am ready to say with the high-priest of the poet, I fear God, and have no other fear'."

The year 1789 became disagreeably memorable to Carlyle, from his having then been defeated in an object of ambition, which was near his heart, and, as he thought, fairly within his reach. This was the appointment to the office of Clerk to the General Assembly, become vacant by the death of Dr. Drysdale in whose appointment he had been largely instrumental. The salary, £80 a-year, was an object to a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, but the position and influence towards which the office might be rendered available were of far higher moment. To understand this, it is only necessary to keep in view, that the constitution of that Church admits of no heirarchy or gradation of offices. Every body of men, acting in a collective or corporate capacity, must, however, have some person presiding over them to regulate their proceedings, and represent them in their communications with the rest of the world. For the preservation of the Presbyterian polity from the encroachments of any such officer, however, the "Moderator," who presides over the proceedings of each Church Court, is elected periodically, or for the occasion. Permanent appointments are given to subordinate officers only, and each Church Court, from the General Assembly downwards, has thus its clerk, who is the servant of the collective body. It will naturally happen, however, under such arrangements, however skilfully devised, that where one kind of man really is what he professes to be, a servant, another kind of man becomes a master. Hence, it is often, on the occasion of such appointments, a question of more consequence, Who can be kept out? than, Who can be put in?

Carlyle not unnaturally concluded that he had done services to the Church at large, and to many of its ministers, which entitled him to expect this small recompense at their hands.

On the other hand, for reasons which the tenor of his Autobiography reveals with sufficient distinctness, there was a large party among the clergy determined to do all that their strength enabled them to do to defeat him. The public eminence and extensive social influence on which his claims rested were, in their eyes, the strongest motives for resistance. He represented what to them were hostile interests. These interests were as yet outside; by endowing him with an office of place and trust among them, they would be bringing the enemy within the gates. The taking of the vote was a great field-day for which the forces had been long mustered and disciplined on both sides—the friends of Government, with Dundas at their head, taking the part of Carlyle; while the cause of his competitor, Dr. Dalzel, was led by Harry Erskine, the great jester. It was, however, a question, not merely of ecclesiastical politics, but of soundness in opinion and teaching, and on this matter his enemies occupied the strong position of professing to be sounder in faith and stricter in conduct than his friend. When such an element as this affects a contest, it is sure to disturb the original numerical strength of the parties, by a sort of intimidation. The side professing greater sanctity frightens its more timid opponents into a compromise. They are afraid of bringing on themselves the suspicion of heterodoxy;—they are often conscious of something about themselves that would not easily endure a hostile scrutiny, and so they purchase peace by compliance with their natural opponents, or by keeping out of the way: so Carlyle found it.

The vote stood at first 145 for Carlyle, and 142 against him, so that he was elected by a majority of three. He took his place as clerk, and delivered an address, in which he stated that it had ever been his object in ecclesiastical courts to correct and abate the fanatical spirit of his country,—an allusion by no means likely to mitigate the wrath of his opponents. But the matter was by no means decided. It had been arranged that there should be a scrutiny of the foundation of each voter's right of membership, and that the decision of the Assembly should be as the relative numbers stood after the bad votes were struck out. It was as if a division of the House of Commons at the beginning of a session, should stand subject to the deduction of the votes of all the members who may be afterwards found by an election committee to be unduly elected. It would be useless to describe the technicalities of such a process ; but it is pretty clear that, like the contemporary controverted elections in the House of Commons, there was no rigid law to govern it, and much of it was decided rather through casual victories than the application of fixed general principles. The contest was long and keen, and apparently not quite decorous, as we may infer from the following short account of it, in a very moderately-toned work—Dr. Cook's Life of Principal Hill:—

"In canvassing the claims on the Commissions to which objections were made, there was displayed ingenuity that would have clone credit to a more important cause ; but with this there was mingled a degree of violence, unworthy of the venerable court in which it was exhibited. The debates were protracted to a most unusual length, and upon one occasion, after all regard to order had been cast aside, the Moderator, with unshaken firmness, exercised the power which he conceived to be vested in him. He turned to the Commissioner, and having received his consent that the Assembly should meet at a certain hour next day, he adjourned the house. Amidst the loudness of clamour, this step, which none but a man of courage and nerve would have taken, was applauded; and it probably was useful in putting some restraint on the angry passions which had before been so indecently urged. Previous to the scrutiny, the Moderator, having been asked to declare for whom, in the event of an equality, he would vote, he replied that he now voted for Dr. Carlyle; thus unequivocally showing whom he was eager to support, although he might have avoided thus explicitly giving his voice against Mr. Dalzel, [See Cockburn's Memorials for a pen portrait of Professor Dalzel and of the leading churchmen of this period.] for whom he had a high esteem, and with whom, as Professor of Greek, he had maintained such kindly intercourse."

Carlyle found his opponent gaining so surely, that he abandoned the contest. The result irritated him at first, and his anger was naturally directed less against his avowed enemies than those who, though ranked of his own party, had, for the reasons already explained, voted against him or stayed away. But
while the voice of his friends was still for war, to be carried on in a new Assembly or in the Court of Session, he wrote to the all-influential Dundas, recommending peace. "Although the court," he says, "should sustain themselves judges—and I suppose they would—yet the suit might prove so very tedious as to render it totally unworthy of all the trouble, were we even certain of being victorious in the end. Some people think that next Assembly may, on the ground of the protest, take up the business and reverse what has been done by the last; but, God knows, this is not worth while; for it would oblige me to exert every species of power or interest we have to bring up an Assembly stronger on our side than the last, which it would be very difficult to do, as our opponents would exert themselves to the utmost." In a letter to Dr. Blair, as the representative of the more zealous of the party, Dundas, while explaining with his usual practical sagacity the impolicy of continuing the contest, says—"If Mr. C. were a young man, and the office £500 a-year instead of £80, I would undertake the cause, and would certainly carry it; but for such a paltry object it is scarce worth while to renew such a disagreeable contest."

Two years later, Carlyle engaged in a contest, in which the clergy as a body were on his side, against the landed gentry of Scotland. It was inaugurated, indeed, in 1788, by Sir Harry Moncrieff Wellwood, the most distinguished member of the opposite party in the Church, in a pamphlet called Sketch of a Plan for Augmenting the Livings of the Ministers of the Established Church of Scotland. Since the first deliberate disposal, after the Reformation, of the ecclesiastical property of Scotland, there existed a certain amount of revenue or rent charge, which was stamped with the legal character of being available to the Church, while it remained in the hands of the landowners, who were enabled to make their possession fully nine-tenths of the law. Much of the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, in fact, clusters round the efforts made on one side to keep, and on the other to take, this fund. From the beginning, the zealous protesting barons who had got possession of the property of the old Church, when desired to give it up for the purposes of the new, said that such an idea was a fond imagination; and in the same spirit, modified to the condition of the times, their successors had treated all efforts to enlarge the incomes of the clergy out of the "unexhausted teinds," as the chief substance of the fund was technically termed.

In the General Assembly, Carlyle adopted the tone that the Church was entitled to what it demanded ; and that by the help it had given—first, in establishing the Hanover succession, and next, in supporting law and order—it had well earned the frank assistance of the Government and the aristocracy in securing its rights. The following passage is taken from one of his speeches on this matter:-

"I must confess that I do not love to hear this Church called a poor Church, or the poorest Church in Christendom. I doubt very much that, if it were minutely inquired into, this is really the fact. But, independent of that, I dislike the language of whining and complaint. We are rich in the best goods a Church can have —the learning, the manners, and the character of its members. There are few branches of literature in which the ministers of this Church have not excelled. There are few subjects of fine writing in which they do not stand foremost in the rank of authors, which is a prouder boast than all the pomp of the Hierarchy.

"We have men who have successfully enlightened the world in almost every branch, not to mention treatises in defence of Christianity, or eloquent illustrations of every branch of Christian doctrine and morals. Who have wrote the best histories, ancient and modern?—It has been clergymen of this Church. Who has wrote the clearest delineation of the human understanding and all its powers?—A clergyman of this Church. Who has written the best system of rhetoric, and exemplified it by his own orations?—A clergyman of this Church. Who wrote a tragedy that has been deemed perfect?—A clergyman of this Church. Who was the most profound mathematician of the age he lived in?—A clergyman of this Church. Who is his successor, in reputation as in office? Who wrote the best treatise on agriculture? Let us not complain of poverty, for it is a splendid poverty indeed! It is paupertas fecunda virorum."

The Government brought in a bill for "the Augmentation of Stipends," but they found the country gentlemen of Scotland too strong for them, and it was abandoned. In the General Assembly Carlyle took the opportunity of dropping some sharp remarks on the ingratitude thus shown to the Church, and did not spare his friend Dundas. A jocular country clergyman remarked that nothing better could come of sycophancy to the aristocracy; and told a story how a poor neighbour of his own, after a course of servility, had got nothing but castigation in the end, and found no better remonstrance to make than that which had been addressed to Balaam—"Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine to this day?" The allusion took, and was improved by Kay the caricaturist. The Government promised still to do justice to the clergy, but they had to wait for it until the year r8io, when the Act was passed for bringing all stipends up to a minimum of £150 a-year.

On the establishment of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783, Carlyle made, through its Transactions, a very acceptable gift to literature. Johnson, in his Life of Collins, referred to the loss of an ode on the Superstitions of the Highlands, which Dr. Warton and his brother had seen, and "thought superior to his other works, but which no search has yet found." A poem so wild and sweet—so far beyond the bounds of the conventionalities of the day, and so full of imagery drawn direct from nature in her highest and most wayward flights—was not likely to be quite forgotten by any one who had seen it. Carlyle remembered having read it in 1749 with Home, to whom it was addressed, and John Barrow, who had been one of Home's fellow-prisoners in Doune Castle. [Barrow was "the cordial youth" referred to in the concluding stanza. One might suppose that he was the same "Barry" whom Carlyle met in London in 1769, also one of the fugitives from Doune (page 547)But Barrow, according to Carlyle's letter in the "Transactions," died paymaster of the forces in the American War of 1756.] After a search, Carlyle found the actual manuscript of the ode in an imperfect state. He and Henry Mackenzie set themselves to filling up the lacuna, and presented it in a complete shape to the Royal Society. Soon afterwards the ode was published from what was said to be an original and complete copy, which of course deviated from the other on the points where Carlvle and Mackenzie had completed it. This copy was, however, printed anonymously, and its accuracy has not passed unsuspected. The editor of Pickering's edition of Collins (1858) says: "The Wartons, however, had read and remembered the poem, and the anonymous editor dedicated the ode to them, with an address. As this called forth no protest from the Wartons, it is to be presumed that they acknowledged the genuineness of the more perfect copy; and it has for that reason, though not without some hesitation, been adopted for the text of this edition."

The Royal Society version has, however, its own interest on the present occasion, as Carlyle's interpolations afford some little indication, if not of his poetical capacity, at least of his taste. Here, for instance, is the concluding stanza, with the, words supplied by Carlyle printed between commas:-

"All hail, ye scenes that o'er my soul prevail;
Ye 'spacious' friths and lakes which, far away,
Are by smooth Annan filled, or pastoral Tay,
Or Don's romantic springs, at distance hail !
The time shall come when I, perhaps, may tread
Your lowly glens, o'erhung with spreading broom,
Or o'er your stretching heaths by fancy led:
Then will I dress once more the faded bower,
Where Johnson sat in Drummond's 'social' shade,
Or crop from Teviot's dale each classic flower,'
And mourn on Yarrow's banks ' the widowed maid.'
Meantime, ye powers that on the plains which bore
The cordial youth on Lothian's plains, attend
Where'er he dwell, on hill or lonely muir, 'ro him
I love your kind protection lend,
And, touched with love like mine, preserve my absent friend."

Here is another specimen of the interpolated passages:-

"'Tis thine to sing how, framing hideous spells,
In Skye's lone isle the gifted wizard ' sits,'
' Waiting in ' wintry cave 'his wayward fits,'
Or in the depths of Uist's dark forest dwells."

[In the other version it stands-

'Tis thine to sing how, framing hideous spells,
In Skye's lone isle the gifted wizard seer,
Lodged in the wintry cave with fatal spear.
Or in the depth of Uist's dark forest dwells."]

Scott said of Carlyle, that "he was no more a poet than his precentor," a rather hard saying, about which it is curious to consider that Scott must certainly have had his mind under the influence of the passage just cited when he drew his own seer Bryan in the Lady of the Lake

"'Midst groan of wreck and roar of stream
The wizard waits prophetic dream."

It is observable that Carlyle's interpolated version has considerably more resemblance to this than the other has.

We find Carlyle's contemporary, Smollett, giving him credit in his earlier days for poetical efforts which cannot be traced home to him. Writing in 1747, Smollett says "I would have been more punctual had it not been for Oswald the musician, who promised from time to time to set your songs to music, that I might have it in my power to gratify the author in you, by sending your productions so improved. Your gay catches please me much, and the Lamentations of Fanny Gardner has a good deal of nature in it, though, in my opinion, it might be bettered. Oswald has set it to an excellent tune, in the Scotch style; but as it is not yet published, I cannot regale you with it at present."

Whether the "gay catches" were of Carlyle's composition or not, there seems to be little doubt that the ballad of "Fanny Gairdner" was written by his friend Sir Gilbert Elliot. If Carlyle had been the author, it is likely that some trace of such a fact would have been found in his Autobiography, and so, perhaps, of the "gay catches." There is a small heterogeneous bundle of manuscript verses among Carlyle's papers—some of them in his own handwriting and some in others. They are all, so far as the editor is aware, unknown to fame, and, on consideration, he thought it the better policy not to meddle with them, since attempts to settle the authorship of manuscript literature of this kind are apt to be unsatisfactory,—the conclusions adopted on the most subtle critical induction, being often upset by some person who has been pottering among old magazines and newspapers.

It would have been extremely interesting if Carlyle had brought down his Autobiography, to have had his remarks on the new literary dynasty of which he lived to see the dawn. The letters written to him show that he interested himself in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and in Southey's early poems, but we have not his own criticisms on them. The following on Wordsworth, however, is surely interesting. It is in a letter addressed by Carlyle to "Miss Mitchelson:"

"I must tell you, who I know will sympathise with me, that I was very much delighted indeed, on the first sight of a new species of poetry, in 'The Brothers,' and 'The Idiot Boy,' which were pointed out to me by Carlyle Bell, as chiefly worthy of admiration. I read them with attention and was much struck. As I call every man a philosopher, who has sense and observation enough to add one fact relating either to mind or body, to the mass of human knowledge, so I call every man a poet, whose composition pleases at once the imagination and affects the heart. On reading 'The Brothers,' I was surprised at first with its simplicity, or rather flatness. But when I got a little on, I found it not only raised my curiosity, but moved me into sympathy, and at last into a tender approbation of the surviving brother, who had discovered such virtuous feelings, and who, by his dignified and silent departure, approached the sublime. After being so affected, could I deny that this was poetry, however simply expressed? Nay, I go farther, and aver that, if the narration had been dressed in a more artificial style, it would hardly have moved me at all.

"When I first read 'The Idiot Boy,' I must confess I was alarmed at the term as well as the subject, and suspected that it would not please, but disgust. But when I read on, and found that the author had so finely selected every circumstance that could set off the mother's feelings and character, in the display of the various passions of joy and anxiety, and suspense and despair, and revived hope and returning joy, through all their changes, I lost sight of the term Idiot, and offered my thanks to the God of Poets for having inspired one of his sons with a new species of poetry, and for having pointed out a subject on which the author has done more to move the human heart to tenderness for the most unfortunate of our species, than has ever been done before. He has not only made his Idiot Boy an object of pity, but even of love. He has done more, for he has restored him to his place among the household gods whom the ancients worshipped."

It may here be proper to say a few words on a. matter not likely to have been directly alluded to by Carlyle himself--his personal appearance and deportment. They are of more than usually important elements in his biography, since, according to the tenor of some traditions and anecdotes, his remarkable personal advantages exercised a great influence both on himself and others. The portrait after Martin, engraved by W. Roffe, represents a countenance eminently endowed with masculine beauty. His appearance has been hitherto chiefly known to the present generation through the Edinburgh Portraits of Kay. This limner had the peculiar faculty while preserving a recognisable likeness, of entirely divesting it of every vestige of grace or picturesqueness which nature may have bestowed on it. In this instance he is not, however, quite successful; for even from his flat etchings, the "preserver of the Church from fanaticism" comes forth a comely man with a rather commanding presence.

Sir Walter Scott has left a colloquial sketch of him, which, though of the briefest, is broad and colossal as a scrap from the pencil of Michael Angelo. He is discoursing of the countenances of poets; some that represented the divinity of genius, and others that signally failed in that respect. "Well," said he, the grandest demigod I ever saw was Dr. Carlyle, minister of Musselburgh, commonly called Jupiter Carlyle, from having sat more than once for the king of gods and men to Gavin Hamilton ; and a shrewd clever old carle was lie, no doubt, but no more a poet than his precentor." The sitting to Gavin Hamilton is improbable. Had Carlyle been accustomed to meet this great painter, something would certainly have been said about him in the Autobiography. In what is probably a variation of the same tradition, it is said that a sculptor accosted him on the streets of London and requested him to sit for Olympian Jove. The late Chief Commissioner Adam, in a few anecdotes, called The Gift of a Grandfather, which he printed at a press of his own for private distribution, says, "On some particular occasion, I don't exactly recollect what, he was one of a mission upon Church affairs to London, where they had to attend at St. James's in the costume of their profession. His portly figure, his fine expressive countenance, with an aquiline nose, his flowing silver locks, and the freshness of the colour of his face, made a prodigious impression upon the courtiers; but," adds the Coinmissioner, "it was the soundness of his sense, his honourable principles, and his social qualities, unmixed with anything that detracted from, or unbecoming, the character of a clergyman, gave him his place among the worthies."

Besides the picture already referred to, Martin painted another portrait of him, far more ambitious, but not so pleasing. In the Autobiography he mentions his sitting for it, much as Sheridan spoke of his having undergone two operations—the one sitting for his portrait, the other getting his hair cut (p. 548). Of the completion of this work he writes to his wife, on the 7th of April 1770: "My picture is now finished for the exhibition. It looks like a cardinal, it is so gorgeously dressed. It is in a pink damask night-gown, in a scarlet chair. Martin thinks it will do him more good than all the pictures he has done." Besides the likenesses by Kay and Martin, there was a portrait by Skirving, of which an engraving—not of much merit—is in the hands of some collectors. In an undated letter Lord Haddington says: "I am much obliged to you for recollecting your promise of sitting to Raeburn, and beg that it may be a head done on canvas of the ordinary size. I mean it to hang as an ornament in my new library, and that size will answer best." Accordingly, there are two entries in the Diary: "1796, May 19.---Began to sit to Raeburn for Lord Haddington." "9th June.—Sat with Raeburn for last time." A letter from Lady Douglas (his old friend, Lady Frances Scott), written in February 1805, a short time before his death, refers to a likeness by an artist who was living within the past twelve years. "I have received your bust from Henning, and think it very strikingly like; but I do not think that he has quite done justice to the picturesque appearance of your silver locks, which, in wanton ringlets, wave as the vine casts her tendrils.' If I have time, I will go and see his drawing while I am at Dalkeith."

His Autobiography was the great occupation, and apparently also the great enjoyment, of the concluding years of his life. He began it, as the opening announces, in the year 1800, when he was entering on his seventy-ninth year; and he appears to have added to it from time to time, until within a few weeks of his death. The last words written in his own handwriting, which became very tremulous, are about "Lord North's having become Premier in the beginning of the year 1770" (p. 559). The few remaining paragraphs have been written to dictation.

It will naturally have surprised the reader that, at so advanced an age, a man who had not done much in early life to give him the facilities of a practised composer, should have written with so much vigour, eloquence, and point. At the same time, the sort of contemporary-like freshness with which he realises scenes over which long years, crowded with other recollections, had passed, looks like a phenomenon unexampled in literature. But there are reasons for these characteristics. The editor has convinced himself that the favourite scenes and events which Carlyle describes had been from the first forming themselves in his mind, and even resolving themselves into sentences, which would become mellowed in their structure and antithesis, by the more than obedience to the nonumque / rematur in annum. The habit acquired by a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, who had to preach sermons committed to memory, would form the practice of retaining finished pieces of composition in the mind. This view of the literary growth of the work, though originating in a general impression from its whole tenor, can be supported by a few distinct incidents of evidence. The chief of these is the repetition at considerable intervals of the same scene or anecdote, in almost the same words, and with the more characteristic and emphatic expressions identical. Farther; there is a separate manuscript of his Autobiography, down to the year 1735, cited in the notes as Recollections. These were written at different times, and partly, it would seem, before he began the present work. They were prepared for the amusement of his friend Lady Frances Douglas; and, expanding into rhetorical decorations and jocular allusions—probably intended to enhance their interest in the special eyes for which they were destined—they are far inferior, except in a few passages, to the corresponding portion of the Autobiography. It is evident, however, that they are substantially the same material inflated for the occasion.

In fact, the amount of repetition in the Autobiography, and the absence of general order throughout, show that the author did not retain the full faculty of arranging the collection of finished compositions stored up in his mind. When there is virtually verbatim repetition, the duplicate of the passage has been omitted in the printing. But it was impossible, without depriving the work of its racy charms, to obliterate every second going over of the same ground, or even to group together the dispersed passages which bear upon the same matter, and which might, had the author written at an earlier and more active time of life, have been fused by him into each other. For the precision with which he notified dates and places he seems to have been indebted to a series of accurate diaries. There exists at least a succession of diaries, from the sojourn in London in the midst of which the Autobiography stops, down to the time when he could no longer write. It is likely enough that these had predecessors; they may have been lost sight of from his having taken them out of their repository for the purpose of consulting them in the composition of his Autobiography. The diaries which exist are of the very briefest kind, intended evidently for no other eye but his own, and containing no more words or even letters than might be sufficient to recall to memory the dates and sequence of the events of his life.

The existence of this Autobiography has been well known, and there have been many expressions of surprise by authors, from Sir Walter Scott downwards, why it had not been made public. Perhaps it is better that it should have waited. It is easy to sympathise with a reluctance to have published some portions of it half a century ago. When a man leaves behind him his experience and opinions as to his contemporaries in an outspoken book—as this certainly is—the manuscript is apt to be dismantled of one ornament after another, to spare the feelings of the surviving kindred. In this way records of individual conduct, which it might be cruel to publish immediately, are lost to the world; while, if they were preserved until the generation liable to be distressed by their publication have departed, they might be given forth without offence. What at one time is personal, irritating, and even cruel, becomes, after a generation or two has departed, only a valuable record of the social and moral condition of a past period. Though the popular expectation about such records is, that they only exist to remind the later generation of pristine times and departed virtues, yet the account of personal follies and vices which they may contain have their own weight and value as part of the history of the period.

While he was struggling through increasing years and infirmities with his too long postponed task, the last and greatest of his domestic calamities overtook him in the death of his wife, on the 31st day of January 1804. For once the hard brevity of the diary is softened by a touch of nature. "She composed her features into the most placid appearance, gave me her last kiss, and then gently going out, like a taper in the socket, at 7 breathed her last. No finer spirit ever took flight from a clay tabernacle to be united with the Father of all and the spirits of the just."

All was done to brighten his few remaining days that the affectionate solicitude of relations and dear friends could do. His nephew, Mr. Carlyle Bell, was all to him that a son could be, and held that place in his affection. Besides the scanty remnant of his old contemporary friends, there rose around him a cluster of attached followers among the younger clergy, foremost and best beloved of whom was John Lee, the late learned and accomplished head of the University of Edinburgh, who has himself just passed from among us, well stricken in years. Addressing his good friend Lady Frances at this time, he thus alludes to his nephew and Lee: "I, who have now acquired a kind of personal greatness, by means of the infirmities of age, which make me dependent, have by that very means acquired all the trappings of greatness. For, besides my nephew, [Carlyle Bell, W.S., for twenty-five years joint city-clerk of Edinburgh (see page 433).] who is my governor, nurse, and treasurer, I have got likewise a trusty friend and an able physician, an uncommonly good divine and an eminent preacher—all in the person of one young man, whom I have taken to live with me." He then touches on a matter which still afforded him an interest in the world—the completion of the new church for his parish. Its slender spire is a conspicuous object for many miles around. "By the first Sunday of August I intend, God willing, to gratify my people by opening my new church, if it were only with a short prayer (for Othello's occupation's gone), when I shall have been 57 years coinplete minister of this parish." But it was not to be. Among the last entries in his brief diary in 1805, are, "25th July—John Home and Mrs. Home; 27th—George Hill called going east." Next day, the entry is "very ill;" for some days afterwards, "no change;" and the last entry, as distinct as any, is "August 12th and 13th, the same." He died on the 25th. So departed one who, if men are to be esteemed, not by the rank which external fortune has given them or the happy chances they have seized, but by the influence they have imparted from mere personal character and ability, is certainly one of the most remarkable on record. Born in a simple manse, he remained all his days that type of humble respectability—a village pastor; nor does he seem ever to have desired a higher sphere. His lot was not even cast on any of those wild revolutionary periods which give men in his position a place in history; nor did he attempt any of those great ventures for literary distinction in which many of his comrades were so successful. It seems to have been his one and peculiar ambition that lie should dignify his calling by bringing it forth into the world, and making for it a place along with rank, and wealth, and distinction of every kind. This object he carried through with a high hand; and scarcely a primate of the proud Church of England could overtop in social position and influence the Presbyterian minister of Inveresk.

He was laid beside his long-departed children and the faithful partner of his days, in his own churchyard, which he had always loved for the beauty of the prospect it overlooks. The following inscription, composed by his friend Adam Ferguson, was engraved upon his tomb:—


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