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The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk
Chapter VIII - 1756-1758 AGE, 34-36


IN October 1756, John Home had been taken by Lord Milton's family to Inverary, to be introduced to the Duke, who was much taken with his liveliness and gentlemanlike manners. The Duke's good opinion made Milton adhere more firmly to him, and assist in bringing on his play in the end of that season.

It was in the end of this year, 1756, that Douglas was first acted in Edinburgh. Mr. Home had been unsuccessful in London the year before, but he was well with Sir Gilbert Elliot, Mr. Oswald of Dunnikier, and had the favour and friendship of Lord Milton and all his family; and it was at last agreed among them that, since Garrick could not yet be prevailed on to get Douglas acted, it should be brought on here; for if it succeeded in the Edinburgh theatre, then Garrick could resist no longer. [The new play is thus modestly announced in the Evening Courant of Saturday, 4th December 1756. "A new Tragedy called Douglas, written by an ingenious gentleman of this country, is now in rehearsal at the Theatre, and will be performed as speedily as possible. The expectations of the public from the performance are in proportion to the known talent and ability of the author, whose modest merit would have suppressed a Dramatick work which we think by the concurrent testimony of many gentlemen of taste and literature will be an honour to the country."

There happened to be a pretty good set of players; for Digges, whose relations had got him debarred from the London theatres, ["It has generally been considered that he was the natural son of the Hon. Elizabeth West, who in 1724 married Thomas Digges, Esq., of Chilham Castle, Kent. But there are no grounds for supposing that Digges was born out of wedlock. The report very likely arose from his mother's relatives not wishing to be connected with an actor."—Dibdin's History of Edinburgh Stage.] had come down here, and performed many principal parts with success. He was a very handsome young man at that time, with a genteel address. He had drunk tea at Mally Campbell's, in Glasgow College, when he was an ensign in the year 1745. I was there, and thought him very agreeable. He was, however, a great profligate and spendthrift; and poltroon, I'm afraid, into the bargain. He had been on the stage for some time, having been obliged to leave the army. Mrs. Ward turned out an exceeding good Lady Randolph; Lowe performed Glenalvon well; Mr. Haymen the Old Shepherd, and Digges himself young Douglas. I attended two rehearsals with our author, and Lord Elibank, and Dr. Ferguson, and David Hume, and was truly astonished at the readiness with which Mrs. Ward conceived the Lady's character, and how happily she delivered it. To be near Digges's lodgings in the Canongate, where the first rehearsals were performed, the gentlemen mentioned, with two or three more, dined together at a tavern in the Abbey two or three times, where pork griskins being a favourite dish, this was called the Griskin Club, and excited much curiosity, as everything did in which certain people were concerned.

The play had unbounded success for a great many nights in Edinburgh, and was attended by all the literati and most of the judges, who, except one or two, had not been in use to attend the theatre. The town in general was in an uproar of exultation ["I have a perfect recollection of the strong sensation that Douglas excited among its [Edinburgh] inhabitants. The men talked of the rehearsals; the ladies repeated what they had heard of the story. Some had procured as a great favour, copies of the most striking passages which they recited at the earnest request of the company. I was present at the representation; the applause was enthusiastic, but a better criticism of its merits was the tears of the audience which the tender part of the drama drew forth unsparingly."—Mackenzie's Life of Home, vol. i.] that a Scotchman had written a tragedy of the first rate, and that its merit was first submitted to their judgment. There were a few opposers, however, among those who pretended to taste and literature, who endeavoured to cry down the performance in libellous pamphlets and ballads [In Notes and Queries, 1866, will be found a reprint of one of the ballads—a parody on "Gil Morice."] (for they durst not attempt to oppose it in the theatre itself), and were openly countenanced by Robert Dundas of Arniston, [Afterwards second Lord President Dundas.] at that time Lord Advocate, and all his minions and expect-ants. The High-flying set were unanimous against it, as they thought it a sin for a clergyman to write any play, let it be ever so moral in its tendency. Several ballads and pamphlets were published on our side in answer to the scurrilities against us, one of which was written by Adam Ferguson, and another by myself. Ferguson's was mild and temperate; and, besides other arguments, supported the lawfulness and use of dramatic writing from the example of Scripture, which he exhibited in the story of Joseph and his brethren, as having truly the effect of a dramatic composition. This was much read among the grave and sober-minded, and converted some, and confirmed many in their belief of the usefulness of the stage. line was of such a different nature that many people read it at first as intended to ridicule the performance, and bring it into contempt, for it was entitled "An Argument to prove that the Tragedy of Douglas ought to be publicly burnt by the Hands of the Hangman." The zeal and violence of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, who had made enactments and declarations to be read in the pulpit, provoked me to write this pamphlet, which, in the ironical manner of Swift, contained a severe satire on all our opponents. This was so well concealed, however, that the pamphlet being published when I was at Dumfries, about the end of January, visiting Provost Bell, who was on his deathbed, some copies arrived there by the carriers, which being opened and read by my sister and aunt when I was abroad, they conceived it to be serious, and that the tragedy would be quite undone, till Mr. Stewart, the Comptroller of the Customs, who was a man of sense and reading, came in, and who soon undeceived them, and convinced them that Douglas was triumphant. This pamphlet had a great effect by elating our friends, and perhaps more in exasperating our enemies; which was by no means softened by Lord Elibank and David Hume, etc., running about and crying it up as the first performance the world had seen for half a century.

What I really valued myself most upon, however, was half a sheet, which I penned very suddenly. Digges rode out one forenoon to me, saying that he had come by Mr. Home's desire to inform me that all the town had seen the play, and that it would run no longer, unless some contrivance was fallen upon to make the lower orders of tradesmen and apprentices come to the playhouse. After hearing several ways of raising the curiosity of the lower orders, I desired him to take a walk for half an hour, and look at the view from Inveresk churchyard, which he did; and, in the mean time, I drew up what I entitled "A full and true History of the Bloody Tragedy of Douglas, as it is now to be seen acting in the Theatre at the Canongate." This was cried about the streets next day, and filled the house for two nights more.

I had attended the playhouse, not on the first or second, but on the third night of the performance, being well aware that all the fanatics and some other enemies would be on the watch, and make all the advantage they possibly could against me. But six or seven friends of the author, clergymen from the Merse, having attended, reproached me for my cowardice; and above all, the author himself and some female friends of his having heated me by their up-braidings, I went on the third night, and having taken charge of the ladies, I drew on myself all the clamours of tongues and violence of prosecution which I afterwards underwent. I believe I have already mentioned that Dr. Patrick Cuming having become jealous of William Robertson and John Home and myself on account of our intimacy with Lord Milton, and observing his active zeal about the tragedy of Douglas, took it into his head that he could blow us up and destroy our popularity, and consequently disgust Lord Milton with us. Very warmly, with all the friends he could get to follow him—particularly Hyndman his second—he joined with Webster and his party in doing everything they could to depreciate the tragedy of Douglas, and disgrace all its partisans. With this view, besides the Act of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, which was read in all the churches, and that of the Presbytery of Glasgow, who followed them, they had decoyed Mr. Thomas Whyte, minister of Liberton, an honest but a quiet man, to submit to a six weeks' suspension for his having attended the tragedy of Douglas, which he had confessed he had done. [Whyte owed the mitigated sentence to his plea, that, though he attended, he concealed himself as well as he could to avoid giving offence.—J. H. B.] This they had contrived as an example for prosecuting me, and at least get ting a similar sentence pronounced against me by the Presbytery of Dalkeith. On returning from Dumfries, in the second week of February 1757, I was surprised not only to find the amazing hue and cry that had been raised against Douglas, but all the train that had been laid against me, and a summons to attend the Presbytery, to answer for my conduct, on the 1st day of March.

On deliberating about this affair, with all the knowledge I had of the laws of the Church and the confidence I had in the goodwill of my parish, I took a firm resolution not to submit to what I saw the Presbytery intended, but to stand my ground on a firm opinion that my offence was not a foundation for a libel, but, if anything at all, a mere impropriety or offence against decorum, which ought to be done at privy censures by an admonition. This ground I took, and never departed from it; but I, at the same time, resolved to mount my horse, and visit every member of Presbytery, especially my opponents, and, by a free confession, endeavour to bring them over to my opinion. They received me differently—some with a contemptible dissimulation, and others with a provoking reserve and haughtiness. I saw that they had the majority of the Presbytery on their side, and that the cabal was firm, and that no submission on my part would turn them aside from their purpose. This confirmed my resolution not to yield, but to run every risk rather than furnish an example of tame submission, not merely to a fanatical, but an illegal exertion of power, which would have stamped disgrace on the Church of Scotland, kept the younger clergy for half a century longer in the trammels of bigotry or hypocrisy, and debarred every generous spirit from entering into orders. The sequel of the story is pretty fully and correctly stated in the Scots Magazine for 1757, to which I shall only add a few particulars, which were less known.

Joseph 1 i'Cormick, at this time tutor to young Mr. Hepburn of Clarkington, and afterwards Principal of St. Andrews United Colleges, had entered on trials before the Presbytery of Dalkeith, and had two or three times attended the tragedy of Douglas. This he told them himself, which threw them into a dilemma, out of which they did not know how to escape. To take no notice of his having attended the theatre, while they were prosecuting me, was a very glaring inconsistency. On the other hand, to send him out as a probationer, with the slur of an ecclesiastical censure on his character, was injustice to the young man, and might disoblige his friends. So reasoned the Jesuits of Dalkeith Presbytery. M'Cormick himself showed them the way out of this snare into which their zeal and hypocrisy had led them. After allowing them to flounce about in it for a quarter of an hour (as he told them afterwards with infinite humour), he represented that his pupil and he, having some time before gone into their lodgings for the remainder of the season, he would be much obliged to the Presbytery of Dalkeith if they would transfer him to the Presbytery of Edinburgh to take the remainder of his trials. With this proposal they very cheerfully closed, whilst M'Cormick inwardly laughed (for he was a laughing philosopher) at their profligate hypocrisy.

It is proper to mention here that during the course of this trial I received several anonymous letters from a person deservedly high in reputation in the Church for learning, and ability, and liberality of sentiment—the late Dr. Robert Wallace [Before the production of Douglas upon the stage, the Edinburgh Presbytery was so zealous in its efforts to suppress the theatre "that the brethren resolved to prosecute the Actors upon the Vagrant Act at their own expense." Dr. Wallace, who had recently come to Edinburgh, opposed this resolution and pointed out that "a well regulated stage might be made a school of morals."] —which supported me in my resolution, and gave me the soundest advice with respect to the management of my cause. I had received two of those letters before I knew from whence they came, when, on showing them to my father, he knew the hand, as the Doctor and he had been at college together. This circumstance prevented my father from wavering, to which he was liable, and even strengthened my own mind.

It is necessary, likewise, to advert here to the conduct of Robert Dundas of Arniston, at that time King's Advocate, as it accounts for that animosity which arose against him among my friends of the Moderate party, and the success of certain satirical ballads and pamphlets which were published some years after. This was his decided opposition to the tragedy of Douglas, which was perfectly known from his own manner of talking—though more cautious than that of his enemies, who opened loud upon Home and his tragedy—and likewise from this circumstance, that Thomas Turnbull, his friend, who took my side in the Presbytery, being influenced by his brother-in-law, Dr. Wallace, was ever after out of favour at Arniston; and what was more, Dr. Wallace, who was of the Lord Advocate's political party, incurred his displeasure so much, that, during the remainder of his own life, George Wallace, advocate, who was under the protection of the family of Arniston, was totally neglected. [George Wallace, author of a folio volume—the first of an indefinite series never completed—called A System of the Principles of the Law of Scotland, and of a book on The Nature and Descent of certain Peerages connected with the Kingdom of Scotland. As to his father, see above, p. 251.—J. H. B.] This piece of injustice was not explained till after his death, when his son Robert, [Afterwards Lord Chief-Baron Dundas of the Court of Exchequer.] of the most amiable and liberal mind, gave him [Wallace] a judge's place in the commissariat of Edinburgh. It was farther proved by the unseasonable application of my friend, Mr. Baron Grant, who was his political friend and companion, to allay the heat of the Presbytery of Dalkeith, and induce them to withdraw their prosecution, when a word from him would have done. This conduct of Dundas might in part be imputed to his want of taste and discernment in what related to the belles-lettres, and to a certain violence of temper, which could endure no one that did not bend to him ; or to his jealousy of Sir G. Elliot and Andrew Pringle, who were our zealous friends; or his hatred of Lord Milton, who so warmly patronised John Home. It was amusing to observe, during the course of the summer, when Wilkie's Epigoniad appeared, how loud the retainers of the house of Arniston were in its praise, saying they knew how to distinguish between good and bad poetry; and now they had got something to commend.

Cuming, Webster, and Hyndman, and a fiery man at Leith, whose name I forget, were the committee who drew up the libel. Webster, who had no bowels, and who could do mischief with the joy of an ape, suggested all the circumstances of aggravation, and was quite delighted when he got his colleagues of the committee to insert such circumstances as my eating and drinking with Sarah Ward, and taking my place in the playhouse by turning some gentlemen out of their seats, and committing a riot, etc. ["The libel" is the name of the document or writ by which, in Scotland, a clergyman, charged by an ecclesiastical court with an offence, is brought before his accusers for trial and judgment. The term is taken from the Roman lihelli accusatorii. Of the libel against Carlyle, which is long, and well supplied with the usual technicalities, the following specimens will perhaps be considered sufficient: "On the eighth day of December, in the year seventeen hundred and fifty-six, or upon one or other of the days of November or October seventeen hundred and fifty-six, or upon one or other of the days of January seventeen hundred and fifty-seven years, he, the said Mr. Alexander Carlyle, did, without necessity, keep company, familiarly converse, and eat and drink with West Diggs (one of the actors on the unlicensed stage or theatre at the head of the Canongate of Edinburgh, commonly called the Concert-hall), in the house of Henry Thomson, vintner in the Abbey, near to the Palace of Holyrood House, or in some other house or tavern within the city or suburbs of Edinburgh, or Canongate, or said Abbey, or Leith; at least he, the said Mr. Alexander Carlyle, did, without necessity, at the time or times, place or places above libelled, converse in a familiar manner with the said West Diggs, or with Miss Sarah Ward, an actress on the said theatre, or with some other of the persons who are in the course of acting plays in the said theatre—persons that do not reside in his parish, and who, by their profession, and in the eye of the law, are of bad fame, and who cannot obtain from any minister a testimonial of their moral character . . . and he, the said Mr. Alexander Carlyle, did not only appear publicly in the said unlicensed theatre, but took possession of a box, or a place in one of the boxes, of the said house, in a disorderly way, and turned some gentlemen out of it in a forcible manner, and did there witness the acting or representation of the foresaid tragedy called Douglas, when acted for hire or reward, in which the name of God was profaned or taken in vain by mock prayers and tremendous oaths or expressions, such as—' by the blood of the cross,' and `the wounds of Him who died for us on the accursed tree.' "—J. H. B.]

At a very full meeting of my friends in Boyd's large room, in the Canongate, the night before the Synod met, I proposed Dr. Dick, who had recently been admitted a minister in Edinburgh, for the Moderator's chair. I had prepared my friends beforehand for this proposal, and was induced to do it for several reasons. One was to exclude Robertson, whose speaking would be of more consequence if not in the chair. Another was to show my friend Dick to the rest, and to make them confidential with him, and to fix so able an assistant in our party. He was accordingly elected without opposition, and performed his duty with the utmost spirit and manhood; for, besides preserving general good order, he, with uncommon decision and readiness, severely rebuked Hyndman when he was very offensive. The lachite of Hyndman's mind, which was well known to Dick and me, made him submit to this rebuke from the chair, though, in reality, lie was not out of order. What a pity it was that Robertson afterwards lost this man in the manner I shall afterwards mention!

It was remarked that there were only three of a majority in the Synod for the sentence which my friends had advised, assisted by the very good sense of Professor Robert Hamilton, [Professor of Divinity 1754-1779, son of Principal Hamilton.] and his intricate and embarrassed expression, which concealed while it palliated—and that two of those three were John Home, the author, and my father; but neither of their votes could have been rejected, and the moderator's casting-vote would have been with us.

My speech in my own defence in the Synod, which I drew up rather in the form of a remonstrance than an argument, leaving that to Robertson and my other friends, made a very good impression on the audience. John Dalrymple, junior of Cranstoun, was my advocate at the bar, and did justice to the cause he had voluntarily undertaken, which, while it served me effectually, gave him the first opportunity he had of displaying his talents before a popular assembly. Robertson's was a speech of great address, and had a good effect; but none was better than that of Andrew Pringle, Esq., the Solicitor, who, I think, was the most eloquent of all the Scottish bar in my time. The Presbytery thought fit to appeal. When it came to the Assembly, the sentence of the Synod was ably defended, and as a proof that the heat and animosity raised against the tragedy of Douglas and its supporters was artificial and local, the sentence of the Synod was affirmed by 117 to 39. When it was over, Primrose, one of my warmest opposers, turned to me, and, shaking hands, "I wish you joy," said he, "of this sentence in your favour; and if you hereafter choose to go to every play that is acted, I shall take no notice."

Next day, on a proposal which was seconded by George Dempster, my firm friend, the Assembly passed an Act declaratory, forbidding the clergy to countenance the theatre. But Primrose was in the right, for manners are stronger than laws; and this Act, which was made on recent provocation, was the only Act of the Church of Scotland against the theatre —so was it totally neglected. Although the clergy in Edinburgh and its neighbourhood had abstained from the theatre because it gave offence, yet the more remote clergymen, when occasionally in town, had almost universally attended the playhouse; and now that the subject had been solemnly discussed, and all men were convinced that the violent proceedings they had witnessed were the effects of bigotry or jealousy, mixed with party-spirit and cabal, the more distant clergy returned to their usual amusement in the theatre when occasionally in town. It is remarkable, that in the year 1784, when the great actress Mrs. Siddons first appeared in Edinburgh, during the sitting of the General Assembly, that court was obliged to fix all its important business for the alternate days when she did not act, as all the younger members, clergy as well as laity, took their stations in the theatre on those days by three in the afternoon. Drs. Robertson and Blair, though they both visited this great actress in private, often regretted to me that they had not seized the opportunity which was given them, by her superior talents and unexceptionable character, of going openly to the theatre, which would have put an end to all future animadversions on the subject. This conduct of theirs was keeping the reserve of their own imaginary importance to the last ; and their regretting it was very just, for by that time they got no credit for their abstinence, and the struggle between the liberal and the restrained and affected manners of the clergy had been long at an end, by my having finally stood my ground, and been so well supported by so great a majority in the Church.

Of the many exertions I and my friends have made for the credit and interest of the clergy of the Church of Scotland, there was none more meritorious or of better effects than this. The laws of the Church were sufficiently strict to prevent persons of conduct really criminal from entering into it ; and it was of great importance to discriminate the artificial virtues and vices, formed by ignorance and superstition, from those that are real, lest the continuance of such a bar should have given check to the rising liberality of the young scholars, and prevented those of better birth or more ingenious minds from entering into the profession.

One of the chief actors in this farce suffered most for the duplicity of his conduct, for he who was at the head of the Moderate party, through jealousy or bad temper, having with some of his friends headed the party against the tragedy of Douglas, his followers in the Highlands and remoter parts, of the Moderate party, were so much offended with his hypocritical conduct, as they called it, that they left him ever after, and joined with those whom he had taken so much pain to disgrace, whilst he and the other old leaders themselves united with their former opponents. [It was soon after this that the leadership of the Church passed from Cuming to Robertson.—J. H. B.]

Mr. Alexander Wedderburn, afterwards Lord Chancellor and Earl of Roslyn, not having come down time enough to speak or vote in the cause (by design or not is more than I know), but appearing on the day after, took an opportunity to give Peter Cuming a very complete dressing. Peter was chaplain to Lord Grange for some years before he was settled at Kirknewton, and after my father at Lochmaben, from whence he was brought to Edinburgh.

With respect to Webster, best known at that time by the designation of Dr. Bonum Magnum, his Proteus-like character seldom lost by any transaction, and in this case he was only acting his natural part, which was that of running down all indecencies in clergymen but those of the table, and doing mischief, like a monkey, for its own satisfaction.

One event was curious in the sequel. Mr. John Home, who was the author of the tragedy, and of all the mischief consequent upon it—while his Presbytery of Haddington had been from time to time obstructed in their designs by the good management of Stedman, Robertson, and Bannatine, and were now preparing in earnest to carry on a prosecution against him—on the 7th of June that year gave in a demission of his office, and withdrew from the Church, without the least animadversion on his conduct, which threw complete ridicule on the opposite party, and made the flame which had been raised against me, appear hypocritical and odious to the last degree.

Mr. Home, after the great success of his tragedy of Douglas in Edinburgh, went to London early in 1757, and had his tragedy acted in Covent Garden [Covent Garden Theatre was at that time under the management of Rich.] (for Garrick, though now his friend, could not possibly let it be performed in his theatre after having pronounced it unfit for the stage), where it had great success. This tragedy still maintains its ground, has been more frequently acted, and is more popular, than any tragedy in the English language.

After John Home resigned his charge, he and Adam Ferguson retired to a lodging at Braid for three months to study, where they were very busy. During that time, Mrs. Kinloch of Gilmerton was brought to bed of her eighth child, and died immediately after. This was a very great loss to her family of five sons and three daughters, as her being withdrawn from the care of their education accounts better for the misconduct and misery of four of her sons, than the general belief of the country that the house of Gilmerton could never thrive after the injustice done to their eldest son by Sir Francis and his wife and their son David, who was involved in their guilt, and was made heir to the estate instead of his brother. These superstitious notions, however ill founded, may sometimes, perhaps, check the doing of atrocious deeds. But what shall we say when Sir Francis, who succeeded his father Sir David, survived him only a few days, though he was the most able, the most ingenious, the most worthy and virtuous young man of the whole county to which he belonged, and died by fratricide—a crime rare everywhere, and almost unknown in this country. [Sir Archibald Kinloch was brought to trial in 1995 for the murder of his elder brother Sir Francis, whom he shot with a pistol in the family mansion of Gilmerton. The verdict of the jury sustained a plea of insanity. See State Trials, xxv. 891.] No greater misfortune can befall any family, when children are in their infancy, than the loss of a mother of good sense and dignity of manners.

Home being very busy with some of his dramatic works, and not having leisure to attend Sir David in his affliction, which was sincere, applied to me to make an excursion with him into the north of England for a week or two to amuse him. I consented, and when I went to Gilmerton by concert, I found that the baronet had conjoined two other gentlemen to the party—my friend Mr. Baron Grant, and Mr. Montgomery, afterwards Chief-Baron and Sir James, who was my friend ever after. Those two gentlemen were on horseback, and Sir David and I in his post-chaise, a vehicle which had but recently been brought into Scotland, as our turnpike roads were but in their infancy. We went no farther than Sir John Hall's, at Dunglass, the first day ; and as we pretended to be inquiring into the state of husbandry, we made very short journeys, turning aside to see anything curious in the mode of improvement of land that fell in our way, sometimes staying all night in inns, and sometimes in gentlemen's houses, as they fell in our way; for Sir David was well known to many of the Northumbrians for his hospitality and skill in cattle. We went no farther than Newcastle and its environs, and returned after a fortnight's very agreeable amusement. On this expedition I made some very agreeable acquaintance, of which I afterwards availed myself,—Ralph Carr, an eminent merchant, still alive (August 1804), and his brother-in-law Mr. Withrington, styled "the honest attorney of the north," and his son John, an accomplished young man, who died a few years ago, and was the representative of the ancient family of that name.

Some time this summer, after a convivial meeting, Dr. Wight and I were left alone for an hour or two with Alexander Wedderburn, who opened himself to us as much as he was capable of doing to anybody, and the impression he left corresponded with the character he had among his intimates.

It was in the end of this year that I was introduced to Archibald, Duke of Argyle, who usually passed some days at Brunstane, Lord Milton's seat, as he went to Inverary and returned. It was on his way back to London that I was sent for one Sunday morning to come to Brunstane to dine that day with the Duke. That I could not do, as I had to do duty in my own church in the afternoon, and dinner in those days was at two o'clock. I went up in the evening, when the Duke was taking his nap as usual, in an elbow-chair, with a black silk cap over his eyes. There was no company but Lord and Lady Milton, Mr. Fletcher, and the young ladies, with William Alstone, who was a confidential and political secretary of Milton's.

After a little, I observed the Duke lift up his cap, and seeing a stranger in the room, he pulled it over his eyes again, and beckoned Miss Fletcher to him, who told him who I was. In a little while he got up, and advancing to me, and taking me by the hand, said he "was glad to see me, but that, between sleeping and waking, he had taken me for his cousin, the Earl of Home, who I still think you resemble; but that could not be, for I know that he is at Gibraltar." When we returned to our seats, Mally Fletcher whispered me that my bread was baken, for that Lord Home was one of his greatest favourites. This I laughed at, for the old gentleman had said that as an apology for his having done what he might think not quite polite in calling Mally Fletcher to him, and not taking any notice of me for a minute or two afterwards. The good opinion of that family was enough to secure me a favourable reception at first, and I knew he would not like me worse for having stood a battle with, and beat, the Highflyers of our Church, whom he abhorred ; for he was not so accessible to Peter Cuming as Lord Milton was, whom he tried to persuade that his having joined the other party was out of tenderness to me, for it was the intention of the Highflyers to depose me if he had not moderated their counsels. But I had a friend behind the curtain in his daughter, Miss Betty, whom he used to take out in the coach with him alone, to settle his mind when he was in any doubt or perplexity ; for, like all other ministers, he was surrounded with intrigue and deceit. Ferguson was, besides, now come into favour with him, for his dignified and sententious manner of talking had pleased him no less than John Home's pleasantry and unveiled flattery. Milton had a mind sufficiently acute to comprehend Ferguson's profound speculations, though his own forte did not lie in any kind of philosophy, but the knowledge of men, and the management of them, while Ferguson was his admiring scholar in those articles. He had been much teased about the tragedy of Douglas, for Cuming had still access to him at certain hours by the political back-door from Gray's Close, and had alarmed him much, especially immediately after the publication of my pamphlet, An Argument, etc., which had irritated the wild brethren so much, said Peter, that he could not answer for what mischief might follow. When he had been by such means kept in a very frightful humour, he came up into the drawing-room, where David Hume was, with John and Ferguson and myself ; on David's saying something, with his usual good-humour, to smooth his wrinkly brow, Milton turned to him with great asperity, and said that he had better hold his peace on the subject, for it was owing to him, and keeping company with him, that such a clamour was raised. David made no reply, but soon after took his hat and cane, and left the room, never more to enter the house, which he never did, though much pains was taken afterwards, for Milton soon repented, and David would have returned, but Betty Fletcher opposed it, rather foregoing his company at their house than suffer him to degrade himself—such was the generous spirit of that young lady. Had it not been for Ferguson and her, John Home and I would have been expelled also.

Early in the year 1758 my favourite in the house of Brunstane changed her name, for on the 6th of February she was married to Captain John Wedderburn of Gosford, much to the satisfaction of Lord Milton and all her friends, as he was a man of superior character, had then a good fortune and the prospect of a better, which was fulfilled not long afterwards when he succeeded to the title and estate of Pitferran by the name of Sir John Halkett. As I was frequently at Brunstane about this time, I became the confidant of both the parties, and the bride was desirous to have me to tie the nuptial knot. But this failed through Lord Milton's love of order, which made him employ the parish minister, Bennet of Duddingston. This she wrote me with much regret on the morning of her marriage ; but added, that as on that day she would become mistress of a house of her own, she insisted that I should meet her there, and receive her when she entered the house of Gosford.

About the end of February or beginning of March this year, I went to London with my eldest sister, Margaret, to get her married with Dr. Dickson, M.D. It is to be noted that we could get no four-wheeled chaise till we came to Durham, those conveyances being then only in their infancy,—the two-wheeled close chaise, which had been used for some time, and was called an Italian chaise, having been found very inconvenient. Turnpike roads were only in their commencement in the north. Dr. Dickson, with a friend, met us at Stilton. We arrived safe at my aunt Lyon's in New Bond Street, she being then alive, as well as her sister, Mrs. Paterson. To the proper celebration of the marriage there were three things wanting—a licence, a parson, and a best maid. In the last, the Honourable Miss Nelly Murray, Lord Elibank's sister, afterwards Lady Stewart, and still alive in September 1804, offered her services, which did us honour, and pleased my two aunts very much, especially Mrs. Lyon, whose head was constantly swimming with vanity, which even her uncommon misfortune, after having fulfilled the utmost wish of ambition, had not cured. A licence was easily bought at Doctors' Commons, and Dr. John Blair, afterwards a prebend of Westminster, my particular friend, was easily prevailed with to secure the use of a church and perform the ceremony. This business being put successfully over, and having seen my sister and her husband into lodgings in the city till their house was ready, I took up my abode at my aunts', and occasionally at John Home's lodging in South Audley Street, which he had taken to be near Lord Bute, who had become his great friend and patron, having introduced him to the Prince of Wales, who had settled on him a pension of zoo per annum.


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