Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Memories of his Time
Chapter I


I was born on the 26th of October 1779. This event took place, I suspect, in one of the many flats of the lofty range of dwelling-houses which then formed the east side of the Parliament Close. If not there, it must have been at Cockpen; a small estate, about eight miles south of Edinburgh, then belonging to my father, but sold soon after this to the Earl of Dalhousie. My terror at the apparition of a peacock in one of the Oockpen walks, while I was still in petticoats, is the most distant recollection that I have.

My father was then Sheriff of the county of Midlothian; he was afterwards also Judge Admiral, and finally a Baron of Exchequer. My mother was Janet Bannie, one of the two daughters of Captain Bannie of Melville. Her sister was married to Henry Dundas the first Viscount Melville; and besides this near alliance by marriage, our family and that of the once powerful house of Arniston were connected by blood, and on habits of very friendly intimacy.

My father was a man of strong sense, and with no aversion to a joke, whether theoretical or practical. He was one of the many good fathers, who, from mere want of consideration and method, kept his children at a distance. My mother was the best woman I have ever known. If I were to survive her for a thousand years, I should still have a deep and grateful recollection of her kindness, her piety, her devotion to her family, and her earnest, gentle, and Christian anxiety for their happiness in this life and in the life to come.

After leaving Cockpen we removed to Hope Park. My father purchased the eastmost house on the south side of the Meadows; and there the next twenty-two or twenty-three years of my life were passed. We had about eight acres of ground, partly in lease and partly our own; and nearly the whole country to the south of us, though all private property, was almost quite open. There were very few fences south of the meadows. The lands of Grange, Canaan, Blackford, Braid, Mortonhall, and many other now enclosed, properties, were all, except in immediate connection with the mansion houses, unenclosed; and we roamed at pleasure till we reached the Pentlands, or the deserts of Peeblesshire. A delightful region for wild and active boys. A part of the monastery of the nuns of Sienna (from which the neighbouring village, now part of Edinburgh, is called Sciennes or Sheens) stood in a field behind our house, which field my father always had in lease from Sir Andrew Lauder of Grange; and a fragment of .the monastery still remains. A large portion, including the great window, of the Chapel of St. Roque, on the northern base of Blackford Hill, then survived. There was a pond close beside it where I learned to skate—the most delightful of all exercises, and one which I have practised with unfailing ardour ever since.

In October 1787 I was sent to the High School. Having never been at a public school before, and this one being notorious for its severity and riotousness, I approached its walls with trembling, and felt dizzy when I sat down amidst above 100 new faces. We had been living at Leith, for sea bathing, for some weeks before; and I was taken to school by our tutor. The only thing that relieved my alarm as he hauled me along was the diversion of crossing the arches of the South Bridge, which were then unfinished, on planks. The person to whose uncontrolled discipline I was now subjected, though a good man, an intense student, and filled, but rather in the memory than in the head, with knowledge, was as bad a schoolmaster as it is possible to fancy. Unacquainted with the nature of youth, ignorant even of the characters of his own boys, and with not a conception of the art or of the duty of alluring them, he had nothing for it but to drive them; and this he did by constant and indiscriminate harshness.

The effects of this were very hurtful to all his pupils. Out of the whole four years of my attendance there were probably not ten days in which I was not flogged, at least once. Yet I never entered the class, nor left it, without feeling perfectly qualified, both in ability and preparation, for its whole business ; which, being confined to Latin alone, and in necessarily short tasks, since every one of the boys had to rhyme over the very same words, in the very same way, was no great feat. But I was driven stupid. Oh! the bodily and mental wearisomeness of sitting six hours a-day, staring idly at a page, without motion and without thought, and trembling at the gradual approach of the merciless giant. I never got a single prize, and once sat boobie at the annual public examination. The beauty of no Roman word, or thought, or action, ever occurred to me; nor did I ever fancy that Latin was of any use except to torture boys.

After four years of this class, I passed on to that of the rector, Dr. Alexander Adam, the author of the work on Roman Antiquities, then in the zenith of his reputation. He had raised himself from the very dust to that high position. Never was a man more fortunate in the choice of a vocation. He was born to teach Latin, some Greek, and all virtue. In doing so he was generally patient, though not, when intolerably provoked, without due fits of gentle wrath; inspiring to his boys, especially the timid and backward; enthusiastically delighted with every appearance of talent or goodness; a warm encour-ager by praise, play, and kindness; and constantly under the strongest sense of duty. The art of teaching has been so immeasurably improved in good Scotch schools since his time, that we can scarcely estimate his merits now. He had most of the usual peculiarities of a schoolmaster; but was so amiable and so artless, that no sensible friend would have wished one of them to be even softened. His private industry was appalling. If one moment late at school, he would hurry in, and explain that he had been detained uverifying a quotation;” and many a one did he verify at four in the morning. He told me at the close of one of his autumn vacations of six weeks that, before it had begun, he had taken a house in the country, and had sent his family there, in order that he himself might have some rustic leisure, but that having got upon the scent of some curious passages (his favourite sport) he had remained with his books in town, and had never even seen the country house.

He suffered from a prejudice likely to be injurious in those days. He was no politician; insomuch that it may be doubted whether he ever knew one public measure or man from another. But a Latin and Greek schoolmaster naturally speaks about such things as liberty, and the people, and the expulsion of the Tarquins, and republics, and this was quite sufficient for the times; especially as any modern notions that he had were popular, and he was too honest, and too simple, to disguise them. This innocent infusion of classical patriotism into the mind of a man whose fancy dwelt in old Home, made him be watched and traduced for several years. Boys were encouraged to bring home stories of him, and of course reported only what they saw pleased. Often, and with great agitation, did the worthy man complain of the injustice which tolerated these youthful spies; but his chief sorrow was for the corruption to which the minds of his pupils were exposed. I remained at the rector’s class two years.

Some things happened during these six High School years, which, however insignificant now, made an impression on a boy.

In November 1789 we got a half holiday to see tlie foundation stone of the new College laid, which was done with great civic and masonic pomp. Forty years more did not see the edifice completed. Only those who knew the adjoining grounds at this time can understand how completely its position has been since destroyed. With the exception of a few paltry and easily removable houses on the west and north, the ground all round it was entirely open. Nicolson Street was partly, and College Street entirely, unbuilt; and the College was so perfectly free on its east or front side, that I saw the ceremonies both of laying the foundation stone, and of President Dundas’s funeral in 1787, from a window in the west wing of the Royal Infirmary. The spaces now occupied by the various buildings pressing on the College were then covered with grass fields or gardens. How often did we stand to admire the blue and yellow beds of crocuses rising through the clean earth, in the first days of spring, in the garden of old Dr. Monro (the second) whose house stood in a small field entering from Nicolson Street, within less than a hundred yards south of the College.

Nicolson Street was the great haunt of the doctors in those days. They clustered round the College and the Infirmary. A pillar, in honor of a Lady Nicolson, stood in the street named after her. It was placed just at the top of the slope down to the South Bridge, and was seen, I suppose, all the way from the General Register House. It was destroyed, soon after this, because it was accused of narrowing the street—an established piece of nonsense which has often done much mischief in Edinburgh.

Dr. Cullen died in 1790. I only learned his look from the number of heads of him which, out of respect to his memory, were instantly set up as signs for druggists’ shops; all representing him with a huge wig, and an enormous under lip.

The death of Sir George Ramsay, who was killed at Musselburgh, in April 1790, by Lieut. Macrae, being the first event of the kind that we boys had heard of, made us all shudder at the idea of duelling. We were all strongly against Macrae. He was the survivor, and seemed to acknowledge his being in the wrong by absconding, and was a practised duellist.

They had the barbarity to make us be in school during summer at 7 in the morning. I once started out of bed, thinking I was too late, and got out of the house unquestioned. On reaching the High School gate, I found it locked, and saw the yards, through the bars, silent and motionless. I withdrew alarmed, and went near the Tron Church to see the clock. It was only about two or three. Not a creature was on the street; not even watchmen, who were of much later introduction. I came home awed, as if I had seen a dead city, and the impression of that hour has never been effaced.

Not one of the boys of my class has reached any great eminence; which indeed has been attained by only two boys who were at any of the classes of the High School in my time. These two were Francis Horner and Henry Brougham.

Horner, with whom I was at the rector’s class for one year, was then exactly what he continued afterwards to be—grave, studious, honourable, kind; steadily pursuing his own cultivation; everything he did marked by thoughtfulness and greatness. Before leaving the school we subscribed for a book which we presented to the rector; a proceeding then, unprecedented. It fell to Horner as the dux to give it, and he never acquitted himself better. It was on the day of the public examination; and after the prizes were distributed, and the spectators thought that the business was over, he stood forth with one volume of the book in his hand, and in a distinct though tremulous voice, and a firm but modest manner, addressed Adam in a Latin speech of his own composition not exceeding three or four sentences, expressive of the gratitude and affection with which we all took leave of our master. The effect was complete, on Adam, on the audience, and on the boys. I was far down in the class, and can still recal the feeling of enthusiastic but despairing admiration, with which I witnessed the scene. I thought Horner a god, and wondered what it was that made such a hopeless difference between him and me.

Brougham was not in the class with me. Before getting to the rector s elass, he had been under Luke Fraser, who, in his two immediately preceding courses of four years each, had the good fortune to have Francis Jeffrey and Walter Seott as his pupils. Brougham made his first public explosion while at Fraser s class. He dared to differ from Fraser, a hot but good natured old fellow, on some small bit of latinity. The master, like other men in power, maintained his own infallibility, punished the rebel, and flattered himself that the affair was over. But Brougham reappeared next day, loaded with books, returned to the charge before the whole elass, and compelled honest Luke to acknowledge that he had been wrong. This made Brougham famous throughout the whole school. I remember, as well as if it had been yesterday, having had him pointed out to me as “the fellow who had beat the master.” It was then that I first saw him.

As mere school years, these six were very fruitlessly spent. The hereditary evils of the system and of the place were too great for correction even by Adam; and the general tone of the school was vulgar and harsh. Among the boys, coarseness of language and manners was the only fashion. An English boy was so rare, that his accent was openly laughed at. No lady could be seen within the walls. Nothing evidently civilized was safe. Two of the masters, in particular, were so savage, that any master doing now what they did every hour would certainly be transported.

Before we left the school Adam made us a sensible and affecting address. In order to encourage us all to go on with our studies voluntarily and earnestly, he pointed out the opposite tendencies of early eminence, and of early obscurity, upon boys; warning those who had been distinguished against presumption, and those who had hitherto been unnoticed against despair; and explaining to both that, even in the very next stage, he had often known them change natures ; the one from fancying that nothing more required to be done, the other from discovering that they had everything to do. I drank in every syllable of this well-timed discourse, and felt my heart revive. And a very few years proved its justice. The same powers that raise a boy high in a good school, make it probable that he will rise high in life. But in bad schools, it is nearly the very reverse. And even in the most rationally conducted, superiority affords only a gleam of hope for the future. Men change, and still more boys. The High School distinctions very speedily vanished; and fully as much by the sinking of the luminaries who had shone in the zenith, as by the rising of those who had been lying on the horizon. I have ever since had a distrust of duxes, and thought boobies rather hopeful.

I doubt if I ever read a single book, or even fifty pages, voluntarily, when I was at the High School. The Spectator was the first book I read, from the sheer pleasure of reading, after I left it.

Some of us, who lived near the Meadows, resolved to commemorate our final liberation from this hated school by erecting a pillar in what was then the little retired, wild, broomy glen between Braid and Blackford Hills. A long summer day was passed in piling stone upon stone “ of lustre from the brook •” when, just as we were beginning to think that the edifice would do, the bank of the burn gave way, and in a moment the stream was glittering again over the fragments. We came away much mortified, and uttering what were probably our earliest reflections on the vanity of mortal hopes. To atone for this disaster, a tin box, filled with precious coins (one of them being a new Glasgow halfpenny), was deposited in the crevice of a rock. It lay undiscovered for above twenty years, when seeing that it was in danger from the road trustees and their quarriers, who have now destroyed the whole rusticity of that beautiful and peaceful little valley, I rescued it, and have the relic at this. hour.

I often think I see myself in my usual High School apparel, which was the common dress of other boys. It consisted of a round black hat ; a shirt fastened at the neck by a black ribbon, and, except on dress days, unruffled; a cloth waistcoat, rather large, with two rows of buttons and of button holes, so that it could be buttoned on either side, which, when one side got dirty, was convenient; a single breasted jacket, which in due time got a tail and became a coat; brown corduroy breeches, tied at the knees by a showy knot of brown cotton tape; worsted stockings in winter, blue cotton stockings in summer, and white cotton for dress; clumsy shoes made to be used on either foot, and each requiring to be used on alternate feet daily; brass or copper buckles. The coat and waistcoat were always of glaring colours, such as bright blue, grass green, and scarlet. I remember well the pride with which I was once rigged out in a scarlet waistcoat and a bright green coat. No such machinery as what are now termed braces or suspenders had then been imagined.

The valley of the Gala is associated with my earliest recollections. The old ale-house at Heriot was the first inn I ever entered. My father, who, I think, was then convener of the county of Edinburgh, went out to attend some meeting of road trustees, and he took a parcel of us with him. He rode; and we had a chaise to ourselves—happiness enough for boys. But more was in store for us. For he remained at the mansion house of Middleton with his friend Mr. Hepburn, and we went on, about four miles further, to Heriot House, where we breakfasted and passed the day, fishing, bathing, and rioting. It was the first inn of most of the party. What delight! A house to ourselves, on a moor; a burn; nobody to interfere with us; the power of ringing the bell as we chose; the ordering of our own dinner; blowing the peat fire ; laughing as often and as loud as we liked. What a day! We rang the hand bell for the pure pleasure of ringing, and enjoyed our independence by always going out and in by the window. This dear little inn does not now exist, but its place is marked by a square of ash trees. It was a bright, beautiful, August day.

We returned to the inn of Middleton, on our way home, about seven in the evening; and there we saw another scene. People sometimes say that there is no probability in Scott’s making the party in Waverley retire from the Castle to the Howf; but these people were not with me at the inn at Middleton, about forty years ago. The Duke of Buccleuch was living at Dalkeith; Henry Dundas at Melville; Robert Dundas, the Lord Advocate, at Arniston; Hepburn of Clerkington at Middleton; and several of the rest of the aristocracy of Midlothian within a few miles; all witli tlieir families, and luxurious houses; yet had they, to the number of twelve or sixteen, congregated in this wretched ale-house for a day of freedom and jollity. We found them, roaring and singing and laughing, in a low-roofed room scarcely large enough to hold them, with wooden chairs and a sanded floor. When their own lacqueys, who were carrying on high life in the kitchen, did not choose to attend, the masters were served by two women. There was plenty of wine, particularly claret, in rapid circulation on the table; but my eye was chiefly attracted by a huge bowl 0f hot whisky punch, the steam of which was almost dropping from the roof, while the odour was enough to perfume the whole parish. We were called in, and made to partake, and were very kindly used, particularly by my uncle Harry Dundas. How they did joke and laugh! with songs, and toasts, and disputation, and no want of practical fun. I don’t remember anything they said, and probably did not understand it. But the noise, and the heat, and the uproarious mirth—I think I hear and feel them yet. My father was in the chair; and he having gone out for a little, one of us boys was voted into his place, and the boy’s health was drank, with all the honors, as 44 the young convener. Hurra! hurra! may he be a better man than his father! hurra! hurra!” I need not mention that they were all in a state of elevation; though there was nothing like absolute intoxication, so far as I could judge.

I have ever loved the Gala. But I think I should have loved its pastoral valley without my early attachment. It is bleak and wet no doubt; but so is most of the pastoral scenery of Scotland, the whole of which requires the attraction of a bright day. But with such a day, the sparkling stream of the Gala, the range of its wild unenclosed hills, and its impressive solitude, to say nothing of its coming in for a share of the historical interest which belongs to the whole of our southern border, give it powerful charms. When I knew it first, Galashiels was a rural hamlet; the house of Torwoodlee stood bare and staring; and the high road ran on the west side of the valley. The old laird of Torwoodlee survives to enjoy the reward of his having planted judiciously, in seeing his now beautiful place nearly buried in foliage. Galashiels has become the Glasgow of Selkirkshire.

For many years almost all my Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, were passed at Niddrie. I sighed over every holiday as lost, that was not. Part of the house is very old, but it never had any architectural, or much historical, interest. But the garden! the garden! unseen and unseeing, it was a world of its own. That unwalled flat space, of only four or five acres, contained absolutely everything that a garden could supply for “man’s delightful use;” peaches and oaks, gravel walks, and a wilderness “grotesque and wild,” a bum and a bowling green, shade and sun, covert and lawn, vegetables and glorious holly hedges — everything delightful either to the young or the old. Eden was not more varied. And Eden is well worthy of its reputation, if it was the scene of greater happiness. After a long and unbroken course of domestic security and pleasure, death began, about 1815, to extinguish, and circumstances to scatter, the gay and amiable family of which I was virtually a member; and I have since seldom revisited the generally silent walls. But the days of Niddrie are among the last I can forget.

My father was a friend of the Sir William Dick of Prestonfield who flourished when I was a boy; a great sportsman, handsome, good natured, and (which goes a great way with me) a first-rate skater. We were the only boys (and how we were envied from the hillside!) who were always at liberty to play in his grounds, and to use his nice boat. So I knew the place thoroughly. The reeds were then regularly cut over, by means of short scythes with very long handles, close to the ground; and this made Duddingston Loch nearly twice its present size. All between the loch and the house was a sort of Dutch garden, admirably kept. Besides the invariable bowling-green, which formed the open-air drawing-room of all our old houses, it had several long smooth lanes of turf, anciently called bowling alleys, parterres and lawn interspersed, fountains, carved stone seats, dials, statues, and trimmed evergreen hedges. How we used to make the statues spout! There was a leaden Bacchus in particular, of whose various ejections it was impossible to tire. A very curious place. Thus the dawn passed away.

In October 1793 I was sent to the College of Edinburgh. My first class was for more of that weary Latin; an excellent thing, if it had been got. For, all I have seen since, and all I felt even then, have satisfied me that there is no solid and graceful foundation for boys’ minds like classical learning, grammatically acquired*, and that all the modern substitutes of what is called useful knowledge, breed little beyond conceit, vulgarity, and general ignorance. It is not the mere acquaintance with the two immortal languages that constitutes the value, though the value of this is incalculable, but the early discipline of the mind, by the necessary reception of precise rules, of which the use and the reasonableness is in due time disclosed. But the mischief was that little Latin was acquired. The class was a constant scene of unchecked idleness, and disrespectful mirth. Our time was worse than lost.

Andrew Dalzel, the author of Collectanea Graeca and other academical books, taught my next class —the Greek. At the mere teaching of a language to boys, he was ineffective. How is it possible for the elements, including the very letters, of a language to be taught to one hundred boys at once, by a single lecturing professor? To the lads who, like me to whom the very alphabet was new, required positive teaching, the class was utterly useless. Nevertheless, though not a good schoolmaster, it is a duty, and delightful, to record Dalzel’s value as a general exciter of boys’ minds. Dugald Stewart alone excepted, he did me more good than all the other instructors I had. Mild, affectionate, simple, an absolute enthusiast about learning—particularly classical, and especially Greek; with an innocence of soul and of manner which imparted an air of honest kindliness to whatever he said or did, and a slow, soft, formal voice, he was a great favourite with all boys, and with all good men. Never was a voyager, out in quest of new islands, more delighted in finding one, than he was in discovering any good quality in any humble youth. His lectures (published injudiciously by somebody in 1820 or 1821) are an example of the difference between discourses meant to be spoken to boys, and those intended to be read by men. Yet our hearts bore witness how well they were conceived, at least as he read them, for moving youths. He could never make us actively laborious. But when we sat passive, and listened to him, he inspired us with a vague but sincere ambition of literature, and with delicious dreams of virtue and poetry. He must have been a hard boy whom these discourses, spoken by Dalzel’s low, soft, artless voice, did not melt.

Dalzel was clerk to the General Assembly, and was long one of the curiosities of that strange place. He was too innocent for it. The last time I saw this simple and worthy man was very shortly before his death, the near approach of which he was quite aware of, at a house he had taken on the Bonnington Road. He was trying to discharge a twopenny cannon for the amusement of his children; but his alarm and awkwardness only terrified them the more; till at last he got behind a washing-tub, and then, fastening the match to the end -of a long stick, set the piece of ordnance off gloriously. He used to agree with those who say, that it is partly owing to its Presbyterianism that Scotland is less classical than Episcopal England. Sydney Smith asserted that he had overheard the Professor muttering one dark night on the street to himself, “If it had not been for that confounded Solemn League and Covenant we would have made as good longs and shorts as they.” After being thus kept about nine years at two dead languages, which we did not learn, the intellectual world was begun to be opened to us, by Professor Finlayson’s lectures on what was styled Logic. He was a grim, firm-set, dark, clerical man ; stiff and precise in his movements ; and with a distressing pair of black, piercing, Jesuitical eyes, which moved slowly, and rested long on any one they were turned to, as if he intended to look him down, and knew that he could do so; a severe and formidable person. Though no speaker, and a cold, exact, hard reader, he surprised and delighted us with the good sense of his matter. Until we heard him, few of us knew that we had minds; and still fewer were aware that our intellectual operations had been analyzed, and formed the subject of a science, the facts of which our own consciousness delighted to verify. . Neither he nor his class were logical, in any proper sense of the word. But no exposition of the mere rules of reasoning could have been half so useful as the course which he adopted; which was first to classify, and explain the nature of, the different faculties, and then to point Out the proper modes of using and improving them. This, though not logic, was the first thing that wakened our dormant powers. He did not work us half enough at composition.

After this we advanced to the Moral Philosophy of Dugald Stewart, which was the great era in the progress of young men’s minds. His philosophy, and the general cast of his style and powers, are attested by his published works. His merit as a lecturer must depend on the recollection of those who heard him. His excellence in this very difficult and peculiar sphere was so great, that it is a luxury to recal it.

He was about the middle size, weakly limbed, and with an appearance of feebleness which gave an air of delicacy to his gait and structure. His forehead was large and bald, his eyebrows bushy, his eyes grey and intelligent, and capable of conveying any emotion, from indignation to pity, from serene sense to hearty humour; in which they were powerfully aided by his lips, which, though rather large perhaps, were flexible and expressive. The voice was singularly pleasing; and, as he managed it, a slight burr only made its tones softer. His ear, both for music and for speech, was exquisite; and he was the finest reader I have ever heard. His gesture was simple and elegant, though not free from a tinge of professional formality; and his whole manner that of an academical gentleman.

Without genius, on even originality of talent, his intellectual character was marked by calm thought, and great soundness. His training in mathematics, which was his first college department, may have corrected the reasoning, but it never chilled the warmth, of his moral demonstrations. Besides being deeply and accurately acquainted with his own subject, his general knowledge, particularly of literature and philosophical history, was extensive, and all his reading well meditated. A strong turn for quiet humour was rather graced, than interfered with, by the dignity of his science and habits. Knowledge, intelligence, and reflection, however, will enable no one to reach the highest place in didactic eloquence. Stewart exalted all his powers by certain other qualifications which are too often overlooked by those who are ambitious of this eminence, and wonder how they do not attain it—an unimpeachable personal character, devotion to the science he taught, an exquisite taste, an imagination imbued with poetry and oratory, liberality of opinion, and the loftiest morality.

The tendency of these qualities, in a person of naturally an eloquent mind, to produce eloquence, was increased by his avoiding certain things connected with his subject, which in dry hands have often made even the philosophy of morals repulsive. He dealt as little as possible in metaphysics, avoided details, and shrunk, with a horror which was sometimes rather ludicrous, from all polemical matter. Invisible distinctions, vain contentions, factious theories, philosophical sectarianism, had no attractions for him; and their absence left him free for those moral themes on which he could soar without perplexing his hearers, or wasting himself, by useless and painful subtleties.

Within this his proper sphere, with topics judiciously selected, and views eloquently given, he was uniformly great and fascinating. The general constitution of moral and material nature, the duties and the ends of man, the uses and boundaries of philosophy, the connection between virtue and enjoyment, the obligations of affection and patriotism, the cultivation and the value of taste, the intellectual differences produced by particular habits, the evidences of the soul’s immortality, the charms of literature and science, in short all the ethics of life —these were the subjects, in expatiating on which he was in his native element ; and he embellished them all by a judicious application of biographical and historical illustration, and the happiest introduction of exquisite quotation. Everything was purified and exalted by his beautiful taste; not merely by his perception of wliat was attractive in external nature or in art, but by that moral taste which awed while it charmed, and was the chief cause of the success, with which (as Mackintosh said) he breathed the love of virtue into whole generations of pupils.

He lectured standing; from notes which, with their successive additions, must, I suppose, at last have been nearly as full as his spoken words. His lecturing manner was professorial, but gentlemanlike ; calm and expository, but .rising into greatness, or softening into tenderness, whenever his subject required it. A slight asthmatic tendency made him often clear his throat; and such was my admiration of the whole exhibition, that Macvey Napier told him, not long ago, that I had said there was eloquence in his very spitting. "Then,” said he, "I am glad there was at least' one thing in which I had no competitor.”

There are some, and these good judges, who have depreciated his lectures, on account of what they call vagueness; by which they mean the absence of strict, and particularly of metaphysical, reasoning, which, they think, made his course evaporate in fruitless general declamation. The real import of this criticism is, that it was not prelections on the philosophy of morals that the critics desired. His generality and his indulgence in moral themes, which are what these hard headed censors complain of, constituted the very charm of his course. A stronger infusion of dry matter, especially metaphysical, would have extinguished its magic. The breadth and simplicity of his views might, not unnaturally, have made him appear superficial to those who did not understand them. But he who, either in the business of life, or in the prosecution of philosophy, had occasion to recur to principles, always found that, either for study or for practice, Stewart’s doctrines were his surest guide.

To me his lectures were like the opening of the heavens. I felt that I had a soul. His noble views, unfolded in glorious sentences, elevated me into a higher world. I was as much excited and charmed as any man of cultivated taste would be, who, after being ignorant of their existence, was admitted to all the glories of Milton, and Cicero, and Shakespeare. They changed my whole nature.

In short, Dugald Stewart was one of the greatest of didactic orators. Had he lived in ancient times, his memory would have descended to us as that of one of the finest of the old eloquent sages. But his lot was better cast. Flourishing in an age which requires all the dignity of morals to counteract the tendencies of physical pursuits and political convulsion, he has exalted the character of his country and his generation. No intelligent pupil of his ever ceased to respect philosophy, or was ever false to his principles, without feeling the crime aggravated by the recollection of the morality that Stewart had taught him.

A debating society was one of the natural results of these two classes. These institutions, which when ill-managed are the hot-beds of conceit and petulance, and when managed tolerably well are powerfully productive of thought, of talent, and even of modesty, were in full operation at this time in the College of Edinburgh. It was a discussing age. Finlay son and Stewart had touched our souls ; and there were some ardent spirits among us. I never joined any of these societies except two—the Academical and the Speculative.

The Academical rose in 1796, and after a short, though very active, life, died of decline about 1816. It met in Playfair’s class room, which was then the great receptacle of youthful philosophers and orators. There were more essays read, and more speeches delivered, by ambitious lads, in that little shabby place, than in all Scotland. If it had been preserved, it would have been near the centre of the new library. No part of my training did me so much good as this society. The Speculative, which I joined a few years later, was a higher and a more serious field; but it was the Academical plough that first opened the soil. It was here that I got my first notions of composition and debate, and that that delightful feeling of free doubting and independent discussion, so necessary for the expansion and manliness of young minds, was excited.

The change from ancient to modern manners, which is now completed, had begun some years before this, and was at this period in rapid and visible progress. The feelings and habits which had prevailed at the union, and had left so many picturesque peculiarities on the Scotch character, could not survive the enlarged intercourse with England and the world. It would be very interesting to trace the course of this alteration, provided the description was made intelligible by accounts of our curious men and our peculiar customs. But it cannot be done except by one who lived, and was in the practice of observing, and perhaps of noting, in the very scenes, and with the very men; and consequently it cannot be done by one, who only came into action when the old suns were going down.

The more immediate changes in Edinburgh proceeded chiefly from the growth of the city. The single circumstance of the increase of the population, and its consequent overflowing from the old town to the new, implied a general alteration of our habits. It altered the style of living, obliterated local arrangements, and destroyed a thousand associations, which nothing but the still preserved names of houses and of places is left to recal.

It was the rise of the new town that obliterated our old peculiarities with the greatest rapidity and effect. It not only changed our scenes and habits of life, but, by the mere inundation of modern population, broke up and, as was then thought, vulgarized our prescriptive gentilities.

For example, Saint Cecilia’s Hall was the only public resort of the musical, and besides being our most selectly fashionable place of amusement, was the best and the most beautiful concert room I have ever yet seen. And there have I myself seen most of our literary and fashionable gentlemen, predominating with their side curls, and frills, and ruffles, and silver buckles ; and our stately matrons stiffened in hoops, and gorgeous satin; and our beauties with higli-heeled shoes, powdered and pomatomed hair, and lofty and composite head dresses. All this was in the Cowgate! the last retreat now-a-days of destitution and disease. The building still stands, though raised and changed, and is looked down upon from South Bridge, over the eastern side of the Cowgate Arch. When I last saw it, it seemed to be partly an old-clothesmans shop, and partly a brazier’s. The abolition of this Cecilian temple, and the necessity of finding accommodation where they could, and of depending for patronage on the common boisterous public, of course extinguished the delicacies of the old artificial parterre.

Our balls, and their manners, fared no better. The ancient dancing establishments in the Bow, and the Assembly Close, I know nothing about. Every thing of the kind was meant to be annihilated by the erection (about 1784) of the handsome apartments in George Street. Yet even against these, the new part of the old town made a gallant struggle, and in my youth the whole fashionable dancing, as indeed the fashionable everything, clung to George Square; where (in Buccleuch Place, close by the south-eastern corner of the square) most beautiful rooms were erected, which, for several years, threw the New Town piece of presumption entirely into the shade. And here were the last remains of the ball-room discipline of the preceding age. Martinet dowagers and venerable beaux acted as masters and mistresses of ceremonies, and made all the preliminary arrangements. No couple could dance unless each party was provided wuth a ticket prescribing the precise place, in the precise dance. If there was no ticket, the gentleman, or the lady, was dealt with as an intruder, and turned out of the dance. If the ticket had marked upon it—say for a country dance, the figures 3. 5 ; this meant that the holder was to place himself in the 3d dance, and 5th from the top; and if he was anywhere else, he was set right, or excluded. And the partner’s ticket must correspond. Woe on the poor girl who with ticket 2. 7, was found opposite a youth marked 5. 9 ! It was flirting without a license, and looked very ill, and would probably be reported by the ticket director of that dance to the mother. Of course parties, or parents, who wished to secure dancing for themselves or those they had charge of, provided themselves with correct and corresponding vouchers before the ball day arrived. This could only be accomplished through a director; and the election of a pope sometimes required less jobbing. When parties chose to take their chance, they might do so; but still, though only obtained in the room, the written permission was necessary; and such a thing as a compact to dance, by a couple without official authority, would have been an outrage that could scarcely be contemplated.* Tea was sipped in side-rooms; and he was a careless beau who did not present his partner with an orange at the end of each dance; and the oranges and the tea, like everything else, were, under exact and positive regulations. All this disappeared, and the very rooms were obliterated, as soon as the lately raised community secured its inevitable supremacy to the New Town. The aristocracy of a few predominating individuals and families came to an end; and the unreasonable old had nothing for it but to sigh over the recollection of the select and elegant parties of their youth, where indiscriminate public right was rejected, and its coarseness awed.

Yet, in some respects, there was far more coarseness in the formal age than in the free one. Two vices especially, which have been long banished from all respectable society, were very prevalent, if not universal, among the whole upper ranks—swearing and drunkenness. Nothing was more common than for gentlemen who had dined with ladies, and meant to rejoin them, to get drunk. To get drunk in a tavern, seemed to be considered as a natural, if not an intended, consequence of going to one. Swearing was thought the right, and the mark, of a gentleman. And, tried by this test, nobody, who had not seen them, could now be made to believe how many gentlemen there were. Not that people were worse tempered then than now. They were only coarser in their manners, and had got into a bad style of admonition and dissent. And the evil provoked its own continuance; because nobody who was blamed cared for the censure, or understood that it was serious, unless it was clothed in execration; and any intensity even of kindness or of logic, that was not embodied in solid commination, evaporated, and was supposed to have been meant to evaporate, in the very uttering. The naval chaplain justified his cursing the sailors, because it made them listen to him; and Braxfield apologized to a lady whom lie damned at whist for bad play, by declaring that he had mistaken her for his wife. This odious practice was applied with particular offensiveness by those in authority towards their inferiors. In the army it was universal by officers towards soldiers; and far more frequent than is now credible by masters towards servants.

The prevailing dinner hour was about three o’clock. Two o’clock was quite common, if there was no company. Hence it was no great deviation from their usual custom for a family to dine om Sundays "between sermons”—that is between one and two. The hour, in time, but not without groans and predictions, became four, at which it stuck for several years. Then it got to five, which however was thought positively revolutionary and four was long and gallantly adhered to by the haters of change as u the good old hour.” At last even they were obliged to give in. But they only yielded inch by inch, and made a desperate stand at half past four. Even five however triumphed, and continued the average polite hour from (I think) about 180G or 1807 till about 1820. Six has at last prevailed, and half an hour later is not unusual. As yet this is the furthest stretch of London imitation, except in country houses devoted to grouse or deer, where the species called sportsmen, disdaining all mankind except themselves, glory in not dining till sensible people have gone to bed. Thus, within my memory, the hour has ranged from two to half past six o’clock; and a stand has been regularly made at the end of every half hour against each encroachment, and always on the same grounds—dislike of change and jealousy of finery.

The procession from the drawing-room to the dining-room was formerly arranged on a different principle from what it is now. There was no such alarming proceeding as that of each gentleman approaching a lady, and the two hooking together. This would have excited as much horror as the waltz at first did, which never shewed itself without denunciations of continental manners by correct gentlemen and worthy mothers and aunts. All the ladies first went off by themselves, in a regular row, according to the ordinary rules of precedence. Then the gentlemen moved off in a single file; so that when they reached the dining-room, the ladies were all there, lingering about the backs of the chairs, till they could see what their fate was to be. Then began the selection of partners, the leaders of the male line having the advantage of priority; and of course the magnates had an affinity for each other.

The dinners themselves were much the same as at present. Any difference is in a more liberal adoption of the cookery of France. Ice, either for cooling or eating, was utterly unknown, except in a few houses of the highest class. There was far less drinking during dinner than now, and far more after it. The staple wines, even at ceremonious parties, were in general only port and sherry. Champagne was never seen. It only began to appear after France was opened by the peace of 1815. The exemption of Scotch claret from duty, which continued (I believe) till about 1780, made it till then the ordinary beverage. 1 have heard Henry Mackenzie and other old people say that, when a cargo of claret came to Leith, the common way of proclaiming its arrival was by sending a hogshead of it through the town on a cart, with a horn; and that anybody who wanted a sample, or a drink under pretence of a sample, had only to go to the cart with a jug, which,, without much nicety about its size, was filled for a sixpence. The tax ended this mode of advertising; and, aided by the horror of everything French, drove claret from all tables below the richest.

Healths and toasts were special torments; oppressions which cannot now be conceived. Every glass during dinner required to he dedicated to the health of some one. It wTas thought sottish and rude to take wine without this—as if forsooth there was nobody present worth drinking with. I was present, about 1803, when the late Duke of Buccleuch took a glass of sherry by himself at the table of Charles Hope, then Lord Advocate; and this was noticed afterwards as a piece of Ducal contempt. And the person asked to take wine was not invited by any thing so slovenly as a look, combined with a putting of the hand upon the bottle, as is practised by near neighbours now. It was a much more serious affair. For one thing, the wine was very rarely on the table. It had to be called for; and in order to let the servant know to whom he was to carry it, the caller was obliged to specify his partner aloud. All this required some premeditation and courage. Hence timid men never ventured on so bold a step at all; but were glad to escape by only drinking when they were invited. As this ceremony was a mark of respect, the landlord, or any other person who thought himself the great man, was generally graciously pleased to perform it to every one present. But he and others were always at liberty to abridge the severity of the duty, by performing it by platoons. They took a brace, or two brace, of ladies or of gentlemen, or of botli, and got them all engaged at once, and proclaiming to the sideboard—UA glass of sherry for Miss Dundas, Mrs. Murray, and Miss Hope, and a glass of port for Mr. Hume, and one for me,” he slew them by coveys. And all the parties to the contract were bound to acknowledge each other distinctly. No nods, or grins, or indifference * but a direct look at the object, the audible uttering of the very words—u Your good health,” accompanied by a respectful inclination of the head, a gentle attraction of the right hand towards the heart, and a gratified smile. And after all these detached pieces of attention during the feast were over, no sooner was the table cleared, and the after dinner glasses set down, than it became necessary for each person, following the landlord, to drink the health of every other person present, individually. Thus, where there were ten people, there were ninety healths drunk. This ceremony was often slurred over by the bashful, who were allowed merely to look the benediction; but usage compelled them to look it distinctly, and to each individual. To do this well, required some grace, and consequently it was best done by the polite ruffled and frilled gentlemen of the olden time.

This prandial nuisance was horrible. But it was nothing to what followed. For after dinner, and before the ladies retired, there generally began what were called 44Rounds” of toasts*, wlien each gentleman named an absent lady, and each lady an absent gentleman, separately; or one person was required to give an absent lady, and another person was required to match a gentleman with that lady, and the pair named were toasted, generally with allusions and jokes about the fitness of the union. And, worst si of all, there were 44 Sentiments.’7 These were short epigrammatic sentences, expressive of moral feelings and virtues, and were thought refined and elegant productions. A faint conception of their nauseousness may be formed from the following examples, every one of which I have heard given a thousand times, and which indeed I only recollect from their being favourites. The glasses being filled, a person was asked for his, or for her, sentiment, when this or something similar was committed—"May the pleasures of the evening bear the reflections of the morning.” Or, "May the friends of our youth be the companions of our old age.” Or, "Delicate pleasures to susceptible minds.” 44 May the honest heart never feel distress.” "May the hand of charity wipe the tear from the eye of sorrow.” "May never worse be among us.” There were stores of similar reflections; and for all kinds of parties, from the elegant and romantic, to the political, the municipal, the ecclesiastic, and the drunken. Many of the thoughts and sayings survive still, and may occasionally be heard at a club or a tavern. But even there they are out of vogue as established parts of the entertainment; and in some scenes nothing can be very offensive. But the proper sentiment was a high and pure production; a moral motto; and was meant to dignify and grace private society. Hence, even after an easier age began to sneer at the display, the correct course was to receive the sentiment, if not with real admiration, at least with decorous respect. Mercifully, there was a large known public stock of the odious commodity, so that nobody who could screw up his nerves to pronounce the words, had any occasion to strain his invention. The conceited, the ready, or the reckless, hackneyed in the art, had a knack of making new sentiments applicable to the passing accidents, with great ease. But it was a dreadful oppression on the timid or the awkward. They used to shudder, ladies particularly —for nobody was spared, when their turn in the round approached. Many a struggle and blush did it cost; but this seemed only to excite the tyranny of the masters of the craft; and compliance could never be avoided except by more torture than yielding. There can scarcely be a better example of the emetical nature of the stuff that was swallowed than the sentiment elaborated by the poor dominie at Arndilly. He was called upon, in his turn, before a large party, and having nothing to guide him in an exercise to which he was new, except what he saw was liked, after much writhing and groaning, he came out with—"The reflection of the moon in the cawm bosom of the lake.” It is difficult for those who have been born under a more natural system, to comprehend how a sensible man, a respectable matron, a worthy old maid, and especially a girl, could be expected to go into company only on such conditions.

But a new generation gradually laughed the sentiments away; so that at last one could only be got as a curiosity, from some old-fashioned practitioner. They survived longer in male parties, especially of a wild character. Yet Scott, in presiding even at the grave annual dinners of the Bannatyne Club, always insisted on rounds of ladies and gentlemen, and of authors and printers, poets and kings, in regular pairs. Of course in that toasting and loyal age, the King was never forgotten, even though the company consisted only of the host and his wife and children.

Early dinners begat suppers. But suppers are so delightful, that they have survived long after dinners have become late. Indeed this has immemorially been a favourite Edinburgh repast. I have often heard strangers say, that Edinburgh was the only place where the people dined twice every day. It is now fading into paltry wine and water in many houses ; but in many it still triumphs in a more substantial form. Lord Hermand was one of the great patrons of this Eoman banquet. Almost all my set, which is perhaps the merriest, the most intellectual, and not the most severely abstemious, in Edinburgh, are addicted to it. I doubt if from the year 1811, when I married, I have closed above one day in the month, of my town life, at home and alone. It is always some scene of domestic conviviality, either in my own house or in a friend’s. And this is the habit of all my best friends. The refection is beginning to be thought vulgar, or at least superfluous; which last, if mere hunger and thirst are to be considered, is certainly true. But its native force makes it keep its place even in polite societies. How could it fail? How many are the reasons, how strong the associations, that inspire the last of the day’s friendly meetings ! Supper is cheaper than dinner; shorter *, less ceremonious; and more poetical. The business of the day is over; and its still fresh events interest. It is chiefly intimate associates that are drawn together at that familiar hour, of which night deepens the sociality. If there be any fun, or heart, or spirit, in a man at all, it is then, if ever, that it will appear. So far as I have seen social life, its brightest sunshine has been on the last repast of the day.

Tradition says that the suppers of Lord Monboddo were the most Attic in his day. But the Sunday suppers of Sir Henry Moncreiff are worthy of record. This most admirable, and somewhat old fashioned, gentleman was one of those who always dined between sermons, probably without touching wine. He then walked back—look at him—from his small house in the east end of Queen Street to his church, with his bands, his little cocked hat, his tall cane, and his cardinal air, preached, if it was his turn, a sensible practical sermon; walked home in the same style ; took tea about five, spent some hours in his study; at nine had family worship, at which he was delighted to see the friends of any of his sons; after which the whole party sat down to the roasted hens, the goblets of wine, and his powerful talk. Here was a mode of alluring young men into the paths of pious pleasantness. Those days are now passed, but the figure, and the voice, the thoughts, and the kind and cheerful manliness, of Sir Harry, as disclosed at those Sunday evenings, will be remembered with gratitude by some of the best intellects in Scotland.

There is no contrast between those old days and the present that strikes me so strongly as that suggested by the differences in religious observances not so much by the world in general, as by deeply religious people. I knew the habits of the religious very well, partly through the piety of my mother and her friends, the strict religious education of her children, and our connection with some of the most distinguished of our devout clergymen. I could mention many practices of our old pious which would horrify modern zealots. The principles and feelings of the persons commonly called evangelical, were the same then that they are now 5 the external acts, by which these feelings and principles were formerly expressed, were materially different. nothing do these differences appear more strikingly than in matters connected with the observance of Sunday. Hearing what is often confidently prescribed now as the only proper mode of keeping the Christian Sabbath, and then recollecting how it was recently kept by Christian men, ought to teach us charity in the enforcement of observances, which, to a certain extent, are necessarily matters of opinion.

It is not unusual for certain persons to represent Scotland, but particularly Edinburgh, as having been about the beginning of this century very irreligious. Whenever any modern extravagance, under the name of piety, is attempted to be corrected by shewing its inconsistency with the practice of the pious of the last age, this is sure to be met by the assertion that the last age was not merely irreligious, but generally infidel. There are some with whom this idea is suggested by the mere echo of the words David Hume. With others it is necessary for the promotion of a more ascetic system than the last age would have borne. And, with many it is taken up from mere policy; as for example, when Established Churchmen, who maintain the necessity for college tests, are referred to the long success of the College of Edinburgh without tests, the answer is nearly certain to be that the College of Edinburgh used to be tainted by infidelity.

I attest that, so far as I ever saw or heard, this charge is utterly false. I am not aware of a single professor to whom it was ever applied, or could be applied justly. Freedom of discussion was not in the least combined with scepticism among the students, or in their societies. I never knew nor heard of a single student, tutor, or professor, by whom infidelity was disclosed, or in whose thoughts I believed it to be harboured, with perhaps only two obscure and doubtful exceptions. I consider the imputation as chiefly an invention to justify modern intolerance.

As to the comparative religiousness of the present and the preceding generation, any such comparison is very difficult to be made. Religion is certainly more the fashion than it used to be. There is more said about it there has been a great rise, and consequently a great competition of sects; and the general mass of the religious public has been enlarged.

On the other hand, if we are to believe one half of what some religious persons themselves assure us, religion is now almost extinct. My opinion is that the balance is in favour of the present time. And I am certain that it would be much more so, if the modern dictators would only accept of that as religion, which was considered to be so by their devout fathers.

Grown up people talked at this time of nothing but the French Revolution, and its supposed consequences ; younger men of good education were immersed in chemistry and political economy; the lower orders seemed to take no particular concern in anything. I heard a great deal that I did not then fully comprehend; but, even when not fully comprehending, boys are good listeners, and excellent rememberers, and retain through life impressions that were only deepened by their vagueness, and by their not flowing into common occupations. If the ladies and gentlemen, who formed the society of my. father’s house, believed all that they said about the horrors of French bloodshed, and of the anxiety of people here to imitate them, they must have been wretched indeed. Their talk sent me to bed shuddering. It was a relief to hear some younger persons talk of the new chemistry which Lavoisier had made fashionable, and of the economical doctrines so suitable for the country of Adam Smith. This, however, was a subject confined almost exclusively to young men. The middle aged seemed to me to know little about the founder of the science, except that he had recently been a Commissioner of Customs, and had written a sensible book. The young, by which I mean the liberal young of Edinburgh, lived upon him. With Hume, Robertson, Millar, Montesquieu, Ferguson, and De Lolme, he supplied them with most of their mental food.

But this food of the liberal young was by no means relished by the stomachs of their seniors. It all tended towards awakening the intellect, and exciting speculation, which were the very things that most of the minds that had been formed a little earlier thought dangerous. Ho young person, who came to think for himself soon enough to keep what he heard in remembrance, can ever forget the painful impression made upon him by the intolerance of those times. No doubt the intolerance was justified, or at least provoked, by fright at first; but this soon became a pretence; and the hourly violence that prevailed was kept up chiefly as a factious engine. I lived in the midst of it. My father’s house was one of the places where the leaders, and the ardent followers, of the party in power were in the constant habit of assembling. I can sit yet, in imagination, at the small side table, and overhear the conversation, a few feet off, at the established Wednesday dinner. How they raved! What sentiments ! What principles ! Not that I differed from them. I thought them quite right-, and hated liberty and the people as much as they did. But this drove me into an opposite horror; for I was terrified out of such wits as they left me at the idea of bloodshed, and it never occurred to me that it could be avoided. My reason no sooner began to open, and to get some fair play, than the distressing wisdom of my ancestors began to fade, and the more attractive sense that I met with among the young men into whose company our debating societies threw me, gradually hardened me into what I became—whatever this was.

It has always been a pleasure to me to have seen some of the men of the retiring generation, who have done so much honour to Scotland by their literature and philosophy. I could not then value them on just grounds; but their reputation commanded the respect even of the young ; and ever since I became acquainted with their merits, I have been glad that I saw them, and can recollect their figures, and such of their outward habits as a lad could observe.

Principal Robertson and his family were very intimate with the family of my father. The Principal dined in our house very often, and lived for the last two years of his life very near us, in the house of Grange, where he died in 1793. Many a happy summer day had his grandson John Russell and I in that house. The Doctor used to assist us in devising schemes to prevent the escape of our rabbits; and sometimes, but this was rarely, and with strict injunctions to us to observe that moderation which Mrs. Robertson could never make himself practise, he permitted us to have a pull at his favourite cherry tree. He was a pleasant looking old man; with an eye of great vivacity and intelligence, a large projecting chin, a small hearing trumpet fastened by a black ribbon to a button-hole of his coat, and a rather large wig, powdered and curled. He struck us boys, even from the side-table, as being evidently fond of a good dinner; at which he sat, with his chin near his plate, intent upon the real business of the occasion. This appearance however must have been produced partly by his deafness; because, when his eye told him that there was something interesting, it was delightful to observe the animation with which he instantly applied his trumpet, when, having caught the scent, he followed it up, and was the leader of the pack.

Our neighbour on the east, was old Adam Ferguson, the historian of Rome, and Stewart’s predecessor in our moral chair—a singular apparition. In his younger years he was a handsome and resolute man. Being chaplain to the Black Watch, he could not be induced even by the positive orders of his commanding officer to remain in his proper place in the rear during an action, but persisted in being-engaged in front. Time and illness however had been dealing with him, and, when I first knew him, he was a spectacle well worth beholding. His hair was silky and white; his eyes animated and light blue; his cheeks sprinkled with broken red, like autumnal apples, but fresh and healthy; his lips thin, and the under one curled. A severe paralytic attack had reduced his animal vitality, though it left no external appearance, and he required considerable artificial heat. His raiment, therefore, consisted of half boots lined with fur, cloth breeches, a long cloth waistcoat with capacious pockets, a single breasted coat, a cloth great-coat also lined with fur, and a felt hat commonly tied by a ribbon below the chin. His boots were black; but with this exception the whole coverings, including the hat, were of a quaker grey colour, or of a whitish brown; and he generally wore the furred great-coat even within doors. When he walked forth, he used a tall staff, which he commonly held at arm’s length out towards the right side; and his two coats, each buttoned by only the upper button, flowed open below, and exposed the whole of his curious and venerable figure. His gait and air were noble; his gesture slow ; his look full of dignity and composed fire. He looked like a philosopher from Lapland. His palsy ought to have killed him in his fiftieth year; but rigid care enabled him to live uncrippled, either in body or mind, nearly fifty years more. Wine and animal food besought his appetite in vain; but huge messes of milk and vegetables disappeared before him, always in the never failing cloth and fur. I never heard of his dining out, except at his relation Dr. Joseph Black's, where his son Sir Adam (the friend of Scott) used to say it was delightful to see the two philosophers rioting over a boiled turnip. Domestically he was kind, but anxious and peppery. His temperature was regulated by Fahrenheit; and often, when sitting quite comfortably, he would start up and put his wife and daughters into commotion, because his eye had fallen on the instrument, and discovered that he was a degree too hot or too cold. He always locked the door of his study when he left it, and took the key in his pocket; and no housemaid got in till the accumulation of dust and rubbish made it impossible to put the evil day off any longer; and then woe on the family. He shook hands with us boys one day in summer 1793, on setting off, in a strange sort of carriage, and with no companion except his servant James, to visit Italy for a new edition of his history. He was then about seventy-two, and had to pass through a good deal of war; but returned in about a year, younger than ever.

Dr. Joseph Black had, at one time, a house near us, to the west. He was a striking and beautiful person; tall, very thin, and cadaverously pale; his hair carefully powdered, though there was little of it except what was collected into a long thin queue; his eyes dark, clear, and large, like deep pools of pure water. He wore black speckless clothes, silk stockings, silver buckles, and either a slim green silk umbrella, or a genteel brown cane. The general frame and air were feeble and slender. The wildest boy respected Black. No lad could be irreverent towards a man so pale, so gentle, so elegant, and so illustrious. So he glided, like a spirit, through our rather mischievous sportiveness, unharmed. He died seated, with a bowl of milk on his knee, of which his ceasing to live did not spill a drop; a departure which it seemed, after the event happened, might have been foretold of this attenuated philosophical gentleman.

I have known of some peaceful deaths not unlike this; but one that was even more than tranquil was that of Dr. Henry the historian—about 1790, I think. I had the account of it from Sir Harry Moncreiff, who I believe was his favourite younger friend. The Doctor was living at a place of his own in his native county of Stirling. He was about seventy-two, and had been for sometime very feeble. He wrote to Sir Harry that he was dying, and thus invited him for the last time—u Come out here directly. I have got something to do this week, I have got to die.”

Sir Harry went; and found his friend plainly sinking, but resigned and cheerful. He had no children, and there was nobody with him except his wife. She and Sir Harry remained alone with him for about three days, being his last three; during a great part of which the reverend historian sat in his easy chair, and conversed, and listened to reading, and dozed. While engaged in this way, the hoofs of a horse were heard clattering in the court below. Mrs. Henry looked out and exclaimed that it was "that wearisome body,” naming a neighbouring minister, who was famous for never leaving a house after he once got into it. "Keep him out,” cried the Doctor, a don’t let the cratur in here.” But before they could secure his exclusion, the cratur’s steps were heard on the stair, and he was at the door. The Doctor instantly winked significantly, and signed to them to sit down and be quiet, and he would pretend to be sleeping. The hint was taken; and when the intruder entered, he found the patient asleep in his cushioned chair. Sir Harry and Mrs. Henry put their fingers to their lips, and pointing to the supposed slumberer as one not to be disturbed, shook their heads. The man sat down near the door, like one inclined to wait till the nap should be over. Once or twice he tried to speak; but was instantly repressed by another finger on the lip, and another shake of the head. So he sat on, all in perfect silence, for above a quarter of ail hour; during which Sir Harry occasionally detected the dying man peeping cautiously through the fringes of his eyelids, to see how his visitor was coming on. At last Sir Harry tired, and he and Mrs. Henry pointing to the poor doctor, fairly waved the visitor out of the room *, on which the doctor opened his eyes wide, and had a tolerably hearty laugh ; which was renewed when the sound of the horse’s feet made them certain that their friend was actually off the premises. Dr. Henry died that night. A pious and learned man, with considerable merit in the execution, and complete originality in the plan, of his history.

Dr. Thomas Macknight, the colleague of Dr. Henry, and the Harmonist (as he supposed) of the Four Gospels, lived in Nicolson Street, but crept round the Meadows almost every day. I think I see his large, square, bony visage, his enormous white wig, girdled by many tiers of curls, his old snuffy black clothes, his broad flat feet, and his threadbare blue great-coat. His studies being very nocturnal, his morning walk began about two in the afternoon, and he rarelv walked without reading. His elbows were stuck, immoveably, to his haunches, on which they rested as on brackets, and enabled his arms to form a desk for his book. In this attitude he shuffled forward at the rate of half an inch each step; moving his rigid angular bulk straight forward, without giving place to any person or thing, or being aware indeed that there was anything in the world except himself and his volume. He died in 1800. He was one of the Moderate chiefs of his day, and boys stared at him for his queerness.

But Dr. John Erskine! How everybody reverenced him! Though able and well read, his reputation rested on the better basis of a fine spirit, operating in all the walks in which liberal religion and active benevolence can be engaged. He lived at Lauriston, not far from us. No Edinburgh figure was better known. If stretched out he might probably have been of the average height; but during his latter years he stooped so much that he was below it. He was one of the very few who in those days were not deformed by hair-powder, and he was distinguished by a neat, well kept, jet black wig, and plain but nice raiment. His face was small, pale, and active like; his figure that of a thin ardent creature. Stooping so low that it seemed as if he was looking for something on the ground, and hirp-ling along, with his hands in his sides, and his elbows turned outwards, he resembled a piece of old china with two handles. He was all soul, and no body. Never was there such a spectre, or such a spirit. There was nothing that this man would not do for truth or a friend. His language (like that of his colleague Principal Robertson) was good honest natural Scotch. We sat in his church; where he was so earnest, though with none of the Presbyterian roar or violence, that when his gown encumbered him, as it seemed often to do, he let it drop off, and went on almost erect with animation. His friend Henry Erskine had once some interest in a Fife election, but whether as a candidate or not I can’t say, in which the Doctor had a vote. Being too old and feeble to bear the motion of a carriage or of a boat, he was neither asked nor expected to attend; but loving Henry Erskine, and knowing that victories depended on single votes, he determined to walk the whole way round by Stirling Bridge, which would have taken him at least a fortnight; and he was only prevented from doing so, after having arranged all his stages, by the contest having been unexpectedly given up. Similar sacrifices and exertions were familiar to the heroic and affectionate old gentleman. He died in 1803.

The Rev. Dr. Carlyle, must have had some substantial merit, for he was the associate of all the eminent men of his time, and is respectfully mentioned in most of their biographies. He was minister of Inveresk, where, from my being much in the family of the Hopes of Pinkie, I used often to visit him, and was always as kindly received as a lad generally is by the aged. Though known from his companions, lie seems never to have done anything distinguished of his own, even in the very humble way of speaking, on behalf of his friend Principal Robertson’s policy, in the General Assembly. His hold over his eminent comrades was derived from the charm of his private manners, which were graceful and kind. And he was one of the noblest looking old gentlemen I almost ever beheld.

John Robison, the Professor of Moral Philosophy, whose memory has been so beautifully embalmed in biography by Playfair, made himself remarkable, like others of his class at that time, by humouring his own taste in the matter of dress. A pig-tail so long and so thin that it curled far down his back, and a pair of huge blue worsted hose without soles, and covering the limbs from the heel to the top of the thigh, in which he both walked and lectured, seemed rather to improve his wise elephantine head, and majestic person. A little hypochondria, induced by the frequent use of laudanum for the alleviation of pain, heightened the interest with which we gazed on a person who we knew combined such profound philosophy with such varied active life. He died in 1805.

Except Robison, these men were all great peripatetics, and the Meadows was their academic grove. There has never in my time been any single place in or near Edinburgh, which has so distinctly been the resort at once of our philosophy and our fashion. Under these poor trees walked, and talked, and meditated, all our literary and scientific, and many of our legal, worthies. I knew little then of the grounds of their reputation, but saw their outsides with unquestioning and traditionary reverence; and we knew enough of them to make us fear that no such other race of men, so tried by time, such friends of each other and of learning, and all of such amiable manners and such spotless characters, could be expected soon to arise, and again ennoble Scotland. Though living in all the succeeding splendours, it has been a constant gratification to me to remember that I saw the last remains of a school so illustrious and so national, and that I was privileged to obtain a glimpse of the 44 skirts of glory” of the first, or at least of the second, great philosophical age of Scotland.

There was a singular race of excellent Scotch old ladies. They were a delightful set; strong headed, warm hearted, and high spirited; the fire of their tempers not always latent; merry, even in solitude; very resolute; indifferent about the modes and habits of the modern world; and adhering to their own ways, so as to stand out, like primitive rocks, above ordinary society. Their prominent qualities of sense, humour, affection, and spirit, were embodied in curious outsides; for they all, dressed, and spoke, and did, exactly as they chose; their language, like their habits, entirely Scotch, but without any other vulgarity than what perfect naturalness is sometimes mistaken for.

There sits a clergyman’s widow, the mother of the first Sir David Dundas, the introducer of our German system of military manoeuvres, and at one time commander-in-chief of the British army. We used to go to her house in Bunker’s Hill,0 when boys, on Sundays between the morning and afternoon sermons, where we were cherished with Scotch broth, and cakes, and many a joke from the old lady. Age had made her incapable of walking even across the room; so, clad in a plain black silk gown, and a pure muslin cap, she sat half encircled by a high backed black leather chair, reading; with silver spectacles stuck on her thin nose; and interspersing her studies, and her days, with much laughter, and not a little sarcasm. What a spirit! There was more fun and sense round that chair than in the theatre or the church. I remember one of her grand-daughters stumbling, in the course of reading the newspapers to her, on a paragraph which stated that a lady’s reputation had suffered from some indiscreet talk on the part of the Prince of Wales. Up she of fourscore sat, and said with an indignant shake of her shrivelled fist and a keen voice— "the dawmed villain! does he kiss and tell!”

And there is Lady Arniston, the mother of Henry Dundas, the first Lord Melville, so kind to us mischievous boys on the Saturdays. She was generally to be found in the same chair, on the same spot; her thick black hair combed all tightly up into a cone on the top of her head; the remains of considerable beauty in her countenance; great and just pride in her son; a good representative, in her general air and bearing of what the noble English ladies must have been in their youth, who were queens in their family castles, and stood sieges in defence of them. She was in her son’s house in George Square, when it was attacked by the mob in 1793 or 1794, and though no windows could be smashed at that time by the populace, without the inmates thinking of the bloody streets of Paris, she was perfectly firm, most contemptuous of the assailants, and with a heroic confidence in her son’s doing his duty. She once wished us to go somewhere for her on an evening; and on one of us objecting that if we did, our lessons for next day could not be got ready—“Hoot man!” said she, u what o’ that! as they used to say in my day—its only het hips and awa’ again.”

And Sophia—or, as she was always called, Suphy—Johnston, of the Hilton family. There was an original! Her father, from some whim, resolved to see how it would turn out, and gave her no education whatever. Possessed of great natural vigour of mind, she passed her youth in utter rusticity *• in the course of which however she made herself a good carpenter and a good smith—arts which she practised occasionally, even to the shoeing of a horse, I believe, till after the middle of her life. It was not till after she became a woman that she taught herself to read and write; and then she read incessantly. She must have been about 60 before I ever saw her, which was chiefly, and often, at Niddrie. Her dress was always the same—a man’s hat when out of doors, and generally when within them, a cloth covering exactly like a man’s great-coat, buttoned closely from the chin to the ground, worsted stockings, strong shoes with large brass clasps. And in this raiment she sat in any drawing-room, and at any table, amidst all the fashion and aristocracy of the land, respected and liked. For her dispositions were excellent; her talk intelligent and racy, rich both in old anecdote, and in shrewd modern observation, and spice$ with a good deal of plain sarcasm ; her understanding powerful; all her opinions free, and very freely expressed ; and neither loneliness, nor very slender means, ever brought sourness or melancholy to her face or her heart.

Sitting, with her back to the light, in the usual arm chair by the side of the fire, in the Niddrie drawing-room, with her great-coat and her hat, her dark wrinkled face, and firmly pursed mouth, the two feet set flat on the floor and close together, so that the public had a full view of the substantial shoes, the book held by the two hands very near the eyes, if the quick ear overheard any presumptuous folly, be it from solemn gentleman or fine lady, down went the volume, up the spectacles— u that’s surely great nonsense, Sir,” though she had never seen him before; then, a little Quart and Tierce would begin, and the wight must have been very lucky if it did not end by his being smote.

Her own proper den was in a flat on the ground floor of a house in Windmill Street, where her sole companion was a single female servant. When the servant went out, which she generally took the liberty of doing for the whole of Sunday, Supliy’s orders were that she should lock the door, and take the key with her. This saved Suphy the torment of always rising; for people went away when they found the h^use, as they thought, shut up. But she had a hole through which she saw them perfectly well; and, if she was inclined, she conversed through this orifice; and when tired of them told them to go away.

Though enjoying life, neither she nor any of those stout-hearted women had any horror of death. When Suphy’s day was visibly approaching, Dr. Gregory prescribed abstinence from animal food, and recommended “ spoon meat,” unless she wished to die. “Dee, Doctor! odd—I’m thinking they’ve forgotten an auld wife like me up yonder!” However when he came back next day, the Doctor found her at the spoon meat—supping a haggis. She was remembered.

The contrasts to these were Lady Don, and Mrs. Rochead of Inverleith; two dames of high aristocratic breed. They had both shone, first as hooped beauties in the minuets, and then as ladies of ceremonies, at our stately assemblies; and each carried her peculiar qualities and air to the very edge of the grave; Lady Don’s dignity softened by gentle sweetness, Mrs. Rochead’s made more formidable by cold and rather severe solemnity.

Except Mrs. Siddons in some of her displays of magnificent royalty, nobody could sit down like the lady of Inverleith. She would sail, like a ship from Tarshish, gorgeous in velvet or rustling in silk, and done up in all the accompaniments of fan, ear rings and finger rings, falling sleeves, scent bottle, embroidered bag, hoop and train—all superb, yet all in purest taste; and managing all this seemingly heavy rigging, with as much ease as a full blown swan does its plumage, she would take possession of the centre of a large sofa, and at the same moment, without the slightest visible exertion, would cover the whole of it with her bravery, the graceful folds seeming to lay themselves over it like summer waves. The descent from her carriage too, where she sat like a nautilus in its shell, was a display which no one in these days could accomplish or even fancy. The mulberry coloured coach, spacious but apparently not too large for what it carried—though she alone was in it; the handsome jolly coachman and his splendid liammercloth loaded with lace; the two respectful liveried footmen, one on each side of the richly carpeted step; these were lost sight of amidst the slow majesty with which the lady came down, and touched the earth. She presided, in this Imperial style, over her son’s excellent dinners, with great sense and spirit, to the very last day almost of a prolonged life.

Lady Don (who lived in George Square) was still more highly bred, as was attested by her polite cheerfulness and easy elegance. The venerable faded beauty, the white well-coiled hair, the soft hand sparkling with old brilliant rings, the kind heart, the affectionate manner, the honest gentle voice, and the mild eye, account for the love with which her old age was surrounded. She was about the last person (so far as I recollect) in Edinburgh who kept a private sedan chair. Hers stood in the lobby, and was as handsome and comfortable as silk, velvet, and gilding could make it. And, when she wished to use it, two well known respectable chairmen, enveloped in her livery cloaks, were the envy of their brethren. She and Mrs. Eochead both sat in the Tron Church; and well do I remember how I used to form one of the cluster that always took its station to see these beautiful relics emerge from the coach and the chair.

Lady Hunter Blair too! and Mrs. Murray of Henderland! Unlike, but botli admirable. Lady Blair’s elegance and sprightliness would have graced and enlivened the best society; but her tastes and virtues were entirely domestic, and made her the most delightful of household deities. Mild, affectionate, and cheerful, she attracted the love of all ages, and closed her many days without once knowing from personal consciousness what selfishness or want of charity meant.

Mrs. Murray was stately, even to stiffness; but friendly and high minded; calm and ladylike in her dignity. The ceremonious formality of her air and demeanour was made graceful and appropriate by a once beautiful countenance still entire in its best features, but attenuated into such a death-like paleness, that but for the unquenched light of a singularly radiant eye, she would have been a human statue.

Miss Menie Trotter, of the Mortonhall family, was of a later date. She was of the agrestic order. Her pleasures lay in the fields and long country walks. Ten miles at a stretch, within a few years of her death, was nothing to her. Her attire accorded. But her understanding was fully as masculine. Though slenderly endowed, she did, unnoticed, acts of liberality for which most of the rich would expect to be advertised. Prevailing loneliness gave her some entertaining habits, but never impaired her enjoyment of her friends, for whom she had always diverting talk, and occasionally "a hit denner.” Indeed she generally sacrificed an ox to hospitality every autumn, which, according to a system of her own, she ate regularly from nose to tail; and as she indulged in him only on Sundays, and with a chosen few, he feasted her half through the winter. This was at Blackford Cottage, a melancholy villa on the north side of Blackford Hill, where the last half, at the least, of her life was passed. I remember her urging her neighbour Sir Thomas Lauder, not long before her death, to dine with her next Sunday—“For Eh! Sir Thammas ! we’re terrible near the tail noo.” She told me that her oldest friends were the Inneses of Stow and the Scotts of Malleny—families she had known for above eighty-five years. They and the Mortonhall family had each a mansion house in town ; two of them being the two corner houses at the lower end of a close leading from the High Street down to the Cowgate, and the third one of the corner houses opposite, at the lower end of the close leading from the Cowgate southwards each of the three houses looking into both the Cowgate and the close. The Cowgate has now lost half its character by getting a large sewer under ground; but before this innovation “the Coogate Strand,” as it was called, when in flood was a great torrent, not filling the cellars merely, but almost the whole canal of the street. I remember a station on its banks, near Holyrood, where there was a regular net fishery, to catch what the stream brought down, particularly corks. Miss Trotter described the delight of the children of these families in wading in that gutter when it was safe.

On one of her friends asking her, not long before her death, how she was, she said “Very weel— quite week But Eh, I had a dismal dream last night! a fearfu’ dream!” “Aye! I’m sorry for that—what was it?” “Ou! what d’ye think! Of a’ places i’ the world, I dreamed I was in heeven! And what d’ye think I saw there? Deil ha’et but thoosands upon thoosands, and ten thoosands upon ten thoosands, o’ stark naked weans! That wad be a dreadfu’ thing! for ye ken I ne’er could bide bairns a’ my days!”

It is remarkable that though all these female Nestors were not merely decorous in matters of religion, but really pious, they would all have been deemed irreligious now. Gay hearted, and utterly devoid of every tincture of fanaticism, the very freedom and cheerfulness of their conversation and views on sacred subjects would have excited the horror of those who give the tone on these matters at present. So various are the opinions of what constitutes religiousness.

There were some curious tests of loyalty in those days. One was dress. The dignified rigidity of the old fashion was obstinately adhered to by one set of people, and was of course outraged by the disdain of others, who were profane in the matter of shorts, silks, and buckles. Old Niddrie would hardly admit any one who came to his hospitable house in trowsers or gaiters, which he described as Jacobinical. This feeling lingered in some tastes so long, that after the year 1820 I have heard old loyalists thanking God that they had always stuck to the Constitution and to buckles. In nothing was the monarchical principle more openly displayed, or insulted, than in the adherence to, or contempt of, hair powder. The reason of this was, that this powder, and the consequent enlargement and complexity of the hair on which it was displayed, were not merely the long established badges of aristocracy, but that short and undressed crops had been adopted in France. Our loyal therefore, though beginning to tire of the greasy and dusty dirt, laid it on with profuse patriotism, while the discontented exhibited themselves ostentatiously in all the Jacobinism of clean natural locks.

Another was keeping the King’s birth-day. This day was the 4th of June, which for the GO years that the reign of George the III. lasted gave an annual holiday to the British people, and was so associated in their habits with the idea of its being a free day, that they thought they had a right to it even after his Majesty was dead. And the established Way of keeping it in Edinburgh was, by the lower orders and the boys having a long day of idleness and fireworks, and by the upper classes going to the Parliament House, and drinking the royal health in the evening, at the expense of the city funds. The magistrates who conducted the banquet, which began about seven, invited about 1500 people. Tables, but no seats except .one at each end, were set along the Outer House. These tables, and the doors and walls, were adorned by flowers and branches, the trampling and bruising of which increased the general filth. There was no silence, no order, no decency. The loyal toasts were let off, in all quarters, according to the pleasure of the Town Councillor who presided over the section, without any orations by the Provost, who, seated in his robes, on a high chair, was supposed to control the chaos. Respectable people, considering it all as an odious penance, and going merely in order to shew that they were not Jacobins, came away after having pretended to drink one necessary cup to the health of the reigning monarch. But all sorts who were worthy of the occasion and enjoyed it, persevered to a late hour, roaring, drinking, toasting, and quarrelling. They made the Court stink for a week with the wreck and the fumes of that hot and scandalous night. It was not unusual at old Scotch feasts for the guests, after drinking a toast, to toss their glasses over their heads, in order that they might never be debased by any other sentiment. The very loyal on this occasion availed themselves of this privilege freely, so that fragments of glass crunched beneath the feet of the walkers. The infernal din was aggravated by volleys of musketry, fired very awkwardly by the Town Guard, amidst the shouts of the mob, in the Parliament Close. The rabble, smitten by the enthusiasm of the day, were accustomed, and permitted, to think license their right, and exercised their brutality without stint. Those who were aware of what might take place on the street, retired from the banquet before the spirit of mischief was fully up. Those who came out so late as ten or even nine of the evening, if observed and unprotected, were fortunate if they escaped rough usage, especially if they escaped being "Burghered” or made to "Ride the Stang” a painful and dangerous operation, and therefore a great favourite with the mob. I forget when this abominable festival was given up. Not, I believe, till the poverty, rather than the will, of the Town Council was obliged to consent. In 1798 these civic fathers passed a self-denying ordinance, by which they resolved to ruin France by abstaining from claret at this and all other municipal festivals. The vow however was not kept, and so the French were not ruined.

Another patriotic criterion, which however was necessarily limited, consisted in joining what was called the Gentlemen Volunteers, the only voluntary regiment that we then had. Such establishments became universal afterwards, and, as there was then real danger, were put on a military footing. But the original long blue-coated regiment was a merely political association, which persons willing to attest their principles and to pay for a uniform were expected to join. It was a respectable, though rather pretending, body composed of comfortable privates, and middle aged officers, selected on the ground of their station in the world, and the intensity of their public intolerance. They were an assiduous and well fed corps, and made a grand figure parading in Bruntsfield Links or Heriot’s Green but a march to Haddington would have dissolved it. Charles Hope, who afterwards became their Lieu-tenant-Colonel, was almost the only ardent spirit among them. This first appearance of private citizens in uniforms and arms was portentous to us, who had never been accustomed to any militia. The whole kingdom was soon afterwards a camp.

In the years 1795 and 1796 there was a greater dearth than has ever since visited the British Islands. On the 4th of March 1795 about eleven thousand persons, being probably about an eighth of the population, were fed by charity in Edinburgh. I have never forgotten that famine, perhaps because it was the first I had seen. A public proclamation specified the exact quantity of bread which each family ought to consume, being a loaf, if I recollect rightly, for each individual weekly. An odd proceeding; but it gave a measure, and a ground for economy, which were useful. Then was the triumph, and the first introduction, of public kitchens, Count Rumfords, and cooking committees. Chemistry strained itself to extract nutriment from everything. One ingenious sacrifice in wealthy houses was to produce an appearance of wheat at table without the reality. So dishes were invented which in shape and colour resembled the forbidden articles, and the knife often struck on what seemed good pie crust, but was only clay. Jacobins had a great advantage in having their heads set up already on an economical system. Some paltry Tories took this opportunity of saving the powder tax, only cautiously announcing that this was done on no revolutionary principle, but solely in order that the stomach might get what would be wasted on the hair. This assimilation to disloyalty however was thought dangerous; and therefore the correct course was still to whiten the head, but to make the powder of chalk on any other substance not usually eaten.

The state of people’s knowledge of political economy at this period may be judged of from the fact, that punishing what were held to be the crimes of Forestalling and Regrating was deemed one of the cures of this long-continued dearth; and this with the entire approbation of the public. The same idea prevailed in England. The extent indeed to which the freedom of trade was interfered with, by even petty authority, is scarcely credible now. Whenever prices rose higher than purchasers liked, there was a cry for legal interference; and this cry was very often successful. The price of bread was directly and habitually regulated within burgh, and indirectly beyond it, by the magistrates, who for many years after this issued periodical proclamations u setting the assize of bread. The charge for post horses was regulated in the same way. No letter of horses could demand more from the hirer than what Town Councils or Justices of the Peace prescribed. All this, I believe, was agreeable to law; for the Court of Session sustained it, and sometimes even acted directly as a regulator of prices. But the wonder is how such a system could be enforced, for at least thirty years after the publication of the Wealth of Nations.

In November 1799 I entered the Speculative Society ; an institution which has trained more young men to public speaking, talent, and liberal thought, than all the other private institutions in Scotland. The society had never been in such glory as during the immediately preceding years. I forget the exact origin of the disputes that had convulsed it; but they all grew out of the proceedings connected with the expulsion of Mr. Emmett then implicated in the Irish rebellion, and afterwards leading counsel at New York—an able and excellent man, and with a proposal for dissolving some literary connection which had long subsisted between the Speculative and a similar society in Dublin. This (as was secretly intended) introduced the whole politics of the day. The agitation brought back the old members • who, headed by Charles Hope and David Hume, of course tried to bear down the younger, who, led by Brougham, Jeffrey, Horner, Lord Henry Petty, and Lord Kinnaird, were as defying in their Whiggism as their opponents in their Toryism. This contest produced animated debates and proceedings, which did not occupy the society alone, but the whole College, and indeed all Edinburgh, for nearly an entire session. Hume being supposed to have applied some offensive imputation to the junior party, it was arranged (by lot, I believe) that Jeffrey should require an explanation. This was given ; but still they were bound over to keep the peace. At last the seniors were defeated; and some of them made the victory clearer by resigning.

No better arena could possibly have been provided for the exercise of the remarkable young men it excited. In a few years after this Petty was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had left the society before I joined it; but Kinnaird, an able man and an excellent speaker, continued to attend occasionally; and Brougham, Horner, Jeffrey, James Moncreiff, and other powerful persons, attended regularly, and took an active part in the business, throughout all the three years during which I was an ordinary member. The only defect was, that the recent discussions turned away many of the good Tory youths, and that the usual audience was not large enough for such speakers. However, there were some of them on whom this had little effect. Brougham in particular, whose constitutional keenness made him scent the future quarry, gave his whole soul to this preparatory scene, and often astonished us by the vigour with which, even to half a dozen of lads, he could abandon himself to his subject, and blaze as if he had been declaiming against Cicero in the forum. Moncreiff has improved very greatly since then ; but Jeffrey, Horner, and Brougham were as good writers and speakers then as they have ever been since; and each in the very same style he afterwards retained. Of all those who attempted to speak, I was then decidedly the worst and the most unpromising; worse perhaps than even Charles and Robert Grant, both of whom have since risen to high station in Parliament and in public life. In so far as I was personally concerned, however, the Speculative completed what the Academical had begun; and together they did me more good than all the rest of my education. And I must attest that their moral benefits were fully more important than their intellectual. They inspired a high tone of virtue. ‘

An exposition of things not merely true, but proveable, and yet incredible, would be a very curious work. And few countries could supply better materials for it than Scotland, where modern changes have been so numerous and so striking.

For example, there are few people who now know that so recently as 1799 there were slaves in this country. Twenty-five years before, that is, in 1775, there must have been thousands of them; for this was then the condition of all our colliers and salters. They were literally slaves. They could not be killed nor directly tortured; but they belonged, like the serfs of an older time, to their respective works, with which they were sold as a part of the gearing. With a few very rigid exceptions, the condition of the head of the family was the condition of the whole house. For though a child, if never entered with the work, was free, yet entering was its natural and almost certain destination ; for its doing so was valuable to its father, and its getting into any other employment in the neighbourhood was resisted by the owner. So that wives, daughters, and sons went on from generation to generation under the system which was the family doom. Of course it was the interest of a wise master to use them well, as it was to use his other cattle well. But, as usual, the human animal had the worst of it. It had rights, and could provoke by alluding to them. It could alarm and mutiny. It could not be slain, but it had no protection against fits of tyranny or anger. We do not now know much of their exact personal or domestic condition. But we know what their work makes them, even when they are free, and within the jealous benevolence of a softer age. We know that they formed a separate and avoided tribe, as to a great extent they still do, with a language and habits of their own. And we know what slavery even in its best form is, and does. The completeness of their degradation is disclosed by one public fact. The statute passed in 1701, which has been extolled as the Scotch Habeas Corpus Act, proceeds on the preamble that u Our Sovereign Lord considering it is the interest of all his good subjects that the liberty of their persons be duly secured.

Yet, while introducing regulations against “wrongous imprisonment, and undue delays in trials," the statute contains these words—“And sicklike it is hereby provided and declared that this present act is noways to be extended to colliers or salters.77 That is, being slaves, they had no personal liberty to protect.

These facts enable us to understand the hereditary blackguardism, which formed the secondary nature of these fixed underground gypsies, and the mysterious horror with which they were regarded, and which, in a certain degree, attaches to all subterranean labourers.

The first link of their chain was broken in 1775, by the 15th act of George Third, chap. 28. It sets out on the preamble that u many colliers and salters are in a state of slavery and bondage. It emancipates future ones entirely, that is, those who after the 1st of July 1775 shall begin to work &s colliers and salters. But the existing ones were only liberated gradually, those under 21 in 7 years; those between 21 and 35 in 10 years. The liberation of the father was declared to liberate his family. And the freed were put under the act 1701. But this measure, though effective in checking new’ slavery, was made very nearly useless in its application to the existing slaves by one of its conditions. Instead of becoming free by mere lapse of time, no slave obtained his liberty unless he instituted a legal proceeding in the Sheriff Court, and incurred all the cost, delay, and trouble of a lawsuit; his capacity to do which was extinguished by the invariable system of masters always having their workmen in their debt. The result was that, in general, the existing slave was only liberated by death.

But this last link was broken in June 1799, by the 39th George Third, chap. 56, which enacted that from and after its date u all the colliers in Scotland who were bound colliers at the passing of the 15th George Third, chap. 28, shall he free from their servitude” This annihilated the relic.

These two statutes seem to have been neither the effect nor the cause of any public excitement. I do not see either of them even mentioned in the Scots Magazine. People cared nothing about colliers on their own account, and the taste for improving the lower orders had not then begun to dawn.


Return to the Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast